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Faig Ahmed: Tradition Meets Progress with Azerbaijan Carpets

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Faig Ahmed is an artist based in Baku, Azerbaijan. Using a mixed media approach and knowledge of traditional carpet weaving, he reworks the conventional structure of the rug by disassembling the threads and rearranging them. Ahmed superimposes digital imagery into the rug design which often creates optical illusion. He also uses geometric forms to transform the carpets into chic sculptures. Ahmed is not only creating new boundaries with his modern transformation of traditional art, he is creating a visual marriage of past, present and future, where contrasting aesthetics are crashed together and harmonize boldly, making something new. Many people view Ahmed’s work as a representation of the social and political change occurring throughout the East.

“Tradition is the main factor creating the society as a self-regulated system. Changes in the non-written rule happen under influence of global modern culture.” Faig Ahmed.

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About Faig Ahmed
– Ahmed graduated from the Azerbaijan State Academy of Fine Art in Baku in 2004 and works with various media including painting, video and installation.
– Most recently, he has been studying the history and aesthetic of traditional Azerbaijani carpets so he may reinterpret this cultural symbol with contemporary relevance.
– Ahmed superimposes digital patterns onto traditional compositions to create works with bold optical illusions and he applies these forms to sculptures and 2-dimensional works.

– He has been included in exhibitions at Sotheby’s and Phillips de Pury in London, the 52nd Venice Biennale Pavilion representing Azerbaijan and The Islamic Art Festival in Sharjah, UAE.

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Sculpture

“His works take what has traditionally been a two-dimensional craft and gives it new life in the third-dimension – stretching elements of his fiber based work into space, and transforming it into far more than a floor covering. Even though they are real, and made with traditional techniques, other examples of his work stretch traditional patterns horizontally, giving his flat pieces the look of digital reworking.” From Faig Ahmed’s Website

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“The eastern culture is so very rich and saccharine. Putting the pieces of the carpet into the smooth as if a part of a car or of a glamorous and functional shape, I’m fashioning the carpet into a different meaning, a secondary one. It as if starts being an inner part of this minimalist form, gaining volume at the same time. As if all of the ornaments of the carpet acquire a prolongation inside the carpet.” Faig Ahmed

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“The carpet is a symbol of invincible tradition of the East, it’s a visualization of an undestroyable icon. In my art I see the culture differently. This is more of expectation of a reaction because it’s exactly the change of the points of view that changes the world.” Faig Ahmed

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History of Azerbaijan Carpet Weaving
Azerbaijan has been well-known as an authority and center for arts and crafts since Ancient times. Archeological digs of this territory have discovered signs of highly developed agriculture, stock raising, metal working and ceramics, as well as carpet-weaving that date as far back as the 2nd millennium BC. Carpet weaving tools from the 4th and 3rd millenniums BC were discovered during the Gultapin excavations. Herodotus, Claudius Elian, Xenophont and other ancient historians all mentioned Azerbaijan carpets having spread by the time of the Bronze Age. During the Sassanid Dynasty (3rd-7th centuries) carpets made from gold, silver and silk threads and decorated with jewels began to appear and were greatly celebrated. In the 13th-14th centuries, Azerbaijan exported huge numbers of carpets to other countries.
Different occasions call for different carpets; Wedding ceremonies, birthing, medical treatment, mourning rituals, and prayer. Girls sit on special carpets to tell fortunes and sing traditional songs during the New Year Celebration. Carpet weaving in Southern and Northern Azerbaijan has been influenced by the many changes the territory has undergone, such as changes in religions, tribal cultures, and political states. The designs used in the carpets and the way they are applied reflect the daily life and customs of the communities who produce them. This is fitting because the carpet weaving originated in rural huts. Over time, the tradition and craft came to be amongst the most celebrated and important of the arts. The heads of state gave high value to the art of carpet weaving, and glorified the most talented weavers, as did the great poets. The carpet history is typically divided into the following four main periods:

• I – the early stage of the carpet development. The carpet ware is very simple, without any motifs and patterns. The first palas and djedjims appear.
• II – introduction of the kilim weaving practice by the intricate threading technique.
• III – weaving of shadda, verni, sumakh, zili. The period of simple and complex whipping techniques.
• IV – introduction of the knotted pile weaving. Both from the technical and artistic standpoints this stage can be considered the acme of the carpet making.

Azerbaijani carpets are divided into two general groups: pile and pileless. Within each group there are subdivisions and different styles of rug. The pileless category is associated with the early period of weaving and there are 8 main types: Palas, Dzhejim, lady, kilim, shedde, verni, zili, sumakh. These rugs are classified based on color, richness, composite structure and weaving style. Quba School, Baku or Absheron School, Shirvan School, Ganja School, Gazakh School, Karabakh School. These are the 7 different weaving schools is Azerbaijan. They are separated based on patterns, composition and technique.

Top Summer Design Trends & Styles

Lets discuss some of the hottest trends for Summer 2014. These styles have exploded across the design world and are all likely to stick around for a while. The best part about these looks is that while they are super modern, they are also rooted in classic style and can be worked into the most simple décor, as well as an avant-garde abode.

Honey Toned Wood

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This mega trend is a refreshing switch from the darker, espresso hued woods that have reined for several seasons. Paired with white and neutral finishes, honey toned wood can really lighten things up and make a small space seem larger. The honey toned wood trend is also reflective of some of the major design themes of the moment such as “back to nature” and “rustic simplicity”.

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“I am excited about the come back of honey wood tones because I think they are easy to maintain and incorporate well into any interior. A medium tone wood is always in style, and mixes easily with other woods.”  – DeidreInteriors.com

At Mohr & McPherson 

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Ryder Bedside Chest,  Avery Mini Honey,  Honey/Alberta Taylor Chair

 

Exposed Nail Heads

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This is a versatile and widespread trend that actually dates back to 17th century France and 19th Century England. During these times, furniture was often embellished with nail head or rivet trim as a decorative way to secure materials. Today, this trend can be used to enhance traditional style or to bring a piece in the total opposite direction by making it urban and edgy, depending on the application.

Here are some ideas for getting this trend right.

Pay Attention to Detail:

*The spacing between nail heads in relation to the size of the furniture is important.

*If it fits your budget, always choose metal individual nail heads rather than plastic.

*For a rustic look, nail head trim looks great with textured materials.

At Mohr & McPherson 

 

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Gallant Loveseat (Cisco Brothers),  Rustic Whiskey Tub Chair
Crescent loveseat (Cisco Brothers),  Smoke Armchair

 

Nature/Mixing of Indoor and Outdoor/Layering of Textures

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 This concept never goes out of style, but it has become increasingly popular in the last few years, probably because of the global focus on being healthier and more economically responsible. A simple way to incorporate this trend into your design scheme is to focus on tones, textures and colors. Go for wood surfaces and use natural materials such as exposed brick, stone, bamboo, etc. Live Edge furniture and upholstery that mimics natural surfaces such as moss make great statement pieces. Natural light is also a sneaky way to open up a space and bring the outdoors inside.

At Mohr & McPherson  

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banyonLive Edge ConsoleBanyan Vine Sculpture, Mangosteen Coat Rack,  Tribeca Loveseat (Cisco Brothers)

  Continue reading

Backyard Nirvana: Personalizing Your Outdoor Space

So, its officially time to be outside. What are you going to be doing while you’re out there? Gardening? Yoga? Hanging out with your dog? Hosting the most beautiful, ridiculous garden party of all time with perfect, vegan hors d’oeuvres, hanging lanterns and a live string quartet? How about lounging? I think it’s safe to say that everyones outdoor summer priority is relaxing in the sun, or the shade with a cold drink, a good book or just the pleasent buzzing of your own thoughts.

Where are all of these activities going to take place? Designing a personalized, outdoor haven is a really fun way to be creative while getting that Vitamin D. Whether you have a patio or front porch that just needs some sprucing up or you are looking to renovate your entire backyard, we have ideas for you. We’ve collected some inspiring outdoor displays and come up with our favorite pieces at Mohr & McPherson to fit each look.

Inspiration

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 It’s hard to go wrong with Mid Century Modern. When you blend these classic silhouettes with unexpected materials such as our patio chair below, the look becomes modern and edgy, while still rooted in classic appeal.

Our Version

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Iron Round Coffee Table, Patio Chair,Stone GaneshIron Tray Table


Inspiration

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This look conjurs thoughts of exotic birds, and you can almost hear them singing as you sip iced green tea. Teak wood is an excellent material for outdoor furniture because it has a high resistance to the elements but also has a sleek appearance. Add bursts of color and delicate, decorative detail to lighten up an arrangement of dark furniture.

Our Version 

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Teak Bench made from Camel CartMetal Basket LampIron and Teak Bench, Iron Chair, Lotus Plate, Folding Screen


Inspiration

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Everything Zen around here. This look promotes total tranquility, and a blissful escape from daily life. Key elements to include are Buddhas, lots of greenery, honey toned wood and twinkling lights.


Our Version

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Inspiration

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This look is based in simplicity. To add exotic or modern elements to a cottage vibe, look for geometric shapes in light colors like this amazing coffee table below. Blend statement pieces with rustic materials such as wicker and unfinished wood.

Our Version

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Dining ChairCoffee TableSteel & Glass Lantern, Antique Elm Door, Rattan 2 Seat Chair

Inspiration 

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If you get excited about lots of candles, lace, and delicate, shabby chic furniture, this romantic setting is for you. You can make this style Mohr & McPherson by adding eastern pieces, which can actually enhance the ethereal nature of this scene. Think delicate iron and whimsical shapes.

Our Version

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Dining Chair, Candle Stand, Iron DaybedIndian CarvingBanyan Vine Sculpture

Turquoise & Yellow: Trending Spring Colors

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Patchwork Overdye Turquoise                                       Patchwork Overdye Yellow

Spring is here, and not a moment too soon! So while packing away your wool blankets, make sure to replace them with lots of bright, cheerful colors. This season is all about Turquoise and Yellow, our favorite trending spring colors. These two colors are super on trend for spring and have been popping up in a range of hues all over the runways, magazines and design blogs. It just so happens that these are some of our favorite colors and we are so prepared for this trend. Check out some of our best examples below, and don’t forget to stop by our Pinterest too for even more favorites and trends!

Turquoise / Aquamarine / Sea Green / Teal
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Clockwise from left: Teak Bookcase  /  Teak Desk  /  Sideboard

 

Yellow / Lemon / Butter / Gold
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Whiskey and Smoke: A Rustic Approach to Timeless Brazilian Leather

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“In like a lion, out like a lamb” is what they say about March. We are right on schedule, ringing in the month with a new shipment of fierce, bold leather pieces in our new “Smoke” and “Whiskey” finishes. Worthy of any man cave or any location in your home, this collection brings to mind toasty evenings by a fireplace, sipping single malt scotch while wearing your grandfather’s vintage watch.

Our metaphor holds true, with the soft, delicate luxe of this Brazilian leather facilitating a seamless transition into spring. The colors are rich but neutral. The distressed finish and wood paneling incorporate a fresh, down to earth quality. Open your windows to the spring air, and cover your coffee tables with flowers. Lounge on your leather in the afternoon sun, and feel like a new lamb.

Brazilian Leather is highly desired across a multitude of industries for its excellent quality as well as the consistency of that quality. Click here to browse our entire Leather Club Collection.

Facts about Brazilian Leather:
– Brazil is the second largest supplier of leather in the world, producing more than 40 million hides per year.
– 28 million of those hides are exported to 91 different countries.
– The United States comes in at number three for importing the most leather from Brazil. We spend nearly 260 million dollars on leather.
– China imports the most, followed by Italy. Hong Kong is fourth.
– U.S. companies that use Brazilian leather include Learjet, Ford, and GM among many others.

“Brazil is known for some of the world’s best tanneries, producing top-quality leather used in the fashion, upholstery, automotive and boating industry” Jose Fernando Bello, executive president of CICB.

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 Whiskey Loveseat

A piece of leather furniture commands attention and brings an aura of no nonsense to a room. The canvas siding and wood frames on our leather couches and chairs tone down that boldness. These materials are rustic in nature, and when paired with the sleek leather, the furniture gains an eclectic, laid back quality. We love the idea of mixing these leather pieces with traditional Indian craftsmanship, such as this elegant folding screen.

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Rise to Fame
In the 16th century, cattle were imported to Brazil to sustain the local economy. Meat and leather started to spread to be distributed throughout the country, and eventually the leather started to be exported. By the year of 1754, 5 thousand pieces of leather a year were being exported from Brazil. However it wasn’t until the 1960’s and 70’s when the world really started focusing on Brazilian leather. Artists began printing messages on leather, primarily based around the ideas of peace and love, and freedom. Leather goods became abundant at street fairs and leather artisans were celebrated.

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Let’s talk about cows!
The Leather Industry in Brazil is directly connected to the Beef Industry. Here are some figures to get you up to speed.

– Currently, Brazil has 213.3 million cattle.

– In 2008, the country held 20% of the world’s cattle market. By the end of this decade, that figure is estimated to reach 50%. That means Brazil will control one half of the entire world’s beef.

– Brazil’s economy has become the 6th largest on the planet. This means larger economic potential and stability for their leather industry.

– From 2000 to 2010, the amount of cattle per hectare increased from 0.8 to 1.2. The industry thanked advances in handling and sanitation and favorable weather.However at the same time cattle are increasing, the land the cattle graze on in decreasing.

– In that same 10 year period, pasture area decreased from 178 to 164 million hectares. The Brazilian Leather Project has taken strides to fight this, and has actively come out against deforestation.

Below are some new additions to our Indian collection. The rustic painted finish seamlessly blends together with the perfect wood and bright hues compliment the muted tones of our leather collection. They work perfectly because everything is tied together by a mutual, worn in quality.

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Practices for Sustainability
– Conservation of water, practicing cattle farm fair-trade, organic tanning technology (chrome free without using heavy metals) are techniques used by many manufacturers.

– Use of raw materials derived from eco-friendly resources which are native to Brazil.

– Brazil has committed to reducing deforestation in the Amazon rain forest by 80 percent by the year 2020. Deforestation rates (due to clearing forest for cattle) declined 27 percent from August 2011 to July 2012. These were the lowest rates ever recorded for the 4th year in a row. Brazil’s government says this represents a 76 percent reduction since 2004.

– Brazil has developed policies known as PPCDAm (The Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Legal Amazon Deforestation) that were first implemented in 2004. PPCDAm is comprised of more than 200 initiatives across 14 ministries that together aim to reduce deforestation in the Amazon.

– Ibama is Brazil’s environmental protection service, the group tasked with monitoring, catching and punishing those responsible for the plunder of the Amazon rain forest.

The Brazillian Leather Project
This is an organization created through a partnership between the Centre for the Brazilian Tannery Industry (CICB) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil). Their goal is to promote Brazilian Leather throughout the world.

42201__64160.1392935318.1280.1280Whiskey Tub Chair

Our popular rocket tub chair, previously available in only Ebony and Cigar, is now also available in the new “Whiskey” finish. Whiskey and our new “Smoke” finish are also available in our box club leather collection of armchairs, loveseats and sofas.

Click here to browse our entire Leather Club Collection.

Kantha Stitch: Traditional Embroidery of South East Asia

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We have piles of these brilliantly patterned blankets. They are warm, but the floral motifs are perfect to get you ready for spring. Prices range from $95-$175.

Adding to our collection of beloved Indian furniture, rugs and textiles, we have packed our show room with all things Kantha. These chairs, benches, pillows and quilts are brightly colored and add a pow effect to any decor. Simultaneously, the often worn, faded fabric and white stitching tone down the bold factor, so these pieces are not overbearing, but have a soft, easy quality.

Kantha is a popular type of embroidery in eastern South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, West Bengal and Odisha. Sometimes the stitching is simple and sparse, creating only a border. In some of the most mesmerizing examples, running stitches cover the whole of the fabric, creating exquisite motifs of animals, birds, flowers, geometric shapes, and themes from every day life activities. The stitching makes the cloth appears slightly wavy and rumpled, creating a “used” effect. There are many forms of Kantha, with differences stemming from region, accessible materials, the use of the textile being created, and weather it is functional or meant for decorative purposes.

Nakshi Kantha is the term used for simple quilts which are made using Kantha stitching. In Bengal, women usually layer old saris and cloth with kantha stitch to create blankets and bedspreads. These are very popular among tourists in Bengal. In Odisha, women traditionally wear “Kantha Saris”. These saris are recycled when old to create bed cushions or to be used on top of cushions. They are layered on top of each other and stitched together.

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An example of Nakshi Kantha found in our store.

In rural areas, Kantha has remained the most common form of embroidery. Traditionally, Kantha cloth was made by using soft dhotis and saris and placing a running stitch along the edges. These were known either as Lepkantha or Sujni Kantha, depending on the use of the cloth. Some of these possible uses are women’s shawls, and covers for mirrors, boxes, and pillows. In modern times, Kantha stitch is used in wider variation, such as on shirts for both men and women, bedding and other furniture fabrics.

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We have so many fluffy, soft pillows!

There is a book called Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita, by Krishnadas Kaviraj written about 500 years ago. In this book is the first mention of a homemade Kantha, made by a mother for her son. However, Kanthas are believed to have existed for at least 1,000 years. This quote tells of the personal and often spiritual creation process of Kanthas:

“Kantha is like a personal diary, a letter one writes to a particular person, and is not meant to be ready by all. In East Bengal the Kantha was a personal expression, an art-craft that was made spontaneously, even whimsically. It was never commissioned by rulers, nor ordered by the landed gentry. No two pieces are the same. It was craft that was practiced by women of all rural classes, the rich landlord’s wife making her own elaborate embroidered quilt in her leisure time, and the tenant farmer’s wife making her own thrifty, coverlet, equal in beauty and skill. The Kantha is an invocation to the gods and spirits for the prosperity and protection of the family. A real Kantha is able to narrate a story, and is much more compact in design and it is made out of used materials. It has been passed on for generations, from mothers to daughters and is largely a “dowry” tradition.” – Krishnadas Kaviraj
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Types of Kantha

The Running Stitch Kantha is the traditional form. These are subdivided into “Nakshi-figured” and “par tola- patterned”. Nakshi Kanthas are further divided into either motif or scenic kanthas.

Lohori Kantha comes from the Persian word “lehr”, which means wave. These are further divided into “soja-straight or simple”. “Kautar khupi-triangle or pigeon coop”, or “borfi-diamond”. Lohori Kantha are especially popular in Rajshahi.

Lik or anarasi Kantha means Pineapple are found in the chapainawabgonj and Jessore areas. Variations are “lik tan, lik tile, lik jhumka, and lik lohori”.

Cross Stitch or Carpet Kanthas were brought to India by the English during the British Rule. The stitch used in these Kanthas is the cross stitch.

Sujni Kantha uses a popular motif of undulating floral and vine.4161541615-back

One really unique aspect of kantha is the combination of multiple fabrics, pulled together into one cohesive piece. The above images show the backside and front side of the same chair. Click here to view this chair in our online store.

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These two images demonstrate another chair with different fabrics on the front and back sides. This is a swivel chair and the exposed metal base and scoop shape give it a fresh, modern look, while maintaining vintage apeal through the Kantha fabric. Click here to view this chair in our online store.

Stitches

The most traditional stitch used in Kanthas is the running stitch, often called “phor” or “kantha stitch”. Other types of stitches used in Kanthas are The “Chatai” or pattern darning, “Kaitya” or bending stitch, weave running stitch, darning stitch, “Jessore” stitch, Threaded running stitch, Lik phor or anarasi or ghar hasia stitches.  The modern day Kantha stitches are the Kasmiri Stitch and the arrow head stitch. Occasionally, stitches such as the herringbone, satin, back and cross are used.

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Uses of Kanthas

Quilt (lep in Bengali)

Large spread (Naksi Kantha in Bengali)
An embellished quilt embroidered in traditional motifs and innovative style

Puja floor spread (Ason in Bengali)

Cosmetic wrapper (Arshilota in Bengali)
A narrow embroidered wrapper to roll and store away a woman’s comb, mirror, eye kohl, vermilion, sandal paste, oil bottle, etc. Often, a tying string is used to bind the wrap, as in later day satches.

Wallet (Batwa thoiley in Bengali)

Cover for Quran (ghilaf in Arabic and Bengali)

Prayer mats (Jainamaz in Bengali)

Cover (Dhakni in Bengali)
Covering cloths of various shapes and sizes.

Ceremonial meal spread (Daster khan in Bengali)

Pillow cover (Balisher chapa or oshar in Bengali)

Handkerchief (Rumal)

Modern day articles
Today newer uses are found for nakshi kanthas, such as bedspreads, wall hangings, cushion covers, ladies purses, place mats, jewelry boxes, dress fronts, skirts border, shawls and sharees.

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Kantha Stitch Cushion. Click here to view this in our online store.

Warm, Plush & Unique Gifts for the Holiday Season!

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The weather outside is… actually not that bad. But if I know New England, it’s due to get frightful any minute now. Snuggle up this Holiday season with the fluffiest pillows, coziest scarves, and an array of ornate hand woven blankets, Indian fabrics, Indian Poufs, and assorted pillows!

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Hand Embroidered Wool Scarf/Shawl
India, $68
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Kantha Stitched Scarf, Kimono Fabric Edge
$65
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Kantha Stitched Blanket
India, 60 x 86, $125
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Embroidered Indian Poufs
$136

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Cotton Pillow with Design
18 inches, Thailand, $65
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Blue Pillow with Feather Insert
18 by 18, $195
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Assorted Pillow, Yellow Flowers
22 by 22, $225
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Silk Cushions
$19

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