The ground textile is a hand-woven, weft-faced tapestry with white cotton warp. The center of the woven textile has fine red wool weft. Borders of tan cotton weft line the top and bottom, where the edges are rolled to the back and stitched. A blend of thick cotton and wool yarns are used to embroider the designs in satin and chain stitches. Dating the textile proved easy because of the extremely bright pink, blue, and green yarns used for the embroidery. These shades are recognizable as aniline dyes likely dating to the middle of the 20th century, more specifically the 1960s or 1970s. Figuring out what part of the world the textile comes from was much more difficult. The materials and technique of embroidery are quite universal, so we went with our gut instinct and started our search in the Middle East.
The colors and designs reminded us initially of Afghani war rugs that date to the 1960s and 70s. While the imagery is somewhat similar, the Afghani war rugs are much more detailed than the Wheaton College mystery textile. The figures have more articulated faces and the guns are much more detailed. The biggest difference between the two types of textiles is that the Afghani rugs are piled while the mystery textile is a flat weave with embroidery.
This textile was cleaned, stabilized, mounted, and framed so that it can be safely exhibited in the future. We hope that Wheaton College students can do more research in the future and uncover how and when this textile was brought into their collection
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