TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Wendel Swan mailto:%20wdswan@erols.com
Date  :  11-29-2000 on 10:48 p.m.
Dear all,

Michael has referred to Shiv Sikri citation of the cover piece of the Yastiks book as "another example of this (the Internal Elem) process and hypothesis." Yet if we examine this specific example in light of Marla's astute and insightful post earlier in this salon, as well as in the context of other yastiks with the same pattern and in the context of all the other yastiks in that book, common sense should lead us to a conclusion other than that it is "precisely and carefully executed and an integral part of the language of a carpet."

Largely ignored in this salon are Marla's explanations for design irregularities in the lower portion of a rug:

1. The lower portion of the rug is more difficult to articulate.
2. Except for small pieces, pile rugs are likely to be the work of more than one weaver.
3. A design must be adjusted as the weaving progresses.
4. A "change of mind" of the weaver(s).

Implicit in Marla's post is the fact that executing any weaving is a process either requiring or making choices at many stages and levels. One such choice is the fundamental concept of corner "resolution" or turning.

In Morehouse's Yastiks, the cover piece (#55) and #56 share a common design with one owned by John Howe, but the execution of the main border differs in each case, as you can see below.

In the first (the cover piece), it appears that the weaver made no effort to turn the corner on the bottom main border, but simply ran it across the width of the yastik, separating its red ground from the ground of the ascending side borders by a line of ivory. She then (by choice, inadvertence, habit, whatever) continued the side borders up past the top of the field and filled in the top main border with similar elements.

In the second example (John's), the weaver also ran the bottom border across the width of the yastik, but used no ivory line to separate it from the side borders and when she got to the top of the field, she ran another border straight across, essentially symmetrical with the bottom border.

In #56 (the one on the right), the weaver adopted a similar approach, but used the ivory line for the bottom border but not in the top.

A perusal of Yastiks provides a plethora of means by which the corner can be turned, ranging from not at all to with decent precision. Plate #113, a Kurdish example, uses an approach similar to the cover example, while #87 has the "elem rectangle" for a bottom border and a synthesized variation at the top, with the checkerboard guard extended fully on the left but not on the right.

Plate 50 in Antike Anatolische Teppiche aus Osterreichischemb Besitz iprovides an interesting contrast of methods of corner resolution used possibly by two weavers working on this 4Ɗ" wide rug from Central Anatolia. If we are to believe in Internal Elems, one could exist as the bottom border and possibly as the left side border, although it is vertically elongated. If there were two weavers, they choose the same approach for the bottom border but elected different alternatives at the top. We could only speculate about personal preferences, habits, inattentiveness, or agreement.

It has been said that the Internal Elem can be found primarily in ethnic weavings that possibly contain this as yet untranslated language. But plenty of examples of poor corner resolution can be found among Persian city and village weavings. Most of the early (i.e., second half of the 19th Century) Saruks and Kashans did not have resolved corners, even when they were medallion types.

Following is a Tabriz dated to circa 1870 in which there was no effort made to resolve the corners. Our choice seems to be that we either believe the weavers in this workshop simply chose not to resolve the corners or they also, like the Belouch and Anatolian weavers, shared a mysterious and hitherto unknown means of expression that is unknown to historians and anthropologists.

And here is a silk Kashan with metallic threads, the epitome of urban weaving, also with no effort made to resolve the corners:

Even though these borders could easily fit into the broad definition given in this salon of an Internal Elem, I submit that there is not a scintilla of evidence that any of these weavers had any idea that they were creating an "internal elem," in whatever language that concept might be conceived.

If a weaver consciously makes one of the "changes" Marla refers to, is that "on purpose?" One can clearly believe that such an act is intentional, but is it really part of the "language of the carpet?" Does it have any meaning beyond the fact that the weaver(s) chose to do it one way rather than another?

My few examples here cannot disprove either the Sikri Hypothesis or the Bard Hypothesis, whatever they may be. But I think they show that we must be very careful before speculating about grand theories covering millennia and thousands of miles by a few limited examples and some anecdotal observations.

I'd love to see Marla Mallett's input on this, but it seems to me that both the Hilpp Belouch and the East Anatolian Kurd have irregularities simply because the weaver(s) improperly placed the secondary elements and later had to adjust or correct accordingly. In the Hilpp Belouch, it seems to me that the weaver began to weave the five-petalled flowers too late and had to truncate them in order for them to fit. That spacing miscalculation was not repeated. Clearly not all mina khani Belouch carpets share this anomaly. In the Kurdish rug, the medallions end up being in a classic 2-1-2-1-2 formation, but in the first row the weaver inserted the diamond in the same plane as the outer medallions, for which an adjustment had to be made in the next and following rows.

Observing that irregularities or anomalies or peculiarities exist in a wide range of weavings can provoke serious thought and discussion. I have had great difficulty understanding, despite repetition, exactly what the hypotheses are.



Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Richard Farber mailto:%20farberr@netvision.net.il
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 02:21 a.m.
Dear Mr. Swan,

Might I suggest that you consider doing a salon on the subject of the yastik? I believe that the examples that you posted come from two or perhaps even three very distinct lines of developement and perhaps should not be grouped into one catagorie.

Thank you

Richard Farber

N.B. I have been following the discussion and considering whether there is anything I know in the area of embroidery that might be pertinent and helpful. I have not yet found a parallel. [Steve, negative input is also input.]

The concept of the division of the carpet into three 'registers' heaven - earth - underworld is a beautiful idea.

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 04:06 a.m.
Dear Wendel & all,

A few months ago I bought a Caucasian (Shahsavan) mafrash .
In order to display it you need some kind of stand. So I measured the bottom sides of the mafrash and is height, I went to a carpenter and I ordered a wooden chest with a lid slightly smaller of the bottom and a body even smaller - the idea was that the mafrash could cover comfortably the chest upside down, with the sides hanging loosely.

When the chest was delivered I had a disappointing surprise: I discovered that I had wrongly assumed that the mafrash was symmetrical i.e. the "opening" of the bottomless side was the same of the bottom.
Well, it was a few centimeters narrower. To fit the mafrash on the chest I had to cut and file the chest lid and body corners. Now the mafrash "sits" tightly on his stand, only the bottom is quite loose.

What all this has to do with this Salon?
It has: I made this mistake because I unconsciously assumed that, well, if one has to make a mafrash, he should make the sides of the same sizes - at least that is the way I should work, provided I was a waver.
What I mean is that our culture is "biased" toward regularity, symmetry, perfection. We therefore have the tendency to avoid irregularities and to judge them as mistakes. Not only because we live in an industrialized world: from centuries in the west a good craftsmanship was synonym of "done to perfection".

So, let us use Occamís razor:
Intentional "irregularities or anomalies or peculiarities exist in a wide range of weavings" (to quote Wendel) and mainly in tribal or village weaving because those folks simply DO NOT GIVE A DAMN ABOUT PERFECTION.
It is even possible they donít like it, they try to avoid it - see the "Allahís perfection" and "evil eye" theories. They live in a very different world/culture, they "read" their weaving in a different way. Or itís better to say WE read their weaving in a different way.

I think the only way to verify the Bard Hypothesis or the Sikri Hypothesis should be a VERY lengthy
research on carpets & rugs and a subsequent classification of irregularities by type, location on the rug field, origin and age of the textiles and so on. But I am quite skeptical "about grand theories covering millennia and thousands of miles"(thanks Wendel, I use your words again).

Filiberto Boncompagni.

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 06:22 a.m.
Dear People,

I'd like to echo Filiberto's comments to the effect that errors are not of great concern to the weavers of central and western Asia. Handling of errors - what the weaver does about it once she discovers she's made one - is a subject we've dealt with in the past, and one of the things that was very clear is that attempting to conceal them was not part of the tradition - they were handled as simple matters of fact.

Richard, your comment The concept of the division of the carpet into three 'registers' heaven - earth - underworld is a beautiful idea is correct - it is a very beautiful idea. I think it is even likely that it was occasionally an idea that the weaver had. The problem is, we have no way of knowing how often or when. I offer a little adage known to all practicing scientists: It is always a sad day when your beautiful hypothesis comes face to face with an ugly fact.

Wendel's comment about the phenomenon being so poorly defined that he isn't even sure of what it is really is at the crux of the disagreements. Michael, who I believe understands the hypothesis about as well as it can be understood, in dealing with his own collection, comes face to face with a number of examples that he finds ambiguous, even after eliminating any with more than three obvious compartments.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Vincent Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 07:48 a.m.
Dear Wendel,

I think the corner solution idea can't be ignored. But I can give you thousand examples of rugs that have a beautiful balanced lower border design, perfect corner solutions, ending the job with a clumsy, straight left right, sloppy upper border design. It's because the field design ends, the weaver has to finish the job.
I'll post this Internal Elem Heaven to show this. The Wagireh is knotted as you see it.
Lower border stops at left and right, and the side borders continue down.

This tiny testcase shows however, how the weaver can experiment with the different designs. Starting one design, changing it abruptly when he/she seas it doesn't give the best result.
Posting an image, and making the assumption, based on the border/corner solutions what way is up and what way is down, isn't sufficient. A lot of New, (35 years), rugs don't fit in.

Best regards,
Vincent Keers

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Yon Bard mailto:%20doryon@rcn.com
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 09:37 a.m.
Wendel, you are bursting through an open door. Nobody has suggested that corner resolution has anything to do with the internal elem. I have specifically excluded the corner areas from my listing of irregularities, and have mentioned this fact in at least two threads. So your examples are very interesting, and may form the basis of a Salon on corner resolution, but they are not pertinent to the present discussion.

Regards, Yon

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 10:23 a.m.
Dear Yon,

In the thread entitled, The Internal Elem Configuration and Its Markings, message #21 posted by Michael says the following: The yastik above, the cover of the book documenting the exhibition at the Philadelphia ICOC is another example of this process and hypothesis. Please note that it is here in a non-repeating design format. Note also how the bottom border cartouche is indented to express the internal elem together with the compression in the spandrel area.

There may be a difference of opinion about whether this yastik has an internal elem, there may be a difference of opinion about whether the feature in the lower border is a border resolution or an internal elem, but that feature of that yastik wasn't just introduced by Wendel.

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Wendel Swan mailto:%20wdswan@erols.com
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 11:30 a.m.
Dear Yon,

Although it took me several days to finally make my post after composing it, during which you personally excluded corner resolution from the discussion, on November 25 in a thread he began, Michael specifically cited the cover yastik as "another example of this process and hypothesis."

Michael further said in that post: "Note also how the bottom border cartouche is indented to express the internal elem together with the compression in the spandrel area."

In a side discussion with me, Michael said that the reference to the yastik came from Shiv himself.

Thus, I believe I have not quite "burst through an open door."

I remain confused by the cornucopia of purported evidence of the delineation of the internal elem rectangle. Although the internal elem is said to be "precisely drawn," it can also be IMPLIED by markers. Michael's words were: "Markers include color changes, unique design elements, inversion, distortion, points and anything else that tends to
create or demarcate the upper perimeter line of the rectangle."

In my view, the very words "anything else" make virtually impossible the testing of this or any other hypothesis.

Perhaps some can find specific intent of a weaver in abrash to express profound ideas in or of a hitherto unknown language. I cannot. However, it is equally impossible on my part to say precisely why any instance of abrash occurs.

The yastik, presented as an example of an internal elem, offers an opportunity for specific and practical explanation of the "internal elem" phenomenon. Other purported evidence, such as markers, are nearly impossible to draw any conclusions from. Does it take two dots to imply the rectangle or will one suffice? Does one line of abrash imply the rectangle? If not, just how much does?

The "internal elem" hypothesis (perhaps more accurately described as an idea rather than a hypothesis) is unsupported by any anthropologist, cultural historian or weaver. The disparate examples shown in this salon provide neither consistency nor cogency to the argument in favor of its validity. That, I believe, is why there has been such a struggle in this salon to achieve a proper postulation of the hypothesis.



Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@home.com
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 01:36 p.m.

Perhaps I should have more precisely stated: "the bottom cartouche in each each of the side borders" rather than "bottom border cartouche." But really, do any of you see an indentation in any cartouche in the bottom border?

Given all that has been written, it is frustrating to read of this confusion. The internal elem is not a border or corner resolution issue and the "bottom border" would constitute only small part of the elusive internal elem as that concept has been proposed. It is not where we are looking in this hunt.

To try again in connection with the Yastik, the marker of the upper perimeter of the internal elem is at the lowest or bottom cartouche in each of the side borders where there is a clear indentation. Each cartouch reads as being white with a red and blue design inside the cartouche. This placement is entirely consistent with the Sikri idea or hypothesis as stated and restated. Take a moment to look again.

Best regards, Michael

Subject  :  Re:No elem in the yastik
Author  :  Yon Bard mailto:%20doryon@rcn.com
Date  :  11-30-2000 on 04:57 p.m.
I don't remember whether Michael has pointed this out elsewhere, but not only is there an indentation in each bottom cartouche, but its design is upside down relative to the others.

Regards, Yon

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