A donation to the library from the McDonald family has turned the 3rd floor loft into a place where armchair travelers can imagine themselves transported to faraway places such as Morocco, Turkmenistan, or the mountains of Iran. Doug McDonald, father of Anne Marie (’16), donated several rugs and woven pieces from a collection built by his father, the late Gilman McDonald. The woven hangings are decorative, made to adorn horses or other pack animals. The largest of these would have been worn by a camel used in a wedding procession.
Several of the items hail from Transcaucasia, the area where Asia meets Europe; others were woven by tribes whose territories range from Turkmenistan into Iran.
McDonald describes their origins: “The weavers of these items were women, who wove to satisfy the immediate needs of their families, and in the case of the pile weavings seen here, for sale in local and international markets, which brought their wares in great numbers to Europe and America in the late 19th and 20th centuries. They passed down their technical knowledge of spinning and weaving, as well as the designs they carried in their heads as a kind of literacy, from one generation to the next.
The multitude of small rugs, bags, bands, covers, and trappings they wove and imbued with beautiful colors and designs have long captivated collectors, connoisseurs, and the general public alike. That Gilman McDonald’s collecting efforts and love of this art form will be shared with patrons of the Hollins University library would have caused him much joy. “