TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Looms and Regularity and...
Author  :  R. John Howe
Date  :  08-29-2000 on 06:58 a.m.
Daniel - Congratulations on another carefully constructed salon. I fear I am not going to be of much use to you in it because, as I have said the the sometime irritation of others, I cannot see where this kind of disucussion of design goes. Design is too fluid. It can move too readily to be of much help in attribution. I say that despite the fact that we Turkmen collectors often lean on design in our own attribution declarations more than our pride in the technical distinctions that have been discovered about Turkmen weaving might suggest. Nevertheless, this kind of analysis of design holds clear attractions for what is obviously the majority of us. Instead I want to quote here and then comment on some aspects of some sentences that you wrote early in your initial salon essay. They are in reference to your recently acquired Transcaucasian/Moghan/Shahsavan piece. This is a purchase about which you are to be congratulated. The rug is a thing of real beauty. Here's what you said: "2. Itís regular weave and the even warp tension suggest that it was woven on a vertical loom and not on a horizontal loom that was frequently dismantled and reassembled, as is the custom during nomadic migration. So it could be a village product and, therefore, not Shahsevan, as these tribes stayed almost nomadic since they arrived from Anatolia in the late 16th century and settled in the Persian Ardebil province having the Moghan plain as a winter encampment and the Savalan Mountains as summer quarters. Along with the problem of its attribution this rug raised also the following questions: Must a rug be crowded to imagine that it was nomadic and woven on a horizontal loom? Are there technical characteristics that allow us to identify whether a rug was woven on a horizontal or a vertical loom?" 1. First, I doubt that regularity of weave can be taken as an indicator of the type of loom used. There is great regularity of weave in say Tekke weavings and all of these pror to the Soviet period are reputed to have been woven on horizontal looms. Similarly, many Turkish village rugs and Caucasan rugs were woven on vertical looms and often exhibit great irregularities. Some of the "turn right" problems that Caucasian rugs can have once they are cut off the loom are likely the result of variations in warp materials but problems of uniform warp tension can, if I understand correctly, also be encountered on vertical looms. 2. I think the notion of horizontal looms being "frequently dismantled" may be more the result of our romantic projection of our pictures of nomadic life on the nomads than it is of what that life was actually like. It is my impression that even actively nomadic weavers using horizontal looms tried to avoid moving them while a piece was being woven. It is also my impression that while male nomads may have had to move frequently to keep their herds in grass and water that the women moved less frequently. So the capability of a horizontal loom to be moved may be greater than was the practice of moving them. Again, we encounter relatively few Turkmen pieces with flaws that might seem the result of warp tension variations, so I suspect that our picture of "constant movement" is more myth than fact. 3. Your question of whether there are technical features that might let us detect whether some rugs were woven on a horizontal rather than a vertical loom is more hopeful. This is a question that a weaver like Marla Mallett might be able to answer. At a minimum it would need to be able to distinguish between technical features produced as a result of use of a horizontal loom from similar ones resulting either from warp tension problems experienced on a vertical loom and those resulting from materials, especially warp materials. 4. Last, a re-reading of your question about whether it is necessary for a rug to be crowded in order to be tribal or to imagine that it was woven on a horizontal loom, will I think provide the obvious answer "no." Again Turkmen examples are telling. Most Turkmen collectors might yearn for more space than they encounter in most Turkmen weavings but spaciousness is a value in this set of weavings because there are truly tribal instances of them clearly woven on horizontal looms that are very spacious indeed. So it is not necessary that every tribal rug be full of chickens or other filler devices, despite the fact that tribal rugs woven on horizontal looms do often exhibit crowded designs. In fact, Pinner and Eiland encountered one Yomud main carpet in the Wiedersperg collection that is so spacious in the placement of its design elements that they described is as perhaps too "austere." Again congratulations on a very well-constructed salon and on the acquisition of a truly beautiful rug. Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  RE:Looms and Regularity and...
Author  :  Marla Mallett
Date  :  08-29-2000 on 04:16 p.m.
marlam@mindspring.com Any weaver dreads having to dismantle a loom, roll up an unfinished weaving, and then set it all up again. The warp tension is rarely even. The wider the weaving, the more difficult this is, while the length doesn't matter much. The tendency among weavers I've visited has been to plan their weaving projects so that they do NOT have to move them; they instead do small pieces that can be finished quickly when a move is planned. One reason for two-part kilims, for example, has been exactly this--a matter of the time available between moves from one set of pastures to another. Wide, single-part kilims, on the other hand, seem usually to be village products or pieces made by semi-nomads in winter quarters. Having said this, both horizontal and vertical looms that can be dismantled are used by nomads. Likewise, both are used by settled weavers. Some nomad weavers so much prefer working on vertical warps (it's not so backbreaking!), that they carry heavy loom uprights along, and sink them into the ground upon arrival at new pastures. There are two photos of such a set-up among Josephine's photos on my website (http://www.marlamallett.com/powell.htm). She had a series of shots showing these two women's trials in trying to get the thing into proper working order, and this was for a couple of simple, functional, narrow black and white striped goathair grain sacks, not a fancy weaving. These women simply had not anticipated the move. There is another photo of Josephine's on the website showing a vertical loom set up inside a tent in summer pastures--a wide loom that definitely would NOT be moved with the rug in progress. Differences among end finishes tell us more about warping procedures than about whether the loom was horizontal or vertical. Heading cords and warp loops, for example, do tell us for sure that certain kinds of looms were NOT used--such as the looms with circular warps typical of many Persian workshops. Likewise, heading cords are rare with warps set up on looms with revolving beams. But even nomads with simple ground looms can use circular warps--many Kurds, for example--and their weavings thus do not have heading cords or warp loops. Selvage differences are unrelated to loom type. I can see no reason why a loom's orientation should influence design characteristics, although with several flatweaves, the kind of shedding mechanism can easily affect design tendencies.

Subject  :  RE:Looms and Regularity and...
Author  :  Deschuyteneer Daniel
Date  :  08-29-2000 on 05:27 p.m.
Dear R. John, and you all, Thanks for your kind words and your help during the preparation of this Salon. You have very logical arguments to which I adhere. Your comparison of very regular woven Turkmen pieces on horizontal looms and sometimes irregularly woven Caucasian pieces on vertical looms is a very good one. Considering your examples and despite whatís sometimes published, I agree that the uneven shape of a rug donít tell us whether the loom was horizontal or vertical. Most often reference is done to warps tension problems but wefts tension problems are never considered. It would be interesting to know how warps and wefts tension work respectively on the shape of a rug. Did nomads move their horizontal looms or is it, as you said, a romantic projection of our pictures of nomadic life on the nomads? I think you are also right on this point. If we consider some very large rugs woven by Turkmen on horizontal looms it seems really hazardous to imagine that such large and heavy rugs were moved while they were in progress. Now were the Shasavan still nomadic during the 19th century and did they still use horizontal looms during this period? The later production of pile woven rugs suggest that they were already settled. Do you or our readers have any opinions? Thanks, Daniel PS: Marla anticipated my answer but as the last part of this posting is always of actuality I posted it.Thanks Marla for your always instructive thoughts.

Subject  :  RE:Looms and Regularity and...
Author  :  Marla Mallett
Date  :  08-30-2000 on 12:20 p.m.
marlam@mindspring.com Daniel, John and all, What makes crooked rugs crooked? I'll try to explain: Uneven warp tension--that is, some warps tighter than others--results in a rug that is uneven in LENGTH, unless the weaver takes corrective measures. The rug is longer in areas where the warp is loosest. Uneven WIDTH is usually due to differences in the amount of ease allowed when the weaver inserts her weft yarns. The width varies depending upon both skill and consistency. When plenty of ease is allowed--when the interlacing yarn path is sinuous--the weft tends to cover the warps, and the rug widens. When the wefts are straighter, there is a tendency for the weaving to draw inward, so that the rug narrows. People tend to assume that crooked weavings are caused by uneven beating, but that is usually a minor part of the problem. Marla

Subject  :  RE:Looms and Regularity and...
Author  :  Mike Tschebull
Date  :  09-04-2000 on 09:01 p.m.
To know how often nomads who wove needed to move, one needs to know about pasturage, flock size, rainfall, etc - all things that can only be found out in the field - or from a specialized anthropologist with whom you can actually converse. This presents a very high hurdle for most rug collectors, and they should recognize how lack of access to such information limits the ability to have a reasoned opinion. Trying to figure out if the "Shahsavan" wove pile rugs: Once again, anthropological input is essential. Maybe it's better, clearer to ask if "Azarbayjani nomads" wove pile rugs, as the term "Shahsavan" gets bandied about too much. Again, one needs to know all kinds of petty info to have an opinion. I must be sounding like a tape loop. Pile-woven kennereh from East Azarbayjan usually have loops at the bottom of the rug and a braid at the top. In the 19th century, they were probably woven on upright looms, with circular warps, as they are now, but there are no photos I know of which would confirm this. Folk wisdom in East Azarbayjan has it that kennereh were woven at one point on horizontal looms.

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