Gourmet Fair

Tolkien in Tapestry

The Númenórean Carpet – Cité internationale de la tapisserie ©2021 _ according to an illustration by J.R.R Tolkien ©The Tolkien Estate Ltd (10). Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The great star-shaped island kingdom of Númenor was located in the part of the world between Valinor and Middle-earth. The seat of a kingdom founded by men, it would disappear beneath the seas at the end of the Second Age. It is an island that emerged from the imagination and pen of the great writer and father of the high fantasy genre J.R.R. Tolkien. But the fictional island has emerged once more, in Middle France.

And it was a very special day for the celebrated French tapestry manufacture, the Manufacture Robert Four in Aubusson in the Creuse region of central France. A remarkable carpet was released from its loom last June 4th. The carpet in question was the first Númenórean carpet, based on one of two, that Tolkien drew in early December of 1960 and inspired from his work the Silmarillion, a posthumous work released by the writer’s son Christopher Tolkien in 1977. The carpet was revealed at the manufacture in the presence of a visibly moved Baillie Tolkien, the wife of the late Christopher and daughter-in-law of J.R.R Tolkien.

Baillie Tolkien looking at the Númenórean Carpet – Cité internationale de la tapisserie ©2021 _ according to an illustration by J.R.R Tolkien ©The Tolkien Estate Ltd (26). Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

It measures some 14 feet by nearly 11 feet (4.3 x 3.3 meters ) and weighs in at over 220 pounds (100 kilos) and was fashioned over a period of six months. It was woven in wool in the simple knot or what is known as the Savonnerie method by the Manufacture Robert Four, the last to use this method. Nine craftsmen and women of the house worked on the carpet including three craftswomen know as velouteuses who knotted it knot knot by hand for a total of 1,600 hours. The patterns in the carpet mirror the floral and geometric shapes of the medieval decorative arts that inspired Tolkien in his youth.

The Númenórean Carpet – Cité internationale de la tapisserie ©2021 _ according to an illustration by J.R.R Tolkien ©The Tolkien Estate Ltd (41). Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The carpet is the 11th in a series of a projected 16 based on original drawings and watercolors by Tolkien conserved by the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It was in 2016 that the Cité internationale de la tapisserie launched into this project – called Aubusson Weaves Tolkien – of weaving 14 tapestries and two carpets based on illustrations from Tolkien’s four major works: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and The Father Christmas Letters. The Númenórean carpet is on display at the Cité international de la tapisserie located in Aubusson in the Creuse region of France and where all of the Tolkien tapestries and carpets in the project will be exhibited.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette
https://www.aubusson-manufacture.com/
https://www.cite-tapisserie.fr/en

The Númenórean Carpet – Cité internationale de la tapisserie ©2021 _ according to an illustration by J.R.R Tolkien ©The Tolkien Estate Ltd (41). Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

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