Re: Real Ensi's are always small and irregular. Really?

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Posted by James allen on December 15, 1998 at 17:45:40:

In Reply to: Real Ensi's are always small and irregular. Really? posted by Steve Price on December 15, 1998 at 15:10:12:

: Dear Jim,

: I am reproducing here some comments from your previous posting about the two Ersari ensis. I note that certain assertions ae presented as being factual. Specifically:
: 1. Ensis that are much larger than #1 are too big to have been used as doors of a yurt, and therefore, were presumably commercial products.
: 2. Ensis that are not highly irregular in design are commercial products; "real" ensis are irregular for reasons having to do with protection from the unknown.

: Here are the excerpts from which those are paraphrased:
: "The ensi in plate one is the actual normal size of a yurt opening... what we have here is a first half 19th century ersari ensi which was almost certainly used as a door... this piece is an important example of a once in situ Ersari artifact... Pic.#2 is of a village weaving done for sale. It is large regular and unendowed with the asymmetic inclusions which mark the charms and ensignia of a shaman. No real ensi will ever be found that is perfectly regular... This well executed but not really ethnographically interesting."

: Here is what I see as the problem. They are not abundant, but there are a fair number of published Saryk and Salor ensis attributed to the early 19th century and before. Whether the date attributions are really accurate or not, they do seem likely to predate Turkmen commercial weaving. Every one of those that I'm aware of is much larger than #1, and at least as free of irregularities as #2. Is it you position that these are not actual tent doors? If this isn't your position, is this inconsistent with your position on the Ersari pieces shown here? If you think the Saryk and Salor pieces were not tent doors, what is the evidence on which this view is based? That is, what information do you have that might convince, say, Jon Thompson that his ca 1800 Saryk ensi was not made by a nomad for the purpose of being used as a tent door?

: Please note that the questions are straightforward, and ask only for the basis of the most unconventional opinions expressed.

: Steve Price

: How many Tekke ensi's have you seen with a heavy accumulation of soot on the back where it should be? I have seen three. Their incredible fineness,color,extreme flexibility, and copius filling of important spaces with charm designs and pattern disruptions and/or interruptions which stopped the passage of an evil spirit. They all have had this feature. My study of tekke ensis has led me to believe that almost all of them were commercial. The differences between a commercial and functional ensi can be quite small. In fact it took an important sedar or khan to own a functional one. Usage gave these high prestigue items patina and suppleness due to blowing in the wind. Now I am not going to take on the saryk salor problem here. My superficial opinion after seeing two of them sell for over 150,000 each is that there are a very few really old ones and some hundred year old copies done by the salor themselves at Merv under Tekke direction, to make money and prestigue items. The fact that my 17th century Tekke chuval has purely Salor ornaments except for the border tells me this situation was once reversed. Yes these same salor did produce some fabulous Tekke chuvals with a little odd iconography in the 3rd and 4th quarters of the 19th century. I did not really say nor mean to imply that all ensis are small only that few ensis were used to any extent as such and that Mr. cassins' ersari looked both old and archetypal to me. The second ensi is of course really beautiful and looks to have really nice color but doesn't interest me as much. Jim Allen

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