From Tehran to Sydney: A tapestry of Jewish life

Jacques Cadry was a Jewish man from Tehran, Iran, who migrated to Sydney, Australia, with his family to start a new life in 1952.

Right from the beginning, rugs were woven into the fabric of the Cadry family. Jaques’ father, Israel Cadry, was a prosperous Tehrani trader who sold various wares, including intricate artisanally crafted carpets. He came from a long line of rug merchants, spanning all the way back to the 1800s in their native Iran.

Cadry Family & Iraqi Jewish Friend Morris Joseph, rug in hand

The Cadry family with Iraqi Jewish Friend Morris Joseph, rug in hand in Centennial Park, 1953. Courtesy of the Cadry Family. 

Cadry almost single-handedly introduced the Australian public to the beauty, artistic merit and lasting quality of these highly labour-intensive works of art, created from thousands of knots, delicately tied by hand. 

He was legendary in the industry not only for his craft, his scholarly knowledge of the history and artistry of rugs, but for his integrity and concern for the artisans who made the rugs.

At first, business was a challenge, as Australian homes were designed with wall-to-wall carpets and there was little appreciation for imported rugs.

The Cadry family in Sydney, 1952.

The Cadry family in Sydney, 1952. Image Courtesy of the Cadry Family. 

“I used to go and keep him company in the shop,” says Helene, Jacques’ eldest child. “No one came for six months. I asked him if he was worried, and he told me to be patient. He was right.”

With his perseverance and integrity, Cadry was able to share his passion and expert knowledge to create greater awareness and appreciation of the beauty and value of an Oriental rug.

He has left a lasting legacy that continues to be proudly carried on by his children and grandchildren.

Woven Memory

70 years after the family’s arrival in Australia, we exhibit a selection of Jewish-themed rugs from the Cadry family collection in our new feature exhibition: Woven Memory. 

It explores how the art form of carpets wove its way into the artistic and cultural fibre of Jewish homes and synagogues.

 “History gleaned from textbooks is often dry and unimaginable. 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


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