Posted by R. John Howe on 10-24-2002 09:18 AM:

"Alien" Necessarily Less "Sophisticated?"

Dear Michael and Menduh -

Thanks for this carefully argued and well-documented salon essay.

One of my questions in my initial reading occurred in a sentence of a paragraph in which you cited my description of a Walter Denny discussion of knot ratios and the implications of this for age and also for ease of migration of designs from other media to pile rugs.

It is clear that you feel that usually this is not a good thing. You wrote in part: "...this 1:1 ratio is the most easy available way to transfer alien motives to carpets - but leads to weaves of a much lower degree of sophistication, much less appropriate, than a gabbeh type of weave with a highly asymmetric ratio and many very fine wefts..."

Now I wonder whether the prejorative character of the term "alien" is necessary, but that is not my main question here. It is, rather, why must the designs implicated in such tranfers be seen as somehow "less sophisticated" than those the might be produced by the kilim weavers following their own design traditions?

One of the presentations given at the recent Textile Museum Rug Convention was by Julian Raby, Director of the Freer and of the Sackler Museums here. In it he suggested that in the second half of the 15th century there was a transformation in the designs of carpets produced in the courts of Eygpt, Iran and Turkey. The best documented guide to these changes are in bookbindings on manuscripts dedecated to The Ottoman Sultan Mehemed the Conqueror. There seems a close relationship between the designs used on these bookbindings and those on Medallion and Star Ushak carpets and Raby argued that they likely originated from a court atelier.

Now it is easy to see why you might see such transfers as "alien," in the sense that they may have a less than indigenous source, but in what sense must these designs, when transferred to pile carpets, be seen as "less sophisticated?" A "man-on-the-street" estimate would, I think, always rate their sophistication above that of the "gabbeh" example you cite.

Am I misunderstanding your argument here?

Are you, perhaps, referring strictly to the sophistication of the weave structure itself rather than to the designs employed?


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-26-2002 12:07 PM:

Hallo everybody,

sorry for the "...the prejorative character of the term "alien" . This is not what we have had in mind.
Plus: it is a bit more complicated, we guess.
There are two "alien" kind of design sources:

As we see it the unity of the process was broken then - and as an art the result we hold to be inferior. Imagine a painting where we would find out that the master painter himself did not execute it, just ordered from a remote place in a written form how it should be done. This comparison is weak: the master painter could paint by himself whereas the carpet designer who draws the carton has no direct experience with he materials that he commands in this indirect way. But the qualities of textiles ( it starts with making the yarns) depend on short feed back loops !
But you are right, John: we meant rather the sophistication of the weave structure - plus its balance with the design, which is good with these ideogrammatical material ( the term "geometrical" we do not find useful and appropriate as we stressed in the essay) but quite low with floral-curvilinear palace culture designs. Therefore, to give one example, the "early" ideogrammatical central medaillon in your late yastik appears more "convincing" than the strange and "ugly" alien motives in the earlier ones in that "yastik adventure thread".

One of the merits of early kilims lie in the fact that this type of design influence is nearly absent.


Michael Bischof

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-30-2002 03:49 PM:

Hallo everybody, hallo R. John Howe,

"alien" was not meant pejorative. And it is also important what type of alien design is implemented into this art.
Very early implementations we see in brick-work and in tile work in Central Asia - but in this case the "source" of thesedesigns is the same mentioned ideogrammatical one than it is in this authentic textile art. If you, as a secondary step, re-import this into weaves it is less "alien" than if artists, far avway from and without any feed back to the loom, paint the fashionable ornamentsof their time on paper and leave it to the weavers to transform this into wool, literally speaking. And this has happened in the period that you mention.

In fact it is another question that these weaves are structurally "poorer", less sophisticated, but more often than not much finer. Fineness is not a mental step forward but just a higher density of the old idea.

It is an advantage of early kilims that they were not touched by this development. So, as a necessity, they worked stronger on their own roots to find a consequent language, an own face, on their own.

And the man on the street does not accept all this art, workshop or not, as art anyway , ;-)



All times are GMT -5 hours. The time now is 08:45 AM.
Show all 3 posts from this thread on one page

Powered by: vBulletin Version 2.2.6
Copyright © Jelsoft Enterprises Limited 2000, 2001.