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The Carpet as a Text, the Writer as a Weaver

The Carpet as a Text, the Writer as a Weaver

Reading the Moroccan Carpet with Abdelkébir Khatibi

(p.279) Chapter Twelve The Carpet as a Text, the Writer as a Weaver
Abdelkébir Khatibi
Khalid Lyamlahy
Liverpool University Press

“One must look at a beautiful carpet as one reads a page by Aristotle, that is, with the same acute attention”. For Khatibi, the Moroccan carpet is not only a decorative piece that reproduces motifs of Islamic art and combines sophisticated techniques of dyeing, tattooing and painting. It is also a living text, an intricate narrative that requires a specific approach to unravel its hidden symbols and meanings. In From Sign to Image: The Moroccan Carpet, a collective art book written with Moroccan anthropologist and museologist Ali Amahan, Khatibi explores the aesthetics of the Moroccan carpet in relation to ornamental patterns, spatial composition and oral culture. By combining a wide range of references to Islamic texts, Arabic appellations, Berber alphabet and Western writings, Khatibi offers a dynamic conception of the Moroccan carpet as a multifaceted space where artistic creation hinges on the interlacing of coded, fragmentary and imaginary signs. Khatibi’s reading of the Moroccan carpet as a lexis of “intersigns”, which he developed in a conference in 1985, offers a striking illustration of how Moroccan art informs his own process and theory of writing. The circulation of signs in the Moroccan carpet, which is mirrored in the kaleidoscopic composition of Khatibi’s and Mahan’s volume, is enriched with a compelling reference to the idea of desire in creation and reading. Based on a close-reading of this volume in relation to Khatibi’s works, this chapter demonstrates that the Moroccan carpet can be read as a metaphor for Khatibi’s aesthetics that fosters the encounter and weaving of forms, languages, and cultures.

Keywords:   Khatibi, postcolonialism, decolonisation, transnationalism, transcolonial, aesthetics, sociology, Islam, Maghreb, Morocco, travel, stranger, art, sign, literature, philosophy, translation, bilingualism, Mediterranean, language, performativity, Palestine, alterity, Derrida, Hassoun, Segalen, Tanizaki, Japan, semiology, carpet, spiritual, poetics, ethics

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