Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From the Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America


The distinction between zaher and baten, outer and inner, is a fundamental duality encountered in the philosophical, psychological, religious and mystical aspects of Iranian thought. The metaphysical desire to go beyond sensory apprehension of transient external forms to intellectual comprehension of their lasting inner significance may be considered the central theme of Iranian visual art including textile designs. A close examination of four textiles from the modern period reveals some of the concealed personal motivations and cultural meanings embodied in their patterns. Beyond all practical concerns, these weavings have in common the aim of unifying the duality of ordinary sight and insight and the related duality of aesthetics and ethics. Achieved by different means, the textile designs accomplish this by encouraging an imaginative journey from zaher to baten, from material form to spiritual essence.