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Alexandra Zonis

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Title Dessuart
finished, March 2008
Medium Japanese Glass Beads,
loom woven, double sided
# of beads: 221 536 beads
Beads per square inch:
Dimensions   46 x 17.5"            810 sq"

Dessuart is exhibited within a wall hanging black shadow box, 
48 x 23 x 2.75”


Price: contact us for current value
Carpet style Moroccan,  About Dessuart

Photos by Natalie Marionneaux


About Dessuart

is a glass tapestry created to celebrate Moroccan tradition and beauty of the desert. Executed in traditional Chiadma yellow-orange colors to invoke a thought of sandy dunes, it sparkles with silver greens, sunflower yellows, and fiery orange shadows as the desert itself does during early morning hours when the dew is beginning to sizzle. Then the blazing heat of the midday highlights the center of the field. And then the weaving transitions slowly into the orange sunset as the day draws to its close. “Dessuart” is an archaic French word for “desert.” How interesting that “art” is a prominent part of it.

At the north-west corner of the African continent, about halfway along the Atlantic coast between Safi and Essaouria, the Tennsift River marks the beginning of the territory of the Chiadma tribe. Chiadma people produce knotted pile carpets and flat weaves with multicolored aprons, selvedges with triangles and diamonds and unusual symmetries, as found throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The extensive use of red and burgundy tones, yellow orange fields and asymmetrical elements distinguish the traditional Chiadma. It is worth noting the elongated proportion of many Moroccan carpets, of which Chiadma is a great example, where the length exceeds the width two or three times, giving the composition a slender and delicate feel.

Oriental rugs are full of symbolism
. The symbols tell a story. Dessuart contains a multitude of symbols. The central medallion depicts a house, the heart and cornerstone of the family life. Multilayered, warm and inviting, it is a center of the Universe. No one can exist alone, thus four additional houses surround the central one. It is a village, an extended family.

Six symbolic gourds at the north and south of the main field represent longevity and good health. In ancient myths the elixir of immortality was stored in gourds or calabashes to ensure its potency. The gourd, shaped like a uterus, is also a symbol of blessing and fertility. The number 6 of the gourds in the weaving is the number of harmonious coexistence of opposites. The elements of the inner border of Dessuart are similar to those found in Rabat carpets. Here we can see an interchanging motif of hearts and minarets that fit into each other in an Escher-like pattern.

I took the most artistic liberty with the outer border. While it consists of traditional Chiadma diamonds, I changed the historic cruciform motif to a multitude of religious symbols. The Mediterranean region is the cradle of religions and traditions. We have Christianity of various denominations, Judaism, and Islam represented on the shores of the ancient sea. In Dessuart’s outer border, we can see numerous crosses (Crusaders, Swiss, Greek, eastern, Celtic, Maltese as well as heraldic crosses of various Mediterranean tribes). We have pagan symbols and knots, Muslim stars and half-moons, Hebrew letters representing Life and the name of God, Jewish stars, a fleur-de-lis of French and Spanish monarchies. I used a depiction of a key, a symbol rich with meanings for both Christian and Pagan traditions - it is a Key to understanding. This key also serves as a little private joke: this is the key missing from my previous weaving entitled Missing Key. I have woven the first and the last letters of the English alphabet (the A and the Z), as a modern Alpha and Omega, but the letters also happen to be my initials
(those initials A and Z are the 2 lowest to the far right of the lowest photo
you can enlarge that photo by clicking on it)

I have woven these symbols together with the idea of harmonious coexistence. If, together, they can create beauty in my weaving, maybe this harmonious energy can help to create more harmony between peoples, between religions and traditions, between peoples and nature, in real life.

Like a real desert, Dessuart contains secrets. In different light, or lit from behind, Dessuart will reveal elements and depths hidden from a casual frontal view.

Alexandra Zonis, March 2008

Click on the top and the bottom images below to enlarge them
The images below the full view are close ups that correspond to the writing to the left