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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.

The Finnish American Rag Rug Collection

Finnish American Weaver, Anna Lassila,
at work at her loom, 1989
Photo by Al Kamuda

Rag Rug, made by Bea Raisanen
Hartland, Michigan, 1993
Photo by Pearl Yee Wong

One of the many ethnic communities represented in the MSU Museum's Michigan Traditional Arts Research Collection is Finnish Americans, of which the largest and most concentrated community in the United States lives in the Upper Peninsula. Rag rug weaving is a strong tradition maintained in this community since immigration at the turn of the 20th century.

The collection includes rag rugs, placemats, looms and other weaving equipment, and arvhival materials, including photos, audio tapes of over 100 interviews, field reports, books and articles. The rugs in this collection were made between the 1920s to the present day; the majority were made and collected or donated since the 1970s.

Dr. Yvonne R. Lockwood and Martha Brownscombe.

Yvonne R. Lockwood, "Rag Rugs in Finnish American Culture." In Michigan Folklife Reader II (tentative), eds. Yvonne R. Lockwood and C. Kurt Dewhurst. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

Yvonne R. Lockwood. The Culture of Finnish-American Rag Rugs (tentative). East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

"Rags, Rugs and Weavers: A Living Tradition," Michigan State University Museum, 1990. This exhibition has traveled to numerous sites within Michigan, including the Port Huron Museum, Ella Sharpe Museum, Jackson; the Finnish Heritage Center, Hancock; Midland Center for the Arts. This exhibition and research on rag rugs were supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Humanities Council.

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