TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  The Senneh kilim in detail
Author  :  Wendel Swan
Date  :  10-04-2000 on 07:56 a.m.
Dear all, I thought you might enjoy seeing the unusual composition of the small (26" x 18") Senneh kilim shown at the TM. The field consists entirely of birds , not of floral motifs (which are found in the border). Some of the birds are free standing while others are stacked one on top of another, totemic style. I have placed small numbers (1-4) in the image on the right with the ruler showing the bodies of the birds. Number 4 is a bit more difficult to envision than the others. The bottom three may represent three different species of birds since they are drawn differently and the freestanding birds are yet of a different appearance. Given the careful and consistent execution of the weaving, I think this is not accidental. With somewhere around 65 wefts per inch, the kilim is among the finest I have ever seen. At least on my monitor, the colors here are more accurate than what you see in the Salon. In the more than twenty years I have owned this kilim, I have not seen another in this style, although I know it has a mate somewhere. In Ghereh issue 10 (December, 1996), Taher Sahahi wrote of a group of kilims from the village of Harsin, just to the east of Kirmanshah in Luristan. The Harsin kilims are much coarser than this one, but exhibit a similar totemic stacking of images and birds. The style of the birds is quite similar. I have always called this kilim Senneh, mainly because of its fineness, the colors and the borders, which is similar to what are commonly thought of as Kurdish motifs found in that area. Without comparable examples, however, a precise attribution is difficult. Can anyone recall seeing anything similar? Best, Wendel

Subject  :  RE:The Stack of Birds
Author  :  Patrick+Weiler
Date  :  10-04-2000 on 09:50 a.m.
jpweil00@gte.net Wendel. Has anyone come up with a reason why birds are frequently stacked upon on another in rugs? They are often of different species, so the obvious reasons do not apply. You say "totemic", but I suspect you mean this in the literal sense of "being stacked like in a totem pole", as opposed to having a "totemic meaning". I know birds in nature sometimes live on top of grazing animals, but I do not ever recall a couple of birds playing leap frog. The certainly don't need to do it so they can see around any better. Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  RE:The Senneh kilim in detail
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  10-04-2000 on 10:09 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Wendel, Not trying to be hard to get along with (I don't have to try, it's in my nature), but I'm not persuaded that the "birds" in your kilim are birds. Of the ones you number 1-4, I can't even get my mind to stretch to where #4 looks even a little like a bird, and 1-3 could just as well be a plant - especially since the parts that would correspond to stem and leaves are green and the blossom head (mighty poppy-like in my opinion) is red, just like a poppy. As a point in passing, wild poppies are all over the place in western Asia, and it wouldn't be too surprising if the city and village weavers knew about opium. Regards, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:The Senneh kilim in detail
Author  :  Wendel Swan
Date  :  10-04-2000 on 10:19 a.m.
Dear Pat, I did mean only stacking when using the word totemic, as did Sabahi in his article. I have no idea about any symbolism, why different species seem to appear or what those species are. Sabahi notes a wide variety in the style of depiction of the birds in Harsin kilims and that the connected medallions are called "hooz" or ponds, which may relate to ancient garden designs. There is no suggestion of medallions in this kilim, however, and no floral elements except in the border. Best, Wendel

Subject  :  RE:The Senneh kilim in detail
Author  :  Wendel+Swan
Date  :  10-04-2000 on 11:04 a.m.
Dear Steve and all, I fully expected that there would be a floral interpretation of the kilim "birds." Years ago a curator at a well-known museum immediately pronounced the images to be floral within 2 seconds of looking at the piece. I don't think you would argue that the freestanding images are anything but birds, nor that the images on the first level of the totem pole are birds. Those which appear at levels 2 and 3 are much harder to read and even I will say that it would be difficult to see them as birds if extracted and seen outside this context. (Let's forget about trying to really identify #4; it's so tiny that one can hardly tell what it is, although I see it as a final continuation of what preceded it.) However, floral images are almost always bilaterally symmetrical. These images are not. The relationship of the elements in the images is much more like what you would see in a bird in profile rather than any floral element. If levels 2 and 3 are flowers, it would be unusual to see flowers on top of birds. Birds on flowers would be more expected, but even that is something I haven't seen. Birds in trees, birds on branches, yes. I'll also say that this stacking of birds is extremely rare. The bird interpretation is also consistent with a Persian tradition of transforming one animal into another, sometimes creating a fantastic creature that we have discussed before. I am not familiar with one floral form being stacked on another or transformed into another floral species as is done with animals. Given the Harsin examples, I think birds are the correct interpretation, but this is an instance where different eyes will see different images. Best, Wendel

Subject  :  RE:The Senneh kilim in detail
Author  :  FilibertoBoncompagni
Date  :  10-05-2000 on 04:25 a.m.
filibert@go.com.jo Dear Wendel, I also have difficulties in identifying all the elements on your kilim as birds. Number 3 looks more like a flower to me - this one is red and there are others with similar design but yellow. Perhaps the whole subject could be described as "birds picking in a flower-bed". Birds and flowers are not stacked one on top of another but some are in front, others are behind, not on top. The lack of perspective makes them look as a totem pole. Right, number 1 and 2 seem to be an hybrid between birds and flowers. . . May be, the waver is trying to communicate the idea that she sees birds behind flowers actually transmogrifying in flowers. That should be congruous with the Persian tradition you speak about. Regards, Filiberto

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