February 4th, 2013, 03:39 PM    1
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Default War in the Maghreb

Hi All,

This is a comment on Philip Loftus' interesting Mini-Salon on Afghan War Rugs. War rugs may come from other places as well. Here is a page from the Saulniers' excellent book "Ait Bou Ichaouen" about the weavings of this little-known tribe from the High Atlas:



In this case the cruciform motifs are definitely not Christian symbols!

Cheers,

Lloyd Kannenberg


February 4th, 2013, 11:30 PM    2
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Hello Lloyd

There's something oddly affecting about the lack of detail in the piece you posted notwithstanding the clear depiction of the bombs behind the Potez 25's. 'the shields rise from a sharply angled downward projection... meaning they are meant to represent the explosions?

That's one thing that seems to be missing from most Afghan war rugs, particularly the souvenir variety: too caught up in technical detail to give a feeling for the bigger picture.

Best
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; February 5th, 2013 at 12:25 AM.


February 5th, 2013, 04:54 PM    3
Hi Lloyd,

"In this case the cruciform motifs are definitely not Christian symbols!"

About this I would not be so sure. Agreed, some forms are reminiscent of aeroplanes and perhaps of bombs, but the stepped diamonds with cross inside are a familiar Byzantine motif. If it has survived in Anatolian kelims, why not with the Berbers and in the Maghreb? After all, North-Africa, ie present day Tunisia and Algeria knew a thrieving Christian community with Carthage as its centre from 2nd century on until the Arab conquest in 698.

"Latin Christian traditions developed in Carthage rather than Rome, and Africa was the home of such great early (church; HN) leaders as Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine. By the late fifth century, North Africa had five or six hundred bishoprics, while monasteries were a familiar sight in the local landscape. Even after long struggles between rival Christian sects, North Africa in the century after 560 was a potent center of spiritual, literary, and cultural activity ( Jenkins P, 2008. Harper Collins, NY).

It is being discussed in the literature to which extend the Berbers were Christian before their conversion to Islam (for sources: Jenkins, p 295f). The picture of this young Berber woman of Tunisia, with tattoo and traditional jewellery (early 1900s) of course does not prove anything, but may serve as an illustration (source: German Wikipedia):



Regards,

Horst Nitz
February 5th, 2013, 10:12 PM    4
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Hello Horst,

You chose an interesting example. As you may know the lady you pictured is a member of the Owlad Nail tribe- the geisha of North Africa. Many revisionist theories about their Christian origins were prevalent during the anti-colonialist '50's. The girls of the tribe used to be sent to a small town on the edge of the desert by their parents to work as courtesans. After they had saved enough money they returned to their parents' tents to be married. They were highly sought after as brides because of their comparative wealth and sexual experience. There's a book about them written in the middle of last century by an American who lived in the town for 6 months or so- I forget the title. I think the descendants of the girl you pictured were working there at that time right before the custom died out. 50 years later she was still remembered as a famous beauty. Here she is again with a friend or relative.




The men of the tribe had no problem with their daughters and sisters paid promiscuity, another clear indication of their Christian origins according to Islamic commentators.

Since the thread seems to be turning to the subject of girls what about girls and carpets?



Here are 3 more Owlad Nail women. All these pictures were taken by an early Austrian photographer who subsequently opened a shop in Cairo- Lehnert & Landrock, which is still there.

regards
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; February 6th, 2013 at 12:32 AM.


February 6th, 2013, 04:01 AM    5




Hi Horst,
Quote:
The picture of this young Berber woman of Tunisia, with tattoo and traditional jewellery (early 1900s) of course does not prove anything, but may serve as an illustration
Exactly, it doesn’t prove anything because, if you are referring to the tattoo on the girl’s forehead, that’s not a cross: A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. (definition from Wikipedia) And it isn't a Christian cross neither: never saw a Christian cross with legs.

Then you say "but the stepped diamonds with cross inside are a familiar Byzantine motif". Byzantine or not, I guess they are technique-generated, like in this example:




detail of a pre-Columbian textile (Chancay Culture 1000 – 1470 AD) that obviously wasn’t influenced by Christianity.

Regards,

Filiberto
February 6th, 2013, 07:37 AM    6
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Hi Horst,

I was referring in my comment specifically to the cruciform motifs in the rug, but you raise an interesting question. Could other motifs in it have a Christian origin? It’s helpful to divide the question into two parts: First, are they Christian in form? And second, are they Christian in content? As to form, cross-cultural borrowing is a nearly universal phenomenon, so it is quite possible that at least some of the motifs were based on Christian (maybe Byzantine) models. But cultural borrowing is a slippery slope. Where did the Byzantines get their motifs? It turns out that some came from Greece and Rome, others from further east, Persia and beyond. There is very little new under the sun! What then about Christian content? Here I think we have to look at the source of the rug, that is the Ait Bou Ichaouen tribe itself. They are one of six divisions of the Ait Seghrouchen, whose traditional ancestor was Moulay Ali Ben Omar, seventh ruler in the Idrissid dynasty (ninth century). They occupy a stretch of the borderland between the ancient Roman provinces of Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariana, just east of the Moulouya River. They remained isolated even from their neighbors, independent and fiercely opposed to the Moroccan sultans. Later they resisted the French (hence the war rug!). Intertribal rivalries resulted in the Ait Bou Ichaouen being endogenous, that is, marriages were almost always within the tribe. But is it possible that there were Christian elements within this tribal group? One way to address this question is to read Procopius’ history of the Vandalic wars waged by the Byzantines under Belisarius and others in North Africa. These conflicts were in fact three-sided affairs, pitting the Byzantines not only against the Vandals but also against the native African tribes to the south of the Mediterranean littoral. Neither the Vandals nor the tribes were Christian, and although the Vandals were virtually annihilated the tribes survived and converted from their original animistic religion to Islam during the Conquest. Among these tribes were the true ancestors of the Ait Bou Ichaouen. They were never Christian. And so I think it extraordinarily unlikely that any of the motifs, borrowed or otherwise, have (or had) any Christian content.

Lloyd Kannenberg


February 6th, 2013, 04:15 PM    7




?????????????

Last edited by Horst Nitz; February 6th, 2013 at 11:24 PM.
February 6th, 2013, 04:21 PM    8
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Hi Philip,

thank you for your post. I knew bits of the story you have evolved so nicely in detail. It would be great if you could remember the title that right now eludes you. It sounds like a more or less successful case of a necessity being turned into a virtue and I suppose the prettiness of their daughters must have been about the only capital of their parents. What a weird kind of ‘love-story’ it is.

Since you are asking, with me girls and carpets have always gone together very well, with carpets as a wonderful foundation for getting acquainted on. The three on the image you posted look fun. But the carpet is small.

I do not wont to be scolded for withholding evidence for postulations I made in my last post:

Chora church / Kariye Cami in Fatih district Istanbul 2008:



Konya Obruk kelim first half 19th century:




Konya Obruk kelim mid 20th century:





Best wishes,

Horst


Last edited by Horst Nitz; February 6th, 2013 at 04:34 PM.


February 6th, 2013, 07:22 PM   9
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Hello Horst

The title of the book is Flute of Sand by Lawrence Morgan ISBN-10: 1898495068/ ISBN-13: 978-1898495062 published by Cinnabar books in 2001. Original edition published in 1956.


If you are interested here's a link to a very good synopsis about the Owled Nail.

http://maggiemcneill.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/the-ouled-nail/

Regards
Philip


February 7th, 2013, 02:30 AM    10
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Hi Horst
Quote:
?????????????

Last edited by Horst Nitz; February 6th, 2013 at 11:24 PM.
And what that nice series of question marks is supposed to mean? Shall we take it as an answer to my and Lloyd’s posts?
If that is the case, please try to answer directly and to each point.

Regards,

Filiberto


February 7th, 2013, 02:58 AM    11
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Hello Filiberto,

Before Horst replies can I re-visit the rug Lloyd has posted. As noted in the book's text the artist who produced it has found it sufficient to suggest the Potez 25 simply by the depicting the difference in the span of the upper and lower wings. The effort she has made has not gone into depicting the mechanics of the atrocity but the atrocity itself. Here we have a kind of poor man's woven Guernica. I see small homes being bombed and planes overflying the explosions as they loose more. This is a serious subject for a carpet. (Ironically the Ethiopian airforce flew a few Potez 25's against the Italians in 1936.) I'm not getting the same strength of feeling in other war weavings from places in Latin America and SE Asia either. And I'm certainly not getting it from Afghan war rugs.

regards
Philip


February 7th, 2013, 04:18 PM    12
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Hi Philip,

thanks a lot for the link and title. There is another very interesting motif showing up, that is the panel on the wall behind the middle woman. It is closely related to the stepped polygon or diamond motifs in the rug. Whilst in the rug and kelims the motif is derived from mosaic and shows the typical steps, the panel shows a smoother form and different cross motif that is equally familiar from an indefinite number of rugs:


Detail of a Boteh Chila rug from the Baku region, mid 19th c:





In the neighboring thread ‘My mysterious Rug’ in the rug posted by Erika both forms merge. Their origin lays in a late antiquity / early Christian era international stile that run around the Mediterranean.

My apologies to others for not being able to address more than one issue at a time.

Regards, Horst


February 10th, 2013, 12:35 PM 13
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Hi Horst,
Quote:
Whilst in the rug and kelims the motif is derived from mosaic
Duh! Did they have mosaics in pre-Colombian America?

No, this particular motif



is much more likely originated by its medium (in the sense of the technique used). Like tesserae - normally quadratic - for the mosaics, flat-weave technique for kilims, or… a squared notebook for a child playing with his pencils.

It’s such an elementary composition that it can be created and re-created anytime, anywhere, without disturbing religions, international styles or (before we come to that) extra-terrestrial influence.
This doesn’t exclude that sometimes it could really be meant to represent a cross with some symbolic meanings but to be sure about that we need solid evidence, don’t we?

Regards,

Filiberto



February 12th, 2013, 03:05 PM    14
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Hi,

Lloyd: “Among these tribes were the true ancestors of the Ait Bou Ichaouen. They were never Christian. And so I think it extraordinarily unlikely that any of the motifs, borrowed or otherwise, have (or had) any Christian content.”

In the world in which I live, Psyche knows a number of tools to come to terms with an undesirable change of circumstance. One is to rewrite ones chronicles in such a way that you find yourself having always been on the side of the winners – and believe in it. It is inconceivable that any of the tribes in that part of the dessert should have reinvented without outside prompt a rug design that was mainstream in its time. I’ll explain:

Prompted by the picture of the air-plane and by some of the information you have given, I associated the rug, as you did, with a war theme. Now, in preparing these lines and going about it more analytically, I want to counsel caution, finding that we must carefully differentiate between the principal design and those supposed war rug aspects.

What I first assumed to be the struttings of the wings, is in fact the leaves and chalices that carry lozenge shaped blossoms, some with a cross in their centre, very much as we know it from Anatolian and West Persian rugs. Here is one of the Wawel collection from Krakow, Marek Szymanowicz once posted:







Due to the low resolution it may be somewhat difficult without a magnifier to identify the small crosses within the near rhombic buds in between the more naturalistic foliage (often called ‘shrubs’ here on Turkotek). Their common theme is the Biblical prophecy (Isaiah 11,1): „There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his root. ..“ In the rug(s) this is ‘translated’ into image language, with Jesus Christ being symbolized by a bud or flower. In the early centuries of the new religion its roots in Judaism were still strongly felt – and with it the Mosaic ban on images. Christian art then was still largely uniconic. In my opinion it is one of the principal misunderstandings in rug literature, that motif development tends to be conceived as a degression from more elaborated and naturalistic ‘court’ forms to simple (uniconic) ‘tribal’ forms. Often the reverse seems to be the case, with the usually conservative ‘tribes’ and villagers simply having hung on to the old patterns, whilst urban workshops more likely elaborated on them. The kind of rugs we are primarily interested in have a folk or women Islamic context. Long after Christianity had faded, motifs that had a reputation of having helped someone somewhere somewhat or having worked miracles – where continued. Their uniconic patterns were compliant with Islamic teachings and this would have prompted their complete transformation and assimilation into a Muslemic context.

Regards,

Horst

Last edited by Horst Nitz; February 12th, 2013 at 03:33 PM.


February 13th, 2013, 10:51 AM    15
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Hi Horst,

Quote:
In the world in which I live, Psyche knows a number of tools to come to terms with an undesirable change of circumstance
Such as ignoring posts presenting pre-Columbian textiles that may create havoc with your Byzantine mosaic theory, uh? Because so far I didn’t receive any acknowledgement to my three posts in this thread and I find it impolite, to say the least. Is your Psyche responsible for the impoliteness? You know, there is an Italian proverb “Chi va con lo zoppo impara a zoppicare”, literally “He who goes with the cripple, learns how to limp”.

Seriously, Horst… Consider this website like as a private club in which you are free to enter and participate to any discussion you like. But you refuse to answer to challenging arguments, especially, I notice, when presented by yours truly. And it’s not the first time it happens.

Furthermore, last time I looked I am still one of the owners and administrators of this private club. You are my guest and I am the host, right? Isn’t better to behave politely and not to abuse of the patience of your host? Think about it…

So, in short, I d’ like to hear your answer to the following question, after which I will happily leave you to elaborate more theories without further intervention (I hope):

How do you explain the similarity of “the stepped diamonds with cross” of that Chancay textile with the ones on the mosaic and the kilims of your posts?

Thanks.

Oh, almost forgot. Now I must ask you another question - to be fair with Vincent, you know

In your last post you say "It is inconceivable that any of the tribes in that part of the dessert" and so on.
The question is: to which dessert are you referring?

Hmmm! It can’t be a “Black Forest”, given the context and the following text. More likely, a “fruit salad”, right?


Regards,

Filiberto


February 13th, 2013, 08:30 PM    16
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Hi Horst,

Thank you for your interesting comments.

It seems to me that we agree on some aspects of the rug I showed. In particular, you make the point that "Long after Christianity had faded, motifs that had a reputation for having helped someone . . . were continued." I tried (less successfully than you) to make a similar point in my previous post: The form survives while the content (perhaps Christian, as you suggest) is lost. It is a common occurrence.

I do however doubt that the weaver of that particular rug imputed any religious (Christian or Islamic) or totemic significance to the "airplane-like" motifs. The authors, Al and Suzanne Saulniers, had the advantage of direct contact with tribal members, on the basis of which they devote an entire chapter to the symbols found on Ait Bou Ichaouen weavings, and their origins. We must remember that many of these, including specifically the "war rugs", were not woven that long ago, and so if a weaver says "this is an airplane" or "this is a tank", it seems to me only rational to take her at her word.

I might add that the book includes several other examples of "war rugs", but to post them would, I think, constitute an infringement of copyright! I encourage you to obtain a copy of the book; both text and illustrations are excellent.

Thanks again!

Lloyd Kannenberg


February 14th, 2013, 10:58 AM    17
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February 14th, 2013, 11:11 AM    18
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Hi Vincent,

Exactly.
Just to put things in a more sobering perspective, let me quote Wikipedia on the history of the cross (the underlining is mine):
It is not known when the first cross image was made; after circles, crosses are one of the first symbols drawn by children of all cultures. There are many cross-shaped incisions in European cult caves, dating back to the earliest stages of human cultural development in the stone age. That means: the cross has been around for millions of years.
It was adopted by Christianity only starting from the 2nd century AD.

My “Dictionnaire Des Symboles” dedicates almost seven pages of text to the symbol. Of those seven, only three pages concern its association with Christianity. Assuming a Christian-only content (even if forgotten) to every cross around is naive and culturally biased. Unless one suffers of an acute form of Stauromania.
Regards,

Filiberto



February 14th, 2013, 11:43 AM  19
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February 14th, 2013, 08:57 PM F   21
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Quote
We must remember that many of these, including specifically the "war rugs", were not woven that long ago, and so if a weaver says "this is an airplane" or "this is a tank", it seems to me only rational to take her at her word.
Unquote

Lloyd

Are you seriously suggesting that an explanation by some illiterate tribal weaver- and a woman, for the motifs appearing in a rug woven by herself or her relatives has any bearing on the discussion? I had to rub my eyes in disbelief after reading your post!

Seriously though, I think the explanation of the cross v Potez 25 question is glaringly obvious: These are Ethiopian crosses brought to the Mahgreb by Potez 25 pilotes, fleeing Abbyssinia after the downfall of Haile Selassie.

regards
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; February 14th, 2013 at 09:03 PM.



February 15th, 2013, 04:05 AM    22
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February 15th, 2013, 09:17 AM   23
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Hi Philip,

You are right! The weavers are the least reliable interpreters of their weavings.

And no doubt Moroccan rugs with woven inscriptions in Ge'ez will soon come to light, thus validating your ingenious Ethiopian theory.

Thanks for the enlightenment,

Lloyd


February 15th, 2013, 06:07 PM    24
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Hi Lloyd
Mate, I was being ironical. Of course the quote from your post which I used is absolutely right and refreshingly logical.

For me one of the attractions of these war rugs is the info about them available from the weavers who actually made them or the provenance of oral tradition as in this case.

Best regards
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; February 15th, 2013 at 07:06 PM. Reason: Clarity


February 15th, 2013, 08:48 PM    25
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Hi Philip,

Don't worry, I got your drift! Please accept my apologies for my feeble attempt at humor. No offense intended.

Best wishes,

Lloyd



February 15th, 2013, 10:48 PM   26
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Hi Lloyd
That's alright, then. Sometimes the internet makes it difficult to catch the tone! After all irony is the lowest form...
Any of the other rugs in the book War rugs? (Without crosses)
Best
Philip


February 16th, 2013, 08:07 AM    27
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Hi Lloyd and Philip

We have a fairly rich collection of smilies to help compensate for the fact that we can't see each other's gestures and facial expressions.

Just sayin'

Steve Price


February 16th, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Hi Philip,

It’s not irony, it’s sarcasm: “Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.” ― Oscar Wilde.

Now, my turn.
Quote:
We must remember that many of these, including specifically the "war rugs", were not woven that long ago, and so if a weaver says "this is an airplane" or "this is a tank", it seems to me only rational to take her at her word.
There is the possibility that the weavers’ subconscious wanted to draw some Christian crosses but their Ego (being Muslim) forbade it. So they convinced themselves that they were drawing airplanes while in reality they were drawing crosses. It’s a matter of Psyche, you know.

Regards,

Filiberto


February 16th, 2013, 09:54 PM    29
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Hello Filiberto
So you're saying that Potez may have designed the Po 25 to resemble a cross in order to evoke age old Muslim memories of the textile motif which once adorned the shields and surcoats of the crusaders?
That would never have occurred to me!

Best
Philip


February 16th, 2013, 10:15 PM   30
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Hi Philip

Yeah, nothing warms the Muslim heart like reminiscing about the crusaders.



Regards

Steve Price


February 17th, 2013, 04:08 AM    31
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Hi Philip,

Your ironical remark “Are you seriously suggesting that an explanation by some illiterate tribal weaver- and a woman, for the motifs appearing in a rug woven by herself or her relatives” brings to my mind an aspect that so far we have not considered: the weavers. Which in the Maghreb were probably women, yes.
But what about the proper Afghan “war rugs”? It seems that a lot of them were woven by boys from tribes with no weaving tradition. Shall we consider this angle? Perhaps opening a different thread?
Regards,

Filiberto


February 17th, 2013, 08:08 AM   32
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Hi Philip and All,

Here's another Ait Bou Ichaouen war rug, this one with no crosses (Christian, Charing, or double):



It's a little hard to read the text, but there is (at least one) bomb at the bottom of the rug.

Lloyd Kannenberg


February 17th, 2013, 06:57 PM    33
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Hello Filiberto

A separate thread about the weavers of the war rugs is a very good idea. How do you suggest we proceed? I wonder if there's any info about the Mahgreb weavers in Lloyds book.

Hello Lloyd

That second rug that you have posted is also beautiful. Is it in it's entirety? FWIW I'm actually seeing more like a rain of bombs evolving into repeat motifs by altering the colours. I'm not able to understand what is meant by; 'The weaver placed heavy lines to depict rounded seam lines on the surface of the original perhaps unexploded ordinanace.'


Regards
Philip


February 17th, 2013, 08:27 PM    34
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Hi Philip,

My scanner clipped off a little bit of the left selvage, otherwise the rug is all there. I like these rugs, too.

You're right, it really does look like a rain of bombs! As for the "rounded seam lines", I assume these are where sections of the bomb casing were welded (?) together, and are represented by the dark straight lines on the bomb image. But that's just a guess.

Best, Lloyd


February 17th, 2013, 10:08 PM   35
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Hello Lloyd

That makes sense. (Although why 'perhaps' unexploded?). It's a translation though, right? Anyway no matter.

Btw have you treated yourself to one of these pieces yet?

Best
Philip


February 18th, 2013, 04:33 AM    36
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Hi Philip
Quote:
A separate thread about the weavers of the war rugs is a very good idea. How do you suggest we proceed?
I'll answer to that in the "old war" rug thread.
Regards,
Filiberto



February 18th, 2013, 09:59 AM    37
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Hi Philip,

My collection of Berber rugs can be counted on one finger. It is probably Boujad, not Ait Bou Ichaouen, and not a war rug; but I like it! It would be great to acquire a rug like the ones I posted, but I've never seen one available, or at least available at anything I could afford.

Regards,

Lloyd


ebruary 19th, 2013, 12:00 AM    38
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Hello Lloyd

This rug is Ait Bou Ichaouen from the 1960's according to the seller. (It's currently for sale.)



Palette aside it appears to share some of the features of the war rugs illustrated in the Saulnier's book, in particular the odd crenellations and even what might be half remembered bombs and explosions although I admit it's a bit of a reach. What do you think? Are they the same motifs a generation or two later?

Regarding the palette of the war rugs illustrated, does the book have anything to say about it? Those lovely orange, yellow, and greens were peculiar to war rugs or not really?

Regards
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; February 19th, 2013 at 12:07 AM.


ebruary 19th, 2013, 09:44 AM    39
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Hello Philip,

I hadn't seen that piece. Very attractive! To get a feeling for the motifs on other weavings from this tribal group, you might take a look at Plate 1 of the New England Rug Society's online exhibition "To Have and To Hold", which is a large storage bag ("tharart"). Also, on page 155 of "The Fabric of Moroccan Life" there is an image of an Ait Bou Ichaouen rug from about 1950 with many of the same motifs and about the same palette as their war rugs.

As regards the general color scheme of these rugs, I will just paraphrase from the Saulniers' book (full disclosure: they are friends of mine). The wool used is bright white, which lends itself to bright, clear colors. Since the 1920s most of the colors come from commercial chemical dyes. The dyeing is done locally. White signifies purity, and is associated with good luck for a bride and groom. Black edging protects against the evil eye, as does blue or purple. Light yellowish green denotes growth and confers protection as well. Red is of course the base color! Orange represents gold, and is used to assure the prosperity of the rug owner. I don't know about the significance of other colors. Browns and pinks are used relatively sparingly.

That's about the best I can do!

All the best,

Lloyd


February 19th, 2013, 02:57 PM    40
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February 19th, 2013, 09:49 PM    41
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Hello Lloyd

Thanks for all the information. Very interesting! For def will check those references and I think I'll have to break down and buy that book.

One last question if I may: do your friends assign these 2 war weavings to the same tribe or village? Would that be the Talsint if so?

Hello Vincent

Good spot. As you say the text clearly states 'looped- warps', even though I had to stand on my head to read it. And since you are seeing all sorts of 'thingies' (btw is that a field of oil derricks in the purple one or did I drink the wrong kind of tea this morning?) PO25 bombs pictured below.








Fuel-bearing camels.



PO 25 in Ethiopia. (Loaded with bags for sale and heading north (?))

Best regards
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; February 19th, 2013 at 10:26 PM.


February 27th, 2013, 11:54 AM    42
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Hi all,

“… obliges me to emerge reluctantly from my winter lethargy (yawn, it gets cold in Cyprus too) to engage in my favorite sport: confuting other people’s certitudes on the interpretation of design elements in Oriental rugs (yawn)..”

This is how our dear host Filiberto self-portraits himself in a parallel thread. It explains, why he got so muddled about the crosses in the girl’s make-up, his eyelids probably kept dropping and it was to early still for the complicated Wikipedia definition. Filiberto: "A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half (Wikipedia).” Most other people would have thought that this is exactly what is showing on her forehead.

“And it isn't a Christian cross neither: never saw a Christian cross with legs.” Filiberto, so far we have managed without ridiculing religious symbols, and I don’t think we ought to start it now. The carefully drawn curved line of course is no part of the cross but represents a hill, i.e. Golgatha http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golgatha .

Together with the two crosses on her cheeks the well known ensemble in European painting is complete.

The scene is a Latin tradition though, unlike the parallel forms in the mosaic and in the rug. But as Jenkins said (Jenkins P, 2008. Harper Collins, NY): ‘Latin Christian traditions developed in Carthage rather than Rome, … By the late fifth century, North Africa had five or six hundred bishoprics, while monasteries were a familiar sight in the local landscape. Even after long struggles between rival Christian sects, North Africa in the century after 560 was a potent centre of spiritual, literary, and cultural activity.”

How and when it was introduced in the Magreb I can’ t say, nor whether the girl was aware of its Christian symbolism or why she has chosen this macabre scene for her makeup. Another possibility offers itself here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_slave_trade .

It is difficult to think of anything else that has tied the band of similarity that connects flowery chalices with bud or blossom and leaves in the Maghreb with nearly identical expressions in Anatolia and West Iran, but of religion. The sheer number of crosses in such motifs emphasises, that Christianity is somewhat more likely to have asserted its influence, than did Islam. Perhaps we should also keep in mind that until the end of the twelfth century Christians made up nearly half the population around the eastern Mediterranean and in the Near East, only in the 13th century a sharp decline set in. However in (Western) North-Africa Christianity had ceased earlier. Within fifty years of the Muslim capture of Carthage and the completion of the conquest in 698, ‘local Muslim rulers were apologizing to the caliphs that they could no longer supply Christian slaves, since Christians were now so scarce.’ (Jenkins a.a.o.).

Filiberto, you claimed that those late-Roman-or-Byzantine-mosaics- with-crosses-inside-like motifs in the rug had nothing to do with Christianity, but are technique-generated like an apparently flat-woven rug of which you posted a detail. This argument has several flaws:

The rug is a pile rug without the restriction imposed on edge-smoothness by mosaic-technique. If it turned out like in a mosaic, the weaver had decided that it was to be so, not because it was induced by technique.

You confront us with a number of images depicting (details) of flat-weaves. They present a problem. If their attribution is correct, they should be objects of a cultural heritage and have a context and a proper record. If they have not, it would be violating the ‘good practice principle’ of not acquiring, displaying or discussing such items that might have been brought to market illegitimately. Besides this, if attributed correctly, they are isolated developments not influenced by events around the Mediterranean before Columbus; and they had no influence on them. You can sensibly only discuss symbols or motifs if they share a context or are otherwise meaningfully related. ‘Technique-generated’ is an empty phrase and does not exist in art and material culture of mankind. Technique is a means to self-expression and shaping ones habitat. It neither generates nor has it a will of its own. It is a tool.

If you think, a cross is such a simple symbol, it could be made by anybody anytime and does not need to be Christian, you are right. Evolution has done that for us and on a level of individual creativity it happens all the time in ontogenesis - crosses and circles seem to fit the evolving nervous system perfectly. In anthropology however, with Christianity, every possible previous cross would have become Christian. There may exist traces of older crosses in a hitherto sealed cave, made by Lucy or some of her ilk, doodling with a toe in the sand on the cave-floor. You would have to go very far back. Homo Neandertalensis of fifty thousand years ago might take offence for you judging his ability for symbolic behaviour not higher than having to busy himself with scratching crosses into cave-walls.

Regards,

Horst


February 28th, 2013, 02:21 AM    43
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Hi Horst,

I see that eventually I got your attention, thank you very much!
Now that we have re-established our host-guest relationship, try to keep it from slipping out of your psyche, please…

I have read with attention your detailed and well-written post. Especially the part:
Quote:
In anthropology however, with Christianity, every possible previous cross would have become Christian.
Brilliant.
Bowing to such undisputable logic my best option is to admit that you are right, those are ALL Christian crosses.

Amen.

Regards,

Filiberto



February 28th, 2013, 06:57 AM    44
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Hi Filiberto,

I would not hesitate a moment to congratulate you to your insight, if it was not for the tinge of sarcasm in your last line.

Since you have taken the quoted sentence somewhat out of its context I would like to prevent possible misunderstanding by clarifying: I did not argue for active Christian symbols like someone might have thought is being the case in the make-up of the girl, nor do I think that rugs with clearly identifiable crosses were necessarily produced by Christians (with a few exceptions). Those crosses just mark a profound Christian heritage, they are echoes of the past.

Regards,

Horst


February 28th, 2013, 07:43 AM   45
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Hi People

Actually, when I first read Horst's In anthropology however, with Christianity, every possible previous cross would have become Christian, my reaction was

The more I think about it, though, the more sense it makes. Once the cross became widely recognized as the central element of Christian iconography, crosses on artifacts created outside of or prior to Christianity would probably be seen through the eyes of viewers to whom cross = Christian symbol.

We see something similar in the reaction most people have to a swastika, a symbol that predates its Nazi use by millennia.

Regards

Steve Price


February 28th, 2013, 08:18 AM    46
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Hi Steve,

This subject has been discussed already in Turkotek some time ago.


from “DEATH” SYMBOLISM IN TURKISH WEAVINGS” by Dr. Filiz Nurhan OLMEZ,
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.

http://edergi.sdu.edu.tr/index.php/gsfsd/article/viewFile/1184/1305
Regards,


February 28th, 2013, 09:09 AM   47
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February 28th, 2013, 09:32 AM    48
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Hi Vincent,
Quote:
Nothing is said here. He believes. A religious act in itself.
Actually, he is a she. And I interpret her “it is believed” as “by the weavers”.

Filiz Nurhan Ölmez was born in Ankara in 1969. She graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture at Ankara University in 1990. Serving as a research assistant, she completed her master’s degree (1994) and doctoral degree (1999) at her alma mater. In 2000, she started teaching as 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”. She has presented her papers on regional women’s costumes, natural dyeing, regional textiles and handicrafts in many congresses and symposiums. Her papers and articles were published in many scientific magazines. Ölmez has also worked on many research projects. She has had several solo exhibitions and participated in many group exhibitions in Turkey and abroad.
http://www.turkishculture.org/whoiswho/applied-arts/textile-artist/filiz-nurhan-olmez-1288.htm

Yes, from her curriculum Dr. Filiz Nurhan Ölmez is obviously an absolute ignorant on the subject: being a researcher, having a university Chair in “Carpet-Kilim and Antique Textile Designs” and perhaps – God forbid – she even made field research in Anatolia!

Perhaps she even spoke to Anatolian weavers who notoriously have no idea anymore of what they are weaving (or about what their mothers and grandmothers used to weave).

I think somebody should go there and explain to those ignorant women the real meaning of a cross.
Any volunteer?

Regards,

Filiberto


February 28th, 2013, 10:37 AM    49
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Hi all,

yes Steve, that is how I meant it to be understood. Interesting, the swastika / Nazi analogy. I had not thought of it, but absolutely agree. It’s a good comparison.

“…it is believed that it divides the evil eye into four pieces and throws them into four different places.” This is a rather stunning reinterpretation of the cross-symbol in the post-Christian era that also demonstrates, how much difficulty modern Turkey has been having to come to terms with its Christian heritage. Thanks for the link to the paper, Filiberto.

Regards,

Horst


February 28th, 2013, 10:58 AM    50
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Hi Horst,

You are welcome.
As I wrote in post # 31 the weavers’ subconscious wanted to draw some Christian crosses but their Ego (being Muslim) forbade it. So they convinced themselves that they were drawing airplanes while in reality they were drawing crosses. It’s a matter of Psyche, you know

Luckily you are here to elucidate us - and the weavers - about the truth.

Now, though, you’ll have also to explain to all of these Hindus and Buddhists that the swastikas in their temples have a sinister Nazi meaning… even if they are not aware of the fact. The suckers probably think that swastikas are solar symbols or whatever mumbo-jumbo they believe over there.
Have a good trip.
Regards,

Filiberto


February 28th, 2013, 12:01 PM    51
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Hi Filiberto

I think you'd be surprised at how many of the unwashed masses would think (and I use the word loosely) that swastikas in Buddhist temples had something to do with Nazi. And seeing a swastika in any context has a chilling effect on an overwhelming number of people outside of Asia. We err when we suppose that ruggies are a representative sample of Americans in terms of education about Asian culture; I suspect that the same can be said of Europeans.

Regards

Steve Price


February 28th, 2013, 12:08 PM    52
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Hi Steve,

I suspect that the same can be said of Europeans who thinks that every cross must be a Christian one.


Filiberto


February 28th, 2013, 02:31 PM    53
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Hi Filiberto,

with all due modesty, I am actually one of those Europeans who did do field-research in Anatolia in the late 1970’s, on the ‘change of gender roles in Anatolian village communities in response to work migration to Europe’ and on ‘flat-weaves as an aspect of the material culture in the Van-Hakkari district in eastern Anatolia’ as a part of my doctorate; on a four weeks placement I attached myself voluntarily to the psychiatric ward at Diyarbakir Hospital, then the only psychiatric service to the whole southeast of Turkey. Like all the doctors I only spoke Turkish – all the patients spoke Kurdish, and every therapy happened by means of an interpreter. At weekends beds were occupied fourfold: two in the bed and two underneath. The visiting relatives came from far away and could not afford accommodation. When I comment, please don’t suspect me of solely taking a desk perspective.

Thank you

Horst


February 28th, 2013, 08:15 PM    54
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March 1st, 2013, 02:54 AM    55
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Hi Horst,
Wow! And there you got the insight about the crosses? Well, I have to respect your opinion “out from the psychiatric ward”, then. Yes, they are all Cristian crosses...

Hi Vincent,

I understand very well that is about the context, that’s why I wrote:” This doesn’t exclude that sometimes it could really be meant to represent a cross with some symbolic meanings.

Including the pre-Colombian textiles.

And I am not obsessed: this is a discussion and I am answering to other people, including you. This is how discussions work. You speak, I answer. You keep speaking, I keep answering: as I said before, would you find it normal if I start ignoring your questions directed to me?



Filiberto


March 1st, 2013, 06:20 AM    56
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Hello Horst

I'm having someone look through a copy of Flute of Sand because of a half memory of something being said by the author about the girl's facial tattoos.

An Algerian lady I know here who actually studied anthropology at Uni put up with a raft of questions and my rusty Arabic and still managed not to openly scoff at the idea of a Christian connection. 'Berber tattoos', was all she said in the end and without much enthusiasm.

In Japan the hooked cross is called manji and below are a couple of obi with the pattern. The upper photo shows a vintage piece my wife made into a sword bag. The sword itself, a wakizashi has the manji pattern done in zogan technique on all it's fittings. Both sword and fittings are early to mid Edo.



The black funeral obi which is being made into another sword bag is modern.



I've even seen manhole covers here incorporating the manji patter in it's decoration!

Regards a tutti

Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; March 1st, 2013 at 06:27 AM.


March 1st, 2013, 07:11 AM    57
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Hi Vincent,

thank you for your support.

Filiberto, after all it is you who is portraying himself here on a previous occasion:

“… obliges me to emerge reluctantly from my winter lethargy (yawn, it gets cold in Cyprus too) to engage in my favorite sport: confuting other people’s certitudes on the interpretation of design elements in Oriental rugs (yawn)..” By any standard, for a host I would think this is a rather mean attitude towards his guests.

And this is how you answered Vincent right now: “this is a discussion and I am answering to other people, including you. This is how discussions work. You speak, I answer…” Unfortunately, you are not answering at same level, but by sneering and jerking in lack of arguments. This is NOT how discussion works.

If you insist on being the host, please behave like one.

Regards,

Horst


March 1st, 2013, 07:15 AM    58
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Hi Philip,
Well, swastika is much more appropriate for the subject
There were swastikas also in pre-Columbian America. Which only means either the symbol was already part of the culture of the Asian peoples who migrated to the Americas or it was invented independently after the migration,

Vincent,
I re-phrase my question of my post # 59 : since it seems to me that our positions largely coincide, where is exactly the point on which you disagree?

Regards,
Filiberto


March 1st, 2013, 07:20 AM    59
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Hi Horst,

Yeah, that was what I answered to Vincent. Is that offensive? Let’s hear from Vincent!

Regards,

Filiberto


March 1st, 2013, 08:48 AM    60
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Hi Philip,

'Flute of Sand' has been republished very recently and I received my copy directly from Cinnabar Publishers, Bristol UK for something like USD 10. Have a go, and thanks for the original reference.

Congratulations for having found someone to help you in brushing up your Arabic. I would not give too much on her opinion though in matters of what we are discussing here. She probably knows not more on the subject, than what she was tought. What I am proposing has not yet filtered through into the official curriculum - if it ever will. But there is light on the horizon, interesting developments take place in the academic world: 'Christian Art under Muslim Rule' at the Nederlands Institut in Istanbul last year is one of them.

Did you notice the link in my last post?

"How and when it was introduced in the Magreb I can’ t say, nor whether the girl was aware of its Christian symbolism or why she has chosen this macabre scene for her makeup. Another possibility offers itself here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_slave_trade .

Anybody who is interested in the pre-Islamic state of affairs in the Maghreb finds information and ample reference to specialist literature in the Jenkins book mentioned further up.

Two interesting examples of textile swastikas you show - but manhole covers . I have some on Nepalese and Tibetan coins and that will have to do with me. For reasons Steve framed so elegantly, I do not feel comfortable on that subject.

Best wishes,

Horst


March 1st, 2013, 10:06 PM   61
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March 3rd, 2013, 12:55 AM   62
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Gentlemen,
Let’s go back to square one, if you don't mind.

It all started with this “war rug”, presented by Lloyd.



depicting airplanes and bombings.

Horst says
Quote:
Hi Lloyd,

"In this case the cruciform motifs are definitely not Christian symbols!"

About this I would not be so sure. Agreed, some forms are reminiscent of aeroplanes and perhaps of bombs, but the stepped diamonds with cross inside are a familiar Byzantine motif.
Then, in post # 14 Horst doubts about the war theme”
Quote:
Prompted by the picture of the air-plane and by some of the information you have given, I associated the rug, as you did, with a war theme. Now, in preparing these lines and going about it more analytically, I want to counsel caution, finding that we must carefully differentiate between the principal design and those supposed war rug aspects.
What follows, isn’t clear because Horst presents the picture of another rug and I do not know if the phrase
Quote:
In the rug(s) this is ‘translated’ into image language, with Jesus Christ being symbolized by a bud or flower.
is referred to that rug or to the war rug or both.
What seems clear is that Horst disputes the “war rug” theme in favor of a Christian theme.
And that is in spite of Lloyd saying that the weaver’s tribe never had any Christian involvement. Later Lloyd added also:
Quote:
I do however doubt that the weaver of that particular rug imputed any religious (Christian or Islamic) or totemic significance to the "airplane-like" motifs. The authors, Al and Suzanne Saulniers, had the advantage of direct contact with tribal members, on the basis of which they devote an entire chapter to the symbols found on Ait Bou Ichaouen weavings, and their origins. We must remember that many of these, including specifically the "war rugs", were not woven that long ago, and so if a weaver says "this is an airplane" or "this is a tank", it seems to me only rational to take her at her word.
Even afer that I didn’t see any change in Horst’s position.
So, if I take it correctly, the weavers ignored what they where really weaving but Horst, instead, knows better.
Am I correct, Horst?
Regards,


March 3rd, 2013, 07:14 PM    63
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Hello Lloyd & Filiberto

Here's a tharart/grain bag from the Talsint tribe of the Ait Ichaouen.



It seems possible that it is a descendant of the war rugs if you see the biplanes and bombs as I do. If they are bombs then in this piece more clearly than the previous ones the weaver has enlarged them to give a feeling of movement.

Hello Horst

I saw you scratching your head over the idea of manji in a manhole cover. Here are two 10 m or so from my front door. Neither have the manji decoration, that's another prefecture, but you get the idea.





Best
Philip


March 3rd, 2013, 07:51 PM   64
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Hi Philip,

Nice tharart! You're right, there do seem to be planes and possibly bombs; but I really like the colors. Great catch!

Best, Lloyd


March 4th, 2013, 07:31 PM
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arch 5th, 2013, 02:20 AM    66

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Hello Dear Vincent

When you say 'this is the real thing,' in what sense?

Do you mean the weaver is conveying an emotion based on her/their shared experience in an unusual and pleasing way?

Usually when I look at a carpet I feel some standard emotions; concern about the colours, distrust that the selvedges are original, anxiety about the probable price- those kind of emotions. I don't very often experience a feeling which the weaver(s) are conveying about their own emotions and which has caused them to produce the piece.

The Afghan war rug you picture is like a CNN report, And it is intended for the same market. They are the Brighton rock of Afghanistan, a Present from Khandahar, souvenirs for the punters. Details are all, eg: the clip of an AK74 is orange, an AK47 black, customers are paid up NRA members to a man (just kidding) and it's what sells 'em.

But the weavers themselves are absent from these pieces. For me the Mahgreb war rugs are like finding sepia photos of some long forgotten atrocity. It's the event which has magnitude, not the kind of weaponry used.

I dunno that the tharart is war themed, if it is, if they are bombs then the size to me conveys the feeling that they are dropping towards the viewer.

The other rugs according to the weavers are war themed, which is why I dubbed them a poor-man's woven Guernica- well how often do you get to write something like that on a rug forum?

Best

Philip


March 5th, 2013, 03:52 PM    67
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March 6th, 2013, 05:26 AM   68
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Hello Vincent

Fingers crossed you can find the the Scream Gabbeh thread. Sounds fascinating!
I too tried googling various combos in an effort to locate it but no luck.

Even a pic would be great.

Best
Philip


March 6th, 2013, 08:48 AM    69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Keers 
I never understood why people buy Afghan war rugs.
Most rugs are ugly, dowdy militaristic and like a catalog. I hope the Moths will plan an attack in the near future.

Best regards,
Vincent
Hi Vincent,

I agree. I don't understand why these rugs hold such fascination, except that I have been to flea markets and souvenir shops in various parts of the world and it is the kitsch that sells. What do most people in this generation (especially Western tourists) know about Afghanistan? Only war. So, it seems natural that the souvenirs depict war. Give the tourists what they want, after all. It isn't so much a cultural expression of meaning and longing, so much as a souvenir to sell, even with (or maybe especially with), severed limbs, etc.

Interestingly, I have a friend who has a background in design / architecture who asked me to find a "war rug". But the specific interest was in one that submerged the theme into the design, so that it was not so overt. Those are now emerging too, but sparingly. If there was still a ethno-cultural practice of weaving rugs in that region, I think that over a few generations we might see the war motifs become submerged into designs. After all, most culturally connected weavers still wanted to make a beautiful rug with all that dyed wool and time. Sadly, I think that won't happen again, and the designs will be determined by what sells to foreigners in Kabul and Pakistan.

James


March 6th, 2013, 08:17 PM    70
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March 6th, 2013, 09:18 PM    71
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Hello Vincent & James,

Precious few but not all Afghan war rugs are generic. These first 2 early pieces are mid-to-late '80's.








(No overseer tacked a tech drawing to this weaver's loom.)

The 2 pieces below are US/ISAF era, the progression to a more traditional feel to the rugs seems clear.





Apaches and M1 Abrams and what could be Potez 25... er, I mean Red Cross hospitals.

Compared to what we know about the effects of an invasion or conquest of one tribe by another and how it effected their weavings, eg: a change in gul style, the adoption of a different border, these pieces must have represented an upheaval in the local weaving.

Regards

Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; March 6th, 2013 at 09:28 PM.


March 6th, 2013, 09:25 PM   72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Keers 
James,
If you don't mind I would add: what do Afghans know about Afghanistan but War? You're hitting the nail on its head with no more beautiful, culturally connected rug designs It's all in the past.

Best regards to all,
Vincent
Maybe others will disagree, but I think that the last of traditional rug-weaving might have been Afghanistan in before the Soviet invasion. Traditional rug-weaving groups were still making rugs in the same places that they had for generations. Even though many were "commercial", you could still see the craft and occasionally a beautiful rug. Then, it was finished. There have been revival projects, and they have produced some nice rugs, but the tradition is gone, and I can't see how it can return. It feels like we have experienced the true end of a very long tradition within our lifetime.

James


March 7th, 2013, 05:31 AM   73
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Hi Vincent,

No problem in complying. There you go:
Quote:
But, if the authors say the weaver told them those are bombs getting launched because they were under attack by French airplanes it doesn't convince me: no patriot fire in the 1930'ties
I found this website that speaks of the bombing:
http://www.francisboulbes.com/index.php?Mod=SITE&page=23

It’s in French. Here is the English translation of the relevant text:

Our mountain, the Tichoukt, more modest than its neighbors (Ayachi 3.800m, 3.600m Bou Iblane) but still touching the 3,000 meters, is the area and the foster mother of Aďt Seghrouchen, a tribe of berberized Arabs Adarissa. It gives the grass to their cattle, timber for their homes, a few wheat fields, and allows them to dominate, in every sense of the term, the tribes surrounding plateaus. Here took place, in 1924-1926, the battle of Tichoukt. On this Olympus, the Ait Seghrouchen held two winters in the snow, surrounded by French troops and auxiliaries Moroccan who occupied their villages, looted their homes and livestock, destroyed their reserves. Women and children were arrested and resistant clustered near Skoura, in buildings still visible. The French army had the sad privilege of practicing in Morocco the first aerial bombardment of civilians in history, one of them on El Mers center of the tribe Aďt Serghrouchen.

I am not sure about the last statement: a quick web-search on “aerial bombing of civilians” gave different results. Let’s only assume that the tribe was indeed submitted to ONE aerial bombardment not in the early thirties but between 1924-1926.

As for the bombs falling tail down, either the rug is upside-down or the weaver assisted to the bombing from a distance too big to have a clear look, or she was too shocked to have a clear recollection and so on…

Why the weaver made the rug? Perhaps for the same reason Picasso painted Guernica: a commemoration of a very shocking, drammatic event.
Regards,

Filiberto


March 7th, 2013, 03:24 PM    74
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March 7th, 2013, 04:25 PM    75
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Hi Folks,

Sorry for being late in chiming in. It's easy to determine whether the images of these North African Berber rugs are right side up or not: A HEADING CORD on these pieces indicates the beginning point of the weaving--the bottom end. Fringe appears at the top end where the warp was cut to remove the rug from the loom. Thus these were positioned correctly when published.

Marla


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March 8th, 2013, 05:02 PM   78
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Hi Vincent,

The presence of either warp loops or a heading cord at the bottom end of a rug tells us that the warp was not a continuous circular one, but was wound around stakes and then transferred to the loom. They do not tell us whether the loom was vertical or horizontal. As signs of quite primitive weaving technology, either warp loops or a heading cord would represent unusual practices to associate with a roller-beam loom, though not impossible.

Yeah...I know about forgetting stuff. I've forgotten a lot of the technical junk that I figured out or "investigated" during the intense period when I was putting together my book--as well as that End Finishes Project.

Marla


March 16th, 2013, 06:44 PM    79
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Hi Filiberto,

: “So, if I take it correctly, the weavers ignored what they where really weaving but Horst, instead, knows better. Am I correct, Horst?”

It doesn’t sound logic what you are saying. Could it be that you are lacking a reliable sense of direction on the subject of rug development and got your knickers in a twist about something? Maybe it is rhetoric only. In this case you don’t need to strain yourself and explain.

Sorry for my late response.

Regards,

Horst


March 16th, 2013, 06:46 PM   80
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Hi all,

the first rug posted by Lloyd and the last one by Philip are variants based on the same schema that comprises the following elements: rhombus representing bud or flower is a symbol of Christ; V-form represents the cup or chalice in which the bud of flower rests; the cross set into the rhombuses and between them (first rug) or between them (second rug) is for emphasis and provides a connotation that makes clear, how the composite form is to be read. This composite form in principle is the same as we have it in some rugs from West Persia and in Baluch rugs from Khorassan and Afghanistan (see neighbouring thread). These rugs are tied together by a band of religious heritage.

European medieval art was essentially religious, and it still was to a great extend in the Renaissance and Baroque periods – in music too. The other week I talked with a lady who had studied piano at university level and became a concert pianist. Her words.” I could not match the others at Bach. They slept with their pianos and met for joint prayer at the conservatory at seven. Afterwards they practised for hours on end. Once they had finished, they began studying the Bible. Bach is all about Bible interpretation. In contrast, I slept with my boyfriend and became pregnant. The conservatory never saw me at seven and that weakness at Bach was with me for a long time, and still is to a degree, because I never got round to reading the Bible properly.”

Rugs have a great deal to do with religion. How else could it be? Christianity is older in the East than it is in the West and had a particularly good start due to the high cultures in the region that paved its way. The oldest rug on earth that we know of, the Pazyryk, is already fully evolved and it too has a religious theme. I am not going on about the Christian heritage in rugs because I want to mission or because I am bearing a grudge against any other religion or some ethnic groups. But I would like to convey the understanding that rugs and their symbols were greatly prompted by religion from beginning on, and Oriental Christianity was the religion that had made full use of rugs as an ideal medium - in a largely illiterate world - to express its essential assumptions in a visual language and market its ideas throughout the known world of the time. By defining this heritage we could establish a sound database from which we then could progress with an assessment of what came after, and what was before. It is a formidable task and a challenge worth it. With the support of the interested parties posting here, it could be tackled.

As to the weavers of the topical rugs and their assumed understanding of what they were weaving I would like to refer us to the familiar figure of speech of doing one thing without leaving the other; the weavers can use a traditional form that goes as far back as to their lost and forgotten history and, at the same time, work into it a relatively contemporary theme that has to do with their resisting French occupation. In the first rug (posted by Lloyd) the chalices are grouped three (h) by four (v) with crosses set in between horizontally. It may be due to slapdash spacing or intentional, that those crosses metamorphose to aeroplanes. If one sees aeroplanes in those rugs, one can also find indistinct motifs that can be interpreted as bombs.

As eye-witnesses however, neither those weavers nor their interviewers / authors (Al and Suzanne Saulniers) are old enough to testify how things really were in the first few centuries AD. Nor am I, but I know a good epistemology at my side that serves me reliably.

I have read the ‘Flute of Sand’ in the meantime. Two notions might be worth repeating. The first has to do with the traditional tribal tattoo-marks. Nobody seems to know exactly about the origin; for some it is ‘for health’ whilst for others it is simply custom. Still others think it is going back a very long time (according to the author of the book).

Similarly, there seems to be a notion of a time before Islam with the Ouled Nail. “What does your religion say about your daughters selling their bodies to men, some who are perhaps even unbelievers?” I asked ben Kaddour. He was silent for a moment. This is the answer of the clan eldest: “Our Faith is a thing apart. And this custom has been ours longer than our Faith.” He said at last.

What else can I say. I have observed myself looking out for manhole covers.

Regards,

Horst


March 16th, 2013, 10:37 PM    81
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"What else can I say. I have observed myself looking out for manhole covers."


Hello Horst

Careful it gets addictive!




Best

Philip


March 17th, 2013, 09:21 AM    82
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Posts: 76
Hi Horst,

Quote:
“So, if I take it correctly, the weavers ignored what they where really weaving but Horst, instead, knows better. Am I correct, Horst?”

It doesn’t sound logic what you are saying.
On the contrary, it seems to me that it’s exactly what you are saying. The weavers didn’t mention any Christian symbols in their weavings. It’s YOU who claim that.

Let’s start from the “rhombus representing bud or flower is a symbol of Christ”.

A rhombus - like the cross - it’s a very simple symbol. It may have several meanings. It could represent a bud, depending on the context, for example if it’s draw next to flowers.

To say that - on a Moroccan carpet woven by people who never had any Christian tradition - it is not only a bud but also a symbol of Christ is utterly arbitrary.

There is another book that may interest you:

Berber Carpets of Morocco: The Symbols Origin and Meaning
by Bruno Barbatti.
Quotes from page 21 (lozenges are, of course, synonyms of rhombuses):

“Almost the entire range of motifs in Berber carpets is based on sex symbolism; it represent the meeting of the two sexes, pregnancy and giving birth.
...Certain signs are even the same as those of prehistoric periods in Europe.

The main female symbols in Berber carpets are: the lozenge alone or in network, the chevron , the X-shape. These may be taken as the basic forms. They are also all attested in the Stone Age. They are connected structurally and symbolically. Depending on how the eye select a section of the network or sets the basic form, the lozenge grid may be also seen as a lattice of chevrons or of X-shapes.

...
The lozenge combines the concept of the vagina, the womb (matrix), the mother's body, of the whole female figure.”

And so on…
Uh, and on page 23 he says that the “equal-armed cross” is a symbol of mating. Could this help with the interpretation of the tattoos on that Berber girl?

Maybe this book “could give you a reliable sense of direction on the subject of rug development” because it seems that you badly need one. I think that “reading the Bible” doesn’t help at all, on the contrary.

Before you rush to dismiss Dr. Barbatti credentials (1) let’s be clear that I do not think the “rhombuses” you mention are supposed to represent vaginas, on the rug in question. Maybe they did elsewhere but here it seems out of context. They are probably used as filler motives.

I also stress that it’s not my purpose to endorse Barbatti’s interpretations. I simply register the fact that there is a well-documented research on rug motives that completely differs from your opinion - which I find entirely based on wishful thinking and nothing else.

Having to choose between Barbatti and you, I would choose Barbatti, of course. At least, he makes, by and large, much more sense than you do.

Watch out for the manholes without covers.

Regards

Filiberto


(1) The author, Bruno Barbatti, Ph.D., is a retired teacher of history and history
of art in Zurich) http://www.bibliomonde.com/auteur/bruno-barbatti-2777.html


March 17th, 2013, 04:50 PM    83
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March 18th, 2013, 05:40 PM    84
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March 20th, 2013, 07:13 AM    85
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Hello Horst

Here's a picture of a tsuba from Western Japan.




Within the design which I think are mill weights, is a sukashi cruciform shape which indicates the Christian beliefs of the daimyo's retainer who ordered it and the smith who made it.(Sword slots through the inverted 'u' in the middle). The cross is displayed in this fashion because Christianity was proscribed in Japan at the time.

I imagine- and it is just a guess- that had you visited Nagasaki in the 1630's with the Jesuit Rubino, after the Fumie, the forced trampling of Christian images, the local people would have confirmed to you that 'yes', they were Christian- like you, and yes it was meant to be a Christian symbol and yes it was hidden in the design of the tsuba. In fact there is no need to time-travel, you can make the journey, ask the question and get the answer today!

Much in the same way one might climb into a taxi in any Middle Eastern city and have the driver surreptiously flash you a cross tattooed on the inside of his wrist. And along with the Xmas tree lights, the decals of the scantiily clad houris, there would probably be a small plastic virgin perched somewhere on the fur-lined dashboard which he would inevitably invite you to kiss.

It's been more than 25 years since I picked up a copy of Flute of Sand. I don't recall now if Lawrence Morgan was Christian or not. And even if he wasn't, the name 'Lawrence' has Christian roots and he was a khewaggah. Nor do I recall him mentioning an incident when one of the tattooed ladies pointed to her cheek or forehead and muttered 'Keristian, missyou'. Lawrence Morgan may have dubbed the girl's face a depiction of Golgotha but that don't make it so. She herself has to think that's what it is.

So does it follow if the crosses don't have Christian significance for the Oulad Nail or the Ait Ichaouen then they are not Christian crosses? Just as the manji in the manhole cover I pictured for you does not make the Chiba Public Works Office a nest of neo-Nazis.

The weavers, it's worth repeating, offered an opinion about the significance of the motifs in a piece they had made or which had been made by a relative: Potez 25's!

Best
Philip

Last edited by Philip Loftus; March 20th, 2013 at 07:21 AM.


March 31st, 213, 11:13 AM  86 
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Posts: 76

I realize that I did not answer to some of Horst's counter-arguments in his post # 42

So, just for the record and before this salon is archived…

"Filiberto, you claimed that those late-Roman-or-Byzantine-mosaics- with-crosses-inside-like motifs in the rug had nothing to do with Christianity, but are technique-generated like an apparently flat-woven rug of which you posted a detail. This argument has several flaws:

The rug is a pile rug without the restriction imposed on edge-smoothness by mosaic-technique. If it turned out like in a mosaic, the weaver had decided that it was to be so, not because it was induced by technique."


No big deal: there is nothing new in rugs with designs copied from more restrictive techniques.

"You confront us with a number of images depicting (details) of flat-weaves. They present a problem. If their attribution is correct, they should be objects of a cultural heritage and have a context and a proper record. If they have not, it would be violating the ‘good practice principle’ of not acquiring, displaying or discussing such items that might have been brought to market illegitimately."

Hear, hear! And this is Horst creating his own rules on Turkotek!!!
Anyway, see another example, from the archeological museum of Lima,
Geometric motif, woolen fabric, Chancay culture (1200-1470 AD), Peru (detail)



All the necessary references here:

http://www.artres.com/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&VBID=2UN365LSZ85C&IT=ZoomImageTemplate01_VForm&IID=2F3C2SMEEFF&PN=16&CT=Search&SF=0

"Besides this, if attributed correctly, they are isolated developments not influenced by events around the Mediterranean before Columbus;"

Exactly. If they are “isolated developments” you admit the possibility that the motif can be invented independently from mosaics. Which can happen everywhere, like on the Atlas Mountains, for example.

"and they had no influence on them."
Elementary, Dr. Watson

"You can sensibly only discuss symbols or motifs if they share a context or are otherwise meaningfully related."
And WHO decides that? The motifs are identical. YOU are the one who says that such motives must derive from mosaics and excludes technique-generated motives.

" ‘Technique-generated’ is an empty phrase and does not exist in art and material culture of mankind. Technique is a means to self-expression and shaping ones habitat. It neither generates nor has it a will of its own. It is a tool."

How wrong you are. See Marla Mallett’s “Woven structure”.

Regards,

Filiberto


April 1st, 2013, 01:18 PM    87
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Horst and Filiberto,

"Technique generated"??? In weaving terminology, the word TECHNIQUE refers to the PROCESS of producing a STRUCTURE. Different processes limit the kind of designing that is reasonable, and even sometimes possible. Each distinctive process encourages certain kinds of designing, at the very least.

Perhaps one of the easiest to understand examples is warp-substitution. Colors are paired in the warps and they must be picked up and used by the weaver in approximately equal amounts in the design or the un-used warps become loose and sagging. Without equal tension among the warps, the weaving becomes a total mess. Thus the "technique" does indeed encourage or generate or require certain kinds of designs and color distribution in this particular structural medium.

The specific kinds of designs that are "generated" or "encouraged" by other weaving techniques require much more lengthy explanations. ( I've spelled them out in my book WOVEN STRUCTURES.) But technical factors are ALWAYS important in design development and evolution. Horst, perhaps you can think of a better term to describe this phenomenon than "technique generated" since you have called this an "empty phrase"....I can't.

It should be obvious that the effects of technique on designing work the same way all around the world, with weavers everywhere--isolated or not.

Marla

Last edited by Marla Mallett; April 1st, 2013 at 04:53 PM.


 April 1st, 2013, 09:56 PM    88
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 5
Marla,

An quick distraction:

Did you see the -grain- in the grain bag, in the Symmetrical Baluch w/Tekke Border Motif thread? The "never say never" lesson, again...

Regards
Chuck