Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >RK examines Anatolian Kelim
Part IX
Mon, Jan 4th, 2010 07:10:47 PM
Topic: RK examines Anatolian Kelim
Part IX

The following is the description for Plate 1 in the Weaving Art Museum exhibition:
Archaeology and Anatolian Slit-Tapestry Weaving.

A longer and more detailed text was published in 1989 in our book Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim.

RK urges readers interested in archaeological objects, like those shown below having close association to this kelim, read the entire text published in our book.

There you will find many other prehistoric objects and a deeper comparison of them to this archetype kelim.

Although this is already online, RK felt it pertinent to republish it here along with our examination of Anatolian kelim, as it sheds considerable light on the source for the major icon on this kelim.

Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989

This description is the only published work documenting an exact relationship between archaeological objects from the late palaeolithic, neolithic, bronze age, and later prehistoric periods, with an Anatolian kelim.

We know of no other concrete analysis, all others are based on 'it looks like' or 'I think it is' type research.

RK worked long and hard to find this information and while it has circulated in both book and online form we believe some readers have yet to see it.

We will add some annotation to the original online version, they will both appear in [brackets].

This is the size of the kelim:
10ft. 8 in. x 2ft. 5in.
325cm. x 72.5 cm.

[At first glance this kelim appears very similar to Plate 2, which will be discussed in Part IX, as both have the same materials, colors and similar design.

But anything more than a cursory examination reveals different warp plying and count along with the significant and easily recognizable, but as yet not fully understood, design dissimilarities,

The white ground color, on which the polychromes major icon are placed, has been used for the other Archaic group examples in our collection, except Plate 3; while the ground color in 5 of the other Archaic group kelim we have published in Part V vary.]

The source for the repeating main patterns, formerly known as the keyhole design, has been greatly refined and the following description will provide a far more accurate explanation.

[When RK first showed this and Plate 2 to michael franses, which we wrote about in Part IV, he referred to the icon as ‘the keyhole’ design. We believed this to be foolish then, and after much research and investigation were able to disprove this silly notion and demonstrate the long and important history this icon maintains.]

Actually these designs are woven representations of prehistoric idols, first sculpted in stone and later modeled in fired clay.

Their form has been influenced by the progressive developments in figurine sculpture which occurred throughout Europe and the eastern Mediterranean from the late Paleolithic, c.30,000BC, through the late Bronze Age, c.500BC.

The earliest known effigy figurines are female representations.

Paleolithic female effigy; from left to right: from Kostienki I (eastern Europe), from Willendorf (central Europe), from Dolni Vestonice (eastern Europe), from Balzi Rossi (Italy).

Female effigy like these have been recovered from Paleolithic cave sites located in many parts of Europe.

These idols invariably exhibit an important style, the indented-shape, which will be shown to be the source design for these figurines and the woven representation seen here.

A very specific group of idols made of baked clay with incised decorations supplies the key piece of data necessary to positively link the kelim to the prehistoric prototypes.

fig. 10

These idols, Fig.10 and Fig.11, were recovered from Cirna, an archaeological site in Romania associated with the Girla Mare Culture.

fig. 11

They are dated c.1500BC, nearly at the end of a design continuum beginning c.30,000BC.

At that time the first rudimentary, transitional schematic figures are engraved at a several cave sites in southern France.

fig. 12

Fig.12 is one example of these crude efforts and is particularly significant because it provides the earliest reference to another style of idol depiction, the sitting goddess Fig.13.

fig. 13

Two mammoth tusk carvings Fig.14 and Fig.15, found at Mezine, a late Paleolithic site in southern Russia, exhibit further development of the schematization of the indented-shape.

fig. 14

They also introduce two other important symbols, the radiating diamond and hook designs, both designs often encountered in slit-tapestry weaving.

fig. 15

Technological advances in pottery making discovered during Neolithic allowed more realistic modeling of figurines than in the Paleolithic when only crude stone sculpting was possible.

fig. 16

Fig.16, 17 and 18 are typical and present the earliest sitting goddess style fired clay figurines as well.

fig. 17

The idea of a seated deity versus a standing one reflected the great social, political and cultural changes Neolithic society underwent.


Two unique carved stone idols from this period Fig.19 and 20 show the earlier abstract style, which is very reminiscent of the well known Paleolithic style.

fig. 19

By 5000BC a figurine Fig.21 shows the indented shape stylized into a refined, repeatable and easily recognizable format. A somewhat earlier figurine Fig.22 from a c.6000BC site in Yugoslavia was perhaps its prototype.

fig. 20

A late Neolithic effigy vessel Fig.23 decorated with a radiating diamond design is remarkably similar in style to the concentric, radiating outlines seen above.

fig. 21

The central indented shaped motif on the effigy vessel's crown further emphasizes the connection of this design with the deity. The indented shape tradition continues as the dominant style until c.2500BC when new and different styles of effigy figurines began to appear.


Perhaps the most well known is the violin-shape Fig.24, which will eventually replace the indented-shape style throughout the eastern Mediterranean region.


However, the indented shape still continued to be produced in some areas of the Aegean until c.500BC as Fig.25 and 26 both from Greece demonstrate.

fig. 24

fig. 25

fig. 26


Figures captions 10 - 26

fig.10 Baked clay statuette 17.5cm from Girla Mare culture, Romania. pg 36 Romania

fig.11 Baked clay statuette 15.6cm from Girla Mare culture, Romania. pg 36 Romania

fig.12 Schematic female figures c.15000BC. Engraved on a rock slab Paleolithic period from La Roche at La'linde, southwest France. pg. 123 Treasures of Prehistoric Art

fig.13 Ceramic female figurine c.5000BC. Vinca Mound pg. 36 The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe

fig.14 Schematic female figurine from Mezine, late Paleolithic. pg. 33 Art in the Ice Age

fig.15 Same as above

fig.16 Female figurine carved in soft limestone, Natufian period from Wadi Fellah. pg. 39 The Neolithic of the Near East

fig.17 Same as above

fig.18 Clay statue of a goddess and two flanking leopards from Catal Huyuk, level II. pg. 184 Catal Huyuk - A Neolithic Town in Anatolia

fig.19 Carved grey limestone schematic figurine from Catal Huyuk, level VI. Excavations at Catal Huyuk in Anatolian Studies XII

fig.20 Small figurine carved in black stone 7.8cm from Catal Huyuk, level VI. Excavations at Catal Huyuk in Anatolian Studies XII

fig.21 Burnished red ware figurine c. 5000BC from Hacilar. pg. 227 Excavations at Hacilar

fig.22 Terra-cotta figurine c.6500BC 3.5 cm from Gladnice, southern Yugoslavia. pg. 53 the Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe

fig.23 Effigy vessel painted red on burnished creme backround with inlaid obsidian eyes. From Hacilar level I. pg. 525 Excavations at Hacilar

fig.24 Carved white marble violin shaped figurine c.3000BC from Beysultan. pg.70 Hittite Art and the Antiquities of Anatolia

fig.25 Clay diety c.1900BC from Greece. pg. 170 The Goulandris Collection of Ancient Greek Art

fig.26 Intact figurine of large size 29.4cm from Greece. pg. 248 The Goulandris Collection of Ancient Greek Art

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