If I understand it correctly, it's the combination of design that puts you on track.
Here's a combination of design that I thaught to be Azeri, but could well be Shahsevan.
One thing keeps on bothering me:
All ethnologic, ethnolinguistic maps I've found, no mention of Shashevan, Shasevan or Shasavan.
They just do not excist.
I've counted 30 tribes.
But, it seems, some of us have encountered them.
Saw a German documentary about Shahsevan has been on air on "Phoenix channel" in Germany?
Looking at the map again. It's more easy to get to the Kaukasus going downstream and arriving
at the Kaspian sea. The way the Oguz/Turkmen did it?
Coming from Iran or Turkey, some mountains are in the way.
Again. What did the Shahsevan look like?
Turkmen/Mongolian? They spoke a sort of Turkish.
Or Turkmen from Turkey? But they too have roots in the Central Asian Oguz tribe.
I'm getting more and more confused.
you got it quite right. Azeris are mainly, or better have been mainly Shahsevan. You won't find them in any encyclopedia nor in the net. They haver been neglected for a long time. They look like Turks or Turkmen, that is their background and also Kurdish.
I have not seen any Mongolian types, but I only saw a small group.
But we don't have any idea who of the people today were once part of the Shahsevan.
Your bag looks Shahsevan to me.
Vincent and All- It has been my impression that the term Azeri Turk refered to those turko-mongols who were displaced by the Arbic usurption of Persia, and that Shahsevan, meaning something in the order of "loyal to the Shah" were "guided" to their environs at the behest of the Shah Abbas as a bulwark against incursioins. The terms are more historic appelations than ethnic designations.- Dave
hi david and all
i'm surprised at the lack of discussion in this salon?? well, i am going to stir the pot here.
if the 'shahsavan' are not an ethnic group, but merely a collection of ethnic groups who either willingly, or unwillingly, paid allegiance to the shah, then we have to accept that there is no such thing as a 'shahsavan' weaving ( i have always understood the shahsavan to be a DISTINCT group of peoples, having their own customs, traditions etc.)
It is too general to call a rug 'shahsavan'. one needs to call it 'moghun shahsavan' or 'azeri shahsavan' etc.
clearly (to me) the term shahsavan is simply a generic term used to describe a mish mash of ethnic groups who lived in a given location at a given time. each group still followed it's own traditional weaving designs/structure etc.
the term 'shahsavan' is then reduced to a term such as a 'persian' rug (what does that mean really? not much. it is simply a marketing word in this day and age)
so - if i am right - where to from here?
i eagerly await responses. please fell free to vehemently debate the issue.
Here's my $0.02 worth on that. The Shahsevan designation includes a number of tribal peoples who were moved to a fairly small geographic area and became neighbors, if they weren't neighbors before. Not unexpectedly, they had influences on each other. So I'm not sure it is accurate to say that each group still followed it's own traditional weaving designs/structure . That is, all the Shahsevan groups did not produce identical weavings, although there are some common factors within them.
It reminds me of Turkmen, which includes a number of tribal peoples within a more or less limited geographic area. Each group has its own characteristics, weaving-wise, and we usually are able to tell one from another (or, at least, to believe that we can). At the same time, the works of the different Turkmen groups have enough in common to make it pretty easy to tell Turkmen from non-Turkmen textiles.
Reza Shah Pahlevi(invented name) was Reza Khan, a soldier that came to power by a coup in the twenties.
He was Turkmen! Maybe he was Shahsevan? His son came to power in 1941.
He had to run, because Ghomeiny came back from exile. This was 1981.
Before 1981, it was obvious to call yourself Shahsevan if asked for.
"Hey, You! Are you a Sahsevan?"
"Ah, yes Sir! I'm Sahsevan! I love The Shah! Are you Savak?"
After 1981, better not.
So where did the Shahsevan come from? I've learned they where Nomads from different background and a pain in the .... for Shah Abbas.
How can you raise tax if they are running around in your country?
So, round them up and deport them to the outskirts of the country.
Did they like Shah Abbas?
No. They became part of his inventory. Shahsevan.
Lovers of the Shah? No, belonging to the Shah.
Think if we could have a word with Shah Abbas, he would say they loved him. ("I didn't slaughter them? So they have to love me!")
This is something most dictators do.
And the joke is, after 300/400 years, we think it's true.
I can't find a way to give the Shahsevan a place in history like Turkmen, Qashqai, Kurds, etc. etc.
I did find a village named Shakhsevan. It's in Azerbaijan at the border with Iran.
It's the combination of design that makes a rug coming from Azerbaijan. And especially the combination of the cross, the X and the square
combined with a lighter colour scheme and white. I call those rugs: Azeri
We should not forget that the Shahsavan isn't the only ethnically mixed confederation.
Take the Khamseh, for example: it was composed by tribes of Arab, Turkic and Lur origin. Their weaving is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the neighbors Quashqa’i - the differentiation is based more on structure than design.
And, by the way, the Quashqa’i themselves, mostly Turkic, had also some Luri roots.
Hello Vincent, hello everybody,
if I understand correctly, you are from Netherland, so to speak European. I am amazed about what you wrote. You're sense for historical data ... Are you related to van Gogh? His name was Vincent as well!
Although I don't know what the tribal origin of Reza Pahlevi was, I don't think it's important for a confederacy that disappeared already in 1830.
By the way, Khomeini came in 1979 and the Shah was out then.
As Azerbaijan was home to this confederacy till 1830, I am not astonished that so-called Azeris look a lot like Shahsevan works.
The pain in Shah Abbas's ... were actually the Kizil Bash. A good portion of those became the founding groups of the 'Shahsevan'
if they were really founded by him. This is the question mark in the whole history of this group. But it looks like it.
All the best
bertram, you say the shahsavan confederacy had disappeared by 1830.
do we see any major changes in shahsavan weavings after (or close to after) this period? i know towards the end of the 19C (and even earlier - after chemical dyes were introduced) we see some major changes in weavings.
i guess what i am asking is - how important was the end of the confederacy in terms of shahsavan weavings? those pieces woven 1830-1880/'00 - are they DIFFERENT to earlier pieces in any major way?
i realise dating pieces is problematic, but i have read that experts can differentiate pieces in 30 year blocks.
in 1828 the contract of Torkmanchai was signed after a war of 20 years between Persia and Russia, only shortly interrupted by a first contract (Golestan), where the Russians secured parts of the coast line till Baku. There goal was the oil and they got it. The new border was the Arax river. It cut off many of the formally loyal tribes. The Khans lost their power but they stayed in Russia. The Meshkin group and part of the Moghan group were slowly driven out of there winter camps in the Moghan, loosing about 2/3 of their gracing ground to grow more or less quickly into poverty. Many of them must have settled under these new conditions. Those who stayed in Russia (after all the new Shahs were no longer Safavid) had plenty of room still in Moghan, up the Kura valley and the adjacing hills. Surely everybody continued what they were doing before, so their weavings just went through the same 'degenerating process' as everybody else's.
In my Shahsevan book you can look up plate 39. It is dated 1848
and I bet it is not the oldest one in there.
Think I'll have to do better, so I'll try again.
I do like Azeri, Shahsevan rugs etc.
And some places on the internet seem to show 15, 16, 20 Shahsevan pieces on a row.
All right with me. Who the ... am I?
(A very good marketing strategy at this point is: "As far as I know, I do not have a single Shahsevan in stock")
My main objection is this:
A Daghestan rug is a Daghestan rug.
A Derbent rug is a Derbent rug.
I think you go one step to far.
(Yep, I'm the short-sighted kind of guy. But I'm not alone. You're surrounded by billions.
And I'm that short-sighted that I think I'm the only not short-sighted on this planet. How.......well ok)
A Daghestan rug with design, that you think is specific Shahsevan, doesn't make the rug Shahsevan.
A Kurdish rug with Caucasian design is a Kurdish rug.
A Sparta rug with Aubuson design is a Sparta rug.
An Anahit made in Turkey, by Armenians is a Turkish rug.
A Bergama with Christian design made by a Jewish weaver is Turkish.
If design only, is the main guide, I think we're in big trouble.
If technicalities are the main guide. It's big trouble too.
It's the combination that does the trick.
If one of the two is missing, I think we have to agree that we simply don't know.
I don't understand why the results of structural analysis is considered a reliable attribution tool. An expert weaver would have little more trouble making structural changes than design changes. It is not rocket science, no new wheels have to be invented, and there are formulas for doing just that. If village X and village Y weave rugs similar in all but structure and village Y rugs sell for more money, how long do you think it would take for village X to learn village Y's rug structure? Sue
Fact is that buyers go after design, not structure. You don’t buy a rug because it has nicely depressed warps or wonderful selvedges. You buy it because you like its colors and design.
Consequently, if a weaver copied a successful and fashionable pattern she was likely to do it using the structure she learned in her childhood and was traditionally used in her tribe/village.
That is, by the way, the logic behind Marla Mallett’s "End Finishes Project":
Nowadays there still is little awareness among buyers about technical construction of rugs, so I do not think weavers of the past felt the need to copy a carpet down to its structure in order to sell it more easily.
Unless somebody wanted to produce a fake, of course. But this is a different matter.
Or, to put it more simply: I doubt that buyers of the past were so
knowledgeable to conjugate structure and design with provenance. This is a quite
recent - and unfortunately not very accurate, yet - science. So I don’t see why
weavers of the past had to copy somebody else’s structure.
Originally posted by Sue Zimmerman
An expert weaver would have little more trouble making structural changes than design changes. ...
Hi Filiberto, Steve, and Everyone,
First I must say that I think it is a good idea for anyone interested in rugs to learn how to analyze structure. It enhances understanding and that is always good. It isn't hard. I am glad that such information is becoming available in the West and Marla Mallet's site is an excellent place to learn. Her book, Woven Structures, is excellent, too. Everyone should have a copy of it. I do.
The example I gave in my last post was a bad one, sorry. I'll try again.
For those who don't know about structures yet it is good to know that structures can facilitate design elements or detract from them. Rug designs with a lot of horizontal and vertically drawn elements will not be enhanced by using offset knots, the lines will look jagged not smooth. Rug designs which use mainly diagonally drawn elements are enhanced by offset knots as they will appear smooth.
A weaver who has used, all her life, a 10H by17V KPSI structure has remembered her traditional motifs in tandem with a rectangular memorized grid system which she utilizes to plan spacing on her rugs. For instance, if she wants 3" wide boarders she knows she will have to knot horizontally running boarders 51 knots high. She knows she will have to knot vertically running boarders 30 knots wide. All of her memorized patterns take up a memorized amount of space on a memorized rectangular grid system as she plans her rug. This is necessary as the rug is constructed one horizontal row of knots at a time and she wants her three bird legs exactly centered under the bird, as they should be, etc.
Some new designs the weaver wishes to incorporate into her rug will fit into her grid system easily. Some can be adjusted into place. If she just must make a rug full of foreign designs which would be distorted beyond recognition in her grid system she has a decision to make.
If the new designs are based on a square grid system rather than rectangles she is better off with say a 14H by 14V grid. This way she won't be confused translating every motif and every spacing from her memorized rectangular grid to a square one at every step. The square motifs can be planned for more naturally in a square grid system.
Say a tribal weaver is selected by a "spotter" to work in a court workshop. Would she freeze in fear because a different structure is used at court than at home? Of course not. They would teach her, just as they trained a lot of other weavers from far away. If things don't work out and she finds herself back home, she might tell all of her Turkman tribe how she learned how to translate rectangles into squares. She might teach them how to make all of their oval guls circular. Sue
for me structure is an important tool to find out who made a rug.
When you look at Turcomans it becomes clear very fast, that one needs to know differences in structure to place a piece. It is not only a question of color and design.
When I look at a Daghestan the structure must fit so that I can call it a Daghestan.
Or a Shirwan, same thing. Knowing that a lot of the weavers in these areas were part of the Shahs. confederacy at one point means to me that I also have to look for design elements.
A cross is a christian symbol, but it is also the most easy design to weave. Otherwise we can call all the crosses in pre christian weavings christian as well. Would that mean that some weavers foresaw what's coming?
What about all the Armenian rugs woven in Turkey? Are they Turkish rugs, Vincent?
A Shahsevan rug is in general also a Caucasian rug. All it needs is a place where it was made.
Oh, and I don't mind to be alone, as Azadi and Jon Thompson were alone too. Look what has happened. We have the S-group, the Imreli, the Eagle-group and others. All I am saying is that there are a lot of Caucasians which we cannot place well. They look like on area, but the structure does not fit. So who wove them?
We know there was a large ex-Shahsevan population and they were weaving a lot of stuff as literature tells us. What would you call somebody who -facing these facts- insists on they never made carpets? Or, I don't know how they look like so I just call them Caucasian.
Over time borders change, countries change, but not the people.
Would anyone call a Turkmen rug a Russian rug?
I agree with Sue, that's how designs travelled in my opinion.
Please, do understand that I'm the short-sighted one. Think you're doing a great job in trying to give Shahsevan a place in history.
Everybody deserves a place in history. But your concept is based on design only. I do not think the cross is a Christian symbol.
A cross upon a square is a very orthodox Christian symbol. And it seems this combination of two designs is given a place in the Islamic design tradition.
I do not understand this.
What Armenian rugs do you mean? The Turkish rugs with Armenian inscriptions? Yes, those are Turkish rugs with Armenian inscriptions.
The Turkish rugs with Armenian design? What Armenian design? A cross? A square? An X? The tree of Jesse? Are those rugs Islamic Turkish rugs?
Armenian, Christian Turkish rugs? Maybe Shahsevan? Same design combinations.
If we can we find one design, one special Shahsevan design. Think that would help.
Like some Qashqai that show the sunrise behind a lion. This is to obvious, to simple.
But they loved the Shah and they didn't belong to the Shah so that's why.
That's a good question:
"Would anyone call a Turkmen rug a Russian rug?"
No they don't but they should.
A Turkmen rug made in Russia.
A Turkmen rug made in Iran.
A Turkmen rug made in Afghanistan.
A Turkmen rug made in Turkmenistan.
Asymmetrical structure ...
Hallo everybody, hallo Sue Zimmermann,
thanks for starting an interesting debate, a bit off from the main track ...
A perfect example for this is the yastik that Bertram shows here. In the
meantime I got the technical data: the weave is strongly assymetrical: 22 h x 40
v , 3 rows of wefts - but a crystal clear drawing ! The image does not
appeared shifted towards some rectangular look.
By the way: a Turcoman gül , the early ones, is always more "circular" than
"oval" ( which is the late form). My interpretation: an "expert" weaver masters
this complex and tricky transition from an own image in her head to the
execution of this idea in the frame of this kind of grid system. A weaver that
is less ambitious from whatever reasons just executes the "grid system". With
a more symmetrical weave structure it is easier to end up with an image closer
to the imagined one - but technically the adaption of such a weave to nomadic
or village condition of how to use them is less good.
I remember that about half a year (?) we started a similar discussion here. R.
John Howe had reviewed a Textile Museum Exhibition, organized by Walter B.
Denny. Some vey old rugs had this symmetic structure - and the discussion hit
the question to which extent structure and age are related. For sure a
symmetical structure favours workshop conditions - and the opposite can have an
aesthetical pleasant result only where weavers grew up within their own textile
culture. Such tasks weavers in areas of "uprooted carpeting" cannot master.
Hi Everyone and Michael,
Thank you. 22H by 40V is highly asymmetrical at first glance only. The weaver would mearly have to remember to weave twice as many vertical knots as horizontal ones for a square format. 2:1 is what I would put in the "easy to translate" category. 3:7 would be a harder fraction, etc. The weaver was trying for a perfect balance because she used 3 rows of weft to get it up there. In a perfect grid 2 would have been enough.
It is much harder to translate squares onto rectangular grids than visa versa. A circle is the hardest shape to weave. One thing which is not, but should be, taken into account when recording structural equations is diameter of materials, as they play a crucial role in both structure and design.
I have noticed that early Turkmen guls look more circular than oval. Another reason to suspect somebody has been to court. Especially the Salors. They might have spent so much time weaving there that when court closed and they went home they forgot how to fight and got whupped off the planet. Except maybe for the best weavers who may have ended up kept as "guests" in Tekke tents weaving and teaching, or something. I don't know.
Anyway, aesthetics aside, court was the place to be to learn the craft part of weaving. A wise weaver, with maybe a long family history of bouncing back and forth between courts and home, would be sure to take note of as many aspects of the process, complete with "samples", that he or she could. I don't think they had unemployment insurance back then.
I am going to repeat something because it is very important. A circle is the hardest shape to weave. This means that if you can get a structure which allows for a square grid you can translate any other shape onto it. This would free up the weavers mind to concentrate on color and design, etc. A tribe would hold onto a perfectly balanced structure as long as possible. If they became cut off from the source of materials that went into this balance or had to rely on "provided" yarn of the wrong diameter, or the weavers with the formulas died, they would adjust as best they could. The structural balance would decline along with the designs. They depend on each other more than people know. Of course there can be revivals but not if the best examples of rugs are in museums and private collections. In the past it was known that the arts and crafts thrive where there are teachers who know what they are teaching and examples to study. Somewhere along the line this has been forgotten. Art doesn't just die. It is killed. Sue
Hi Bertram and Everyone,
I hope the reason this salon is inactive is because everyone is furiously looking things up rather than having fallen asleep. In the meantime, Bertram, although if you have read what I have said at Turkotek, say, in the Ensi Salon, you may prefer different company, you are not alone. Shah Abba has to be the guy. The Shashavan would not exist, in my opinion, if Shah Abba had not existed. Thank you for pointing this out. Shahshavan weavers would have never have achieved the level of craftsmanship they did if they had not been exposed to his court. In my opinion they would have stayed in their various provinces and done far less interesting weavings, or gone to some other court and done far different weavings. Did the Shashavan love Shah Abba? Who knows, but they and their decendents certainly benefited from his patronage, as we do. I feel indebted to him just as a many times removed bystanding member of the human race. He was one of the world's great artist's friends. On top of that he was really smart. Street smarts and an excellent understanding of business. I can't see myself, a peace loving person, taking up arms, but protecting what he was protecting, I might have. By God, or whatever, this guy was worthy of standing behind. Not only did he regain what his daddy lost, no one else after him could hold onto what he gained. If you know what that was you will know that that is saying something. What was at stake was the entire kingdom.
I won't go into Sheila Canby's book "The Golden Age Of Persian Art" again, here, only to say that it is well worth having for anyone interested in rugs. It makes crystal clear a lot of stuff. Even if you don't like what she says you can find new things in some of the Persian miniatures after having spent hours looking at them, if nothing else. Remember that these paintings were not meant for commoners to see. Realistic pictures were taboo for all but the ruling elite.
Again, as a bystander, what did Shah Abba do with his maybe initially coerced Shahshavan? For one thing, based on the translations of Greek philosophy done in Moorish Spain, he implemented Greek military strategy. It could be boiled down to this. If I lose you lose. If I win you win. He understood the principle that there is no deal unless both parties are satisfied. This is wisdom. It works. It worked.
Can you see the overarching Scandinavian effect in some Shahsavan rugs? I can. Can you see Shiraz Shahsavan rugs as resembling Indian Bandanas in overall effect? I can. What about those "Trefoils". Do you say Shamrakh or Shamrock? Kufic or Keltic? Etc.
Shah Abba welcomed all to his court and got the best out of all of them. He's the guy. Can't think of many I'd work for. I'd work for him, in a New York minute. Sue
Out to Lunch
I suspect that the most likely reason for lack of participation lately is that "everyone" is at ICOC X and eating lunch-or dinner-or breakfast between exhibits and seminars!
Shah Abbas certainly had a profound impact. I personally know an Iranian named Abbas. (At first, I thought he said "Elvis"-another culturally important person ) His brother is named Reza, another popular Iranian name at one time.
As for the Shahsevan, they were swept up from different corners of the empire, confederated for the purpose of supporting the empire, and as they settled they took up different habits.
In the book Kilim, by Hull and Wyhowska:
"Many tribes from north-west Persian joined the Shahsavan, and non-Muslims such as Georgians, Circassians and Armenians were also employed; there was no cultural or tribal link at first, other than a common Turkic language. Tadjic peasants were then taken on as soldiers to create a balance between the Turkic and Farsi speakers."
They go on to say: "The Shahsavan's power declined with that of the Safavids, and its members soon reverted to tribal and nomadic conformations. Their tribal homeland in the Safavid period was Transcaucasia...In the 19th century, however, the Transcaucasus was ceded to Russia and a border was established in 1884....On one disastrous occaision the Russians ambushed the (migrating) caravan, stripped all the nomads of their possessions and livestock and distributed them amongst local Persian government officials...all tribal events are placed historically before or after 'the distribution'."
"Parviz Tanavoli, in his book devoted to the weavings of the Shahsavan, usefully categorizes its people into the following regional divisions: Mogan, Hashtrud, Miane, Khamseh, Bijar, Qazvin Saveh and Veramin."
All of this information proves what Vincent has said, that we should probably be designating these weavings by their current (or at least current when they were woven) regional designations.
On the other hand, Bertram has a valid point when he states that many weavings attributed to these regional designations were most likely woven by "Shasavan" peoples. And that is the topic of the Salon, the differentiating of weavings by settled non-Shahsavan weavers from those woven by Shahsavan - whether or not they were "settled" when the weavings were made. It will probably be a very difficult study, and one not likely to convince a lot of people of the actual Shahsavan affilliation of weavers of some otherwise-known weavings.
This would lead to names such as Moghan-Shahsavan, or Armenian-Shahsavan or Shirvan-Shahsavan.
This process of becoming more specific regarding weaving attributions has been incremental since the tentative attributions of Shahsavan mafrash in the book Caucasian Rugs by Bennett, and the simple Caucasian designations in From the Bosporous to Samarkand.
surely a lot of interesting thoughts, Sue. Shah Abbas clearly was an interesting fellow who if I remember well killed his father to get the Kizilbash under control. It seems that a large portion of the then created Shahsevan confederacy were former Kizilbash.
Patrick, the border existed since 1828. The nomads were allowed to cross for winter camps but got more and more pressure till the
'distribution' happened.This was only the small meshkin group. Shahsevan in the 18th century meant a lot more people in different areas. At that time of the 'distribution' most Sh. in other ares were settled or half settled.
Just look at the map again. It is pretty clear and doesn't need much discussion.
Patrick, thanks. You got me perfectly right.
One more thing, there were about 4 Million Armenians in Turkey. They lived
there for ages and therefore their rugs to me are Armenian and not Turkish.
A Greek producing a rug within his or her tradition would have made probably a christian rug or using christian symbols.
By the way, Vincent, do you know that a rug is per se, no matter wether it is 200 years old or 3000, a christian rug, as warp and weft form a cross.
We know what a Gashgai rug is and all the other tribes in Iran have their place. We know nearly nothing about Shahsevan and
what they really produced so there is a lot to do.