Re: Eagletons' birds;

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on December 30, 1998 at 20:55:28:

In Reply to: Re: Eagletons' birds; posted by James Allen on December 30, 1998 at 18:35:50:

: :
: : : 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

: : Michael

: : 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?
Answer: I do not know, maybe.
: : 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?Answer: A very hard question. I am sorry I have no easy answer. It's just as plausible that she interpreted another image, let's say a flower, and simplied in into something approximating a bird.
: : 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. Answer: it could depend on the weaver's skill and her loom. Many of the designs with complex floral forms were made on more sophisticated and probably higher tension looms that made curvilinear designs easier to accomplish. A tribal woman might reconcile her limitations by simplifying and adapting the motif to something more comfortable and recognizeable to her.
: :
: : 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? Answer: I think history has shown that it can happen in two generations or between 20-40 years. But it depends on the depth of the proscription. More commonly there is a gradual assimulation and adaption.
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. Answer: or just copied or ignored.

: : 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?Answer: possibly, although there seem to be other possible reasons as expressed in these threads.
Or are they a weavers best interpretation of a degenerate design that happens to appear to us as flames? Answer: also possible. What do you conclude? Thanks for the reply. Michael

: : 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

: :"How many generations would have to pass for us to lose any recognition of familiar symbols if their use were proscribed?" This really is an important question and one I've tried to address elsewhere. I've purposed that nomadic societies carried designs in their memories as chants whose decoding resulted in the designs' recapitulation. In this scenario the design is subject to evolutionary forces which also drive languages toward ever greater efficiency and effacacy. This means that designs come to represent more and more information in less and less realistic forms. In a language this manifests as words and phrases having greater meaning while losing structure to syntax. Syntax is unconsciously processed as is the syntax of weaving. The young girls and boys would watch and help older sisters and mothers at weaving and spinning. This vital activity was their main educational responsibility. The women hummed and sung while weaving and the sounds either were consciously or unconsciously related to specific parts of the design. Once learned and fully integrated it could be repeated forwards or backwards, mirror image, and this formed the basis of iconographic transmission with increasing resolution through time in nomadic societies. Let me hasten to add that this is my personal hypothesis and nobodies fact. James Allen

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