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Doukhobor Rug

Curated Submission
Western Canada
20th century
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
168 x 105
Materials & techniques
Wool; Knotted pile
Gift of Madeleine Boucher Harvie
Textile Museum of Canada T04.22.4
The tradition of knotted pile rugs was brought to western Canada by the Doukhobors in the late 19th century when they emigrated from Russia to escape religious persecution. The Doukhobors (literally “spiritual wrestlers”), considered a heretical sect because of their opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church, had been forced out of the central and southern Russian Empire by the Czarist government and into the eastern Caucasus. In 1899–1900 they were allowed to leave Russia.
They brought considerable textile skills with them to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. On their communal farms, they processed wool yarn, dyed it with packaged chemical dyes to produce bright hues like the ones in this carpet, and used the wool to make clothing and household textiles including pile knotted rugs. The finished rugs were treasured household possessions and were used at marriages, where they were knelt on by the couple, or at funerals, where they were laid under the coffin. They were also used to line sleeping shelves under the bedding to provide comfort and warmth at night. Patterns on Doukhobor rugs incorporate hooked diamonds, stars, and stylized floral motifs similar to patterns on south Russian, Ukrainian, and Caucasian textiles and rugs.
According to the family archive of the donor, this rug was given to James Duncan McGregor by Peter Verigin (1859–1924), a Doukhobor leader from near Brandon, Manitoba, where McGregor operated a stockbreeding farm until he became Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba in 1928. James McGregor’s grandson gave the rug to Madeleine Boucher Harvie, his wife’s best friend, in 1947.
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