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Wendel Swan, Michael Seidman and Austin Doyle Lead a “Grand Potpourri” RTAM on Caucasian and Anatolian Textiles

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2019 by rjohn

On July 20, 2019, Wendel Swan

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Michael Seidman

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and Austin Doyle

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led a ” grand potpourri” RTAM at the Textile Museum, here in Washington, DC, focused on Caucasian and Anatolian textiles.

They began with a short, Powerpoint-illustrated lecture, Wendel first.

(Click, sometimes more than once, on most images below to get a larger version)

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Although  Turkey and the greater Caucasus Mountains are in fairly close geographic proximity and branches of Turkic are spoken widely in both and both produce rugs and textiles with bold geometric designs with vivid colors, there are significant differences in the products of all of Turkey, the Northern Caucasus and Greater Azerbaijan, which includes the Transcaucasus. 

(Please do click on the image below more than once)

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Azeri is spoken in greater Azerbaijan, indicating a cultural connection between the Transcaucasus and Persia that resulted in much greater variety in their textiles, and closer to Persian traditions, than is found in the Northern Caucasus and all of Turkey.

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A commonly held belief in much of the rug community has been that textile designs spread from the East to the West along with the Turkic language.

In fact, many geometric designs and motifs from the West and the Mediterranean were used in the Near East long before the Turks arrived.  The octagon and eight pointed star eventually became identified with Turkic weaving, with the early 19th Century Cannakale rug from Western Turkey on the left below being one example.

Note, however, that the with the medallion with eight squares around its center is almost exactly what was used in this Roman mosaic (from Jerusalem) at the upper right and that octagons and eight pointed stars were coincident in Roman mosaics (lower right).

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The 2-1-2 or 2-1-2-1-2 infinite repeat pattern was in Egypt and in Western Anatolia long before the Turks.  In the first slide below the Bergama from Northwest Turkey and the Kagizman from Eastern Turkey share this pattern.  In the second slide below, the Karachopf Kazak on the right is the same format, but the colors and the border system are distinctively Caucasian.

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The ubiquitous Memling gul design is similar, whether in Western Anatolia (above) or in Zakatala (below) in the Caucasus.

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The  so-called prayer rugs of Turkey are most commonly variants of architectural design, which can clearly be seen in the rug on the left. 

The minbar (stairs) and columns are representations of what would actually be seen in a mosque.  Because of all the religious symbols in it, we could quite rightly refer to it as a prayer rug, although the niche eventually became just another commercial rug design in both Turkey and the Caucasus.

The niche in the rug on the right below is a geometric version of a full niche, even though simplified.

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Rather than using a full niche, those of the Caucasus frequently employ a simpler form of the mihrab or niche shape, as you see on the left above. This was actually easier for the weaver to fit into the allotted length of the rug and keep the proportions correct.

The field of the rug on the left, from the Eastern Caucasus, resembles a Persian textile pattern.  It also uses some cotton, which is almost never found in Anatolia or the Northern Caucasus.

The rug on the right has a variation of the full niche, but the re-entrant notch at the bottom distinguishes it from the appearance of a niche within a wall.

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The classic dragon rugs (above) are often called Caucasian, but with their cotton warps and sturdy construction, they are almost certainly Azerbaijani, most likely from around Tabriz.

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Turkish horse covers are rare.  The Ottoman example on the left is very formal with silk and metal thread, while horse covers such as the Bordjalou on the right are common in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan.

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Turkish rugs and textiles almost never depict animals or humans, but they are common in Azeri weavings.

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The Turkish heybe (left, above) is worn over the shoulders with the head going through the slit in the bridge and there is no closure system for the pouches.  The Karabagh khorjin on the right (like other khorjin from Azerbaijan) has a closed bridge and

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Cords that are sewn on to close the pouches.

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We do not often see salt bags from Turkey, as we do in the Caucasus, this one being brocaded.

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Brocading is commonly used for Karabagh and Azerbaijani mafrash, but we don’t see mafrash bedding bags from Turkey.

(Click on the image below for a larger version.)

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Nor is sumak wrapping found in Turkey, except for what are called weftless sumak (on the left here) made by the Kurds in Eastern Turkey.  The sumak rug on the right was produced in a workshop in the Caucasus.

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I will conclude by showing a large pile rug from Central Anatolia that was woven almost certainly no later than the 18th Century.  It’s a masterpiece of color.

Michael Seidman continued, emphasizing Anatolian material.

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He started by providing this detail map of Turkey.

(Click to get a larger version)

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Here are Michael’s Powerpoint images:

First was this niche piece.  He called attention to its border, which we’ll see again in a later item.  The border items look like houses.

Slide 22

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The piece above was described as a “Sivrihisar Niche kilim.”  Woven in west central Anatolia, Eskisehir province. 120 X 90 cm.  Mid-19th century.

(Click on image below for a larger versiion.)

Slide 23

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Michael’s comment on Slide 23:  This image is from Harold Bohmer’s book on Anatolian nomads. Described as from Karaman. 

It is is NOT a saf and is from the 19th century. White ground.

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Slide 24

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Michael’s comment: Slides 24 and 25 are from Aksaray, a town in Central Anatolia. These were in the Aksaray museum which we visited this past May.

I called attention to the border design, and the colors of the border (yellow ground etc.)  24 is probably older than 25.

Slide 25

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Slide 26

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Michael’s comment on Slide 26: This is from Orient Stars.  Late 18th early 19th. 

Note an Ottoman floral motif, very stylized.

Slide 27

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Michael’s comments on Slide 27:  This is 19th century from the Aksaray Museum. 

Note the lamp motif in center of field and the architectural design of the arch and flanking elements.  

Mid 19th century.

Slide 28

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Michael’s comment on Slide 28:  This is 17th century West Anatolia from Orient Stars.

Note the stylized crescent at top and the re-entrant motif at bottom.

Slide 29

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Michael’s comment on Slide 29:  This is an example of a very common central Anatolian medallion pattern.  

Wendel showed a Roman mosaic precedent for the same motif, repeated immediately below.

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Slide 30

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Michael’s comment on Slide 30:  This is a divan cover from Sivas. 

This is the complete weaving, it is not missing a border. Divan covers were woven with borders on three sides.

18th century

Slide 31

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Comment on Slide 31:  This is a 17/18th cent Transylvanian carpet showing stylizes serrated leaf/palmette motif in border, same as in the field of the Sivas divan (Slide 30).  

NOT a rams horn, although commonly described as such. 

Slide 32

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Comment on Slide 32:  This is from Orient Stars.  A long rug from Karapinar.  18th century.

Probably workshop, in light of the careful execution and strong similarity to others of this type- a known pattern. 

Michael and Wendel now moved between these Powerpoint images and pieces that had been brought in (some of which were theirs).

CA3

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Wendel first showed his fragment of a coarsely woven rug with long pile from Central Anatolia (the Konya/Karapinar area).  It has a color palette and structure typical of that region, but quite different from anything from the Caucasus, even though, to some, the geometric style may, initially, seem comparable to some Caucasian rugs.

In particular, the aubergine and yellow have an intensity and pairing not often seen in the Caucasus, while they are common in Central Anatolia. There is also a pink color (perhaps from a second bath of madder) that is seen in older Turkish rugs and in some very old Caucasian rugs. The border system is rather simple, but the dyeing and color juxtaposition are quite sophisticated.

The fragment is probably from the very early part of the 19th or late 18th Century and the rug would have contained four of the octagonal medallions, making it approximately 15 or 16 feet long.

Details of CA3.

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CA4

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Below is another Sivrihisar niche kilim,” with features like those in Slide 22 (see below).  Woven in west central Anatolia, Eskisehir province.

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Slide 22

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Comment on CA4:  This piece had similarities with those shown in Slide 22 immediately above, here. Houses-like border motif was mentioned.

Michael said that all of the pieces he had brought were 18th century and that 18th century pieces have a much different color sense and palette, characteristically, softer than later pieces.

Details of CA4.

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CA5

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(Click image below for larger version)

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CA5 is similar to the piece shown in Slide 23 repeated Immediately below, here.

Karaman.  Note the niche devices on the right side of both of these kilims.

CA6 (Slide 23)

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Details of CA5.

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CA7

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Comments on CA7:  Michael had another kilim with a multiple-niche design that was also not a saf.

Details of CA7.

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CA8

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Comments on CA8:  This was Michael’s Central Anatolian, Aksaray, niched-field, pile carpet. Most likely early 19th century. He said that it has typical colors also seen in the rug in Slide 24, repeated immediately here below.

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Details of CA8:

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Wendel noted that the lack of outlining with brown of the floral figures in the upper corners (see immediately below) is something that is found in Central Anatolia pile rugs although it has been a universal practice for more than two thousand years to prevent the perception (not actual) color bleeding by the eye.

It is called “kilim” style since elements in a kilim are not usually outlined.

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CA9

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CA9 is ca 1800.  It has a much better arch than the piece in the Aksaray museum.

The motif in the center of the carpet is a stylized reduction of the lamp shown more clearly in the version in the Aksaray musuem.  The weaver had two different border elements: sides different from the top.

It is a much better example than the one in the Aksaray museum.

Details of CA9.

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CA10

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Michael’s comment on CA10: Late 17th early 18th, Central Anatolia, possibly Cappadocia. re entrant element at bottom, double arch.

Woven as shown from bottom to top.

Details of CA10.

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CA11

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Michael’s comment on CA11:  Aksaray, 18th cent, excellent wool and color. poor, indecisive weaving.  We look for color, wool and weaving quality. CA11 has excellent wool and color but poor weaving.

The medallion in this rug strongly relates to the Roman mosaic motif shown by Wendel and repeated here below.

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Details of CA11

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CA12

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Michael said that CA12 is an Aksaray, 18th century, divan cover comparable to an Istanbul example in Slide 30, repeated immediately below.  He said that the designs are the same, and that the elements described as “rams’ horns” are actually depictions of palmettes with serrated leaves.  An example of this is shown in Slide 31.

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Details of CA12.

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CA13

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Michael’s comment on CA13: 18th century, Karapinar, long rug, similar to the example in Orient Stars shown in Slide 32, repeated immediately below here.

Slide 32

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Comment on Slide 32:  This is from Orient Stars.  A long rug from Karapinar. 

Probably workshop, in light of the careful execution and strong similarity to others of this type- a known pattern. 

18th century.

Details of CA13.

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Next, Austin Doyle

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treated some Caucasian rugs he had brought.

CA14

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Austin said that CA14 is a Karachov/Kazak carpet with niches at both ends and three stars in its field.  It has a “long rug” size.  Austin noted that it has corrosion in brown areas.

Details of CA14.

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CA15

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Austin said the CA15 is a Zakatla rug (identified with S-spun and Z-plied wool, a mode not used in any other Caucasian varieties).  He said that it has a typical Moghan design, featuring large Memling guls.  It’s dyes are very saturated but its colors are rather cool.

Details of CA15.

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CA16

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Austin said that CA16 is likely a Fachralo rug with a niche at the top of a floating field element which also has a “re-entrant” treatment at its bottom.  It has a scarab main border design.  It is finely woven, with two cotton shoots of weft between each row of knots.  It may have been woven elsewhere than in the Kazak area.

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Details of CA16.

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CA17

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CA17 is a Talish long rug with a “star and lattice” field and a typical Talish border with rosettes alternating with four star-like elements in brown.  It has a long, narrow shape and exhibits pale blue wefts extending from the selveges into the knotted area of the rug (this latter feature is said by some to be the “sine qua non” of a Talish attribution).  There are some beige knotted areas that may be camel hair.

Details of CA17.

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A lot of material had brought in and Wendel, Michael and Austin moved next to treat it.

CA18

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CA18 is a mafrash side panel, described as probably Karabagh.  Mid-19th century with good color.  Mostly slit tapestry.

Details of CA18.

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CA19

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CA18 is a complete cargo-type mafrash.  This slit tapestry weave from the Shirvan area has the same design around all the sides with a simple striped, plain weave bottom.

CA20

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CA 20 is a Shirvan rug with a latticed white-ground field and niche feature.  It is dated.

It has an “old back,” low pile and white cotton selvege.

Its inner border has a swastika design and the outer border is a Kufic variety.

Details of CA20

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CA21

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CA21 was described as an Ordutch Khonaghend rug (north of the Baku-Shirvan area in the eastern Caucasus).

It features eight white-ground octagons separated by red-ground, yellow-bordered, “tongues” that move in from the sides but do not quite form compartments.  This was described as a “geometric ‘keyhole’ meander.”  There are four birds in each octagon, sometimes upright in this view and sometimes opposed.

The main white-ground border is sometimes called a “wine glass and calyx leaf” type, despite it being part of an entirely geometric design.

Details of CA21.

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CA22

Wendel brought in a rare pile khorjin face below that he acquired long before the breakup of the Soviet Union (when many smaller utilitarian textiles came into the market).  Both the field and the border are often seen in Shahsavan flat weaves, but the weave, including the cotton selvedges, is classically Shirvan.

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This bag face raises the questions as to how we can tell whether any particular textile has an urban or a nomadic.  This little bag face suggests that perhaps we cannot always do so.

Details of CA22.

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Early on, in the examination of pieces brought in, were the following two rugs.

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CA1

(note numbers are not always sequential)

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Comment on CA1: 

Kris Atchley brought in a Turkish Mudjur prayer rug from the second half of the 19th Century, with a typical wide range of wonderful colors and a plain red mihrab. He said that, unfortunately, he did not realize when he bought it that the outer border had been completely removed, reducing its value considerably. With so much missing it could be considered a fragment, but the colors are still glorious.

Wendel pointed out that this rug, as with most Turkish prayer rugs, was woven “upside down”, that is, it was begun at what we see as the top in this image.  The reason for doing so it that it is most important to have the top of the niche appropriately placed and at the right angle within the field.  If the weaver would begin at the base of the niche, it might be that she would run out of space as the rug was nearing completion and have to flatten the arch in an artistically unsatisfactory manner. 

Details of CA1.

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The next two rugs were brought by Kris Atchley.

CA38

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CA38 is a Melas from Southwestern Turkey, from the second half of the 19th Century. 

This one, as is true of virtually all Melas rugs, has all natural dyes. 

While many are made in prayer rug format, this one is comprised almost entirely of meander border patterns.  The two large borders are the same pattern, just done in different colors. 

The small, narrow field contains carnations that are usually seen in borders, but the field itself is not a border pattern.

Details of CA38.

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CA39

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CA39 is a prayer rug from Northwest Turkey, probably from near Bergama.

At the top of the mihrab is what is known at a lam alif motif, which uses the word Allah symmetrically.  This, then, is a form of calligraphy, not architecture. 

What seems to be a meander or leaf border is actually half of a medallion that circumscribes the field.

Although the colors of Bergama and Melas rug are similar, the designs in each are distinctive and not very similar to anything woven in the Caucasus.

Details of CA39.

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CA2

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Comment on CA2:  Wendel Swan brought in this Kirshehir (Central Anatolia, near Mudjur) prayer rug which he acquired “decades ago” but would not do so today. Like the Mudjurs, they have a distinctive appearance that is quite unlike anything from the Caucasus. 

This one was probably made around 1875 and has both cochineal and madder reds in combination with other colors typical of Central Anatolia. Multiple borders had come into fashion at that time, resulting in a comparatively small mihrab.

Details of CA2.

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(my camera)

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(Numbers are sometimes not sequential)

CA23

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CA23 is an eastern Caucasus Kuba with a Khirdagyd field pattern and a Kufic border.  It shows the date of A.H. 1312, approximately 1875 or 1895,

Details of CA23.

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CA24

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CA24 was described as a very individual Kuba with blue selveges and a design in rows, including European roses, insects and scaly birds.

An uncommon use of yellow was noted.

There is only a single border, a common “barber pole” variation.  The wool is very soft.

Details of CA24.

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CA25

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CA25 is a late 19th century “dragon” carpet, including the X motif.  Strong graphics.  The colors include a lovely dark green.  The wefts were unusually darker.

Details of CA25.

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Lack of border makes one wonder about its being a fragment but side selveges seem original.

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CA26

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Bruce Baganz brought in a pair of Shahsevan sumak pieces from mafrashes (but not likely from the same mafrash). 

They are different in color and structure from other Shahseavan sumak weavings and were  identified as “Baghdadi” Shahsevan. 

They have both been purchased previously, at the same auction in Paris, and had been owned, one by Robert Pinner, and the other by Siawosch Azadi.

Wendel observed that they were quite thick and heavy, very Bijar-like.

Details of the two CA26 pieces.

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The detail below is the left side of the longer of the two panels.

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Below is the right side of the longer panel.

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Below is an image of the entire shorter panel

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CA27

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CA27 was a Transcaucasian/Eastern Caucasus carpet, likely late 19th century.

It has an ivory ground and unusual major border.

It was estimated to the late 19th century, despite having some seeming synthetic dyes.

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Notice seeming fading and possible transfer of red in the detail above.

Details of CA27.

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We had a lot of material to show and Wendel tried to to accerate by putting up four Anatolian yastiks at once.

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But we do not have this stricture here and so can go more leisurely.  Here’ they are, one at a time.

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CA28

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CA28 is mine and I bought it blind at an estate sale in N.J.  I knew it was a yastik and it seemed familiar but when I researched it and found that it is very like the cover piece on Brian Morehouse’s catalog on yastiks.  But closer examination shows that there are instances of conventionalization (the lappets on the Morehouse cover piece have four blossoms but those on mine have only two) that suggest that my piece is younger.  This is a frequent design from Karapinar.  The “insect” border is noticeable.

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CA29

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CA29 is also mine. It has good color and precise drawing. Low pile. The field design is kilim derived.  It seems Central Anatolian but there are no precise Morehouse comparators (Number 85 seems closest, including its border, although the Morehouse piece lacks lappets).

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CA31

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CA30 is Wendel’s.  It is pile faced, almost certainly in the first half of the 19th Century, but possibly earlier.  Oushak in in the eastern area of what cold be called Western Anatolia. It is all wool and measures 36″ x 22″.  It has deeply saturated colors, including a madder orange.  Only about three Oushak yastiks are known to exist.

The use of large medallions is typical of the room-size carpets of Oushak.  The white dots are characteristic.  It has end borders at both ends beyond its lappets.  The yastik is actually rather coarsely woven, but it does not appear to be so, thanks to the skills of the weaver.

CA31

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CA31 was brought by Aija Blitte.  Its designs are close to Number 93 in Morehouse.  He attributes it to Kirsehir in his central Anatolian grouping.  The palette of this piece is different from Number 93.  Aija said that she bought it because she likes this pattern in yastiks.

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CA32

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CA32 is a yastik-sized pile piece with with a nice yellow ground, also owned by Aija Blitte.  She says that she has never seen it as a yastik and there is reason to think that it may just be a small Anatolian mat. 

It has small, deeply lobed, medallions arrayed on the field diagonally by color.  Morehouse says that such a field design is unusual in yastiks and difficult to attribute.  The pieces in his catalog with field designs closest to CA32 are Number 20, in his western grouping, and Number 57 in his central group.  In neither of these pieces are the medallions arrayed diagonally. 

Aija asks why I don’t talk about its lack of lappets, but the truth is that lappets are not a defining characteristic of yastiks.  There are a great number of yastiks that don’t have them (neither of the two closest yastiks in Morehouse do).  If a yastik-sized piece has lappets, it is likely a yastik (but lappets also appear on larger rugs).

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CA33

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CA33 was another of mine. I bought this fragment of a large rug from Patrick Pouler who attributed it to eastern Anatolia.

Details of CA33.

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CA34

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CA34 is another fragment of mine.  I bought it locally here in DC and had it mounted on a blue backing.  It is, of course, from a “star” Ushak long rug.  It has good color and drawing and its age has been estimated consistently, with it in hand by experienced folks, to be 1600.

Details of CA34

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CA35

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CA35 is a large fragment of a rug.  No borders but a field of eight momunmental-size “Memling” guls.  Full pile in a number of places.  It was sold to me as a Zakatalan rug, an attribution that has crept into those used for Caucasian pile pieces.  I’ve not been able to identify any Zakatala indicators in it and have wondered “Why not Kazak…or even Konya?”

Zakatalan attributions are now widely accepted, but still seem shaky to me.  One indicator cited is that wools are S-spun and Z-plied, something that is pretty rare, for example, seen in Egyptian linens.

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Wendel looked closely and reported that the wools in this piece are not S-spun and Z-plied. So we might call it “Kazak,” or even “Konya,” and wait for contradiction.

Detail of CA35.

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CA36

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CA36 is another of mine.  This design is a famous type.  Schurmann shows a brilliantly colored one he attributes to Bordjalou-Kazak on pages 74-75 in his well-known “Caucasian Rugs,” 1974.  My rug is dated “1319” about “1901.”  It’s condition is suspiciously good, and drew Wendel’s attention.

He is correct.  Although I have not altered the date, I sent this piece to Turkey and had it extensively repiled. (I’m not interested in selling it as an older piece; I just wanted to look at it in a condition closer to the way it looked when it came off the loom).

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CA37

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CA37 is a type Genje rug that I found in the Virginia countryside and had some repairs made to it, although not nearly those made to CA36.

Bennett shows a similar piece as 155 in his Caucasian book.  He says this latticed field design with stars is one of the most ancient Central Asian carpet designs but had also been depicted in Europiean paintings of the 15th century.

I like the yellow ground (and its colors, generally), the lattice and the stars, as well as the unmatched minor borders and the white ground major border.

Details of CA37.

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Wendel, Michael and Austin took questions and brought what was a “grand” Caucasian-Anatolian potpourri session to a close.

Thanks to Nancy Landson who took and typed a good set of notes on this fulsome program.

‘Til next time.

Regards,

R. John Howe

Celebration of the Documenting and Archiving of Many of The Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning Programs, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2019 by rjohn

Dear folks –

On July 13,2019, the Textile Museum held a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program that was a real “potpourri” type RTAM but one that also celebrated the documenting of many of these programs on my Textiles and Text and Eccentric weft sites, and the, just completed archiving of them, as TM Library resources. 

This latter included putting up an edited, electronic version of these posts and the creating of a set of paper-based pdf volumes of them. 

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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This archiving has entailed a considerable expenditure of Textile Museum resources.

So this post has two parts.  Part 1, which is this one, is given over to the celebration.  It is awkward for me to fashion this virtual version of it since it includes a lot of nice words said about my documenting work.

John Wetenhall, The Textile Museum Director,

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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gave these welcoming remarks:

  • Good morning, I’m John Wetenhall, … I want to welcome you to this special Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning honoring the diligent work of museum member and Rug Morning fixture John Howe.
  • John Howe has been carefully photographing and chronicling these sessions since 2007 on his blog Textiles and Text.
  • For over a decade, John has covered the majority of these unique lectures and worked with the guest speakers to produce a lasting record of these programs.
  • Today, we honor his passion for this program and for capturing so many rare collections and scholars who have enriched our understanding of textiles.
  • And now I would like to turn the podium over to Melissa Keshishian, whose late Husband Harold was one of the founders of the program back in the early 1970s. Melissa…

Melissa continued:

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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  • As many of you know, since his passing in 2010, these Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings have been held in memory of my late husband Harold Keshishian, who helped begin these Saturday rug events at the old location on S Street.
  • Harold was President of Mark Keshishian & Sons Oriental Rugs, founded by his father and uncle in 1907. He served Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton on the United States Cultural Properties Advisory Committee.
  • In 1988, he received the Joseph V. McMullan Award for Stewardship and Scholarship in Islamic Rugs and Textiles, and in 2008 he was an inaugural recipient of The Textile Museum Award of Distinction, which recognizes outstanding service in fulfillment of the Museum’s mission.
  • Harold had a lifelong love of The Textile Museum and contributed to this institution in so many ways: as Trustee Emeritus, donor, program presenter, and friend.
  • A collector of antiquities, such as Oriental rugs and Pre-Columbian art, Harold helped found this very series in the 1970s. This program continues to provide visitors an informal forum for the exchange of ideas, and has been a beloved foundation of our educational programs for the past four decades.
  • Of course there were others that helped form the nucleus of what we now know as Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings as well.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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  • Today we have singled out John Howe, who has worked tirelessly to keep us engaged in and fascinated with textiles, with his help in enlisting speakers and collectors for the program, but most importantly, through his chronicling the series for more than ten years through his blog, Textiles and Text.
  • As these pieces of our museum’s history become part of our permanent library holdings, they will remain a valuable resource for those next generations who appreciate and understand the value of the world’s textiles as art and as expressions of culture.

Thank you John!

Tracy Meserve, the Textile Museum Librarian, who shepherded the archiving work spoke next.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Tracy said after: “

I talked about how some of the blog entries from 2007-2009 were no longer readable on the blog. In order to save these entries from being lost to future generations, a work study student, Grace Krikie, was hired to archive all of the existing blog entries. All of this work resulted in both a digital pdf version of the blog that will have a permanent location on the museum website, and a physical copy that will be on display in the museum library that is over 1000 pages long!”

She was followed by Grace Krikie, who did the “heavy lifting” required to produce the pdf paper volumes.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Grace talked about her process of retrieving the “lost” blog entries from a website called the Way Back Machine and then re-formatting these entries so they were in a readable form. She mentioned that the blog before re-formatting was thousands of pages long, so its current form of around 1000 pages is the condensed version.  She also talked about how working on this project increased her appreciation for rugs and textiles.

John: Both Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts have some search capabilities, but they are modest.  You can search for any word in the title of a given RTAM.  For example, you can search “Jerry Thompson” usefully.  If the type of textile treated is in the title you can find such posts.  Search for “Anatolian,” or “Central Asian” or “Turkman,” and the like.  You can also look through the posts under a given month and date, but that will be more arduous, since, often, more than one RTAM will be under a given month and date.

I had asked to say a few things and this was my turn.  I apologize, if I go on a bit, but there are some things I felt I had to say.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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First, I want to thank all the speakers at Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Mornings, both for giving these programs, and for working with me, sometimes at considerable length, to fashion the virtual versions that have been published on Textiles and Text and that are now being archived by the Museum.

Next, I want to thank John Wetenhall, and Tom Goehner, and many other members of the Textile Museum staff, who have contributed to this archiving effort and have pressed it to completion.  Special thanks to the current TM Librarian, Tracy Meserve, and to Grace Kirkie, whom Tom reports, did the “heavy lifting” in the preparation of the pdf. booklets.  Lynora Williams, the former TM Librarian, worked hard in our early efforts to investigate archiving possibilities. 

I want, particularly, to thank Jim and Connie Henderson, who, speaking for many in the rug and textile community, pressed strongly for this archiving, and created the closest thing we have, so far, to a table of contents. 

I need also to thank by name, Peggy Jones, who has taken innumerable sets of RTAM notes for me and who wrote me, this week, saying that serious health problems prevent her from being here today.  Amy Rispin also took a lot of notes and worked with me, after, on some posts, most recently, on the two on the Opie session.

Third, I want to thank all the readers of Textiles and Text who constantly write me thanking me for these posts.  I am always a little surprised that they find them as useful as they say they do: I’m mostly just reporting and, although I try to get things right, I make no claims to authority.  The odd thing is that I like doing them so much that I would do them even if no one ever said “thank you.”

But what I mostly want to talk about is how great a role chance played in my coming to do this documenting at all.

Wendel and I knew Tom Stacy, whose wife, I think, created Turkotek.com,

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 TURKOTEK  

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an internet rug and textile discussion site.  And we were both members of a kind of founding Turkotek board, headed by Steve Price, when Tom passed the torch.

Wendel and I were early and frequent contributors to Turkotek.com, which goes on vigorously.

My first internet posts of TM Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs were made on Turkotek.com, where you can still find them.   

The first accidental aspect of my documenting RTAMs is that I began to do them without really thinking of what they might be.  

As an instructional designer, I was far more interested in designing Turkotek salons that focused on interesting textile questions and issues, and that structured and fostered useful conversation about them.  My first salon on Turkotek explored what sorts of irregularity in rugs and textiles were seen to enhance their aesthetic quality, and what sorts were simply weaving mistakes. 

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The “Oops” Thesis

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And I once built and conducted a Turkotek salon that attempted to determine whether the aesthetic theory portrayed in Christopher Alexander’s difficult book on his early Turkish carpets, “A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art,” could be given empirical test.

“Beauty” Determined: A Look at
Christopher Alexander’s Rug Aesthetics
by
Dr. Nikos A. Salingaros and R. John Howe

There was homework and a worksheet:

Rule Statement

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1. Does the carpet use a one-knot detail? If not, then it might work on some larger scale, but the smallest scale is being wasted.
2. Are the individual colors interesting in themselves, and are they juxtaposed so as to enhance each other?
3. Are the smallest elements defined sharply by using contrast in both color hue and gray scale value?
4. Are the smallest elements simple and symmetric in shape? (triangles, squares, and diamonds – no blobs)
5. Is every element coupled to a contrasting element of the same size that has complimentary qualities?
6. Do intermediate and larger elements show the maximum number of internal sub symmetries?
7. Is every internally complex element balanced by a plainer surrounding shape that has a coherent shape?
8. Is a random spacing of similar elements balanced by a regular, highly structured region of about the same size?
9. Do elements and interposed spaces of all sizes link to each other through similarity, symmetry and scaling?
10. Do different elements have sizes that define a discrete hierarchy with ratios approximately 2.7 between consecutive levels?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

One of the earliest RTAMs I can find on Turkotek is a “potpourri” program that Wendel gave August 19, 2000 (as you can see, below, he was young and handsome, then, and not just dignified and distinguished). 

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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But there are other reports of RTAMs in Turkotek.com’s archives.  There is one on Turkmen Rugs by Dennis Dodds on November 3, 2001.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00083/salon.html

I don’t have a date but Fred Zimmerman and Michael Seidman gave an RTAM on “Other Ottomans,” a reference to another exhibition being held locally.  This RTAM drew on Textile Museum collection material (something we used to be able to do in some RTAMs).  It echoed an exhibition being given, then, at the Corcoran, across town.

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There was a subsequent RTAM given by Fred Zimmerman and Michael Seidman on December 7, 2001 on material from their own collections (as you have just seen, they had previously given annual RTAMs on material from the Textile Museum Collection).  

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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There is a “New Collectors” RTAM by Saul Barodofsky on June 15, 2002. 

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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Also in 2005, Joe Fell came from Chicago to share things from his “trunk.”  Here he’s talking with Harold Keshishian.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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In 2005, I put up on Turkotek an RTAM that Harold gave on safs.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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I don’t have a date, but once put up an RTAM on color given by Tom Xenakis, a serious painter, who also collects textiles.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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 I put up on Turkotek an RTAM that Harold Keshishian gave on Islamic Textiles, on April 15, 2006.  

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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In June, 2006 I put up an RTAM that David Zahirpour gave on Southwest Persian weavings.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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I gave an RTAM myself on Red in Rugs and Other Textiles, in March, 2007, that I also put up as a virtual version on Turkotek.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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And there is an RTAM given by Jerry Thompson, on September 8, 2007, a potpourri session on “Carpets from the Middle East.”

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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The last RTAM I put up on Turkotek was also in September, 2007 a program given by John Wertime on sumak bags.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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There is even a TM-related but non-RTAM post on a Turkotek program.  Sara Wolf, who then held the Margaret Wing Dodge Chair in Conservation, here at the Textile Museum, gave on the perennial question of “Why Don’t Museums Provide Better Lighting?” 

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Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and eyeglasses

A 2016 photo from the internet.

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I don’t have a precise date, but it’s early 2000, and Sara was brave to come and take what was certain to be a lot of abuse.

And there is another TM-related, non-RTAM post from the Textile Museum Rug Convention (October 12-14, 2001).  Jim Blackmon gave a program on “Those Other Central Asian Tribal Rugs: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz and Arab.”

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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An early internet treatment, I think, of these non-Turkman Central Asian rugs and textiles.

So, I had a lot practice building RTAM posts, and things like them, during the years I was active on Turkotek.com.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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But then chance intervened.   I was an instructional designer for 40 years, and one of my instructional design colleagues, David Ferguson,

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who is computer-smart, said to me that I could have my own textile web site without much effort and, in 15 minutes, showed me how to use WordPress.com to do it.  This was perhaps the greatest accidental step.

WordPress.com is easy, and intuitive, and its technical, support staff describe themselves as “happiness engineers” for a reason.  And so, I began to make my own posts on Textiles and Text. 

Although discussion, with instant around-the-world comparisons, using images, can be wonderful, I saw, in Turkotek, that the monitoring task, if one allowed responses, was formidable.  A single person with a computer could destroy useful conversation, and the effort to prevent that, in some way, was not how I wanted to spend my time. 

So, I opted for a one-way conversation.  I gave an email address to which readers could write, if they thought they had something important to consider, but I retained, for myself, whether and how, I would use such responses.

My first post on Textiles and Text was of an RTAM that Dennis Dodds gave on December 13, 2007 on Anatolian yastiks.  

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dennise.jpg

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I always have more than 20 posts in various stages of development, (I took a look and there are, currently 46) and some will, likely, never be published. 

But I don’t give up easily.  I have published a post, usefully, I think, six years after the session itself. 

I have published 135 posts to date (more, if you count the posts on my Eccentric Wefts site). 

I have over 500 subscribers and send post announcements to an international email list of over 400 addresses.  Some these addresses are for clubs who can pass on my posts to their members.  So there is, sometimes, a cascade effect.

And it has been, and is, a joy. 

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I decided, early, that there would be no deadlines.  I’m retired, and most speakers have jobs and lives.  I try to make everything as easy as I can for speakers, and thank them, lavishly, and appropriately, for helping me fashion Textile and Text posts.  And they have been generous.

And so, now, there is this unexpected recognition.  It has happened before.  The late Russell Pickering was a great admirer of my two textile-related sites and engineered for me, shortly before his death, a McMullan Award.

As I said to him, as he presented it to me, “I’m really appreciative, but I think you’ve made a mistake.”  I feel that same way, here, today.

Thank you.

Two last things. 

First, the Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs have been going on for many years.  And this series is frequently described as a “core” TM program.  When Virginia Delfico

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Virginia Delfico and Harold Keshishian

Photo Courtesy of Barry O’Connell

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was, what was then called the Education Director, she said that she was told, coming into that job, that the “rug mornings” were sacred, and the presumption was that there would be one on most Saturdays. 

Some of us, who know what the work of producing RTAMs is like, are in awe of Virginia’s performance.  For 11 years, she would often have five RTAMs in a month with five Saturdays, and it was rare for her to have only three in a given month. 

But the local cadre of RTAMs speakers has thinned out and it’s now difficult to put on two a month, steadily. 

Part of that problem is that we have no predictable budget to draw on to pay for speaker travel expenses.  We are usually able to put up visiting speakers in interesting, even sumptuous textile collector homes, but it is a predictable travel expense fund that we lack. 

So, without wanting to seem ungrateful for the investment that has been made to archive my Textile and Text posts, I want to plead that we conspire anew to arrange a modest travel budget ($6K-$8K) annually to make it more likely that quality RTAMs will continue to be produced.

A second last thing is whether and how the TM wants this documenting of RTAMs to go on.  I plan to do what I’ve done for as long as I can.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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I turned 83 this week, published two posts on July 4, and Wendel and I are near completion on another on Swedish textiles, but the question of institutionalizing the documentation of RTAMs is an increasingly real one. 

Years ago, Dan Walker and I talked about whether this documentation could be taken into the TM staff.  Dan said that there were advantages associated with doing that, but that he thought it was best done by an interested volunteer.  But if, this documenting is to go on, some arrangement needs to be made. 

There are some modest skills required, but they are within the reach of most of us. And I am willing to train someone. 

Perhaps the most difficult thing to find is someone who has the time and interest to do it.  I don’t have a solution, but something needs to be done, and the time available for doing it is getting shorter.

Thank you, again, for this very nice gesture,

John

Now, as I said, at the beginning, this was a real “potpourri-type” RTAM and a lot of material was brought in.  To see that you need to use this link:

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2019/08/21/celebration-of-the-documenting-and-archiving-of-many-of-the-rug-and-textile-appreciation-morning-programs-part-2/

There are some addenda to Part 1 below.

Addendum 1

Readers and, especially researchers need to be aware of some distinctions that are created by this Textile Museum archiving my Textile and Text posts. 

First, these posts were first documented on my wordpress.com site Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts.  They are still there and you can reach them directly.

Textiles and Text

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/

Eccentric Wefts

https://raymondj.wordpress.com/

The TM archived version of those posts are an edited version. 

The TM began this archiving by creating an edited electronic and also paper-based pdf of what was on my two sites. 

The archived version so far includes all of the posts made on both Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts from their inception in 2007 to a post on a session given by David Zahirpour in January, 2019. This archived pdf version is available in paper-based copy in the TM Library.

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Important: This archiving was the first of several that the TM has undertaken.  They will now move to these other archiving tasks and will not be archiving any further Textiles and Text post for perhaps two years.  This is important because there have already been noteworthy posts since January, 2019 on both Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts and these posts can ONLY but accessed with the two links above.

It is also useful to note that it is the edited, archived version that is linked to the TM’s web site.

https://museum.gwu.edu/rug-mornings

Tracy said the following about editing:

“Very little editing was done other than formatting changes and images being resized. I think a few pictures were omitted if there were multiple images of the same item. The text was completely unchanged.”

John: It appears that the archived version does not include the black ground white type format of the sites but if you click on a given image you will be taken to it and seem also to have access to larger images (again by clicking on them).  When editing puts images side-by-side the width of the initial image is reduced to 250 pixels.  Larger versions may be available on the original wordpress.com posts.

 

Addendum 2

The Origins of the Rug and Textile Appreciation Mornings (RTAMs) Are Uncertain

Harold Keshishian,

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is widely seen to have been an originator of the RTAMs and a central force in their continuation and success.  The Textile Museum has recognized Harold’s predominance over the years by naming this series for him.

But I spent a lot of time, during his last years, with Harold’s friend, Russ Pickering

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who said that things were not that simple: that others were involved.

And at a fairly recent RTAM, looking back on this series, a different remembrance and account surfaced.

Wendel Swan was facilitating, and noted that the exact beginnings of the RTAM programs are a bit obscure, even sometimes debated, but that we had one resource in the room, who actually attended the first RTAM (then called the “rug morning” program).  He asked Phyllis Kane, who had attended the first “rug morning” session,

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PhyllisKane

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to talk a bit about her experience

Phyllis agreed that the origins of the RTAM programs are uncertain, but said that her remembrance was that, while Harold Keshishian

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HaroldandMelissa(Harold and his wife Melissa)

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was, from the first, a big supporter, she thought that Louise Mackie,  now for years at the Cleveland Art Museum, but then a TM curator, was likely the real mind behind it. 

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She said that Mackie got the docent group started, and it was as a docent, in those days, that Phyllis attended the first RTAM in the Spring of 1973.

Phyllis remembered that the advertising of this first session was informal, and that they wondered who would learn about it and come.  They were gratified that 11 people came to the first session, and that there were 13 (sessions were initially programmed monthly) in the next one. 

Phyllis subsequently lived abroad for a time.  She said she was gone for a couple of years and when she returned she found that RTAM sessions were drawing a crowd. 

Then, she was away again, and returned to find chairs being brought in to accommodate standees.  It was clear that the RTAM programs were a success.

So, as you can see, history is very shallow and memories vary.  However they started, the RTAM programs have gone on for a long time and have, I think, have been in important TM outreach effort, initially, mostly to the DC area, but now with the use of the internet, internationally.

 

Addendum 3

(The links below may or may not be “live.”  If they are not, you need to copy them and paste them into your browser.)

Links to RTAMs Put Up on Turkotek.com

John Wertime on Sumak Bags

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00018/salon.html

Jerry Thompson “Potpourri on Carpets from the Middle East”

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00017/salon.html

Ed Zimmerman and Michael Seidman on “Other Ottomans,: using TM Collection material.

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00044/salon.html

Wendel Swan gave a “Potpourri” RTAM

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00050/salon.html

Dennis Dodds on “Turkmen Rugs”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00083/salon.html

Saul Barodofsky on “Younger Textiles Can Be Good”

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00003/discussion.htm/

Ed Zimmerman and Michael Seidman on Pieces from Their Own Collections

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00008/discussion.html

Joe Fell on “Some of My Favorite Things from My Trunk

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00094/salon.html

Harold Keshishian on “Safs”

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00027/content.html

Tom Xenakis, a painter and textile collector on “A Painter Looks at Color in Oriental Rugs and Textiles.”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00112/salon.html

Harold Keshishian on “Islamic Textiles”

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00012/salon.html

David Zahirpour on Southwest Persian Textiles

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00048/zahirpour.htm

John Howe on “Red in Rugs and Other Textiles”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00118/salon.html

Jerry Thompson: “Potpourri on Carpets from the Middle East”

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00017/salon.html

John Wertime on Sumak Bags

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00018/salon.html

Links to Non-RTAM But TM-Related Posts Put Up on Turkotek.com

Sara Wolf on “Why Don’t Museums Provide Better Lighting?”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00058/salon.html

Jim Blackmon on “Those Other Central Asian Rugs: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Khirghiz and Arab”

http://turkotek.com/salon_00078/salon.html

TM Exhibition: Navajo Blankets from the 19th Century

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00014/navajo_blankets.htm

TM Exhibition of 16th-17th Century Persian Fragments

http://turkotek.com/misc_00058/fragments.htm

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Celebration of the Documenting and Archiving of Many of The Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning Programs, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2019 by rjohn

This is Part 2 of an RTAM held on July 13, 2019 celebrating the documenting and archiving of this Textile Museum continuing series.

If you read Part 1 you know what the speechifying part was like.  If not, you can see it using this link:

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2019/08/21/celebration-of-the-documenting-and-archiving-of-many-of-the-rug-and-textile-appreciation-morning-programs-part-1/

But this was also a real RTAM and people were invited to bring pieces that had been shown on Textiles and Text but that was not a requirement.

Michael Siedman facilitated, 

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starting with the more fragile material.

(You can click on most of the following images in this post to get a somewhat larger one.)

Roger Pratt has an extensive collection,

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but no one I know has done as much as he has with hats.  He said that his preferences in textiles start with color, but that he is also interested in unusual structures and he confesses that sometimes the stories one encounters, when one begins to investigate a purchase provide real enjoyments.

He started with this hat.  It has a “basketry” weave overlaid with silk patterning.

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There is a seeming inscription, that is thought to be “Allah is Great.”

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Roger said that he collected it in Sumatra. His questions were “Where was it made?” and “Why was it made? (what was its purpose?).  It came with a turban wrapped around it.

He said that the British Museum said that this is an “Indonesian ‘pilgrim’ hat.”  And it was meant to be worn with the turban over and covering it.  Indonesians were allied with the Ottoman Empire, where turbans were worn.  Perhaps a souvenir of a “hajji” trip.

Roger’s second hat was the one below.  Roger said that he bought it in Istanbul and the dealer said that it was Kurdish.  Intense cochineal but a different treatment of the top that that used in the first hat above. No calligraphy.

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Below is the top, a little out of focus.

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Roger’s third hat is the one below.  He bought it in a “Silk Road” shop.  It is a Tekke baby hat, bedecked with charms and jewels of the sort passed from one generation to the next, perhaps with things added.  Rooster feathers symbolize a “new day” or “new dawn.”

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A second view.

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Roger’s fourth hat was very like the one one that appears in the current (200th) issue of Hali.  It is described there as one worn by Yomut girls before marriage.

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Below is Roger’s hat.

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He said that he has added his own feathers.

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This must be so because he advanced on me, pulled out a feather and gave it to me, saying that there was also an American tradition of the “Yankee Doodle Dandy” who “had a feather in his cap.”

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Colin England insisted on putting it into my hat.

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But I worried that it might not last long, exposed like that, and so have had it framed.

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Louise Shelly had brought two pieces.

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She said that she had brought this contemporary garment because it appeared on one of my blogs.

Below, is it being held by Karthika Audinet, who had it made from cottons, hand-woven in India.  Karthika, many will know, is a weaver, textile designer and a serious student of textiles.  One of her interests is the wonderful old cottons that were produced in India.  She has also, sometimes, been an entrepreneur and this garment was from one such effort.

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The second textile Louise brought was the one below.  I think she said it came from the Val Arbab collection.

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The back it also very elaborately decorated with a separate cloth (I was only able to take the small glimpse you see in the image below).

Afterwards, Louise sent me this additional information about it:

The piece that I brought is probably 19th century Qajar piece from Iran.  It is done with painting on cotton.

A photograph from the Newark Museum of a similar piece is here: https://newarkmuseum.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/curators-choice-prayer-cloths/

Here is a similar piece from the Widener Library at Harvard.  s://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/ids:42570491

It is referred to as Qalamkari.  There is an inscription at the top of the piece that I need to get deciphered.  

The Qajar pieces fill the whole textiile with animals and plants.  There is a similar tradition in India as the Newark Museum points out but there are less filled textiles.

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Marsha Swiss brought one of the nice small bags that she and her husband, Ron Costell, collect.

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Ron Costell, John Wertime and Marsha Swiss in another RTAM

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Here is a closer look and description of it from another Textiles and Text post in which it appeared.

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8 x 9 inches (20 x 22 cm)

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21 (back of 20)

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Comments on 20 and 21: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK (EXTRA WEFT WRAPPING) ON FRONT & BACK; A CHARMING RENDITION OF A COMMONLY SEEN ANIMAL MOTIF ON A COTTON GROUND WITH A SKILLFULLY DESIGNED BACK MAKES THIS A RARE PIECE.

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Wendel Swan had brought four pieces.  He started with his latest purchase.

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Wendel said: “This may be one of the last things that I ever collect because I have begun to dispose of my lifelong collection. It is one half of the front of a tunic from the Chimu culture in Peru, probably 15th Century or earlier.

Although it is only part of the tunic, it is a complete and intact weaving in itself and would have been sewn to the others.

Each of the figures (the gods and the cats) have distinct color palettes, with no combination of the colors being repeated. This effort can be found in distinguished weavings from around the world, including some from the Caucasus, where great care was taken to achieve this effect.

Shortly we’ll see a  Caucasian rug, which also does not repeat the color palette of any element.

Wendel also brought two Swedish agedyna (carriage cushion) covers.  

(Remember to click on images to get larger versions of them.)

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These Swedish carriage cushion covers (agedyna) are dated 1798 for the trensaflossa (below) and 1822 for the red ground embroidery (above).

Wendel said: “I began collecting Swedish folk weavings in 2006, about the time when I became less involved in Turkotek and when John began his blog.

“I have since sold nearly all of my Shahsavan collection and have added Swedish textiles. These two will be shown in a forthcoming posting by John. There are very few in the US who collect Swedish textiles, but the RTAMs and John’s blog have been responsible for letting the collecting world know about their existence.”

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Melissa Keshishian brought some fragments.

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The first one was a portion of a Greek bed hanging. Strong graphics.

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I’m copying treatment of the other two fragments Melissa brought since that let’s Harold describe them from an earlier post.

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Harold said this piece is a fragment of a bed curtain or cover.

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*The original was likely about 8 feet long. He indicated that it is most likely from Cyprus or perhaps Crete and has a Venetian double-headed design.

Harold said that piece below is a lovely, graphic item of embroidery from Eperus. It is a lady’s undergarment trouser. He said that it is one of the pieces he has collected that he likes most.

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Someone ask from the audience whether it was an item that would be seen. Harold smiled and said “Not usually, but perhaps on an appropriate occasion.”

Jim Henderson brought three pieces. 

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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He said that he wanted in part to ask for something RTAMs can sometimes do for collectors: help them understand a bit better what they have.

He started with two smaller south Persian pile bag faces with bird arranged around a central diamonds with arms.  He said they were confident that these were Khamseh.

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But he invited comparison between features of these two bag faces and the large asymmetrically knotted rug below.  Could it be Afshar?

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Here are some closer details of the rug above.

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Michael Siedman said that colors and patterns in this rug are related to Khamseh usages but that the diagonal border feature is Afshar. 

Austen Doyle added that it may have been woven in the Kerman area but looks Afshar. 

I don’t think the rug’s square shape played in this attribution effort.

 

Ann Marie Moeller brought a Japanese futon cover from a town that is famous for double ikat.

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This piece is later than 1905 and the calligraphy says “Fuji, Victory of the World.”  It commemorates the Japanese victory over Russia at that time.  It has a battleship motif.  Japan took out two of Russia’s three fleets.  Significant in modern warfare technology.  

Woven in four parts.  Woven in one long piece of fabric and requires consistent warp tension

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Mount Fuji represents Japan – says “Japan the best in the world.”

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Richard Isaacson

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brought a long Uzbek sleeping rug, woven in northern Afghanistan.

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It is very coarse but not woven, as some such rugs are, on alternate raised warps.  With weaving on alternate raised warps the front designs do not show on the back and, as you can see in the two following images, this is not the case for Richard’s rug.

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More details of the front of this rug.

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Amy Rispin brought a complete bag, opened up.

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Amy described her piece as a finely woven qashqai bag with a decorative flatwoven back with typical south Persian pattern.

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The back on Amy’s khorgin set is very similar to the designs on Wendel Swan’s following piece that is attributed to Luri weavers.

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Wendel Swan also brought a large Luri flatweave.

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My camera


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Wendel’s Camera

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Wendel Swan brought this Luri kilim, primarily because it was shown at Jim Opie’s April 28 presentation of South Persian rugs at the TM, for which there is a post.   Wendel had just received the kilim just two days before Opie’s presentation.

Part of the brief discussion was about the mysterious red square that seems unknown on other weavings.  On this occasion, however, Wendel said that the prior owner believed the red square to represent the Kaaba black stone and hung the kilim with Velcro so that the red square was at the top, i.e., in a position of prominence.  Jim Opie questioned this attribution and Wendel subsequently engaged in some chats on the internet, but no one could say that they had ever seen such an element and could not say one way or another what it was or might represent.

After studying the composition of the kilim, Wendel realized that it is a geometricized tree of life, with the red square being the vase from which the tree and branches emanate. 

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Wendel’s Camera

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The tree of life pattern is found throughout South Persia and he provided an image of a Kerman tree of life rug to illustrate how the simple forms in the kilim correspond to the major design elements in the Kerman.

Wendel went on to say that he knows, perhaps better than anyone else, how much effort goes into these posts – far more that most people could ever realize.  He said it was gratifying to be able to follow up on the earlier discussion and to provide an answer to an interesting question.

Colin England

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Colin1

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brought two silk rugs with similar designs.  Both Hereke.

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Hung over the top of the board

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After Colin gave me this description:

“Two rugs, both containing the signature of of Sharinian, one of the most famous of the weavers of silk Hereke rugs. 

Both are primarily silk pile with silk foundations.

The first rug was woven before 1970 (it was purchased in 1970), and is in the style of the Kum Kapi master weavers, as the Shirinians bought the designs of Zareh Penyamin from his widow around 1960. 

The knot count is about 625 and the rug includes extensive brocade, including silver wrapped brocade, as was common among the Kum Kapi weavings.  It is also woven upside down, with the niche being at the bottom of the rug, rather than the top, which was also characteristic of Kum Kapi weavings. 

The second rug was woven by 2000, and has been identified by the weaver as one of his.  The rug includes no brocade, includes about 2,000 knots per square inch, and is woven right-side up (i.e., the niche is at the top of the rug.) 

Both include Persian poetry, even though woven by Turkish weavers, as the designs are derived from 16th and 17th century Persian weavings from the Top Kapi colletion.”

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In the session, Colin said that these two rugs show how Hereke weaving has changed.

Austin Doyle

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brought a Shirvan rug with an unusual design.

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The field devices are probably flowers.  Each field device is a little different, something we saw in Wendel’s Chimu tunic, repeated here below.

Austin said that his Shirvan rug is probably from the Marasali area.

He also said that, “as you go up the rug, each row of flowers is a bit smaller than the row below.  This gives a sense of the flowers receding into the background and may have been done intentionally.  While this could have been the weaver reacting to a limitation of warp thread, the fact that it happens between the first and second row of flowers makes me think that it was done deliberately for a design purpose. ”   


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Details on Austin’s Shirvan rug.*

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William and Martha Bateson brought a piece and I asked them for a photo to make their participation concrete.

They wanted to be creative and sent me the shot below.(Thang Tibet, 1990s).

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We failed with a Photoshop repair and have had to retreat to the photo below, which is not bad.

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William and Martha brought in the Tibetan pile weaving below. 

He said “I have always believed this to be a piece of Tibetan horse/mule tack; likely part of a crupper.”

A “crupper” is a piece of tack used on horses and other equids to keep a saddle, harness or other equipment from sliding forward.  The piece below was, likely, placed behind the saddle as part of a crupper assembly, but the assembly is not complete. 

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I sent the image above to Nick Wright, the Tibetan expert, and he said: “It is a Tibetan crupper, part of a rider’s tack to protect the horse’s skin from the strap

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that connects to the rear of the saddle and goes, along the back and around the base of the animal’s tail.” 

So this textile would attach to the back of the saddle but go under this harness.  It is not just decorative; it’s functional, preventing the harness from irritating the horse’s back.

William said he brought it in because he knows that I like it, and he is right.  It is not only very attractive, it is unusual.  I’ve only seen a couple of other examples, that Nick Wright brought once.

I brought three pieces to this session.

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The first, is the one in the center above.  I bought it blind in Bergama in 2007

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and traveled all around western and central Turkey and showed it to a lot of knowledgeable people, without finding anyone who could tell me what it was.

It took me a year to find out: William and Sondra Bechhoefer told me that it was a communal napkin.  They also helped me put it in the hands of Nurhan Atasoy, the noted Turkish art historian, who confirmed their attribution

Here it is opened up and pinned to a wall.

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It is 17 inches wide and 190 inches long.  

It has simple, linear designs brocaded down the length of its field,

but both of its ends are more densely decorated with slit tapestry.  

The ground fabric is a mixture of linen and cotton.  Although the handle is a little stiff, the balanced plain weave is loose and gauzy in close-up.

An Anatolian dealer subsequently told me that this fabric is very like what the Egyptians used to bind their mummies.

The Bechhoefers also provided me with an image of an engraving of a communal napkin in use.

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Image courtesy of Phyllis Kane

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I’ve looked around the internet a little and there are indications that the communal napkin format arose about the 14th century, perhaps in Europe.  Place indications include England, Turkey and, even, Finland.  I found a 15th century Flemish painting by Dieric Bouts, of The Last Supper, that also shows a communal napkin in use.

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I’m very taken with this humble textile, so much so that I use it on my personal card.  Here’s the front:

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And here’s the back:

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We hear the “color, color, color” mantra a lot and, although, I collect on a budget, I found an instance in which I could indulge. 

I found the piece below in the bottom of a jewelry case in an antique store in southern Pennsylvania.

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Closer details.

Click on the next two images to get larger versions

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You can see that this is just barely a weaving, with occasional rows of weft to hold things together and in place.

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I asked whether it was for sale and they said they’d have to call the dealer and did.  The dealer said that it was for sale and I asked the price.  They said six dollars and I allowed as how I could indulge my admiration of color at that level.

After this session, Amy Rispin pointed out that there was St. Joseph’s Coat quilt pattern that featured vertical stripes like this and that I had one.

I looked around the web and quickly encountered this example.

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This quilt above was made in Pennsylvania in about 1950.

My own Joseph’s quilt was more subdued.  Not antique, but likely vintage.

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JosephsCoatCompa*

Amy Rispin said that she thinks it was made by the Amish.   I bought it in southwest Ohio, near some Amish communities.

The quilting pattern used is not elaborate but is typical of Joseph’s coat quilts.

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We ended speculating that my humble piece above may have been made by someone familiar with the Joseph’s Coat pattern.

My third piece was an African, Dida tie-dyed raffia skirt from the Ivory Coast.  I bought it, years ago, from Marla Mallett.  It is one of my responses to the color, color, color mantra, showing that texture can also be very important.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Here is Marla’s description of it.

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Click on the description below to get a larger version.

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After the session, Julie Geschwind, who knows such textiles, said that she has an example of this African “skirt” (with an accompanying hat).  She knows a great deal about it.  I was only able to get a few snippets.

First, she said that the the plaiter’s big toe is crucial to the plaiting process. 

She also said that while this was made as a tube garment open at the bottom, it was not worn in that way.  Instead, the cords at the bottom (front and back) were gathered, maybe twisted together, and then passed front to back, between the legs, and tucked into the waist in back.  This converts the “skirt” into a pantaloon.  This garment was worn by both sexes. 

I wish that I had talked to her more and will try to do so.  This is another of these instances that Jim Henderson talked about in which the RTAMs function to let us learn more about textiles we have owned, sometimes for years.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Bob Emry,

brought five Turkman bag faces from his extensive collection.

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E1

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Bob: The first is this one—a Yomut torba that has always been one of my favorites. It was actually exhibited in 2001 in  “From the Amu Darya to the Potomac” show curated by Richard Isaacson.  In the exhibit label Richard called it a mafrash—it 32 inches by 16 inches—smaller than most torbas but bigger than many mafrashes. 

Detail of E1.

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E2

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Bob: Yomut Turkmen.  This one might be more appropriately called a mafrash—it is 26 inches by 14 inches.  Excellent condition.

Details of E2.

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Its minor guls incorporate two “C” gul, back to back ( in as “C” motifs seen in “C” gul carpets).

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E3

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Bob: I have called it a torba, but some might call it a mafrash (of maybe a mafrash is just a small torba). —it is 31 inches by 15 inches.  

It features a good, white-ground, framing border and, in its field, the “kepse” gul about which Bob has offered a close analysis of design progression at the end of an earlier RTAM, he and I gave on Turkman weaving.  https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/turkman-now-part-1-the-lecture/  

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Notable for its very nice green, and the fact that the weaver was apparently unable to make up her mind about borders—or maybe she was just practicing different border elements.  

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E4

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This may be an important piece to notice. One reason for this is that it is entirely flat-woven and Elena Tsareva says, flatly, that Turkman flat-weaves have not be analysed.

Bob makes an argument: “I’ve called this a Tekke flatweave for two reasons—first, the weave is finer than what you typically see in Yomut weavings.  Second, it has rather substantial flatweave elems, at either end, and each is decorated with three sets of blue stripes, each set having three narrow blue stripes—this is typical of Tekke carpets.  A similar elem design is seen in some Ersari rugs, but I wouldn’t expect Ersari to be this finely woven.”

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Bob: “Some might say that the aesthetics of this piece don’t dazzle — if viewed from across the room, but, up close, I think it is quite marvelous.”  John: “This piece, except for the tapestry elem areas, is done entirely in brocade.”

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E5

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Bob: Nothing special about this torba, but the 12-gul ones are less common than are the 9-gul or the 6-gul versions.

This one is typical in being very fine, very short pile, very soft handle, masterfully woven.

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(click on the image below)

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Aija Blitte

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brought two Turkmen pieces.  Both “Middle Amu Darya.”

The first one was the piece below.  It is a long, torba-shaped pile bag face, but without a back.  It is so long that it calls into question the “torba” description.

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(Click on this image to get a larger version.)

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It has good color and strong graphics.  Here is a detail of it

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Aija’s second piece was the one below.

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Again, good color, good graphics. Also a nice, complete, balanced drawing of this design.

Here is a detail of it.

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I apologize to the owner of the next two pieces brought in, but I do not have his/her coments.  But they were two, attractive, sumak textiles.

The first was the very nice panel of a Shahsavan sumak piece below.  I don’t know who brought these two pieces in, but an experienced person described them for me after.

The first is the decorated side panel of a mafrash (rectangular bedding bag) from the Khamseh Province of Persia, probably late 19th or very early 20th Century. 

(Image below a little washed out, see details further down)

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Typically, in the Khamseh Province, the backs of the khorjin (saddlebags) were done not decorated, but usually just had plain red wefts on paired warps so that the backs looked much coarser than the front. 

The same was true for many of the mafrash. 

The other three sides of the mafrash, from which this side panel comes, likely would not have been decorated, further evidenced by the fact that this side panel has a circumferential border.  

Other Northwest Persian and Southern Caucasian mafrash have patterns that wrap around without side borders that are present here. Collectors see mafrash panels with borders all round as preferable.

This is work of the Shahsavan.

Here are some details of the above piece.

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The second sumak piece (below) this time a complete cargo-type mafrash.

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This complete mafrash is from Qarabagh in the Caucasus and is not necessarily Shahsavan.

The pattern wrapped around the mafrash continuously without side borders.

Mafrash were always woven in pairs, one for each side of the pack animal. Like the side panel, this was probably also woven in the late 19th or early 20th Century.

Detail of the piece above.

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Michael Seidman had brought two pieces.  The first was the Afshar sumak and brocade piece below. A wide palette (12 colors), excellent drawing and in very good condition.

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Michael said that on Turkotek, years ago, someone suggested that it is new piece (a real kiss of death).  In fact, he said, it came from the Ralph Yohe collection, who sold it to Ed Zimmerman. 

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It appeared in Dan Walker’s “Rugs of the Hajji Baba’s” in 1982, when he was in Cincinnati.  Although no age estimate is given, the Walker volume does say that this piece was purchased in “the New York trade around 1970.” So much for brand new.

Details of this nice piece.

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Michael said that there IS contemporary material worthy of collection and that he and his wife have collected some. 

His second piece was a contemporary table cloth, block printed in India. 

The detail in the block printing (I’m not sure that my details, below, convey it adequately) is incredible. 

Michael sometimes says that some contemporary textile work is better than that done in the 18th century.  I think he is right.

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Details.

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The “show and tell” part of this event ended and we adjourned to lunch in the Myers Room.

The GWU photographer, Harrison Jones, took a number of documenting and atmospheric photos of this event.  

Here are a few.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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One important person has been left out here.  Tom Goehner, 

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the Textile Museum Education Curator, has long noticed that I am a champion of the Saturday, Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs.  He is likely the person who mostly planned and engineered this nice celebration.

He doesn’t appear in the documenting pictures because he was making sure that things went off as planned.  And they did.  It was very nicely done all round.

Tom, I still think it was unnecessary, but thank you for a very nice gesture and event.

I hope readers will have seen some good material and had some useful explanations.  I am sorry not to be able to share, also, a little of the nice white wine.

‘Til next time,

R. John Howe

James Opie on South Persian Rugs, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on July 4, 2019 by rjohn

 James Opie

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gave a presentation on South Persian Rugs, here at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

Wendel Swan introduced Opie,

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saying, in part, that he is likely the leading authority on South Persian textiles and that his two books, “Rugs of Southern Persia,” in 1981, and his broader treatment of “Tribal Rugs,” first in 1992, and then in a paperback edition, in 1998. are likely on the shelves of a great many of us. 

Opie mentioned, himself, that he still deals a little and has natural dye projects in Afghanistan http://www.jamesopie-rugs.com/rugs.html

I should say, here, at the beginning, that we were not able to arrange for Opie to review what follows, but we have drawn heavily on his two books. And while we often say that he said something, some other of these comments came from experienced south Persian collectors who were in the room. So your are forewarned about my reporting here.

Opie began with an illustrated lecture.

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He made some introductory points.

  • He said that there were indigenous languages in the area we call ‘Southern Iran” before the arrival of the Persians.  There was a very strong pre-Iranian culture in the Loristan area.
  • Turkic speakers are said to have originated rug designs, but the Qashqa’i, who identify as Turks (they are Turkic speakers), use designs that are not like Turkish ones.
  • He rehearsed the debate about whether rug designs tend to move from urban areas into the countryside or whether designs originated in rural areas.  He seemed to favor an urban to rural flow, but said that there are some designs in south Persian rugs that seem not to come from external sources.
  • One fact that makes a predominant urban —> rural flow more likely is that 99% of rugs made were made for sale; not for maker use only.  Customers would often have design preferences and weavers would move quickly to meet them.
  • So in south Persian rugs, urban carpet art competes with local designs.
  • Some formats, likely gabbeh rugs and bedding bags, seem more likely made for the weavers’ own use.  Some of these seem to exhibit no external designs.  And gabbehs have low knot counts to make them lighter and easier to carry and, so, more likely to be for weaver use.

Opie cited, early, a particular white-dominant Bakhtiari saddle bag set that seems to exhibit no external design inputs.

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O25

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Description of O25 : In his book “Tribal Rugs,” Opie says the “column-like forms in the center of each field panel are noteworthy and appear to be archaic patterns. 

These columns

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are decorated with explicit animal heads that have both eyes and horns…”

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Details of O25.

Click on each of the details of O25 below to get a larger image.

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O25 back

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O25 back closer

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He showed a series of rugs that exhibit various degrees of urban vs non-urban influences.  As he went along, he also talked about ancient design motifs that occur in south Persian rugs.

Slide 1

 

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Comments on Slide 1: Opie started with this Khamseh, three-medallion rug.  It seems urban-influenced with its prominent herati field design (the “herati” example below from a different rug).

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The devices in this rug’s spandrels

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seem vaguely similar to Afshar usages in the field of the rug, below, that are very much urban-based.

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Tribal Rugs, Afshar rug, 12.11

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So the devices in Slide 1 seem to lean toward urban sources.

Slide 2

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Comments on Slide 2:  This rug, Opie said, “is so urban that the name Afshar can be applied only with qualifications.” 

Heavy Kerman influence.  Probably made in a workshop, as the spandrels, that are precise quarters of the central medallion, strongly suggest.

Slide 3

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Comments on Slide 3: A Bakhtiari-Chahar Mahal rug with a “willow” design.  Similar to, but not as good as, 8.21 on page 149 in “Tribal Rugs.”

Slide 4

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Comments on Slide 4:  In “Tribal Rugs” Opie notes that “Qashqa’i weavers have adapted traditional south Persian gabbeh and kilim designs to achieve a new distinctive effects” in the 20th century Qashqa’i gabbeh above.  He considers it to be “one of those made outside workshops for members of the tribe’s elite.”  

It is one of those woven with only three or four rows of wefts between rows of knots.  Most Qashqa’i and Lori gabbehs have between four and twelve weft threads between rows of knots.  This substantially reduced weaving time and, as noted early, reduced the weight of the fabric, making it more portable, hence also more likely woven for use.

Slide 5

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Comments on Slide 5:  Opie sees this Luri rug as a study in the varied use of the very old animal head devices.  You can see the “hooks and the “two-headed” devices in the medallions.

But you need to look for the dots that are eyes in the close-up detail of this piece, below, to see that they are intended to be more that hook forms.

Detail of Slide 5.

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Slide 6

Click to see a larger image.

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Comments on Slide 6:  Opie talked about how pastoral nomadism is so deliberate and purposeful. 

Slide 7

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Comments on Slide 7: How ever moment of most days was devoted to some important task.  Above, a lady spins with a drop spindle.

 

Slide 8

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Comment on Slide 8: How seemingly crude looms were used to weave many things, including the dark coverings of their tents.

 

Slide 9

Click to see a larger image.

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Comments on Slide 9: He cited the famous film “Grass.”  It documented a long Bakhtiari migration in the 1920s of 50,000 people and their animals.  Above, they are crossing a treacherous river.

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He said it shows what incredible things humans can accomplish together.

Slide 10

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Comments on Slide 10:  Another white-predominant Bakhtiari bag set, shown laid out flat with the front side up.  No external design devices on the flat-woven fields or the pile bottoms on the bottoms of both bags.  This kind of south Persian weaving was less likely to show urban influence.

 

Slide 11

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Comments on Slide 11:  This is a complete, rectangular Bakhtiari, cargo bag and would have been woven for the weavers’ own use.  It has the white-dominant side panel field designs and an unusual and colorful “top” panel in this image (which is actually the bottom when in use). 

Something not visible in this image is the fact that the end panels in such Bakhtiari bags are pointed at the top end. This is not true of similar Shahsavan cargo bags.  (We will see such a pointed Bakhtiairi cargo bag end panel later.)

 

Slide 12

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Comments on Slide 12: Slide 12 is similar to and may be the same piece shown at 025 above but is shown here for a different purpose.  Look at the side border in the image above and then at the detail of it below.

 

Slide 13

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Comments on Slide 13:  The stacked serpent heads on the band above represent hundreds of years of design progression.  Opie seems to say that the version of this border on the 1930s Bakhtiari bag, above is “older” that than the “S” border in the 14th century”Dragon and Phoenix rug” in Slide 14 below.

 

Slide 14

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Comments on Slide 14: The “Dragon and Phoenix” rug, Anatolian and 15th century, has a repeating “S” border, probably based on proto-typical metal hooks in Slide 15 below.

 

Slide 15

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Comments on Slide 15: Opie said such symbols were used by people to relate and indicate what peoples’ myths are.  Of course, often, that meaning is no longer available.

In his “Tribal Rugs” volume, Opie gives a series of “S” motifs that begin with the “Iranian bronze” above, of an “uncertain period,” and end with the border in the detail image of O25 below.

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Slide 16

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Comment on Slide 16: Khamseh.  Opie said, joking, that he buys Khamseh”chicken” rugs and sells “bird” rugs.

He said that he thinks bird devices represent something else from the past (he noted that some “bird” rugs show “serpent” devices over the birds).

Slide 17 is a detail image that shows this “serpent over bird” motif.

Slide 17

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Slide 18

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Comment on Slide 18:  The detail above is a unique instance of birds and lions in the field of a Khamseh rug (page 203 in Tribal Rugs).  Opie said this usage makes this rug one of the rarest of Khamseh weavings.

Slide 19

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Opie said that Slide 19 is of a Qashqua’i lion rug dated to the late 19th century.

He said that “lion” motifs seem to have been picked up from other cultures.  Although there were once lions in Persia, Opie said, the use of lion figures in royal Persian art concluded with Alexander the Great’s invasion and that there has been no external market for “lion rugs” until quite recently.  (Note: Parviz Tanavoli makes a different argument.)

Lion forms also occur in south Persian burial sites.

Slide 20

Click on image below to see two lions in the background and one in the foreground.

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Opie said that lions: are visible in graves of Bakhtiari warriors and aristocrats.  These are similar to some he shows in “Tribal Rugs.”

Slide 21

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Comments on Slide 21: This is a lion-decorated cup similar to one Opie shows in “Tribal Rugs.”  That one he dates as from the fourth to the sixth century B.C.

Slide 22

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Comments on Slide 22: This bull figure, holding an urn is 5,000 years old and Persian.  Another instance of design elements that occur on ancient metal work.

Slide 23

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Comments on Slide 23:  The two-headed bronze from Luristan in the first milenium, B.C. also occurs in other cultures e.g Lithuania. We don’t knot where the ancestral tribes learned this motif, but a strikingly similar device occurs in Slide 24 from a 19th century Khamseh rug.

Slide 24

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Opie is hopeful that, sometime, evidence may be found to let us determine whether this ancient motif “may have originated locally or could have been imported into the Zagros.” Many Middle Eastern museums contain ancient statues with two heads. 

It might be useful to indicate here that Opie’s frequent references to the Zagos, are not by chance. This reference is to a Zagros mountain region in Iran.  Opie maintains, thoughout his book, that tribes in the Zagros mountains were isolated.  And so, he sees their design usages as likely sources of ancient design motifs.

Sometimes textiles that have animal heads also exhibit another ancient design motif that is used widely all over the world.  Opie used another white dominant Bakhtiari bag set to illustrate this.

Slide 25

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In Slde 27 you can see a species of the endless knot which is part of the motifs in the central part of this vertical array.

Slide 27

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While the endless knot is ancient, Opie said, and occurs in south Persian textiles, it also appears in a number of other cultures.  He said it is not clear how the endless knot motif came into the Zagros.  China, the Copts, in Eygpt, the Vikings, Celtic peoples are all mentioned as possible.

Here is an example of a Persian, endless knot motif, from Peter Stone’s “Oriental Rug Lexicon,” 1997.

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One of Opie’s six examples of the endless knot motif in “Tribal Rugs” is this one.

Slide 28

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Slide 29

Click on the image below to get a larger version.

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Comments on Slide 29:  This Bakhtiari animal trapping from Tribal Rugs has as its dominant design motif in the field of the horizontal panel, a swastika-linked pattern. 

Opie says that swastikas and swastika-linked motifs are, like the endless knot, motifs that are “common property of a variety of nations” scattered throughout Eurasia, China and even the Americas.

Slide 30

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Comments on Slide 30: This large, well-known, Luri bag front, possibly from the early nineteenth century…features a stylized two-headed figure on the back of a horse. 

Slide 31

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Few nomadic woven motifs offer such an intriguing comparison with ancestral art.  Opie said that “This piece and an identical mate are among the rarest nomadic weavings to surface in recent decades.”

Opie had the piece in Slide 30 in the room.  Here, below, are some more images taken of it.

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Slide 32

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Comments on Slide 32: Opie said that Luristan bronzes, made by tribes people living in the Zagros mountains, provide some of the best evidence on ancient south Persian designs and motif.  The image in Slide 32, above, is one end of a complete, decorated harness bit and is one of these Luristan bronzes.

Slide 33

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Comments on Slide 33:  I don’t have in my notes anything specific about this piece, but it is obviously another ancient item of Persian origin that exhibits particular designs.

One of these is, clearly a row of bird’s head near the top.  There are also some deer images. It not clear from this perspective whether a single deer was intended or more likely two deer side-by-side.  At least eight legs on a single deer is unusual.

Slide 34

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Comment on Slide 34:  This image is of a “Fantastic tattooed animal on the body of a tribal chief or shaman.  [From Barrow 2 in the Pazyryk Valley, southern Siberia, fourth century B.C. (After Rudenko)]

In “Tribal Rugs,” Opie quotes Veronique Schlitz who says: “The art of the steppes is a coherent system of signs and operates like a language.  For these peoples…it must have occupied the place of a written language…”  He said that this approach to symbolism enhanced my appreciation of animal-style objects that I encountered in my travels in Iran and Afganistan…

Opie had brought a number of pieces with him.  He dealt with them next. 

There is some redundance with pieces treated in his lecture. In most cases there will be an overall image, then comments on it, followed by a number of detail images of the same piece.

O1

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Comments on O1: This piece is a large Bakhtiairi flatweave (10 ft. X 4 ft) that appeared in Opie’s ‘Tribal Rugs of Southern Iran, 1981 and is described extensively there.

Opie pointed to both its rarity and to its great variation in border and field designs. 

He said that it exhibits a design vocabulary that may hark back to Persian city weaving of the 15th through the 17th centuries.  He said that “old flatweaves like this provide a glimpse into ancestral design traditions.”

Details of O1.

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Jim said that although these weavers were fluent in weaving a varieties of structure, they often did not know how to repair them (it may not be obvious, but the skills are quite distinctive).  The red vertical strip in the photos above and below demonstrates the kind of crude repairs they could manage.

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O2

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Comments on O2:  In Tribal Rugs, Opie describes this piece as having been woven by Lori-speaking Qashqa’i weavers in the last quarter of the 19th century. 

It is important because it exhibits a variety of animal motifs: lions, peacocks, animal-headed medallions and animal-headed trees.  There are also human figures. These are all traditional tribal motifs. Opie retains a sub-tribal attribution, saying that this piece was made by the “Shekarlu” weaving group.

Details of O2.

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O3

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Comments on O3:  Opie described this as a “bird” rug which incorporates images from other cultures. Estimated to have been woven 1860s-1870s.

Details of O3.

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There are serpent shapes over the backs of birds.  Also animals with floral growths out of their backs.

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And botehs out of animal forms.

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Opie took us next to a very old gabbeh.

O4

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Here is a complete, unencumbered view.

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Opie said this piece if very old and “maybe with no exterior input.”  It has multiple wefts that reduce its weight and for that reason is also the sort likely made for use rather than for market. Estimated to have been woven 1820-1880.

The Qashqua’i seem to have gotten their motifs from the people already there in the areas they came to dominate.

Details of O4.

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Back of O4

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Back of O4 closer.

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O5

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Opie said that this is another “bird” rug that incorporates images from other cultures.  He thinks is very old.  Has serpents over birds and secondary botehs.

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Details of O5.

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O6

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Opies said that O5 is a younger Khamseh, “bird” rug.  One sign of this is that the birds have a fuller shape.

Details of O5.

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O7

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Opie said that this is an interesting rug with indications of how it was made. 

It was, of course, started at the bottom, but pretty quickly the weaver changed the ground color of the field.  Then, half-way up the first center diamond she goes back to the original field color but, on the right side of the diamond, shifts to a red field.

This shifting of ground color continues half halfway up the second diamond, where she moves to a red ground on the left of the diamond, but introduces to a yellow ground on the right. 

She finishes the top half diamond with these two ground colors.

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Details of O7.

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There are again a variety of human and animal devices in the piece, in addition to some “Memling” guls, but an interesting one, Opie pointed out, is a pair of scissors in the detail below.

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O8

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O8 is another rug that invites comments about how it was likely made.  The field changes wildly and there was a consensus that it was made by at least two weavers. 

The way the field changes and the awkward drawing suggests that this is a mother-child effort. 

One sign supporting that is that while, the field has areas of poor drawing (although even there some small devices are well-drawn) the borders are uniformly well-drawn, suggesting the mother in control there.

Wendel said that this was what might be called an “oops” rug, and you could find on Turkotek.com from years ago a salon I designed with that title exploring what the line is between irregularities that actually can enhance the aesthetic quality of a weaving (think of what Kurdish ladies in the 19th century did, with their conventionalizations and use of color, in their renditions of old classic Persian designs) and those that have to be acknowledged simply as poor weaving.

One argument for considering this a successful rug is that Opie bought it…and still has it.

Details of O8.

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Below beginning changes are held up.

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The next rug was one that you could tell Jim Opie liked especially.

O9

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This is a large “tiger” rug.  Wendel Swan said that it is the best of this type he’s ever seen.  Opie said that the border is clearly urban.  Well drawn.  Wonderful color.

Details of O9.

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The detail below and the overall shot above were taken by Wendel Swan.

Notice in the detail below that there seem to be cypress trees in between the boteh devices in the borders.

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O10

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Opie said that O10, above, and O11, below, are both heroic flatwoven rugs.

They are both coarser than is typical of Qashqa’i kilims.  O10 is more finely woven.

Before we look at O11, here are some details of O10.

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And now let’s continue with O11.

O11

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This overall shot of O11 was another taken by Wendel Swan.

It is austere and has a lovely, spare, but organized graphic character.

Opie said that O11 was more coarsely woven that O10.  He said we should note that they were both woven in one piece.

Here are some details of O11.

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There was conversation in the room about the odd square device in the lower center of the field

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Below is a closer look at it.  It is not a patch or repair.  It was woven continuously as part of the original fabric.

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O12

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Opie said this bag set with its attractive, graphically strong field design was woven in the early 20th century by a Qashqa’i (Kashkuli) weaver in the early 20th century. 

It appears in Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia on page 26, opposite a 19th century rug with a similar design.  The latter shows what seems an earlier less conventionalized version of this design.

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O13 and O14 are chantehs.  Made as dowry items or as gifts.

O14

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O15

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This is another white dominant Bakhtiari piece.  It is from a cargo bag like the one shown in Slide 11, above. and demonstrates the observation there that the upper end of such Bakhtiari bags are pointed.

Details of O15.

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O16

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Comment on O16: Qashqa’i.

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O17

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This is a Kashga’i khojin set.  The field has a nice range of color and the back resembles kilims like O11 above.

O17

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This is one half of a Khamseh khorjin set.  Its face is very similar to that of 11.11 on Tribal Rugs, but this piece has a dramatic, colorful back. 

The center of its field motifs include the same small diamond motif with arms in four directions and birds arranged in its four quarters in the same way.  This arrangement also occurs in the detail of a rug in Slide 18 above. 

This rare piece is, itself, 11.12 in Tribal Rugs.

Details of O17.

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