"We are the rug hooking capital of the world": understanding Chéticamp rugs (1927-2017)

Sanchini, Laura Marie Andrea (2018) "We are the rug hooking capital of the world": understanding Chéticamp rugs (1927-2017). Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis is the story of how utilitarian material culture was transformed into a cottage industry, and eventually into high art. Chéticamp rug hooking is an artistic practice, one wrapped up in issues of taste, creativity, class and economics. Rug hooking in Chéticamp rose to prominence in the first half of the 20th century when Lillian Burke, a visiting American artist, set up a rug hooking cottage industry in the area. She altered the tradition to suit the tastes of wealthy patrons, who began buying the rugs to outfit their homes. This thesis examines design in rug hooking focusing on Chéticamp-style rugs. Captured within design aesthetics is what the rugs mean to both those who make and consume them. For tourists, the rugs are symbols of a perceived anti-modernism. Through the purchase of a hooked rug, they are able to bring home material reminders of their moment of experience with rural Nova Scotia. For rug hookers, rugs are a symbol of economic need, but also agency and the ability to overcome depressed rural economic conditions. Rug hooking was a way to have a reliable income in an area where much of the labour is dependent on unstable sources, such as natural resources (fishing, lumber, agriculture etc.). This also meant that rug hooking is closely tied to notions of poverty. The motif-index developed for this thesis by examining several hundred hooked rugs demonstrates that consistent structural elements such as motifs are dependent on context. When used in a comparative manner, it also helps illustrate how often those creating hooked rug designs, whether they were sold commercially as patterns or designs to be used as part of a cottage industry, were sharing and borrowing design ideas throughout North America. The motif-index is a typology and a tool that enables discussion by standardizing language and terminology which allows for comparative examination of hooked rugs from across a variety of traditions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13790
Item ID: 13790
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 227-240).
Keywords: material culture, craft, Cape Breton, hooked rug, motif, women, economics
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 3 December 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Rugs--Nova Scotia--Chéticamp; Textile crafts--Nova Scotia--Chéticamp; Material culture--Nova Scotia--Chéticamp

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