One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
The next few pages our book group was assigned to read for the week were extremely fruitful in terms of aspects, skills, etc that seemed foreign to me. There were so many in fact, that I must even confess to have written a few of them on the back of my book in order to remember them once I began to write my weekly blog post. Some of the ones I listed that will not be discussed are: the prisoners' regulation dress, their morning prayer and their squads and squad leaders. Evidently, they are all very interesting terms that I would happily look into, however they are not as interesting and captivating as carpet painting.
Carpet painting was first mentioned on page 40, where Shukov mentioned a letter he received from his wife talking about how life was back at home. In this letter, she carefully told him how several of their neighbours had ditched their jobs to become carpet painters, which were people who made carpets, painted on them using stencils and later sold them for a much cheaper price than a regular carpet. Obviously, to us, these carpets do not seem like "the next big thing", but as one can easily note by reading throughout pages 40-42, Shukov was mesmerised by these carpets and really wanted to see them.
Like Shukov, I was also interested in how these carpets would look and so I decided to turn to my computer and look up the term "carpet painting". Apparently, according to SadandUseless.com, Russians are quite fond of carpets and often refer to them as "rugs" or "caucasian carpets". These rugs are seen quite a lot throughout Russia and are not only used on the floor but are also hung onto the walls, decorating them and adding a stream of colour to each room they are placed in. They are, according to the Russian blog Tea and Carpets, "handwoven, expensive, unique works of art."
However it is also important to note that in communist Russia, the carpet market was finished. Luxury goods were to be despised, even if they were secretly collected, and interior design styles conformed to the new rules. But, as one discovers by reading Solzhenitsyn's novel, even though they were prohibited and commonly despised, there was still a "black market" of sorts that gave money to plenty. And quite a lot of money at that, since Shukov's wife mentioned that "the carpet painters also upgraded their cottages" (Solzhenitsyn 40). What are your views on these caucasian carpets? Do you think they held a certain meaning to the Russians during the revolution? Why or why not?
Image of a carpet painter selling his work at a market.