Re: yomud Salanchak

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Posted by Wendel Swan on November 23, 1998 at 09:12:18:

In Reply to: yomud Salanchak posted by James Allen on November 22, 1998 at 16:02:26:

Like Steve, I agree wholeheartedly with Jim's statement that: "It is simply a fact that we have a very poor idea of the day to day utilitarian products of the Turkoman loom." It is also sadly true of many of the products of other groups. I hope that posting this salatchak will provoke discussion about the actual use of this and other utilitarian objects among the Turkmen. We can discuss other groups later.

Now, like Steve, I will question the relevance of Jim's statement: "This mat Wendel is showing looks for all the world like any number of Navajo weavings I have seen and in fact the Navajo are from the same genetic stock as the Turkoman."

My understanding is that sheep were introduced to North America only in the late 16th Century by the Spanish. There is no earlier history of weavings in North America, although weaving with camelid fibers goes back well more than 2,000 years in South America.

Turkmen weavings, including this salatchak, are decidedly different in feeling from the earliest Navajo weavings extant. Navajo blankets were very simply banded and never had borders, a feature introduced to Native American weaving in the 19th Century when they were given oriental rug designs and asked to duplicate them by the posts.

Despite the universality of certain designs (squares, circles, checkerboard patterns, 8-pointed stars among them), I have seen no evidence to connect Western and Eastern Hemisphere textiles. Even supposing that there was contact as Heyerdahl and others are believed to have demonstrated, it would seem insufficient to establish the kind of lasting effect that one can readily observe along the Silk Route, where designs transferred and traveled rapidly.

I further question the notion that there is some sort of genetic imprint that permits the Navajo to spontaneously resume weaving the designs of their genetic ancestors or relatives after a weaving lapse of tens of thousands of years. Aside from the annecdote about the Anatolian weavers, what evidence is there of similar such specific imprinting.

Say it ain't so, Jim.


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