Carpets are highly labour-intensive works of art. They’re created from thousands of knots, delicately tied by hand. Most take several months to weave, but silk rugs with high knot counts can take years. Over millennia, this artform has been woven into the cultural and artistic fabric of Jewish homes and synagogues.
In fact, Jewish carpets are as old as the religion itself. The Torah makes frequent mention of weaving and of dyes such as Kermes. The Tabernacle that housed the Ten Commandments was said to have been adorned with elaborate carpets in vibrant blue, purple and crimson. Today, Mizrah carpets are used in some Jewish homes to indicate east so families can pray in the direction of Jerusalem.
What constitutes a Jewish carpet? Is it the craftsperson or the pictures, inscriptions and iconography or is it in its use? Woven Memory displays a diverse collection of rare rugs from the Cadry family collection, exploring the significant role that rugs play in transmitting Jewish culture across time.
Jacques Cadry was born in Tehran in 1911 to a family who had been dealing in rugs and carpets since the Nineteenth Century. When he arrived with his family in Australia from Iran in 1952, Jacques brought with him the ancient knowledge and appreciation for hand-knotted Persian rugs.
Cadry became legendary in the industry not only for his mastery of the craft or his scholarly knowledge of their history, but for his integrity and concern for the artisans who made the rugs.
Over generations, the Cadry family would instil this passion into Australian homes, and introduce a nation to this form of artistry.
70 years since the family’s arrival in Australia, we exhibit a selection of Jewish-themed rugs from the Cadry family collection.
“History gleaned from textbooks is often dry and unimaginable, so the window that these woven treasures impart gives us the imagery and visual connection to enable these fascinating stories to come alive.”
– Jacques Cadry, Sydney, 1990