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The Story of a Prayer Rug (Rex)

February 23, 2011

The Story of a Prayer Rug is an Orientalist tale imagined by the producers at Rex.

In Turkey, the land of mystery and mysterious romance, there are many strange customs wonderfully weird in the eyes of Occidentals. Amongst them is the “prayer rug” upon which the household kneels when conducting its prayers.

Old Hamid has just finished waving a “prayer rug” and Elmas, his daughter, tells her sweetheart of the event, for an event it is. In the shade of a grove, with the warm sun and blossoms of the sunny land all about them, they plight their troth, these children of the Orient, for the heart is the same the world over, and love is the law of the world.

Accidentally, one day while getting water at the well, Elmas is discovered by the Pasha, who desire to make her queen of his harem. He follows her home and offers to buy her from her father, but the offer is refused.

Several days later Elams disappears. Suspicious, the father apprises Elams’ sweetheart of the Pasha’s offer. The lover determines to find and rescue Elmas and, disguised as a rug peddler, carrying a fair assortment of rugs on his back, he gains entrance to the harem. Amongst the assortment he has taken with him is the “prayer rug,” which he knew Elmas would recognize at sight, and she does. So when Elmas’ sweetheart departed from the harem with his rugs on his back he had concealed in the packet, little Elmas.

He carries her a distance before releasing her, and after clasping her in his arms, he points to the sun, the Oriental symbol of happiness, the omen of love.

– Manufacturers synopsis published in Moving Picture News 4, no. 7 (18 February 1911): 16

I find it interesting that the rhetoric in the synopsis vacillates between universalist claims like “the hard is the same the world over and love is the law of the world” and an emphasis on difference and exoticism such as the characterization of Turkey as “the land of …mysterious romance.”

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