Posted by Marvin Amstey on December 24, 1998 at 19:06:05:
Well folks, I started this one, so I guess I have to summarize it.
At first I had written out a long standard summary of what threads ocurred during this week. After reading all the posts several times, it came down to one thing: Jim Allen has a powerful imagination and a wealth of backround knowledge on mythology and middle ages Central Asian history. He has attempted to put both of these facts together to claim that he can see this ancient mythology and Central Asian history in the weavings of modern (17th-20th c.) Turkomen. While a number of us could see the images of cats, birds, boats and even elephants, none of the participants could make the connection between the images - which are a matter of interpretation by reading ground color first or "connecting the dots" - to the historical aspects. I believe that Jim failed to provide the references and a scientific method to justify his conclusions that these modern weavings represent ancient ethnohistory. Unfortunately, Jim's reasoning is teleologic and not scientific. All of us would like to believe that a weaver's design repertoire includes things from her historical past because it's kind of romantic and makes a nice story. However, in reality there is no evidence for this.
These two camps - Jim and the other participants - could not prevail upon the other. Each leaves this discussion with their same ideas about Turkomen design that they brought to the discussion. Unfortunately, some of the discussion got too heated which was of no help to anyone. What we gained, I believe, was a nice summary of 12-13th c. history started by Michael Wendorf which should remind all of us who love these weavings to go back and learn something about the ancestors of the weavers.
Stay tuned for many more discussions and education on Turkotek. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, Marvin Amstey
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