Re: Shahsavan Mafrash Panel - A younger one this time

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Posted by Steve Price on July 02, 1999 at 08:12:13:

In Reply to: Re: Shahsavan Mafrash Panel posted by Wendel Swan on July 01, 1999 at 15:50:05:

Dear Wendel,

I did not mean to imply that neater = younger. My intent was to try to verbalize the form in which these stripes appear in many cargo bags that nearly everyone would agree are younger than the one posted before.

The image in this post is a detail of a cargo bag that seems much younger, and is more or less typical of the things that most folks attribute to the first half of the 20th century. Two of the stripes in it are analogous to two of the ones in the piece that I think is pretty old.

Let's start with the rhomboids with hooked projections on the mustard color grounds. I think it takes little imagination to see this as related to the "S" shaped motif stripe on the other piece. Conventional wisdom is that the archtype of the motif is a simple "S", ubiquitous in NW Persian (and many other) weavings and thought to represent a dragon. Whether the "S" represented a dragon or something else is irrelevant right his minute. The sequence of evolution of the "S" goes through the "S" with a central element (as in my other mafrash), then to the form seen in the one posted with this message. I think it looks tidier and neater, which is why I described it that way.

Now turn to the white ground stripe that is between two mustard ground stripes. It, too, bears a strong family resemblance to one in the other mafrash, and looks somehow tidier and less archaic to me. I confess that I'm not sure exactly what I mean by the term here, that's just the impression I get from comparing the two.

As a point in passing, the colors in this one look natural, too, but the piece doesn't feel as old as the other one does and I believe the morphology of the motifs in the mustard ground stripes to be a fairly late development.


Steve Price

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