TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  The Milan khordjin face
Author  :  Wendel Swan
Date  :  01-31-2000 on 03:30 p.m.
Dear Daniel (and others), I have a few comments on the Milan bag face. At the 1993 Textile Museum Rug Convention entitled "A Kurdish Kaleidoscope," the speakers were Mehrdad Izady (himself a Kurd and a professor at Harvard), Jim Burns (one of America's foremost collectors, now working on his own book on Kurdish rugs), Jim Klingner (a Belgian dealer specializing in Kurdish rugs from Turkey), Alberto Levi (the Italian dealer who wrote an article for Hali on "proto-Kurdish" rugs) and me (an eclectic collector with 15 or 20 Kurdish rugs). At the show and tell on Sunday, a number of rugs were brought in with the question to the speakers (as well as the collectors and dealers in the audience): "Is this Kurdish and, if so, from where?" Floyd Patterson never did as much bobbing and weaving as we "experts" did. Sure, there were a few solid answers, but that episode demonstrated just how little we really know about Kurdish rugs. To address the complex issue of Jaf versus Sanjabi, let me recite portions of Mehrdad Izady's book "The Kurds - A Concise Handbook." To begin with, in his table categorizing the various Kurdish Tribes and Tribal Confederacies, Izady lists the Gurani-speaking tribes of the Sanjabi Confederacy as being geographically situated (if I understand correctly in about 1925) in Southern Kurdistan between Pawa and Maydasht. I hope that I correctly state that this is an area south of Sanandaj and north of Kermanshah, but west of both - straddling the present Iran-Iraq border. He lists 20 tribes in the Sanjabi Confederacy. The South Kurmanji-speaking Jaf Confederacy is evidently much larger and Izady shows 14 tribes in the Jaf Confederacy in the Central Iranian plateau between Jawanrud and Sanandaj and the largest portion of the Jaf Confederacy with another 25 tribes in Central Kurdistan between Sulaymania, Klar and Halabja. For as long as I can remember, I have referred to the diamond bags with offset knotting as Jaf Kurds, probably because everyone else did. Ambassador Eagleton has undoubtedly visited the Jafs and seen such weavings among them, confirming that they wove such pieces. That does not, however, preclude other Kurds from doing likewise. Bags and other textiles from other groups in other areas use hooked diamonds and offset knotting can be found in many areas - although never as profusely as we find in what we call Jaf Kurds. Given the large number of different Jaf tribes, it is logical to assume that we would find at least some variation in format, colors and structure even among just Jaf production. In fact, there is variation. Whether that variation is due to tribal differences or time or due to that fact that the diamond design with offset knotting is replicated by other Kurdish (or even non-Kurdish) groups is perhaps open to question. Perhaps Amb. Eagleton could provide information as to which group has produced bags of the "Milan" type Daniel presents. Years ago I heard this type described as Turkish. I now don't believe that to be true. On that issue I can make one observation that probably doesn't mean very much. I have seen a few complete bags similar to Daniel's Milan khordjin and all had a "slit" closure system, common to Persian or Persianate bags. Regardless of whether they are Sanjabi or Jaf or Iranian or Iraqi, these bags all seem to use the Persian method for bag closure. I believe it remains true about Kurdish rugs (as perhaps it does with many other categories as well) that we know far less than we think we do. The trade has given us terminology (sometimes inaccurate, often insufficient) while academics provide usually overwhelming political, economic and historical information, but little information about the textiles themselves. Daniel asks a question: "Is my Milan khordjin a Sanjabi or a Jaf Kurd bagface or something else?" I have a definitive answer: "Yes." Regards, Wendel

Subject  :  RE:The Milan khordjin face
Author  :  Patrick+Weiler
Date  :  02-09-2000 on 12:18 a.m.
jpweil00@gte.net Wendel Kurds have long occupied an area in Turkey/Syria/Iraq/Iran. Their weavings could have come from anywhere in that area (and points East). I have a Kurd bagface with some features of Daniel's; the brown coloration and the diamond borders. It also has a brown weft and offset knots. While researching this topic, I was drawn to the book Yastik, by Brian Morehouse. There are similarities with the layout of many of the yastiks from all over Turkey. I have an old, ragged Eastern Turkish yastik with an eerily similar "latchook" motif (crudely rounded "hooks" and brown/aubergine color: You can see from the back the offset knotting: The whole enchilada: It also has a very light green ground color as has been mentioned in regard to the Kurdish weavings. Does this mean Daniel's bagface came from an area between these? Is the bagface tradition a nomadic Kurdish variant of the more settled yastik tradition? Or did the weavers just borrow from several traditions? There is another example of this type of bagface on the Lenkoran website labeled Shiraz mat. I suspect it could be from the same region, but rather later. It is not the most popular vacation spot in the world, so these questions may never be answered. Piece by piece the answers may present themselves. Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  RE:The Milan khordjin face
Author  :  Deschuyteneer Daniel
Date  :  02-09-2000 on 05:27 a.m.
Dear Patrick and you all, Your Yastik is unmistakably an Eastern Anatolian one and I suspect it has been woven in the Gaziantep-Malatya area. I have seen a lot of one with the same subdued colors, design and arrows borders. The brown wefts, the irregular weaving, the use of what seems to be two ply wool yarns for the pile and the offset knotting, a common Kurdish feature, are other characteristics which also point to this area. The use of two ply wool yarn isn’t typical of Eastern Anatolian rugs. More often singles are used for the pile and the wefts. But the sole Anatolian area where two ply wool yarns were used is Eastern Anatolia. Your so-called Jaf khorjin is a nice one. Diamonds, “S” motifs, arrows and floral meandering were the favorite motifs of the weavers from the Kurdistan. Concerning the “shoes” without knowing the structure I can’t be of any help. Can you do a direct scan? You raise an interesting question wherefore I haven’t any answer, but other readers will perhaps help: Is the bagface tradition a nomadic (Kurdish) variant of the more settled yastik tradition? Or did the weavers just borrow from several traditions? Thanks, Daniel Deschuyteneer

Subject  :  RE:The Milan khordjin face
Author  :  Mark Hopkins
Date  :  02-09-2000 on 05:30 a.m.
Dear all, I received this very kind and interesting Email from Mark Hopkins and it is reproduced here with his permission: Your first piece is weird and quite nice. I wouldn't know what to make of it, though it reminds me that one occasionally sees Kurdish pieces with pile designs that clearly originated as flatweave designs. But why wouldn't they? Your little bag I don't find unusual at all, having seen many dozens of them in recent years. Yours looks like an especially nice one. Who knows where they're from. The more I get into rugs the more I find I don't care where things came from, simply because about 95% of the talk about origin is undocumentable speculation, (read bullshit), and after having absorbed a few thousand earfuls of it, I find I really don't give a damn. What's important to me is enjoying wonderful textile art. That's not to knock your curiosity and obvious dedication to learning; I think that's great. It's just not a turn-on for me anymore. Couple of comments on structure. I should add one thing to the treatise from my article you quoted: I've since seen several examples of single wefted "Jaf" bagfaces. And I've encountered depressed warps of all angles. I think we have to face the fact that weavers will gravitate toward weaving whatever sells, and if a "Hamadan-type" weaver, i.e., somebody taught to weave with a single shot of weft, noticed that local buyers were snapping up "Jaf" bags and times were tight and her rugs weren't selling too well, why wouldn't she weave them too....but using her own structure? This is also borne out in "Jaf" bagfaces that turn up occasionally with no offset knotting...always pretty horrible pieces. Are they copies made by non-Jafs? My guess is yes. One other comment about alternating warp knotting. The fact that there is none of it in your piece may be a clue as to its tribal origin. Or it more likely has to do with the fact that there was no need to use offset knotting with that design. I suspect the latter. The offset technique is useful when diagonal planes are a vital element of the design. In your piece, the only diagonals are small details where offsetting would hardly be worthwhile. If you'd like to transfer this over to your "salon", be my guest. I just didn't take the time to figure out how to use it. Mark Hopkins

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