Posted by Steve Price on 06-07-2004 03:05 PM:

The curious goings-on in the field

Hi Pat

You allude to the field in your writeup. I think it's very curious, indeed, and find myself looking at it again and again trying to decipher it. I guess it's a segment of a larger lattice design that I can't quite assemble in my head. This looks like a job for Vincent, to me.


Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-07-2004 11:38 PM:

Sherlock Holmes


I think Sherlock Holmes would be better at deciphering this enigmatic design than Vincent. Vincent is more artistic than forensic. (You are welcome to prove me wrong, Vincent!)
As Hamlet would say,
"Therein lies the rug."
Superficially, the lattice design resembles the "bugs bunny" cloudband design as shown in a rug at the bottm of the page in a previous salon discussion:

The border design may be a variant of a boteh design, even though it appears to be a more traditional floral meander.
There are some Kurdish rugs with a shrub or bush similar to this, but there are not a lot of white field Kurdish rugs, and none I have found with this lattice design.
Obviously, having few if any antecedents makes the likelihood of determining the origin a more difficult job.
Please post photos of your similar weavings.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-08-2004 03:47 AM:

I guess it's a segment of a larger lattice design that I can't quite assemble in my head. This looks like a job for Vincent, to me.

Now, you don’t have to think that I’m jealous of Vincent!
And I’m not a self-appointed Sherlock Holmes either…

But I gave it a try.



Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 06-08-2004 05:50 AM:

Hi Patrick

I have been staring at this chanteh for 20 minutes, and for the LIFE of ME, I CAN'T SEE the duck !!!!

I see ducks in clouds every day. I see ducks hiding in branches and leaves in trees. I see ducks at the bottom of my teacup. I see ducks crossing the road....occasionally :-)

Interesting piece, duck or no duck.

Richard Tomlinson

Posted by Steve Price on 06-08-2004 06:05 AM:

Hi Richard

I must have missed something. Where is the reference to a duck?


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-08-2004 06:49 AM:


The dark blue lattice with red highlights almost appears in areas to be a duck-like creature with glaring red eyes.


Posted by R. John Howe on 06-08-2004 06:53 AM:

Steve -

As the originator of the "mini-salon" format, you will recall that there is a "mini-essay" that precedes the "mini-discussion. The phrase Filiberto quotes is in the former.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 06-08-2004 07:13 AM:

Ahhhhhhh !!!!!!!!

I see it now.

I should have read more carefully....'with red HIGHLIGHTS'

Thanks Filiberto :-)

Richard Tomlinson

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-08-2004 09:40 AM:

Got to have one


As I glanced down the page and saw your "construction" of the field, my first thought was that you had actually found and photographed a rug with a similar design. My hopes were dashed when I read your comments. You have done a remarkable job of simulating what the field would look like in a larger rug, though.
However, based on your work, I can now confirm that the design was taken from the famous "Duck and Shrub" carpet in the V&A.
Hanging next to the Ardabil, if I remember correctly......

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-08-2004 10:48 AM:

Yes, sorry Pat but I couldn’t find anything similar, although the design looks a bit familiar.
Can’t remember where I saw it . Unless this is not the first time you show your nice chanteh on Turkotek…


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-09-2004 01:13 AM:

Virgin Chanteh


This is the first time this piece has been on Turkotek. You probably saw the other half somewhere. If you remember, let me know so I can reunite them!

Patrick Weiler

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 06-10-2004 05:19 PM:

Commercial Production?

Patrick and All-

Kind of quiet in here- guess it is that time of year, here in the states at least, know I've been busy myself.

I Like this chanteh, the field and outer border in lighter shades make a nice contrast to the darker colors.
It seems to me that a lot of these smaller pieces have patterns that are somehow disarticulated or poorly rendered. Is this more common in later pieces than earlier? The few early turkmen chanteh or koran covers I have seen seemed meticulous (and finely knotted) in execution. Are these distortions of design symptomatic of whippin' them out as fast as possible for sale to tourists or exporters? And does this fact of commercal intent really make them any less viable as "authentic" weavings, apart from any aesthetic considerations in regards to often mention "degenerative" effects of commercialisation? Or is this chanteh indeed an example of this degenerative effect? Just some thoughts- Dave

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-10-2004 11:38 PM:



Mebbe I caint talk too good, but nobody never called me disarticulated b'fore.

As for older versus newer being the differentiation between poorly rendered and meticulously executed designs, it is most likely factors other than age.
Turkmen weavings tend towards a more orderly design, with conservation of motifs. Many Persian tribal weavings tend to be more liberal in their interpretation of designs, especially the Lurs and Kurds.
Many Kurdish bags, especially the Jaf, have considerable irregularities regardless of age.
The Qashqai, on the other hand, tend to be more particular and are less tolerant of aberrations.
It is also more difficult to accurately articulate a design on such a small piece. Edges and corners are notoriously difficult, and small pieces have them quite a bit closer together. In a rug, if the weaver started a column or two off, she could easily adjust across the length of the row. In a small piece, there is not enough room to compensate.
In James Opie's book Tribal Rugs of Soughern Persia, he notes "During my last several trips to Shiraz in the late 1970's I witnessed a disturbing trend. The commercial market that was flourishing for the old bags had encouraged tribal weavers to accelerate their weaving of these objects for the market. These new pieces, while often well woven, were very different in the feeling they evoked. The synthetically dyed colors were not very attractive, and the absence of small, randomly placed designs, evident in even the most primitive (read "poorly rendered") of the older pieces, left the bags with a "cut and dried" appearance."
This chanteh certainly has "small, randomly placed designs".
I think this shows the opposite of your theory. A more mechanical, rote weaving replaced the vigorous expressions of the past. And this was only happening in the 1970's.
As for this chanteh, had the weaver wanted a symmetric field design, she could easily have started from a different place, but the first thing she wove was the top of a shrub (remember, the "top" of the bag was woven first) and there was not enough room for three shrubs along the bottom row, so the rest of the design deteriorated from there. (Actually, she started with six dark blue dots.) It is possible that she did not know what she would end up with, but more likely she was copying something she had seen or a design on a rug right in front of her. Some folks speculate that the field was purposely woven disjointed so the evil spirits could get out.
And remember, this is from the early 18th century.
Well, more likely late 19th.

Disarticulatedly yours,

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-11-2004 04:24 AM:

Dear all,

There is a common belief on which I don’t agree and I often try to challenge on these threads: i.e. the notion that the "commercialization" of tribal weavings started when westerners begun to discover and appreciate them. As a consequence the production started losing in authenticity and spontaneity. Before that, tribal or cottage artifacts were more authentic because weavers made them for their own use only, also because there was no market for such products.

That is not exact.
True, western interest indeed spoiled the market, but weavers had always worked also "to sell" because THERE WAS a demand for their stuff, albeit not in the West.
Here is an excerpt from a web page of Richard E. Wright’s Research Reports

I think I already presented it on Turkotek… Well, repetita iuvant!

Another instructive travel observation is made one by Pierre Jaubert in 1805. Drawn to the Kajar court in Teheran, as were many other Frenchmen during the Napoleonic Wars, while en route for Tabriz on his return trip, slightly past "Zenghian" and somewhat before Mianeh ("half-way") he stopped for lunch in a Shahsavan tent, which he observed was like the tents of the Kurds, and commented on the people. "Their principal industry consists of the manufacture of rugs and all sorts of little woolen items, such as stockings, slippers, gloves, etc., which are of a great perfection as much for the weaving as for the design." (23)

Collectors of Shahsavan pieces will register on how apt is the characterization of the weaving, and will not be surprised by the product range. The observation is a pointed reminder that nomadism and commerce were quite compatible, indeed, necessary, as nomads converted their material resource, wool, into forms suitable for exchange for items they lacked. This particular example is useful in that it occurs well before the Western interest in Eastern textiles, and reveals a local circumstance untroubled by outside influence. The idea that nomadic weaving was exclusively for home use is one of the canards of the rug world.



Posted by Richard Farber on 06-11-2004 11:50 AM:

Dear filiberto and other turkotekines,

people going on the Hajj, the pilgrimage, needed cash on their journey.

this is true of hundreds of years ago as it is today.

nomadic people would bring items to sell at various important markets on the way to the holy cities [and perhaps at the cities themselves -- sorry i dont have a reference for this]

weaving from all over the islamic world were brought to be sold at these markets.

from 'ties that bind' helfgott, smithsonian institute 1994, one learns that large scale commercialism started in the last quarter of the 19th century but this does not mean that some commercialism - i.e. weaving made for sale or exchange and not for use - did not exist for the occasional visitor or for use in the hajj markets.


i believe that filiberto has previously related that he makes use of one on the important hajj markets in amman.

Posted by Chris Countryman on 06-11-2004 03:23 PM:


Imagination is a wonderful thing. I see Pat's ducks in the field. I wonder, do some of them have their mouths (bills) open? If so, are those the male or the female, or are those the ones that collect rugs?

Perhaps while we are about looking at these beautiful creations, we could run a parallel forum about all the funny things that we see in the patterns. This would certainly be cheaper than psychoanalysis.

Thanks for a fun miniforum, Pat.

Chris Countryman

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-11-2004 05:34 PM:

It goes without saying


You are correct that weavings have been sold for hudreds if not thousands of years. It was, however, the hippies wandering the world for the best hashish who started bringing various handicrafts back to the US and Europe in the 60's and 70's. Along with Westerners living in Iran and writing books about the "authentic" tribal weavings. Supply and demand caused tribal and settled weavers to make "utilitarian" weavings for the "decorative" market.
A more recent phenomenon has been the gabbeh boom. A couple of shows and books led to a tremendous demand for the "gabbeh style". This caused factories from Turkey to China to manufacture "authentic tribal gabbehs" by the thousands.

Late last night, shortly after I hit the "send" button on my posting, I realized that the topic of weaving for the market would strike a chord. I figgered I would wait until the light of day to see what responses were posted rather than editing my posting.
Regarding the Hajj, one of the first rugs I bought, in the mid-80's, was called a "Mecca Shiraz" by the dealer. Apparently this is in reference to a "finer" village weaving that would be taken by a pilgrim on the way to Mecca to sell in order to finance the trip.

Many of the designs on rugs have come from distant influences. Commerce is not a new invention, and the Silk Road brought Chinese design influences to Persian weavings as well as military conquests brought Turkic artistic influences from the Mongols to the western edge of the known world.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 06-11-2004 10:26 PM:

Disarticulatiuon as a plus

Patrick and All- disarticulation is definitely a plus in the border of this little rug. Come to think of it, this weaving would have quite a different effect if all was perfect, and to it's detriment.

Now that you mention it, I am guilty of mixing catagories, as what might hold true for Turkmen work might not for Quashgai or here as in Kurdish work. Still, it is my understanding that these small weavings in general can be good indicators of influences or changes that affect weavers, as they tend to be of more conservative designs and more traditional, more resistant than carpets to commercial influences.

We know from old inventories and myriad other sources that carpets have been traded for centuries, and the old SilkRoad was one of histories most important trade routes. This whole region has undergone such tremendous change over the course of the last several centuries, to see it today, it is really hard to imagine what it was like, how dynamic.

Last, I guess that aesthetic considerations, the purely ethnographic atrifact and the curosity aside, trump all.- Dave

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-12-2004 04:51 AM:

Dear Richard,

Then need for money for the Hajj could be one of the reasons for commercial weaving, but it’s hardly the main one, in my opinion. Remember that the pilgrimage tends to be rather exceptional in the life of a Muslim: the obligation is to perform the Hajj ONCE in a lifetime… and in the past, especially for people living in far away countries, the trip was long, dangerous and costly.
Nowadays things are easier and several of my Hajj-suppliers are habitués, I mean they go to the Mecca several times (I suspect that there is also an economic incentive for them) but I doubt that their forefathers performed the Hajj more that once.
In any case, for nomadic and semi-nomadic people the art of weaving was not only a necessity for their everyday use, it was also an important collateral source of income. They had the know-how, they had the raw material (the wool) and plenty of time.

It is interesting to note a few words from Wright’s quotation of Pierre Jaubert: besides rugs he saw "all sorts of little woolen items, such as stockings, slippers, gloves, etc.".
Never saw a pair of Shahsavan gloves? No? I guess the Shahsavan abandoned that line of production in favor of more lucrative items, such as mafrash, khorjin or chante .
But the Daghestani Hajjis still make and sell hand-knitted gloves, socks and slippers. My wife bought a pair of nice slippers.
Synthetic colors, though.

Hi Chris,

we could run a parallel forum about all the funny things that we see in the patterns.

…you mean like those cards with spots that are used in psychological tests?