Posted by Wendel Swan on July 27, 1999 at 21:36:07:
In Reply to: "...a sign of a tradition without much history..." posted by R. John Howe on July 27, 1999 at 18:29:02:
It was a good idea to open up this thread, John. Let me offer one set of ideas interpreting or exploring Marla's statement.
As true nomadic pastoralists, the Shahsavan would have had little need for pile carpets. Pile may be more resistant to abrasion, but it is not as "strong" as some flatweaves, such as extra weft knotted sumak and pile is unnecessarily heavier during the semi-annual migrations. Accordingly, the Shahsavan are best known for their superb flatweaves, especially sumak.
I happen to believe that the Shahsavan wove at least some pile, primarily because pile has always been the standard of luxury and the wealthier of the Shahsavan would have demanded it. I also believe that: 1) Any pile weavings of the Shahsavan are a small fraction of their other textile production; 2) Shahsavan pile weaving can be difficult to identify; and 3) Shahsavan pile weaving is, indeed, "a tradition without much history."
While I have noticed "weft ease" on some other pile rugs that I believe to be Shahsavan, I never thought of it in the context that Marla has suggested. Oddly enough, this structural anomaly may suggest a Shahsavan attribution.
We need to consider what the term "without much history" means.
Does it mean a group of weavers who are not regularly engaged in the weaving of pile carpets, but instead produce mainly flatweaves, even though the production of both types may extend for a long period of time? What about when those weavers seek to reproduce motifs that they more frequently produce in other techniques?
Does it mean a history of less than 150 years? (A seemingly arbitrary number, but related to the closure of the Russian-Persian border.)
Does it mean sporadic production without the type of market supervision that one would have encountered during the Kustar period in the Caucasus?
I ask these questions perhaps to suggest answers myself. However, I also hope that the readers will, by asking their own sets of questions, provide some answers.
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