Posted by R. John Howe on December 19, 1998 at 07:59:21:
Dear folks -
PICS 8 and 9 have not attracted much comment and I want to suggest why they are here. But first I want to apologize to Jim Allen, who owns the apparently very old "eagle group" piece in PIC8 (which is by the way featured in an article by Jim in the Current issue, 17 of the Italian rug magazine Ghereh) for the unfortunate placement of his bag face in apparent comparison to PIC9. No comparison was made or intended and if I were doing this salon over, I would separate them.
PIC9 most everyone will be clear is my knockdown example of poor weaving. This Kurdish weaver has seen some Yomud designs and has used them but has been consistently unsuccessful in doing so. I think it not a stretch to say that the drawing of this piece is so consistently poor that it is highly unlikely that this Kurdish weaver was drawing this way for effect. She was doing as well as she could.
Now let's go back to PIC8. This piece is interesting to me as an instance in which the weaver has demonstrated one level of skill in drawing in the major guls and the borders of this piece but then has chosen, I think, to draw the minor gul differently and at a much lower level of quality. The minor guls are almost like minimal pencils sketches made for the purposes of placement but never completed. And although someone like Marla Mallett could speak with more certainty here, it seems to me that there should not have been any particular difficulty weaving more clearly and criply a minor ornament that in the drawing we see lacks any diagonals at all. It was, to put it a little crudely, bloody simple to do better, well within the reach of this weaver's demonstrated weaving skills and yet she did not.
Wendel Swan has rightly cautioned elsewhere in the salon about attributing intent to weavers. It is, after all, an in-the-mind phenomenon. But it seems less risky faced with the evidence PIC9 provides to assert that this weaver deliberately drew these minor guls as they are despite being able to do better.
If this is so, there is one more intriguing question that follows: Jim Allen may be quick with an answer, but I do not think that we know "why" she drew this minor gul in this way. It is a puzzling instance of drawing.
If pressed to say why I put PIC8 and 9 together, I think it might have been in part because PIC9 is an instance of poor drawing that is very likely not intentional, the weaver was doing as well as she could do. PIC9 seems to me to contain poor drawing that the weaver put into this piece deliberately despite being able to do differently and better.
R. John Howe
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