KAITAG, Textile Art from Daghestan
exhibition at the Sakip Sabanci Museum, Emirgan, Istanbul
19 April to 19 August 2007

Three Hands

Kaitag region, south-west Daghestan
19th century or earlier
49 x 88 cm
silk embroidery on cotton

This talismanic embroidery has a linear lattice containing three magic hands in the central diamonds, flanked by eight scrolled circles containing pinwheels. It was probably made to protect a baby from the evil eye. Miniature bronze hands appeared as talismanic belt clasps in the northern Caucasus, including Bejta in Daghestan, during the first half of the 1st millennium BC. Such charms survived into the Islamic period as the hand of Fatima. Many houses in Daghestan have impressions of a fingers-upwards hand in the plaster beside the doorway, which were made either by human hands or by brass stamps such as the one in the Kraevedcheskii Museum in Makhachkala.

The flowing and the straight linkage lines of the embroidery are made by colourful combinations of stem stitch, slipping into chain stitch and brick filling stitch in six pairs of colours. The motifs are filled with laid and couched stitch in eight colours, and emphasised by cross stitch and herringbone stitch.


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text and images © Sakip Sabanci Museum, Istanbul
and textile-art, London, 2007:
not to be reproduced without permission