Pat Spark-  Legacy Series 1992-1995  These pieces were all made from handmade felt.

Artist's Statement: Legacy Series. This series, called the "Legacy Series" was very stimulating for me.  It resulted from many years of research into the felt rugs of Central Asia.  I am especially interested in the felts of the Khirghiz, the Kazakh, and the Mongols. I first encountered the felts from the Middle East and Central Asia in  1974.  It was actually my first encounter with handmade felts of any kind.  I read an article about feltmaking in Anatolia (Turkey).   Since then I have seen many interesting felt rugs from this region.  In the late '70s, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and suddenly, the Khirghiz people I had been studying were in the news!  (At least the Khirghiz who were living in Afghanistan were in the news.)  Using a particular image which is prevalent in their rugs, I did a series of pieces about the loss of a culture.  (The Khirghiz women had to flee to Pakistan, sell their sheep and stop making felt.)  The image I used was particularly beautiful to me.  In 1989, I was at an international felter's meeting in Hungary and I met a Soviet Khirghiz felter.  She and I talked about this image, and she did not know of its origin or its meaning.  She said that it was very old.  This intrigued me, but I had no way of being able to pursue the matter.  In 1991, I was invited to attend a felter's festival in Sweden.  I was to represent American felters and other teachers from around the world would be there as well.  At this festival, I heard a talk by Eleanora Nosgorodova, a Soviet ethnographer/archeologist.  Nora was speaking on her research, the early petroglyphs of Mongolia.  She showed us slides of the cliffs which were marked with images from the early times in Mongolian history.  One of the images was very similar to the Khirghiz symbol I had been using in my felt pieces!  Nora explained that these petroglyphs were left from a time when Mongolia had a matrilineal society.  The symbol itself was one which meant: "The original mother, her daughter, her daughter's daughter, and the womb of the daughters still to come".  It symbolized the passing of knowledge from one generation to another, as well as the continuation of life.  It might be the origin of the Tree of Life symbol as well as many others.  It is very possible that it is the origin of the Khirghiz image as well.  This information thrilled me.  I do believe in the power of woman's knowledge.  As a feminist, it was exciting to learn of a time when women were in political control.  I returned to this country, determined to do more research; to learn more about this earlier time in woman's history.  This series was a result of that research.

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