Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Sumru Krody on Turkish Kilims from the Megalli Collection

Posted in Uncategorized on March 20, 2018 by rjohn

On January 6, 2018, Sumru Krody,

Senior Eastern Hemisphere Curator, at The Textile Museum, here in Washington, DC, gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning Program on “Turkish Kilims in the Megalli Collection.”  This program anticipated an upcoming TM exhibition on this material.

A Nomad’s Art: Kilims of Anatolia

Detail of kilim

Kilim (detail), Turkey, central Anatolia, late 18th century. The Textile Museum 2013.2.1. The Megalli Collection.
 
September 1–December 30, 2018

Woven by women to adorn tents and camel caravans, kilims are enduring records of life in Turkey’s nomadic communities, as well as stunning examples of abstract art. This exhibition marks the public debut of treasures from the museum’s Murad Megalli Collection of Anatolian Kilims, dating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Howe: Sumru, most readers will know, is a long-time curator at The Textile Museum and has been involved in and/or produced a large number of exhibitions and publications, which I will not enumerate here.

The Myers Room was full.

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Sumru began:

“Kilim” is a general name, given in Anatolia and its surrounding areas in West Asia, to a group of sturdy, utilitarian textiles, woven in slit tapestry-weave technique.

These works of art are multifaceted objects and obviously played an important role in the artistic history of Anatolia.

The highly-developed designs and the fine execution, seen on the surviving eighteenth- and nineteenth-century kilims I will share with you during the next 45-minutes or so, suggest that the Anatolian kilim tradition had been well-established by the time the seventeenth century came to a close.

Note: About the images in this post.  Initially, in each case, you will see an image of a given piece, like the one below.  Please click on the initial images and you will get a larger one.  There is also a third image, one turned 90 degrees to the right that lets you see this piece most closely

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.59, The Megalli Collection. 

Dimensions (warp x weft): 417 X 95 cm (164 X 37 inches)

Turned image of 2:

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Sumru:

Formed with wool fibers and tapestry weave technique, Anatolian kilims represent a distinct weaving tradition, while conforming to the mechanics of tapestry weaving practiced in many parts of the world.

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning, weft-faced plain weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.6, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 308 X 75 cm (121 X 29.5 inches)

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Sumru:

Many consider the kilims of Anatolia to be great contemplative and minimalist works of art.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, c. 1800, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.44, The Megalli Collection. 

Dimensions (warp x weft): 313 X 67 cm (123 X 26 inches)

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, very small amount of vertical color change. The Textile Museum 2013.2.73, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 394 X 84 cm (155 X 33 inches)

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Sumru: 

They were created by women who had a great eye for design, and an awesome sense of color.

They are prized for the harmony and purity of their color, the integrity of their powerful overall design, their masterfully controlled tapestry weave structure, and their fine texture.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning,\supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.90, The Megalli Collection.

 Dimensions (warp x weft): 367 X 88.5 cm (144.5 X 34.5 inches)

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Sumru:

The visually stunning and colorful Anatolian kilims communicate the aesthetic choices of the nomadic and village women who created them.

Yet, while invested with such artistry, Anatolian kilims first and foremost were utilitarian objects

initially employed by nomadic families for a host of uses, primarily but not exclusively for covering household items and furnishing the interior sides of tents.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.72, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 343 X 158 cm (135 X 62 inches)

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Sumru:

Since 2015, I have been documenting a private collection of 96 Anatolian flatweaves donated to The Textile Museum .

I have been engaged in analytical study of these textiles in order to contribute to our understanding of the Anatolian kilim weaving tradition.

91 of these 96 flatweaves are kilims,

43 are attributed to Central and South Anatolia,

7a

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Kilim, Northwestern Anatolia, 18th century to early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.81, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 147 X 79 cm (57.5 X 31 inches)

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7b

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, c. 1800, wool, slit tapestry weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.68, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 401 X 86 cm (157.5 X 33.5 inches)

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Sumru:

38 to western and northwestern Anatolia,

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly east-central, mid-19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, eccentric weft, lazy lines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.19, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 444.5 X 69 cm (175 X 27 inches)

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Sumru:

and 15 to eastern Anatolia.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft, weft-faced plain weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.31,The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 137 X 387 cm (54 X 152.5 inches)

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Sumru:

What I am about to present to you today is where I am in my investigation.

This being still an on-going research, there is room for improvement, and I appreciate hearing your questions and comments.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, c. 1800, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.14, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 292 X 160 cm (115 X 63 inches)

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Sumru:

I started, like any research project should, with questions that, I hope, will help me to better understand these textiles and their creators,

and  answer the fundamental question of:

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, cotton, slit tapestry weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.7, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 181.5 X 138 cm (71.5 X 54 inches)

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Sumru:

What is there to see when you look at a work of art, such as an Anatolian kilim?

I also wanted to know:

  • What is an Anatolian kilim?
  • Who were the artists who created these weavings?
  • How did their lifestyle affect their artistic creation?
  • How do artistic form and function come together in Anatolian kilim?
  • How do materials influence what an artist makes in the context of Anatolian kilims?
  • How does this artistic tradition change over time?
  • How does a kilim’s design affect the way it is seen?

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly west-central, early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.30, The Megalli Collections.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 428.5 X 67 cm (168.5 X 26 inches)

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Sumru:

But the most elusive questions and the most important, at least for me, are:

  • What did Anatolian nomads value in the kilims?
  • What criteria did they use to judge these items?
  • Were they the same as ours? Or different? And, if different, how different?

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Sumru:

Kilim, a type of textile, is often referred to as flatweave in the western literature because it does not have any pile or tufts, as carpets do.

The tapestry-weave technique is very old—archaeological examples go back well over two millennia—and very geographically widespread.

Textiles with tapestry weave are created in traditional Islamic carpet-weaving societies from Morocco to Central Asia, and more broadly, from the pre-Columbian Americas to ancient China, as well as to the European Medieval and Baroque tapestries.

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Sumru:

In slit-tapestry weave technique, as used in the Anatolian kilims, the design is created by colored horizontal weft yarns, interlaced in an over and under sequence, through the vertical warp yarns and completely obscure them.

 Like any tapestry-woven textile, Anatolian kilims have weft-faced plain weave structure, but the real essence of Anatolian kilim is its slit-tapestry structure.  The design is built up of small areas of solid color, each of which is woven with its individual weft yarn, and that between two such adjacent areas the respective weft yarns never interlock or intermingle.

The different colored weft yarns turn back, using adjacent warp yarns. The result is a vertical slit. In this manner, the artistic expression of the kilim and its technique are inextricably bound together.

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Sumru:

Anatolia was a crucial transitional point between the weaving regions of Europe, Asia, and Egypt. Its history is one of ancient, continuous interactions between the culturally diverse people.

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Sumru:

Weavers of kilims were descendants of Turkmen nomads and their settled kin.

Turkmen—ethnic Turkish nomads—began to arrive into Anatolia in about the 10th century, adding further diversity to already ethnically diverse area.

The lands they passed through on their way from further east, via Central Asia to Anatolia, were occupied by two different religions, Islam and Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and two distinct cultures, Persian and Byzantine/Greek.

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Sumru:

Nomadism, is a style of life, in which groups of people, mostly close family members, move from one region to another to exploit the resources, like grass.

Anatolian nomads’ living and economic units were predominantly groups of families (kabile) or of extended families (aile).

They were generally herders and depend on their large flocks for their livelihood. Some nomadic groups, such as those in Anatolia, are pastoral nomads, or semi-nomadic, meaning they move between two pastures, one for winter and one for summer.

Nomadism is a lifestyle and separate from tribalism

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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Sumru:

Two major, but distinct, activities dominated the life of the Turkmen nomads:

1.Migration to winter pasture, called kisla, and to summer pasture, called yayla.

      Kisla = low elevation, in the valleys, that are warmer in the winter

      Yayla= higher elevation, on the mountains, that are cooler in the summer

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2. Pastoral life or life in pasture

There are very few if any nomads left in the Anatolia today. If there is any migration today, so-called nomads live in brick and mortal houses by the coast during winter and move up to mountains in the summer, pitching tents in yayla.

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Sumru:

The last remaining nomads were, in the mid-20th century, congregating in the Taurus Mountains, which parallel the north Mediterranean coast of Anatolia.

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Sumru:

During the twice-yearly movements, camels carried family’s belongings including the tent, while the family, except the youngest ones, walked alongside the camels.

During the migration, women could display their weaving skills, through the display of kilims thrown over the camel loads, to everyone they encountered on the road.

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Sumru:

When they arrived at the destination, the most pressing issue was to establish a shelter/home for the family.

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Sumru:

Once settled in yayla or kisla, nomadic women could have time to devote themselves to weaving.

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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Sumru:

Although utilitarian, the textiles were carefully woven and intricately decorated.

We can speculate that the reason for this care was that textiles had artistic, social, and religious importance, for the nomads, in addition to their pure functionality.

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Photography by Josephine Powell, KOC Foundation Archives

Sumru:

Unfortunately for us, we are so removed from these societies, today, that it is hard for us to perceive the specifics of these aspects, and especially not through examining these objects.

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Sumru:

We do not know how a nomad family organized their tent, in the 17th or 18th or even early 19th century. We are inferring the way they lived then, by analogy, with how their decedents were living  in the mid 20th century.

We are grateful the research done by Harald Bohmer, Josephine Powell and many others in 1970s, 80s and even some in 90s to preserve the 20th century way of nomad life.

But, we should always remember that we do not have direct access to the earlier kilim weavers. We are gathering our information among the great great grandchildren of nomads who wove the kilims in our collections, and we are relying on the notion that they have been living in very conservative, little changing environment, which is not true.

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Sumru:

Textiles were prominently displayed when the family reached the pastureland and set up tent.

Each tent formed a single open space with a wooden post in the middle.

The large transportation bags, that carried family’s belongings during the migration, were turned into storage bags and placed in various parts of the tent.

And were covered with long kilims, that were previously used as covers during migration. Occasionally, these long kilims served as wall hangings.

In short, by rearranging kilims and other textiles, women defined the single tent space for different functions.

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Sumru:

The practice of using textiles, to delineate living spaces, continued when nomads permanently settled in villages.

Once nomadic, now-settled women continued weaving their kilims and bags for couple of generations, though storage bags and other textiles gradually disappeared from their weaving repertoires. Only the kilim weaving appeared to be continued.

On reason for that might have been that kilims were flat rectangular textiles that could serve multiple functions as wall hangings, bedding covers, and even floor covers. And in 20th century, they brought income to the family through their sales.

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Sumru:

Kilims also were used to honor the deceased. When a member of the family died, the body would be wrapped in a kilim and carried to the gravesite.

The kilim was not buried; however. It would be washed and presented to the mosque, at mevlut ceremonies, gatherings to honor the deceased and held forty days after their burial.

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Kilim, Central or Western Anatolia, c.1800, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.94, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 381.5 X 70 cm (150 X 27.5 inches)

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Sumru:

The creation of Anatolian kilim was, from start to finish, the work of a single weaver or family group.

The same group of people completed the full production cycle of creation.

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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Sumru:

They sheared the sheep,

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Sumru:

chose the wool,

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Sumru:

turned loose fibers to yarn

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Sumru:

dyed the yarns, set up the loom, and, as the weavers say “dressed the loom.”

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Sumru:

Then, they decided on design and wove the textiles.

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Sumru:

The weavers had total control over the selection of their raw material.

The weavers’ involvement from the beginning in choosing, cleaning, and combing the wool to make it ready for spinning was an important factor in achieving the high weaving quality seen in the kilims.

Kilim designs that are clear and precise, and colors that are luminous and bright, are almost always made with high quality wool.

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, c. 1800, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.8, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 388 X 77.5 cm (152.5 X 30.5 inches)

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Sumru:

The total involvement and control of raw material and preparation of the yarn did not translate to total freedom of design, however. Anatolian women designed their kilims, but they chose from a rigid traditional design repertoire.

The young weaver was expected to use the motifs and design layouts that were accepted by her community as theirs—their artistic tradition.

38 upper

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.74, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 445 X 94 cm (175 X 37 inches)

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38 lower

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.71,The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 364 X 90 cm (143 X 35.5 inches)

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Sumru on 38 upper and lower:

Only after a weaver had assimilated and internalized these motifs, and the mechanics of weaving them to such a degree that she became a skilled master, did she become comfortable with introducing variations and minor innovations to the traditional design.

Even the skilled and experienced weaver could do so only if she maintained, and did not displace, the accepted form.

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Kilim (detail) western Anatolia, Aydin, first half of the 19th century, wool, slit-tapestry weave, The Textile Museum, 2013.2.9 The Megalli Collection.

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Sumru:

So an Anatolian kilim could not be considered the overt self-expression of one individual, but rather an expression of the collective, the tradition.

Conversely, each kilim was different from the others. Even in this restricted environment, the individualism was manifested in minor details, as long as the weaver followed the expected traditional forms.

40 upper

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.32, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 357 X 115.5 cm (140.5 X 45.5 inches)

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40 middle

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly west-central, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.48, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 312.4 X 110.5 (123 X 43.5 inches)

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40 lower

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly west-central, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.64, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 371 X 76 cm (146 X 30 inches)

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Sumru on 40 upper, middle and lower:

Many factors influence the uniqueness of each kilim. The individual personality of weaver, her nature, her understanding of colors, ability to design, weaving skills, and different levels of expertise/experience in weaving, all play a role, as did external factors.

Changes in the conditions of the family group—the influx of new families into the group and marriage among individuals from different nomadic groups—brought in new ideas. Chance exposure of weavers to new motifs, during migration, or occasional visits to a mosque, allowed new motifs to be appreciated and memorized.

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Sumru:

The mode of learning in kilim weaving was memory, rather than the invention or creation.

This involved memorizing a small set of motifs/design elements, and the mechanics of weaving this same set of motifs.

In other words, it appears that young weavers mastered the weaving technique, and the motifs that go with it, simultaneously. The learning process was both visual and tactile memorization.

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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Sumru:

Nowadays they use cartoons.

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Kilim, central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, The Textile

Museum 2013.2.27, The Megalli Collection. 

Dimensions (warp x weft): 310 X 93 cm (122 X 36.5 inches)

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43 lower

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Kilim, central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, The Textile

Museum 2013.2.35, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 293 X 137.5 cm (115 X 54 inches)

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Sumru on 43 upper and lower:

Through close examination of the kilims, we can determine some characteristics of kilims design tradition.

In creating their designs, weavers depended on repetition and variation of a relatively small number of motifs, although the motifs themselves might not be small in terms of their physical size. Just to give you a sense of the size of these kilims, the longest ones can reach up to 14-15 feet long. The ones on the screen are  about 10- 11 feet long.

Weavers expanded the design repertoire through a process of elaboration or simplification.

44 left

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.53, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 93 X 89 cm (36.5 X 35 inches)

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43 right

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Kilim, western Anatolia, early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, The

Textile Museum 2013.2.10, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 268 X 88 cm (105.5 X 34 inches)

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Sumru on 44 left and right:

This was done by presenting the same motifs in different sizes.

45 lower (note red circled device in the border)

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, late 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced

plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft.

The Textile Museum 2013.2.1, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 374 X 84 cm (127 X 33 inches)

(again, note the same red circled device, now, in this turned view, on the left)

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45 upper (notice red circled device now in the field)

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Kilim, Central or western Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.67, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 173 X 71 cm (68 X 28 inches)

(red circled device is now prominent in the field)

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Sumru:

This process of elaboration or simplification was also utilized when introducing new design ideas.

The introduction of new design elements had to start by using them as minor design elements, such as border designs, and had to move slowly to be used as main design elements, which were considered the most important signifiers of tradition.

Later on, the weaver could take the same design element from a minor element status, enlarged it and, artfully, make it into a main design element that dominated the whole kilim.

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Sumru on 46:

They created layouts with design elements of equal or fluctuating emphasis, in which what was dominant and what was recessive, remains unresolved.

46 left

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.56, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 267 X 183 cm (105 X 72 inches)

46 right

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.78, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 157 X 107 cm (61.5 X 42 inches)

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, early 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.72, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 343 X 158 cm (135 X 62 inches)

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Sumru:

The varying sizes of many reciprocal motifs, which form both negative and positive space, tease the eye. Either aspect of the composition can be the primary view, the other spaces receding into the background. This effect is known as “figure ground reversal

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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Sumru:

The optical effects of figure ground reversal are compounded when the these kilims were draped over textiles or hung, or draped on top of one other, creating undulated surfaces. The eye shifts from angle to angle, textile to textile. Elements of the patterns appear similar, then different.

They move in and out of view with the kilims’ folds. The kilims dynamic drapery and large size obscures individual motifs. Dynamic properties and optical effects work in tandem and enhance each other.

That is why kilim weavers pay more attention to overall look than the individual designs.

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Kilim (and lower detail), western Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit-tapestry weave, The Textile Museum, 2013.2.40, The Megalli Collection.

Sumru:

Another characteristic of designs seen on these kilims are the way they are visible and powerful from a distance, but also are very engaging when viewed at close proximity.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.37, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 291.5 X 108 cm (117.5 X 42.5 inches)

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Sumru:

The optical effects of figure ground reversal are compounded when the these kilims were draped over other textiles or hung, or draped on top of one other, creating undulated surfaces. The eye shifts from angle to angle, textile to textile. Elements of the patterns appear similar, then different.

They move in and out of view with the kilims’ folds. The kilims dynamic drapery and large size obscures individual motifs. Dynamic properties and optical effects work in tandem and enhance each other.

That is why kilim weavers pay more attention to overall look than the individual designs.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, Konya, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave,

supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.63, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 404 X 96.5 cm (159 X 38 inches)

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Sumru:

In good textile design, the relationship between positive and negative spaces, created through color, is always important.

Color transforms the overall sense of a textile, besides the mechanics of how a design is created.

Based on our observations of their products, we can confidently say Anatolian kilim weavers were deeply aware of this and took advantage of it.

Until the late 19th century, they had to work within the confines of a very limited palette based on available natural dyes.

But they still were able to produce unsurpassed effects of color by exploiting to the fullest this natural palette.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.32, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 357 X 115.5 cm (140.5 X 45.5 inches)

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52 middle

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly west-central, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.48, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 312.4 X 110.5 (123 X 43.5 inches)

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52 lower

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly west-central, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.64, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 371 X 76 cm (146 X 30 inches)

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Sumru:

Look back at 52 upper, middle and lower.

They wove the very same design with different colorways, creating kilims with entirely different feelings and looks.

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, Mid-19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft substitution, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.22, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 265 X 125 cm (104 X 49 inches)

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Sumru:

The uncompromising and uncluttered design seen on many early Anatolian kilims leaves large areas of plain color exposed. 

Weaver needs to rely on well-dyed yarns to achieve a good product and they usually did, at least the experienced ones.

This example stands out among the others, and is one of my favorites.

This carpet has a very sophisticated color palette.

It uses red, green, and blue, just like the Mamluk carpets  produced in Egypt in the 15th century.

54 upper

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for some of the outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.47, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 395 X 75 cm (155.5 X 29.5 inches)

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54 lower

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.34, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 389 X 66 cm (153 X 26 inches)

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Sumru on 54 upper and lower:

Colors, of course, are the key to enhanced visual impact, with exploration of spatial possibilities. The relationship between positive and negative spaces, between foreground and background, have been always important in kilim weaving.

They juxtaposed colors, especially contrasting or complementing colors, to create dramatic effects.

Often we may feel that weavers pursued these effects at the expense of the legibility of motifs that so interest modern viewers, like us.  We pay more attention to pattern/design.

55

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55 left

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55 right

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Sumru on 55 left and right:

The weavers was very skillful in manipulating how colors appeared through the use of thin outline of another color that is distinct from both neighboring colors, which emphasized the demarcation between two color areas; this in turn enhanced the contrast between the adjacent colors.

56

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56 upper

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.51, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 319.5 X 59.5 cm (125.5 X 23.5 inches)

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56 lower

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Bag (unconstructed), Western Anatolia, possibly northwestern, mid-19th century, wool, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping and patterning, knotted pile. The Textile Museum 2013.2.61, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 271 X 71.5 (107 X 28 inches)

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Sumru on 56 upper and lower:

Anatolian women were masters of two distinct weave structures for two different functionalities.

Slit tapestry weave was used exclusively for kilims.

Supplementary-weft patterning, in its various forms, was used 90 percent of the time for weaving transportation/storage bags, such as 56 lower. in the slide. 

57

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Kilim (detail), central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 2013.2.54, The Megalli Collection.

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Sumru:

Anatolian weavers seemed to accept the natural limitations and created the designs that fit with the structural constraints of slit tapestry weave.

They developed a design repertoire that was essentially rectilinear, geometric and nonrepresentational or abstract, while the original inspiration for the designs most likely came from the natural world around them.

Anatolian weavers took elements of the natural world and stylized and geometricized them, absorbing them into their own rectilinear grammar.

58

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Sumru:

Textile researcher Marla Mallett has mentioned that it is important to consider the critical relationships between what she calls “weave balance” and patterns seen on the textiles.

Of course we need to keep in mind that every weave structure have its own “weave balance.”

This relationship is a vital part of the aesthetic development in tapestry woven textiles in general and in Anatolian kilims specifically.

The size relationship between the warp and weft yarns is one of the weave balance issue; in most old kilims, the weft is less than half as thick as the warp, usually loosely spun and not plied; while the warp yarns are 2 Z spun yarns S plied.

This way, weft yarns totally  cover the warp yarns, creating solid color areas in pattern.

59

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59 left

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59 left: Kilim, eastern Anatolia, first half of the 19th century, wool, tapestry weave, The Textile Museum. 2013, 2.78, The Megalli Collection.

59 right

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59 right: Prayer kilim, central Anatolia, late 19th century, The Textile Museum, 1964, 39.4, gift of Arthur D. Jenkins.

Sumru on 59 left and right:

Another weave balance issue is the necessity for achieving a balance between using enough slits to create motifs and limiting the length and frequency of slitting in order to maintain structural integrity.

This of course has had a profound influence on the pattern or character of kilim designs.

60

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Sumru:

It is harder to achieve minimalist work, than a highly decorated one. A good and experienced weaver knows that.

You need to pay attention to your wool, color, tension and technique.

Color change and not creating long slits forced her to do minor adjustments which can be only detected if stop looking at the design and try to figure out the technique.

The reason I study textile structures is that I can that way see weaver’s hand. For me it is in the structure, more than the pattern that one comes close to the weaver and her thinking.

61

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Kilim (detail), central Anatolia,  second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave , The Textile Museum 2013.2.3, The Megalli Collection.

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Sumru:

Slit tapestry weave creates crisp vertical definitions between color areas, and often weavers incorporate the slits into their overall design.

Need to respect slits!

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Kilim, western Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave , The Textile Museum 2013.2.38, The Megalli Collection.

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63

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, Afyon, late 19th century, wool, cotton, slit tapestry weave, weft substitution, weft float weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.5, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 228 X 115.2 cm (89.5 X 45 inches)

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Sumru:

Any kilim that is wider than 90 cm was woven most likely by two weavers in a wide loom or she was willing to lift herself up occasionally to move to the other side of the kilim.

The wide looms were generally built in place and not easily portable; a village home is a better set up for larger looms.

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the one below to get a larger version.

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64 lower right

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.71,The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 364 X 90 cm (143 X 35.5 inches)

64 left

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Sumru on 64:

Weaving orientation vs use orientation

Howe comment: Kilims are woven with the long side vertical, as in the image above.  But kilims are usually used with the long side on the horizontal.  Most kilim books choose to present kilims with the long side vertical.  As you have seen in this virtual version of Sumru’s talk, we have honored both of these usages.  We have initially presented each piece with the long side horizontal and then have a second image turned to let you see it with the long side vertical.  This has the further advantage of letting you see a larger image of each piece.

64

Photo shows kilim being woven with long side vertical, while kilim in use ,on the left, has its long side horizontal.

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65

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, early 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.82, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 271 X 77 cm (106.5 X 30 inches)

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Sumru:

The two big questions that occupy Anatolian kilim studies are when and where kilim weaving began in Anatolia? and when and where Turkmen started weaving kilims?

At the beginning of the 13th century, when Anatolia was under the control of Selcuk Sultanate of Rum, Geographer, historian, and poet Ibn Sa’id al_Maghribi (d. 1274 or 1286?) gave an account of Yörüks. He mentions that Yörüks wove for their own purposes as well as to sell. There were about 200,000 Türkmen tents near Denizli in western Anatolia and they traded kilims, slaves and lumber. Between Ankara and Kastamonu, there were about 100,000 Türkmen tents. Caution is necessary to interpret what Ibn Sa’id might have meant when he used the term ‘kilims’. He might be referring to knotted-pile carpets.

If we accept Ibn_Said  that kilims were being woven in Anatolia in the 13th century, when and where did they first appear in the region?

66

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.13, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 314 X 102 cm (123.5 X 40 inches)

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Sumru:

There are two theories about the origin of the kilim weaving in Anatolia. One is the Turkmen theory.

This theory argues that kilim weaving and its designs were brought with Turkish migration from further east.

Anatolian kilim tradition was an outgrowth of a cultural continuum centered around the culture of Turkic people, while it might have also included other influences,  

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67

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Sumru:

The second theory is the goddess theory, which argues that kilim weaving and its designs were native, and predate Turkish migration.

Adherents to this theory believe that despite all of the cultural transformations through which Anatolia passed over the millennia, the kilim weaving tradition indicates the survival of indigenous populations who preserved the old beliefs and ways.

Howe:

Immediately below, are separate images of 67.  The first is the lower image from the slide above and is the complete piece with its caption.

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, dovetailing. The Textile Museum 2013.2.70, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 388 X 147 cm (152.5 X 57.5 inches)

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The upper image in Slide 67 is a fragment of one end of the complete piece.

 

67 end fragment

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67 end fragment turned

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68

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning (removed). The Textile Museum 2013.2.45, The Megalli Collection

Dimensions (warp x weft): 323 X 140 cm (127.5 X 55 inches)

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Sumru:

There are still myriad questions that need to be answered before one of these theories can be proven correct.

Many of these questions surround the Turkmen migration to Anatolia and the origin of kilim weaving:

Exactly what kind of weaving technology, technique, and design tradition did Anatolia have by the time of the great Turkmen migrations?

What kind of weaving tradition did the Turkmen carry with them when they migrated?

69

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Sumru on 69:

Although concrete evidence is still scarce, several scholars has begun slowly investigating the history of the region pre- and post-Turkish arrival with revived interest in the pre-Mongol history of art of Seljuk  Anatolia. We know very little about the Turkic nomads that migrated into Anatolia. Their histories, if written at all, were primarily written by others—mostly Persian and Arab bureaucrats and scholars—and the elite urban literati did not have any interest in the social or artistic output of the nomad groups moving through Iran and settling in Anatolia.

Was there in either or both populations a kilim tradition that could be regarded as the ancestor of what has become known as the Anatolian kilim?

How did these two traditions interact in Anatolia once the various nomadic groups began their long process of assimilation and coexistence?

70

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Right: Hanging, Egypt, 4th to 5th century, wool and linen, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 71.118, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1950

Upper left: Textile fragment (tiraz), Egypt, Fatimid period, 10th century, linen or cotton, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 73.549, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1947

Lower left: Textile fragment (tiraz), Egypt, Tulunid period, late 9th century, wool and linen, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 73.572, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1948

Sumru on 70:

In terms of tapestry weaving, there is clear evidence that it was carried out in West Asia, long before the Turkish nomads arrived. This evidence includes early Islamic textiles as well as much earlier late Roman and Byzantine textiles.

Although the technique was not foreign to the region, when the Turkish nomads arrived, there is no surviving example with designs that could be considered clearly precursors of Anatolian kilim designs.

There also is no surviving evidence informative enough about the types of designs and weaving techniques used by the Turkic nomad weavers, and what they brought into Anatolia in the 10th century.

Howe: Below are larger versions of the parts of 70 sequenced from the oldest to the youngest.  To repeat the indications in the captions, all three were done in slit tapestry weaves.  But the designs are all different from those we see in Anatolian kilims.

Right side of 70

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Right: Hanging, Egypt, 4th to 5th century, wool and linen, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 71.118, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1950

Howe: This piece is from the informally-called “Coptic” period: 3rd to the 7th century. Copts were Christians.  Coptic Eygpt was ruled by a Mandarin-like group of Central Asians, kidnapped as children, and then raised and trained for that purpose.  Islam invaded Eygpt in the 8th century.

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Lower left of 70

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Lower left: Textile fragment (tiraz), Egypt, Tulunid period, late 9th century, wool and linen, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 73.572, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1948

The Tulunid dynasty: Turkic in origin, was the first independent dynasty to rule Egypt and Syria, 868-905.

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Upper left of 70

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Upper left: Textile fragment (tiraz), Egypt, Fatimid period, 10th century, linen or cotton, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 73.549, acquired by George Hewitt Myers in 1947

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71

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Sumru on 71:

One issue always comes up in kilim studies is the symbolism.

We can posit that the designs on long kilims were expressions of weavers’ personal histories.

A textile can function as a document of weaver’s memory, a host of symbolic reminders of her family and friends, an abstract portrayal of social affinities she developed during the creative process of weaving, and only know to her and close kin.

Since the associational meanings died with the weaver and her family, it is impossible to rebuild the personal meanings invested in a given kilim.

Howe: Large versions, with captions, of the pieces in 71.

Upper 71

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, late 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave. The Textile Museum 2013.2.2, The MegallI Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 328 X 79 cm (129 X 31 inches)

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Lower 71

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Kilim, central Anatolia, 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum 2013.2.28, The Megalli Collection

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72

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Sumru on 72:

Frequent use of certain design layouts and motifs might point to the fact that those layouts and motifs were special to the society in which the weaver lived

Then the question is how to identify motifs remotely indicative of self-expression in kilim’s design. The only likely elements in the kilim design, which were not prescribed by the culture or tradition,

73

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Sumru continues on 73:

were randomly appearing motifs that were woven with supplementary-weft yarns or small tufts of colorful wool or human hair that were knotted. These motifs might be the only candidates to be considered as weaver’s self-expression.

They were never woven to be a logical part of the overall design, or had any clear and continuing relationship with design layout, or even with other motifs. Their presence did not support the large coherent statement kilim weavers expected to make.

This leaves only one option open and that is that weavers incorporated these motifs as reminders or memory aids for the events occurring around them and they wanted to remember. What those events were, however, may never be known.

Larger versions of the images in 73.

73 upper

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73 lower

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.38, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 338 X 82 cm (133 X 32 inches)

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74

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Kilim, Eastern Anatolia, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.77, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 383 X 84 cm (150.5 X 33 inches)

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Sumru on 74:

It is extremely hard to date and provenance Anatolian kilims, especially ones predating the 1870s.

They were:

#1 created by very conservative nomadic societies, and

#2 used in very harsh environments, preventing large survival rates.

Anatolian kilim weaving is a traditional weaving, which meant that it was highly conservative in its use of the same designs over multiple generations.

The relative isolation of nomadic groups from mainstream cultural and aesthetic events of the Ottoman Empire was another important reason for this conservatism.

Change in glacier terms. What does this refer to?

74 turned

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75

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Kilim, Southern Anatolia, early 18th century – early 19th century, wool, cotton, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.57, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 385.5 X 155 (151.5 X 61 inches)

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Sumru on 75:

Many surviving kilims, in known collections, date to the period from the late 17th century, to the early 20th century.

The relatively late date of surviving kilims makes them not very eligible for conducting accurate radiocarbon dating, although there are attempts to do that in Europe especially by Jurg Rageth.

Carbon 14 dating for 75, above, indicates that it was 54.1% likely that it was produced between 1712 and 1821., And 1661-1708 (18.6%) and AD 1835-1880 (8.2%) likely. Overall calibrated age has 95% confidence limit.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, c. 1900, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, supplementary-weft patterning, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.92, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 400 X 177 cm (157.5 X 70 inches)

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Sumru on 76:

The reasons for the small survival rate of this material are threefold.

Kilims, compared to carpets, were used more heavily and in an environment that is harsh to the textiles.

Thirdly, slit tapestry weave creates a lighter fabric that can be carried around easily, but it does not create a sturdy textile that can stand continuous heavy use.

Remember to click, sometimes more than once, on smaller images like the ones below to get a larger version.

77

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Sumru on 77:

In terms of giving provenance to these textiles, the difficulty arises from the way nomads live. They move continuously, sometimes splitting into smaller groups and sometimes reconnecting. There are few nomadic groups in Anatolia whose centuries-long movements were accurately documented. The Aydinli nomadic group is a good case study to illustrate this fact.

Let’s look, first at these two kilims in 77.

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77 upper

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, probably Aydin, first half 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave,

supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.9, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 362 X 78.5 cm (142.5 X 31 inches)

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77 lower

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.71, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 364 X 90 cm (143 X 35.5 inches)

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Sumru:

Now about the Aydinli nomadic group who wove these two kilims.

Look at the map below and locate the small red dot in its lower left.

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Sumru on 78:

This where a group of nomads, who considered themselves part of Aydinli nomads, lived in southeastern Anatolia in the late 20th century. Ottoman officials first recorded them in the western Anatolia, in the environs of Aydin in 17th century.

Over the next two to three centuries, they moved eastward for various reasons. They first moved to central Anatolia and

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then to their current location in southeastern Anatolia (see larger red mark in the map above).

Along this two-century long move, some members of the group broke off and settled. Others continued their migrations into different parts of Anatolia. Of these, some settled, some did not, until the 20th century.

Because of this movement, we can identify various communities across Anatolia weaving very similar designs, that are considered part of the Aydinli design repertoire. But it very hard to say, accurately, what the provenance of this group’s kilims are, when they are collected out of context.

80

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, late 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.11, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 347.5 X 76.5 cm (136.5 X 30 inches)

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Sumru on 80:

The way of life in nomadic communities in Anatolia has changed dramatically, especially during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Only the kilims are left as enduring records of that life.

Their history spans at least five centuries, and they present wide stylistic variety. In addition to that, they were created by societies where oral tradition is the norm compared to the literary tradition of urban societies. All these facts make analyses of kilims, and the weaving tradition associated with them, far more complex.

81

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Sumru on the pieces in 81:

Still, there is hope! We know that kilims are a potent expression of the nomadic and peasant culture in Anatolia as well as a highly personal expression of rural women.

But, they also were molded by a profusion of powerful aesthetic influences, originating from the many ethnic groups that make up the Anatolian culture.

In addition to that, the influence of the high Ottoman culture is evident on many kilim designs, although this influence might have not been very direct.

Larger versions and captions of the images in 81.

81 left is a detail image

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Here is an image of the complete 81 left, with caption.

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Kilim, western Anatolia, late 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, The Textile Museum, 2013.2.87, The Megalli Collection

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81 right

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Kilim, Western Anatolia, late 18th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, supplementary weft wrapping for outlines, supplementary-weft patterning. The Textile Museum 2013.2.87, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 131 X 106 cm (51.5 X 41.5 inches)

82

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, second half 18th century, wool, cotton, slit tapestry weave, weft-faced plain weave, eccentric weft. The Textile Museum 2013.2.3, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 342 X 137 cm (134.5 X 54 inches)

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Sumru on 82:

During my long examination sessions of these kilims, I became aware that while 20th-century collectors and scholars shaped the knowledge about Anatolian kilim around decorative motifs, nomads who produced and used these appear to highly valued the material and technical characteristics of kilims.

Decorative motifs were significant to nomads, but not necessarily more significant than other factors.

Many of the decorative motifs are also brought about directly from material and technical characteristics of kilims. In short, we can posit that because nomads were so intimately connected with the weaving process, their value system contain elements that are more central to the process, and as a result different than contemporary view that values primacy of pattern and motif.

83

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, possibly west-central, 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines, eccentric weft.The Textile Museum 2013.2.17, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 336 X 171 cm (132 X 67 inches)

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Sumru on 83:

Since no contemporary aesthetic treatise on Anatolian kilim is known, proof of this assertion can only come from thorough analysis of the textiles themselves.

By tracking the most commonly emphasized features of kilims, it is possible to ascertain which material and technical characteristics were most valued by their weavers and users.

Field research conducted by scholars in the twentieth century among the few nomads left, help us today piece to gather some of the ways these old kilims might have been used, but again I am cautions about using them as the final word.

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Kilim, Central Anatolia, 19th century, wool, slit tapestry weave, supplementary-weft patterning, supplementary-weft wrapping for outlines. The Textile Museum 2013.2.90, The Megalli Collection.

Dimensions (warp x weft): 367 X 88.5 cm (144.5 X 34.5 inches)

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Although work on deciphering of Anatolian kilims is ongoing, there is no denying that Anatolian kilims, with their bold but simple coloration, large scale, and skillfully balanced designs have a very strong visual power for contemporary eyes who value pattern.

The beauty and mystery that surround their origin, history, and design, serve to amplify this aesthetic power.

We need to always remember that there is more to kilims than the eye sees.

Sumru took questions

and brought her session to a close.

My thanks to Sumru for this fine session and for her considerable work, after, helping me fashion this post.

We sometimes feel, a bit selfishly, that curators do not give RTAM presentations as frequently as we would like.  But Sumru has not only done so, she has, without embarrassment, let us look over her shoulder as she works with material that will be presented in final form in an October exhibition.

As you have seen in her remarks above, she invited thoughts that folks in the audience might have, that might be useful to her.  Although we’re close to opening of this exhibition, if you have some, as the result of reading this post, write me with them and I’ll send them to Sumru.

I hope you have enjoyed this advance look at Sumru’s work with beautiful, Anatolian kilims from The Megalli Collection.

Regards,

R. John Howe

John Wertime on Small and Miniature Weavings from Central and Southern Iran

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2018 by rjohn

On June 24, 2017, John Wertime,

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who, most readers will know is a long-time, close student of textiles, gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program here at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.  John is, also, an author and one-time dealer. 

John was, in this session, speaking to an array of “Small and Miniature Weavings from Central and Southern Iran.”

John prefaced his examination of these weavings by saying they interest him, in part, because they show the skill of their weavers as they composed designs and used color (even sometimes texture) in sharply restricted space.

He cautioned that accurate attribution of these small pieces is unlikely, and that many of them could have been woven by different weavers in various locations in central and southern Iran.  He said that he would treat these pieces in groups with similar structures

He moved to treat the pieces themselves.

Note: John has couched his comments in capitals.

(We have provided measurements when we have them.)

1

27 x 20½ inches (68 x 51 cm)

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Comment on 1: 

BEDDING BAG SIDE PANEL(?); POSSIBLY BAKHTIYARI; SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE: AN OLD &  RARE WEAVING WITH LOVELY COLORS AND DESIGN THAT REMIND ME OF BAKHTIYARI WORK.

(face only)

40 x 38  inches (102 x 95 cm)

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Comment on 2: 

SMALL KILIM OR SOFREH; QASHQA’I; SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE: A COLORFUL AND SOPHISTICATED TAPESTRY IN UNUSUAL DIMENSIONS.

(face only)

21 x 17 inches (54 x 45 cm)

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Comment on 3: 

VERY SMALL KILIM USED AS A SOFREH OR SOME KIND OF PRAYER CLOTH; QASHQA’I; SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE, RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE STRIPES; A MINIATURE MASTERPIECE!

(face only)

22½ x 19 inches (57 x 49 cm)

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Comment on 4: 

VERY SMALL KILIM USED AS A SOFREH OR SOME KIND OF PRAYER CLOTH; QASHQA’I; SLIT TAPESTRY & DOVETAILED TAPESTRY WEAVE, RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE STRIPES; A MINIATURE MASTERPIECE!

(face only)

37 x 28 inches (94 x 70 cm)

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6

Detail of the back of 5 showing the kind of tapestry used that permits long vertical color changes without slits.

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Comment on 5 and 6: 

SMALL, MULTIPURPOSE KILIM KNOWN AS SHUSHTARI; WEAVER PROBABLY BAKHTIYARI IN ORIGIN; DOUBLE INTER-LOCKED TAPESTRY WEAVE; A LOVELY EXAMPLE OF A DISTINCTIVE TYPE OF KILIM WEAVING, DONE IN THE SHUSHTAR AREA OF KHUZESTAN IN SW IRAN. 

7

8 x 9 inches (20 x 23 cm)

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8 (back of 7)

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Comment on 7 and 8: 

MULTIPURPOSE CHANTEH (SMALL SINGLE BAG); VARAMIN AREA; FRONT: WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE WITH WEFT SUBSTITUTION; BACK: STRIPES IN PLAIN WEAVE & WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE WITH WEFT SUBSTITUTION: STRIKING DESIGN OF POSITIVE & NEGATIVE SPACES.

9

 

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10 (back of 9)

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Comment on 9 and 10: 

MULTIPURPOSE CHANTEH WITH LONG BRAIDS AND TASSELS; QASHQA’I; WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE WITH WEFT SUBSTITUTION; BACK: SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE WITH STRIPE IN WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE WITH STRIPE IN WEFT-FACE PLAIN WEAVE WITH  WEFT SUBSTITUTION; ONE OF MANY QASHQA’I BACKS WITH STRIKING MINIMALIST DECORATION.

 

11 (face only)

10½ x 10 inches (28 x 26 cm)

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Comment on 11: 

MULTIPURPOSE CHANTEH WITH LONG BRAIDS AND TASSELS; QASHQA’I; WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE WITH WEFT SUBSTITUTION.

 

12 (face only)

6 x 6½ inches (14 x 17 cm)

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Comment on 12: 

MULTIPURPOSE CHANTEH; QASHQA’I; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND PATTERNED BY WEFT FLOAT BROCADING; STYLIZED BOTEHS.

13

42 x 23 inches (106 x 58 cm)

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14 (back of 13)

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Comment on 13 and 14: 

FRONT: SADDLEBAG (KHORJIN); QASHQA’I;  PLAIN WEAVE GROUND PATTERNED BY WEFT FLOAT BROCADING; STYLIZED BOTEHS IN DIAGONAL ALIGNMENT CREATE A DYNAMIC EFFECT ON A BAG MADE OF SUPERB WOOL; BACK; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND PATTERNED BY WEFT FLOAT BROCADING

15

  1. 16½ x 13 inches (42 x 33 cm)

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Comment on 15: 

MULTIPURPOSE CHANTEH; PROBABLY QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE & PLAIN WEAVE GROUND PATTERNED BY WEFT FLOAT BROCADING.

16

4½ x 4½ inches (12 x 12 cm)

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17 (Back of 16)

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Comments 16 and 17: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; WARP-FACED ALTERNATING FLOAT WEAVE ON FRONT AND BACK; ONE OF THE SMALLEST EXAMPLES OF A COMMON TYPE OF CONTAINER IN TWO COLORS MADE BY THE QASHQA’IS.

18

6 x 6 inches (15 x 15 cm)

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19 (back of 18)

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Comments on 18 and 19: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK (EXTRA WEFT WRAPPING) ON FRONT & BACK; A CHARMING RENDITION OF THE PEACOCK MOTIF MAKES THIS A MINIATURE MASTERPIECE!

20

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.

 

22

22 x 10 inches (52 x 25 cm)

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Comment on 22:  Howe: A particular thing to notice about the next two pieces that they are south Persian bags made by folding over a weaving along a vertical or horizontal axis.  Such pieces are sometimes be suspected of being “constructed” (that is cut down from a larger textile).  But in these two cases they were originally made in this folded way.

Here is John Wertime’s comment on 22: 

MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG FOLDED OVER  ALONG THE VERTICAL AXIS AND BOUND ON ALL SIDES WITH GOAT HAIR; BAKHTIYARI; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK ON FRONT & BACK; GOAT HAIR BINDING ON THREE SIDES. 

 

23 (face only)

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Comment on 23: 

MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG FOLDED OVER  ALONG THE HORIZONTAL AXIS AND BOUND ON THE SIDES WITH GOAT HAIR; LORI/BAKHTIYARI; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK ON FRONT & BACK WITH A STRIP OF SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE A THE BOTTOM; THE PILE STRIP AT THE BOTTOM IS A VERY COMMON FEATURE OF CONTAINERS MADE BY THE LORS AND BAKHTIYARIS; OVERCASTING IN GOAT HAIR.

24

15½/22½ x 7 ½ /19 inches (40/57 x 19/49 cm)

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Comment on 24:

MULTIPURPOSE CONTAINER FOR SALT & OTHER MATERIALS; LORI/BAKHTIYARI; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK WITH A STRIP OF SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE A THE BOTTOM; PROMINENT USE OF COTTON; OVERCASTING IN GOAT HAIR. 

25

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26 (back of 25)

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Comment on 25 and 26: 

MULTIPURPOSE BAG WITH LONG  BRAIDS AND TASSELS; QASHQA’I; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK ON FRONT & BACK; PEACOCKS AND OTHER ANIMALS DECORATE THE FRONT & ANIMALS THE BACK IN A MOST CHARMING WORK OF NOMAD ART.

27

19 x 8½ inches (49 x 21 cm)

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28 (back of 27)

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Comments on 27 and 28: 

SMALL KHORJIN; SHAHSEVAN OF THE BIJAR AREA; WARP-FACED PLAIN WEAVE PATTERNED BY REVERSE SUMAK; BAGS LIKE THIS ARE FAIRLY RARE.

29

176 x 3 inches (448 x 8 cm)

Across the top of the front board and coming down its sides was a luxurious tent band in seeming perfect condition.

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Here is a closer, comprehensive view of 29. (color differences are due to different cameras and lighting)

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And here are some further details of 29.

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Comments on 29: 

DECORATIVE BAND; QASHQA’I; WARP-FACED PLAIN WEAVE. PATTERNED BY SYMMETRICAL PILE; A MASTERPIECE OF NOMAD ART IN COLOR, MATERIAL, AND DESIGN, THIS BAND DEPICTS THE WOMEN OF THE TRIBE, THE WEAVERS AND PRINCIPAL SUSTAINERS OF NOMADIC LIFE, AND VARIOUS MOTIFS THAT DECORATE THEIR WOVEN ART IN RELIEF AGAINST A GORGEOUS DARK BLUE GROUND KNOWN AS “SORME’I” IN PERSIAN.

30

5½ x 5 inches (14 x 13 cm)

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Comments on 30: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; SUMAK WITH STRIPES OF RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE AT TOP & BOTTOM.

 

31

8½ x 9 inches (22 x 23 cm)

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32 (back of 31)

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Comment on 31 and 32: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; SUMAK WITH STRIPES OF RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE AT TOP; BACK: SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE; THESE SMALL BAGS FEATURING THE STAR MOTIF ARE SELDOM FOUND AND ARE TREASURED BY COLLECTORS.

33

11½ x 11 inches (30 x 28 cm)

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Comment on W33: 

SMALL MULTIPURPOSE CHANTEH; QASHQA’I; SUMAK WITH A STRIPE OF RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE AT TOP; UNDYED COTTON MAKES A DRAMATIC GROUND FOR THE UNDULATING BORDER WITH ANIMAL HEAD MOTIFS. 

34

5 x 6 inches (12 x 15 cm)

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(back of 34)

 

Comment on 34: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; FRONT: SUMAK; BACK: SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE.

 

35

17/24 x 6½/20 inches (43/60 x 17/50 cm)

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36 (back of 35)

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Comments on 35 and 36: 

SALT BAG; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SUMAK ON FRONT & BACK; A COMMONLY SEEN DESIGN IN AFSHAR BAGS THAT FEATURES A DYNAMIC INTERPLAY OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE!

 

37

19/27 x 9½/26½ inches (50/69 x 24/68 cm)

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38 (back of 37)

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39 (detail of 37)

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Comment on 37, 38 and 39 detail: 

LARGE SALT BAG; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SUMAK ON THE FRONT AND WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE ON THE BACK; CAREFULLY WORKED SUMAK TO RECREATE A COMMON COMPOSITION IN PILE BAGS IN SOUTHERN IRAN; THE OVERCASTING OF THE SIDES AND THE CLOSURE PANEL AT THE MOUTH ARE DONE IN THE BEST AFSHAR FASHION; A RARE PIECE, INDEED!

40

18/26 x 9½/20½ inches (46/66 x 25/53 cm)

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Comment on 40: 

SALT BAG; BAKHTIYARI; SUMAK; THIS BEAUTIFUL COMPOSITION OF TULIPS IN A GARDEN-LIKE SETTING IS AMONG THE MOST APPEALING OF ALL BAKHTIYARI CREATIONS AMONG SUMAK BAGS!

41

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Comment on W41:

SALT BAG; BAKHTIYARI; SUMAK  WITH PILE AT THE BOTTOM.

 

42 (face only)

25 x 17½ inches (64 x 45 cm)

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Comment on W42: 

SMALL MAT; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SUMAK; A DYNAMIC DESIGN IN A SELDOM SEEN VERTICAL COMPOSITION MAKES THIS A RARE AND EXCEPTIONAL WORK OF NOMAD ART.

43 (face only)

45 x 35 inches (113 x 88 cm)

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Comment on 43: 

MAT; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SUMAK WITH PANELS OF WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE AT THE TOP AND BOTTOM; ANOTHER EXCEPTIONAL AFSHAR SUMAK WEAVING!

44

19½ x 13 inches (50 x 33 cm)

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45 (back of 44)

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Comment on 44 and 45: 

MULTIPURPOSE BAG; QASHQA’I; SUMAK ON THE FRONT AND RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE ON THE BACK; A VERY TIGHT WEAVE AND HIGHLY GLOSSY WOOL WITH A DYNAMIC REPEATING “TWO-HEADED BIRD” DESIGN, IN THIS RARE QASHQA’I WEAVING, CREATE A HIGHLY COLLECTIBLE TEXTILE.

46

(face only)

1’3” x 1’5”

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Comment on 46: 

SMALL BAG FACE; QASHQA’I; REVERSE SUMAK;  THIS MASTERPIECE OF QASHQA’I WEAVING SHOWS THE CONNECTION OF THE TURKIC TRIBES OF SOUTH PERSIA WITH THOSE OF THE NORTHWEST WHO WERE AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE TRANSCAUCASIAN WAVING CULTURE.

 

47

4′ x 2’2″

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48 (back of 47)

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Comment on 47 and 48:

SADDLEBAG; QASHQA’I; REVERSE SUMAK ON THE FRONT AND WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE ON THE BACK; THIS MASTERPIECE WAS INCLUDED IN THE SEMINAL CATALOGUE “FROM THE BOSPORUS TO SAMARKAND” PUBLISHED BY THE TEXTILE MUSEUM IN 1969. IT IS PERHAPS THE MOST OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE OF THE TYPE TO SURFACE TO DATE. THE BEAUTIFUL CLOSURE PANEL IN RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE IS A SIGN OF THE CARE AND IMPORTANCE SUCH WEAVINGS HAD FOR THEIR CREATORS & USERS; THE PLAIN ABASHED BACK IS BEAUTIFUL IN ITS OWN RIGHT.

The next piece was a band-trapping.

49

24½ x 5 inches (60 x 13 cm)

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Comment on 49:

ANIMAL TRAPPING; VARAMIN AREA (?); SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE WITH LONG BRAIDS AND TASSELS; THIS AND NO. 50, BELOW, MAY HAVE BEEN USED AS A DECORATION AROUND THE NECK OF A PACK ANIMAL

50

(another band)

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Comment on 50:

ANIMAL TRAPPING; VARAMIN AREA (?); SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE.

 

51 (face only)

19 x 16 inches (47 x 40 cm)

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Comment on 51:

SAMPLER; QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; SAMPLERS WERE WOVEN TO HELP GUIDE WEAVERS, EITHER LEARNING THE CRAFT, OR AS A WAY TO HELP PROSPECTIVE BUYERS. 

52

8 x 8½ inches (21 x 22 cm)

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Comment on W52:

CHANTEH; SOUTHERN IRAN, POSSIBLY QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE.

53

11 x 10 inches (28 x 25 cm)

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(back of 53)

 

Comment on 53:

CHANTEH; SOUTHERN IRAN, POSSIBLY QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE ON FRONT & WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE ON THE BACK. 

54 (face only)

23 ½ x 23 inches (60 x 58 cm)

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Comment on 54:

BAG FACE; QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; A TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF THE MOST COMMON COMPOSITION AMONG THOSE WHO WOVE IN THE QASHQA’I TRADITION.

 

55

12 x 13 inches (31 x 33 cm)

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Comment on 55:

CHANTEH; QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; A FINELY WOVEN OLD EXAMPLE OF QASHQA’I WEAVING.

56

19 x 10 inches (48 x 25 cm)

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Comments on 56:

SMALL KHORJIN; SOUTH PERSIA; SYMMETRICAL PILE.

 

57 (face only)

9 x 10 inches (22 x 26 cm)

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Comment on 57:

SMALL CHANTEH FACE; SOUTH PERSIA; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; FINELY WOVEN WITH SOFT LUSTROUS WOOL AND SATURATED COLOR.

58

13 x 8 inches (33 x 20 cm)

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Comment on 58:

SMALL CHANTEH OPENED UP; SOUTH PERSIA; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE AND WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE BACK; FINELY WOVEN WITH SOFT LUSTROUS WOOL AND SATURATED COLOR.

 

59

10½ x 10 inches (26 x 25 cm)

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60 (back of 59)

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Comment on 59 and 60:

CHANTEH; QASHQA’I, SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE ON THE FRONT, AND WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE & A STRIPE OF RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE ON THE BEAUTIFULLY STRIPED & FINELY WOVEN BACK; THE VERTICAL DESIGN CALLED “MOHARRAMATI” IS SEEN IN A NUMBER OF PILE WEAVINGS OF VARIOUS SIZES AMONG THE QASHQA’I.

61

11½ x 11 inches (29 x 28 cm)

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Comment on 61:

CHANTEH; QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE.

62

22 x 11 inches (56 x 28 cm)

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Comment on 62:

CHANTEH OPENED UP; QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE IN THE FRONT & SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE WITH STRIPES OF RECIPROCAL WEFT WEAVE ON THE MINIMALIST BACK, A TYPICAL & BEAUTIFUL WAY THE QASHQA’I WEAVERS FINISHED THE BACKS OF MANY OF THEIR BAGS.

63

12½ x 13½ inches (31 x 34 cm)

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Comment on 63:

CHANTEH; QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; A NICE RENDITION OF A POPULAR MOTIF AMONG QASHQA’I WEAVERS.

64

17 x 7½ inches (43 x 18 cm)

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65 (back of 64)

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Comments on 64 and 65:

SMALL KHORJIN, QASHQA’I; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE ON THE FRONT AND SLIT TAPESTRY WEAVE ON THE BACK; IT IS RARE TO FIND ENTIRELY DIFFERENT DESIGNS ON THE TWO HALVES OF A KHORJIN, AS SEEN HERE.

 

66

8 x 9½ inches (20 x 24 cm)

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Comments on 66:

TINY BAG; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE WITH BRAIDS AND TASSELS ATTACHED; THE BOTEH SEEN HERE IS IDENTICAL TO THOSE IN THE KHORJIN OF NO. 67 BELOW.

 

67

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Comment on 67:

KHORJIN; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE.

68

11½ x 10 inches (29 x 26 cm)

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Comment on 68:

CHANTEH; SOUTH PERSIA; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; LONG PILE THAT CONTRASTS WITH THE USUAL SHORT PILE FOUND IN MOST CHANTEHS.

 

69 (face only)

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Comment on 69:

SALT BAG FACE; ARABS OF FARS; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; THE CHICKEN MOTIF SEEN HERE WAS WIDELY USED IN SOUTH PERSIAN NOMAD AND VILLAGE WEAVINGS; ITS OCCURRENCE IN A SALT BAG IS RARE

70

32 x 12 inches (82 x 32 cm)

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Comment on 70:

SMALL KHORJIN; AFSHAR, KERMAN; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED DPILE WITH SLIT TAPESTRY BRIDGE; THE DYNAMIC FLAT-WOVEN BRIDGE MAKES THIS PIECE!

71 (face only)

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Comment on 71:

BAGFACE; AFSHAR? SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; A RARE AND UNUSUAL WEAVING THAT IS BORDER DOMINATED!

72

25 x 9 inches (64 x 23 cm)

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Comment on 72:

SMALL KHORJIN; KURDISH, SOUTH TO WESTERN CENTRAL PERSIA? SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; A DESIGN SEEN IN A NUMBER OF WEAVING CULTURES IN IRAN, IT DOMINATES THE FIELD IN A RATHER LONG PILE.

73

19½ x 23 inches (50 x 58 cm)

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Comment on 73:

KHORJIN HALF; AFSHAR , KERMAN; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; A MASTERFUL WEAVING WITH GREAT WOOL AND CLARITY OF DESIGN THAT IS OFTEN FOUND IN AFSHAR PILE RUGS AND BAGS;

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ITS CLOSURE PANEL AT THE TOP IS A TOUR DE FORCE IN ITS OWN RIGHT.

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74

17 x 21½ inches (44 x 55 cm)

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Comment on 74:

KHORJIN HALF; AFSHAR , KERMAN; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; ANOTHER  MASTERFUL WEAVING WITH GREAT WOOL AND DESIGN THAT IS OFTEN FOUND IN AFSHAR PILE RUGS AND BAGS;

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AS WITH 73, 74’s CLOSURE PANEL, AT THE TOP, IS A TOUR DE FORCE IN ITS OWN RIGHT.

75

13½ x 11½ inches (35 x 29 cm)

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Back of 75.

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Comment on 75:CHANTEH; SOUTH PERSIA?; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; THE LONG FORMAT IS SOMEWHAT UNUSUAL.

76

12½/19 x 10/17 inches (32/48 x 25/43 cm)

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77 (back of 76)

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Comment on 76 and 77: SALT BAG; KURDISH, WESTERN CENTRAL PERSIA?; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE ON THE FRONT & WEFT-FACED PLAIN WEAVE ON THE BACK

78 (face only)

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Comment on 78:

CHANTEH; BAKHTIYARI?; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE.

 

79

37 x 49 inches (95 x 124 cm)

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Comment on 79:

SMALL RUG; BAKHTIYARI; SYMMETRICALLY KNOTTED PILE; THE FORMAT OF THIS UNUSUALLY SHAPED RUG, THE WONDERFUL COLOR, INCLUDING A CLEAR PURPLE, & BOLD DESIGN, MAKE THIS A MOST ATTRACTIVE & COMPELLING WORK OF TEXTILE ART.

John answered questions,

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and brought his program to a close.

People began to move forward to get closer looks at these small pieces.  Conversations started up.

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Our two volunteer helpers Tom Kluwin and Nancy Wynn. Our thanks.

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I want to thank John Wertime for giving the program and for his considerable contribution to the constructing of this virtual version of it. 

Thanks too, to the two collectors (who wish to be anonymous) from whose collection a large majority of this material was drawn.  They also contributed, importantly, to this post.

Wertime, Marsha Swiss, Ron Costell, Bruce Baganz, Aija Blitte, Jim Henderson, Michael Kaplan and Wendel Swan took and contributed images.

I hope you have enjoyed this extensive look at some middle and southern Persian bags constructed on a smaller scale.

Regards,

R. John Howe

 

Turkman Now, Part 1, The Lecture

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2017 by rjohn

On April 22, 2017, Bob Emry and John Howe gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning, reviewing research, since about 1980, on Turkmen weaving.


This program was inspired, mostly, by the publication in 2016 of the long-awaited “Turkmen Carpets: A New Perspective,” by Jurg Rageth.

The program began with a survey by Howe of Turkmen research, since about 1980, excepting the two Rageth volumes.

Slide 1:  Serious study of Turkmen weaving has been going on since the first of the 20th century and with some visible exceptions, before.

But our central purpose in this session is to focus, mostly, on Turkmen research from approximately 1980 to the present.

(You can see larger versions of each of the slides below by clicking on them three times.  The resulting image will have a blue ground.)

Slide 2: Above is an informal listing of the literature before and near 1980.

Slide 3: Since the late 1970s and especially intensifying after 1980, we see the following four broad progressions:

Slide 4:  The first important progression, we see, was the move away from such descriptive terms as “Bukara,” (a marketing center for a variety of Turkmen and other Central Asian weavings) or pointing at particular Turkmen pieces with dealer usages like, “Royal Bukara” or “Princess Bukara.”   

Instead, it was argued, tribal designations were more appropriate, although some debate has continued about instances in which geographic rather than tribal designations might be more accurate.

The tribes usually listed in the literature were: Salor, Saryk, Tekke, Yomut, Ersari, Chodor, Arabatchi (although Wood, in a serious Turkmen ethno-history, in 1990, listed 12).

The research of this period also brought to attention a number of Central Asian non-Turkmen tribal groups (e.g. Uzbeks and Kyrgyz) that are not our concern here.

Slide 5: Another facet of more recent Turkmen research has been the systematic use of differences in textile structure as an aid to attribution.

Walter Hawley used the tribal designations Tekke and Yomut and had presented systematic information on structure in Central Asian rugs, as early as 1913.

But beginning in the late 1970s, and especially after 1980, technical analysis was done at new levels of detail and sophistication and in terms of tribal designations.

Several Turkmen books were published in 1980.

Slide 6: The most important exhibition of Turkmen pile weavings of that time, Turkmen, was held at The Textile Museum and the catalog written for it, by Louise Mackie and Jon Thompson, and also published by The Textile Museum, became seen by many as the standard Turkmen pile textile treatment.

Slide 7: Below is what Louise Mackie’s technical analyses of the pieces in the Turkmen catalog looked like.  Note that she described materials, weaving structure and colors used.

Slide 8:  Dyes were not talked about much yet, in scientific terms, but, Mark Whiting, foreshadowing things that were to come, included an article on them, at the end of the Turkman catalog. 

Whiting even talked, briefly and generally, about what the presence of given dyes can tell us about the age of a given textile.  But the tests, then, for the presence of particular dyes in pile textiles were expensive and destructive and so not really within reach for students of Turkmen weaving.

Slide 9: In 1990, Paul Mushak analyzed the dyes and mordants used in six Turkman pieces. 

He was interested in whether the dyes were natural or synthetic and what the various dyes and mordants were.

(Incidentally, Mushak once worked with Ananda Barodofsky to create a kit that would let one determine whether there were synthetic dyes in a given piece.  It could be marketed for less than $200, but they found that neither the dealers nor the collectors were interested in determining for sure whether their pieces had synthetic dyes in them.)

Slide 10:  The Yomut and the Ersari tribal groups were seen to be large and diverse.  So a next task was to attempt to define their components.

Slide 11:  Let’s look, first, at the efforts to specify more closely the sub-parts of the Yomut family group.

Both Chodor and Arabatchi had been acknowledged as outside the Yomut family.

Slide 12: The need for further specification was indicated by an 1855 Persian census of Turkmen tribes living under their authority.

You can see that the information about Yomut subgroups reported in this census is very detailed.  It does not include, of course, any indication about which subgroups wove which rugs.

Slide 13:  Igdyr, Abdal, Karadashli, and Goklan were some early names proposed either as possible Yomut subgroups or separate Turkmen tribes that could be related to specific weavings.

The bases for these attributions is not always clear and some of these varieties have since been absorbed into other later formulations like the “eagle group,” described below. 

But you can still find Turkmen rugs being offered for sale under these names.

Slide 14: Thompson, in the 1980 Turkmen catalog, made, and then immediately withdrew, a claim that the “Imreli” could be recognized as a separate tribe, not part of the Yomut group. 

There were folks who called themselves “Imreli,” and they wove pile rugs.  But Thompson was not able to establish either what rugs they wove or that the pieces he named “Imreli” had been woven by them.

Slide 15:  A more successful effort to delineate one aspect of the Yomut complex was undertaken by Rautgenstengel and Azadi (1990) who identified an “eagle gol/ fine brown Yomut group” mostly on the basis of structure and materials.

You can see in these high knot counts the reason for the “fine brown” designation.

Notice that this is a group of seeming Yomut textiles, defined mostly by structure and materials, but there is no further tribal or sub-tribal label offered for them (although Azadi did say that he thought that Group I and III had been woven by the Goklan).  So while this was an important breakout, it was also less than satisfying, and some still describe it as “provisional.”

Slide 16:  Beginning in 1998, the late David Reuben, an English collector of Turkman weavings published three volumes Gols and Guls I, II and III.

Because most Yomut pile pieces have symmetric knots, he decided in the third of these volumes, to look closely at Yomut pile chuvals with asymmetric knots,

seeking to determine whether they were a Yomut sub-group on other grounds as well.  (He focused on this bag format because he felt that it was more likely that they would have been made for use than would Turkmen rugs and so would exhibit traditional features more accurately.)

He says that he set out to identify and examine all the Yomut chuvals with asymmetric knots that he could find. 

He found and analyzed more of them than he could include in his published report: Gols and Guls III.

In his report, he provides color photos and technical analyses of 46 Yomut pile chuvals with asymmetric knots (he includes two “eagle group” pieces).

His findings are modest.

There is a considerable number of Yomut chuvals that have asymmetric knots open to the right.  These pieces sometimes also have other features similar to Tekke weavings (e.g., major chuval guls are often identical). 

Yomut pieces with an asymmetric knot open to the left are quite rare. 

And if members of eagle groups with this knot ( I and III) are removed, they are rarer still.

But no further Yomut sub-groups were identified.

Slide 17: Actually, this kind of thing had been done before.  In his translation of and commentary on Moskova, O’Bannon reports on a comparison he made on the presence of asymmetric knots in Yomut weavings. 

He did a survey of 407 published pieces and compared the results with those reported by both Moshkova and a German Turkmen scholar, Troost.  A wide variety of formats was included.  No effort was made to distinguish open right from open left asymmetric knots.  Both the Moshkova and Troost analyses were based on material estimated to be younger.

A majority of Yomut pieces in all three groups use the symmetric knot. The asymmetric knot seems to be used more frequently on pieces estimated to be younger.  Asymmetric knots were used much less frequently on floor carpets estimated to be older.

Again, no Yomut sub-groups identified.

Slide 18: Elena Tsareva, the current leading Russian Turkmen authority is, for our purposes here, a transitional figure.

She has always paid close attention to technical features like materials, structure, dyes and colors.

Slide: 19: Here is an example of her work in this area in her most recent book on a large English Turkmen collection.

Slide 20: But Tsareva, a disciple of Moshkova, has begun to recommend that a strong “historical” component be included in Turkmen textile research.

Slide 21: Here is a statement she made about this approach in her study of the Hoffmeister Collection in 2011.

Slide 22:  She characterizes this historical approach, again, in 2016 in her book on the Kingston collection.

 She thinks that too exclusive a focus on things like structure becomes sterile, detached from the lives, culture and history of the weavers.

She writes that “…nothing ever disappears from our culture” and argues that a close study of Turkmen history gives us access to information that makes it possible to say where and by whom given Turkmen pieces were woven and to say something about the origins and meanings of Turkmen design devices.

Part of this approach was an accenting on the importance of geography: which Turkmen tribal groups were where, when.

Slide 23: As we shall see there was a general shift away from terms like “Ersari” in the direction of a “Middle Amu Dyra” designation.

Slide 24: She also says that Moshkova is one of the few to investigate seriously the meanings and origins of Turkmen designs.  She is pointing here to the assiduous way that Moshkova documented Turkmen designs,

but also to Moshkova’s controversial claim that some main carpet gul-forms (“gols”) are “owned” by particular Turkmen tribes.  So much so that weavers in conquered Turkmen tribes are reputed, sometimes, to have been required to weave the “gol” of the conqueror rather than their own.

She says that few students of Turkmen textiles have focused their attention on this aspect of Turkmen research, but lists Robert Pinner as one who has. 

Slide 25:  Pinner’s lengthy article in Turkoman Studies 1, 1980, on the “animal tree” device is a virtuoso performance, drilling deep and comprehensively.

Tsareva argues such an approach lets us draw on historical information about the origins and meanings of Turkmen design devices and lets us determine which tribes were in what geographic locations, when.  The latter sometimes lets us explain such things as color differences, since particular natural dyes sources vary by geography (she says she always lists specific color descriptions in her technical analyses).  Both of these areas of historical research, she says, can be an aid to attribution.

Slide 26:  In her emphasis on the importance of history, Tsareva has not moved away from technical analysis. Here is an example of her technical analysis of a particular Turkmen piece in 2016.

As I just indicated, she argues that her careful listing of colors can be combined with historical information about which tribes lived where and when and that about what the water and dyes sources were like in a given area can aid attribution.

In this 2016 catalog on the Kingston Turkmen collection, Elena demonstrates how she currently uses geography, design, dyes, structure, and especially history, to sort out the Yomut group. Not just where a given piece was woven, but what its designs mean.

As we shall see, Tsareva is not alone in this new emphasis on history.

Slide 27:  But to continue describing Tsareva’s current work with Yomut sub-group attribution, here is a summary of her geographic and subgroup attributions for the Yomut pieces she examined in the Kingston collection.

Slide 28: She places most of them in what she calls the “Aralo-Caspian” area,

and then, usually offers either a subtribe attribution, or

Slide 30: a sub-geographic one.

Slide 31: In one instance, she has revived the Imreli attribution (2011 and 2016, p.74, Fig. 45) and, in her treatment and argument for it, you can see this historical approach full-faced. 

The piece below is the one she calls “Imreli” in the Kingston collection.

Slide 32: Toward the end of her treatment of the Tekke pieces in the Kingston collection Tsareva cites the following indicators on which she bases her assertion that pile textiles in the “eagle group I” were likely woven by the Imreli.

  • Color palette indicates weavers were on the southeastern Caspian coast close to and sometimes over the border with what is now Iran.
  • Structure of the weavings indicate that the weavers were settled people.
  • But ornaments point to an “archaic tribal” genesis.
  • Variability of designs suggest that some of these weavings were “commercial craft.”
  • Some design features of Turkman “eagle” group carpets are similar to those of the Transcaucasian “eagle” carpets, likely woven on the opposite Caspian Sea shore. Seems not a coincidence.
  • Weavers not only partly sedentary but also wealthy, strong and a large group.
  • All rugs in the “eagle group I” are estimated to have been woven in the 18th century.
  • The weavers disappeared from the historical stage in about that time.

Slide 33:  She then asks the question below and gives her answer.

She admits that it is a reasoned assumption and applies only to textiles in “eagle group I), but when I questioned her about it she said “We must be brave” (Azadi has claimed that eagle groups 1 and III were woven by the Goklan). 

If one surveys all of the writing on rugs in the 20th century, one will find that design evolution and the meanings of designs are its centers of gravity. 

But with the rise of interest of structure and the increasing ability to analyze technical features of weaving and the character of dyes, and to use carbon-dating in some instances, one would think that this traditional interest in history and design development and meanings (which is often very erudite, but also often seems speculative) would recede.

And it did to some extent.  But a “historical” perspective and approach is being revived by some of the leading Turkmen scholars now.

I am not a Turkmen textiles scholar and not able, at all, really, to offer any real critique of this new historical approach.  But there are aspects of it that make me uneasy, in a “déjà vu” sort of way.

Tsareva has even argued for the advantage of what she calls a “romantic” approach to textile scholarship.

The image below is not one Tsareva recommends, but is a possible example of where a romantic approach to Turkmen research can lead.

We have one picture, a drawing of a Saryk engsi in use on the door opening of a trellis tent, made near Pende, in 1885, by a known artist for The London Illustrated News who was covering the Afghan Boundary Commission. 

For a long time, this image was seen as the only one we had of a Turkmen engsi in use on a trellis tent door.

This is a drawing, not a photo and is in some respects an instance of “orientalism” in that the scene is acknowledged by the artist to be to some extent “composed” of human images seen elsewhere, but the picture is seen by rug scholars as authentic in its depiction of the engsi “in use”on a Saryk tent door opening.

We now have some actual photos of Turkmen engsis in use, but this example suggests where a romantic approach can take us when we lack actual photographic evidence. 

Slide 34: The desire to connect to the weaver’s culture is something to be praised, and Tsareva’s presentation and use of historical information seems careful and is impressive, but a “romantic” approach seems to me likely to take things in wrong directions: analysis and findings too dependent on the, sometimes, uncertain information contained in historical sources, may lead to conclusions that draw importantly on assertion and speculation rather than evidence.

“Bravery” driven by a tendency toward the romantic, seems, often, likely to lead one away from an evidentiary basis for knowledge. 

Tsareva argues, as if it is an agreed point, that “nothing is ever lost from our culture.” 

We have the textiles and sometimes, if we look closely enough, we have a surprising amount of history…but one wonders whether we can use them together to, accurately, “see” what is there.

I think it important to remember that the cultures we want to observe and study, and the people we want to talk to, have been gone, in most cases, for 200 years or more.

 Jurg Rageth, the Swiss textile scholar has also adopted and emphasized a “historical perspective.”  We’ll see what Bob’s evaluation of this aspect of his effort is.

Slide 35: Now let’s move to look at the efforts to break out the very large Ersari group.

A great many sub-group names have been proposed and used.

Slide 36:  Murray Eiland wrote long ago:

This suggests that the people who wove the textiles we call “Ersari” have tribal identities at some sub-Ersari level.  This is not always true in other instances. 

The Rabaris in western India are an ethnically diverse group, some migratory and some settled, but they all retain a strong Rabari tribal identity. 

If you ask any of them what tribe they belong to, they will unfailingly say “I am Rabari,” often, with a visible pride.

Slide 37:  I had an experience that counters Eiland’s report about no self-identifying Ersaris. 

I was doing some lectures for Chris Walters in a Smithsonian Folklife Festival demonstration tent for his Ersari project.

I was starting each lecture with the word “Ersari.”  One day, after one of my lectures, a tall lady with auburn hair and blue eyes, came up to me on the platform and asked “Do you know what “Ersari” means?”  I said that I did not. 

She said it means “yellow husband” and “do you know the source of that usage? “  Again, I confessed my ignorance.

Slide 38: ”Alexander the Great,” she said. 

He conquered Afghanistan, as part of his movement east, and established and left Macedonian villages. “A great many Ersaris, like me,” she said, “are tall, and have blonde or red hair and blue eyes.”

My God! I thought.  Kipling wasn’t entirely making things up in his stories about colonial, Indian, England’s forays into Afghanistan.  He reports battles in which they were fighting blond, Afghan “giants.”  Clearly, they were facing Ersaris.

Slide 39: There have been at least two serious visible efforts to examine the contents of the Ersari pile textile complex.

The first is a Hali article published in 2006 by Peter Poullada, who had analyzed and researched chuvals attributed to the Ersaris and claims to have defined two new Turkmen tribes in the Middle Amu Dyra area.

The second of these is by David Reuben, whose work building a data base of Yomut pieces with asymmetric knots, we’ve already talked about.  He did the same thing with pieces having an Ersari attribution.

Slide 40: Poullada has made what seems the most determined effort to break apart the “Ersari” complex, but I think he would disagree with that description.

It’s useful to follow the focus and sequence of his thinking and work.  What follows draws heavily on Poullada’s article in 2006 (Hali 148, pp. 66-73).  He says that it summarizes his findings of twenty years of research.

He starts with indications in the literature that strongly suggest that the “Ersari” complex has for some time been seen to include two distinctive groups of weavings. One that he calls a “western Turkmen or Salor tradition.”  The other groups usually also called Ersari is much more diverse.  There are pieces with an “ikat” style and another group described as “Beshiri.”

He says that a useful way to examine the Ersari complex is to give up at the general level, the broad tribal term, and to move to indicate where most of these people lived.

With Moshka and more recently Tsareva and the Soviet ethnographic scholar, A. N. Pirkulieva, Poullada notes that most of the folks called “Ersari” live on or near the banks of the Amu Dyra River.  It flows to the northwest to the Aral Sea.

The “western Turkmen” lived on the left bank and the more diverse “ikat” group lived on the right bank.

 Slide 41: Following a local Persian term “lebab” that means “waterside,” Poullada recommends that we should move to the term “Lebab Turkmen,” and away from the traditional broad “Ersari” usage.

Poullada next draws on the ethnic mapping of Pirkulieva, who found that there were 35 ethnic groups in the “Lebab Turkmen” complex and that only four of these sub-tribal groups: the Kara, the Bek-Aul, the Ulugh-Tepe and the Gunsesh are main Ersari tribal sub-divisions.  (I had personally never seen these four “Ersari” sub-tribal names until I read Poullada’s article.)

Now Poullada decides to pursue his researches focusing on chuvals and other bag formats.

As a result of his researches he says that he has:

Slide 43:  Here are Poullada’s indicators for a Kizil Ayak attribution.

(click on the image below to get a readable font size.)

Note especially that Kizil Ayaks have an asymmetric knot, open right, and a knot count of about 95 to 150 kpsi.  Their “evenly spaced vertical rows” and the “perfectly square shape of their knot nodes,” contribute to “uniform knotting” and “crisp, clear designs.”

Slide 44: Here is a closer look at his classic Kizil Ayak example above.

Slide 45:  Below is a second Poullada Kizil Ayak example.

Slide 46:  Poullada’s second non-Ersari Turkmen tribe is the “Ali Eli.”  Below are his attribution indicators for it. 

Note that the Ali Eli have an asymmetric knot open left.  In addition, at 300 kpsi, the Ali Eli pieces have about twice the knot density of Kizil Ayak pieces.  If the silk in an Ali Eli piece includes some in its foundation, this group resembles some “eagle group” types.

On the basis of these two sets of indicators, the Kizil Ayak and the Ali Eli are readily distinguished

Slide 47:  And here are two Ali Eli examples Poullada provides. 

This first one a  “stacked” guls and spacious field arrangement that do not occur in the Kizil Ayak examples Poullada includes.  The major guls in this first Ali Eli piece are about as tall as they are wide.  Notice also the density of the minor-major-minor border complex that reads as a single element.

Slide 48:  This second Ali Eli example has the wider, shallower major chuval guls that we see in many of the chuval guls of Kizil Ayak, Tekke and Yomut pieces. 

So neither the squarish gul shape nor the “stacked gul,” spacious field arrangement, seems to be a reliable Ali Eli indicator.

Slide 49: I’m not sure when Reuben’s Gols and Guls III CD, in which he analyzed a number of “Ersari” pile weavings with asymmetric knots, was published,

but he cites Poullada’s article in some of his comments on the attributions he is making, so he clearly had access to Poullada’s work. 

And Reuben does use the terms “Middle Amu Dyra, “Kizil Ayak,” and “Ali Eli” in his descriptions, so he was aware of these distinctions, but he also uses “Ersari” in an unselfconscious way.

Slide 50: Reuben includes 36 “Ersari” pile pieces in his Gols and Guls III, CD.  He presents data on 16 carpets and a variety of other Ersari pile pieces mostly in juval or other bag formats, but he also includes some engsis, asmalyks, wedding rugs, even one okbash. 

This is the first page of a descriptive listing of these pieces.

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Slide 51: And here is a second.

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(Click below to get a larger image)

 

It’s important to remember that Reuben is primarily building a data base of available information on “Ersari” pile weavings.  

His method is one sometimes characterized as “barefoot empiricism,” that is collecting data on various aspects of something and then looking at it and doing sorts on particular factors, looking for correlations without any particular guidance by theory or hypothesis.

This leads to some unexpected ways in which he organizes his reporting on the pieces he treats.  He says:

Slide 52: To repeat what the slide above says:

The pieces (ed. “carpets”) attributed to the Ersari were listed according to the colours of the gol quarters.

Other properties such as the knot, knot count and structure are possibly more important. However, these properties are usually not listed in many publications especially auction catalogues.

There are 3 main colour schemes as well as 2 others to be mentioned later. The first scheme uses orange alternating with blue and or green. The second uses orange alternating with white as used by the other tribes. The third is likely to be a transition between the other two and uses orange and blue alternating with orange and white.

Reuben goes on in this passage relating such color schemes to major gul types and sometimes adds knot type and density indications.

These are unusual sorts and I don’t think they go anywhere in particular.

While saying this, I should also acknowledge that some others see Reuben’s distinctions as worth citing.

The Tekke torba below is included in the New England Rug Society’s on-line bag exhibition “To Have and to Hold.”

They draw on Reuben in their comment on this piece.

According to David Reuben1, there are three design families for 6-Gul Tekke torbas. The first has elongated centers, with a small rectangle at the very center. The second has rosettes at the gul centers. And the third family, to which this piece belongs, is the most variable. This particular torba illustrates some of the many design variations that occur. The center of the gul has an eight-pointed star, not found in other examples. Other aspects of the major gul are very unusual, with a parallelogram in each quarter of the major gul – most other examples have a square, or possibly multiple small shapes.

Slide 53: Here’s another passage that lets you see how Reuben’s analysis proceeds and what he says his findings are.

Slide 54:  Below is a chuval from Reuben’s data base with the information he provides about it.  A nearly unbelievable knot count, for a Turkmen piece, of over 500 kpsi, even if it is mostly silk.

(Click on the slide below to get a larger image)

Slide 55:  Below is another chuval with a different look.  He estimates it to the 18th century and unselfconsciously attributes it to Ersari weavers.  Again, 279 kpsi is a very high knot count.

Slide 56:  Reuben has collected a lot of weavings attributed to the Yomut and the “Ersari,” and has done a lot of analysis, primarily of design and related color features, but does not help us much in breaking apart these two large groups.

Slide 57:  We have one further recent effort to press Turkmen pile scholarship and Bob is going to describe and examine it now.

It is the two-volume “Turkmen Carpets: A New Perspective,” published in 2016 by Jurg Rageth.

This work was a long time in its making and it might be useful to say how it came to be.

(Click on this slide for a more readable version)

Slide 56

The “New Perspective” consists of combining three principal approaches:  Radiocarbon dating,  Dye analysis, Historical and Art Historical information.  The two scientific/technological approaches (carb0n dates and dye analysis) both greatly expand our understanding of the history of Turkmen weaving, and also serve to debunk some of the assumptions that have become entrenched in the rug lore (I’ll try to mention some of these as we go along).

Slide 57  The slide below was used to help explain why some carbon dates have two or three ranges of dates with differing probabilties.

The next series of images show a number of the weaving published by Rageth, along with the dates obtained, and also show the range of weaving formats that were dated.

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Slide 68  The Tekke carpet shown below is one that would seem to debunk an often-promulgated article of rug lore, which holds  that in earlier Tekke rugs, the octagons that are the principal border motif  lack the “rays” extending from their perimeters, that these “rays” were a later introduction, and became longer through the 19th century.  The rug below is missing its side borders, and has a seam down the center where one column of guls has been removed. The end borders remain however, and these show rather prominent rays around them.  Clearly this is an old rug, with greater than 70% probability of having been made before 1826, and this probability becomes even more compelling once we realize that the 19.7% probability of it having been made between 1918-1960 cannot seriously be considered.

The results reported in these volumes show beyond a reasonable doubt that many existing Turkmen weavings were made before 1800, and some of these are even 200 years older, predating 1600.  

It also shows that those who have experience in collecting and/or studying Turkmen weavings can reliably recognize the older pieces.  Many who have looked at and handled lots of old Turkmen rugs could order them into a series representing oldest to youngest, and most often another collector would put the same rugs into the same order.  

But these progressions would be a chronology without a scale.  Rageth’s studies add some numbers to such a chronology, and also confirm that collectors really can reliably recognize the older rugs.  

The samples that were dated were not randomly drawn from the whole universe of Turkmen weavings–they were selected as rugs thought to be very old, and the results show that many of them were indeed 18th century or older, and some are among the older Turkmen rugs known to still exist.  None of the pieces clearly predated AD 1450, but 18 of them dated before 1650 (12 of these 18 are carpets, the others tent bands, bagfaces and other smaller items).  Many others dated to the later 17th century through the 18th century.

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Slide 72  The following image is something of a non sequitur—-I remembered that when I visited San Antonio, Texas, a few years ago I noticed cochineal insects on the nopal cactus growing at The Alamo.  A finger pressed against one of those white blobs shows how concentrated the dye compound is.

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Slide 74  The next slide is of a Yomut asmalyk (camel bridal trapping).  At first glance there is nothing special about it.  It has the most common field design seen in asmalyks, and is not an especially noteworthy piece, except that it does show how the results of dye analysis can be used.  

I acquired it after seeing it listed in an internet auction, and the images posted with the listing were good enough to show that it has cotton wefts.  These can be seen here in the third image below, which might be good enough to show, at the fraying edge, that rows of knots are separated by alternating shoots of cotton and camel hair.  Cotton wefts also show in the mage of the back.  

After acquiring it, I also noticed that it has small pile elements of insect dyed wool.

Slide 75

Slide 76 The two images below show the of insect dyed pile wool.  They are small elements, consisting of six knots each, toward the right and left ends of each “gul” center, and also some of the small parallelograms in the lattice.  

After reading Rageth’s book, I looked at these small elements with magnification, and found that this pile wool is multi-ply, at least 4 plies.  

Rageth concluded that until about 1850 cochineal-dyed pile wool was purchased in small amounts as commercially spun and dyed wool.  After about 1850 cochineal dye was sufficiently inexpensive that it was purchased as dye and applied to the same native, hand-spun, 2-ply wool used for other pile colors.  

So by that criterion, this asmalyk is likely to be older than 1850, which is consistent with its cotton wefting indicating an older piece.

Slide 77  The detail below might be good enough to see that the insect dyed knots are multi-ply.  If the plies can’t be made out, the smoother surface texture of these knots also suggests more plies.

Slide 78   The small Tekke rug shown in the following three slides is another piece that has small pile elements dyed with an insect dye, most probably cochineal.  

I have long known that the insect-dyed pile wool is multi-ply, and assumed that it was commercially spun and dyed yarn that was purchased for the highlights in this rug.  But before Rageth’s work I hadn’t realized that this indicates a date before 1850.  

This rug also has many small elements of cochineal-dyed silk, most obvious in some of the small triangles in the hexagonal gul centers.  The format of this rug is very rare.  One was offered at the Thompson sale at Sotheby’s in 1993, and Jon Thompson, in his description in the sale catalog, noted its rarity while also noting, and citing, a few other examples that exist.  

This rug must have been made for some special person or some special occasion.

Slide 79  Insect-dyed pile wool occurs in small amounts elsewhere in this rug, but is best seen where it occurs as the ground color of some small octagonal elements in the elem, arranged diagonally by color (upper left to lower right in the following mage).

Slide 80  The image below shows these insect-dyed elements from the back.  Magnification is probably insufficient to show the multiple plies, but the smoother surface texture of these knot-loops is evident.  

Slide 81  After mentioning these examples to John Howe, we then inspected John’s Beshir (or MAD) chuval fragment that has lots of insect-dyed silk, and also insect-dyed wool.  

Slide 82  Not surprisingly, the insect-dyed wool in this piece is also multi-ply.  It is the diagonal, lobed, element (brighter red in this image) arranged upper left-lower right in the following image.  It’s probably not possible to make out the multiple plies, but it clearly differs from the 2-ply madder-dyed wool at upper right, and the blues elsewhere.  Pink silk is at lower left.

Slide 83   The evolution of the Kepse gul is one design progression that can be followed in Turkmen weavings, and the carbon dates now available show that this progression correlates quite reliably with time.

Slide 84   Some have postulated that Safavid Persian carpets might have been prototypes, or models, for some early Turkmen carpets.  The following slide compares a very old Safavid Persian carpet (left) to an early Turkmen rug (right), of the genre referred to as multi-gul Turkmen carpets.  

At first glance the similarities might not be so obvious.  But notice that both rugs have bilateral symmetry, or reflection symmetry–the left half of each rug is a mirror reflection of the right half, and neither has colors organized into diagonal patterns.  

The main elements of the Safavid carpet are floral, some being “rosettes” (open flower viewed straight-on) and others “palmettes” (flowers in lateral view).  The Turkmen carpet can also be seen as having stylized rosettes and palmettes; those individual elements that are themselves bilaterally symmetrical (eg., the “C” guls) are rosettes.  Others are not bilaterally symmetrical about a vertical axis, but are symmetrical (more or less) around a horizontal axis; these are palmettes.  

These could represent the beginning stage of the kepse gul.

Slide 85  This map shows the extent of the Safavid Persian Empire.  Notice that at the time these early multi-gul Turkmen carpets were being made, Safavid Persia overlapped what is today Turkmenistan.

Slide 86 The following slide shows another early Turkmen multi-gul carpet (left); note that it also has reflection symmetry around its vertical axis, and no overall diagonal color pattern, except that here some of the individual motifs are not themselves symmetrical (eg., some palmettes have alternate colored elements on their right and left halves).  

The right hand half of the slide shows details of individual palmettes.  The left-hand column of individual palmettes are details from the Safavid Persian carpet.  The palmette at upper right is in the elem of a Qaradashli Turkmen carpet shown as No. 88 of Rageth’s books.  Mid right is from the multi-gul carpet shown above, and bottom right is a detail from the carpet shown at left.  

Slide 87    The slide below shows what can be considered a further step in kepse gul development.  

The fields of both these carpets are filled with “C” guls and what are now easily recognizable Kepse guls. The carpet at left might still be labeled a multi-gul carpet, as it has, near the top, one row of guls that are neither “C” guls nor kepse guls.  

Notice that the kepse guls in both are not symmetrical about a vertical axis, but are symmetrical about a horizontal axis.  And notice also that the field also has reflection symmetry, with color all organized (reflected) horizontally, except that lower elem of the carpet at right has some obvious diagonal color arrangement.

Slide 88  The slide below shows further progression.  

The carpet at left has only “C” guls and kepse guls, and has bilateral or reflection symmetry about its vertical axis.  The kepse guls, with prominent white elements, are organized into the beginning of a 2-1-2-1 pattern (from top  to bottom) that persists into later carpets with only kepse guls. Its kepse guls have become symmetrical about their vertical axes, but still lack the central vertical bar typical of later kepse guls.  

The center rug below has only “C” guls, larger ones as the primary guls and smaller ones as secondaries.  Notice that the “C” guls with white centers are arranged into the 2-1-2-1 pattern, which can also be read as a diagonal pattern.  Here the overall design lacks reflection symmetry (the minor “C” guls (smaller ones) alternate colors from the left to the right side of the rug, and the elems show distinct diagonal color patterning.  

At right is a carpet with only Kepse guls and they have acquired the central longer vertical bar that becomes standard in later carpets. The guls with prominent white elements are arranged into the 2-1-2-1 pattern, whereas the colors of the remaining guls are arranged into diagonal (lower left to upper right) color patterning (some exceptions at the sides).

Slide 89  The carpets shown below could be seen as further progression.  

The one at left has only kepse guls, and the color patterning has become rigidly diagonal, upper left to lower right, both in the field and in the elems.  

The “C” gul carpet at right has guls all of one size, and like the kepse gul carpet at left, color is arranged strictly diagonally, upper left to lower right, in the field and elems.  

Continuing through the 19th century this rigid diagonal color patterning persisted in Kepse gul rugs (though the diagonal color patterning can also be lower left to upper right).  Through the 19th century the kepse guls become more crowded, with less intervening space, so that in some late 19th century kepse gul carpets the kepse guls virtually lose their identity as separate elements, and the field appears as an over-all pattern.

Slide 90  I show the carpet in the next three images because it is one that I once owned (regrettably no longer do), and it clearly fits somewhere into the progression followed above.  It has the look and feel of a very old carpet.

Its border isn’t quite unique, but is very uncommon.  Its large kepse guls have small “C” gul centers.  The guls with white elements are staggered, but are not in the strict 2-1-2-1 pattern.  However, the color patterning can be read diagonally, upper left to lower right.  The diagonal rows alternate as follows: a row having all guls of the same color pattern, followed by a row having guls of two different color patterns alternating, one of which has white elements, and then repeat.  

I can imagine this carpet as an intermediate between those with the strict 2-1-2-1 pattern and those later ones with all guls arranged diagonally by color.

Slide 91

Slide 92

 

What this whole discussion of kepse guls (and incidentally also “C” guls) and color patterns shows is that graphic changes in design elements and the arrangement of their colors can be organized into series or progressions that make sense logically, and that these changing patterns can now be constrained by carbon dates that allow them to be interpreted also as chronological sequences.

This is the end of the Lecture by Bob And John.

They had brought in a number of pieces and to see their treatment of those, you need to go to Part 2 using this link:

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/turkman-now-part-2-the-pieces-brought-in/

Regards,

R. John Howe

Turkman Now, Part 2, The Pieces Brought In

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2017 by rjohn

This is Part 2 of a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program that Bob Emry and John Howe



gave on Turkmen research, since about 1980, at The Textile Museum on April 22, 2017.

Part 1 was a lecture that you can view at this link:  https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/turkman-now-part-1-the-lecture/

We will show and describe the pieces Bob and John brought into this session, sometimes relating them to aspects of the lecture.

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T1

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Comment on T1:

Bob:  I brought two mixed technique tent band fragments because the Rageth book had dated some tent bands of this type.

I brought these to show anyone who might not be familiar with such tent bands what they are like.

T1, above, is, I believe, Saryk. It has some elements in magenta silk–for example two triangles in the lower eight-pointed star shown in the detail images. 

Details of T1:

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T23 (numbers are not always sequential)

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Bob:  The second mixed technique tentband fragment, T23, is, I think, Yomut, though it might be Tekke.

I say “Yomut” because most bands I’ve found illustrated with animal images are called Yomut.

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This one also has many small silk elements—the rows of little rectangles, for example, in the image above, and the vertical stripe in the “asmalyk” on the larger camel in the image immediately below.

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T2

This is a Tekke pile rug of a size like those that the Turkmen used as “wedding rugs.” They were just big enough for the couple to stand on.

There were Turkmen wedding rugs, but we don’t know which of the rugs like this were actually used in Turkmen weddings.

This piece is full-pile with what looks likely older traditional Tekke weaving.  The only hesitation about it is that some say that the narrow white borders at the top and bottom are nearly signature indications of Soviet era weaving.

Here are some detail images of T2.

 

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We have asked about this narrow white border in the image below and have been told that the Soviet era border has a “bow tie” shape and is different from this one.  We’re still not sure how to treat the presence of this one.

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T3

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Comment on T3: T3 is a fragment of a Yomud chuval (no lower elem).   Good range of natural color.

Detail images of T3:

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The major gul has a squared outside perimenter.

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On one upper corner of the back, there is a sewn-on tag that reads: “Bokara, Dec. 3, 1910,” and an indication that it was purchased, then, for $15. 🙂  If we see this tag as made by a first purchaser, this is likely a 19th century piece.

T4

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T4 is a Middle Amu Dyra chuval fragment with a great deal of silk.

Details of T4.

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As Bob said in the lecture, his examination of the area with the orangish shade in the image above suggests that this are was wool dyed with cochineal.  The wool in these areas has more plies than does that in others.  This is an age indicator, likely before 1850.

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The opulent use of silk in this piece makes one wonder who would dare to cut it up, but, of course, we know that this happened frequently.

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T5

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T5 is a full-pile Yomut mafrash face with very soft wool.  Its owner says that it is the only Yomut piece he has seen, with an asymmetric knot open left, that has no other “eagle group features ( Troost  is said to have published some others).  David Reuben’s study of Yomut weavings with asymmetric knots suggests that this is a rare piece.

Damaged hanging cords still attached.

Details of T5.

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T6

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T6 is one face of a Middle Amu Dyra saddle bag (khorjin).  The Turkmen wove many chuvals, torbas, and even a number of small mafrash bags, but not many saddle bags.

This piece has a deceptively simple design.  One sees new features in it as one continues to look.

Details of T6.

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T7

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T7 is a nine-gul Amu Dyra chuval face.  It is a classic instance of what Poullada calls “Kizil Ayak.”  Both Pinner and Azadi have, with it in hand, estimated it before 1850.

Details of T7.

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Notice in the major gul, in the image above, that the Xs are serifed.  This is the kind of feature likely to be dropped as designs become conventionalized.  Noticing these serifs is the kind of thing that make others call some of us “Turkomainiacs.”

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T8

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T8 is a fragment of a Tekke chuval.  Someone cut this piece to use it as the seat cover for a chair (note the notches for the chair’s legs).  The current owner found it no longer part of a chair, put a back on it, and has used it as the cover for a bed-side table.

Details of T8.

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The weaving is fine and of a high quality. The drawing is precise. The owner thinks it has some age.  

Here are two looks at its back.  

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T9

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T9 is a Yomut saddle cover (the type that would be placed on top of the saddle, with the pommel (horn) sticking through the slit at the bottom.

Details of T9.

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It has a dark purple and a blue shading toward green.

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T10

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T10 is a large, seriously fragmented Middle Amu Dyra chuval with an “ikat” field design.  It is professionally mounted on a blue backing cloth.

The ground red is in places of the “glows from within” type, but there is also a band of ground red in the top of the field that is a different, faded shade.

Here are some details of T10.

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The owner thinks that the spacious, drawing of the major gul (below) seems an archaic usage.  The use of blue in the center is also effective.  The character and crisp drawing of the borders, in the image above, also seem possibly older.

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The cluster of “minor” guls (below) has graphic punch.

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We think this piece is older, but can’t point to anything excepting, perhaps, the gul and border drawing, to support that estimate.

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T11

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T11 is a large fragment of an Middle Amu Dyra main carpet.  We think this piece is older, in part, because of its narrow borders.  It owner says that he has only seen two other similar examples.  It has been published.

Notice that the ground color within the compartmentalized areas seems almost random, except for a diagonal sequence (left to right) of dark ground compartments and a right to left sequence of white ground compartments.  These diagonals cross in the approximate middle of this rug.  Bob noted that the red-ground squares are also in diagonal lines (lower left to upper right) and that the white also forms lines lower left to upper right—i.e., the white forms diagonal lines in both directions.

Details of T11.

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Notice in the image below that this piece has very bright orange wefts.

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Notice the “tuning fork” border that separate all of the compartments.

The pile on this fragment is very worn down and the bright orange wefts show through on the front in some areas of the white ground compartments.  

This piece was purchased already sewn onto a tan backing and there is clear transfer of red to this backing in a number of places. We think this piece is old, but don’t have a ready explanation about why, what would need to be a natural red, transfers to this backing.

T12

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T12 is an fragment of a Middle Amu Dyra chuval.  Its major guls are about as tall and they are wide and are “stacked” on a pretty spacious field.  Looks similar to one Eli Ali Poullada example (below) that we saw in the lecture.

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But a quick look at structure disabuses us of that possibility.  T12  has an asymmetric open right knot and a kpsi far below 300, at about 60, a frequent “Ersari” count. Looks can be deceiving.

Details of T12.

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Notice the plastic side selvedges. 🙂

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T13

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T13 is a Yomut main carpet with major “tauk naska” guls and a white ground meander border.

Below is another overall photo that is a little closer and maybe better

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Here are two details of T13.

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Notice, especially in the photo below, that the drawing of the “tauk naska” devices retain the “combs” on the heads.  This is the kind of detail that would likely be left out in later conventionalized drawing and may be a sign of age,

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T14

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T14  was mentioned in Part 1.  It is one of very few rugs known in this long narrow format. It might have been made for some special occasion, or for a special person. It has lots of small silk highlights (see the small triangles in the hexagonal gul centers). The main reason for mentioning it in the talk was that it also has multi-ply pile wool dyed with an insect dye (probably Mexican cochineal). 

Details of T14.

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The third picture (below) shows this wool (ground color of the octagons in the diagonal row between the arrows). One of the conclusions in the Rageth book was that pile-wool dyed with cochineal was multi-ply (seemingly commercially spun and dyed wool obtained in small amounts by the weaver), up to about 1850. After that, cochineal dyed pile wool was the same two-ply, homespun wool used for other colors. By the mid 19th century, cochineal had become readily available, and sufficiently inexpensive, that weavers could buy the dye and dye their own two-ply wool. In this rug, the cochineal-dyed wool is multi ply (at least 4-ply, probably more), suggesting that the rug is pre-1850. The insect dye here is mildly corrosive, so that these elements have shorter pile.

 

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T15

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T15 is a torba with unusually good colors. It is also unusual in having only five of the vertical bars (with anchor motifs) in each kepse gul. Seven is the usual number of vertical bars, although in a few rugs each gul has nine.

Detail on T15.

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This torba also shows that the weaver was indecisive about which border design to use.

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T16

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T16 (above) and T17 (below) are Tekke torbas.

The main point is just to show the two main types of Tekke chuval-gul torbas: 12-gul in 3 x 4 format, and 6-gul in 2 x 3 format.

T17

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Another point worth mentioning is that in the 6-gul torba, the animal heads (near the right and left ends of each gul), have two “horns” in most instances, instead of the single one most commonly seen.

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T18

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This one was also on the board but didn’t get mentioned during the talk.  It is a small torba or mafrash with nine chuval-guls, but the main point of interest is that the minor guls are composed of two back-to-back “C” motifs (the motif seen in the “c” gul carpets).  Easier to see in the detail below.

Detail of T18.

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T19

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Bob:  I’ve never been sure of the tribal assignment of the chuval above. The design has staggered rows of chuval guls, with no secondary elements. Most of the guls have silk elements in the hexagonal centers. It has some characteristics of Salor—i.e., borders, especially the connected “S” minor borders, and the knot it asymmetrical open left. If it is not Salor, then it is a mystery.

John:  Is it fine enough (about 300 kpsi) to be Ali Eli?  

Bob:  No, it isn’t especially fine–I haven’t counted knots, but it is probably no more than 150 kpsi.

Detail of T19.

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T20

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The fragment above, T20, is an example of an old Tekke carpet.  It is missing probably 3 rows of guls (the lower border is reattached), so is a fragment.

I think this rug dates from before 1800. It has the old esthetic, and a prominent German collector who saw it agreed that it was most likely 18th century.  The border octagons have short “rays” surrounding them.  At about 30 centimeters wide, the tekke guls here are among the largest you could expect to see.

Here are another, likely better, image of T20, this one in direct sunlight.

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