Years ago a friend introduced me to Artifact puzzles. This kind friend knew that my life had been severely curtailed by a devastating illness, and that my days, instead of being full of activity and engagement -- working, gardening, travel, and my practice as a whirling dervish -- my life now revolved around trying to survive getting from my bed to the bathroom and back. Years of long days and nights of wretchedness and exhaustion, unable to concentrate or sit up for more than a few minutes, too sick to do anything that seemed "normal" - i had lost my ability to participate in life, but not my yearning for the world.
You might think that's a strange way to start the review of a puzzle, but please bear with me. Because these puzzles are so durable, they can be assembled over and over. Because they are so beautiful, they draw you into their worlds, the scenes shown and sometimes beyond.
The Carpet Merchant puzzle has connections with an essential part of my pre-illness life. Even though the original painting itself is Orientalist -- (the subject matter is treated in a way that's based on a Western imperialist assumption set) -- it's a delightful and rewarding puzzle, and a window into another world. You might be surprised to know that one of my dreams before I was taken ill was to travel to Turkey with a real-life carpet-merchant spiritual teacher. After years of barely being able to survive, I realized i would likely never be able to fulfill my long cherished goal of being with the whirling dervishes of Konya. For me, putting together this puzzle was as much of life , as much of my former self, as i could manage. There's even a whirling dervish whimsy.
Severely ill and unable to visit a crowded marketplace, humming with human activity, scents and sights to suffuse my awareness, I was instead able to lie quietly in my room and assemble this scene. So each piece was imbued with a special energy - a connection to the world out there, unavailable to me in normal ways. Turning them over in my hands, marveling at the delicate edges, the colorful patterns clues to how they fit together, watching the image emerge -- it became a magic carpet on which I could fly into my dreams.
And that's when a puzzle can be so much more than an afternoon's diversion. If you know someone who is very much confined, who cannot participate in life in ways that they used to, it might be a great gift to introduce them to these puzzles. They have a kind of magic to them that can create an atmosphere of their own. Even if you're healthy and can get out and enjoy the world, you might be surprised at the effect of spending some time with your dreams, but in a different way.
As is the standard with Artifact, this particular puzzle is extremely well-designed, and offers pleasures in the doing and re-doing of it. If the image captures your imagination, I bet you'll really love it.