Posted by Steve Price on 09-19-2002 10:13 AM:

The Hatchli Layout

Hi People,

If my memory is correct (and I know, it usually isn't), the subject of how the hatchli layout for ensis came to be hasn't come up.

I propose a rather unromantic notion. It's done that way because (wooden) doors are done that way, even when they are used on yurts.

Doors are done that way for a fairly uninteresting (or, at least, unromantic) reason: it's hard to get a single piece of wood big enough to make into a door, and even if you did use a big single piece of wood, it would crack and warp. So, we make doors by piecing together several small pieces, oriented in different directions relative to the grain of the wood. And, the ensi being a woven door, one of its usual layouts is that of a wooden door.


Steve Price

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 09-19-2002 11:16 AM:

This shoe fits...

Hi Steve,

The door analog is my personal favorite, for the following reasons:

1) Rigid, intrusive geometry

It's very unusual in the carpet world to have such a bold cross-cutting orthogonal design element splattered all over the field of a rug. Around the sides (borders), yes. Corners (spandrels), yes. Parallel lines (Afshars & Baluchis), yes. But huge crossbars ? No.

2) Proportions and layout

The similarity to wooden yurt door designs (at the major design element level) is strong. The width and positions of the ensi "crossbeam" design elements are consistent with structural elements of wood doors.

The minor "door panel" areas between the "crossbeam" and "frame" areas are generally filled with detail work that is similar in scale to that found on chip-carved wooden goods such as the chests found in yurts, and door carvings from central and south Asia.

It's certainly plausible to propose that the shamanist or tokenist design elements were transferred from other woven goods (or other art forms) onto the ensi format. And because I like the notion of ensis as dividing walls within yurts (or oys), I also wonder if there's a gender component to the "door panel" design details (mens area vs. womens area).

3) Lack of cross cultural design transfer

A lot of designs in the carpet world tend to grow legs and wander across cultural and ethnic borders. The ensi doesn't seem to have done so.

4) Practicality

Find a picture of a forest in the Turkoman inhabited regions. Then sell it for lots of money because very few people have one.

In addition to scarcity, wood doors are heavy and cumbersome and not nearly so convenient as something that rolls up and lashes easliy to the side of a camel.


Chuck Wagner

Posted by Steve Price on 09-19-2002 12:59 PM:

Hi Chuck,

I ought to close this thread to further posts now that one person thinks I'm right about one thing!

Oh, did anyone notice the elems at the bottoms of just about every wooden door?


Steve Price

Posted by Marvin Amstey on 09-19-2002 01:22 PM:

That's not an elem, that's a kick plate.

Posted by Steve Price on 09-19-2002 01:37 PM:

Hi Marvin,

Strictly speaking, a kick plate is a piece of something (often brass) that covers the lower horizontal panel of wooden doors. The lower panel is just a structural member that happens to be at the bottom. IF the hatchli layout is derived from that of wooden doors, then the elem is in the spot that the lower panel occupies.

And, before anyone points out that there are such things as flush doors - doors with simple, flat, one piece surfaces: the surfaces of flush doors are veneers. If you look inside, you'll find a layout of wooden parts not too different than what you see in paneled doors. The construction is dictated by the availability of large pieces of wood and especially by the tendency of large pieces of wood to develop cracks and to warp.

I don't know that the hatchli layout is derived from wooden doors, but it's something to consider. If that should turn out to be the case, one interesting consequence would be that the layout of most ensis is derived from the structural demands that dictate the layout of wooden doors. Those structural demands, obviously, are not structural demands for ensis. In some ways this reminds me of Marla Mallett's arguments about the origins of latchhooks as things dictated by the structural demands of slit kilims that got transferred into pile weavings.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-19-2002 02:22 PM:

Hi Steve,

I already suggested the correspondence between a real door and the cruciform format in "Candles in the garden" part one.
After that I realized that John had said the same thing in the second part of this Salon: At a most obvious level, the existing literature has suggested that the "hatchli" format with its "cross-like" shape can be seen to mimic the panels in many wooden doors.

That’s the problem with long Salons. One tends to forget previous postings.



Posted by Steve Price on 09-19-2002 02:36 PM:

Hi Filiberto,

That's the problem with being old and forgetful.

This reminds me a little of a story I heard in the early 1960's. I was working for Monsanto Company near Boston, also home to Polaroid Corporation. Polaroid's founder (Edwin Land), getting along in years and about as forgetful as I am now, used to come into the company's labs periodically all excited about his latest brilliant idea. The lab folks would have the sad responsibility of telling him that he had already invented that.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-19-2002 04:13 PM:

Dear folks -

In the Walter Denny catalog for the Turkish classical rug exhibition I have been whooping about, Walter too faces the problem of alternative explanations and gives a famous quote from William Occam:

"What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more."

Might it be that the "mimicing many wooden doors" thesis as an explanation of the "hatchli" layout, is likely correct because it requires the fewest assumptions?

Not near as much fun, though, despite the surprising "eddies" in this thread even to this point.


R. John Howe