Rug 4 Only

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Posted by R. John Howe on August 08, 1999 at 10:02:03:

Dear Daniel et al -

What an ambitious presentation! I can see you've been resting up and are robust, ROBUST.

I do not think the fourth piece can be Turkmen.

You ask for reasons. How unreasonable.

Well, first, I think the cotton warps are by themselves largely disqualifying, unless this piece is very recent. Then, of course, anything goes and most of what we think we know (about structure too) is likely useless.

The color palette too is way off for any Turkman piece I know. If this piece is not Caucasian or Anatolia it could still be South Persian, since they sometimes use a Caucasian-like palette.

Although the Turkmen use a meander border, their renditions of it are quite different than that in piece 4, and it's my impression that Turkmen weavers are especially conservative about their border designs. This particular border rendition is also frequent in South Persia and is another thing that made me think it might have been woven there.

The quite excellent photos you have given us of the weave make me think that this weave is quite different than either the Yomuds or the Saryk (included only because they too use a symmetric knot). There's a firm regularity in Turkoman weaving that seems not to be present here. Yomud knots in particular often show clear vertical rows from the back.

There are some wool-cotton weft mixtures in some Turkmen weaving but I know nothing of the edge strategies you and Marla detail here, excepting for the logical fact that if a weft of wool and another of cotton were used alternatively such a strategy would be needed (my impression is that where one gets cotton and wool in Turkmen wefts, they are formed by plying cotton and wool singles into a single strands of weft).

And the central medallion (gul?) is not quartered as most Turkmen guls are. There are some unquartered "eagle" group and Yomud guls (Opie, Tribal rugs, pp. 75 & 99 but these are Turkmen pieces on other grounds.

The compartment treatment also does not look Turkman to me although this is one indicator that took you the other way.

Finally, although both the Yomuds and the Ersaris display a range of colors that are thought by some to provide evidence of a Caucasian influence, I know of no Turkmen weavings that would be in danger of being mistaken for Caucasians.

My vote, and it is mostly that if I have to select an alternative attribution, is South Persian. The knot, the look of the weaving, the color pattern and this main border can all be accommodated by such an attribution.


R. John Howe

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