TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Rug Studies?
Author  :  Jim Allen mailto:%20abey@vei.net
Date  :  09-09-2001 on 02:51 p.m.
Oriental rugs have long been appreciated on the floors and tables of the worlds well to do citizens. Large court carpets for centuries adorned the palaces and dwellings of monarchs. Most Central Asian societies, of the last one thousand years we have knowledge of, seem to have produced robust weaving Westerners consumed and enjoyed on the floors of their dwellings.
Oriental rugs, until the end of the 19th century, were just about universally consumed on the floors of our forefather's homes. As hard as it is to believe, oriental rugs were never considered an art form by significant numbers of people until the second half of the 20th century. I believe that in the simple act of cleaning and hanging an Oriental rug for consumption by the eyes only at an appropriate height elevates the weaving psychologically into the realm of art.
The transition of Oriental weavings from the mundane world of the floor to the realm of art on the walls of fine homes has not been a smooth one. Serious questions have arisen about the authenticity of a large number of important Oriental rugs in the world's collections. In my own C-14 studies with N. Kajitani we discovered that a large carpet cataloged as "Classical" by McMullen was in actuality a 17th century reproduction. It was in fact at least 150 years younger than previously thought. It is situations like this that I categorize as having a problem with authenticity. This problem has been exponentially compounded by the advice of "rug dealers", who historically have had essentially no real information about the origins of rugs, to "collectors" who trusted naively in their advice. The psychological effect of this "betrayal" was so powerful in France that the term "rug dealer" is even today a pejorative slang term meaning someone is a sneaky crook.
Serious scholarship connecting all types of representational art, including 19th century travel logs, may one day combine with an advanced technology to accurately position the pieces in the worlds collections in time and perhaps in space, the when and where of it all.
This sums up my feelings about the general state of rug scholarship. Most if not all of what I have just said does not apply to the weavings of the great Turkoman tribes. Made and consumed within the context of a totally isolated and alien society the appearance of historical Turkoman weavings in the civilized world always made a significant impact. The Turkomen were hired as mercenaries by the Egyptians in the dark ages and immediately impacted Mamaluk art and even migrated to Spain where their regal designs were translated by the Moors into their carpets.
Turkoman design has many sources of inspiration, including the designs of significant others like the Persians, but in the main reflects the pure and simple essence of flying. The vastness and majesty of the environment's terrain oppress a man on foot in the hinterlands of Central Asia. Most villagers working the land never in their life felt the "wind in their face" experienced by each and every horse-mounted Turkoman. In all truth this feeling for the pressure of an unseen atmosphere is such a spiritual one and is so desirable that people today still ride motorcycles without helmets in Americas' vast western states. I believe that the Turkoman riding fast across the dunes felt as if he were a great eagle swooping out of the sky. I believe that this feeling of freedom and power was the driving force behind the popularity of archetypal nomadism. As free as a bird, does that ring a bell for you? Their older main carpets seem to employ a certain set of visual distortions whose dispassionate appreciation often results in the illusion of birds flying against a blood red sky. There is ample evidence to suggest that in secret ceremonies ritual dances were preformed on special carpets woven by shaman where entheogens were consumed, especially aminita muscarina fungii, to cross over into the mind of the great eagle in the sky. Elmby sold an 18th century Kepsie gull carpet a few years back to a New York collector that had the figure eight of this dance worn into its surface. Some evidence in support of this view surfaced a few years ago when a photograph of the rug was found taken in the early 1930's. It was in exactly the same condition then as when it was acquired. The start position of the dance was also clearly indicated by two prominent border elements dyed to closely resemble the red of glowing embers. I have stood on those embers and done the dance on the rug myself and I can confidently say the pattern worn in the surface matches exactly the natural twisting and turning of the figure eight defined there. This is a fine example of an inductive process. Most Oriental rug studies contain a strong element of the inductive process where one moves from some generalized observation to a specific position. This isn't considered good science, for intra-observer reproducibility of the process is often poor. This should not be used as a reason not to theorize or use the inductive process. In the future we may know more than we do now. Some of our theories will turn out to be absolutely correct. We should all aspire to elevate the understanding of our fellow man. Unfortunately until more is know, we must each individually decide what we will accept and what we will reject. Jim Allen

Subject  :  Re:Rug Studies?
Author  :  Lloyd Kannenberg mailto:%20lloyd_kannenberg@uml.edu
Date  :  09-12-2001 on 06:14 p.m.
Can anything be learned by looking at Persian miniatures etc? There is an exhibition catalog of Timurid art with nice reproductions of maybe 14th century pictures showing princes seated on cushions and/or rugs. The designs don't look familiar to me, but I'm no expert.

Subject  :  Re:Rug Studies?
Author  :  Jim Allen mailto:%20abey@vei.net
Date  :  09-12-2001 on 10:34 p.m.
There are two important Timurid Persian miniatures both considered intelligently by Robert Pinner in Turkoman Studies One. To Pinners' insightful considerations I would add the following observation. The art of the miniature concerns the removal of the superfluous and a concentration on the meaningful. I have seen a baluch weaving of obvious age that recapitulated exactly the design apparent on these two miniatures. Is this meaningful? These minitures are thought to be important because they represented an official visitation by civilization to the rulers of the land of darkness, the archetypal horse-mounted Khan. The flying carpet design of the supposed horse cover he sits upon while that weaving is itself placed upon another weaving belies the fact that these people felt themselves to be the scourge of the wind, Gods' own breath. The khan sat upon a flying gull design horse cover which itself is reverently placed on another lesser weaving. The gull design is the design of flight used to decorate classical Turkoman weavings. It can be inferred that the Turkoman were weaving appurtenances for the great Khan himself indicating their high position in his court during the 14th century. The Turkomen themselves were preeminent during the 16th century. Jim Allen .

Subject  :  Re:Rug Studies?
Author  :  Tom Cole mailto:%20thomascole@earthlink.net
Date  :  09-14-2001 on 03:21 a.m.
Regarding the study of old images to ascertain information re: design origins....the paintings depicting the story of Wen Chi, a Han princess abducted by the nomadic hordes are also quite revealing

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