#10 and #11, and a request

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Posted by Steve Price on December 14, 1998 at 07:54:32:

In Reply to: pic.# 10 posted by James Allen on December 13, 1998 at 22:04:12:

Dear Jim and other friends,

To my brain, Picture #10 was much more interesting and powerful than #11 from the first look. After reading Jim Allen's commentary on #10 I went back and looked again. The images of faces were immediately apparent once he pointed them out, and they are shocking, indeed. Whether the weavers intended them to be faces is an open question, but certainly once you read the piece this way it's awfully hard to not keep seeing them.

This brings a couple of things to mind. One is that the occurrence of what might be ambiguous human face forms in oriental rugs would probably make a wonderful topic for a future Salon discussion, and if someone out there would like to organize this, I'd be happy to hear from him (or her).

The second is a topic that I open with some hesitation. The hesitation is that I do not want to offend Jim in any way, and I fear that this might. So, to Jim and to anyone else who cares, this is intended to be constructive, not destructive.

After pointing out how to visualize faces on #10, Jim goes on to assert that the faces are members of a raptor cult and that the lower set of faces are those of baby raptors. This is a pretty big step beyond pointing out what look for all the world like faces. Perhaps Jim has some evidence that his interpretation of the faces is correct, and if he does, I encourage him to share it with us. Simply announcing it as factual is not very satisfying, and is an example of the sort of thing that leads to virtual food fights as people exchange insults about whether failure to see the truth in the assertion is intellectual timidity or if accepting it is fantasy made real.

Jim, this is a request that you clearly identify in your postings of unconventional interpretations of Turkmen iconography what the basis for those interpretations is, or if they are more or less ad hoc. I certainly have no objections to ad hoc speculations, and I doubt that too many others get exercised over them, but they should be identified and separated from extrapolations of historical or anthropological information. This would be a great service to our readers, and, I think, to you as well.

With my very best regards, and my sincerest apologies if this comes across as being hostile.

Steve Price

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