TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Some thoughts on design migration
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  04-16-2000 on 08:30 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear People, About two weeks ago I was at ACOR. One of the treats for me was being able to look at the dozen or more Kaitag embroideries brought there by some of the dealers. Yesterday I was in DC and saw the exhibition of Ottoman embroidery at the Textile Museum and the Topkapi treasures at the Corcoran Gallery. I was reminded how obvious it is that one of the major groups of Kaitag embroideries is derived from Ottoman predecessors. What does this have to do with Christoph's Salon topic? Christoph, among others, adopts the position that asking whether we can find plausible candidate ancestors for motifs on relatively recent (say, the past 400 years) rugs is worthwhile and could, with luck and hard work, lead to progress in working out motif genealogies. Others hold that the entire exercise is essentially a waste of time and effort, the genealogy being essentially unknowable even in principle. The fact that one can make a convincing case for the Ottoman origin of at least one group of Kaitag designs reminded me that there are other similar instances. The ones that come to mind all involve relatively brief periods, though, not a thousand years or more. To bring this ramble to the point: I think most people would agree that tracing design migration across short periods of time is possible sometimes. Doing so across long periods is very difficult, but if a long period is just a series of short periods strung end to end, then it is reasonable to believe that success in tracing migration over long periods might be achievable once in a while. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Some thoughts on design migration
Author  :  Christoph+Huber
Date  :  04-18-2000 on 06:03 p.m.
huber-ch@pilatusnet.ch Dear Steve To my eyes the attempt to trace back the history of ornaments is in a certain sense comparable to the studies of a linguist which tries to reconstruct the evolution of a language family. In both cases there are many difficulties and similarity between two words or two ornaments for example doesn’t necessarily have any relevance. But nevertheless I think that in principle there is something to know in both fields. With this comparison of languish and ornament I don’t want to say something about the ‘meaning’ of an ornament – this would be an other story and I guess that the meaning of an ornament changes over a period of time just as does the meaning of a word. And with my repeated emphasis of ‘tradition’ I also don’t want to say something about creativity. Shakespeare used the same words as many others before and after him and words with a rather long history, but does this diminish his creativity, his art? Regards, Christoph

Subject  :  RE:Some thoughts on design migration
Author  :  Jay+Burkette
Date  :  04-19-2000 on 04:58 a.m.
jaylib@tin.it Christoph and Steve, I totally concur. While studying music as my primary field in university (some years ago, ouch!), it became immediately evident that most, if not all, of the musical geniuses of the the past 4 centuries have used musical motifs, passages, phrases, and ideas in different (indeed, sometimes innovative) ways. To be more blunt, plagiarism has almost always been at the source of a composition's genius (for the critics out there, please note that I said "almost"). Although 4 centuries is, in relative terms, a "short" period for genealogical development, it illustrates Steve's point. With the subject of music, althought much is lost, we have (as Steve as pointed out above) examples closely spaced (at least temporally) that demonstrate the manipulation and development of these timeless motifs (to use the word showing up most often in this discussion). This allows a more "scientific" or, to use the music term, "theoretical" approach to "music's" development and usage over the centuries. Obviously I'm speaking of the opus of music most studied in the West - there are large tracts of musical genius and development relatively unknown (any experts on Chinese musical expression and culture out there?) The parallels with architectural design and development are obvious. How does this ramble dovetail with the discussion of turkmen rug design motifs? In my mind it illustrates a point of view a bit skewed from that shared by Marla and Sophia in the other threads. Some (or, more probably, the greater part) of the most thrilling musical compositions (contemporary and past) use very old musical passages developed and invented upon, and the results have been rated as not only the products of genius, but also an integral part of the culture where the pieces were composed. The very fact that a large part of Mozart's "creative" genius migrated directly from Bach's cantatas does not diminish his ability and work in the slightest. The weaving genius of a contemporary turkmen woman weaving a traditional tribal gul rug but using her own "inner artistic spirit" to match a totally non traditional secondary gull or border guard with a very traditional primary gull is not diminished by the fact that we can trace the designs of all the elements back for three or more centuries. And I must add, the possibility that the designs we see in turkmen and other tribal rugs might have design antecedents dating back many centuries IS and always will be "thrilling and exciting" to me. Additionally, although I very much agree that we will need to write our own songs, poems and starmaps to follow for our children and their children, I am willing to wager that there will be a kernel of something that has gone before in all of them! Regards to all, Jay

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