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Old April 12th, 2011, 04:30 PM   #1
Filiberto Boncompagni
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cyprus
Posts: 96
Default The So-Called Leaf and Wineglass Border

As we have seen in the “Crivelli” rug thread, a 1519 painting shows what I presume to be the early depiction of the “leaf and calyx” (or “wineglass”) border. I remember that Wendel Swan wrote a paper on the subject and here is what he said about it in an old discussion on Turkotek:


If you want to read the whole thread, you will learn that at the time there was a vigorous battle between Baluch-o-philes and the rest of the Rugdom but, for the sake of brevity, here are Wendel’s words:

Posted by Wendel Swan on 07-16-2007 09:10 PM:

Hi Pat,

I believe that the primary border has been mentioned several times here on Turkotek.

At the 8th ICOC in Philadelphia in 1996, I presented a paper entitled “The So-Called Leaf and Wineglass Border in Anatolian and Caucasian Rugs” in which I demonstrated (well, at least I think I did) that the “leaf and wineglass” border represents neither a wineglass nor a leaf, but results from the process of halving this border or others similar to it. I illustrated the point with other rugs using this border type, including one in which three of the borders are complete (as here) and one is halved. There are several other points of correspondence as well.

The term “leaf and wineglass” is an unfortunate example of a pattern being named according to representations that Western eyes think they are seeing – but aren’t there at all.

That paper was published in Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies, Volume 5, Part 1. I’ve had been tell me that they disagree with my analysis, even though they haven’t read the paper or viewed any of the 36 illustrations. It apparently still doesn’t seem odd to them that Muslims would adorn rugs with representations of a wine glass. They hold to the belief that it must be a wine glass because that is what it is called. Years ago the wineglass was sometimes called a tuning fork, almost equally absurd.

Others, including one who posts here prominently, routinely say that it serves no purpose to discuss or propose anything about design evolution because it simply cannot be proven.

I fully agree with Wendel on the fact that the “wineglass” is an inappropriate term but for convenience I’ll use it to identify the border in question.

The problem perhaps is another one and it is contained in this phrase: the border “ results from the process of halving this border or others similar to it”.

Phrase that is better illustrated by this scan from Peter F. Stone (1)

As far as early surviving rugs, the 15th c. Batari-Crivelli fragment

seems to confirm Wendel’s hypothesis. What about paintings?

In Pierre’s database there are around 600 paintings. I say “around” considering that some are double, some others are cropped details and I do not want to count them.

The first one with the “leaf and calyx”, in chronological order, is the 1519 painting of the Dutch Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, already presented in the “Crivelli” thread:

The second one is the 1535 painting of “Jesus in the house of Marta” by Vasco Fernandes (c.1475-c.1542), better known as Grão Vasco, one of the main Portuguese Renaissance painters. For economy of server space, I’ll present only the relevant detail of the image:

The Portuguese is a “double” border, like in the Batari-Crivelli.

The third one is a Portrait of a Young Nobleman, circa 1545 (LACMA, Los Angeles) Veneto-Lombard School:

The outer border seems to be a variation of the Caucasian “reciprocal” border of the Dutch painting.

The fourth and last is a 1540-1560 portrait of King Henry VIII by an unknown artist after Holbein (Petworth House).

That’s all: four paintings, all situated in the first half of the 16th century, all from different countries - Netherlands, Portugal, Italy and England.
To find more borders like these in paintings, you’ll have to wait until the 19th century with the “discovery” of Caucasian rugs in the West.

As for the origin of the “leaf and calyx” from cutting in half the “double” , or "primary" border, it’s questionable: it could be the other way around too. Rather a matter of hen and egg, I’m afraid.
What the paintings show is only that in the first half of the 16th century the two borders coexisted happily.

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