Join Date: Jul 2008
OK. I'll make a stab at comparing
these pieces. First of all, I should say that every different kilim genre
requires a slightly different kind of analysis, so that comments regarding
these pieces may not apply to any another group.
definitely rearrange your sequence, James. I would switch your numbers 2
and 3. I would eliminate your number 5, as unrelated. Although it will be
a bit confusing, I'll use your numbers for my commentary.
this group, the most obvious factor to consider is the relationship
between the primary and secondary motifs in each piece, and the ways they
occupied the space. The most carefully considered placements are present
in #1 and your #3 (Horst's kilim). Most of these small hooked medallions
were carefully placed in pairs to fit alongside the indentations of the
large medallions. They were important auxiliary design elements. By the
time the #2 kilim weaver came along, that relationship had been lost and
small secondary hooked medallions were just squeezed in--as many as would
fit, making a busy background. By the time this major theme was adopted by
the #4 weaver, any meaningful relationship between primary and secondary
motifs was completely lost.
When we consider spatial relationships
and proportions, we can see that in the earliest pieces there was a
tendency for the artisan to give each separate motif plenty of room,
because when weaving without a cartoon or model, it's hard to calculate
their placement. When building a kilim design from bottom to top, it is
oftentimes quite difficult to locate the exact proper starting point for
each downward projecting design part. The weaver of #1 was very cautious
and methodical; she was extraordinarily concerned with clarity and with
the dominance of her primary motifs. In order to retain a sense of
stability and continuity in her rather wide-open layout, she injected very
small hexagonal tertiary motifs. By the time of #3, Horst's piece,
everything had become more compact. Closely packed parts are much easier
to handle if the weaver has either experience with the design or a model
on hand to copy. Very small tertiary motifs present again in this kilim,
but they are no longer so necessary for continuity or evenness of tone in
the patterning. The weaver of this bold piece seems to have been far more
concerned with connectivity, and the presentation of ONE large coherent
statement, instead of a series of repetitive parts. There was a quite
different attitude toward the design. The small scattered bits and pieces
seem to have been inserted because such "fillers" were an "expected" part
of this traditional layout, but here they seem like extraneous clutter. By
the time the weaver of #2 came along, the carefully planned relationship
between primary and secondary motifs was lost, size relationships changed,
and the placement of small hooked medallions became arbitrary. Even half
medallions were injected, simply to fill background spaces. The hierarchy
of the various parts in the earlier pieces was substantially altered.
Instead of the spare refinement of the first piece, we now find squat
hooked hexagons with a busy background of fussy and relatively
insignificant secondary features.
Both #1 and #3 kilims have
consistent and well articulated motifs throughout. #1, which I would guess
to be probably a 17th century piece, conveys a sense of restraint and
elegance-- with careful, rather pinched and isolated motifs that are
combined with logic and clarity. I would expect a significant time gap
between this first piece and #3 (Horst'spiece), with its more generous
forms and large, bold statement. It seems quite characteristic of the
synthesis that occurred in many 18th and very early 19th century Konya
area pieces. #2, most likely a mid- to late 19th century piece, displays a
less logical, much more intuitive rendering of the basic idea. The same
parts are present, but they are used in a more careless manner. By the
time we get to #4, which I would suggest is a 20th century piece, all
consistency and any clear logical relationships between the elements are
gone. It's just a collection of separate parts and pieces plopped on a
large white panel, with little thought given to any integration of the
parts. it's a "traditional" piece in name only. The transition has thus
run its course from a strong concept through gradually more mannered,
hackneyed renditions. Though the same motifs are present in these four
kilims, they are four radically different artistic expressions. The first
is regal, the second (#3) is bold and dynamic, the third (#2) is dowdy,
and the most recent is disjointed and bland. The differences are in style
and attitude--not in the way individual motifs are formed.
relationships between positive and negative space are always important in
slit-tapestry design...That's more complicated to discuss with these
pieces than with some other types. This goes beyond the simple
consideration of reciprocal motifs.
Relationships between border
systems and field are normally important in making stylistic comparisons.
Here, since #2 is missing its borders, unfortunately, we have to ignore
Beyond these observations, when speculating on dates
and even proper sequencing, it is immensely helpful to compare these
pieces to the general aesthetic displayed by groups of other kilims from
the same general geographic area. In this case, #5 does not provide a good
Well, one could go on and on, and speak in esoteric
terms of the "spirit" of each piece or the conceptual notion behind each
composition; I've tried to refrain from that this time around. It's
impossible to talk intelligently about color with these photos, as the
on-line versions distort even the two Ragath book plate renditions.
Likewise, without either handling the kilims or at least seeing excellent
close-up photos, it is impossible to consider the critical relationships
between weave balance and patterning that is such an important part of the
aesthetic development in kilims. After all, these are WOVEN STRUCTURES,
not just flat patterning. The scale of each weave element is critical in
fashioning the pattern. The way the whole series of scale relationships
are handled within a piece should be an integral part of one's judgment.
Within each generation of weavers there were artists, there were
competent craftsmen, and there were women who simply produced kilims
because that was expected of them. Considerations of artistry and
excellence of design must be separate from judgments concerning age and
design evolution. We cannot assume that designs always deteriorated...that
quality was always spiraling downward. When copywork is involved, artistic
degeneration can be expected. But whenever a creative individual produced
her own fresh take on an old idea, or took off on her own, there was a
good chance of superior results.
Well, this is a quick evaluation.
With the pieces at hand, and a little more time, one could surely produce
a better summary.