Errors in judgment or intentional changes? The "internal mihrab"

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Posted by Steve Price on December 13, 1998 at 14:34:31:

Dear Friends,

John's "Oops!" thesis reminded me of a very interesting presentation at ICOC in Hamburg. I've lost the program and don't remember who the author was; perhaps some reader can fill that in for us.

The subject was the fairly common change in border and field width that's seen in rustic and tribal rugs. It's as though the weaver got started, decided the proportions didn't suit her, and changed the width of the borders and the field. I had always seen this as a correction of an error in judgment.

The presentation put forth the thesis that this was not a correction at all, but an intentional feature of the design, and he referred to it as an "internal mihrab". I was, and still am skeptical of this interpretation.

But how to test the two possibilities? One way would be to find pairs of rugs made consecutively in the same design and see if both had this feature. If they did, then it would obviously be intentional since the weaver would have seen from the first one what had to be done to make it right. The next question, then, is, how do we find consecutively woven pairs of rugs?

Actually, this is exactly what intact pairs of khorjin are. And, in the case of pile khorjin, it is easy to tell which face was woven first. So, I ask our readers to help out. If you have an intact khorjin pair and one has an abrupt change in border width, does this occur on only one or n both? If on only one, is it on the one woven first? I think a few examples would allow us to answer the question of whether this characteristic is intentional or correction of an error.


Steve Price

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