Postcard from... Pirot


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A Pirot carpet has magical powers, they say: its colourful patterns and symbols are designed to bring luck and protect from evil. Nearly every home in the eastern Serbian town after which they were named has one – big or small, rolled out on the floor, wrapped over furniture or hung on the wall.

Yet Pirot’s centuries-old craft of carpet-weaving is in danger of dying out – and a group of women are fighting to keep it alive. The number of weavers has dropped from 5,000 women a century ago to only about 10 professionals today, Slavica Ciric from the Lady’s Heart group said.

The carpets are made from locally-bred wool according to special rules that date back hundreds of years.

Sitting on low, wooden benches, the women work gently, using nothing but their fingers to weave through wool stretched on vertical looms. Because the carpets are hand-made with complex geometrical designs, one weaver produces less than one square metre per month, Ms Ciric explained.

Original Pirot carpets are extremely dense, thin and have the same design on both sides. 

“For most people, these are just colourful carpets, but we see more,” she said. “We see a story unfolding through symbols and colours.” AP