This textile is the front part of a khorjin (bag). It is believed to have been woven in the early twentieth century in a rural region at the border between northwestern Iran and Azerbaijan. It was woven for a purely utilitarian purpose – it is a bag, designed to help the owner carry things. It is made of wool, dyed red, brown, blue, and green.
This bag came to the Mead Art Museum from the Estate of Isabel J. Turner, of Montclair, New Jersey, and sister of James Turner (Amherst College Class of 1880). After James Turner’s death in 1940, his art collection passed on to his sister. Following Isabel Turner’s death, the collection went to the Department of Fine Arts at Amherst College. Like many alumni of Amherst College, James Turner had a unique financial relationship with Amherst College, having underwritten the building of the Little Red Schoolhouse (also known as the Amherst Day School) in 1937, and requesting that his art collection be transferred to the college.
On the Collections Database, a search query for “Isabel J. Turner” turns up 161 viewing records. A search for “James Turner Estate (Class of 1880)” yields 83 records. Artwork acquired directly from James Turner’s estate consisted entirely of 19th-century portraits by American steel-plate engraver and lithographer John Chester Buttre. The portion of his collection donated in Isabel Turner’s name includes nineteenth-century American furniture, Middle Eastern textiles, and European ceramics, paintings, and sixteenth-century stained glass panels. It is unclear specifically how this khorjin came into James Turner’s possession, but its presence among a large number of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century textiles in the Five College collections can be attributed to the expansion of a global market for decorative arts during this period.
Collections Database: AC 1951.179
Collections Database: Credit Line Search Query, “Isabel J. Turner”
Collections Database: Credit Line Search Query, “James Turner Estate (Class of 1880)”
King, Stanley (1951). The Consecrated Eminence: The Story of the Campus and Buildings of Amherst College. pp. 246–47.