Posted by Tom Cole on December 24, 1998 at 21:42:08:
In Reply to: Re: mid 18th cent. yomud border posted by Michael Wendorf on December 24, 1998 at 06:27:15:
: : :
: : : : : Jerry I can see you have tried to be objective and i have no idea why the task seems so hard to you and the others. Perhaps it is because you as a group don't collect Turkomen weaving primarily and have little motivation to see it decoded. I have included one last 18th century border repeat which clearly shows the power of my technique. In this border two elephants heads are interdigitated. The upright elephant head has a curled trunk and it is trumpeting for this curling of the trunk often accompanies this loud signal. The reciprocal elephants head has a straight trunk. The scale and clarity are similar to the 18th century yomud border everybody has been so careful not to mention. These two borders are so obviously white dominant and just exactly what I say they are it should send you to the opthalmologist for an examination if you can't see it. Have fun trying. JIM ALLEN
: : : Jim:
: : : Hallelujah!!! I DO see an elephant head here in the border.
: : : Pardon my ignorance, but, what is an elephant doing in the desert?
: : : Pat Weiler.
: : I have joined this discussion rather late and have only perused it briefly, but I sense people are having a difficult time seeing the reciprocal space/design which Jim describes and even having a hard time believing it even exists. I would think you have all heard the story of when one of these early European travelers, while passing thru Central Asia, showed a black and white photograph to a Turkic steppe dweller. The man could not discern the primary image (black/grey) on the paper, but instead focused on the space between the primary images. He was unable to see what had been the object of the photograph. Does this mean there was nothing in the photo? Of course not. It meant the man was not used to looking at what we are very well accustomed to viewing. Could not the same be true of the white imagery alluded to by Jim. Suggesting he is imagining special meaning and imagery as well as disbelieving the entire premise is a bit radical. Open your eyes and truly SEE, without preconceived notions and prejudices. Then you might see what he is talking about. Certainly there is not problem seeing the boat images, right? I, too will struggle with the leopard image but at times get a glimpse of what is being discussed and then it slips away again.
: Dear Tom:
: The traveller you are refering to is, I believe, O'Donovan. I think this point has been made previously, maybe by Jim. But what does it mean? I do not recall O'Donovan talking about Turkoman images or the associations of images with white space.
: I think that there are really two distinct problems. The first is do you read white first and are there possibly some images in the white that our eyes are not accustomed to seeing. Maybe and probably. Certainly the use of what we see as negative space is well known and not particularly radical.
: The second problem is the images and associations made by Jim. Here Jim posits his interpretations, which he readily acknowledges are predecated on unsupported sweeping assertions, as 100% certain while claiming that anyone one who does not see what he sees and interprets what he sees the way he does is not serious or worse. This serves, at best, to stifle the conversation and, in my experience, is a method of argument most often used by persons who do not want to truly engage in dialog.
: John Howe and others have advanced the possibility that we may all, including Jim, have preconceived notions and biases. Indeed, Jim's own challenges to othersto see and be serious are at least equally valid turned around and pointed back at him.
: I have tried to show that the historical, ethnographical underpinnings of Jim's theories, to the extent Jim can or will articulate them, are based on, in my view, the extration of a few superficial points turned, misunderstood or mischaracterized and then spat out as fact to support his conclusory assertions. I believe these theories rest more on fancy than fact. More on mushrooms than respect for the information, admittedly scant, and work of his peers that is out there.
: Jim calls this quibbling and you implore us to open our eyes and really see. I am all for really seeing these weavings, I do not think Jim really sees them any more than I do and I think the way he offers his interpretations by stepping on or ignoring what is out there is a step backward, not forward.
: Best regards, Michael
>> To Michael & others- Calling this discussion a step backward is
>> denigrating his words as well as YOUR OWN. No discussion of this sort is a
>> step "backward". Regarding the white (reciprocal) space, it is clear to me
>> that in some cases, the secondary element or reciprocal space is intended
>> to be the primary visual focal point, specifically in Turkoman weaving.
>> Take for example the Yomud sub-group three gul torba which Jim has
>> illustrated elsewhere and written of (cannot say right now where it is
>> pictured on the web, but it has been, maybe on Rugnotes, maybe the Haji
>> Baba site, not sure, a similar piece in Mackie/Thompson plate 61). In any
>> case, I am intimately familiar with that piece and I can never forget my
>> impression of it when I first took it out of the package. The secondary
>> space OVERWHELMS the primary guls, appearing to be a vast and powerful use
>> of space and design. Did the weavers intend it that way? I assume she
>> most definitely did. Why? Not sure. Perhaps the most common borders
>> encountered in Turkoman weaving, the 'simple' kochak motif, is most
>> elegantly and successfully rendered when the area between the kochaks
>> begins to dominate (see Mackie/Thompson, plate 49).
>> Now regarding Jim's fanciful interpretation of Turkoman ethnohistory, I
>> would like to see the source of the quote given involving leopards, etc.
>> and was a bit surprised no reference was given, an obvious oversight. But
>> I seriously doubt whether this quote was fabricated. And assuming it was
>> not, then to what are they referring? And why does it sound so far
>> fetched that some of this imagery might be represented in weavings
>> attributable to the same people? I don't claim to understand everything
>> Jim writes, and to truly understand the subject would be the ONLY basis for
>> dismissing it. I do not feel any of us participating here are bona fide
>> experts, armed with enough knowledge to seriously challenge a proposed
>> theory. What people have perceived as Jim's refusal to engage in dialogue
>> is something I cannot comment upon; I have no intimate knowledge of the
>> inner workings of his mind or that of anyone else here. I know that when
>> Jim's article on perspective in Turkoman rugs appeared in HALI 55, it was
>> the object of similar scepticism (derision?), but now it is a theory which
>> has generally been accepted, even extolled as a defining benchmark of fine
>> Turkoman art. All I can say is, who knows how time will treat this
>> particular topic.
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