Posted by Sophia Gates on February 02, 1999 at 19:39:34:
In Reply to: Religions or east&west? posted by Erol Abit on February 02, 1999 at 16:47:16:
I agree with Erol. I think that, in contrast to the "humanism" of Western culture, rug weaving cultures seem to have perceived people as only a tiny part of a cosmic whole. As you know, many Turkoman rugs seem to be attempting to create a window onto the infinite. Some Southern Persian rugs portray a whole pantheon of creatures, flowers and stars - only occasionally does one see people (there's an interesting example in "Treasures of the Black Tent.") Some of the interlocking geometry found, for example, in certain Baluch rugs, strikes me as an attempt to understand and portray a cosmic structure, the fundamental dinergy of the world.
The overwhelming, constantly challenging presence of the landscape in which Central Asian tribespeople lived might have provided some inspiration for this view of the world, so different from our own traditions. Flying over the Great Plains and the Rockies in a jet, it's easy to forget how big the world is to a horseman, or to a family struggling over the mountains on foot! However, shamanic/animist religion probably also played a part: far from being a powerful, near-omniscent being, the only "godly" creature, humans were in dire need of assistance from the spirit world, as embodied in animals and trees as well as the elements of earth, sky, fire and water. Look at the difference in the way Western may looks at Mount Everest, for most of history considered sacred, unknowable - until outsiders came, regarding her as nothing more than a challenge to be conquered.
Western man thinks he is the image of god, and I have no doubt that, had Westerners woven rugs they would have woven pictures of people.
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