Double warp rugs, an old tradition from Janów in north-eastern Poland.

Double warp carpets consist of two layers, two warp threads (each in a different colour) and two weft threads (in warp colours). One side of the fabric has the opposite colour of the other side. The rugs are woven on 4 hand looms with a linen weave.

This is one of the most interesting old traditional European crafts preserved in north-eastern Poland (Podlasie). In the past, such fabrics were found in Scandinavia, England, Italy or Spain. In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, this type of textile making was carried out by small-town workshops and village specialists.

The result of this complex technique is geometric patterns. The composition of the carpets consists of a central field with repeating motifs and a wide border. The bordure was the exposed part, as the rugs were used as bedspreads or tablecloths. They were usually part of a wedding wreath, so 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 colouring, which became sharper and brighter.

An important stage in the development of this east Polish tradition began in the 1930s when the artist Eleonora Plutyńska set out to find old carpets in the area of Janów in the Sokółka district of Podlasie. The expedition led to cooperation with several weaving workshops from Warsaw. Plutyńska wanted to design a new type of carpet. Her first design was an “animal” inspired by a motif from a Caucasian carpet. Special “types” of rugs were created: “animal”, “wood”, “ostrich”, “forest”. Within these types, the weavers invented their own motifs. Plutyńska also suggested a return to hand-spun wool and natural dyes.

Collaboration with artists from Warsaw and the recognition of weavers from Podlasie contributed to the preservation of this tradition in Janów.

After the Second World War, artists continued to work with the Janów weavers. Due to the political circumstances, the weavers worked however mainly in state factories. The carpets were mainly sold to urban customers in the state runed shops “Cepelia”.

Today, these wonderful works of art are ordered by collectors from all over the world. Art lovers from Japan have discovered this tradition for themselves, that is where today many Janow carpets are sold. Only some of them find their way into salons and showrooms in Poland.

Works of Teresa Pryzmont from Janów