The “Memling” Gul Motif, the Pieces Brought In

This is the second part of a two-part post on a Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program, give by John Howe,

on October 2, 2010 on the subject “The ‘Memling’ Gul Motif.”

The first part of this program was a longish lecture you can access at the link immediately below:

John and some members of the audience had brought in a few pieces.

Some brought in pieces may be omitted or treated briefly, because you have seen and heard about them during the lecture.  The images of some others is not of the quality to which I aspire.

You saw this rug in an angled shot during the lecture.  Here it is head-on.

No borders, but areas of full-pile field and eight large Memling gul devices.

John is still probing the “Zakatala” indication, looking for indicators, but not too vigorously.

A second piece John had brought was the small Shahsavan mafrash side panel, below, in sumac.

Five tall, simply drawn Memling guls with a larger scale for this size panel.

The minor borders have a much smaller scale, providing areas of dense patterning,

that do not compete with the guls.

This piece is not particularly old and there has been some suggestion that the mild colors are from synthetic dyes.  If so, they seem pretty stable, since the colors front and back are seemingly the same.

John had also brought his yellow ground Anatolian fragment.

It was found in Antalya in 2007.  Experienced folks have remarked that the wool in it is not dry as that of many of the pieces in this group seems to be.

The next brought in piece was a very nice Anatolian cuval (bedding bag) fragment.

Large Memling guls occupy most of the more densely patterned areas.  There is cochineal in this piece, which was likely woven in the 19th century.

Below are larger vertical details of two of these guls, turned 45 degrees in this image.

Here is almost all of a nice Afshar salt bag

with good color and a single classic Memling gul.  The rusts, oranges and blues are striking, as is the use of white.

The next piece was a lengthy, pile, Uzbek tent band fragment, not as well photographed as I would like.

Bands are notoriously difficult to photograph well.

Here is a closer detail (still a bit fuzzy).

As you can see, nicely drawn classic Memling guls emboss its field end to end.

The next piece was a finely woven Baluch khorjin.

It is estimated to the 19th century and has a lighter palette than the modal items of Baluch weaving.

A nicely articulated Memling gul fills the field.  It features an effective use of white on the inside edge of the encompassing octagon.

The next piece could be either Kyrgyz or Uzbek, but is described by its owner as “Middle Amu Dyra.” (again not a sharp image)

Fourteen Memling guls grace its field.

This rug is pile with fully depressed warps. It is seen to be an older weaving.

The piece below is a new Uzbek cushion cover embroidered in silk.  Done in cross-stitch.

Three, big, crisp Memling guls.

John had the piece below held up again, in order to make a point tangential to the center of our main topic.

You will recall that this is a Yomud flatweave.  John compared the drawing of the minor gul in this piece to that on a pile piece with a Memling design.

These designs are woven in sumac (there is not much Turkmen use of sumac).  You will notice some slight irregularities in the drawing, especially of the diagonals in the minor ornaments.

Similar irregularities appear in the minor instruments of the pile version of this design that John had also brought.

He said that these drawing irregularities in the minor ornaments on this pile piece occur despite the demonstration by this weaver, in the borders and shield devices in the major guls of this pile piece, that she can draw straight, crisp diagonals.

John thinks that the wavy diagonal lines in the minor ornaments of the piece above may be the  deliberate result of a weaver’s efforts to mimic, in her pile drawing, the irregularities that tend to occur in the flatwoven pieces.

The next piece was the very attractive one below.

This is a Uzbek bag of the napramach type.  It had a back and the ends folded over it.

The vertical image below lets you see it a little better.

My notes say that the dealer from whom the owner bought it claimed that he slept on one of its flatwoven ends as a child.

Three Memling guls.  Nice wool.

The next piece was an Anatolian yastik, that you saw in the lecture.

This is a better image of it.  It has beautiful reds, blues and greens.  Eight-pointed stars not only punctuate the centers of its three Memling guls, they are also used to create an effective, spacious border.

The last piece of the day was the Moghan rug below.

Good color, effective drawing and three large Memling guls.

The owner said that there is a lot of repair work in it and that it may have been cut down from a longer rug.  The warp is slightly depressed.  She estimated it as likely woven in NW Iran in the early 20th century.

I want to treat one additional aspect of this RTAM here, rather than at the end of the lecture, when it actually occurred.

Wendel Swan observed that there might possibly be some kind of developmental or conceptual relationship between the Jaf Kurd diamonds and the Memling guls, which are both seen in this one Kurdish chuval face.

He asked the audience to concentrate on the overall form of these two medallions and not on their centers

Wendel noted that both employ similarly placed hooks that are essential to the definition of each of them.

There are two hooks on each of the four sides in both.  In many Jaff arrangements, those hooks relate to hooks on adjacent diamonds in a way that creates a pattern from the so-called negative space.

The slit tapestry (kilim) technique preceded pile weaving and produced diamonds similar to those seen on the chuval face.  Note that nearly all of the lines in the Jaff Kurd diamond are drawn at an angle.  All of the lines on the Memling gul are either horizontal or vertical, meaning (ed. as we saw in the lecture) that it would have been extremely difficult and impractical for weavers to create the Memling gul in slit tapestry.

Wendel said that, if one ignores the centers, the Jaff Kurd diamond and the Memling gul are quite similar, almost as if the weaver had decided to, or been directed to, re-create the Jaff Kurd diamonds with only horizontal and vertical lines – with the Memling gul being the result.

This is, of course, speculation, Wendel said, but he emphasized that we have sufficient experience with Jaff diamonds and other hooked polygons to know that the hooks were used to form a design relationship with their adjacent counterparts.

John answered questions,

and the session came to an end.

The audience came forward, as it does.

This smiling gentleman, is Terry Adlhock, the new president of The Textile Museum docents.  Consider yourselves introduced.

My thanks to Barbara Gentile and Jane Carmichael, who assisted me in conducting this session.  Also to Christine Brown and Aija Blitte who ably shared the note-taking chore.  And to Wendel Swan, for lots of imaginative thoughts around the edges.

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual version of another Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning.

R. John Howe

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