Posted by Jim Allen on June 22, 1999 at 21:11:20:
In Reply to: Re: Are better rugs peferentially preserved?/Harry's post posted by Sophia Gates on June 21, 1999 at 21:43:56:
In the raw native Turkoman milliu carpets were the repository of vital information concerning who a people were and how they survived. I think Sophia is using her empathetic and projective powers to feel through the objects ,like looking through the lense of her camera, to come to an understanding with the presence manifest in the weaving. How else can one explain her ability to see the soul of ensi trappings and recognize the banality of the great corpus of weavings called ensi. This is the technique espoused by the founder of sociology, G. Vico. Projective i
magination in the service of an educated mind can find the novel and the hidden no less certainly than the mathematician first sees a connection in the abstract and translates that distinction into hardware we can all use. There is a strong tendancy to deductive reasoning in rug circles but to deny the inductive realms is to flat miss the boat. Jim Allen
: Harry, what an interesting post! I too am a painter, although I make far more messes than masterpieces! I disagree with most of you, however, on a number of points.
: First, what "people" like vs. what I like frequently is NOT the same. The painting I feel is true may strike others as ugly, raw, unfinished; the painting "people" like often strikes me as fussy, overdecorative, mannerist. I throw MANY of the latter in my drawers, or sell them for peanuts, or give them to people for birthday presents (I'm sure they're simply OVERJOYED, oi.)
: This would imply that the paintings of mine which might survive my demise would actually be my third-rate, easily accessible stuff. My sister, the Family Archivist, has piles of it. My good stuff may well wind up in the trash along with my ashes and bones.
: I think we might draw a parallel with good, commercial grade Bidjars & Quashquai's vs. gabbehs or Kurdish or Khamseh tribal pieces. I would submit that that there exist far more of the former than the latter - and yet which types more truly approach what we think of as "tribal" or "ethnographic" art? Even sophisticated collectors, however, might reject a really excellent Kurdish tribal piece due to its loose, single-wefted construction, because they might be able to buy a "respectable Bidjar" for the same price. How many people preferred the lovely Ersari ensi on an earlier Salon to the trashed old Cassin piece that Jim Allen argued in vain represented the "real thing"?
: I submit that people, in any time, any place, have a terrible tendency to prefer the neat, the safe, the familiar - the mediocre - and to preserve THAT. This would especially go for good, high quality commercial work vs. that shamanistic old ensi. Good ensis practically howl at the moon - how pretty is that? No wonder we can't find too many! Some of them have the proportions of a naked steel bridge, their great cross-beams holding back the darkness, braced against the wind, the desperate, starving wolves. I submit that most of those are gone - and yet we can find hundreds of safe, pretty Tekke carpets!
: Incidentally, I think it's presumptuous of us to decide whether or not the weavers were "artists" in the sense that we'd like to think of ourselves as such - how do we know what they felt when they wove? Some rugs are so soulful they practically speak - how could they have been created by a woman/women who weren't involved with their work? I've written before on the group nature of weaving - I find no contradiction here - just think about fresco painting! It took a whole team of guys to put up one of those monsters! Art in MOST cultures is not or was not the lonely thing it is in ours; we are children of the romantics, for better or for worse, and of the industrial age. Think of Egypt, or the Gothic Cathedrals - not just one man, but
: generations of people, felt the thrill and pride of creativity in the construction of their artifacts. Can we assume it is different for shepherd, dyemaster, spinner, weaver?
: As for your point about a mimimalist painting existing in the same room with the "busy" carpet - I rest my case. Once again, the neat, clean, safe painting has triumphed over the howl of life, and hangs proudly (and probably at great cost) in the grand salon. Given "importance" by the critics, i.e., the great arbiters of commercial taste, the piece will no doubt be passed from one wealthy generation to the next, and will thus wind up someday, preserved as an example of "the best of the 20th century", in some great museum.
: Finally, are we putting our own ideas on the rugs? Of course we are! They were woven with language-based symbols, in the case of tribal - especially Turkoman - rugs; they were, in the case of court or "High Style" pieces, expressions of the best "fine art" their cultures could produce; they were, in the case of gabbehs or other Southern Persian pieces, covered with symbols & fetishes and amulets dating back to the days of Ishtar, interspersed with private little prayers for happiness and fertility, or private dark little secrets of grief. AND THEY WEREN'T MADE TO PLEASE US! To communicate, yes - all art
: wants to speak, one heart to another; but to please? To beg to be preserved? How could these horse people, these herders of sheep and camels and goats, possibly have even envisioned a people who could fly in sculptures of steel and fire, who could destroy an entire herd in two minutes, an encampment in three?
: Only the most empathic observer, one with the courage to hear his own cries, listen to his own sad demons, can possibly begin to understand what they were trying to say - and how sad and silly our little "good" "better" "best" games seem in comparison with those voices calling out from the past.
: Sophia Gates
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