Re: some questions

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Posted by James Allen on June 26, 1999 at 23:49:09:

In Reply to: some questions posted by Christoph Huber on June 24, 1999 at 13:18:00:

: The recent 14C testing series of Turkmen carpets is very fascinating. But since I read about it in the latest HALI I'm a little bit puzzled by some conclusions and questions which arouse in my mind... Perhaps you can help me:
: 1) To assume an age of "three to five hundred years" for some Turkmen weavings means that they are only 100 or 200 years later then the carpets known from Timurid miniatures which quite often are seen as their precursors.
: I know that development or degeneration of motifs very likely was not a linear process, but I have to admit that I'm a little bit surprised about fastness of the change which seems to have taken place in a rather short period after Timurid times. The more surprising it is to me, if I consider the astonishing stability which Turkmen ornaments (shall ?) have showed afterwards for about a half millennium.
: Do we have to see the relation between Timurid- and Turkmen carpets as different from the one between precursor and successor?

The stability of Turkoman design, indeed its degeneration over a 250 year span indicates that it was fairly similar in the first half of the millenium. Mongols of the 14th century were recorded as having quartered felt door pieces which contained the images of birds and symbols in felt relief. The Mets ensi was very likely a commissioned piece executed in a place like Merv. The Turkomen were seperate from and present with the Timirud empire. In this matter I think it wise to heed the advice of the Chinese who lived in juxtaposition with the horsemounted nations. Their take on the matter was that the names changed but the horse mounted people did not. This dialog goes to the mythic Cain and Abel story first elaborated in Sumerian myth. The Turkoman design pool seems to have proceeded from Chinese badges of rank from the 6-7 century AD. These roundrels were heraldic and suited the nomads needs. As they enlarged the space between them became patterned and the octagonal gulls were formed out of the negative space. By superimposing a square upon these octagons the first tall and round chuval gulls were formed. These chuval gull carpets, with seven rows by three or two columns ,were most likely the object of the Timirud minitures popularized by Pinner. These probably loosly woven main carpets were probably in tatters at Khiva in the early 18th century the property of the Salor. When the Yomud took them away these old masterpieces became the inspiration for a plethora of design types such as the now famous chuval gulled main at the TM. Dye analysis done at the highest level to determine mordants used and properties of the dyes are cataloged. Actual true color catalogs are available for the closest scrutiny of each dye. It is tests like this and a lifetime of experience of someone like Kajitani at the Met which allows great and expensive decisions to be made. Believe me they do not guess. Jim
: 2) The above mentioned stability has (as pointed out in the HALI article by Hans Sienknecht) the consequence that we have almost no indication of age neither in design nor in the amount of free space in the field. In my eyes there isn't much anymore, is it? I have published an article in Ghereh concerning the use of space as an indicator od Classical design. The poor individuals concerned with the publishing of the article publised two key pictures upside down rendering the my discussion of these articles aimless. My point was that by tuning their looms like a musical instrument and employing ideas about asymmetric design drawing producing the illusion of depth, the Classical Turkomen weavers were able to creat very high dimensionality in their work. This characteristic was used to predict pieces with Classical age and was successful in delineating some positive test results.
: 3) Why were Turkmen carpets (after the Anatolian Kilims) chosen for this undertaking? Wouldn't it have been better [how do you say that in real English???] to gain some more experience before doing so by testing for example Caucasian carpets for which (at least to my understanding) a more refined framework for "conventional" dating exists? I would say they were chosen because a few years earlier I had proven that classical age Turkoman weaving existed. At least I had proven it to some of the most important people in the rug scholarship world, not to the mavens of Turkotek, of course.
: Best regards,
: Christoph

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