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Subject  :  Internal Elems in Kurdish Weavings
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@home.com
Date  :  11-28-2000 on 11:15 p.m.
Dear Readers:

Approximately one year I organized a small exhibition of Kurdish rugs. The exhibition consisted of about 50 pieces from virtually all major Kurdish areas with the exception of northeastern Iran or so-called Khorasan.

The above rug, a blue wefted example from around Kagizman in eastern Anatolia was among the pieces exhibited. It is a dark and moody piece with incrdibly glossy long staple wool and deeply saturated colors. The side border are classic and distinctive of the particular group.

Given the material quality of the rug, I was always struck by its assymmetries in the bottom third. This includes a clear color change in the field from a dark burgundy red to a purple color, the addition of a unique design element in the distinctive border at or very close to the color shift in the field, distortion of the center pendant like element below the central medallion and precisely placed at the color change, the additional of classically Kurdish design elements within the purple area - namely the blue diamond shapes with the latchhook devices and another row of seemingly randomly placed devices just above the lower border.

As I continued to study this rug and others as they were hung together, it occurred to me that this fit the description of the internal elem. I began to examine all the rugs very closely. In the end, I examined 44 rugs and bags. This examination included pieces from many weaving areas including Kolyai, Sennah and Bijar as well as Sauj Bulagh, Sanjabi and eastern Anatolia. I was shocked to find that at least 26 of the 44 pieces I examined contained a fairly clear internal elem consistent with my understanding of that term as first hypothesised by Shiv Sikri. A separate examination of 12 old Jaf Kurd faces (4 of which were in the exhibition and the original study) found that 8 of 12 pieces contained a clear internal elem in the first complete row of horizontal diamonds - there were either six or eight horizontal rows in each piece. The elem in each of the eight was delinated by either variations in the drawing of the so-called latchhooks in what seemed to be deliberate ways or a color change or both. Three of the eight had similar variations in other areas along the last vertical row of diamonds on either or both side of the bag, one other example contained chevrons on each of these vertical rows instead of latchhooks.

Important to these findings were that I was not immediately able to discern internal elems in two complete weft-float brocaded flatwoven bags nor in two weftless soumak bags that I examined. This surprised me because if the internal elem were a traditional effect, I would expect to find it in such weavings commonly.

The above bag, shown in two orientations because I am not certain which is up and which is down, is a very well made weft float brocade on a plain weave ground (one ground weft after two pattern rows) with two-span floats alternately and, in places, vertically aligned and covering the ground weave. I excluded this piece from the group containing an internal elem but then realized that there is some compression of the concentric diamond plus single diamonds in each bag half found in the larger white diamond pattern that have a color change - blue being changed to red in both instances.
If this piece were included, it would increase the number of internal elems to 27 of 44. The larger question in my mind is why we see apparent internal elems more frequently and perhaps more easily in knotted pile than in flatweaves?

Another group that was difficult to assess for internal elems were rugs with clear compartment designs.

This rug with a Holbein derived rug was included because it clear has three compartments. (As an aside, the rug on the right has an elem formed by floral devices morphing into anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figures at the second register.)

By contrast, this east Anatolian rug was excluded because it has six compartments. Although there are possible markers in the border between the second and third compartment, they did ot seem clearly enough elem markers to be included.

More difficult was this carpet:

The carpet appears in Hali 62 on page 61 where it was used to distinguish Kurdish weavings from Yuruk weavings. It contains 7 compartments was included because in this example an internal elem is demarcated precisely by the ommission of a horizontal line in the main border, a color change - note how the border on one side contains the missing horizontal line and on the other the interior of the border element has a color change (this color change occurs again higher in the border, but first here).

Other rugs that were included and that represent other examples of the internal elem in Kurdish weavings include Sauj Bulagh weavings such as this one:

Here the internal elem is marked by a clear color change and the inversion of a floral device that appears in many Kurdish weavings and was a subject of discussion in one of Daniel's Salons. The appearance of the elem is all the more remarkable here because the rug is among the oldest in the exhibition and shows great care and assurance in the drawing. To put it another way, the elem seems intentional to me.

Less clear until your eyes start to see the internal elem is this herati patterned carpet.

However, there is a clear color change and compression both in the border and the field at precisely the second row of the repeat design.

Another example is this Talish like Kurdish long rug with an open field.

Note the human like figure at the 1/3 point of the rug. It was included due to this figure and small markers in the border, though not without some debate. This is probably the most controversial addition to the group with internal elems.

I do not know what this data might mean or prove, if anything. But is does establish, I think, that there is a fairly consistent use of what Sikri calls markers and what others have described as anomalies or irregularities at the area where the Sikri hypothesis argues an internal elem is woven. Unfortunately, I did not record whether similar markers appear in other places in all of the carpets included in the group of 26. But I have reexamined most of the pieces and can say i have not found any pieces in which the markers I was relying on were repeated elsewhere.

I hope this adds something and that the images load clearly.

Thank you, Michael Wendorf

Subject  :  Re:Internal Elems in Kurdish Weavings
Author  :  Yon Bard mailto:%20doryon@rcn.com
Date  :  11-29-2000 on 09:00 a.m.
Michael, thanks for the many wonderful examples.
On the question you raise, maybe it's simply that pile is a more flexible medium than flatweave, making it easier to introduce subtle variations.

Regards, Yon

Subject  :  Re:Internal Elems in Kurdish Weavings
Author  :  Michael Wendorf mailto:%20wendorfm@home.com
Date  :  11-29-2000 on 09:31 a.m.
Dear Readers:

I regret that the images ae not clearer. I hope you can see enough to make out most or all of the markers.

One further comment. Note the bag to the right of the Talish like rug in the last image. In the field, the design begins with two fairly crude rosettes or flowers. There are then clear markers and very well drawn stepped polygons fill the remainder of the field. Although this piece was included among the sample with internal elems, it demonstrates how difficult this process can be. Unlike most of the other examples, turning this detached face over reveals different wefting and other tell tale signs that another weaver took over and finished the bag using the stepped polygons. I surmise that this very old bag with soft, glossy and thick wool is the product of a daughter and mother (or perhaps a less skilled and then a more skill weaver). Both sets of hands used the same dyed wools but with very different results. I find it difficult to conclude that the internal elem here is intentional or meaningful.

Regarding Yon's comment that knotted pile is more flexible or, to use Marla's terminology, less restrictive seems absolutely clear. But if, as Marla and others have demonstrated, many knotted pile designs evolved (or are transitional) out of more restrictive flatwoven techniques, it seems odd that the internal elem would be more dominant in the evolved medium. Perhaps it is there, certainly I have seen kilims that seem to have an internal elem, but it does seem much less common. This remains troubling to the concept of an internal elem consistent with the Sikri hypothesis as I understand it.

Best, Michael

Subject  :  Re:Internal Elems in Kurdish Weavings
Author  :  Vincent Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  11-29-2000 on 11:43 a.m.
Dear Michael,

The images are clear enough. Thank you for showing us. Beautiful.
In my first "Keep on banging" posting I showed some enthusiasm because I'm having some out of the ordinary, brain damaging ideas about elongation, compression and perspective, that will get me hospitalized.

I did an investigation myself. I will not put in any images. It handles kelly's from Azerbaijan/Iran, not one of them older the 25 years. Twelve rugs, four pretty new.
I found in five rugs Internal Elems in the lower halve. Three of them, Internal Elems in the upper halve. Five of them none.
I did not include field/border miscalculations at the beginning of the rug.
This tells me, the Internal Elem should be available in new rugs to. If this is the case, it would be a wise thing to ask around.
I think we know the answer."It's the Eternal Elem. Only Allah is perfect."
And because of this last statement, it can't be discussed.

Best regards,

Subject  :  Re:Internal Elems in Kurdish Weavings
Author  :  Yon Bard mailto:%20doryon@rcn.com
Date  :  11-29-2000 on 03:17 p.m.
Michael, pile weaving is at least 2400 years old. Enough time for the medium to have developed its own quirks, such as internal elems.

Regards, Yon

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