- Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 4, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743264215
- ISBN-13: 978-0743264211
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Root of Wild Madder: Chasing the History, Mystery, and Lore of the Persian Carpet Paperback – August 4, 2006
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About the Author
Brian Murphy is the author of The New Men: Inside the Vatican's Elite School for American Priests. A foreign correspondent for the Associated Press since 1993, and the AP's international religion writer since 2004, he lives in Athens, Greece.
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The Qasqua'i (whose tribal carpets have captivated Mr. Murphy) begun their historical treck as Georgian-speaking tribes (see Suny RG, The making of the Georgian nation, 1994, p.4). The vagaries of history made them adopt, first a Turkish dialect and now, living in Iran, Farsi--another example of discordances between ethnic identity and linguistics. But the Qashqa'i carpets poetically and artistically commemorate their past and their history.
A Christian Armenian was involved in the history of madder, but he is generally labeled "Iranian," since more famous cultures always obscure the contributions of lesser known ones. His name was "Jean Althen... [an] Iranian [!] who introduced the cultivation of madder... into Southern France... [H]e was born in a village he spells "Chaouch." He lost his parents during the Afghan invasion and was taken as a slave to Kayseri in Anatolia, where he learned cotton cultivation and dyeing. In about 1736 he escaped to France, where he was received by Louis XV in Versailles...[I]n southern France... he began to cultivate Oriental madder; this proved so successful that madder soon became a main crop of the region... [I]n 1846... his efforts honored, by the erection of his statue on the rock of Notre Dame des Doms.(See [...] newsite /articles/v1f9/v1f9a005.html).
There are two interesting asides to this story.
One concerns the species of madder that he brought into France. Was it Rubia peregrina L., or R. tinctorum L.? I believe its the latter (whose root is also known as "racine d'Armenie), found more commonly in the Orient and the source of red madder.
The other is the fact that Dominican monks from Smyrna probably encouraged and helped Althen to escape from Kaiseri, carrying madder seeds with him, to introduce in France a product that a monopoly of the Ottoman empire up to that point, with Oriental punishments awaiting those caught "stealing" it.
In any event, read this book. It is an almost magical introduction to the poetry of Oriental carpets. On second thought, I'll give it four stars and a half.