TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Closing Remarks
Author  :  Jenny Gunay
Date  :  05-01-2000 on 02:32 p.m.
I want to thank Mike Tschebull for his discussion of my article. I would like to add only a few remarks. Art is the last thing that I would consider putting in the scale of mass production. Handwoven rugs of any kind, even made in the U.S. by a U.S. resident is a form of Art and cannot be compared to any form of mass production to earn huge sums of money. Trying to make handweaving more economical than machines is nonsense. The era of slavery is very far back. Anyway, this is totally unnecessary because art is not economical. Anything woven by hand, to my understanding, is genuine because it carries the skill of the weaver. For example, if aunt Sally has knitted a beautiful yellow sweater for my baby, that sweater is genuine. It`s aunt Sally`s sweater. But, she has copied it from a pattern given by McCall`s. I don`t care. It is still genuine because she has made it for my baby. That is almost true for all hand-made objects, because they carry an added metaphysical value. The fact, here, that the designs used are created by the entrepreneurs choice or the weavers own choice wouldn`t influence the fact that the rug is beautiful in terms of harmony of color and design and that it is a good piece of craftsmanship. If all of these combined, end up in a beautiful carpet, whether it is "genuine" should not be questioned. I understand Mike stresses the same point by giving the example of Fords World cars. I agree completely with Jay`s discussion. The designs in Turkish rugs made in villages have patterns that the women have been copying for 100 years. Most of them wouldn`t even know what each symbol represents. It depends on the woman's interest in the subject. In Steve's answer to Jay, I disagree at the point where Steve says that the workshop owners' designs are not etnographic. On the contrary, the workshop owner is the one who studies the historical rugs and prepares the models that the weavers will use to weave the rug. He is trying to reproduce antique pieces found in homes and museums that are reknown to be "genuine" by antique experts, that the villagers wouldn't be able to look up or wouldn't bother about. The villagers making their own traditional regional designs, just recopy the same thing over and over, sometimes changing the colors or the border designs by alternating others, etc. are not more genuine from my point of view. Both can turn out to become very beautiful rugs, or, on the contrary, failure rugs. The workshop owner could have a novice weaver who would spoil the most beautiful rug by making it too loose a weaving or full of mistakes and the villager could choose awful color combinations and designs. So, the term "genuine" that is used here for a "quality" on which one would base his choice in buying a carpet is not a good definition. As in all arts, beauty should be the sole determinant as well as quality of weave, which adds to beauty. There is no real definition of beauty, either, because it changes according to each person. So, I would say that to buy and accept a new carpet, one must love it. Maybe that is the only answer. This is also a reply to Safak who wants the rug to be genuine only if made entirely by one person. "Genuineness" should not be the measuring tool. Of course, I agree that the most genuine would fit Safak`s definition, but a collective work as is done in most parts of Turkey today also gives very good results, leaving each actor in the realization of a rug project independent. An entrepeneur can choose to invest in this area or not. The wool merchant, the spinner (both hand and machine), the dyer (both natural and chemical), the loom owners, the weavers all are free to work at their leisure. There is an open market and there is much choice. If they get work, it is fine. If they don't, the don't lose as much as if they tried to do the whole process by themselves. Trying to make rug handweaving a big industry is wrong in the first place. It is not an economical industry. It is a form of art. The fact that people like these rugs and look for them is what maintains the manufacture at this stage. As Patrick says, the true value of these contemporary rugs will only be appreciated 100 years from now, especially if rug weaving, like all uneconomical processes completely disappears from the planet, as it will if the current system of economy persists in the future. I would like to answer the questions asked by John Howe. The first one was about the gender of the weavers in Turkey. We have female weavers in Turkey except for, perhaps, 1% who are male. Iran is using mostly male weavers. In Turkey, rug weaving is mostly done by young girls and women. The looms are generally situated in their own house or at a neighbor's. It is both a job and a hobby that women enjoy doing. They make it a reason for socializing and showing themselves off by being the most skillful weavers. They work together and compete at the same time. Seeing a rug being completed is also a moral reward for them. As Irwin Hirsch writes, it is a sociological event where the women do the job enjoying themselves at the same time. For the second question, I would say that the weavers could be spinning and dyeing their own wool or not. It depends on the particular case. Mostly the wool is supplied to them by the producers who have it spun by spinners and have it dyed by dyers who all work independently. About the quality of the dyes: of course, natural dyes are more expensive to prepare and are seldom used. If the weavers plan to weave one or two rugs for that season, it is not so hard to gather and prepare a small amount of dyes and not so expensive. Mostly, chemical dyes are used for the "trade" rugs. Sometimes a mixture of both. As to the 4th question about the looms: all three possibilities exist. Sometimes, the weavers construct their own looms, some are provided by the government and some by the producers. There aren`t factories but workshops prepared by the producers or by the government, as well as looms in the private homes. In order to obtain the best quality, a producer has to try out different looms. He has to take the chance of some loss, and, after a few trials stop giving the job to a particular loom and give it to another better one. It is really the producer who insists and maintains a certain quality of weave. Stephen Louw`s question about the quality of wool: there are 3 qualities of wool used in rugs in Turkey. The one in the east is hard, the one in central Anatolia is medium, and the one used in the Aegean is softer. All three are considered to be ideal for rug-weaving. About the Iran embargo: I would say Turkey was not much effected by it, because the flow of rugs just changed its route as you described. I don`t have a particular answer for the reason of what you call the revival of rug weaving in Turkey. I feel as though it was always there. I will end by thanking you all again for your interest in my article.

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