this Russian art rug
Molokans or Jumpers in Mexico?
Question: Oct 21, 2009,
from Cheron Frazier <cheron (at) cox.net>
I am sending along some photos of a hanging rug which was purchased in
Ensenada, Mexico, many years ago by my family. We were told that this
hanging rug came from the Molokan village in the Guadalupe
15 miles away from Ensenada. My father loved Baja, Mexico, and took us
regularly to both Rosarito and Ensenada when I was growing up in Chula
Vista, CA. The wall hanging was already old when we bought it in the late 1960's and had
a few small worn
places. The design is intricate and was tightly woven on a loom, dyed
wool yarn over a cotton warp. It is quite large, measuring about four
feet wide by two and a half feet tall, and quite well done if somewhat
I am wondering if anyone at the Molokan.org website recognizes the
costumes the men are wearing and what they are doing? The men are
gathered around a campfire. One of the men is playing some kind of
bagpipe. There is a man jumping with an axe in one hand and he is
firing a gun in the other hand (is he jumping over the fire?). There is
a large red dog looking at the men from the lower left side of the
tapestry and there are plants and many trees in the background. Maybe
some kind of celebration?
Hopefully someone there recognizes the design symbolism of this wall
hanging and what it means and maybe even about when it was made. If
not, perhaps you could please forward my email to someone with Molokan
history knowledge who might know? Mostly this wall hanging has been
kept in various drawers over the years and it is in about the same
condition as it was when it was purchased.
Your help in identification of this rug hanging tapestry is much
Reply: Oct 23, 2009,
Interesting. Our first impressions are:
From what kind of vendor — street, store? How much did you pay?
- Definitely not a scene of
sectarian Molokans or Jumpers,
though one guy is jumping.
- The images are of Cossacks
(deffinitely the hats), not
religious peasant sectarians like Jumpers or Molokans who would have
much different costumes, and no weapons or bagpipe. Cossacks did do a
fire dance, and slavs celebrate the summer solstice holiday Ivan Kupala Day
which includes male fire jumping.
- The Lizitsin family in Guadalupe valley were from
maybe they did it or know who did.
- This could have been made by an artist who is a descendant
of Molokan-Jumpers for the tourist trade. About 100 Russian descendants
live in the area, most intermarried.
- Today we do not know who made it, or if any similar rugs
- We would like a better photo to send
Are you still near San Diego? If so there are several Jumper-Molokan
families in San Marcos near the UC campus, which was a Jumper-owned egg
ranch. I can send you some addresses and you could show them the rug.
It would be best if you made one good photo by holding your camera high
over the center and shooting with flash.
In the meantime I will post your story on the website and maybe someone
will respond. Unfortunately our Mexico historian George Mohoff died
last month, but his wife said
she would pass around photos to others in LA from Mexico to see if
anyone can help ID this artist.