Dear Messrs. Mizrahi and Strobe -
Thank you for this interesting salon and welcome to Turkotek.
I know nothing about "Manastir" kilims, excepting that during a party at ICOC VIII, a lady I encountered there, who had been mostly a Turkmen collector, told me that she was selling them all and wanted to know who had Manastir kilims. I confessed my ignorance.
Still, your contribution here deserves serious attention and so I have read a bit today, a few questions have surfaced for me that I hope will not be beneath consideration.
1. You acknowledge Bertsson's (Hali, 112) useful indication of some technical features that seem characteristic of Manastir rugs: the distinctive wool, the brown warps on older pieces, but you do not list his further indication that the spin of the wool is very tight in Manastir pieces. Do you discount this latter technical indicator for some reason? Eiland (1979) notes curved wefts in some Balkan kilims. Are curved wefts encountered at all in Manastir kilims?
2. I notice that Bertsson's article seems exclusively focused on pile weavings and that he does not seem to treat or show and examples of Manastir kilims at all. Is this an important limitation on the usefulness of his article as a source for the exploration of Manastir kilims? Do you feel that the pile weavings he examines come from the same weavers or communities as do the Manastir kilims?
3. I have not seen very many images of Manastir kilims, but could it also be said that they do not exhibit, usually, borders of the more conventionial kind?
4. Is it possible that the term "Manastir" kilim is, primarily, as Petsopoulos (1979) seems to suggest at one point, a designation that arose primarily in the market? Could that be part of why they seem rather hard to distinguish? Although Eiland treats "Balkan" weavings in both his 1998 Comprehensive Guide, written with his son, and in his earlier separate volume "Chinese and Exotic Rugs" (1979), he never uses the term "Manastir." Also in his first "Tribal Eye" book Peter Davies appears not to use this designation. You say that it is one that has surfaced rather recently. Does that call its referential strength into question at all?
R. John Howe
There is a one-page review of the exhibition at the Vienna Museum fur angewandte Kunst on Manastir kilims in the current Hali #129, page 99.
In the article, it notes:
"...there is little way to tell the difference between pre-and post-resettlement products, beyond the bazaar assertion that yellow grounds may indicate a Balkan source, while red-ground pieces were woven in western Anatolia."
One of the kilims, said to be from Macedonia, has a yellow ground and what I assume to be curved wefts. The bird-like motifs floating on the yellow ground have quite rounded tops. This is an indicator of curved wefts.
The most famous use of curved wefts is in Senneh kilims, where literally the whole ground is covered in curved-weft motifs.