Posted by Jim Allen on 08-11-2007 11:02 AM:
Jim Allen's Dining Room
Linda and I live in an English Tudor style home built in 1929 by Olan Mills
Sr. Our walls are lat and plaster so hanging a never ending stream of rugs up is
not practical. In our dining room we have hung up one old Konya along with
several Lakai embroideries. The floor rug is an antique Heriz. The sculptures on
the table are 1960's and 1970's Seri Indian work.
Now I Understand
It makes perfect sense that Victorian rug collectors put their rugs on tables and the floor. Putting tack or nail holes in lathe and plaster is an invitation to disaster.
That looks like Chinoiserie wallpaper on the walls, unless you have very large bugs in Chattanooga!
And what are the gremlins on the sconces in the entryway? The glass hanging from the chandelier could be Turkish!
I love the decorating theme of mix-and-match. It was quite popular at the turn of the last century, when improved transportation (trains, planes and automobiles) made the world a much smaller place than it had ever been before, bringing exotic foreign artifacts to the West.
The gremlins are Fon Lion figures doubtless salvaged from a larger assemblage. Brass objects such as this were produced exclusively for the nobility of the Abomey kingdom of Benin. They were cast using a lost wax process and I have had them for over 30 years.
The colored glass items seen hanging from the light fixture are candle holders, Arkansas handiwork. I am the decorator but my architect wife keeps the brakes on me. I would have big suzanis sewn down on canvas and hung as curtains and I would have a rug on the table but I have to get along with my dear wife. I love the late Victorian parlor décor preferred by mystics and charlatans. You know both Gurdjeff and Ouspensky sold Oriental Rugs to their followers. Jim Allen
Speaking of suzanies hanging from the ceiling, here is an image of our
Those Fon lion figures just do not look anything like lions to me. Especially with their long tails. They do, however, look a lot like rodents. Now a rodent in Africa probably looks a lot like a rodent in South America, just as a boteh from Iran looks like a pre-Colombian one from Middle America. Not that they are related in any linear descent.
National Geographic had an article on the Maya in August and a stone carving seems to show your Fon lion carrying a decapitated head:
It is photo #24, the 7th from the last photo in the series.
I have also been attempting to identify the rug in your bedroom. It looks like it has a cotton warp and is possibly a version of a Kurdish garden carpet.
Or a Baluch war rug...
I don't know what Benin Royalty would have appreciated concerning their art works. Maybe they are rats? I am sure the artists crafted them with care but beyond that I don’t know. It looks like they once held a tray between them. Now as for the rug you describe……I have never published a picture of our bedroom. The picture I posted on TurkoTek is of our dining room and the rug is from the Konya area. The warps are wool. Jim Allen
I have no idea what significance people put on rats in Benin, but in some Asian cultures they are a sign of prosperity. If you have rats, you must have food.
The bedroom photo is Marvin's.
Rats, I goofed!
Sorry, Marvin. The rats (lions) belong to Jim, the rug in the bedroom is
yours, as is the marvelous suzani.
As for lions of disputable description, the horse cover in my bedroom has what I think are a couple of lions. They are on either side of the middle in the second row, just below the two tall women. I am not able to recall the URL for that photo, so here is the link to the page:
This weekend I will take a closer picture and send it to Steve. The lion on the left may be the male and the lion on the right could be female, because the one on the left has a "mane" which looks like several parallel lines sticking straight up from its head. The other animals could be four-legged peacocks, or horses with very large over-the-back tails.
I'm not sure whether they're lions or rats, but I think the body language makes clear it probably wasn't a tray they were holding. Almost certainly, it would have been a Tekke ensi. They would have been trying to figure out the source of some comb motifs. The slightly open mouths and the shrugged shoulders are the dead giveaway.
In ancient Egypt one aspect of outstretched hands can sometimes be read
without knowing much else. If the hands are both left hands then the entity is
receiving. If the hands are both right hands the entity is bestowing.
Jim's sculptures, from the appearance of their muzzles, seem to be either a male and female version of the creature or a younger and older version. It would be interesting to see a good close up of their respective hands/paws. Sue
Here are a couple of traditional Qashqai lions from my bedroom horse cover.
The one on the left has a "mane", so it may be the male. This stylized type of
lion can be found on many Qashqai "Lion Rugs". I suspect there were still a few
fearless lions about when this piece was woven in the first half of the 20th
And here is an image of the weaver, tall, slender and forceful on the right, with her sister-in-law on the left. You can tell which is which because the weaver has eyes, earrings and mouth, while the sister-in-law is an air-head.
Or, they could be wives number one and two.
What this shows is that an artist can render a version of something adequately enough to communicate what she wants the viewer to see.
In the case of lost wax casting, the image must be carved in wax and then cast in metal. The skill and experience of the artist determines the quality of the outcome. And these Fon pieces are very well articulated and detailed. This style was probably quite common to their culture, similar to the Qashqai Lion Rugs in their culture.
Yummy serving tray ?
Thought of the day: Hmm, hors d'oeuvres served on a rat plate. Tasty.
They look like a matched pair, and, they both have rivets in their paws. Do you have any ideas as to the function ? Looks like they held some sort of tray or plate. Any photo references ?
Ok, or maybe Kosher goat presented by pet Chupacabras. Sue
Fon myths - leopards....
I believe Jim's cast pieces are probably depicting young leopards offering
their services and wisdom...