What We’re Missing

The qualities handweavers put into their work are reflected by and emanate from the textiles they make. These qualities are what our modern world lacks, and what we yearn for, even if unknowingly: Attention to detail. Minding the small things. Care. Love. 

These qualities remind us that seemingly insignificant individuals and seemingly little things do matter. 

Each person, every thing, has a place in the world, and no one and no thing is to be overlooked or discarded. 

Each individual person holds a unique spirit intrinsic to their being; this spirit is a necessary component of the greater whole. 

Likewise, each single thing has a distinct essence innate to its being; this essence is an indispensable component of the greater whole.

In the grand scale of things, these unique spirits and distinct essences are threads brought together with care, love, and attention to detail, weaving the tapestry of our world so that not one thread is overlooked or discarded. 

We hold this all in our hands when we touch a handwoven textile. 

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© 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | Textile, Isa Frongia

This is cross-posted on Tramite.org.

Interconnection

The various traditions and styles of handweaving found across the island of Sardinia have important lessons to teach us, lessons that reach beyond the art and craft of handweaving and into the modern world.

On this Mediterranean island roughly the size of Vermont, the tradition of handweaving is legendary. The weavings of Samugheo are arguably the most distinctive: Pibiones, or small bumps of thread creating a raised design on a textile’s surface, are traditional. The weavings of Nule and Aggius, both towns with strong textile traditions, differ in their design and somewhat in their creation. Each of these towns is respected within Sardinia for its unique style of weaving, yet the motifs and techniques characteristic of each town are echoed in the textiles of distant cultures and countries.

When I present Sardinian textiles outside the island, weavers and collectors sometimes see hints of these similarities. The pibiones of Samugheo somewhat resemble boules created by Acadian weavers. The weavings of Nule often incorporate designs similar to textiles made by Native Americans from the Southwest United States and Mexico. The designs of Aggius resemble motifs found in weavings of Poland and Lithuania. The list continues, as the similarities between textiles of different lands are sometimes more apparent than the similarities of textiles from within different areas of Sardinia.

While it’s interesting to ponder the threads of influence strung between geographic regions and traditional cultures across the globe, what I find more striking is something simple yet too often discounted: Whether we talk of languages, architecture, the arts in general, handweaving specifically, or any aspect of this tapestry we call humanity, the origins, influences, techniques, and motifs are interwoven and interdependent.

And in any textile, not one single thread can be tensed, damaged, or removed without changing the integrity of the textile as a whole.

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© 2021 KM Koza | The photo is a portion of a rug by and © Isa Frongia

Certainly Not Small

Small things make a big difference. 

My favorite way to illustrate this stems from design school. Back in a time when we drew straight lines by hand using T-squares, triangles, and Rapidograph pens, we used a simple exercise to demonstrate that absolute care, attention, and precision was necessary in creating the very first to the very last element of a project. 

Think of drawing horizontal lines on a piece of paper to emulate a 8.5″ x 10″ sheet of notebook paper, which generally has about 32 lines. If you were to draw the lines by hand, you would start from the bottom of the page, draw a base line, use that line to align and draw the line above it, and then use the newly-drawn line to align and draw the line above it, continuing this process until all lines on the page are complete. 

If the very first line you drew was off level by 1/32 of an inch — the width of a fine pen nib — your design would be ruined: by the top of the page, after repeating the 1/32 inch error 32 times, your top line would be tilted one inch.

Now think of an architect guiding the construction of a skyscraper a hundred stories high, and the precision with which the foundation must be laid. Consider a handweaver making a bedspread that requires weaving thousands of crosswise weft-fibers, and the careful alignment necessary for the first row, and every row, of fibers. Think of the navigators, mathematicians, and engineers calculating courses for ships traveling oceans, skies, universes, and how the initial degree, minute, and second of direction must be absolutely precise, and then checked and corrected constantly to ensure the ship reaches the intended destination. The tiniest bit of imprecision — or an unseen factor affecting calculations or the project — would drastically change the outcome.*

Simply put, the tiniest detail affects the outcome in ways we can’t imagine. 

This is true within and beyond architecture, construction, navigation, sciences, arts, and crafts. This is true in everything — and for everyone. This is true for presidents, prime ministers, actors, sports figures, scientists, saints, mystics, people of fame — and each and every one of us.

Each one of us affects the whole. And each of our actions affects the whole.

This can be staggering to consider — yet this realization is also a gift, a blessing. 

If each of us, each of our actions, each of our interactions, each of our words affect the whole, affects our world, how do we watch, use, care for our actions, our words, and that which we contribute to our world?

Do we, in our personal spheres and work, act with disregard, condescension, hatred, and anger, spewing toxic dark clouds of negativity that increase with time and distance to create chaos, war, and destruction on a global scale? 

Or do we bring awareness, compassion, love, and care for small things into the tiny moments of our daily lives, filling what we touch with light, harmony, and joy — all of which increase with time and distance to create a world more beautiful, inclusive, harmonious, and supportive that we can perhaps imagine?

When we realize that we’re all connected and that each one of us contributes to the creation of the world we share, I believe we have the responsibility to act upon that realization: to live with love, act with compassion, care for small things, and give attention to the tiny moments of life. 

If the tiny things are cared for, if small acts are done with love and kindness, if we bring joy to our work, if we treat people, animals, plants, nature with compassion — imagine how the results would — will — magnify. 

Can we each play our part, no matter how small it seems, to help the world change for good, beyond what we can imagine?


I think of those so often invisible in our modern world, and what they bring to us. Living and working with care, compassion, love, and awareness are mystics, mothers, artists, and others, including handweavers. 

Women weaving in the hills of Sardinia; rebozo weavers and lace-makers in Oaxaca and Teotihuacan; Native Americans weaving in the Southwestern U.S.A; rug-makers weaving in the Middle East; sari-weavers in India; and others comprising the dwindling numbers of handweavers: All are working with care, focus, and attention, placing and aligning each fiber of every textile they weave. 

Beautiful textiles are the visible, tangible result of the precision and care handweavers bring to their work. 

But what are the invisible, intangible results? 

Perhaps the fragile balance of our world is subtly maintained by the magnified effect of the order, precision, care, and love the handweavers bring to their work. 

Who’s to say otherwise?

*Professor Edward Lorenz famously discussed how small acts — the change of a single variable in a set of conditions — would be magnified over time and distance and thus change outcomes. This has become known as the “butterfly effect”, simply stated as a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world could cause a typhoon on the other side of the world. 

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© 2020 KM Koza

This piece is also posted on Tramite.org.

Speaking and Teaching Engagements

Would your weaving guild, craft studio, art class, or group like to learn more about beautiful Sardinian textiles, the amazing women who weave them, and Sardinia itself?

Would you like to have a private screening and question/answer session with the maker of the documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time? See additional and/or unpublished video footage and photos of the weavers in the film, and other weavers at work? See and feel the textiles in person (in-person events only)?

I would love to arrange an online presentation for your group at the time of your convenience, or an in-person event in 2022. I’m well-versed in presenting to audiences large and small, both online and in person, and can discuss the weavers, their art, and Sardinia in a way that considers and captivates your group.

Contact me to discuss options and timing.

Online presentations are free for elementary, high school, and home schooling groups during the pandemic.

For online presentations to other groups, I generally request an honorarium based on the type and size of your group. For in-person presentations, I request that your group cover travel expenses.

Thanks to Flavia Loreto for her photo!

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Trunk Shows and Exhibitions

Would you like to see handwoven Sardinian textiles in your city? Perhaps you’d even like to purchase one, after viewing it and feeling it?

I’m arranging trunk shows, where the textiles will be shown in small groups to those interested in seeing and purchasing them, as well as exhibitions, where textiles will be displayed for some time, and, depending upon the venue and the type of exhibit, may available to purchase.

I will attend the events to discuss the textiles, the artists, and present photos and video clips of the weavers and Sardinia. I can also arrange to show my documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time and answer questions at opening nights and related events.

If you’re interested in hosting such an event, or having one in your area, please contact me.

Schedule

Given the pandemic, I have been offering online presentations at regular intervals. If interest permits, I will arrange in-person or online trunk shows mid-to late 2021. Contact me if you are interested.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Tours of Artist Studios in Sardinia

As requested, I will be leading tours of artist studios in Sardinia. Of course, given the travel restrictions and complications of 2020 and 2021, the tours have been postponed until borders are open and travelers feel comfortable heading out on new adventures.

Tours will be semi-custom or custom, and include visits to the studios of the tessitrici artigianali featured here, Sardinia’s weaving museum, and time at beautiful beaches, meals at superb restaurants, and visiting other locations within Sardinia.

Having spent a good deal of time in Sardinia and with the weavers,  I can show you the island, introduce you to the women, explain the weaving techniques, and translate language and culture in a way that helps you best appreciate and most deeply connect with the weavers, Sardinia, and her culture.

If you’d like to join me in an upcoming tour, please contact me.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

The Indescribable Energy of Beautiful Handwoven Sardinian Textiles

Traditional Textiles Samugheo, Orange + Black

Sardinian Arts doesn’t have push-button online ordering. Here’s why:

Fine handwoven Sardinian textiles are made one at a time by the hands of weavers who put their heart into each row and fiber of every weaving. This care and attention imparts a tangible energy into each weaving — and it’s this indescribable quality of love that makes the textiles so special, even beyond the museum-quality refinement of the craftsmanship apparent in each.

This essence, this quality is rare in the modern world.

I want to honor this uniqueness in the textiles, in the weavers, in you who seek to increase and cultivate these qualities in your life and your home. I want to help you find the right textile and offer you a connection to the integral spirit and beauty found in the traditional Sardinian handweavings.

Push-button online ordering breaks the connections. It commoditizes the weavings, annihilates the presence and individuality of the weavers, and turns you into a nameless consumer.

I don’t want to do that. The beautiful handwoven textiles of Sardinia offer a portal to a connection we all seek, and I honor this. It’s part of what I consider fair trade.

Please contact me if you want to know more and experience the textiles.

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Handmade or Hand-decorated?

All too often across the world, items are classified as “handmade” when they are really not.

When the term “handmade” is used to market items that are not made by hand by an artesian, many problems arise, and the buyer, the artesian, and even the commercial makers of related products suffer. The buyer often pays too much; the artesian earns too little; and the commercial makers have difficulty maintaining quality and production in their home area.

This has been evident in food as well as textiles across the world (when you think of Parmesan cheese, do you think of a heavy round of solid cheese, a bag of shredded cheese, or green can?)

The European Union recognizes different classifications of traditional food to make certain we don’t confuse the green can that has nothing to so with Parma, Italy with the traditional cheese round produced in homes and cheese-making facilities in the Parma region, it’s important that Sardinian textiles are classified accurately with reference to the method and place in which they are made.

The textiles classifications Sardinian Arts uses and maintains are listed below. Any item we offer is accurately classified with integrity according to this system. Kelly personally visits weaving studios, custom shops, and mills to meet owners and verify how textiles are made. We are also working with weavers and others in Sardinia to adhere to this classification system to ensure the integrity of textiles “Made in Sardegna” and ensure the weavers, producers, and artists of Sardinian are treated with respect and that their items are sold in a fair and sustainable manner.

Hand made, Hand-decorated, Mill-made Classifications

The classifications are

  • Handmade textiles: Textiles made completely by hand, using looms where all the movements and beating are done only by hand/foot, and not by a hydraulic, electronic, or computerized loom.
  • Hand-decorated textiles: Textiles made by hydraulic, electronic, or computerized looms, where all the beating is not done by hand/foot. The weavers stops the mechanical beating of the loom to make pibiones and/or add other decoration by hand.
  • Mill-made textiles: Textiles made in mills, by hydraulic, electronic, and/or computerized looms with minimum human involvement, and often where many similar objects are produced at the same time.

All the classifications permit:

  • The use of fibers prepared in mills.
  • The use of a sewing machine, if the use is to make seams/hems after the weaving is cut from the loom and the seams/hems are not decorative.

The use of fibers prepared by hand without hydraulic, electronic, or computerized tools can be indicated with the label “Hand-spun fibers”.

Questions?

If you have any questions about whether the textiles you are buying are handmade, hand-decorated, or mill-made, please contact me.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

If you would like to copy the textile classifications text to use on your own site or collateral, kindly include this credit and link: “Textile classifications as defined on SardinianArts.com.”

Textile Classifications

This is the text of one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in January and February 2017.

Just as the European Union recognizes different classifications of traditional food, it’s important that Sardinian textiles are classified accurately with reference to the method and place in which they are made. This will help buyers understand classifications of textiles bearing the label “Made in Sardinia”, increase esteem of all weavers in Sardinia, and protect weavers in a global economy.

The suggested classifications are:

  • Handmade textiles: Textiles made completely by hand, using looms where all movements and beating are done only by hand/foot, and not by a hydraulic, electronic, or computerized loom.
  • Hand-decorated textiles: Textiles made by hydraulic, electronic, or computerized looms, where the beating is not all done by hand/foot. The weaver stops the mechanical beating of the loom to make pibiones and/or add other decoration by hand.
  • Mill-made textiles: Textiles made in mills, by hydraulic, electronic, and/or computerized looms with minimum human involvement, and often where many similar objects are produced at the same time.

All the classifications permit:

  • The use of fibers prepared in mills.
  • The use of a sewing machine, if the use is to make seams/hems after the weaving is cut from the loom and the seams/hems are not decorative.

The use of fibers prepared by hand without hydraulic, electronic, or computerized tools can be indicated with the label “Hand-spun fibers”.

All three classifications have their buyers and their place in the market. The difference between the three classifications of textiles is the same as the difference between a painting by a master painter, a limited-edition print of the painting, and a poster.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

If you would like to copy the textile classifications text to use on your own site or collateral, kindly include this credit and link: “Textile classifications as defined on SardinianArts.com.”

Sardinian Arts: La nostra dichiarazione

Il mio obiettivo è educare i cittadini degli Stati Uniti alla bellezza della Sardegna, del suo popolo, delle sue tradizioni, e della sua arte, soprattutto quella delle tessitrici artigianali. Quando questa conoscenza esiste ed è ben radicata, è più facile vendere a un buon prezzo e mantenere “a casa” l’economia della regione.

Pianifico di incontrare molti dei il più ampio numero possibile di tessitrici, artisti, e tutti coloro che lavorano nel settore per aprire un dialogo permanente e di lungo periodo.

La Sardegna è benedetta con una cultura e diverse forme d’arte che devono essere rispettate, mantenute e protette. La preservazione e l’elevazione dell’arte Sarda e, in particolare, l’arte di tessere a mano, è di fondamentale importanza: Il rispetto per i tessitrici che lavorano a mano servirà da apriporta alla conoscenza di e al rispetto per tutti i tessitori, tutte le arti, e il patrimonio e la cultura della Sardegna. Questo, a sua volta, produrrà ricadute positive su tutto il settore turismo e commercio.

L’arte tessile fatta a mano in Sardegna è importante per diverse ragioni. L’arte è quasi persa. Il modo in cui i tessitrici Sardi lavorano e vivono, i loro principi, e la loro conoscenza rappresentano un patrimonio che non può che avere un grande appeal per un pubblico che vive in un mondo high-tech e soffre di livelli di stress altissimi. In queste condizioni, i tessitrici artigianali diventano modelli di riferimento per uno stile di vita più genuino.

In questo momento, i tessuti e i motivi Sardi sono quasi sconosciuti e si trovano raramente all’estero. Questa situazione offre delle opportunità. L’idea prevalente è che i tessitori Sardi siano esclusivamente dei produttori di tappeti, non di arte. È imperativo che questa percezione cambi.

Negli anni recenti, abbiamo sentito troppe storie di culture tradizionali la cui arte viene sequestrata da venditori bramosi e privi di scrupoli. I motivi rubati sono utilizzati per produrre reddito per i grandi conglomerati internazionali invece che per le comunità di origine e di produzione.

I grandi negozi dei paesi ricchi cercano motivi unici e tessuti inusuali da vendere. I tessitori dei paesi produttori d’arte “appena scoperta” sono contenti – almeno inizialmente.

Ma poi i tessitori locali provano a soddisfare la crescente domanda mediante la produzione dei telai elettronici e in fabbrica. I loro obiettivi diventano la quantità di produzione, la volume delle vendite, ed il reddito. I tessitori divengono produttori e perdono la loro identità di artisti. In questo processo, purtroppo, si perde il rispetto per i motivi, le artiste e l’arte stessa.

Questa è la strada verso il declino dell’arte e dell’economia. Il valore dei tessuti e dei loro produttori declina. Quando i tessitori divengono solamente fabbricanti, i loro motivi ed i loro tessuti divengono esclusivamente merce. Quando i motivi ed i tessitori non sono rispettati e protetti, i conglomerati internazionali e gli arredatori assegnano i contratti agli offerenti con i prezzi più bassi. Si tratta di semplice matematica, della spietata legge della domanda e dell’offerta. Nell’ economia globale, gli offerenti ai prezzi minimi non saranno mai Sardi. Certamente io mi auguro che i tessitori Sardi non provino a competere con la Cina, che vince sempre la competizione al ribasso.

In Cile, i tessitori artigianali iniziarono a tessere con telai elettronici per aumentare la quantità della produzione e soddisfare la richiesta estera. Nel processo, i tessitori e la loro arte non sono stati rispettati né protetti. Al contrario, i grandi negozi degli Stati Uniti e d’Europa hanno rubato i motivi del Cile per fare vestiti, accessori, e arredamenti e hanno spostato la produzione in Cina. I tessitori e le fabbriche del Cile, non riuscendo a competere con i grandi negozi, hanno perso la loro arte e anche il loro reddito.

Una situazione simile è successa in Kenya. Oggi, tutti i tessuti in Kenya con motivi tradizionali sono fatti in Cina e importati in Kenya. Penso che oggi ci sia solo una fabbrica ancora aperta in Kenya, di proprietà cinese.

Certamente non vogliamo che i grandi negozi o altri paesi sfruttino la Sardegna in modo analogo.

Invece, come hanno fatto il popolo indigeno della Nuova Zelanda, i Maori, ed i tessitori artigianali del Guatemala (quelli che conservano una tradizione ed i motivi simili dei tessitrici di Nule) che lottano con successo per reclamare e proteggere le loro arte tradizionale, i Sardi devono fare passi per proteggere la loro cultura.

In Sardegna, i venditori non fanno nessuna distinzione fra tessuti che sono fatti a mano, con telai elettronici o in fabbrica. Nei negozi per turisti, su internet, e pure in alcuni laboratori di tessitori, tutti i tessuti sono venduti come “artigianali” e “artigianali fatti a mano”.

Al fine di elevare la stima e il valore del loro lavoro, le tessitrici artigianali Sardi devono essere riconosciuti come artisti, ed i motivi tradizionali Sardi devono essere rispettati come arte originaria della Sardegna. Oggetti che ne incorporano i motivi devono fatti solamente da produttori locali. La protezione delle artiste e dei motivi Sardi darà vantaggio ai tutti i tessitori dell’isola.

Proprio come l’Unione Europea riconosce diverse classificazioni dei cibi tradizionali, a tal fine, è importante che i tessuti Sardi vengano classificati accuratamente con riferimento al modo ed al paese luogo in cui sono stati fatti. Le classificazioni devono essere mantenute, e che il pubblico deve essere venga educato al riguardo riguardo ai livelli. Infatti, tutti i livelli hanno il loro posto ed i loro acquirenti.

Avendo discusso e scambiato idee e opinioni con esperti negli ultimi anni, penso che un sistema di classificazioni come quello sotto descritto aiuterà gli acquirenti a comprendere i livelli dei tessuti dall’etichetta “Made in Sardegna”, aumenterà la stima per tutti i tessuti di tutti i livelli, e proteggerà i tessitori Sardi nei flussi mondiali.

  • Handmade textiles / Tessuti artigianali fatti a mano: I tessuti fatti completamente a mano, a telaio dove tutti i movimenti e le battute sono fatti da mani/piedi, e non a telaio idraulico, elettronico o computerizzato.
  • Hand-decorated textiles/Tessuti artigianali abbelliti a mano: Tessuti fatti a telaio idraulico, elettronico o computerizzato, dove tutte le battute non sono fatte da mani/piedi. Il tessitore firma la battitura meccanica con pibiones o altri abbelliti a mano.
  • Mill-made textiles/Tessuti fatti in fabbrica: Tessuti fatti in fabbrica, a telaio idraulico, elettronico ed/o computerizzato con minimo coinvolgimento umano, e spesso dove molti oggetti simili sono prodotti nello stesso arco di tempo.

Si permette a tutti i livelli:

  • L’uso di fibre preparate in fabbrica.
  • L’uso di una macchina da cucire purché l’uso è per fare le cuciture dopo che l’articolo è stato tagliato dal telaio e le cuciture non sono decorative.
  • L’uso di fibre preparate a mano senza attrezzo idraulico, elettronico o computerizzato può essere indicato con l’etichetta “Hand-spun fibers/fibre girate a mano”.

Tutti e tre i livelli hanno i loro acquirenti e il loro posto nel mercato. Non vi è nessuna competizione. Lo spiego così: La differenza fra i tre livelli di tessuti Sardi è analoga alla differenza fra un dipinto dal maestro pittore, una serigrafia a tiratura limitata, e un poster. Gli elementi importanti sono il riconoscimento per l’arte e l’apprezzamento per le artiste.

Coloro i quali sono in grado di acquistare i tessuti fatti a mano lo faranno, come coloro i quali sono interessati di acquistare un quadro originale di un pittore ben conosciuto.

Il pubblico che ammira l’arte e valuta oggetti di alta qualità, ma non è in grado di sostenere il costo di oggetti d’arte fatti esclusivamente a mano, sarà contento di pagare un buon prezzo per i tessuti fatti con telai elettronici e powerlooms. Infatti, penso che i consumatori pagheranno un prezzo più alto per gli articoli che sono fatti a powerloom quando il segmento alto del mercato percepisce i tessitori come rappresentanti di un’arte, invece che solamente fabbricanti di tessuti. Questi acquirenti saranno come quelli che acquisiscono una riproduzione limitata di un quadro.

Gli alberghi, i ristoranti e gli utenti medi che desiderano cuscini, tappeti e tovaglie per uso quotidiano cercano cose non troppo speciali perché temono di rovinarle. Servono quindi grandi produzioni e prezzi bassi: ovvero quelli dei tessuti Sardi fatti con procedure automatizzate. Infatti, i tessuti commerciali della Sardegna sono di qualità superiore e mostrano motivi Sardi che saranno rispettati come “Made in Sardinia”. Gli acquirenti saranno come quelli che acquisiscono i poster dell’arte che sono stampati in modo commerciale.

Gli elementi importanti sono il riconoscimento per l’arte e l’apprezzamento per le artiste.

Credo sinceramente che il modo in cui la Sardegna può farsi strada in modo sostenibile nei flussi mondiali sia di elevare e proteggere la sua arte. Soprattutto in questo momento in cui sono introdotti i tessuti Sardi al di fuori dell’isola, Penso che sia essenziale che le tessitrici artigianali vengano rispettati e siano presentati come artiste che esprimono una cultura unica e sono riconosciute per il proprio valore. Questo darà vantaggio a tutti i tessitori, tutte le arti e tutta la gente della Sardegna. Credo fortemente fermamente che quando la Sardegna offrirà il meglio della propria cultura al mondo, il mondo questo e tutta anche la gente della Sardegna ne profitteranno al massimo.

Kelly Manjula Koza

SardinianArts.com

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved