Posted by Michael Wendorf on 05-24-2002 08:49 PM:
is it really possible that Steve now grasps the internal elem?
Have you considered the possibility that the change in the orientation of the diagonal stripe of your rug is an "internal elem"?
You may recall the exasperating discussion of Mr. Sikri's theory in a Salon hosted by Yon Bard. You have now apparently acquired a prime example of what Mr. Sikri has observed in many rugs and attempted to explain with his internal elem theory. Please do not choke when you swallow.
The part of my rug that would constitute an internal elem has its origin shift progressively up the rug from one side to the other. So it isn't an internal elem - it is an infinite number of internal elems. The very mother and father of all internal elem designs!
This could become a slippery slope but it seems to be that one of the primary topics you raise in your Salon is the shift in the diagonal.
You wrote: "Clearly, the piece invites us to revisit the notion that such changes are done on the basis of decisions made by a weaver who is not satisfied by the result of her original plan." You also suggest in the Salon and above that the shift appears different from what you describe as the "abrupt changes" you are accustomed to seeing in the early part of a rug. I assume that the abrupt changes you refer to are those changes that Sikri attempted to explain with his "internal elem" theory? Sounds to me like you are in danger of becoming an accolyte.
Whether an internal elem or not, can you be more specific concerning how this is different in your rug from what Sikri was attempting to explain? Part of what he was saying, I think, is that there is a kind of distortion in these rugs that can be part of a weaver's expression, much like a blue's musician might distort a common theme to personalize it. I do not believe Sikri argued that the changes had to be abrupt. Moreover, part of your objection to the theory was that the changes he attempted to explain were not precise enough or consistent enough to fit into a single theory or explanation.
Of the 6 or 7 related pieces that have been identified, yours seems to be the only one with this clear shift. I suppose the simplest answer might be that the weaver could not decide between simple ascending diagonal stripes and the chevroning effect of the Halley rug posted by Mr. Alimi. This seems unlikely, however, insofar as that rug appears to be another distinct type - unlike the others the ivory stripes are every fourth rather than every second stripe which results in a rug that does not appear to have an ivory ground. It is also woven with assymmetrical knots open to the left, not to the right.
It is also curious that the group to which your rug belongs tends to have a right to left diagonal orientation - yours is an exception as a result of the change. Dissatisfaction with the intended design, casual indifference, sloppiness, playfulness, distortion? I doubt the answer is dissatisfaction with the original plan or early result of the original plan. There was not enough to be dissatisfied with when the change was made, she would not have started the rug if she was dissatisfied with the original plan and would not have simply changed the orientation of it were this the likely explanation.
Internally yours, Michael
Some things that I think are absolutely clear about the rug on which my essay focuses are:
1. The oddity in the the stripes is not an accident or a correction. The weaver didn't abruptly change her mind about which way the stripes were going to point (and I can't think of any reason why it would make a difference anyway).
2. The "wave-like" curve that they make is a result, in part, of the fact that the direction changes progressively across the rug's width rather than all at once. This can hardly be an accident.
I think this is one of the unusual instances in which a weaver's creativity is unambiguous. That is, I can't chalk this one up to a change of mind, an error, or some other such thing. That's part of the appeal the piece has for me.
Now, is it an internal elem? Well, it obviously isn't a tradition if it's really an innovation. At least, not unless we play some semantic game like calling innovation a tradition, which fogs the situation so much as to make it undiscussable. Does it demonstrate that the other instances of change that I interpret as error corrections or changes of mind are also innovations? I don't think so, although it raises the possiblity that a few of them might be. How would we identify those few? The clearly planned nature of this one puts it into that category.
Michael and Steve:
The rug I posted as another thread has a subtle feature that might be more appropriate to mention here than in its own thread. A few inches up from the bottom of the field, the diagonal lines are interrupted by a short section where the lines become vertical. This is just for a few rows of knots, and is more prominent toward the middle than toward the edges. In this short section the plus-signs within the diagonal stripes have become more like crosses, with a longer vertical stem. This little interruption does catch the eye when you look at the rug. Does this represent a change of mind, just a mistake? If it were just a mistake, it seems that the weaver would notice before going on for several rows of knots. Was she undecided as to whether to change directions with the diagonals? It is hard for me to accept this as just a simple mistake.
Cheers, Bob Emry
Editor's Note: I inserted the image of Bob Emry's rug here to facilitate seeing what he describes. Steve Price
Dear Steve and Bob:
The change in Bob's rug is interesting. I went back and looked for similar changes in the Herrmann rugs I referenced. Assuming the rugs are depicted consistently, there is a change in the SO X plate 84 rug. The change, however, is executed as a small area in which one of the ivory stripes is colored in a darker color - could be a mistake. It does not extend across the width of the rug. The ATT 4 # 79 rug has no change that I can discern although there is a widening of the field near the point in question that I would tend to interpret as a correction.
That said, I think it is important to remember that Sikri's theory does not argue that the internal elem is always expressed the same way. On the contrary, the theory states that the internal elem can be expressed in numerous ways - but it is expressed at the same place. Of course, the fact that something can be expressed in numerous ways makes it virtually unproveable. Nonetheless, as even Steve apparently admits, there is a remarkable coincidence (?) of changes, innovations or "internal elems" (whatever they are, represent or may express) in some groups of rugs. I think this is one of those groups.