Posted by Steve Price on December 31, 1998 at 14:52:09:
In Reply to: TRANSFORMATION OF FLORAL MOTIFS INTO ANIMAL ONE posted by Daniel Deschuyteneer on December 30, 1998 at 17:03:46:
This is about as clear an example of transformation of a motif as we could hope to find anywhere. It's easy to forget how quickly such morphing can occur. In the Afghan war rugs, for instance, plant and animal motifs become war machines in just a few years.
The rapidity of motif morphing ought to caution us about putting a whole lot of significance into the "hidden meanings" in motifs. Who knows what, if anything, the early predecessor of whatever we see in 18th or 19th century rugs looked like, much less what it meant. And as far as meaning goes, there's always the possibility - just a possibility, mind you - that it was simply something that a weaver thought was pretty many years ago. Add to this the fact that many motifs are so stylized that there is ambiguity about what they represent(consider the ubiquitous boteh) and it becomes apparent why "reading" rugs is not a practical approach to their understanding very often.
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