TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  How Best to Talk About Rugs
Author  :  R. John Howe
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 06:55 a.m.
Dear folks - This is a rug I ask you to look at again first to make sure that you see its very real beauty. It is a piece that it is worth pausing just to look at and to make sure that we have properly enjoyed it virtues. This rug is also dated 1854 and is in remakably good condition. It is the sort of condition that makes one wonder where it could have been all this time. But I want to use it here primarily to ask again a rather old question but one that most discussions of have left me less than satisfied. The question is: what do we recommend amongst ourselves as the best language to use when we describe rugs with arches in their designs? The most frequent, nearly automatic expression is "prayer rug." As you know, despite its continued widespread usage, this term has been objected to on a number of ground. The center of this set of objections is that it projects onto the piece a purpose which is nearly always questionable. Few pieces that we describe this way were actually used for prayer. A second term that is sometimes recommended is "mirhab" but this term too seems open to the critique that purpose is often being suggested incorrectly and the related one that no actual representation of a "mirhab" may be intended. As my lead in for this thread suggests, I have begun to attempt to adopt strictly descriptive language in this instance. The phrase "rugs with arches in their designs" seems to me to be the best I can manage at the moment. It is accurately descriptive and avoids any projection of either purpose or of representation. But what do you think? Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  RE:How Best to Talk About Rugs
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 08:21 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear John, I agree that this is a very beautiful rug. I don't want to inhibit discussion of the subject of what a "prayer rug" is, but I should mention that the very next Salon topic will be a discussion of embroideries with arches in their designs. Regards, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:How Best to Talk About Rugs
Author  :  R. John Howe
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 10:36 a.m.
Hi Steve - I didn't ask and definitely don't want to get into a discussion of "what is a 'prayer rug?'" But I agree that discussion of the question I asked is better deferred to the next salon. Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  RE:How Best to Talk About Rugs
Author  :  Yon Bard
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 10:39 a.m.
John, I think 'rugs with arches in their design' is a bit awkward. Also it's more general than 'prayer rug' since the latter, without further qualifications (such as double-niche' or 'multiple') implies a single niche, usually near the top. I also think that once a term is as widely used as 'prayer rug' you're only creating confusion by using some other term. Regards, Yon

Subject  :  RE: Going in a Different Direction
Author  :  R. John Howe
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 11:40 a.m.
Hi Yon - Thanks for this but as you can see above, Steve is asking that we not have here part of the discussion that might be more usefully held in the next salon. But since we have this rug up let me ask another question entirely about it. Wendel said in the introductory photo essay that this rug is "likely from the Konya region because of its distinctive yellow and its weave." Wendel, it strikes me that Turkish rugs in particular seem difficult to distinguish structurally because, for beginners, they all seem to use a Turkish knot. I've heard some folks say that "unplied wefts" are characteristic of pieces from Western Turkey but I'm wondering what the "weave" characteristic you are referring to here is that might help place this rug in the Konya area. Regards, R. John Howe

Subject  :  RE:How Best to Talk About Rugs
Author  :  Vincent+Keers
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 11:53 a.m.
Dear John, A prayer rug is a prayer rug. From a commercial point of view, it's more exotic and sells a lot better. The most genuine "rugs of prayer" I know from 18th century, are very open in the centre field, as Suzani. From 19th century onward, the "prayer rugs" gets a more decorative look. Some say a more Persian look. Your favorite shows this effectively because it could easily be turned 180 degrees. Like this. Literature does not know what to do with this. So, if a prayer rug isn't satisfying, Rug of prayer could be for the real stuff. Like house of prayer. Best regards, Vincent Keers

Subject  :  RE:How Best to Talk About Rugs
Author  :  Daniel+Deschuyteneer
Date  :  09-26-2000 on 05:47 p.m.
Daniel Deschuyteneer Dear all, I don’t know what Wendell is referring to when he speaks of Central Anatolian “weave” but he will surely explain us it. In the last Central Anatolian rugs I have handled, warps were two ply ivory wool without warp depression, wefts were always red, brown or yellow wool singles with 2 or more shots between rows of knots. Wefts were crossed between sheds. One of the most distinctive characteristic of Central Anatolian weave is the selvage with their reciprocal triangular sections. During last ICOC such selvages could be seen in yellow ground Konya rugs from the Orient Stars collection. Examples are on display on Marla’s site. Follow this URL KONYA SELVAGE and go at the bottom of her page. Now about colors, I have examined Afshar bagfaces with what seemed to be natural red colors that had run. If I remember exactly James Opie in one of his two books relates the same observations in Qashqai rugs or utilitarians. Thanks for this very good Salon, Daniel

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