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Old January 11th, 2014, 10:40 PM   #6
Horst Nitz
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Hi Pierre, Filiberto,

if on this quest we are in for a trip on thin ice as you put it, the question of access is of some relevance. I appreciate your argument(-s) in the presentation and share the unease that perhaps too many early rugs with geometric patterns are attributed to regions much further west. Filiberto expressed it differently but perhaps meant the same when he suggested that the Scheunemann rug we have been discussing in the parallel thread has a Caucasian ‘flavour’ to it. It has indeed and to me, the Pohlmann rug even more so, it gives the impression of an older, more sophisticated relative of an eagle or sunburst Kasak rug. However, between those sensual attributions and the fact, that this type of rug (including the Pohlmann and Bode rug) and most others belonging to the ‘classical’ group, traditionally are being attributed to western Anatolia, exists a wide gap that needs to be addressed (question one) and, if possible, bridged with interpretation. For the time being, if we met a Caucasian rug earlier or other than belonging to the known type of dragon carpet in one of the 15th or 16th c. old masters’ paintings, it remains open whether we would recognise it (question two). The oldest Caucasian rugs in the classical rug literature seem to be no older than ca. 1500 and the type already looks rather floral, the mentioned dragon carpets.

If we want to come to grips with the ‘elusive Caucasian rugs’ we need to put our classical text book understanding on the course of rugs through history on test. Very likely we'll need to revise it.

Since it is a somewhat lengthy argument that follows, I think I ought to offer a look ahead at what it will amount to and than return to details. The Caucasus has its own rug traditions, and also from early times on owes to the south for major impulses. The south that is present day Azerbaidjan, East-Anatolia, NW-Iran and Northern Mesopotamia, all Persian dominions during the period most formative of a style that, if one doesn’t want to make too many word, can be generously circumscribed as carrying a Caucasian ‘flavour.’ We ought to help rug history catch up with real history and conceptually install that region in the function it always served, as a spin-engine of rug designs and turntable to their migration, long before the first Turkish tribes entered the scene.

To question one: The Berlin school of rug research was leading the field for a long time, starting with Julius Lessing who wrote the first rug book of all in 1877; Engl. edition London, 1879: Ancient Oriental Carpet Patterns. Kurt Erdmann was its representative in the 1950s to 70s. His ideas still act. The English translation by Ch. G. Ellis of his standard work had four editions between 1955 and 1976: Oriental Carpets, an account of their history. In the last German edition from 1975, early rugs of the 13th century are attributed to the Konya region, most other Anatolian ‘classical’ rugs (small and large patterned Holbein, Lotto and star medallion rugs to the west i.e. Ushak, Bergama, also the Berlin phoenix and dragon rug and the Marby rug. No rug is attributed to Eastern Anatolia; Persia features with floral rugs from the 16th century onwards. This leaves the Caucasus isolated and makes the wider upper Mesopotamia region (Azerbaijan, East-Anatolia, NW-Iran and Northern Mesopotamia) a black box. This calls for amendment.

In the Mongol storm and with Timur’s devastations, the wider upper Mesopotamia – as defined in the previous paragraph – had suffered blows between the 13th and early 16th centuries, from which it had not recovered demographically, culturally and economically when the next one came, which in the long run was probably the most decisive at least as far as rugs are concerned, the battle of Chaldiran and its aftermath that ended a unity that had existed for two thousand years (to be continued).

Regards,

Horst

Last edited by Horst Nitz; January 11th, 2014 at 11:26 PM.
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