TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Almost Surely Turkmen
Author  :  Michael Wendorf
Date  :  09-06-2000 on 03:49 p.m.
Dear All: In Daniel's Salon, he describes his ivory ground "memling" gul rug as follows: "The hooked memling guls and the secondary guls are arrayed very much in the classical Turkmen manner. This design, which followed the great 12th and 13th century Turkmen Oghuz migrations, appeared in early Anatolian and westerly into the Caucasian Kazak and Moghan areas in the 17th and 18th centuries." Steve Price commented in the context of a thread concerning evolutionary issues that: "we probably agree that a textile with a field consisting of rows and columns of a gul, or alternating rows and columns of guls, is almost surely Turkmen. Since it appears in just about every subgroup, we can infer that it predates the separation of the major tribes." Having chewed on these comments has caused to wonder just what is being observed as the almost surely Turkmen or classical Turkmen manner? Is not the design arrangement being described specifically by Daniel and generally by Steve simply, at its core, a basic unit of design (the stepped polygon being the specific design unit in this particular case) repeated throughout the field and given emphasis either through the use of color juxtaposition creating a positive and negative design unit or by the insertion of a minor or secondary sub-ornament in the alternating row? I raise this issue because Christoph Huber has made the point that in terms of ornaments, it is hard to say which roots of ornaments are Turkic and which are Iranian or Persian in part because virtually all carpets we know were made after the arrival of the Turks in Western Asia. It seems to me that the same is true regarding the array, arrangement or field orientation of the ornament. Over the past few months several Salons have discussed the antiquity of weaving, weaving processes and some of the archeological record of weaving. For example, Christoph presented his findings from an examination of Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex (BMAC). We have also revisited Robert Pinner's comparison in Hali 5/2 of certain Yomud asmalyks with ashik designs found on Namaza III pottery (remember pottery probably pre-dating weaving as we know it). Similar forms to those we have been discussing such as serrated medallion forms, stepped polygons and others can be found in other areas including Anatolia and Iran that predate the Turkic migrations by thousands of years. Marla Mallett for her part has reminded us at least some knotted pile imagery or ornamentation probably has its roots in slit-tapestry, brocading and warp pattern weaves and that the weaving processes dictate the ultimate expression and constrain the ideational content of a weaving and that many of the forms we see as ornaments in carpets are simply basic to human expression. I would add that some of these forms may even pre-date weaving and have their origins in basketry, pottery and the utiliarian use rigid fibers before wool was of a type that could be woven. Bob Emry has put it another way in questioning the relationship in the coptic connection thread by observing that these shapes therein identified are so general and ubiquitous as to cast doubt on any significance to their similarity. Although "memling guls" are not common on Turkmen main carpets, they do appear on bags woven by virtually every subgroup. Following Steve's theory, the appearance of memling guls on the bags of these subgroups allows us to infer that its use as an ornament predates the separation of the major tribes. I would take it further and suggest that the ornaments and the array or arrangement of those ornaments we are observing is not so much Turkic or Iranian as they are weaving or even pre-weaving solutions. In this sense, I am not at all certain that it can be said that a particular ornament or an array oor arrangement of ornamentation can described as almost surely or classically Turkmen. Put another way, paraphrasing the actor Leslie Nielsen: I'm not Turkmen and don't call me Surely. Thank you, Michael Wendorf

Subject  :  RE:Almost Surely Turkmen
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  09-06-2000 on 04:20 p.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Michael, Clearly, within the context of Daniel's topic, I could hardly have selected a worse criterion to identify as "almost surely Turkmen". But the underlying principle is that you or I or almost any of our readers could look at photos of thousands of rugs and pick out the Turkmen from the others with something approaching 100% accuracy. That is, the information is within the patterns, motifs and colors, we don't need structural information to do it. We could then take the Turkmen rugs we picked out and further subdivide them tribe-wise. For some we could be almost 100% certain, for others we could narrow the possibilities down considerably, and there would probably be none where attribution to every one of the Turkmen groups seem equally likely. My point, confounded by the specific item I chose, was/is that we can do a lot of classifying without knowing anything at all about structure. This is not meant to imply that structure is unimportant to developing a classification scheme. It's just to emphasize that pattern, color, design and layout are also useful (in the hands of someone who selects examples better than I did, of course). Regards, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Almost Surely Turkmen
Author  :  Michael Wendorf
Date  :  09-06-2000 on 05:29 p.m.
Dear Steve and All: I understand your point in the context it was made. My issue in this thread is framed more broadly, and that is whether a particular ornament or the array, arrangement or field orientation of a particular ornament (you could also use design element in place of ornament) - for one example, the polygon device we are referring to as a Memling gul - can described as Turkmen or even Turkic given the information I refenced in the post beginning this thread? Best, Michael

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