Oops rugs

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on December 16, 1998 at 11:46:41:

Dear John: I will attempt to offer my responses to your queries first and then join the fray as you requested.
Pic #1: I am trying to find elements in this ensi that I like, such as the drawing of the animal or bird heads and the powerful central image of the mihrab. The use of the negative space below it in the first skirt element is good. However, my overall impression is that the piece is a mess. First, it looks like it is cut and shut. Second, the effect the weaver or weavers tried to create, which is partly discernable, is marred by the generally clumsy and confused drawing, especially seen in the side borders. I have not handled the piece so I cannot comment on its tactile or color quality - both of which may serve to elevate it to some people. The question is, does the drawing appeal to me? The short answer is no.
Pic #2 : The quality of the drawing here is much more accomplished, perhaps too much. I find little personality in the rug, none of the charm or individual expression I like to see in the best pieces. To my taste, the weaver here rendered another ensi almost from a mold. I would like to see an example by a weaver this skilled in which the mold was shattered and from its pieces a new interpretation created. Again, I have not handled this rug and am not familair with its color or handle beyond your image. I am responding to the drawing.
The drawing in the border of Pic 3 seems somewhat random and clumsy, but on closer inspection seems fairly well planned out in design - simply not executed very well. This does not deter my appreciation for the piece substantially which I know from having handled the piece has other qualities such as glossy wool, saturated colors and a pattern more familiar in the three over one under weft float brocade technique and some forms of extra weft wrapping. I do not think this is a weaving that rises to the level of an accomplished weaver breaking a traditional mold or design to create something new. Rather, this weaving to my taste is more in the interesting catagory.
Pic# 4: One of the great tribal weavings which balances the line between accomplished but rote or by the book drawing and going beyond it to create an expression of the weaver's own vision. The funky drawing of the pinwheeling rosettes in the four corners and the bold medallion all with excellent color and wool puts this one in the great catagory to my taste.
Pics #5, 6, & 7: I find the Yomud chuval difficult to look at and coment on. This is a type I normally see in a flatweave. Beyond that, I see nothing inspired in the drawing of either the minor or major guls. Perhaps it has great color.
As for #7: I believe the drawing of the diagonals on the three medallions is the result of weaver inability, although I would like to think it because of intent. This is because I like the rug, find it charming. I believe we often try to associate something more with a rug we like. I, as some of my comments above expose, think some Oops rugs are really the shattering of a mold to experiment with a design, try something new. Some of these are hugely successful. Other times we see a charming weaving by a less accomplished weaver or a weaver who does not know or is uncomfortable with a design. The results can here too be wonderful sometimes. I think this rug works and comes out of an old kurd tradition of copying and internalizing the designs of others. For example, there is a large group of kurd rugs coming out of the Holbein tradition with three compartments as here. This weaver, probably using nice wool and good colors, works out of that tradition to create this fun rug. That does not mean it is archaic or a prototype (god forbid), perhaps it does mean it is naive or folky. If this rug were less folky, but had good drawing, good color and good wool - I'd probably still like it on a different level and the line between masterpiece and charming and folky is admittedly subjective.
Pic #8: Drawing of the minor gul does not function much in my evaluation of this piece. I like the negative space created in the interior.
Pic # 9: The drawing here seems to by a hand struggling with the design and unsure how it works
Pics 10 & 11: I do not understand the question. The drawing in 10 seems superior overall. Excellent examples of this type are in the Crosby collection in the UK and in the Marichal collection in the US. Sorry I cannot add more to your topic here.
Thank you for the topic. I look forward to reviewing the other responses. Michael

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