Posted by James Allen on December 30, 1998 at 08:22:18:
In Reply to: A Few Structural Questions posted by Marla Mallett on December 29, 1998 at 19:44:46:
: Michael, Daniel and all:
: I wonder if, with your knowledge of Kurdish rugs, you might be able to add a little more structural information to help with our collective effort at sorting out muddled northwest Persian rug groups...both the limited group displayed and related rugs...
: In my studies over the past year and a half, several quirky features popped up spasmodically within the west Persian village and nomad rugs I examined. The most distinctive practice I discovered was that of wefts crossed between sheds (pp. 43-45 in my new book on woven structures). Previously in the literature, no attention had been given to this technical detail, but this noteworthy feature should help--along with other features--to differentiate weaving groups. The occurrence of discontinuous knotting, discontinuous wefts, and weft inlays should also be helpful. These were rarely used by weavers who crossed pairs of wefts. In which NW Persian rugs have you perhaps found any of these details?
: I am sure you are aware that Kurds have used a wide variety of warp-end finishes--especially crosswise bands in which warp ends have been either interlaced obliquely (both in one- and two-pick bands) or wrapped obliquely. I even found an unexpected Iranian variation (right after finishing the book, of course) that combines oblique interlacing and wrapping. While the wrapped varieties may be sure signs of Kurdish production, interlaced bands have been used by others as well. Has anyone found any pattern in the distribution of these within the Kurdish areas? (The wrapped bands are constructed in much the same way as the wrapped triangular bases combined with heavy square braids that are featured so commonly on Iraqi and Anatolian Kurd rugs.) Less frequently occuring, but similar-looking, half-hitch bands (so-called "Philippiine" and "Damascus" edges) may be limited to non-Kurd production in Iran. I can't feel certain about this, though, since one type of half-hitch band does appear in east Anatolian Savak work. The processes used to produce these end finishes are so distinctive, we are foolish to ignore the differences they present--even though at a glance the several types look similar.....I wonder if any of this makes sense without illustrations? Possibly not.
: I wonder, too, if anyone has found heading cords on NW Iranian Kurd pieces?...Or only on non-Kurd rugs? The specialized warping procedure that produces this detail is noteworthy. As for selvages, published descriptions have been so inaccurate and superficial that they do little more than separate the largest Iranian, Anatolian, and Iraqi Kurdish groups.
: It is unfortunate that this kind of discussion must be so circular. Since there is little in print concerning the features I've mentioned, we tend to ignore potentially useful details in our own rugs. When enough data accumulates, however, it will become significant.
: My apologies to folks interested only in design issues, since the boring technical and structural minutiae above is relevant only to questions of provenance. If replies to any of this stuff seem inappropriate for this discussion board, please E-mail me your comments.
: Thanks, Daniel, for your work in putting together this current topic.
: Marla Mallett
: Oriental rug studies could be likened to studying a book nobody you know knows how to read. Code breakers work on mapping statistical occurances with known languages and make guesses about its meaning. But another group studies the bindings and paper and inks and threads and comes up with a logical set of possibilities which defines the geographical area the book was most likely published in. At some point the two teams will believe they have succeeded and if the conclusions of the code breakers is within the boundaries established by the students of the book itself the whole group can feel some satisfaction at having made a good hypothesis. Some of us study the images and look for associations with other rugs and art forms while others,presumably yourself, Marla, study the minutae of technical characteristics and come up with a list of possibilities to help inform and improve the study of the meaning of oriental rug design. Why study what might at base be meaningless. Well it might not be. James Allen
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