Old rugs, old people, same deal
I recently unrolled one of my antique Moldovan rugs that had been in isolation since my last visit to the country. It had moth holes when I bought it, and I didn’t want it to infect my growing collection of handmade wool kilims.
The rugs, woven by women to be used as dowry presents, were often hung on walls as decorative insulation and, therefore, are in pretty good condition for their age.
Today, I find these relics in closets, barns and, once in a while, a back room covered by more modern manufactured rugs. The Moldovan people are like others: enamored with new styles, or as much as their pocketbooks can afford.
The design of the rug I just unrolled has a series of bright birds amidst bright flowers. Birds signify fertility, while roses symbolize the national identity. I was taken by the fact that the name, date and address of the weaver are woven right into the design ‘ it took a self-assured person to do that. As I read the date again, I calculated the rug to be 78 years old. No wonder it has signs of wear that show what had gone on in the world around it as it hung on the wall of a small Moldovan farm house.
Often asking myself why I like old things, I have come to the conclusion that it is because people and happenings have rubbed against them, leaving their marks over time. They tell the story of a lifestyle now gone. That is probably why old handmade rugs always sell for more than new ones.
These Moldovan rugs are so bright and big. In the tiny rooms in which they were hung, they must have dominated the mood for years. People in this small and poor country that most often was controlled by outside forces needed the cheer the wall kilims afforded them. Just think how their removal has changed the very spirit of these families’ lives.
If my late husband Frank were alive, he would be the same age as the rug I just unrolled and brought into the house. His passing, like the taking down of the old rugs in homes, left drabness behind. Nothing ever will replace either one, but new must enter our lives if we are to be reminded that happiness is still to come, even amidst all the turmoil and discord.
The rug, heavy and large, was difficult to carry from storage. Perhaps I am like that old rug, as I, too, show the marks that life has put on me over the years. Perhaps I’m worth something because of those very imperfections.
But society often treats older people like we treat old, out-of-style, blemished rugs. We live in such a ‘youth culture’ oriented world. We want to erase any signs that we have been around a few years. Wrinkles? Get Botox. Pot belly? Get a tummy tuck. I know people who, in an attempt to look like they just arrived on this planet 20 years ago, look nothing like themselves.
I like bright young people and objects, but I am not going to seek the wisdom of life experiences from them. How could they relay the story of what happened before they arrived? And contrary to the fashion industry, not everyone looks good in tight clothing exposing midriffs or in spiked or long hair. But I do wish I could navigate around this high-tech world in ways young people can.
I guess I like the interweaving of the generations, as they form such an interesting mosaic. Together we find the richness of the past that enlightens our present days and the freshness and creation of youth that grants us hope for a brighter future.