Re: Shahsavan weavings

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Posted by Wendel Swan on July 29, 1999 at 21:49:57:

In Reply to: Shahsavan weavings posted by Mike Tschebull on July 29, 1999 at 19:55:27:

Mike posted, in part:

: >Wendel, just because you value pile weaving doesn't mean it was viewed as a luxury by Azarbayjani nomads in, say, 1860. So, you can't say for sure the nomads sought it out or produced pile rugs for their own use.

There's a whole lot I can't say for certain, but there are reasons to believe pile was viewed as a luxury by Azarbayjani nomads.

First of all, pile is a luxury and has always been. It consumes several times the amount of wool needed for any flatweave and is more time-consuming to make than most flatweaves (sumak wrapping may be an exception).

Second, of the weavings extant which are truly old (say 200 - 500 years) there is far more pile than flatweave, indicating that pile was more highly revered by all the cultures which produced it.

Third, because they are easier and cheaper to make, flatweaves are the utilitarian structures. And no culture tends to value its merely utilitarian products. Part of the basis against nomads making pile is that it isn't utilitarian. If it isn't particularly useful and it costs more, it is a luxury.

Fourth, ever since you and I began to collect, the Persian dealers we have known virtually disdain kilims and other flatweaves. I assume that this reflects a very old cultural bias in favor of pile and weavings which require a significant amount of labor to make. I have never met a Persian who would prefer flatweaves as a group over pile as a group.

Fifth, if anyone ever caused flatweaves to be really prized, it was Americans in the 1970's (not Persians, for example) and our friend Russ Pickering lead the way.

Sixth, over on the Show and Tell section there is a full-pile Lur mafrash presented by a Mike Tschebull (a relative perhaps?) who, like me, assumed that its raison d'detre was to be "in your face" for its 19th Century owner. If the Lurs could hold such a belief, why not the Shahsavan?

Mike, on that last point you just have to believe Mike.



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