Freud's rugs

Bonjour à tous

In order to change our mind I propose that Turkotek celebrates at it's own manner the 150° anniversary of the birth of the great father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

Sigmund Freud was a great amateur of antiquities and of beautiful artifacts. His cabinet in Vienna was decorated with numerous objects (African sculptures, paintings, and rugs). those objects was here for his own pleasure and were chosen also for the effect they were able or expected to do on his patients.

The most important visual things that litterally occupied a great part of the visual field in the cabinet were the rugs: one great rug wrapped over the couch, one little rug on the wall just over the patient lying on the couch and a great rug displayed on the floor in front of the couch.

Those three rugs are on the pictures above (great pictures from the site of the S. Freud foundation and from the Vienna Freud museum. Other little pictures from the London Freud museum where the cabinet is on view).

The two other pictures show other rugs in the Freud's environment: one in a summer house, the other in Freud's desk room in Vienna.

Any comments about those rugs are welcome.



Posted by Steve Price on 05-17-2006 02:09 PM:

Bonjour Louis

Nice collection of images, Louis. It's clear from the rug that hangs behind his couch that Freud was not so concerned with the condition of a rug that he couldn't enjoy one that was badly worn.


Steve Price

Posted by Lavergne Philippe on 05-17-2006 08:24 PM:

Merci Louis, Bonsoir everybody,

It is a little difficult to find, on Freud Museum site, the page about rugs , a little poor… You can see a few antiquities on

The famous Kashgai of the famous couch has been reproduced many times, for exemple in the Louis’s message. ( I found also a picture with another carpet: caucasian? Kurdish? Afshar?)

The tekke bird asmalyk has been published in Hali 33 / 12 and it is mentionned in Turkoman studies I page 120. Also in Opie Tribal Rugs 1998, N) 4.38 p56 ( Flammarion, tapis de tribus 1993 p56) with a good picture

A part of it can be seen in this book, with antiques on it, and it seems to me I saw it on a picture of the web visit of the Freud Museum. :
Berggasse 19, Sigmund Freud’s Home and Offices Vienna 1938, New York 1976, pl 15-17
In French La maison de Freud Seuil 1979 (out of print) with the famous pictures by Edmund Egelman

In this book, on Pl 15 – 16 –17 –a piece of asmalyk

Pl 49, an ensi Saryk
Pl 45 an eastern turkestan one
Pl 31 – 32 – 33- 34, a small tekke
Pl23 & 35 a caucasian Gallery with oblique stripes

Here and there, on the floor, generally cushions and iranian rugs I am not able to identify

I’ll send a few pictures in the next days. It is too late!

Au revoir

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 05-18-2006 04:06 AM:

Dear Louis,

Five years ago, on seeing a b&w snapshot of Freud’s couch in Vienna I had the same reaction of curiosity. So I posted a photo of the famous coach

in a Show and Tell thread.
The thread is long gone, of course, but I still have it on my HD. Here are a few snippets of it:
As for the worn rug on the wall one of the participants indicated that it was attributed to the Kirsheir/Konya area and probably could be dated in the first half of XIX century.

From Freud’s penchant for collecting, the discussion turned to the Collector’s Neurosis ( I also noticed that Freud itself defined it as a sublimation of the child’s anal retention) and we tried a bit of self-analysis of our own.

The question was: does collecting contribute to the sanity of those who collect? Or does it incite alienation?

Pat Weiler suggested that, at least, “it keeps us off the streets” while Steve wrote that “The good side is, as nearly as I can tell, we are harmless to others”.

I think the jury is still out on that last point, having in mind a peculiar, poison-dropping character that keeps infesting the web - and, occasionally, even our site.

You know who I mean, right?



Posted by louis_dubreuil on 05-18-2006 06:56 AM:

can rug design be a kind of medic ?

Bonjour à tous

I think we can make a parallel between the original apotropaic expected role of the design in traditional tribal rugs and the modern role of rugs as support of reverie or meditation.
Rugs were originally made for the magic benefit of their owners, protection against the evil eye and against hostile spirits, protection of the birth, magical relation with died ancestors (the birds on rugs as intercessors with the world of the souls...). Some rugs were also used as meditation mats by boudhists (tiger rugs, cloud design...). I think those aims were reached by the primary signification of the motifs (triangles against evil eye, birds motifs, symbolic designs...) used like a language, but I thing also that the way and the manner those signs were arranged on the surface of the rug were also important by the effects, even inconcious, they made on the person who looks at the arranged motifs.
For example we can quote the "endless" disposition of the guls in turkoman rugs : this disposition is not only on the space dimension (a window opened on a field filled with motifs that is oviously greater than the window) but in my opinion in the fourth dimension, i.e. the time. Guls could be in this hypothesis symbolic representation of the infinite genealogy of a tribe. We can also quote here the remarks made about the non symetrical shape of guls that put them in the third dimension compared with the two dimensions field. Good rugs have in their design this power of driving the one who looks at them in an other dimension.

An other example is the ambiguity of a great number of motifs that can be read as vegetal symbols or as animal symbolic representation : the mind is transported and incitated to the reverie by this ambiguity.

We can also suspect the great role of the colour arrangement, independently and also in combination with the design, on the perception of the rugs. Some rugs can have a pacifying effect when other can make you wanting to dance.
Some rugs are perfectly static (the good ones are hypnotic, but the others are simply boring), when others make the eyes perpetually going from a motif to an other.

I think that this is for this reason that Sigmund Freud have chosen those particular rugs for his cabinet : they are quite complex in design and in colour palettte are are particularly propice to the reverie. The eyes and the mind of his patients can literally dive and circulate into the design ; this can be more liberating and less distressing than a white wall. For the rug on the couch we can also add the tactile dimension : rug as a reassuring substitute of the motherly lap.

May be also the magical power is still acting for the benefit of the patient, but I don't know if SG would aggree with this opinion.

Bonne journée à tous


Posted by louis_dubreuil on 05-18-2006 08:48 AM:

parturition rug

After a new look at the quasghai serkalu rug of the Freud's famous couch, I have been stroken by the design and the colours.
This rug dispays a very bloody red/pink dominante that can strongly reminds inner body "vaginal" colours. The design itself, with the three octagones drawn in continuity is not without reminding of the "parturition motif" that has been identifyied as such in berber rugs and can be found also on numerous gabbehs. The succession of large and narrow shapes being made in order to symbolize the uterus contractions strongly felt by our mothers during the parturition.

The deep blue field is exhausted by the neighbourhood of the red/pink colours. Human eye and brain are such made that when near those two colours seems to be on diferent levels. This effect is reinforced in this rug by the deeper colour of the edges of the blue octagones that seems to be blue night basins or pieces of evening sky with floating devices among witch we can uncouter some birds, well known soul vessels....

We can think that, even if SG had no clear informations about those now more well established significations of the rug designs, he has unconscioulsy chosen this particular rug for its relation with the process of parturition of the psyche witch is at the basis of his work.

The very clearly drawn borders system of this rug can also been interpretated in the Freud point of view as the different enclosures that limit the unconscious of the man (moi, surmoi etc...).

The psychoanalysis theory has told us there is no gratuitous act.

Good reverie


Posted by Steve Price on 05-18-2006 10:43 AM:

Bonjour Louis

Your reading of the rugs is certainly Freudian.


Steve Price

Posted by louis_dubreuil on 05-18-2006 12:56 PM:


Yes indeed.

A so called "freudian" reading seems perfectly adapted to the subject.
It is an other story if we search links that can exist between the unconscious of the weavers and the design they make.
To do this job it is necessary to know the local mythology, the local uses and traditions, to question the weavers and to can make links with history of the peoples : i.e. this is an anthroplogist's job.
This type of searching has been tempted in Maghreb where the field work can till nowdays encounter old weavers and question them. My reference book is always the same "AZETTa, l'art des femmes berbères par Paul Vandenbroeck".

This work is complicated by the fact that the weavers don't want to communicate with male searchers (I suppose I have read that on the Sauniers' book about the Abou Ichaouen tribe in Morocco or in the book about the Henne dyed shawls of Morocco).

Such work has also been made in some anatolian locations with Yunku tribes, by american female searchers.

It is always possible to make this type of searching in countries where the traditions are still living. But it is more and more difficult because societies are changing at a high speed.

Traditional societies have invented for caring people that were affected by mental diseases or troubles, diverse ways including magical practices and intercession of chamans. We can find in some rugs some traces that we suspect having some links with chamanism : ensis are one ex of that. We dont know if ensis or rugswere used in chaman's practices.

I like to think that the use Sigmund has made of rugs in his practice could have a little distant link with those old chamans, in their full of rugs yurts, dancing around the patient with their magical drum and singing strange melopoeias.
To be cared by chamans you had to believe in them. This is exactly the same with psychoanalysis.

Freudian salutations

Posted by Steve Price on 05-18-2006 01:00 PM:

Bonjour, Louis

I didn't intend my remark to be a criticism, just an observation. Freudian interpretation of Freud's choice and use of rugs seems reasonable to me.


Steve Price

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-18-2006 01:10 PM:

Poor country cousin - no super-ego?

Bonjour all,

First, my thanks to Louis for providing those pictures of Freud's rugs, especially the famous "Shekarlu". I have been searching for a decent shot of it and had only managed to find a myriad of "mouse pad" versions of it.

The reason for my interest is that we recently were drawn to and purchased a Shekarlu with three "latch-hook" or "bird head" medallions. However, I think I can say that is where the similarity ends! Freud's rug is all about control and symmetry, demonstrating the skill of an experienced weaver, with a strong super-ego ("the advocate of a striving towards perfection"). Seldom have I seen a "tribal" rug with such control and symmetry, especially in the Shekarlu family! Ours is chaotic, haphazard, and altogether conveys the image of a struggling weaver without the overarching "super-ego" control. I wonder what it says about us that we were so drawn to this obviously messed up rug.


Posted by louis_dubreuil on 05-18-2006 02:46 PM:

two kinds of design quality

Bonsoir James

The comparison between the two rugs is interesting and can really illustrate what I tried to say about different qualities in rug design.

The Freud's Sherkalu is very well drawn with perfect symmetry, good corner's solutions, nice and well balanced colours... A first class sherkalu. The birds seem to rest majestically on the surface of a deep blue pond. The design is well balanced and serene: this rug incites to meditation and reverie.

Your's sherkalu, with a very near design is more "exciting" and makes the eye to run endlessly around the motifs with some pauses here and there. The birds seem really to run! The design is dynamic and tonic. This is, in my opinion, the other side of the quality that can be featured by a rug.

A great rug also, congratulations.

Amicales salutations


Posted by James Blanchard on 05-18-2006 03:36 PM:

Bonsoir Louis.

Thanks for your assessment of our Shekarlu. I agree that the difference between the two rugs is interesting in some ways.

Clearly there is a difference in the experience and skill of the two weavers, but when I consider the fact that the rugs were made one knot at a time it seems like the two weavers also had a different end product in mind. The weaver of Freud's rug was obviously striving for something of balance and depth. So when I look at the Freud rug, it is the overall effect that enthralls. The weaver of our rug seemed more interested in putting in all sorts of figures and designs that were of interest or significance for her, within the very general framework of the overall design.

One other thing we like about this rug is that it represents a somewhat curious menagerie of fauna, including those "rocket birds". Does anybody else think that those might be turtles at the top of the rug??


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-18-2006 04:31 PM:


It is possible that the reasons you find for your rug not meeting the typical Shekarlu type is that it may not be Shekarlu after all. There are a lot of Luri features to your rug. The warp is more dark than the typical all white of the Qashqai. The variety in the size of the medallions, the non-uniformity on the outer minor border, the "stuporous" drawing of the main border, the mish-mash of motifs rather than the few of the Freud rug all point to typical Luri features.
The design in the medallions is transformed in the upper medallion into a motif commonly found in Veramin Luri and Kurdish production. Thr rosettes in the field strike me as "Lurish" and the treatment of the inner edge of the medallions with the little diamonds instead of the birds heads that are inside the medallions of the Freud rug also appear more Luri in design. The minor inner and outer borders with the "dice" motif are common in Luri pieces.
Maybe you have a "ShekarLUR"?
Whatever it is, it is delightful.
The "turtles" appear to be floral in nature and somewhat resemble the pomegranate fecundity motif.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Lavergne Philippe on 05-18-2006 07:09 PM:

Rugs everywhere

Good night to all,

I made a few pictures from the books I told yesterday :

From the photos ( black & white) by Edmund Egelman, taken in 1938, in Vienna, Berggasse 19. Freud left Vienna in may 1938, with his close family. He left behind him, for exemple,his sisters, all killed later by the nazis. It has been possible for him to left with the help,relationships and money of his friend , the Princess Marie Bonaparte. She has been a patient, a pupil, and a powerful support.

you can see:

Pl 49 an ensi Saryk, in the dining room,
Pl 45, an east turkestan, in the familial living room,
Pl 41 The carpet of Anna Freud ‘s office,

In the medical cabinet
Pl 23 a caucasian one,
Pl 29 the carpet under the arm chair of the desk,
Pl 13 det a small beloutch, it seems,
Pl 33 a small tekke
Pl 13 the shekarlu,
Pl 11 a kind of general view with the bird asmalyk,
Pl 17, the bird asmalyk

I joined better modern pictures ( about colours ) of the shekarlu, taken in London, with an unknown cushion ,

And two pictures of the asmalyk ( 79 x 132 cm, or 2-7 x 4-4 ft-in) From J.Opie

If anybody can identify the carpets without name, and the “ Fr Canape 2nd” ?

Thank you and au revoir à tous.


Posted by James Blanchard on 05-18-2006 09:58 PM:

Hi Patrick,

You know, I had thought a bit about a Luri attribution, partly because the rug seems so focused on those "bird head" medallions, because the weaver seemed not to have a very clear understanding of the "Shekarlu" border, and because it has this sort of "striated" abrash that I remember you pointing out as being a Luri feature Patrick's Luri Salon .

Here is an example of this abrash from Patrick's salon.

And here it is on our rug.

By the way, I think that for this weaver, there was no doubt about the fact that those "hooks" on the medallions, etc. are bird heads. Notice the care she has taken to give many of them eyes.


Posted by Steve Price on 05-19-2006 09:34 AM:

Hi People

Phil Lavergne sent me another lot of pictures of Freud's office and the objects in it. Here they are:

Merci, Phil.


Steve Price

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-19-2006 10:12 AM:

Hi Phil,

Thanks for sending those wonderful images. Freud's office looks "wooly", with rugs here and there and everywhere. I guess that is not an uncommon scenario for some of us rug aficionados.

Beyond the design rationale put forward by Louis, I would offer a structural reason that Freud chose a Shekarlu for his couch... undepressed warps, floppy handle and lustrous wool. A usual Qashqai might have been a bit too stiff for a couch, with those depressed warps.

I couldn't help but notice that his Shekarlu is full of another motif that is featured on another Qashqai of ours. I am not sure what it is... it looks like a floral motif to me, and seems to be firmly part of the Qashqai design repertoire. I don't think I have seen it on other Shekarlus.



Posted by Lavergne Philippe on 05-19-2006 07:32 PM:


I send for you to Steven a new picture of the right part of the shekarlu, to see, in a better way, your motive.

And, I find yesterday, on Turkotek the Asmalyk:

Bien amicalement,


Here is the picture Phil sent to me. Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-23-2006 05:29 PM:

Shekarlu Bush?


I have a small Khamseh rug with the same shrub design you have noted on the Freud Shekarlu:

It is 32" wide and 48" tall, but there are no kilim ends that one might expect, so the original rug could have been an inch or so longer. It has 10x10 knots per square inch, asymmetric, open left. There are eight colors, including a deep blue-green and a light yellow that has faded just a bit on the front, probably causing the blue green to lose a bit of the yellow. I am unable to make out the yellow and greens in these photos, so the pictures make the rug seem monochromatic.
The wool is very soft.

It also contains the same "endless knot" design in the middle of the medallion that the Freud rug has in its medallions. In the close-up above, you may be able to see that these shrub-like designs are arranged in a concentric diamond grid surrounding the central bird-head medallion. You can also see a couple of quadrupeds to the right and left of the central medallion, just below the boteh's. There are also some birds scattered about, but the rug design is completely bi-laterally symmetric, so where there is one bird on the left, there is another bird facing the opposite direction on the right. Even the smallest filler ornaments are symmetrically placed. The outer floral meander border, however, is not resolved in the corners. Otherwise, you could fold it down the middle and the deigns would match, except for the "endless knot" which is bi-laterally symmetric except for the colors. The birds and animals add a bit of whimsy, but the whimsy is restrained. This rigid symmetry makes one think that this rug was made for sale, possibly in a village setting. Many Qashqai rugs were made for sale, and maybe this Khamseh weaver wanted a bit of the action, too.

The concentric arrangement of these shrubs continues beyond the blue field into the surrounding "spandrels", as though into infinity. And each of the diamonds contains a coloration of the shrub that is different. There are nine differently colored shrubs. You can see eight of them in the photo above.
So, which came first, the Khamseh shrub or the Shekarlu? And is it a shrub? Or is it a flying saucer landing on top of a spread-winged eagle?

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-23-2006 09:44 PM:

Hi Patrick,

That's a pretty little rug. What indicators have you used to assign it to the Khamseh, rather than the Qashqai or Luri? My understanding is that Qashqai generally have ivory warps with some depression.

Here is the full picture of my "shrub" Qashqai. Interestingly, it looks quite similar to your Khamseh in overall design layout, but in the central field "stars and stripes" have replaced the shrubs. Also, the central medallion contains a floral design rather than the endless knot. It has no animals or birds.

So I suppose there was a lot of sharing of designs and ideas between the Qashqai, Khamseh and Luri.



Posted by Horst Nitz on 05-24-2006 04:52 AM:

Hi Folks

The drive behind collecting something can lead to identification with the object at which the drive is primarily directed, i.e. as some are demonstrating here, rug collectors may be getting somewhat Freud around the edges, as times go bye.

This process, besides life’s wear and tear it implies, can also spout some mature creativity in exceptional personalities as is demonstrated in this thread, climaxing in the baptism of a carpet as ‘vaginal read’. I can neither object to this nor verify it, as the vessel to which the dye so described owes its name, is not where I normally have my eyes. But even if I don’t know what exactly it looks like there, Louis, and if you don’t think it is an illegitimate metaphorization, I could be persuaded to admit, it’s a red that feels like it. This shows that sublimation is no once-and-for-all process; rather; the relation between sublime creativity and the animalistic drive to be tamed this way stays alive, as long as a still youthful heart behind it sets the beat.

Thanks to you, Louis, I now know what it is that I like so much about the red in the Heriz carpet in my consulting room, it must be speaking directly to my willy, unconsciously, I assume.



Posted by Gene Williams on 05-24-2006 12:46 PM:


Hi all,

looking at the posts containing the shrubs (or flying saucers) found on sherkalu, qashqai, asmalyk, and Kamseh rugs rang a bell. They look very like a similar baluch motif...we discussed this motif last month...steve didn't like the bag much as I recall. I'll ask steve or filiberto to post here a couple of examples.

I believe that the motif may be an opium poppy.... I came to that conclusion after walking back through several verisions and finally figuring out (from the prayer carpet which will be posted) which end was "up."

ciao Gene

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-25-2006 11:42 PM:

Khamseh indicators


You asked why I consider my rug Khamseh rather than Qashqai. According to James Opie and other sources, Khamseh rugs can be distinguished from their neighboring Qashqai by their dark warps versus white warps more common in the Qashqai weavings. This little rug has Z2S warps, mostly with one white and one brown ply. The wefts are dark brown. Many Qashqai wefts are red. The light blue dye is an indicator of an earlier Khamseh weaving. Khamseh rugs generally have narrow borders. Mine has a single very narrow floral meander often found in Khamseh rugs. The knot count, 100 per square inch, is rather fine, but less so than many Qashqai rugs. The warp is flat, with no warp depression commonly found in Qashqai rugs. The handle is floppy and loose, unlike the more robust Qashqai handle. As Opie indicates, the strict regularity of the design argues for a village rather than nomadic origin.
On the other hand, if you would pay me more money for it if it were Qashqai, I could probably be persuaded that it is Qashqai!

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-26-2006 09:39 AM:

Hi Patrick,

Those are the structural clues that I also usually use to assign a Khamseh label. For your rug, I would also mention that the palette looks much more Khamseh than Qashqai to me, especially that reddish brown.

Unfortunately, I am too naive about the relative value of rugs from different weaving groups to pay more or less for a Qashqai or Khamseh.



Posted by James Blanchard on 05-28-2006 12:34 PM:

Hi all,

Gene mentioned the similarity between the "shrub" motif found on the Qashqai and Khamseh rugs in this thread and one on a Baluch rug. I don't recall the specific example that he cites, but here is an example that is identified as a Khorasan Baluch khorjin face by Thomas Cole in his article "Baluch Aesthetics" (Baluch Aesthetics by Tom Cole)


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-28-2006 02:06 PM:

Far Flung Flower


The Tom Cole article shows the very next rug, also from Khorasan, with the identical design. So, we know that this quite specific design has been woven both in the far north east of Iran and also in the far south west of Iran. And there is a very big desert between them. Mashad, the second largest city in Iran and the capitol of Khorasan, has some famous shrines, including that of Imam Reza, and is a place of pilgrimage. According to this web site, 20 million visitors come to Mashad each year.
Since Imam Reza died over a thousand years ago, it is quite likely that many travellers came from Shiraz to Mashad. The problem is to determine if the design travelled from the east or from the west. Tom Cole notes the similarity of this shrub to Mughal designs from India to the east, making the design more likely to have travelled west, from India into Khorasan and then to the far south west of Iran. However, the famous Mille Fleurs prayer rug design from the Qashqai tribes is also said to have been a Mughal India import and that the Mughal rulers brought designers, artists and weavers from Iran into India.
So it may well be that this shrub design, too, made a shortcut from India to Shiraz.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-28-2006 03:01 PM:

Hi Patrick,

The connection to India is interesting, but having lived in India for a number of years my observation is that the repertoire of designs in India is so wide that you can find an analogy for almost any rug design if you are so inclined.

For example, here is some inlay work at Delhi's Red Fort. I can see a resemblence between the aformentioned "shrubs" on the Qashqai and Khorasan rugs and the floral design above the carved lattice window, but who can tell whether these share a common lineage?


Posted by Gene Williams on 05-29-2006 08:02 AM:

Baluch flowers

Hi all,

Here are two examples of a fairly common Baluch motif which may be stylized versions of the flower mentioned above spread throughout the reagion (photos put in postable format by Steve Price, tnx). These are the only examples I have with me at the moment and are pretty poor...a worn out old Baluch prayer carpet given to me in 1976 in Karachi and a balisht (stuffed with cotton and being used as a pillow in the house), probably fairly modern, bought in 1977 in Karachi. but I have several more examples of the motif including a saddlebag at home which are progressively more detailed...and there was a thread on this motif not 4 weeks ago on turkotek.

There are lots of flower motifs in carpets...why might it be an opium poppy??? This flower is common throughout the area from Turkey to Afghanistan and is beautiful and....and...


Posted by Jack Williams on 05-29-2006 03:15 PM:

Kurdish and Afshar poppies

To heck with stylized poppies. Here is what looks like the real thing in the border of the Kurdish bag face I bought from (dealer's name deleted).

To me, this at least shows that poppies are used in rugs... whether poppies are what is represented by that ubiquitous flower design appearing in so many rugs is another story...but it seems quite plausable. Here two other pictures from an Afshar I own. Maybe we should make the "poppie - flower" question a line of its own?

Regards, Jack Williams

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-30-2006 12:36 PM:

Hi Jack and all --

Well, this has turned into a somewhat different thread. We have moved from the subconscious effect of rugs to opium poppies.

I don't have the knowledge or material to start a new thread on rug poppies as Jack has suggested, but I can share a few floral styles from a Baluch rug. Brian MacDonald ("Tribal Rugs: Treasures of the Black Tent") identifies the flowers in the central field as "gol shaftalu" or "nectarine (peach?) blossom". He identifies the border as the "hashie anguri" or "grape vine" pattern. I have little knowledge of botany but I can't recall seeing grape vines with flowers with such impressive petals as these in the main border. It looks more "poppy-like" to me. Moreover, I suppose one could see those pod-like designs in the middle of the main border in the second picture as opium flower pods. On the other hand, they could be bug-eyed aliens, if one's imagination is so inclined. In the end, I think that there are two potential sources of uncertainty in definitely identifying the meaning of a design. First, we are not always sure how the design evolved so there is a question of the original intent. Second, it is perhaps even more difficult to know what a particular weaver, or family or tribe meant to portray. So we are left with some charming ambiguity which is probably healthy.

(The drawing of the opium poppy is taken from Wikipedia: "opium poppy".)