My Own Musings

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Posted by R. John Howe on July 25, 1999 at 19:21:25:

Dear folks -

This piece raises the following thoughts for me.

First, the term "sinuous warp" was new to me and Wendel, on the side has said that the "plain weave" structure here in which the warps and the wefts both move up and down around one another as they move through the rug is very similar to the structure of Hammadan rugs. If I understand him correctly, he suspects that this stuctural peculiarity may be one indicator that a piece might be an instance of Shahsavan pile weaving. It works to distinguish such pieces from those of nearby Caucasian weavers, such as Moghans.

Second, it might be good to confirm that by an "elongated" knot Wendel means one that is taller than it is wide. (I think I've read somewhere that the "knot nodes" if not the entire knot of Kazaks are also often taller than they are wide.) So one question might be is the shape of the knot also perhaps a potentially distinguishing feature of pile Shahsavan pieces?

Third, is the question of whether the fact that the "Shahsavan" devices in the field of this piece are rotated 90 degrees from their more usual treatment in Shahsavan flatweaves, might indicate that the weaver was not fully familiar with this design. If so, that might argue against a Shahsavan attribution a bit. We Turkmen collectors would certainly treat such a drawing "error" seriously.

Fourth, and related to three is the fact that, as Wendel has noted, there is considerable "banging" of ornaments into one another. Although the drawing of the devices themselves is crisply fluent, this banging might be seen as another indicator of lack of familiarity (although someone like Marla Mallett could speak to such a point from a more solid basis).

And fifth, there is the related question of whether the awkward placement (this same banging) of some ornaments intrudes on the aesthetic quality of this piece.

Last, a question for Wendel. Is the dark ground border on the "beetle" bag the same one that is used on the yellow ground rug and if so, is it as well drawn on the pile piece? If both these answers are "yes," then that would eliminate one of the aspects of the yellow ground piece that seemed initially to me to be a potential source of aesthetic weakness.


John Howe

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