TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Comb Bags
Author  :  Soren Neergaard
Date  :  02-29-2000 on 08:30 a.m.
Soren.Neergaard@compaq.com When I look at your initial remarks on the pentagonal weavings I suspect that you have not seen a comb as you in my opinion have placed the comb bag upside down like a purse into which you can put something. In Turkmen - Tribal Carpets and Traditions by Mackie & Thompson (page 6) you can see an Ali Eli woman using the Turkmen comb. Some years ago I found such a comb in Bergama, Turkey - an area inhabited by Turkmen settlers in the 12th century. In Turkey there exist 2 (or more) different models of combs. One is like the photo. To me this is the original Turkmen model. Judging from the photo, my comb is a little smaller than the one used by the Ali Eli woman, therefore my comb-bag does not fit properly. The comb bag was used on top of the comb like a cover. Generally the comb bag has different proportions than the camel knee covers. Knee covers are more elongated - 1 by 1˝ to 1 by 2 (vertical by horizontal) - than the comb-bags where the proportions are 1 by 1. Best regards, Soren

Subject  :  RE:Comb Bags
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  02-29-2000 on 08:57 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Soren, You are absolutely correct - I've never seen a Turkmen comb and assumed that one would be put into a comb bag more or less as a sword is put into a scabbard. I also find it interesting that your comb bag has a design like the one on most ok bash, which is different than my comb bag or the one in Wie Blumen in der Wuste. So far, the only three I've seen all have different designs, while every camel knee cover I can recall (How many? Maybe 20, maybe more) has some variant of one ashik in a single compartment. Thanks, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Comb Bags
Author  :  Patrick Weiler
Date  :  02-29-2000 on 10:03 p.m.
jpweil00@gte.net Excuse my ignorance, but there does not appear to be a need for this comb cover to be pentagonal in shape to effectively cover the comb. Could it have been woven for another purpose but have been suitable for this one? Or, as Eiland squared point out, many small utilitarian weavings had numerous uses and the names we associate with them may limit our appreciation of their various applications? This one could very well be used as a floppy disc cover,,,,, Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  RE:Comb Bags
Author  :  Soren Neergaard
Date  :  03-01-2000 on 10:39 a.m.
soren.neergaard@compaq.com You are right, most camel knee cover have the Ashik design. Below I have added some of the few non-Ashik designs I have come across. The left one is my own (one of a pair). The other were exhibited and sold during the 8th ICOC by Hans Elmby. In my camel knee cover there are two small black marks in the second white "band" from the top. We also find the same marks on my comb bag where we find the black marks in a white "band" on one side of the knee cover and in a red "band" on the other side. I'm sure these marks have some significance, but what is it? Patrick, I do agree with you, there is no need for the cover to be pentagonal just as there is no need for the Asmalyk and the camel knee cover to be pentagonal. The form itself might come from the shamanistic idea of the Upper world (or heaven). In early petroglyphs we can find the Upper world depicted as having a pentagonal shape. The pentagonal shape is used as design element in many Turkmen weavings - the idea might be the same. Have a look at Plates 1, 2 and 3 from my 8th ICOC poster presentation I do not believe that there has been another use for the comb bag than as a cover. If it had been used for other purpose I think that we would find some form of fastening mechanism - and we do not. Best regards, Soren

Subject  :  Combs and weaving tools
Author  :  John Howe
Date  :  03-01-2000 on 10:52 a.m.
rjhowe@erols.com First, I find Mr. Neergaard's post that initiates this thread a model of the sort of thing to which we aspire in these conversations. Although I have looked repeatedly at the photo he provides of the lady "combing" wool, I have never really taken in the character of the tool or related it to what are described as "comb bags." In my unthinking ignorance, I had associated that term with a container for holding combs with which people arrange their own hair. Second, Mr. Neergaard's photos show clearly the character of the use of such comb bags and also provides a rationale for their creation: these spikes are sharp and could easily injure someone who bumped them accidentally (as for example small children in the close quarters of a tent might well do). Third, I have read repeatedly the Elizabeth Barber definitions of "combing" vs "carding" wool and come away feeling that combing is to align the fibers in wool so that they are parallel with one another and that carding is a matter of fluffing the fibers so that they point in different directions. Interestingly the tools with which the carding and combing are accomplished seem very similar and I have wondered how the actual process of carding differs from combing. The latter seems more understandable given a tool like the comb Mr. Neergaard illustrates since it has a rather narrow set of teeth that would permit one to force the wool from one side to the other. There are seemingly similar tools among American primitive antiques. I think they are usually described as "combs" but they differ in that they are considerably wider than Mr. Neergard's example (that is the teeth are arranged in a kind of square rather in only one or two rows) and it is hard to see how one could force wool entirely through them. One sees them not infrequently in U.S. antique shops. Here are two photos of what is described as an antique "flax comb." Note that if protective devices were created for these American combs, they would need to have a square-ish shape. But they would still need to be used open side down. I have followed American antique furniture from a distance but have never heard reference to a cover for these antique American combs. Perhaps they exist under a name I don't recognize. Thanks again to Soren Neergard for this very useful post. Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  Perceptions
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  03-01-2000 on 11:01 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Anyone, Like John, I've seen the photo many times and never gave a thought to the implement the woman is using. One thing that struck me within John's comments was that he assumed that a comb bag is for holding the comb someone uses on his/her hair. My assumption had been that it held the comb that's used to beat down the wefts during weaving. We were both mistaken, apparently, but it's an interesting example of how the mental baggage we carry around colors our interpretations of what we see. Before anyone gets too agitated over this, it also illustrates how little it takes for that baggage to be discarded and replaced when we encounter evidence that it's wrong. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Comb Bags
Author  :  Marla Mallett
Date  :  03-01-2000 on 01:09 p.m.
Dear John, The device you've illustrated is a hackle, a tool that indeed is used for preparing flax. Combs used for wool are nearly always narrower. In combing wool, the fibers are pulled in one direction to straighten and separate the long fibers from the noils. The rectangular paddle-like devices used for carding wool are always used in pairs and have a zillion small wiry points on their inner surfaces. Wool fibers are worked back and forth between the two prickly surfaces to arrange the fibers in a helter-skelter fashion and make a fluffy roving for spinning. In pre-industrial times burrs were often clustered together to make carding surfaces. Marla marlam@mindspring.com

Subject  :  Carding Tools
Author  :  John Howe
Date  :  03-02-2000 on 10:07 a.m.
/rjhowe@erols.com It may well be that I was one of the few in our conversation unclear about how the process of carding differs from combing and my thanks to Marla for her clear description. Here are two images of carding tools from Peter Stone’s “The Oriental Rug Lexicon.” One of them is of the paddle devices to which Marla refers. Interestingly, Stone’s definition of “carding” appears to go astray, momentarily, when he refers to it as a process that “aligns” the fibers in wool. But it is clear in some of his associated references, that he in fact understands, correctly, the distinction between “carded” and “combed” wool. At one point, he says that the term “woolen” is technically one that describes a thread/fabric made from “carded” wool (he shows a labeled image of a thread with fibers pointed in different directions), while thread/fabric made from “combed” wool is described as “worsted.” Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  Comb Bags or Comb Covers?
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  03-06-2000 on 12:18 p.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear All, A bag is conventionally an object into which you put something. A cover is conventionally what you put over something. What is referred to in the literature as a "comb bag" isn't a bag at all, it's a cover for the comb and ought to be called a "comb cover". There, I feel much better now. Steve Price

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