Re: Eagletons' birds;

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Posted by Pat Weiler on December 29, 1998 at 22:31:17:

In Reply to: Re: Eagletons' birds; posted by Michael Wendorf on December 29, 1998 at 11:20:24:

: I thought we had agreed to disagree at the end of the last salon. I am hesitant to engage you further on these musings. I don't see the connection between Parker, who I understood to have written on the history of the "Tatars", and your so-called studies of ethnohistory aimed at recalling the native experience. As for abstract renderings of animals, it seems to me that when the Turkomans wanted to depict a bird or a camel or a goat they knew how to do it. Witness the great Tekke bird asmalyks, the Salor ensis and numerous other widely known examples of torbas, asmalyks and other weavings with very straightforward depictions of animals.
: I don't think Eagleton's "birds" as you call them prove anything about the weavers' or their sympathies. If you would like to continue this discussion, perhaps we should do it directly since it is clear to me we are not helping the focus of this salon to progress. Michael Wendorf


You have hit upon a problem I have wrestled with since Jim Opie's assertion that "latchhooks" are really bird heads.
Some which have "eyes" appear to be bird heads. Most don't have "eyes".
Did some weavers put "eyes" in because the design they were copying looked like bird heads to them?

Did the design actually descend from an accurate rendition of a bird which degenerated over time to a point that a weaver was not able to interpret the design as a bird head and from then on the design was just a geometric rendition of a cultural emblem?
If the weaver "knew" she was weaving a bird head, then why wouldn't she just weave one? Many tribal Persian weavers obviously used plenty of actual animals in their weavings.

Did a religious prohibition of live creatures in art force an abstraction of animals into unrecognizable designs?
How many generations would have to pass for us to lose any recognition of familiar symbols if their use were proscribed? The abstracted designs would have been reinterpreted by a later generation just as we now label such things as "running dogs" and "latch hooks" and "meandering vines" that may really be elephants, chickens and sand dunes.

Similarly, with these Kurdish weavings (and I don't think there is a lot of resistance to the Salon designation of their Kurdish origin) could the design elements have eroded from their possible origins as palmettes into "flames" because a weaver thought they were flames and wove them as such? Or are they a weavers best interpretation of a degenerate design that happens to appear to us as flames?

I agree with Murray Eiland who posited that if there were a fifth major rug group in addition to Anatolian, Caucasian, Persian and Turkoman, it would have to be Kurdish, and they are probably the most under-recognized group of weavings of the near east. (Oriental Rugs a comprehensive guide, first edition, p42)

Pat Weiler

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