Re: Shahsavan Mafrash Panel - A younger one this time

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Posted by Wendel Swan on July 02, 1999 at 11:32:09:

In Reply to: Re: Shahsavan Mafrash Panel - A younger one this time posted by Steve Price on July 02, 1999 at 08:12:13:

Dear Steve,

Trying to assess the age of any textile by design evolution or devolution alone is extremely difficult and doing so through the analysis of secondary or tertiary elements or borders is even more difficult.

I don't have the advantage of having either of these panels in hand, but both seem to me to be drawings and execution of the 20th Century. Neither is, in my opinion, "early," meaning somewhere in the 19th Century. That impression is taken from the drawing of the panels as a whole, not focusing on one or two elements, in a comparative process that eludes precision.

Most, but certainly not all, of these mafrash have been attributed to the Shahsavan, but the Shahsavan are not entirely homogenous and they use different structures and different designs in the different regions where they live.

At the risk of over-generalizing, most Shahsavan motifs seem to derive from Anatolian or Turkic patterns. As tradtional elements are reduced to fit the smaller bag formats, changes were bound to occur. In a very broad sense, what seem to be the older materials have greater complexity and use traditional Islamic reciprocating devices.

In the younger weavings, some of the complexity is lost and they become, to use your term, "neater."

I am not certain that the "S" motif goes through the evolution that you describe. The process of design evolution is so lengthy that we will likely never know the real "origin" (if there is such a thing) of them.

If you look through John Wertime's Sumak book, you will see in one place many, many variations on the motifs found in the two panels you present. Trying to sort out all of his plates by date is exasperating. One can only come away with rather general impressions of age and mine is that the designs you show are not very distant in time from one another.

Best regards,


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