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Alexandra Zonis

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Title Missing Key               2006
Medium Japanese Glass Beads, loom woven, double sided
162 150 beads
(252 beads per square inch)
Dimensions   29.5 x 20"    590 sq"
with the shadow box:
32 x 25.5 x 2.5 "
Price: SOLD May 21, 2006,  Art Collector, Westfield, NJ
Initial price, $12,000
Current  value, $20,000, September 2014
Carpet style Khamseh, Arabic word for Five.
It Refers to the Confederacy of Five Tribes
See the text below
Click on the 3 images below to enlarge the close-ups


Khamseh means five in Arabic, and it refers to “the Confederacy of Five” or the five tribes (the Arab, Nafar, Baharlu, Inalu, and the Basseri) that lived to the southwest of Qashqai territories in southern Iran near Shiraz. The Confederacy was dissolved 1956. Their weavings often include “bird rugs” – rugs with multiple bird images. Classic rugs of the Five Tribes had 3 repeated central medallions, and often were rather improvisational in nature unlike other Persian rugs that were woven rigidly in the same design generation after generation. Repeating stripes, also known as “cane patterns”, can be seen in Khamseh weavings from time to time.

I have decided to create the three central medallions out of negative space letting the cane patterns show through. The overall image was planned to suggest a stylized key hole without a key present. The viewer can see through the key hole, but cannot unlock the secret. Going further into the symbolism of a key hole and a missing key, the piece is meant to offer the idea that beauty and harmony are the key and the solution to problems of the Middle East, and they are already here – in the land and in the weaving. We don’t need to look for a missing key to solve the puzzle; the problem and solution are one and the same.

The bead work on this piece is a lot more intricate than anything I’ve done so far. There isn’t an inch of the plain field anywhere, the design is all over. It is much more difficult to weave curves than straight geometric lines. The curves can be appreciated in the close-up views above.

Text by Alexandra Zonis