Re: Sources of error

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Salon ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Wendel Swan on June 24, 1999 at 15:23:02:

In Reply to: Re: Sources of error in Carbon-14 dating? posted by James Allen on June 24, 1999 at 05:07:55:

Dear Jim,

At the risk of repeating what I have posted elsewhere in the past on TurkoTek, I must take issue with some of your assertions. You have said:

"There are non-subjective aspects of aesthetics and dimensionality is certainly one of them. As far as I am concerned essentially all Safavid iconography is borrowed. It was borrowed from the already well established book binding industry with its leather tooled book covers and monumental stone works prevalent in the middle east."

It is virtually impossible to find any carpet design in any part of the world that is not borrowed or has not evolved, either from other artistic media or from prior generations of weaving. Clearly, the Safavid period witnessed tremendous creativity in the development and refinement of artistic expression. The same artistry that produced architectural marvels, manuscripts, book covers, ceramics and metalwork was applied to carpet production.

But your following statement is simply outrageous:

"Safavid design celebrated a unique understanding of the universe in a crass representational style."

Safavid design is anything but crass and much of it is not even representational. I would not disagree that Turkmen rugs produced contemporaneously with the Safavid period (just look at Peter Hoffmeister's collection) are great works of art. Gorgeous rugs. But an attack on some of Persia's greatest art does nothing to elevate the status of what you cherish.

You also posted:

"Nomadic aesthetics was similarity influenced in the beginning by Chinese textiles but it is where they went with the inspiration that separates them. Turkoman weaving is mostly a system of designs that manage their internal energies, a true "map" of the universe so to speak.

I assume you are referring to Turkmen when you speak of "nomadic aesthetics." When I look at my own Shahsavan material or at Michael Wendorf's Kurdish rugs or at South Persian nomadic rugs, I see simplicity as the essence of the nomadic weaving tradition (although one can also see adaptations of ornate Turkic or Persianate designs as well).

Turkmen rugs, on the other hand, display complex designs that are part of a continuum that extends to 14th and 15th Century Anatolia, through the Mamluk culture and to the Copts. While any or all of these peoples may themselves have borrowed somewhat from the Han, the oldest surviving Chinese carpets have a coarseness that is inconsistent with the refined textures and representational forms of "Chinese" art. In short, woolen carpets seem to be found in Han hands only when political expediency required it, andTurkmen rugs and designs have far more in common with the Near East and Europe than they do with China.

A substantial question arises as to how much Turkmen weaving is "nomadic" art. Tribal may be accurate, but nomadic is not. Salor and Saryk weavings, for example, are too sophisticated and refined in design, material and construction to be the regular products of people on the move. This resuscitates an old argument, I know, but it is not inconsistent to believe that ancient tribal people could produce beautiful and sophisticated art - but they needn't be nomads.

You further posted:

"The bottom line is that Turkoman weaving probably had developed the aesthetic of 3 dimensionality before it was developed in the west, in Rennaisence painting.""

Mamluk carpets represent, in my view, the earliest achievement of dimension in carpets and remain one of the greatest. Some have up to 13 layers of design, one superimposed above another. While the color palettes are entirely different, one can see striking parallels between Mamluk carpets and some Turkmen guls. In any event, dimensions and layers are quite different from the single-point perspective that was developed in Europe during the Renaissance, but is not found in Turkmen or any other rugs.

I think that you and I and Michael Wendorf have covered much of this ground in the past, but I can't let some of these inaccuracies pass.

Nevertheless, I send my best personal regards.


Follow Ups:

Post a Followup




Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Salon ] [ FAQ ]