Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weaving to Survive

Yesterday evening, Marash Girl attended "Turn of the Screw" performed by the Newton Nomadic Theatre at Gregorian Oriental Rugs in Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts.  The play was intense, the actors superb, and the setting (courtesy of Scott Gregorian) far more colorful  than any theatre Marash Girl had ever experienced.

Being surrounded by the oriental carpets brought back a family story of survival in Marash early in the 20th century.  As her father Peter told it . . . .

There she was, his mother -- young Yepros -- with 4 children and a younger sister to care for, her husband Moses in the United States, unable to return to his family in Marash because World War I had broken out.

As Marash Girl's father Peter told the story,  Yepros's uncle (her mother's brother) Ganimian (Marash Girl doesn't remember his first name), concerned, asked Yepros, "What are you going to do? How are you going to support these children? I'll set up a loom in your house, and teach you how to weave so that you and the family can weave cloth and sell it in the marketplace."   As Peter told the story, every member of the family worked at that loom -- he spun thread, the others (Gulenia, Paul, Rosie, Mary and his mother Yepros) did the weaving -- in fact, Aunty Mary Kurtgusian (later Pambookian) apparently caught the hook (and I'm not sure what Peter meant by hook) in her eye and to her dying day had a scar on her eye lid as a reminder of those days! Grandma Yepros sold the cloth in the market place in Marash, and if the cloth was too rough, or had too many errors in it, their Muslim neighbors (Muhajjirs) took the cloth to the countryside to exchange for produce from the gardens of other Muhajjirs.  Grandpa Peter proudly told of how he, then a 6 year old boy, would spin wool into yarn, the yarn that would  be woven into cloth by his mother, his brother Paul, his sister Gulenia and Rosie, and Mary Baju (his mother's sister, though they always thought she was their sister as they called her Mary Sister -- Baju in Turkish means sister).  With the waters coming down from the mountains, and some fruit and vegetables, milk and eggs, (and probably more raw wool to spin into thread/yarn for weaving) coming in from the countryside (thanks to their Muslim neighbors --  see above), the family was minimally able to survive (though apparently when they arrived in this country, they were thinner than thin!)


  1. Our knitting knobby had significance, then.

    1. Perhaps, it had significance for dad. What other 5 year old boys in Newton, Mass, USA, we're turning yarn into rugs? I remember spending many hours,, attenuated over many weeks, turning yarn into a makeshift blanket/rug, while watching Marash Girl, fingers flying, knitting yarn into a revolution, as I later reflected while reading Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.

    2. And the knitting knobby was about the same size as the spindle on which Grandpa Peter had been spinning thread!