Re: More Caucasian Human Figures

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Posted by Marvin Amstey on February 02, 1999 at 07:17:11:

In Reply to: Re: More Caucasian Human Figures posted by Pat Weiler on February 01, 1999 at 20:31:25:

: : :
: : : I think human figures are more common in Caucasian rugs than you imply. As a sterling example, note the Rudnick rug, no. 25 in 'Through the Collector's Eye.' I have a Shirvan with two three-legged human figures. One should also mention the Caucasian rugs with pictures of the Tsar, which were featured in a recent HALI.
: : : I am no authority on Islamic docrine, but I am under the impression that the prohibition against human figures is not as absolute as most people believe, certainly not among the Shiites. It would be nice to hear an authoritative exposition on the subject.

: : : Regards, Yon

: : Dear Yon, et al:

: : A local dealer here in Kansas City, Ara Zakaryan, who is Armenian and was born and lived in Tehran for years, believes that indeed it is a sin to depict human figures in the rugs and feels that for the Caucasian rugs where human figures are depicted were woven by Christian Armenians. He has a Shirvan lattice prayer rug with a female in one spandrel and a male, shown anatomically correct, in the other spandrel. He says that this rug was woven by Armenians--there are turtle animals which the latter liked to include. He also feels that this prayer rug is sacriligious because of the human figures and the male appendage, especially in a prayer rug.

: : On another of his Caucasian rugs, exhibited as plate 46 in "Weavers, Merchants And Kings" by Manuelian and Eiland (1984), two men are shown at the bottom of the double cruciform medallian, with their backs to us, bending over. This too is an Armenian woven rug since it is inscribed in Armenian. It is dated 1903.

: : Regards,
: : Irwin

: A Lur long rug I own, early 20th century, has eight humans with the "Baktiary" style felt cap without ear flaps (Jim Opie mentioned this style of cap in an article in ORR, vol lll, no 2 May 1983). Four of the men are leading camels, two appear to be jump-roping and the other two, my favorites, are smoking water pipes. It is like a snapshot of village life. I have not seen any other Lur rugs of this style/size (9.5' x 5') with people in them. Mostly they are lattice designs, or three-medallion and floral-field designs. This rug also has a single ivory medallion with birds in it and a plethora of birds and animals in the field. The weaver was certainly unabashed about the representation of the human figure.

: Pat Weiler

Dear Pat,
Your comment about a 20th century rug with lots of human figures is echoed by the fact that a lot of 20th c. rugs have human figures, and, I believe, were made for the market place. There are many examples among Baluchi and Afghan tribal rugs with human figures. The "war" rugs are another example. My questions apply to the 18th and 19th c ethnographic rugs. However, I suppose one could argue that the Luri rug which you describe is "ethnographic" in that it depicts village life. My point is that such rugs never - or rarely - existed prior to post WW1.
Regards, Marvin

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