An old tradition from the Podlasie region of north-eastern Poland.
This is one of the most interesting old traditional European crafts preserved in north-eastern Poland (Podlasie). In the past, such textiles could be found in many European countries. In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, carpet making in Podlasie was carried out by a number of small-town workshops and a few village specialists. Two-warp fabrics consist of two layers woven together, two warp threads (each in a different colour) and two weft threads (in warp colours). One side of the fabric has opposite colours to the other side. It is its negative. The carpets are woven on hand looms with 4 threads, in a linen weave.
The results of this complex technique are geometric patterns. The composition of the carpets consists of a central field with repeated motifs and a wide framing. The framing was the exposed part, as rugs were also used as bedspreads or tablecloths. They were usually part of a wedding wreath, so it is likely that some of them depicted a ‚wedding feast‘ or ‚wedding procession‘ motif with figures of people and animals. At the beginning of the 20th century, the dyeing of carpets with aniline dyes became widespread, leading to a change in the colour scheme, which became sharper and brighter. An important stage in the development of the double weave tradition began in the 1930s, when the artist Eleonora Plutyńska set out to search for old carpets in the vicinity of Janów in the Sokółka district of Podlasie. The expedition resulted in cooperation with several Warsaw weaving workshops. Plutyńska decided to design a new type of carpet. Her first design was an ‚animal‘ inspired by a motif from a Caucasian carpet. Special ‚types‘ of carpet were created: „animal“, „wooden“, „ostrich“ and „forest“. Within these types, weavers invented their own motifs. Plutyńska also suggested a return to hand-spun wool and natural dyes. Cooperation with artists from Warsaw and the recognition of weavers from Podlasie also contributed to the preservation of this tradition in Janów.
After World War II, artists continued to work with Janów weavers. Due to political conditions, the weavers worked mainly in state-owned factories. The carpets were sold mainly to city customers. Today, these magnificent works of art are ordered by collectors from all over the world. Art aficionados from Japan have discovered this tradition for themselves, as this is where the largest number of Yan carpets are sold today. Only a small percentage of them make their way to showrooms and salons in Poland.