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Wiki Wednesday: Abrash


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Abrash

The natural and variable change in color that occurs in an Oriental rug. 

Abrash typically occurs for two main reasons

*Variations in different batches of Dye.

*Different batches of wool.

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When a rug requires an additional lot of dye to be produced, the dye is not usually a perfect match. Often times the dye is all from the same batch, but the rug requires more wool, which means more sheep. Fascinatingly, Dye takes differently to wool, depending on the particular sheep. Also, when the wool is hand-spun, certain areas are spun more tightly than others, making that section less able to absorb dye. The result is a less intense color.

Although this makes the rug imperfect, it is the unavoidable variations due to human error that make the rug beautiful.  In fact, Abrash is so well admired that it is not uncommon  for a rug maker to purposefully create imperfections. It is also a cultural practice and sign of respect to God, believed to imply that “no one is perfect except for God.

 

 

 

 

Stone Age People: The Tribe of North Sentinel Island

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The Andaman Islands lie in the Bay of Bengal, between India and Thailand. One of these islands is known as North Sentinel, and is inhabited by a tribe made up of an estimated 50-400 people. Very little is known about the Sentinelese people because they have a reputation for killing, attacking, and chasing off any outsider to step foot on their shore. Because of this, the Sentinel are one of the last  groups of people who remain untouched by, and basically unaware of the outside world.

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What is known

The Sentinelese people have been living on their island for an estimated 60,000 years and are thought to be descendants of the first people to migrate from Africa.

The language of the Sentinelese is so different,  even from the language of other Andaman people, that it is likely they have had no outside contact for thousands of years.

They do not know how to make fire. They have been observed to wait for lightening to set fire to a branch or tree, and then keep the embers burning for as long as possible.

There is no proof of any farming or agriculture and the Sentinelese are thought to survive mainly on fishing, hunting and gathering.

They make weapons and tools using metal, which they recover from shipwrecks around the coral reefs. This means they are not entirely “Stone age” in their lifestyle.

They have managed to protect their lifestyle from war, disease, famine,  colonization, and all threats that come with modern civilization. They have also survived countless Tsunamis, including the massive one in 2004.

 

History of attempted contact

1880-An armed British expedition sails to Sentenel Island to conduct Surveys. Their goal was also to take a prisoner, who would be treated well, and given gifts, and then released back to the tribe. This was a practice believed to prove friendliness and willingness to trade. The expedition had a hard time finding any one to take prisoner however, because the people vanished into the jungle at the first sight of the British. Eventually, the men came across an elderly couple and four children. They captured all 6 of these Sentinelese people and took them to Port Blair, on one of the other Andaman Islands. The elderly couple became sick and died quickly, and the British returned the four children to their home with many gifts. The children quickly ran into the jungle. The British focused on other islands after this incident and did not return to Sentinel.

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1967-Indian Government began a series of contact expeditions. These were led by an anthropologist T.N. Pandit who brought police and naval officers. The Sentinelese fled for the jungle many times and the expeditions failed to make any contact.Eventually the anthropologists were able to make brief contact with the tribe, bringing them gifts of coconuts and bananas, which do not grow on the Island. Most photos and knowledge of the Sentinelese were accumulated during this time.

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1975– A National Geographic film crew went to  Sentinel Island and the director was shot in the thigh with an arrow. The Sentinel warrior who shot him was seen laughing.

Early 1990’s-Sentinese started to once again allow boats to come closer to shore and sometimes greeted the boats unarmed. Every time however, the people would eventually begin making violent and rude gestures, and shooting arrows with no arrow heads, seemingly warning the boats away.

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1996– Indian government ended the contact expeditions. This was due to several deaths and hostile encounters with the Jarawa people on some of the other Andaman Islands. The Indian government also feared spreading disease to the Island people. They instituted a 3 mile mandatory distance of the Island. This is one reason that all photos after the 1970’s are from a distance, or from helicopter.

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2006– Two men were fishing and their boat accidentally drifted close to Sentinel Island and the men were killed. A helicopter was sent to retrieve the bodies but was chased away by the Sentinelese, who shot it with arrows.

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Below is  a photo of the Jawar people from another nearby island, accepting gifts of coconuts.
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Wiki Wednesday: Kilim, Flatweave, Pile

For more information on Kilims and other carpet and rug terms, check out our Rug Glossary Here

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Kilim
(Flatweave) (Persia, Turkey, Balkans and Eastern Europe)
This style dates back to the 5th century, and is a flat weave with no pile. The patterns are based in a geometric style, often featuring medallions, diamonds, and the famous Mahi (Herati) design which is a diamond medallion with a small fish through in. Unlike the Mamluk, the rug is not always focused on one, large and central diamond. The pattern may be free form and repeating. The more modern versions of the Kilim sometimes incorporate turquoise, and purple with the traditional reds, green, blue and white. The boldness and geometric quality of the patterns have also become more strong and distinct with modern times. Rug collectors often start with Kilims, because they are cheaper than Pile rugs. It is sometimes thought that because Kilims tend to be less expensive that they are also less substantial in quality or status. This is not true, and Kilims have become increasingly popular in recent years. The lower price was originally based on the Kilims being produced for indigenous use, instead of on a commercial level. Kilims gained popularity when collectors started to value authentic village weavings.

Flatweave
A type of rug, which is woven, rather than knotted. They are much flatter and thinner than knotted rugs because they do not have pile. This makes the rugs easier to transport, and they are therefore still utilized all over the world as wall tapestries, for prayer rugs, and as saddle pads. Many middle eastern countries still weave these by hand, while other rug manufacturers have switched to machinery and tools to produce rugs faster, which also makes the rugs less expensive than the hand woven ones. (note: Mohr & McPherson does not specialize in machine made rugs.)

Pile
A type of rug which is knotted rather than woven on a loom. It consists of three layers- the base threads, normally made of cotton which, are the foundation, a woven layer that acts as a cushion, and the final layer, which is the ends of each individual knot after being cut and is called the pile of a rug. You can run your hand over the top layer of this rug, and the pile will brush back and forth. This is where sheen may come into play.

Style Saturday

A dreary Saturday is the perfect time to do some shopping. Luckily we have all sorts of new accessories to brighten your day, including heaps of handmade jewelry, kimonos and shawls. For some style inspiration, check out our own Mary Cashman modeling the loot.stitch 1 final

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Afgani necklace Lapis or dyed coral-43329
Vintage teardrop earrings– smooth glass set in brass, with gold plated hooks-43239
Patchwork Floppy Hate-43423
Stylish jacket made of cotton voile-43433
Assorted Rings and Bracelets

All available now in our showroom! Product number included for reference.

Wiki Wednesdays

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In this business, we  tend to use a lot of words that many people have never heard of.  Why would you know the vocabulary of Japanese antiques, or pertaining to Carpets hand tied by tribes in the mountains of Morocco? We thought there should be a place for people to learn about some of these things. Therefore, we are pleased to introduce  Wiki Wednesdays.

Wiki Wednesdays will be like our version of Wikipedia. We will use it to define terms that are used commonly in our industry, many of them with foreign decent. Lets start with our title itself.

Wiki-
Most of us think “Wikipedia” or “Wikileaks” when we hear this word, and this is correct. Wiki was introduced to the masses in 1995 by computer programmer Ward Cunningham. Ward first used the word in naming”WikiWikiWeb”, a collaborative computer software he created.

However, many people are unaware that Wiki, or Wikiwiki  is actually a  Hawaiian word meaning “Quick” or “Fast”.

Cool huh?

Here are some examples of Wiki being used in modern day Hawaiian culture

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Travel Tuesday: Temples of Chiang Mai

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You may have heard that our founder Kevin has relocated to Thailand. Since then, all of us at Mohr & McPherson have been continuously learning about the colorful and ancient culture of this fabulous country. An important aspect of Thai culture is Buddhism. Building “everlasting” temples or “Wats”, was a way for Thai Kings to leave their mark. The long-standing sustainability of these temples is proof of the advanced skills of the builders. There are over 200 temples in Chiang Mai alone,  many of them dating back to the city’s  founding date of 1296 AD. Read on to learn about some of Chiang Mai’s most famous Temples

Wat Chiang Man

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Wat Chiang Man was the first temple ever built in Chiang Mai. It was built in the North East Corner by King Mengrai in 1296. This temple was part of the original construction of the city, and holds two rare Buddha statues. One statue is Marble, and the other is Crystal.

Wat Phra Singh

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This is one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai. It was built in 1345, and is a classic example of Northern Thai architecture. Amongst many revered Buddha statues, Wat Phra Singh houses a learning center for young men and boys who are studying to become monks.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

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Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is the most well known temple in the area. It sits to the north-west of the Chiang Mai, near the very top of Mt. Suthep. This temple was established in 1383 under King Keu Naone, and pone of Chiang Mai’s most sacred temples. The place was “chosen” by a white elephant, who was sent by a monk to wander the mountains with a Buddha relic mounted on its back. When the elephant died, The Wat Suthep temple was built in the place of its death.

To get to the temple, you have to walk up a 306 step staircase, which was built to be meditative to the climber. Or, there is a tram visitors can also take if they do not wish to climb the stairs.

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There is a shrine on the first floor terrace of the temple, honoring Sudeva, the hermit who lived on the mountain, and a statue of the white elephant who carried the Buddha relic.

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Wat Suan Dok

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This temple was built in 1371, and was originally a royal  flower garden owned by King Keuna. The King gave the flower gardens to a very revered monk from Sukkhothai.  There was a Buddhist Relic transported to this temple, and it split into two pieces. One piece was kept here, and the other was the relic strapped onto the white elephant we learned about earlier, leading to the birth of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Also at Wat Suan Dok is a 500 year old bronze Buddha statue, one of the largest in Thailand.

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There are also many white “Chedis”, and many of them hold the ashes of the former Chiang Mai royal family. This temple is also home to a Buddhist University, and is located 1km West of the city.

 

Wat Umong Tunnels

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Wat Umong is built in the foot hills of Suthep Mountain, which are still heavily forested. This temple was built in the late 14th Century, and is named for its many tunnels. “Umong” is the Thai word for tunnel.

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A large mound was built on a flat space, and then criss-crossed with tunnels.  The legendary reason for the maze-like tunnels was to keep the highly regarded but “mad” monk who ruled here, from wandering off.  At some point the temple was abandoned, and not occupied again until 1940. The overgrown, moss laden environment of this temple can partially be attributed to its many years of being uninhabited.

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Rain Drums of Ancient Southeast Asia

Our South End showroom  has just received a brand  new container from Thailand. Exciting new furniture and accessories abound, including these magnificent Rain Drums.

Dong Son Drums, also known as Rain Drums, are often casted from Bronze, and are usually decorated with tribal designs and images with themes of fertility, animals, war, deities, and nature.It is argued that the Dong Son culture of Vietnam entered the Bronze Age before any other part of South East Asia. Cast Bronze drums have been found at the most ancient Dong Son burial grounds, which date back to 1000 BC. This is how these drums were given the name “ Dong Son”. Throughout history, these drums spread throughout South East Asia, and took on different meanings based on various cultures.

Along with the Dong Son, the Karen people of Burma and Thailand used these drums to summon the rain, because of the unique, rain-like sound they make. This is how the common name of “Rain Drum” came to be. The Karen people also believe that the sounds of the drum are pleasing to the spirits or “nats”, who live in the trees and water.

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Karen man casting a Rain Drum, 1923

The drums are used for various ceremonies to summon ancestors, and for calling soldiers. A certain beat on the drum replicates the sound of marching soldiers, and is widely used as a trick to give the impression of a large army.

In Indonesia, the Rain Drums have been present for 2500 years. In Bali, which is primarily Hindu, there is a famous drum called the “Moon Drum”, that is known for its very large size. In the small Indonesian Island of Alor, “Moko Drums” play an important cultural role. A man who wishes to marry must present a Moko Drum to the woman’s family. Because these drums are hard to come by, many men or couples must leave the island in order to marry, because they cannot find or afford a Moko Drum.  Moko Drums are also heavily decorated with Hindu symbolism.

Across most primitive communities within South East Asia, possession of a Rain Drum signifies not only status and material wealth, but also the ability to communicate with and influence spirits and the powers that be. In fact, one village in Vietnam considered the ownership of a Rain Drum to be more impressive than owning seven elephants.  Although here in Boston, owning  just one elephant would probably win.

Today’s versions are modeled after drums from thousands of years ago, but in modern design they are commonly used as tables. Rain drums are great for side tables, coffee tables, and are especially common for the yard or garden. Adding a glass top is an option for making the drum seem more like a conventional table. A Rain Drum is a simple way to add a touch of exotic intrigue and rustic charm to any space.

SoWa Sunday is Back!!

 

We are so pleased to welcome back the warm weather, and SoWa Sunday with it. Open market season brings a wonderful, bustling energy to our neighborhood, as well as visitors from all over. If you are not familiar with this event, SoWa Sunday is a huge, mostly outdoor marketplace in Boston’s South End. It occurs every Sunday from May through October, and consists of three separate and unique markets, each with their own focus, as well as a diverse pack of local food trucks. It is open from 10am to 4pm.

 

Farmer’s Market

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The farmer’s market includes over 60 local farm stands, selling the freshest possible produce, herbs, and dairy products. This market also houses vendors selling unusual and gourmet specialty foods, including the best brownies you’ve ever had. The Farmer’s market is located in the parking lot at 500 Harrison Ave, right next to Mohr & McPherson. Buying fresh food from the people who grew and made it themselves is such a treat these days-well worth breaking your grocery store routine for.

 

Arts Market

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The Arts Market is located behind Mohr & McPherson, in the Albany St. Parking lot. The parking lot is filled with tents, run by individuals or teams of artisans who have come from all over New England and beyond to sell their handmade products. Here you can find arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, apothecary goods-especially hard to find products made from all natural ingredients, and an assortment of other unique and creative wares. This is a great place to shop for quality items while supporting local artists and small business owners.  

 

Vintage Market

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The Vintage Market is an indoor space, filled with the ultimate vendors of Vintage fashion, jewelry, art, furniture, and objects, providing fresh finds every week. This place is massive, and truly magical.

TAKE NOTE: The Vintage market has MOVED to 450 Harrison Avenue.

 

Food Truck Court

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The Food Truck Court is made up of 25 rotating trucks, all serving different types of food. This is the largest food truck gathering in New England. Choose from pizza, gourmet grilled Cheese, specialty panini’s, Asian cuisine, falafel, stir fry, French fries-whatever you want.The food court is located in front of the old power station building at 540 Harrison Ave.

 

Mohr & McPherson

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SoWa Sunday is also a perfect excuse to stroll through Boston’s beautiful South End, and explore the multitude of art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Stop by the Mohr & McPherson Cafe to a grab an iced coffee, tea or lemonade. We are also a good alternative to the Food trucks if you are looking for someplace to take a break from walking around. This season, our cafe will be featuring a limited menu on Sunday, so we can provide faster, more efficient service, and reduce wait time.
The cafe is open from 9am to 6pm on Sunday. Our showroom is also open, regular hours of 11-7, as well as our rug gallery. This year we will be filling the gallery with home and gift items, and beautiful accessories like silk scarves, purses and handbags, and handmade jewelry. The rug gallery is also home to much of our live edge collection.

 

PARKING:
GPS address 324 Albany St for SoWa event parking under I-93 Overpass.
Parking is also available in the Boston Sports Club Lot near 540 Harrison Ave.
Street parking is also available, but requires patience, vigilance, and possibly a lot of walking-Be warned.

 

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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We have tons of hand stitched wallets, clutches, purses, and tote bags, in every color!

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These adorable tea cups double as a measuring set.

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A vase is a great way to dress up a bouquet.

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Fill one of these ornate boxes with treasures for your mama!

Lots of chests

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Classic earrings for the glam mom.

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Assorted necklaces, bracelets, and ceramic and marble dishes, perfect for jewelry storage. Come to our showroom to browse our full collection.

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Gorgeous, authentic Kimonos.

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Kantha stitch blankets are an age old Indian tradition. The craft is passed down from mother to daughter, and these blankets are often made and given as gifts to women by their  mothers and other female relatives for important life events such as new babies and marriages. A perfect gift for your mother too! We have many to choose from, and each is unique and handmade in India.

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pretty hides

 

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We also have Kantha Stitch chairs.

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When in doubt, get your mom some throw pillows.

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Nautical by Nature

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Nautical decor is classic. Though this look never goes out of style, it is having a moment in Spring/Summer 2015.  Often times people stay away from Nautical for fear of making their home  look like a beachside souvenier shop. To keep this look modern, go for simple pieces that have a touch of nautical flair, or choose one or two kitschy items and pair with toned down neutrals.

 

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AD Jewelry available in our showroom,  Winery ChandelierWooden trunk with strapping and handles

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Morse Pendent Rope LampSteel & glass lantern

 

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 Beaumont Sofa by Cisco Brothers, available to order at Mohr & McPherson

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Wooden blue trunk with handles. Great as a coffee table!,  Vintage orange life preserver