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Dover elementary school students bridge two cultures by exploring the art of rug making

Posted by Laura Gomez  January 30, 2013 02:44 PM

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Students from Charles River School in Dover visit Dover Rug & Home.jpg
Waheed Khan/ Dover Rug & Home
Third graders from the Charles River School in Dover stand next to Mahmud Jafri, CEO of Dover Rug & Home in Natick, who’s been holding this interactive and cultural program for 20 years. The children are pictured holding sample sized rug squares from the store.

Third grade students from the Charles River School took part in a hands-on cultural lesson about the art of rug making on Jan. 28 at Dover Rug & Home in Natick.

Hosted by the CEO of Dover Rug & Home Mahmud Jafri, the interactive outreach program promotes a better understanding of the Muslim culture and the story told by each hand woven rug.

For two hours, the children learned how hand woven rugs are designed, how the sheep wool and other materials used are gathered, and the weaving techniques used in this century-old tradition.

“We also explain the artistic point of view and the artistic challenge of rug making,” said Jafri, who has hosted this educational program for 20 years, “They learn about the stories, symbolism, motifs, and the religious influence and cultural influence seen in each rug.”

Students explored the details of how wool is dyed from colors made from natural products, along with the difference between cool colors and jewel tones, the weaving techniques, and the steps involved to complete a rug, according to a press release.

“The students react amazingly well,” said Jafri. At this age, he noted, the kids are very curious about that part of the world.

As part of their social studies curriculum, the Charles River third graders learn year-round about ‘Traveling with Marco Polo,’ a course that explores the geography and cultures of Europe and Asia. Jafri said that because the children have a background of the history, they are able to enjoy the program and interact by asking questions.

As part of Jafri's program, children will be designing their own carpet square, like the ones pictured above.

“To see them open up a window to another culture and then use their inspiration and creativity to design a rug is very heart-warming,” said Jafri, who founded this initiative to bring together the two cultures of India and America for the young people in a positive and creative way.

Laura Gomez can be reached at laura.gomez@globe.com.

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