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Old January 18th, 2012, 06:00 PM   #10
Filiberto Boncompagni
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cyprus
Posts: 92

Hi Pierre,
Just simple 4-arms crosses? No other gimmicks?
I’m afraid that we have to agree first on the definition of “cross”.
Wiktionary presents fourteen definitions. For our purposes, we can use three of them.

The first one is “a geometrical figure consisting of two straight lines or bars intersecting each other such that at least one of them is bisected by the other. NO SYMBOL, no meaning attached.

The following two definitions have meanings, though, and they could concern us too:
2 (heraldry) Any geometric figure having this or a similar shape, such as a cross of Lorraine or a Maltese cross.

3 (Christianity) A modified representation of the crucifixion stake, worn as jewellery or displayed as a symbol of religious devotion.

I could add another definition, from this pdf document

Dr. Suleyman Demirel University, Faculty of Fine Arts Department of Traditional Turkish Handicrafts,

The Motifs of Hook and Cross
The crosses and various hook types are frequently used in Turkish carpets to protect people.

The motif of cross is constituted by the interception of two lines; one is horizontal, the other one is vertical. Because of the shape of the cross that shows four different ways, it is believed that it divides the evil eye into four pieces and throws them into four different places. This is a commonly used symbol in Anatolia and has been depicted in Milas, Usak, Dosemealtı, Kars and Kutahya carpets as well as Sivas, Eskisehir, Konya kilims.

I had no idea of who Mrs. Olmez is but, according to this link:
she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Turkish Handicrafts of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Süleyman Demirel University. In 2008, Ölmez served as a Department Chair and a Chair of the Branch “Carpet-Kilim and Antique Textile Designs”.
So, I think we should trust her. More, important, is the fact itself that she acknowledge the use of crosses on kilims and carpets in Anatolia. But we don’t want to rest on another “ipse dixit”, don’t we?

So… I said I have three rugs (found one more – now they are four) and five flat-weaves with crosses. I admit it could be disputable.
The first candidate is this Iraqi kilim

Could we consider as crosses the two devices in the middle of the two central medallions?

Next candidate is this Kazak:

The devices inside the medallions are indeed crosses, no doubt on that.
But have they a symbolic meaning or are they just a decorative way to fill the negative space?

Same question for this Persian Kilim:

Geometrically, those central devices are crosses. But they are also part of a very basic composition, the stepped medallion. A technique-generated decoration, Marla Mallett would say. So basic that it’s universal, one can find it everywhere, even in pre-Colombian cultures. This one, in a more complex motif, is from the Chancay culture, Peru (NO, this is not mine, unfortunately).

So, what is it, a cross or just the central part of a stepped medallion? I tend for the second interpretation, after all.

The small Afghan mat on the right has two crosses and half. They are at the center of their respective Memling guls, though. Like many other respectable Memling gul.

This Shirvan bag has a quite common Shirvan design with a lot of crosses.

This one is, I believe, a Zakatala bag with the same crosses.

Well, these crosses are not of the plain type: they are indeed quite similar to Armenian Crosses (but I do not think they are woven exclusively by Armenians )– which should put them in definition #3 or #2.

Finally, I have one more Caucasian rug:

a Shirvan Kilim:

And an Afghan rug (the cross is between the two birds):

I think we can assume quite comfortably that the crosses in the last three examples could be devices against the evil eye.

But then, who knows, really?


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