Posted by Marvin Amstey on February 12, 1999 at 09:26:59:
We have had an interesting two week discussion. This started out with some questions about why there was very little human representation in ethnographic rugs when one considers that the oldest preserved rug - The Pazaryk - and the great court rugs of the 16th and 17th c. contained moderately well drawn human figures. Another question raised was why the humans appeared as stick figures or poorly drawn primitive images in the few ethnographic rugs that contain them.
We had no answers to the first question, but several plausible responses to the second. One possibility is the fact that the space occupied by the figure is too small to allow better drawing. I think we eliminated the knot density as a limitation considering the fact that Chinese rugs are among the lowest density knotted rugs but have very curvilinear drawing. The second possibility was suggested by Erol Abit who proposed that the Eastern mind-set about depicting humans is not the same as the Western view which puts human figures at the top of any heirarchy of representation. He suggested that the Eastern mind may equate human figures with other live objects, e.g. plants, flowers, trees.
The discussion then headed into another direction of hidden or more imagined images with several examples of rugs posted to illustrate this phenomenon. This was started by Daniel with his image of a rug looking like a human face when viewed in one direction, but a mosque when viewed upside down (or is it right side up). That rug attracted a lot of attention, with several offers to buy it. Other examples followed suggesting that hidden human figures or less prominent figures, such as the faces in Wendel's boteh, may be more common than I thought. This may be a take off point for a future discussion.
I hope all of you had as much enjoyment dealing with this topic and learned as much as I did. Thank you all for participating.
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