Proscribed vs Prescribed
Before we start to discuss the issue at hand, archetype Anatolian kelim, RK wants to formally issue the rules of engagement we have followed since we started to write here on RugKazbah.com.
It is now more than five years and perhaps had we done this at the get-go it might have made things different, but quite frankly we doubt it.
That said, doing it now can’t hurt and, in fact, it might help.
After our more than 40 years of collecting and researching historic pile rugs, kelim and some related weavings we have along the way met, befriended and, yes, fallen out with many who were, and are now, involved in this field.
RK has never been a carpet-dealer; we have surely sold rugs but selling them never was, or is now, our intent – collecting and researching them was, and still is.
Along this way we have met absolutely no one who is like us, in the sense that they collect archetype rugs for no other reason than to enjoy them, and to research their origin and meaning.
We rarely bought rugs at rug auctions, sure we have participated in some but by and large 90+ percent of our collection, as well as the rugs we no longer own, were purchased at general antique auctions, antique shows, flea-markets and from rug dealers and collectors.
One hundred percent of the rugs we bought were bought solely for their merits, we never bought a rug because it was a “good buy”.
This is a very important point, and one that separates us from anyone else we have met along the rug trail.
The rugs we no longer own, and there are many, were originally part of our collection – as we said we have never been a rug dealer, never had an ‘inventory’ or stock – we only had our collection.
Unfortunately, RK is not as rich, nor were we ever, as the gossip about us seems to believe; we didn’t have a rich daddy, uncle or anyone who ever gave us anything – what we had, have and will ever have, came from our abilities to recognize opportunities and capitalize on them.
We are not going to recount our history here but felt it imperative, at this stage of the game, to spell out in black and white these facts.
In doing so we trust it will put into perspective all the bullshit, innuendo, rumor and gossip that circulates about us.
Our collection is now, and always was, small, choice and extremely carefully selected.
We believe in owning only what we like to call archetypes, and they are very few and very far between.
We have, at various times, because of various needs, sold rugs we would have never sold had we not had those needs.
The disastrous 1990 sale of part of our Turkmen bag collection was one of those instances. By the way the reasons for that disaster were due to the underhanded and totally dishonest actions of william ruprecht, mary jo otsea and several European dealers. Someday soon, and in another venue, RK will expose the behind the scene facts of what happened but for now we have bigger fish to fry.
So, nota bene, the rugs we sold along the way were not sold so we could ‘upgrade’ our collection, or because we were tired of them for one reason or another.
We sold them because we wanted/needed the money.
We trust this is now clear to everyone in rugDUMB; we are tired of being vilified, castigated, denigrated or cast in unflattering lights that are untrue and unwarranted.
Our research, scholarship, publications and collection were, and are, done for far higher purposes than anyone of you all could possibly imagine.
And while we are not looking for praise or sympathy, neither are we looking to be anyone’s whipping post.
OK, enough said, let’s turn attention to the issue at hand – explaining the perceptions, ideas, opinions and facts about Anatolian kelim, which we have gleaned after many long years of intensive research and thinking.
One additional caveat, though, needs to be aired before we begin.
Unlike antique rugs and weaving from elsewhere, other than Turkmenistan, the Anatolian kelim existed in a very protected and isolated environment.
Perhaps, that is why RK’s collection is predominantly focused in these two genres.
Kelim, and the Turkmen rug, did not get appreciated outside their indigenous cultural environments until those environments were destroyed.
This is a highly salient fact, one we know no other author has ever directly and so succinctly mentioned, so let RK be the first.
The weavers and small-scale societies in Anatolia and Turkmenistan, who produced these articles, did so for their own purposes and, as we just said, it was not until their traditional cultures were destroyed by conquest and commerce, the two main forces of that destruction, were their weavings to gain foreign audience.
This reality has been also overlooked and ignored by historians, carpet dealers and collectors.
Likewise, it has directly contributed and complicated understanding the mechanics of differentiating genuine cultural production from what RK refers to as airport-art.
It should be clear to everyone beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a masterpiece of art is not.
Recognizing and appreciating great art is based on connoisseurship, knowledge and expertise.
This is the difference between, as is often said in rugDUMB, having a good ‘eye’ and what RK considers being an expert is all about.
RK wishes not to belabor this point but we have to mention – people are born with eyes, some of them good and others not so.
But no one is born a connoisseur or an expert – this takes time and hard work.
Learning about any type of antique rugs is difficult but learning about historic kelim and Turkmen rugs is especially difficult.
However, once one realizes certain immutable rules that job becomes a lot easier.
RK intends to explain the underlying premise to learning about these two genres, and in doing so hopes to clear up a number of messy points rugDUMB is mired in.
It basically comes down to two words – proscribed and prescribed.
Here’s a short definition of each:
Proscribed: forbidden, outlawed, prohibited
Prescribed: to order, to lay down a directive, to define
We are sure we lost many of you paragraphs ago and probably the rest of you now.
But understanding the subtle but significant nuance of difference between proscribed and prescribed explains that underlying premise to understanding the Anatolian kelim and the Turkmen rug.
Naturally we are speaking of Anatolian kelim and Turkmen rugs made before the societies that produced them were destroyed; i.e. the earliest examples.
We should also mention another even more subtle and hidden factor: One cannot possibly hope to find, purchase and collect great archetype Anatolian kelim today.
Why? Simply because they do not exist -- anywhere other than, to the best of our knowledge, in three already locked-up collections.
RK mentioned why, prior to 1979, we had not purchased or been interested in Anatolian kelim.
This explanation was not hyperbole; it was, and still is, fact.
If you don’t believe us, fine, that’s your preogative but we can undoubtedly state you will be, and can easily be, proven wrong.
We are jumping the gun here and we have done so to emphasize this central fact.
Life is often unexplainable until it is past; from hindsight everything is 20/20.
During a very short period of time, the very small number of extant archetype kelim came out and onto the market.
The mechanics of this occurrence would take a short book to properly explain, this is not the time or place for RK to breach this. But it is the time and place to mention it, that’s why we have.
Even though Anatolian kelim and Turkmen pile rug weaving share that common bond – being unknown only until after their cultural milieu was destroyed – they are quite different in another very notable regard: archetype Turkmen weavings have been coming onto the market for the past 100 years, and they still are.
It is for this reason RK will not today, tomorrow or anytime in the foreseeable future explain in depth what we know about them.
Were this the case with Anatolian kelim, obviously, we would not be writing about them now.
But it isn’t, and we are not going to explain the reasons we have chosen to do this now.
Suffice it to say there a number, least of which is the ongoing online discussion of Anatolian kelim we mentioned yesterday.
End of Part I
Proscribed vs Prescribed
Those two words -- proscribed and prescribed – hold the keys to the non-urban rug comprehension kingdom.
Detail; Plate 4; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
However they only unlock the front door and, either fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, there are many other doors to be opened before one can enter the ‘elephant’s graveyard' to bring home great treasure.
Let’s now explain what the rather cryptic Indiana Jones metaphor above means.
Both Anatolian kelim and Turkmen rugs were not created as “art” or even “craft”.
This is an essential element and until one gets this under their belt one can never understand the mechanics of how and why these weaving were produced.
And if one cannot understand the beginning of the story it is impossible to understand the conclusion.
Clearly, understanding the beginning requires extrapolation as no one alive today, in either Anatolia or Turkmenistan, or even their grandmother/father, was around during what RK calls the archaic period.
Whereas the conclusion we mentioned is the desire of those alive today to be able to recognize, purchase, collect and research the earliest and best examples from these two geographic areas.
Many serious ethnographers, historians and, yes, ruggies, have since the late 19th century ventured into the remote areas of Anatolia and Turkmenistan to research the ‘societies’ where these weaving were produced.
A great many of these ‘explorers’ had motives that were not always the highest but, regardless of why they went, the information they brought back, as it pertains to the issue at hand, is not gospel. Far from it…Why?; read on.
It is a proven and well-known fact the descendants of the societies responsible for the production of such weavings are extremely protective of their forebears and what little remains of their now destroyed traditional culture.
It is also a proven and well-known fact the descendants of these earlier societies are, and have been, very disconnected from their forebears and a traditional culture they might have only heard about or can possibly sense.
Even in the remotest part of Anatolia and Turkmenistan for the past 500 plus years religious missionaries have brought Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and what RK like to call contemporary coca cola culture.
All these foreign influences have made serious inroads and changed almost every facet of life.
Then, of course, there is the lack of written history to contend with – so, very often, the information gathered by researchers is less than factual.
Frankly speaking, we know nothing about the weavers who produced archaic period weavings, nor do we know why these weavings were produced.
With this is mind RK urges any reader to recognize we know well what follows is our interpretation based on many disparate tidbits of information we have found in our search for explanation of why these archetypes were made but, more germane to this discussion, our ideas are on far firmer ground when we discuss how to recognize them.
As we explained in Part I, we are only going to discuss in detail how to recognize archetype Anatolian kelim, not Turkmen rugs.
So from here on that will be the case.
Detail; Plate 5; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
We also pointed out in Part I how no early Anatolian kelim were on the international rug market prior to 1979.
This might seem ridiculous to many readers but it is fact.
This situation, where no early pieces were available, did not exist for any other Near Eastern weaving we have ever heard about, whether during our lifetime or before.
Early Turkish Ottoman court produced rugs have been appreciated and collected since the end of the Middle Ages in Europe.
Witness the now often cited household inventory of Henry the VIII, where 800 some ‘Turkie’ rugs were catalogued.
He ruled England from 1509, and while many of these rugs were clearly not made in Turkey as ‘Turkie’ rug was a term referring to any “oriental style patterned rug during this period, some of them surely were.
Also remember it is very probable some belonged to his royal forebears, so it is totally plausible some of these ‘Turkie’ carpets were 15th century and even earlier.
Before proceeding RK must mention a very obvious fact: Just because a weaving is very old doesn’t necessarily mean it is an archetype.
So to speak ‘commercial’ copies were made way back when – witness, for instance, the numerous medallion Ushak rugs that appear in many early collections and still appear on the market today.
While there is no shortage of 16th century court rugs, some masterpieces others mediocrities, this is not the case for village rugs, and it surely is not the case for equally as early Anatolian kelim.
Let’s get back to why no early Anatolian kelim were available prior to 1979.
Surely they existed, but where they existed had sheltered and protected them from exposure and discovery.
We do not intend to turn this exercise into a doctoral thesis, so please excuse our only highlighting the social and economic mechanics of how and why quite suddenly the Anatolian kelim entered the rug market. But we will mention how this happened in broad strokes.
During the mid-late 1970’s a small group of foreign rug dealers began to haunt the Istanbul bazaar looking for rugs to export and sell back home.
For many reasons we are not going to name names, or discuss who did what, this will someday be fleshed out in our autobiography so all you rug hounds will have to wait until then.
The presence of these intrepid, and some less than intrepid, rugmen motivated local rug dealers to seek out types of weaving that previously had been unwanted and unappreciated by their customers.
Selling damaged, and even very damaged, weavings had never been possible for the local dealers, but now this new breed of foreign dealers would purchase such pieces.
This was not missed by the ever enterprising ‘Stanbul rug dealers and they immediately began scouring the countryside and brought back to their shops and stalls all types of damaged older, very old, and even ancient rugs.
The level of their discernment as to what they were acquiring was far less than their energy to acquire and, needless to say, their knowledge of what they had acquired even less.
When RK drove to Istanbul and traveled by car far out into eastern Turkey in the fall of 1981 we met many of the mover and shaker dealers, both in the city and in the countryside.
We can absolutely state not one of them was an expert, or even a journeyman, when it came to knowing what they were purchasing.
Some were, like most ruggies today, able to talk the talk but not one was able to walk the walk.
In the almost two months RK spent in Istanbul and out in the countryside we were offered many a “Seljuk” rug – too bad not one of these ‘treasures’ was even close, many in fact had synthetic dye and designs that had nothing to do with anything anyone in their right mind would call “Seljuk”.
Let’s just leave this with the notion many damaged rugs and fragments began to seep into the Istanbul bazaar and then percolate into European and American rug dealer hands.
Along with these pile rugs, and basically for the first time, old kelim began to be rounded-up in the countryside and brought to the bazaar for sale.
Like in the plethora of pile rugs, which were for the most part totally uninteresting, occasionally an ancient masterpiece would appear; the same paradigm existed for kelim.
This situation was directly responsible for the discovery and resale of ancient, archetype kelim, and for a couple of years the few now known examples were brought to market, bought by foreign dealers and the rest is history.
RK is sorry to leave the details of the story hanging in the air but we will, as written above, deal with those details in our autobiography, surely not here and now.
We also need to briefly mention the 10 pieces in our Anatolian kelim collection, yup that’s all we have or ever had as we have never sold an Anatolian kelim, were purchased in Europe or America.
When we went to Turkey in 1981 we already owned all of them except one subsequently purchased in 1989.
Some astute reader might ask why only nine are in our Anatolian kelim book?
That’s because we had already finished making the separations and layout for our Anatolian kelim book and including it would have been virtually impossible as our production schedule could not have been easily changed.
However, it is included in the Weaving Art Museum exhibition as Plate 10.
Plate 10; Weaving Art Museum “Archaeology and Anatolian Kelim”
Because we feel it germane to this discussion, we will recount a small part of our 1981 trip to Turkey.
RK wanted to drive there so we purchased a 1979 450SEL Mercedes for our trip and had, sometime before we left, arranged to have two ‘friends’, who were ruggies, accompany us.
One finked out shortly before departure and, quite frankly, we wish the other, bertram frauenknecht, had as well.
But he didn’t, and we picked him up in Nurnberg Germany and drove to Istanbul, arriving about 26 hours after we had left his front door.
The tale of what transpired on this trip is, not to exaggerate, something of a legend – although parts of that legend are complete bullshit.
Let’s just say there were some interesting events and occurrences that gave rise to those more fantasyland ones that to this day continue to drip-off certain people’s tongues.
To make a long story short, RK went to Turkey for two reasons: One to hopefully find a treasure or two and, second, to do some first-hand research into early archetype rugs and kelim.
In brief we found only one rug we wanted to buy, illustrated below, and no kelim.
You all might be surprised at this but it is fact, as the rugs and kelim RK wanted to buy even way back then were rarer than hen’s teeth.
They still are today.
We did see a number of genuinely good to very good pieces for sale but we did not see any other masterpieces, and since that’s the only type of rug or kelim RK purchases, we left Turkey with only one treasure we still call “the king of the yellow rugs”.
Detail of the king of the Yellow rug group we still own
Again more about this rug, and the rest of the details of our trip, will have to await publication of that autobiography but we will, for the sake of this discussion, recount the following.
In 1980 frauenknecht was a virtually unknown small-time dealer RK had met and quickly become friendly with at the 1980 icoc in Washington, D.C.
In fact, frauenknecht virtually moved into our two bedroom suite at the conference hotel so he could enjoyed the pleasures of hanging out with RK.
Those pleasures included great food and wine, as well as looking at and learning about masterpiece weaving.
We liked bertram (but eventually learned the hard way he was a Mister Jeckyl and Hyde, having a rather unseemly and revolting other side to the affable, energetic front he puts on) and we invited him to meet us and stay with us in New York after the conference was finished.
We honestly can’t remember if he drove back to NY with us or arrived under his own steam, but arrive he did.
For a week or so he stayed with us, enjoyed our food and drink and, most significantly for this story, sat at our knee and soaked up as much of our rug knowledge as he could.
We can positively and 100 percent say frauenknecht knew next to nothing about historic Turkish rugs and kelim before we started exposing him to them, and he had his eyes and mini-mind well opened during the time we spent together then, as well as on the trip to Istanbul and afterwards.
We need not go into detail here but let’s just leave it with the following synopsis.
When we arrived in Istanbul frauenknecht wanted us to stay at a small, out of the way but close to the bazaar, hotel called the Oran.
This was where all the foreign rug dealers stayed, and since frauenknecht had some years before made a short trip or two to Istanbul, and knew of the Oran, he wanted us to stay there.
Now on those former trips to Istanbul and to Iran frauenknecht had purchased pieces RK calls airport-art – we saw many of them when we arrived in Nurnberg.
This type of merchandise represented what he knew about older Turkish weaving or any other type -- next to nothing.
We had asked him to come along with us on the proposed trip, which we discussed with him in NY after the icoc, because we “liked” him and his enthusiasm for rugs and also because he said he knew Istanbul, surely not for his rug knowledge.
RK had already, before we left America, researched the hotels of Istanbul, and settled our mind on staying at the Pera Palace Hotel, located in the Tepebaşı neighborhood of Beyoğlu (Pera) district in Istanbul.
It was, and still is, the grande-dame of hotels in Turkey, having been built in 1892.
In 1980, like most of Istanbul, it was not modernized but, as thread-bare as the carpeting and upholstered furniture was, it still retained that inherent luxury and location all great period hotels have.
It was RK’s kinda place and when we rather forcefully told frauenknecht that’s where RK intended to say he started squawking about the ‘price’.
We then told him he could contribute to the cost what he would have paid to stay in the Oran and RK would pick-up the rest of the bill.
Needless to say frauenknecht was bright enough to realize this was a great deal and he readily agreed.
When we arrive, RK rented a large one bedroom suite, arranged to have a roll-a-way bed brought into the living room each night, and frauenknecht slept there.
Of course since we were paying the lion's share of the bill we slept in the great bedroom.
By the way the suite's bathroom was big enough to put a ping-pong table in and the ceilings throughout the suite high enough to hit serious baseline lobs.
The next morning at breakfast RK met the general manager and he told RK the suite had formerly been where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had lived in the later part of his life, and where İsmet İnönü stayed during the armistice talks with the British after WWI.
The suite, as we said, was extremely large, on the first floor above the reception, with a fantastic view, as well as all the physical accoutrement the best suites in old luxury hotels offer, regardless of the rather poor state of the furniture and carpeting.
To begin to bring this part of our discussion to an end: After only the first day of visiting many rug dealers, RK had the feeling we were not going to find a rug or kelim to bag for our collection unless we were lottery lucky.
By the second evening we knew this was not conjecture but was going to be fact.
On frauenknecht’s and our return to the hotel after that first day of looking around we got into a pretty big and nasty argument, which had actually started earlier in the day.
Basically it concerned his disapproval of the way RK approached the dealers, large and small, we had met together.
Since RK treats anyone and everyone we meet kindly and openly; well, that is until their actions prove them unworthy of such politesse, that's how we comported ourself in Istanbul.
We also have always been extremely generous with information about rugs, as any longtime reader of RugKazbah and the Weaving Art Museum websites realizes.
This dissemination of our thoughts and knowledge of rugs, which by the way frauenknecht had been, and still was, a major beneficiary, irked him to no end, and he harped and harped, like a disgruntled woman, Turkish rug dealers were snakes, dishonest and unworthy of any trust or kindness.
RK told frauenknecht in no uncertain terms he could think and act as he wished but he should belt-up about how we dealt with the dealers we were meeting.
After the second day, seeing what was on offer was not going to result in RK getting anything for our collection, RK came up with a plan frauenknecht jumped-at.
RK would pick-out the best of the pieces on offer, we would share their cost, and then do a selling exhibition at frauenknecht’s gallery in Nurnberg and share the profits minus his gallery expenses.
As duplicitous and stupid as frauenknect is, he knows a great deal when he sees it.
So, on the third and fourth day we were together in Istanbul, RK picked-out about 15 or so kelim for the show.
But although frauennecht was silent as a mouse about RK’s choices, he still continued to harp and harangue us for our kind, friendly and open manner in dealing with the carpet dealers we met.
Over and over he complained what dogs they were; how they did not deserve any kindness and openness; how they would ‘screw’ us unless RK stopped being friendly.
That fourth night when we returned to the Pera Palace, and frauenknecht continued like a broken record on this tack, RK told him to get out of our suite and go stay at the Oran.
We told him to leave immediately, as we were sick and tired of his bullshit, and that he had to pay nothing for the four nights he had stayed in the suite.
At first he argued to stay but when he saw RK was adamant and not going to change his mind, he started packing his bag and knew the jig with us was up.
But before leaving, he sheepishly asked us “Ummm, what about the pieces you picked out and planned to buy together for the show in my gallery?”
We told him “They’re all yours. You pay for them if you want and do the show yourself. The only thing we want is to see you walk down the hallway and get out of our sight.”
RK then proceeded to spend another month or so traveling around Turkey by car and when we left we took with us the one and only piece we bought.
The show at frauenknecht’s gallery happened about 6 months or so later and all the best pieces in that show were the ones RK had chosen.
The show and our picks, plus the lesser material frauenknecht had chosen himself, was memorialized in his little black catalog “Anatolische Kelim" published in 1982.
RK is not going to spend more time discussing frauenknecht or the on and off relationship we subsequently had with him until the early 1990’s.
But we will quickly mention that relationship interruptus was caused by the fact frauenknecht proved himself more than once to be a cheat, a liar and a petty crook.
He also proved to be a bird-dog, going behind our back and using our introductions to benefit himself.
The only honest thing he ever did in our direction was inscribing a copy of that little black catalog, containing all the kelim we chose:
Title page of "Anatolische Kelim"
He is right, RK was a friend and a teacher, although frauenknecht, like others we turned on to our collection and knowledge, barely learned a fraction of what he could have because his capacity for knowledge is small and his belief he knows it all large.
That’s all we have time for today.
Part III will be forthcoming as time permits.
Proscribed vs Prescribed
Plate 5; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
To say RK was in the right place at the right time would be a serious under-statement; actually, we were standing there waiting for it to happen, when it happened.
There’s a big difference there, think about it before you go on reading.
Once again what follows is a very brief summary of the dynamic period 1979-1981 when the majority of few archetype kelim to ever appear passed through several peoples hands to end up in two collections – the one that is now in the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and ours.
RK is not boasting or shooting the shit when we say no other collection has archetype examples and, after recounting a bit more of the story, we will demonstrate why such a seemingly braggadocious statement is fact.
But first let’s illustrate the first genuinely early and important, but not an archetype, Anatolian kelim we discovered.
Private Collection, London
Life works in strange ways, and RK is no stranger to realizing the metaphysic of the universe.
In a chance encounter, totally unexpectedly, that kelim was spread out at our feet.
This was in 1978 and to say we were speechless might be too restrained a comment.
The owner, who was not in any way a rug or kelim collector, knew the piece had a special “power” as he called it, but little did he know how that power effected RK and how we used that power to acquire pieces that were tons more powerful.
Again, this is meat for our autobiography and we will not cook it up here.
After admiring it and complimenting him, we seriously and intently tried every which way to get the owner to part with it; but to no avail.
Because he saw we were as enchanted with the piece as he was he finally consented to allow us to make the two photos, which we did with a Polaroid camera we had in our rented car parked outside his home.
The story then jumps forward about a year to fall of 1979 when one of those foreign dealers, who was traipsing to Istanbul to buy rugs, visited RK in NY.
We had heard he had bought some interesting kelim and we were determined to see them, and if what he had was great, to purchase.
So after a pretty fantastic dinner at a wonderful restaurant RK often frequented we took him back to our pad and opened a couple of ½ bottles of old Bordeaux, as a mini-tasting.
This guy was no stranger to inebriation but we must say we had already twisted up his socks before we had even left the dinner table.
After some long hours of conversation before and after the meal, as well as in our living room, we asked him if he was in the mood to taste another very rare and special ½ bottle.
He said sure and we produced a 1959 Lafite, pulled the cork, poured the entire half bottle into two large tulip glasses, handed him one and said “Drink up, lad, the nights still young” even though it was now well past midnight.
We both took a nice rich, full mouthful and sat back enjoying it on top of the already potent buzz from the dinner and the other wines.
We can remember this as if it were yesterday, so etched in our mind, and we are sure his, this moment in time was.
RK then pulled out the picture of the kelim you see above and handed it to him saying “Bet you ain’t got a kelim as great as this”.
RK said it as a fact, and not as a question, believing we could finesse him into showing us, what we had heard, he had recently bought.
Well, sure enough it worked like a charm, he reached into his bag and whipped out polaroids of two kelim.
Now before we get further into the story RK must admit the kelim above, though it was the earliest and best Anatolian kelim we had ever seen, whether in the flesh or in picture, was in our instinctual understanding not 300 or 400 years old.
We also need to mention at this point, in the fall of 1979, we had not formulated our chronology or conceived of what the earliest, ie archetype, kelim would look like, but all that was going to change after what then happened that evening.
Once RK started hearing about, and seeing, some of the early Turkish Village rugs that were appearing on the market we suspected there might also be such ancient kelim.
And since RK had been collecting kelim, though only rare and early white ground ‘Caucasian’ ones, for almost a decade we were primed to have such a belief.
That night with that large tulip of ’59 Lafite in our hand we actualized our belief as the foreign dealer handed us those two polariods saying “Oh yeah, look at this”
Those two kelim shown in his polariods became ours that evening, and they are Plates One and Two in our “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim” book.
Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Plate 2; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
As soon as we put our eyes on the polaroids he handed over, we knew we had, at last, found what we believed existed-- an ancient, archetype Antolian kelim.
Not only did we find one but we found two, freakin’amazing.
We then readily agreed that his was better than the one we showed and said “How much?”
He looked at us, took another sip of the ’59 and quite confidently said “Oh, they’re not for sale, I paid so little for them I will never have to sell them”.
RK knew, even back then, how to turn a situation to our advantage and we looked him straight in the eye and said “What if we make you an offer you can’t refuse?”
We saw our prey’s eyes flash and knew then and there the prize would be ours – all we had to do was hit a number that would make his jaw drop.
And hit that number we did.
But, being a fairly accomplished trader, he then tried to get more out of us.
At first we stuck to our offer but then, to help him save face and allow him to make his mind up to do the deal, we agreed to purchase a fragmented yomud group chuval from him as part of the package.
That’s the bare-bones gist of what happened that evening, the full unexpurgated version will, you guessed it, grace that autobiography.
Over the next 24 months we obsessively hunted more big-game archetype kelim; sometimes paying whooper prices, and other times getting them for a song, as the sellers did not know by a long-shot what we knew.
Then, like a sudden rain shower stops, no more archetype kelim came our way.
OK, enough of the history of how we got our collection, let’s now turn attention to demonstrating why we believe there are less than a dozen, actually only 11 extant archetype kelim.
Let’s end this part with a list:
There are four in the deYoung Museum, courtesy of Caroline Jones
There is one in the Vakiflar Museum but it is not illustrated in the catalog published in 1982, authored by Balpinar and hirsch
There is one illustrated in “Kelim” by Petsopolis and because of our offer to our readers to pin the tail on the kelim we will refrain, for now, saying more about it
And there are five in RK’s collection, all of which are illustrated in “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim" and four of which have already been shown in the three already published parts of this discussion on RugKazbah.
Again, we know our statements appear to be boastful and conceited but, as the old saying goes “Put up or shut up” and we will start putting up in Part IV.
Proscribed vs Perscribed
Since we have a winner in our pin the tail on the kelim contest, RK has decided to switch things up a bit and begin the proof is in the pudding part of our kelim examination with Plate 86 in Yanni Petsopolis’s book Kelim, published by Rizzoli in 1979.
Archetype kelim saf; collection Museum fur Islamische Kunst; Berlin, Germany
There are a number of interesting and, might we say, quite unusual, elements to the story of this saf and its relationship to the one in our collection.
Early Classic Period saf; Plate 6; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim
Those elements make a great story as our retelling it will prove.
However, comparing the Berlin piece and ours -- an archetype and an early classic period – would not have been our choice as the way to begin proving our kelim chronology and the much larger issue of proscription vs prescription.
There is no doubt, though, the story of how RK acquired ours does in great regard provide some explanation to what, in Part III, we called “tons of power”
Archetypal weaving, whether kelim or pile, soumak or embroidery, always strikes us as possessing some je ne sais quoi quality, and while we cannot put into words what this quality is we can occasionally substantiate its occurrence.
And we can, as will be proven by the end of this examination of Anatolian kelim, substantiate our chronology and the reasons for placing all known type of kelim on and within it.
The story, which we will now tell, doesn't exactly do that, we know.
Remember we have switched-up the order but, even standing alone, it does more than imply what we will far more concretely prove later.
And trust us what we write in this installment actually happened as we are retelling it, as fantastic and unbelievable as it might sound.
Just as an aside here, we need to reiterate RK does not lie, we do not exaggerate, nor have we ever – we believe in telling the truth and expect the same of others.
This is, perhaps, the main reason we have had difficulties with those in rugDUMB and elsewhere.
We believe when you lie you only destroy yourself, and while many believe different we could not agree less.
So please note everything we have ever written, or said, is the truth – not as we see it but as it is.
Hope ‘nuff said on this subject.
There number of ‘powerful’ incidents we can recount concerning our relationship to these two saf makes it hard to know where to begin, so we will begin at the beginning.
It’s interesting to note what our winner of the pin the tail on the kelim wrote with his guess:
“...initially I didn't think that any of the pieces illustrated by Petsopoulos could compare to the spectacular examples in the WAMRI Anatolian Kelim exhibition, or to those in the Caroline Jones collection at the de Young Museum.”
Honestly, we could not have scripted that response any better had we written it.
Let’s flashback here 31 or 32 years to London England and the home/office of michael franses on Castelain Road, Maida Vale, W9.
Believe it or not RK and franses were far more than cordial way back then, and RK remembers well the first time franses told us about the kelim book he was making with Yanni Petsopolis.
Being friendly with franses, who is a cold fish by any stoke of imagination, was not like being friendly with other rug people RK knew and liked.
As we have written recently, in our exposée of Dr. jon aka the con thompson, franses was only all about business, buying pieces, or trying to buy pieces, from RK so he could resell them to his “clients”.
This never went down particularly well with RK but because franses was reasonably open with us; like inviting us to visit his home when we wanted, and to let us interact with his charming and lovely wife Jacquelin, as well as sharing certain tidbits of information with us and showing us rugs he had purchased, we went along with his business-first attitude.
We never shared a meal in a restaurant with franses, we never were invited to his home to eat, we never went to a club or an event with franses, we ‘never did nothing’ with franses. All we did with him during those years we were on speaks was talk about rugs and agree to sell some to him.
A relationship this ‘don’t make’, and RK was well aware in showing us rugs, and in our discussing rugs franses, he was as guarded as a poker player at the tables in Vegas.
Now don’t get the wrong idea here, readers, franses was not in any way, during the 1970’s when we first met him and afterwards up until 1984 when RK stopped talking or interacting with him, anyone who knew more than we did.
Far from it; RK, in fact, knew more than little lord franses, as we are now wont to call him, about the non-urban rugs RK collected then and still collects now.
And today should franses ever take up our challenge and meet us on a stage to debate historic Turkmen rugs, historic Anatolian rugs or kelim we will make him look to be the rug-poseur we claim he is.
Granted franses dropped interest in most of these weavings long ago, so he might should we say be a bit rusty. If so we’ll be glad to oil those little wheels in his uneducated brain for him, all he has to do is ask.
Why might you ask did franses drop interest in these types of rugs?
Simply put because he wasn’t intelligent, educated or intuitive enough to continue with them and so he retreated, as did Dr. jon lazy boy thompson, to the far easier to understand ‘classical carpet’ world.
Sure, sure those rugs are big money fish and since both franses and thompson are dollar sign types, their departure makes sense in those term$.
But, quite frankly, the race for the gold ring is not over yet and RK is 100 percent positive when we get enough funding to start our forensic testing program we will prove the value archetype non-urban, small scale society rugs and kelim we collect will equal and maybe even eclipse many of those now touted classical carpets.
We digress here, so let’s get back to Anatolian kelim but allow us to have this last word or two about the apparent prejudice many, like franses and thompson, express towards the weavings in RK’s world.
As far as seeing any real scholarship, which means original work, in non-urban rugs franses’s career demonstrates he has done absolutely nothing.
He was a cut and paster, at best, relying on the skills of Ian Bennet for many years to do the heavy lifting.
Someday, when it serves our purpose, we will expose him as the academic poseur he truly is.
What about in the classical carpet realm?
Well since reading franses post-Bennet work is like sleeping on sandpaper sheets, RK can honestly say we have never delved very far into it, so we reserve comment until the day comes when we turn our attention to see what he really has done besides write voluminous footnotes of other people’s work.
At least thompson gets immense credit for his taxonomical identification of “S” group; but since then he has fallen into an abyss of presenting pseudo-to-bogus research when done in any other field would have relegated him to Siberia, if not an academic dungeon.
So it is no wonder lazy boy jon and little lord franses are nowhere to be seen on the scene that interests most of rugDUMB.
Back to franses home/office in 1977 when franses showed us a big box of 8x10 color transparencies of the pieces he and Yanni had selected.
Detail; archetype Caucasian kelim; Weaving Art Museum exhibition Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth; Plate 17
As RK looked through them, we could not help wondering why franses had not spoken about the project, as we had spent many hours with franses and never heard peep about it.
We should mention during this time, prior to the mid-1980, we knew Yanni but did not spend time with him.
All that soon changed, but that part of the story will not be told here.
Hindsight is 20/20; and after thinking about franses’s silence on the kelim book over the years in light of our long-time reassessed opinion, RK figured out why he waited until the project for the book was almost complete to discuss it with us.
It is clear, and has been since 1981, franses fears us, in fact, he once told someone, in our earshot, “Cassin is a loose cannon.”
Right he was -- we were, and still are, a loose cannon with anyone who tries to bullshit his way through our corner of rugDUMB or tries to con, cheat or suppress us and our ideas.
This is not a discussion about franses, or thompson, it’s about Anatolian kelim and we only mention these two carpet-bagging clowns to put what we are recounting and will recount about the kelim scene into proper perspective.
Readers need to realize we cannot present our positions without documentation and reference; to do so would be academically dishonest.
Sullying them, and others like frauenknect, with the truth is not our purpose but we also will not avoid telling the truth to get our position and message across.
Whew, now back to the East Berlin saf and what happened.
So when franses told us about the kelim book he was making with Petsopolis, and showed us the color transparencies, we were quite unimpressed.
For while we did not yet own an Anatolian kelim, we did already have the small collection of hand-spun white cotton ones from, we believe, the southern Caucasus.
Quite frankly, we found, and still find, them far more interesting, evocative and important than any Anatolian kelim in the box of trannys franses showed us.
archetype Caucasian kelim; Weaving Art Museum exhibition Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth; Plate 17
Someday, if no one else does, we will tell the unexpurgated story of the kelim book authored by Yanni Petsopolis but not today.
While viewing the trannys of the kelim, we asked franses if he wanted any of our kelim for the book project.
As Shakespeare wrote “here in lies the rub” why franses never told us about the kelim book project before it was almost finished.
“Well” he said “Yes I would be glad to take a couple but, as we have already allotted all the color plates, your pieces would have to be printed in black and white”.
To say this didn’t seem like a good idea is an under-statement, so we declined and that was that.
RK didn’t hear anything from franses about Petsopolis and the book until after it was released in 1979.
RK doesn’t have a copy of Kelim and the reasons we don’t need not be enumerated here.
But we did, prior to late1980 look at it a few times and, like our pin the tale on the kelim winner wrote, were never much impressed with the illustrated pieces.
However and now, dear readers, who have suffered through the many paragraphs of set-up, there is a punch line, and its forthcoming.
In late 1980 we were still talking with franses, although we were not doing much business with him as we did not wish to sell pieces from our collection at the high “wholesale” prices franses wanted to pay.
We must reiterate we only sold because of our desire and need for dollars, and we never sold many pieces but we did always get strong, high prices for them.
In fact, this failure on our part to offer franses what we were willing to part with strained our relations but, since RK was not losing, and franses was trying hard to get back into the saddle with us, on the surface the rapport we formerly had still existed.
One late morning in the fall of 1980 we went over to franses home/office --now remember by this time we already owned Plates One, Two, Four, Five and Eight in the Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book -- to say hello and see what he was up to.
Later that afternoon RK had arranged to take the train out to the countryside on a mission that is germane to this Anatolian kelim discussion but unfortunately for the story’s sake we are not willing to discuss.
While we were at franses that morning, he took some phone-calls in the other room, leaving us to our own devices.
The part of his home/office where he left us had his extensive collection of rug books in wooden and glass cases lining the walls of the room.
So during the interludes he left us alone we picked-up several books and one of those was the Petsopolis Kelim book.
When we left an hour or so later later to go have lunch with a girlfriend, and then catch the train, we asked franses if we could take the Kelim book along with us to read, as we had never really done anything but leaf thru the pages.
The train ride was about two hours each way so we thought we’d have plenty of time to finally read what was written between the covers.
Well, wadda ya know, on that train ride we noticed the Berlin saf and were truly dumbfounded we had never really concentrated enough on the book to see its picture before.
The next day we went back over the franses’s place to return the book and while talking to him asked if he had a color tranny of it in the box he had shown us that day in 1977.
He said he had one but didn’t know where it was, and had no time to look for it, giving us a black and white photocopy he did easily locate.
RK then asked him if he knew the director of the East Berlin Museum, and franses said yes he knew Volkmer Enderlein and was, in fact, on great terms with him.
Since we now realized the saf was a great kelim and wanted to examine it personally, and since we had never even seen a later example and neither had franses when we queried him, we asked franses if he could set up an appointment with Enderlein for us to visit the Museum, as we had never been to east Berlin, or the museum, or met Enderlein.
One thing about franses is his desire to always want to show how well-connected and important he is, so he picked up the phone, called freidrich spuhler and arranged for us to meet spuhler in west Berlin and he would then arrange a trip to east Berlin and Enderlein for us.
During this period RK was living in London but we were frequently traveling to France, Germany and Austria both for rug business and for pleasure.
To jump to the chase we visited Spuhler, and Enderlein and saw the saf.
But we must place this event into history, and to do that we need to back-up here a bit, leave little lord franses behind, and get back to RK the big-game kelim hunter.
As we mentioned, once we bought the two first archetype kelim in NY in 1979, we even more seriously went on the hunt for others.
Now then because RK did not want to move to Istanbul -- preferring life in Paris, London and Munich to the dirty streets, no star restaurants, broken furniture Pera Palaces of Istanbul, regardless how interesting, oriental, and ‘historic’ Istanbul was, and we are not being sarcastic it truly was a very special place circa 1980, just not for us -- RK became, for the first time, an arm-chair collector.
Prior to our seeking archetype kelim and early Turkish Village rugs, RK only collected first-hand, frequenting antique auctions, markets and all types of antique dealers.
We did this first on the east coast and then in about 1972 added California to our purview; and then, in 1975, we started going to England and Europe.
But to bag archetype kelim we realized we had to either move to Istanbul or get very friendly with the American and European dealers who were willing, and in fact loved, to go there.
There is one other point we need to explain: RK did not want to be a rug-smuggler, and since exporting historic rugs from Turkey was absolutely forbidden RK did not want to join the carpet-mafia, who had the connections to illicitly move old rugs out of the country.
These are the reasons RK never moved to Istanbul even though we knew we could get great pieces for our collection and probably make some serious cash selling what we didn’t want.
But, quite honestly, RK doesn’t care about money, we are not rich but we are clever enough to have always provided for ourself, and on top of that we did not want to be a smuggler or live in a third world country.
We hope this will put to rest the vicious rumors of alleged nefarious activities RK supposedly perpetrated while in Turkey that still drip and dribble-off certain people’s tongues.
Because we have been on the old rug scene as long as anyone, and in fact longer than almost anyone who is still alive today, we knew who was going to Turkey, and, more important, who had enough rug-sense to buy something we would want.
Remember we did not by accident get Plates One and Two, we set-it up like a movie director, as well as acting our part like Marlon Brando.
Being no stranger to the set-up, we then set our sights on bagging more kelim, and bag them we did.
Sometime after seeing the east Berlin saf on that train ride to the country, we cornered one of the guys who was frequently traipsing to Istanbul.
We met him at his apartment and, going over to his bookcase where we knew a copy of the Kelim book was resting, we took it out, opened it to the page where the east Berlin saf was and said very confidently to him “Hey, man, on your next trip to Turkey when you find a kelim like this one you had better offer it to me.”
His mouth opened wide enough to drive our 450 through and gazing at the picture for a few minutes he then said “Gee, I’ve never even seen anything like it.”
Please remember this is in the fall of 1980 when not many historic, forget about archetype kelim, were known.
Over the ensuing years a number of saf kelim, resembling the east Berlin example, have appeared but not one can even kiss its boots.
Here’s that punch line, and the end of Part IV.
On the very day RK was in Volkmer Enderlein’s office in east Berlin holding the saf in our arms, our dealer operative found and bought ours in Istanbul.
Detail Plate Six; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim
Now what are the odds and chances that could happen?
RK believes that was lottery lucky.
If readers are not astounded by that occurrence, and the fact our saf, while far inferior to its archetype in east Berlin, remains the next best example, we suggest you re-read what we have written or have someone explain it to you.
Since RK finished Part IV we have been pondering the best way to demonstrate the two main points of our Anatolian kelim discussion:
1.the difference between what we have called proscribed and prescribed design
2.our belief there is a demonstrable time-line chronology for each and every type of Anatolian kelim.
We finally decided to initially illustrate the 11 archetype kelim we have mentioned and then show how we believe they are the templates for all other, later, examples.
Let’s start with the four from the deYoung Museum collection.
First is what RK considers to be the most important and earliest. We call it the “S” kelim:
Plate 27; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Second is a kelim we call the “rhombs”:
Plate 28; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Third is a kelim from Afyon and we will call it by the same name:
Plate 57; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
And fourth is a kelim we call the “vulture”:
Plate 58; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
RK’s only choosing four kelim out of the 110 illustrated in the catalog might strike many kelim lovers as strange and extreme.
But, when dealing with true art historical comparison, only the most careful and detailed analysis can hold its own against the push of time.
The expert is not fooled or influenced by personal likes or dislikes, nor can the fashions of the moment be considered.
That push of time has a way of washing away fashion and personal taste, and the history of oriental rug studies is littered with the mistakes many scholars have made by allowing less than the most absolute and critical reasoning to affect their judgment.
Excellence is a tough taskmaster, and RK’s opinions are not casually determined, whether about Anatolian kelim or the way we chose to live our life.
Striving for the best possible, and the willingness to put up with the hardships this course of action demands is not for everyone, we don’t expect it to be.
So let’s move on here, and RK trusts all will become more clear when our examination of Anatolian kelim is finished.
Number 5, out of the 11 archetypes, is a piece from the Vakiflar Museum, in Turkey. Regrettably it was not included in the Vakiflar kelim book.
We call this kelim the ‘compass’:
Collection Vakiflar Museum
Number 6 has already been illustrated in our examination. It is the east Berlin saf:
Collection Museum fur Islamische Kunst; Berlin, Germany
The remaining 5 are in our kelim collection and, even though we have already illustrated 4 of them in our examination we will, for convenience and comparison, illustrate them once again.
The fifth we are illustrating for the first time, and it is number 11 on our short but tight list of archetypes:
Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Plate 2; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Plate 4; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Plate 5; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Plate 3; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
These 11 kelim are, as we have already stressed, the only archaic period examples we have seen.
Granted we do not know every kelim that still exists, but we do well know every published one, and a number of unpublished others in the many collections we have personally seen in the past 30 years.
Should any reader feel we have missed one we will be delighted to add it to our list.
But, quite honestly, we doubt one exists, and to back up our claim we offer a special paper-bound two volume copy, one of only a few remaining, of our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book to any one who can produce a picture of an archaic period piece.
We will also require our having the opportunity to view and examine the piece at some future time.
RK is proficient enough to know from a good 2 or 3 megabyte picture, and a closeup or two, if a kelim is archaic period or not.
The only reason we wish to have the opportunity to handle it is person is for our own pleasure.
In the next part, Part VI, we will begin to further explain why these 11 are what we claim; what the proscribed and prescribed words are all about, why every known Anatolian kelim can be directly traced to one of the 11, and how every known Anatolian kelim type can be placed on an historical continuum
where one of the 11 can be shown to be the
This, we know, is a tall order but RK has been researching Anatolian kelim for 30 plus years, and not only are we able to chew such a task but we can, be assured, digest it without burping.
So all you kelim-freaks go study the 11; go compare them to any and all the pieces in your collection, or ones that you know; and if you are willing to extend the effort to write in here to question what we are doing, please do not hesitate to try and critique us, or prove us wrong.
But, remember, RK will not allow anyone to come here and attack us with innuendo, slander, defamation, or any other type of unprofessional personal attack.
Bring your brains and not your egos; bring fact not hearsay and baseless opinion.
We welcome all comers, who know how to debate their positions with integrity, knowledge and honor.
Anatolian kelim are the king of slit-tapestry, the tradition is clearly ancient and, only because of the sacred and proscribed nature of that tradition, have pieces like the 11 remained for us to enjoy, marvel at and learn from.
Title page; Goddess from Anatolia; volume one; inscribed by authors James Mellaart, udo Hirsch and Belkis Balpinar to RK
RK feels we need to take a step back here before going forward to discuss, as briefly as possible mind you, the process that led us to study near eastern, and particularly Anatolian, neolithic and early bronze age(EBA) archaeology and the relationship objects made during these important periods in human developmental history have with Anatolian kelim and other weaving.
After the night of ’59 Lafite we waited about a month to actually get our hands on the two kelim we purchased.
The seller had Polaroid pics in his bag but he didn’t have the pieces with him – they were overseas at his place, and we trusted him enough to give him payment the next day with his promise to turn them over to us when he returned to Europe.
After paying, we arranged for a girlfriend of ours, Hilary, to pick them up from him and then to fly her, and the two kelim, to New York.
So about a fortnight after making the deal the seller handed the kelim over to Hilary, and a couple of weeks later she was in our apartment in Greenwich Village and the two kelim were hanging on our wall.
Some months, thereafter, on one of our frequent trips to the old country, we purchased three more, now immortalized as Plates numbers four, five and eight in volume two of our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book and they, too, were soon hanging on the walls of our floor-thru apartment in Greenwich Village.
Plate 8; early classic period; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
RK spent many hours looking at these kelim, and from the get-go they confused us – what were those fantastic patterns with icon and motif we had never seen on any other kelim or pile rugs.
Now, remember, this is late spring 1980 and RK had already been seriously collecting and studying historic carpets since 1969, had a good library of rug and textile books, had been to many museum and private collection, and had immersed ourself in rug studies with a passion.
But these kelim, and their amazingly unique iconography, made us feel we knew nothing about a subject we had already spent 10 years working on.
Detail; Plate 8; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
One evening in a marvelous state of heightened awareness we suddenly flashed on a concept that, the next morning, we began put into motion.
Somehow that night the word Egypt entered our consciousness in relation to our questions about the kelim, and within a week we traveled to Washington DC to spend 10 days working at the Library of Congress where, we hoped, we would find information to explain our ‘feeling’ the iconography on the kelim we now owned had its roots.
We also hoped to find enough information to use as reference material in a kelim book we wanted to publish about our Anatolian kelim collection.
RK recognized the growing interest in historic rugs, kelim, soumak and other textiles and we wanted to contribute; and publishing a book on our kelim collection was one possible publishing project we were considering.
Another was for our extensive collection of masterpiece Kashmir shawls, which in fact, we had already made some serious inroads into starting.
But back to Anatolian kelim: So we reserved a room in the Hay-Adams Hotel, which was by the way right across Pennsylvania Ave from the White House for our 10 day stay.
When RK checked in, we were given a wonderful room, in the front of the hotel, with two large windows that looked out onto the White House lawn.
Polaroid photo RK made of the view from our room at the Hay-Adams; notice the protest tents in the right foreground, think anyone could be staying in a tent on the White House lawn today?
We could also see the main front door and columned porch across the street, and that view of the lawn greeted us each day when we opened the curtains.
We had driven down to DC, but each morning we had a taxi pick us up at 9 am to take us to the Library, return at 12 noon to take us to lunch, then at 2pm or so returning us back to the Library, and at 5pm back to the hotel.
At the time a friend of ours, Monseff, was the chef/owner of a very famous restaurant Maison Blanche and we ate all our meals there, with him cooking us some fine meals and sometimes joining us for lunch or dinner to chit-chat.
Monseff liked old Bordeaux wines and RK brought a few bottles with us for Monseff and RK to enjoy together, as we always share the wines we would bring to a restaurant with the chef.
That’s how we became friendly with him, and many other great chefs we have shared good times and great meals with…but we digress.
While in the Library of Congress we came across a number of books and made many notes, interestingly enough this was the first time we discovered the work of James Mellaart, the world famous and highly controversial neolithic and EBA writer and scholar.
Archaeologist James Mellaart working to carefully uncover a wall-painting, from under layers of later white washed pigment, at Catal Huyuk circa 1963
But the import of that discovery, and Mellaart’s work, passed us by, as we were concentrating on early Dynastic and pre-dynastic Egypt, and the notes we made on the Catal Huyuk book Mellaart authored, got filed away and then forgotten.
Our 10 day stay in D.C. filled RK with information and ideas, but over the next months of more research, thinking and re-reading our notes and memories we knew we had not found the key to unlock the ‘secret’ of what the kelim we owned were all about.
Again a chance occurrence, like having that first early kelim spread at our feet some years before, played an significant role in our search.
While talking to an acquaintance, who had a strong academic background, we inquired if he had a friend who was an ‘Egyptologist’ who could help us learn more to solve our riddle; after all pre-Dynastic Egypt is a huge topic and one RK had absolutely no knowledge of, or previous history studying.
He said he didn’t have a ‘friend’ but he did know of a man named James Mellaart.
This was in London in the late fall of 1981, and when we asked him how to contact Mellaart he bruskly said “Look in the phone book”
We asked for the correct spelling and later that day found Mellaart’s number.
We could not wait until the next morning, and at about 9 am we called the number and Mellaart answered.
We immediately mentioned we were researching Egytpian archaeology and wondered if he would have time to meet us.
Mellaart asked us if we were a student and when we said “No, we are doing this for our own edification.” he then asked why.
We then told him about our being an Anatolian kelim collecor and our interest in trying to define the history of the motif and icon on our pieces.
Well the word kelim and the fact, when Mellaart asked what kind of kelim we collected we said very old ones, opened the door with Mellaart.
Little did RK realize the treasure trove of information and knowledge that door would provide.
Mellaart then told us he was a lecturer at the London School of Archaeology and invited us to visit him during his open office hours for his students.
He also said “And be sure to bring those pictures of your kelim collection.”, as we had told him we had large 8x10 color prints of our kelim with us, though the kelim were in N.Y.
We said we’d be delighted to come, and a few days later drove out to Gordon Square and found Mellaart’s office.
We knocked on the door and heard him say come in.
Opening to door we saw Mellaart, who is not tall but a broad and bulky Scotsman with an oversized head and friendly smile.
He had a little unlit cigar in his hand, a desk piled with papers and folders, and an office filled with books everywhere – in book cases lining the walls, on chairs and yard high piles on the floor.
Not to mention the stuffy smoke-filled air, with years of smoke residue on the walls and fresh somewhat unsavory rather stinky smoke still hanging in the air.
We entered this veritable cave of neolithic and EBA knowledge, sat down across from him on the one chair without a pile of books on it and immediately handed him the 8x10’s of our kelim collection.
Mellaart then, without looking at them, put them down on his desk and said “Are you familiar with my work and my publications?”
Not remembering seeing the Catal Huyuk book at the Library of Congress those long months ago, we said, no we weren’t.
Mellaart then stood up, reached onto a shelf next to his desk and proceeded to hand us several heavy books, which we took from his thick stubby hands, and began to leaf through them.
He, meanwhile, began to look at our 8x10’s.
As soon as we opened the Catal Huyuk book we immediately remembered seeing it in Washington, but still its import to our search remained unrecognized.
After maybe 10 minutes or so, Mellaart looked up at us, lit his cigar, took a drag, much to our consternation, and said “These are some very impressive kelim, where and how you get them?”
Frankly we thought this a bit strange but, hell, here we were sitting in front of someone we could tell was an unusual man, who might be able to help us, so we recounted the story -- the one we have written and you all have read.
Mellaart listened intently and then said “You are a lucky man, these are the most impressive kelim I have ever seen” and he proceed to tell us about his ‘small collection’ and his archaeological work and discoveries in Turkey.
We listened, but could hardly wait to ask him some questions we had about Egyptian archaeology but, quite frankly, we couldn’t get a word in as Mellaart went motoring on about his love of kelim that began when he went to work in Turkey, at the British International Institute of Archaeology in Ankara during the 1950’s.
Finally we got the chance and asked him a question.
Mellaart looked a bit surprised and remarked why we were asking such a question of him. We answered because we had heard he was an Egyptologist.
Mellaart then chuckled and said “Well in my undergraduate years I was but in my post-graduate studies and professional career my field focused on Anatolian neolithic and EBA periods."
This was a little embarrassing for RK and we did not know what to say next.
But Mellaart immediately went back to talking of Turkey and his ‘hunt’ for old kelim, and we looked down again at the books in our lap and as the Catal Huyuk one was on the top we began to more intently look at the pictures and captions as Mellaart continued his monologue about kelim and his fascination with them.
Well, right then and there the connection dawned on us and we realized our search for the source of the iconography on our kelim was not ancient Egypt but ancient Anatolia.
Color photo; Leopard Shrine; courtesy and copyright Arlette Mellaart
This realization stunned us speechless, filled our mind with a million questions, and we couldn’t wait to read Mellaart’s work.
Even though we were not too pleased breathing the rather unpleasant smell of Mellaart’s cheap little cigars, we were, after all, no stranger to smoking a cigar once and awhile.
In fact, one of the things we liked about Europe, particularly living in London, was the availability of Havana cigars.
We had developed a liking for those made under the Davidoff label, especially one they called the Latour.
Wanting to ingratiate ourself to Mr Mellaart, who we now saw as a possible collaborator in our kelim book project, we reached into our briefcase, took out two Davidoff’s, the antique sterling silver cigar cutter
we used to nip the tip, and handed it and a Latour to Mellaart.
Jimmy, as Mellaart likes to be called, looked a bit surprised, took the cutter and the Latour and said “Oh, you like to smoke cigars?”
We said yes, occasionally, as he put the cutter down on his desk and, without even taking off the paper band, put the Latour in his mouth, rolled it around on his lips and bit off the tip.
Well, RK thought this was a bit primitive and brutal, but when in Rome do as the Romans, so for the first time we bit the tip of a cigar instead of doing it properly using a sharp cigar cutter, as not to harm the fragile leaf wrapper.
Now this is not the time or place to discuss cigar etiquette but this ain’t the way it’s done, especially with a champion Havana cigar like a Davidoff Latour
Mellaart then lit up, and we did likewise glad to now smell the fragrant and rich smell of Havana tobacco rather than the odoriferous ‘stink’ of Mellaart’s 10 to a 50 pence pack.
RK could see Mellaart was an appreciator of a fine cigar by the way he held and gazed at the Latour, in spite of his brutal way of nipping the tip.
RK could also see this little piece of generosity was much appreciated as well.
We began to talk and Mellaart’s monologue became a conversation.
We talked about Turkey and many other things over those cigars.
RK then asked Jimmy if he would consider working with us on our proposed kelim book and he said no, he had no time.
RK doesn’t take no for an answer so quickly and was not going to give up our interest in having him work with us.
RK then asked Jimmy if he would like to have lunch with us one day soon, and he said “Well, maybe, but how about you coming to dinner at our house, my wife is a great cook”
He also said he would like her to see the 8x10’s as she shared his interest and love of Anatolian kelim.
RK then said to Jimmy we were kinda particular about what we ate, we did not eat meat or eggs, so it might be easier to have a lunch together in a restaurant where RK knew he could get what he liked.
“Do you like Italian food? RK asked “Because my favorite Italian restaurant, Cicconi’s, has outstanding food I am sure you'd enjoy”.
Mellaart might have smoked cheap cigars and on his small salary as a lecturer not had the money to eat in restaurants but he was a gourmet, and a fairly knowledgeable one at that.
Being so, he knew of Cicconi’s, and let’s just say RK could see his mouth water and he said. “OK, I’d like to join you but I can only make it on Thursday, not this week but the next. Will that be OK?”
RK said “Sure, whenever you like is fine with me”, and after some more interesting palavering with Jimmy we left, arranging to meet at Cicconi’s.
We had a great lunch, RK arranged to bring a bottle of old burgundy with us and, after the meal, we produced another pair of Latours to share with Jimmy.
At that lunch Mellaart began to informally tutor RK on the ins and outs of Anatolian neolithic and EBA archaeology.
Jimmy’s knowledge of the subject was encyclopedic and his delivery interesting and engaging – he amazed us at that meal and in the many, many subsequent discussions we had.
After our lunch Mellaart then insisted we come to dinner at his home and, of course we accepted.
Mellaart’s charming and equally as fascinating wife, Arlette, cooked us a great meal -- Scottish salmon --, we brought two bottles of old Bordeaux with us, and our 8x10’s.
So started a friendship that remains one of the closest and dearest RK has with anyone we met our rug world travels.
We are not going to get into the sticky wicket of discussing Mellaart’s errors in presenting himself to the rug world.
And although RK readily admits Mellaart made unbelievably serious errors of professional judgment in those efforts, and we will explain a bit more about this here and now, it is stupid, myopic and absurd to brand him a cheat or a liar.
Even more so to ignore his tremendous contributions to Anatolian archaeology, and the large number of important book and research papers he has authored.
To make a very long collaboration, and friendship, concise for the purposes of this
text, let RK just say from that lunch at Cicconi’s until the icoc conference at the Barbican center in 1983 RK worked on trying to get Mellaart to co-author our book on kelim.
We wanted to have him write on archaeology and we would interpret his archaeological material as it pertained to, and illuminated, the iconography on our collection of archetypal Anatolian kelim.
Mellaart never changed his initial position -- he had no time to write for us --but he was extremely open and generous to informally tutor our study and progressing knowledge of neolithic and EBA Anatolian and eastern Mediterranean archaeology.
But in 1983 that position changed and again a chance occurrence was the catalyst.
In 1982 and 1983 RK was still on speaks with michael franses but, as we wrote earlier, things between us were somewhat strained though no so much to make RK not share with franses our discovery of our archetype kelim.
RK well remembers the first time we showed him photos of the first two that much later in time would be published as Plates 1 & 2 in our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book.
RK was rather nonplussed by franses’s rather stupid statement “These are mirror pieces” he said.
When RK inquired what he meant franses’s ridiculous comment was “You’ll need a mirror to look at them” and he laughed that nervous, insecure laugh anyone who knows him will understand.
RK has often commented on franses’s lack of higher education, not even graduating from the English equivalent of high school before going to work with his wonderful father, Robert, who had all the human qualities his son sorely lacks.
This lack of education is a sever handicap – one his ‘success’ as a purveyor of rugs has, and will never, assuage.
It also prevents him from understanding the subtle nuance necessary for non-urban rug studies, and his sarcastic remark about our two kelim demonstrated this and will haunt him forever.
RK, over the next months, told him of our meeting James Mellaart and our desire to have Mellaart work with us on our proposed kelim book, which we also mentioned to franses.
Now we did not introduce Mellaart and his work to franses, robert pinner gets credit for that, but our involvement with Mellaart was something michael I want to be the center of everything in the rug world franses did not miss, so he invited Mellaart to give a short talk as one of the many presenters at the Barbican Center icoc 1983 conference
RK's badge; Barbiacan icoc; London 1983
Mellaart had told us of his acceptance of the offer to speak, and RK arranged to take Jimmy and Arlette to a nice lunch after his talk.
We arranged to meet up in the large rotunda lobby of the Barbican at noon on the day Mellaart’s talk had been scheduled.
Knowing we would not have time enough to go for lunch at one of our usual haunts in the West End, and also knowing there were going to be no excellent meals available near the Barbican(things were very different in this east end part of London 26 years ago), we settled on taking the Mellaarts to lunch at the Savoy Hotel.
RK well knew the food there was not going to be up the standards we liked, and Arlette could turn out of her kitchen, but the Savoy Hotel is another of those old Victorian period gande dame kinda places and the ambiance of the large formal dining, the table accoutrement and old-style impeccable service would surely make up for the lack of culinary expertise.
We also arranged to have a black cab, as they are known in London, waiting for us at the front door to wisk us away from the hustle and bustle of the icoc conference and take us to the Savoy, which was way far to walk, especially with Jimmy and Arlette in tow.
RK and the Mellaarts met up at noon and were just getting ready to leave the rotunda when RK spotted Belkis Balpinar and her boyfriend, udo hirsch, in the crowd.
RK knew Belkis prior to our trip to Turkey in 1980 but we did not know her well, only becoming far more acquainted with her when we visited the Vakiflar museum several times and she was kind enough to spend time with RK showing us around the museum and also allowing us to see many pieces in the museum’s reserve storage.
Belkis Balpinar during the photo shoot in the courtyard of the Sultan Ahmet; notice the kelim on the ground; Plate 14, Vakiflar Museum Kelim book Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, published 1982
On that visit to Istanbul we also met hirsch for the first time.
As soon as RK saw them, we motioned for them to come over and as they did we started to introduce them to the Mellaarts.
RK did not realize James and Areltte knew Belkis and started to immediately talk with her in Turkish.
RK then invited Belkis and hirsch to accompany us to lunch at the Savoy, they accepted, and we all got into the black cab and on the ride to lunch there was much excited talk about kelim and everyone’s interest in them.
During the meal RK began to see a collaboration brewing and at the end, as the dessert dishes were being removed, RK stood up, took a fork, clicked it on a glass -- Ding Ding -- and made the announcement “Guess what, we are all going to make a book about Anatolian kelim together.”
Silence, then Mellaart looked at Belkis, Belkis looked at RK and quite honestly the deal was done.
Over the next few days, and after several ensuing meetings between Mellaart, Belkis and RK, with Arlette and hirsch in attendance, we made an agreement to work together.
RK was going to be the organizer, publisher and co-author the book with them.
Before Balpinar and hirsch left London to return to Turkey, RK had our lawyer, Richard Price, draw up contracts; RK paid Mellaart, Balpinar and hirsch, who we all agreed would also author part of the book, an advance; the contract was signed and we all went to off to work on our book tentatively titled 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim.
Originally setting a date two years hence for the completion of our work, as things turned out it was not until four years later Mellaart and Balpinar’s parts were completed – Mellaart writing about the archaeological connection and Balpinar writing about contemporary field work on kelim weaving in Anatolia.
RK’s contribution, along with hirsch, was going to be presentation of research to bridge the gap between Mellaart’s Neolithic/EBA material and Balpinar’s contemporary Anatolian field work.
Over that four-year period, RK worked closely with hirsch, and an initial friendship deepened into one of broad dimension where RK shared many confidences.
Also during those four years, RK met innumerable times with Mellaart to discuss the project and his contribution, as well as meeting with Balpinar and hirsch in Germany.
After a number of later meetings with Mellaart, where his increasing propensity to produce new ‘reconstructions’ of his original material from Çatal Hüyük concerned us, RK became more and more wary of the validity of these new ‘drawings’.
Questionable reconstruction “vulture shrine”
Mellaart worked four seasons at Catal Huyuk and RK knowledge of Jimmy’s extensive and meticulously well-documented preliminary excavation reports, published after each season’s work in Anatolian Studies, the journal of the British International Institute of Archaeology in Ankara, put us at ease for a long time.
Color photo showing vulture wall-painting at Catal Huyuk; courtesy and copyright Arlette Mellaart
Those reports, from the ‘digs’ in 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1965, were the basis of the popular book called Çatal Hüyük: A Neolithic Town in Anatolia, published by Tames and Hudson, in both English and German, in 1967.
They provided an unassailable record of Mellaart’s work, as does his book Excavations at Hacilar published in 1970, and we put at the back of our mind our concerns about the new reconstructions not wanting to demand “proof” from Jimmy, trusting his verbal explanations.
Color photo; Bull shrine wall-relief at Catal Huyuk; courtesy and copyright Arlete Mellaart
Mellaart also authored the most widely used textbook on Near Eastern Archaeology Neolithic of the Near East published in 1975, also by Thames and Hudson.
To say Mellaart is one of, if not the most important expert on neolithic and EBA Anatolian archaeology, is not a statement anyone could refute, and RK just could not bring ourself to put Mellaart on the defensive by demanding more than his word.
But, and it’s a big but, had we known Mellaart’s work in reference to Anatolian kelim, which would be first published in a short paper for a German rug dealer’s catalog and then his contribution to the book we all were working on, would be as weak and unbelievably unprofessional as it turned out to be, RK would have hauled him on the carpet for both his own sake and our's as well.
RK will not explain the reasons, and trust us we know all about it, behind Jimmy’s imaginative new ‘drawings’, nor will be explain Mellaart’s equally damaging former difficulties in connection to the Dorak Affair, an episode that became an international sensation of immense proportions in 1959.
But we believed, and still do, to throw the baby out with the bath-water and overlook Mellaart’s outstanding career, his discoveries of Çatal Hüyük and Hacilar, is absurd, no matter how grave his lapse of professionalism with Anatolian kelim became.
Let’s get back on track recounting RK’s involvement with Mellaart and Balpinar and the organizing, sponsoring and planning to publish the proposed 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim book project.
One day, near the end of the project, while waiting for Mellaart to finish up with a student, who was in his office at the London School of Archaeology, RK walked down the hall and noticed a large cork bulletin board on the wall.
Walking up closer we saw it was filled with a number of brand new reconstructed ‘drawings’ of Çatal Hüyük we had never seen and, gulp, our heart sank.
RK knew then and there Jimmy had allowed his imagination to over-run his judgment, and our project was in seriously dire straits, as Mellaart’s work was the center.
Some minutes later, upon entering his office we immediately asked Mellaart about the drawings, particularly one that showed a volcano and people scattered about in the foreground, and another of people dancing and making love.
Mellaart then started telling us about the volcano, a documented neolithic period eruption, but his words fell on deaf ears as all we could think about was how this nonsense was jeopardizing all RK’s years of work, all the respect and confidence RK had placed in Mellaart and, of course, the 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim book project.
RK was devastated like at no time in our life but, sometimes, from the seeds of destruction, come even greater gains.
This was the attitude and mind-set we adopted as we left Jimmy’s office and walked around Gordon Square to our car for the drive back to The Boltons, where we were living.
But we’ve jumped ahead of the unfolding story again, so let’s get back to it.
As our friendship with hirsch developed and deepened RK had kept him abreast of our plans to work with the necessary experts to produce a book with first-rate printing and color plates.
After determining the best printing and color separating was done in Italy, in and around the city of Verona which lies almost exactly half-way between Milan and Venice, we went there a number of times to interview and met with a number of ‘foto-litho’ firms, color separators in English, and ‘prenota stampante’, book printers in English.
RK doesn’t speak Italian (but we did learn some in working there on our books) and sometimes traveling to and from Italy we would stop in Adaneau, Germany where hirsch lived when he was not in Turkey.
So over the four years RK worked on the 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim project we spent a bit of time with hirsch discussing the project and both our parts in authoring what RK called the bridge material.
But after that final straw of seeing those ‘drawings’ on the bulletin, we started to think of a plan of action to recoup as much as possible from all the work RK had done and still hold up to our agreement to publish the book.
We knew things were starting to unravel and at what was intended to be the final meeting in London, when Mellaart and Balpinar were to produce their “finished texts”, which was about a month after the bulletin board shock, RK was prepared for the dropping of the second shoe.
We, RK and hirsch were also to bring our “finished”work, and we did, but since we could not know how to break up our texts to align themselves with what Jimmy and Belkis were to produce, we were kinda off the hook not having our work in a really finished ‘state’.
RK will never forget taking Jimmy and Belkis’s texts back to The Bolton with us to review for the meeting the next day and, after reading what they produced, we were now totally disappointed to say the least.
First off Mellaart’s had not one footnote, no bibliography and almost his entire text was was a ‘discussion’ of the new drawings and reconstructions, without hardly anything about Anatolian archaeology or discussion of genuine documented archaeological remains.
Questionable reconstruction; Goddess in a niche
Then, reading Balpinar’s seriously flawed and incomplete work, which also lacked viable references not to mention little original research about kelim weaving and instead lots of ‘hearsay’ chatter she recorded from contemporary weavers about ‘old kelim’, RK was, to say the least, now totally dismayed and downright worried.
The next morning, as RK drove over to the Sunday luncheon meeting at Mellaart’s house, we still did not know what to do, or how to do it, to try and salvage the book.
But RK likes pressure and is accustomed to thinking on our feet, so after pleasantries, and a delicious lunch Arlette had prepared, RK took Belkis and Jimmy into the living-room while hirsch volunteered to help Arlette clear the table and wash the dishes.
As we sat there in silence for a few minutes, RK decided we were not going to critique and criticize Mellaart; after all who were we to rebuke a world famous archaeologist who was our dear friend?
So we turned to Balpinar and dug into her and the inferior work she produced.
Fact is after we got done with her, she started crying and left the living-room and hid herself in the bathroom for at least a half hour or more.
RK wasn’t afraid of Mellaart, who really deserved equal treatment, however, we knew he could not take it and RK did not want to loose the friendship we had carefully developed.
To this day RK regrets not slapping Mellaart with the same stiff, critical and harsh words we used on Balpinar.
Perhaps had we his career might have been spared the abject rejection and criticism he received from the archaeological community when his loony text appeared in The Goddess from Anatolia.
Again, we chose to keep a friend over possibly losing one, and who really knows what fireworks reading Mellaart the riot act might have ignited.
Regardless, reading the riot act to Balpinar, which she later profusely thanked RK for, pushed her to produce an outstanding text for what became The Goddess from Anatolia book.
In fact it is the only worthwhile piece in the four volumes.
But RK is getting ahead of the story, so lets finish it up as it went down.
After that Sunday luncheon meeting at Mellaart’s place all the participants agreed to immediately set even harder to work and finish up their respective parts and while RK was not convinced it could be saved we had to go along, as we had instigated the project and were contractually bound to publish it.
We all agreed to meet back in London in “a few months time” but possibilities of salvaging the project, after the bulletin board episode and then receiving poorly written texts, seemed impossible and RK made up our mind to extricate ourself, as gracefully as possible, from this sinking ship.
RK mentioned Mellaart was not the only one to shake our confidence in the project and let’s briefly explain.
As our relationship with hirsch progressed he kept trying, at first quite gently and then more strongly as time went on, to involved himself in the publishing end of the book.
At first RK was not bothered by this but then and since we had the financial burden and were spending a lot of time learning about book publishing, we began to be disturbed by hirsch’s constant back seat driver ‘suggestions’ and seemingly endless ideas how and where to produce it.
When RK decided to extricate ourself from the project, after the bulletin board fiasco, we eventually came up with an idea that, we believed , would make everyone happy and still honor RK’s agreements to our co-authors.
Now as an aside, RK had known johnny eskenazi for many years and had always gotten along well with him.
RK visited his former gallery on via Montenapoleone in Milan many times, in fact, it was there were met young kelim dealer jorg rageth for the first time.
Like with franses, RK knew johnny’s lovely wife Fausta, but also like franses we never went to a restaurant, a club or any event with eskenazi.
But unlike our ‘relationship’ with franses, we never were invited to visit johnny’s home, nor did we ever do any business with him.
Regardless of this lack of involvement, RK and eskenazi got along well enough because he, unlike franses, is a far warmer, charming and personable man; plus far more educated, erudite and wordly.
All that said RK always sensed there was a wall between us, and now in years of hindsight we realize that wall was franses – his fear of our person and his paranoia of RK’s abilities.
RK knew at the time franses and eskenazi were, and we are sure still are, very close and we are also sure franses poisoned and muddied the water between johnny and RK to prevent us from ever becoming better friends.
Although eskenazi never breached this with us, neither did we with him, RK knew there was something, but that something did not prevent RK from approaching eskenazi with the plan we had formulated to extricate ourself from the 9000 Years of Anatolian Kelim project.
So RK went off to Milan and arranged a meeting with eskenazi where we proposed he take over the project, and work with junior publisher hirsch, who he had an even better relationship with than RK.
To make this short, eskenazi agreed and we then sold our contractual rights to the project to hirsch with several stipulations:
1. Hirsh was to pay RK back the advances we had given Mellaart, Balpinar and himself.
2. RK would be permitted to use 10 photos from Catal Huyuk in the book we intended to do with the work we had already prepared for the 9000 Years of Anatolan Kelim project
3. On the first page, of the still unnamed book eskenazi and hirsch would produce, the following acknowledgment would appear:
“The authors wish to thank Jack Cassin for the original concept and for the further assistance he has given this project.”
Acknowledgements; volume one The Goddess from Anatolia
That’s what happened and eskenazi/hirsch went on to produce the book under the title of The Goddess from Anatolia.
This is not the place to discuss the immediate and foolish reception it got in rugDUMB where suddenly all talk was centered around goddesses and misunderstood amateurish chatter about ancient this and neolithic that.
Then, as reality set in and people like Murry Eiland rightfully critiqued and rebuked Mellart’s many errors in citation from his original excavation reports, rugDUMB became confused and then bitter.
Huge arguments, some even physical, erupted between the goddess-believers and the goddess debunkers; to say it was a miserable state of affair would be a gross under-statement.
But before the The Goddess from Anatolia was published, RK’s two volume Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim quietly entered the scene.
RK says quietly because we made only 125 copies, they sold for 500 dollars each, and there was no advertising for its publication, just word of mouth among kelim collectors, lovers and dealers.
Suffice it to say in Imge Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim there are NO questionable drawings, no reconstructions, no imaginary references and no silly neolithic attributions or reflections.
RK’s text is 100 percent based on fact and documentation, with original scholarship and careful citation.
The entire text is online and has been since 1997 in the first Weaving Art Museum exhibition Archeology and Slit-Tapestry.
Go read it and see if you have not already.
We are particularly proud of the text description to Plate 1 and, although it was written more than 20 years ago, we still consider it to be among the most important contribution we have made to oriental carpet studies.
RK believed it important to finally and publicly tell the true and unadulterated behind the scene story of how we came to realize the connection between Anatolian neolithic and EBA period archaeological remains and the Anatolian kelim.
It’s a story that is still unfinished and since it has had a long hiatus RK now knows it is the time for us to renew our involvement, and to continue to add our perspective, knowledge and expertise to what we hope and trust will be a rekindling interest in the Anatolian kelim, both for rugDUMB and oriental carpet studies, as well as the far larger worlds of art and art appreciation.
End of Part VI
After 30 years of intensive collector and dealer activity to find Anatolian kelim, the reality less than a dozen archetype examples are known is a remarkable statistic, particularly since well over 300 seriously old ones are published with probably an additional 25 percent or so in unpublished collections.
The list of where those kelim are published is as follows:
64 plates: Anatolian Kilims and Radiocarbon Dating, 1999
115 plates: Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, 1982
110 plates:Anatolian Kilims, 1990
110 plates: 100 Kilims, 1991
10 plates: Anatolische Kelims/Die Vortrage, 1990
50 plates: Goddess from Anatolia,1989
9 plates: Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim, 1989
By 'seriously old' RK means kelim appearing to have been made well before the orientalist ‘craze’ created foreign demand and the ensuing beginning of commercial production that began in the late 1880’s to satisfy that demand.
While the total number is far larger when adding up the numbers, RK has allowed for duplication, as some pieces are published twice or more in these books.
But allowing for this duplication, and let’s say the 25 percent figure of kelim yet unpublished, there are well more than 300 of which our short list of 11 archaic examples shows how rare the earliest kelim really are.
But rarity is, in itself, not actually noteworthy -- what is noteworthy is these 11 examples are the masterpieces of the oeuvre and templates all other Anatolian kelim are copied from.
Now that’s a big statement and RK will, in Part VIII, and it successors, prove this by demonstrating how any old Anatolian, and even many new ones, can be placed in specific design types or groups and also on time-line continuum within each of those group.
First we need to mention the sticky issue of dating pre-commercial period, or what we call old, kelim.
RK, and other aware authors, have resisted placing centuries, ie 19th/18th/17th/16th/15th, while others have, in our opinion, slide down that slippery slope and landing on the butts.
An interesting example of this is demonstrated by comparing the catalog of the deYoung Museum collection, Anatolian Kilims: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and their website.
In the catalog there are no dates and on the museum’s website there are. What happened and who decided to call some kelim 17th century that in our opinion are 100 years, or more, later?
RK realizes it is fashionable to hang early dates on weavings and those dates surely do impress some. But do they impress those who know the impossibility of dating any kelim to even a century?
RK will have to answer no, and doing so only raises questions of expertise, as well as motive and agenda.
This is why we suggested in Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim four category --Archaic, Classic, Traditional and Industrial – and we still believe in this methodology, rejecting any other type of dating as frivolous and unsupportable.
Just a word or two about carbon-dating(c14): RK recognizes the validity and scientific basis of the procedure for objects, including weaving and textiles, that have been throughout their existence, and that includes post-discovery, protected from contamination – be it atmospheric, through use or cleaning, etc.
Since no kelim has been removed properly to prevent contamination from underground, or from a protected environment, like a tomb/sarcophagus/ turbe/mausoleum/coffin, there is not one that does not need to be ‘decontaminated’ before undergoing the c14 procedure.
That decontamination procedure is not nearly as positive as c14 itself, and since all c14 dates require calibration against a ‘known’ the idea and belief any laboratory can successfully and convincingly date a kelim is hogwash in our opinion.
Further complicating any dating of kelim is the fact no one piece has a date, even a questionable one, woven into it.
Nor are there any early western paintings or near eastern miniatures with unmistakable representation of a kelim.
That said check out this painting: Susanna im Bad(Susanna in the Bath) painted in 1562 by Albrecht Altdorfer(1480-1538).
Susanna im Bad , 1562
There is, what RK believes, a striped Anatolian kelim in the foreground:
Detail of what far more than questionably appears to be an Anatolian kelim
This painting was done near the end of Altdorfer’s long and widely heralded career and it may well be the only 16th century representation of an Anatolian kelim.
RK discovered it in the Staatsgemaldesammlungen Alte Pinakotek, inv.-Nr. 698(State painting collection Old Painting) in Munich in 1984, on one of our many, many visits to Munich.
On first look the weaving appears to have great similarity to a rare and very particular type of Ottoman kelim:
So-called striped Ottoman kelim circa 1700
Being a painter of incredibly realistic and finely delineated detail in his oil painting, Altdorfer was equally famous for his print-making, which also required a hand and eye attuned to fine line representation.
Here’s a detail of this kelim where the similarity appears to be a dead ringer for the one in Altdorfer’s painting.
Detail, striped Ottoman kelim
RK has personally examined and handled a number of Ottoman kelim over the years, including the very one we illustrated.
We did this at the Lefevre Old Brompton Road auction galley, in London, where it was sold to an English collector.
RK saw it in the preview, and also a number of times with the collector, who was for some time someone we had contact.
These striped Ottoman kelim are a rare group, probably later and more finely woven (both in warp and weft) than the typical Ottoman tent ones, which are always larger and more coarsely woven.
Detail, typical Ottoman kelim; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, 1982; plate 117; Vakiflar Museum,
As you can tell the detail above appears to be coarser than the detail of the striped kelim, and take it from us it is.
We have handled both examples, RK examined the Ottoman kelim, and several others in the Sultan Ahmet in 1980 when we were in Istanbul.
And that’s where and when we made the photo detail.
The only one of the three kelim we did not personally examine is the one Altdorfer painted in 1536.
One more caveat that has convinced RK the kelim in the painting is not an Ottoman court woven example but rather Anatolian village production.
Look at the two blue stripes under the basin where Susanna’s feet are being washed and notice the ‘butterfly’ emblem:
Detail, Susanna im Bad
This emblem is definitely one never used in Ottoman kelim, or in any 16th century pile rug or textile RK has ever seen, while it is one typically seen in all periods of Anatolian kelim.
Here it is on an archic period one:
Detail; Plate 2; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
And here on a late classic period kelim
Unpublished late classic period Anatolian and detail showing ‘butterfly’ emblem
Had the model for the weaving in Susanna im Bad been a striped Ottoman kelim, like the one we illustrated, or even a pile rug, there would have been more detail present and Altdorfer surely had the eye and the skill to both notice and reproduce this, particularly in rendering the pattern in the larger red stripes.
For this reason, and the others we have suggested, it is apparent to RK the weaving Altdorfer painted was:
1. a kelim, not a pile rug or other type of textile
2. not an Ottoman kelim
3. an Anatolian Village kelim
This painting RK discovered many years ago builds another strong and convincing argument for very early Anatolian kelim dates, however, RK still suggests using periods, and not centuries.
By the way the striped layout is a rare style in the archaic period, being far more common in the later periods, and these two already illustrated kelim, one from the deYoung Museum Collection and one from our collection, are the only ones RK places in the archaic period:
Plate 27; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Plate 3; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Our last word on dating: It is easy to throw around dates based on opinion, as well as to believe c14 analysis.
Frankly, RK would prefer hearing someone who thinks they know how to hang an early date, like 17th century, on a kelim rather than listen to someone take science, like c14, use it imperfectly, and then take the ‘numbers’ and twist them to support their opinion.
Number are easily manipulated, so are opinions and that’s why RK has eschewed such dating methodologies and developed the continuum dating we have forwarded.
That’s it for this installment.
In the next we will take two very specific type of kelim, where only few exist, and demonstrate our continuum approach to dating and why those two words, which we have not forgotten – proscribed and prescribed, are essential to understand the Anatolian kelim tradition.
In Part V RK offered up a challenge for any reader who doubts there are only 11 archaic Anatolian kelim to send us a photo.
We reiterate that challenge:
"But, quite honestly, we doubt one exists, and to back up our claim we offer a special paper-bound two volume copy, one of only a few remaining, of our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book to any one who can produce a picture of an archaic period piece.”
Let us restate what we mean when we use the term archaic period: this refers to the first period of Anatolian kelim production – one could say 15th century, as some have intimated is the age of some kelim based on c14 dating; one could say an early masterpiece; one could say “the best and earliest kelim I have ever seen”; or any other superlative to denote the best that is early.
It matters not what words one uses, the result is the same – a kelim of the highest level.
We know how shy and reticent readers are, witness our statement about tens or even hundreds of thousands of people who read a daily newspaper, or weekly magazine, and how many write a letter to the editor?
Hardly one percent of one percent, so RK well realizes the built in impediments to making such a challenge.
That’s why we offered a book to anyone who can successfully disprove our statement.
By the way the book has a value of at least 300 usd, as it is exactly the same as the hard cover edition that sells for 500 usd or more.
In fact go look on rugbooks dot com, our friend Dennis Marquand’s website – he has one for sale that he had hard bound.
Go check it out for youselves, the book is two volumes, each volume when opened is a meter(more than 3 feet) wide and the color plates are of the highest quality.
OK so there’s our challenge – can any of you kelim collectors, or dealers, prove us wrong?
RK is an honest broker and if you do we will send many kudos in your direction and, of course, our book which we will personally inscribe to you.
Next here is a better photo of the kelim we showed in Part VII:
Kelim with “butterfly” emblem
There are a number of 'butterfly" on this kelim but the one in the center, with the blue horizontal line running thru it, and not the other slightly differently articulated ones, to the side, above and below, are the emblem we are discussing.
Analyzing ancient weavings, like Anatolian kelim, requires the examiner be absolutely attuned to even the most minute differences as what we have just pointed out demonstrates.
As we wrote in Part VII we have never seen this motif, exactly as it is rendered here, on anything other than an Anatolian Village kelim.
We do not doubt, however, there is a pile rug with it but that rug, in all our 30 plus years of looking for it, has yet to appear.
We don’t bet where we know we might lose, that’s why we have not wagered in this case.
We will wager there is not Ottoman Court weaving -- pile rug, kelim, or textile, with it in exactly the same form as it appears in the kelim above or any of the other archaic period ones we have published in this exercise.
There is little doubt in our mind this emblem, again exactly the one we have highlighted, is a very sacred one belonging to the long tradition Anatolian Village kelim represent, but more about this in one of the coming parts.
The last photo is an old one, showing RK’s living-room in Greenwich Village circa 1982.
It is a Polaroid, as you can see, so the quality is not the best.
Hanging on the walls are two kelim, in situ in RK's former abode – Plate Three on the right and a bit of the side of Plate Six(our saf) on the left.
Living with our collection, and looking at them every day during those years, 1979-1983, transformed our understanding of ancient Anatolian weaving and prodded us to explore where and how this tradition originated.
We have tried to share that history and mystery, as we like to refer to it, with our readers.
That, and to prove there is valid documentation to the ideas we have developed and forwarded since 1989 when our book Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim was published.
RK has previously mentioned two words, proscribed and prescribed, given their dictionary definitions, and the necessity to consider them when discussing Anatolian kelim.
We have now placed enough background in the previous 8 parts of this examination to begin explaining where we are coming from in all this.
There is, however, a conundrum in our analysis we have yet been able to prove as convincingly as we are able to prove the rest of our argument.
It is the Anatolian kelim seed for these archetype, so to speak, and as hard and as long as we have looked for the seed’s exact source, it has so far eluded detection.
Like a plant that can be scientifically studied to the most infinite degree, our ability to trace every known Anatolian kelim to one of the 11 archetypes is easily proven, as you will see.
However like that plant, which had to grow from a seed, that seed cannot be studied because it no longer exists -- having become the plant itself.
Likewise, we have no proof where the archetype kelim came from, or how they developed into the form we now can see.
So please realize what will be said needs to have an operational definition, ie a starting point that must be accepted a priori -- and that is the fact there are these archetype.
RK can prove within a courtroom’s standard of beyond a reasonable doubt
1. all other Anatolian kelim are based on them
2. each of the 11 archetype are the templates for all the others of their specific types
3. or a combination of 2 or more archetype are the source of what we call pastiche type kelim
So, all you critics out there, realize we know we cannot prove the starting point but we can, as you will see, prove everything else comes from that point, ie the archetype.
The concept of proscription, as it pertains to weaving tradition, in inherent in our archetype formula.
A good analogy might be Catholic Church art and the proscribed manner Jesus Christ is depicted.
We see Jesus on the cross, his arms outstretched, his legs crossed, and his crown of thorns -- this picture does not change, it is always the same – it is proscribed.
Throughout hundreds of years, in innumerable countries all over the earth, Jesus is shown in exactly the same manner.
This is the best description of proscribed -- and we believe in the archaic period the same concept of proscription held true for the weavers of Anatolian kelim.
They did not dare to change the proscribed form, and even if they wished to they could not.
Like the artists and craftsmen who fashioned art for the Church, the weavers of archetype kelim were bound within strong societal, and political, convention.
The idea of freedom is inherent for artists in the modern western world.
Any artist can express an individual statement of art; while in the ancient east this is completely different. For these artist, like a weaver of an Anatolian kelim, were required to express the art of their society, and not their own interpretation or idea of that art.
RK can’t prove this was the case in Anatolia, but on the other side no one can disprove it.
Plus, this concept of proscription is mentioned by many other scholars, who have studied eastern Mediterranean weaving traditions, particularly complex patterned Anatolian kelim and Turkmen pile rugs.
In the first museum presentation of eastern kelim, held in 1965 at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C., Charles Grant Ellis wrote in the small informal catalog:
“The true value of the kilim lies in its consistency.”
From RK vantage point today, 45 years later, we can only remark how true and prescient Ellis’s comment was.
So we will ask readers accept this as a fact, ie in the Archaic period the Anatolian kelim was proscribed.
We wrote in one of our books the weavers of the archetype kelim we collect wove to live, they did not live to weave.
There is an extremely subtle difference here and RK would like readers to stop and ponder this difference before continuing.
Before foreign control and commerce from the west(Europe and Russia) irreparably changed the entire fabric of life in the most remote outlying regions of Anatolia, the previous waves of eastern(central Asian) conquests were hardly felt in religious or spiritual realms, and in this regard the customs, traditions and habits of the inhabitants remained basically unchanged.
History substantiates this but, from the beginning in the 17th/18th century, change took root, change instigated from the west broke down and eventually destroyed these ancient religio-spiritual customs and observances.
These changes were technology based, and for that reason they succeeded whereas the political or socio-religious ones that characterized those of earlier periods had failed. The ‘modern’ world is a powerful bulldozer capable of flattening belief,even ones that had withstood the push of time and the impositions the flood of conquerors placed on the conquered.
Capturing a man’s body is far easier than capturing his mind, this truism well describes what happened throughout Anatolia and why the weaving of kelim remained for centuries true to its original
intent and purpose.
Little is known about the indigenous peoples of Anatolia, and although the Ottomans and the earlier groups from the east conquered various parts of Anatolia from the 11th century onwards, this conquests did not affect, as we just mentioned, the non-material aspects of most indigenous inhabitants lives.
They continued to live as they had for millennia, their grazing lands and their villages far enough off the beaten track, and their beliefs srong enough to withstand corrupion.
This remoteness and the power of their ancient beliefs protected their spiritual lives from the immense changes – political, social and economic – the Ottoman instigated and installed.
That is why the earliest Anatolian village weaving, be it pile rug or kelim, is devoid of Ottoman, read central Asian, influence and iconography.
In fact, RK believes the Ottoman and the earlier Turkmen conquerors incorporated indigenous Anatolian iconography in their woven and other arts, not visa-versa.
RK doesn’t wish to turn this into a dissertation on Anatolian history, and we are sure the general terms we are speaking in can, in specific instances, be negated.
We must, once again, reiterate and remind readers we are painting with broad strokes, but there is no doubt examining archetype Anatolian village pile rugs and kelim proves this point: There is little to no trace of central Asian iconography.
These indigenous Anatolian people had a long history, as the archaeological record amply demonstrates; a record stretching back into the late palaeolithic and proto-neolithic periods, circa 10,000BC.
Therefore the icon, emblem, and amulet found on their archetype weaving is entirely different from the earliest Ottoman, read central Asian, work.
But, during what appears to be mainly in the 17th/18th century, this separation ended and the art of the Ottomans seeped into these indigenous kelim weaving vocabularies.
This seepage happened because the former sacrosanct, read proscribed, societal cohesion broke down and these iconographic changes are a very tangible result.
The technological advances from Europe and Russia, be they industrial or military, were powerful and facilitated change that finally wash up, over and into places previously impervious to outside influence.
So any starting point for discussing archaic period Anatolian kelim, and their subsequent spin-offs, must recognize these points:
1.Archaic period Anatolian kelim were made by indigenous people, whose life and lifestyle remained untouched despite the fact the geographic area they inhabited was conquered first by central Asians, and then by Europeans
2.The iconography on their kelim, and pile rugs, was likewise indigenous, proscribed, and often, it seems, proprietary to specific groups.
When their formerly untouched world began to change, the proscribed nature of their weaving ended; no longer did societal convention bind the weaver to produce a purely cultural product, and an increasing level of ‘artistic freedom’, license and the breakdown of tribal cohesion entered their consciousness and their kelim.
Now RK realizes we are making some large undocumented leaps but, as we wrote, we are painting with broad strokes here.
It was during this transitional period, initiated by encroaching control and commerce from the west in the early-middle of the 18th century, when it seems proscription changed to prescription.
The former imposed rigid restriction on the artist( weaver) while the latter, though still restrictive, did permit some change where previously no variance from the norm was allowed or wanted.
OK let’s now look at some kelim through the lense RK has ground.
We have chosen to begin with saf, as few exist and the proscribed/prescribed iconographic restrictions are easily differentiated, documented and demonstrated.
The Archaic period saf, the one in the east Berlin Museum, sets the form all other subsequent ones follow:
Archaic period saf, east Berlin Pergamon Museum
The next saf in the chronology RK has defined is the one in our collection:
early Classic period saf; Plate Six, Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim
The next, photographed in Turkey and now in a private German collection, and one another formerly in a private California collection, its virtual ‘twin’, are the next examples in our chronology
Classic period saf; published Goddess from Anatolia, pg. 91, plate 15
Classic period saf, formerly in a California Collection in the late 1980’s, whereabouts unknown presently
The next saf in our chronology is now in the deYoung and published in Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection; plate 94
early Traditional period saf
And the last saf, photographed in Turkey, whereabouts unknown.
Traditional period saf
RK believes these pictures set-up a readily understandable design chronology beginning with the most pure and potent form, the east Berlin example, progressing to the least pure and most adulterated shown in the last black and white version.
For comparison we have removed three of the niche/arches from the east Berlin example to facilitate comparison
Detail, Archaic period saf; East Berlin Pergamon Museum
Compare the simple but elegant and perfectly proportioned detail of the archetype with our early Classic saf, and you will see their indelible relationship.
But more importantly, the addition of numerous ancillary design -- butterfly icon in the central niche; rhombos motif, two within each niche and 4 between each one; and several other ancillary emblem below and above – amplify but do not change the basic archetypal form.
This series of changes typifies the initial phase of the breakdown of proscription but nonetheless the proscribed forms is dutifully repeated with only small change.
The reason for adding these icon and amulet are unknown, nor can they even be guessed at but RK would like to shoot an arrow into the dark – they are identifying marks of a group, who were closely related to the creators of the east Berlin example but not the same people, and their addition signifies this proprietary identification.
It seems plausible to us that group, the one who created the east Berlin saf, left and, though they were physically gone, their tradition remained.
While we were studying Anatolian archaeology at Mellaart’s knee he once mentioned something we have never forgotten:
In Anatolia, because of it’s ancient history of human occupation and the many times foreign groups conquered the land bringing new people and ideas, the ancient cultural traditions remained, as if fixed to the ground by glue. These ideas then, no matter who was there, were taken up, accepted, and re-used in their original form.
Mellaart’s statement has always remained with us and it explains much about the strong, seemingly permanent, cultural traditions that were repeated throughout Anatolian history.
The influence Archaic period kelim exerted on all later periods is astounding, considering the long time periods involved, the geographic movement both voluntary and forces of various weaving groups, and the numerous invasions of foreigners over an even longer time period.
It is logical then Mellaart’s little theory is a very plausible explanation, and one
RK has come to appreciate.
This next saf, and its ‘twin’ return to the simple, unadorned, archaic form, only adding the two vertical bars between each side niche and the border.
But those two bars suggest the end of the proscribed form and the initiation of a new, and what RK would call, prescribed one.
Perhaps some viewers would believe these two, and not our, saf should be placed next to the archetype on our chronology, as except for those two bars they seem to present a closer match.
RK would have to disagree and we can document why.
In the description of the east Berlin archetype the following subtle but important point is mentioned, one we also noted in our hands on examination:
“The saf kilim in the Museum fur Islamische Kunst in Berlin differs from others in its subgroup not only by its greater age but, more so by the colors of the niche forms which are a light red and a deep blue instead of the dark brown…While a number of very similar saf kilims have come on the market in Turkey…this example remains still the best of the known pieces of this subgroup.”
Our saf has that same deep luminous blue, as well as a luminous light blue, and the light bright red seen in the east Berlin example.
None of the other, even the ‘twins’, have these colors; plus in person our saf appears to have the same animated quality the Berlin piece exudes, however, not nearly to such a dynamic degree.
We have examined most of the others we published and none come even close in this subjective but nevertheless perceptible quality.
RK believes it easy to see why we placed the other examples as we have; their repetition of the prescribed addition of the two vertical bars, rather than the proscribed lack of them, and the plethora of foreign, unrelated ornamentation signal they are no longer part of the Archaic period tradition and have become something else.
It is also noteworthy to compare the way the fine line border of the east Berlin saf progressively becomes cruder in each succeeding version in our chronology.
The archetype in the east Berlin Museum is truly an amazing weaving, far better than our early Classic.
And it, in turn, far better than the twins, and so on down the line.
There are two other groups of saf we need to mention. The first are saf and the second what we call pseudo-saf.
The cover of the Vakiflar kelim book is the first type:
late Classic period saf; Cover and Plate 16 Vakiflar Museum: Flatweaves/ Flachgewebe
Clearly this saf is directly related to the archetype in the east Berlin Museum. The seven niche mirhab, the border and sparce open style all contribute to this connection.
But the treatment of the major element, the niche, demonstrates another new prescribed format and style, as does the strong, not very subtle, coloration.
These are all signs indicating it was made far after the original precept was conceived, and even after the subsequent prescribed convention, particularly the side-bars, was instituted.
It’s a beautiful kelim but its beauty is, in RK's opinion, only skin deep, as it fails to impart the monumental and awesome piety of the original.
Nor does it have the far deeper beauty and elegance our saf displays.
One further comment: The large dark center within each niche, and the undeniable relationship of those dark area to the small motif suspended within each niche mirhab in the archetype, further show the relationship and solidify RK’s contention this saf, too, belongs on our saf continuum -- just not at the early end.
Detail showing the motif, which is the model for the dark central design element within each of the seven mirhab; east Berlin Pergamon Museum Archaic period saf
Another related type of saf is this one:
Classic period saf; Plate 17, Vakiflar Museum: Flatweaves/ Flachgewebe, Plate 17
First off Rk doesn’t believe these two half were originally placed together as they are in this photo, rather we would postulate the the bottom half should be flipped around with the left side on the right and the right on the left.
Notice the red ground trefoil border on the right of the bottom half will then line up with the upper red one.
Regardless of how it is pictured, this kelim has enough similarity to the archetype saf to warrant inclusion on our continuum of this group.
Again, the proscribed form is still eminently visible, and undeniably the template.
Those reciprocal trefoil border at each side, and the new take on the upper and lower borders, show prescription at work.
What demonstrates this prescription far more conclusively is this next saf, another example of a twin.
early Classic period saf; Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating, plate 9
Their similar coloration, use of motif, and comparative articulation of the archaic form solidify their connection.
The only difference is the border treatment, this example's top and bottom borders far more similar to the archetype, and the side borders offer up a very unusual reciprocal.
In our estimation it is an original emblem, one that might called an ‘arrow-head’ for lack of any better terminology.
This is the earliest version of this rare emblem we know, and the rare later appearances once more demonstrate our idea of prescription and the still powerful forces of cultural identity at work in the post-Archaic periods.
Another, but this one a late Classic period saf, is illustrated as Plate 10 in the same publication. It, too, based on design and color, is part of this specific group we are discussing.
RK agrees with the published description that dates it later than Plate 9.
It is interesting, but not factual in our opinion, Plate 9 had a 100 percent c14 dating as being made prior to 1635:
AD 1435-1530 (57.4%)
AD 1534-1635 (42.6%)
RK doesn’t put much, well actually we don’t put any, credence in c14 dating for Anatolian kelim, especially since the saf we believe is the only Archaic period example, the east Berlin saf, had the following c14 results:
AD 1487-1610 (27.2%)
AD 1611-1689 (37.6%)
AD 1733-1813 (25.0%)
Something is wrong here, and RK is positive it is not our ideas or our continuum for saf.
We are also sure beyond a reasonable doubt none of the c14 dates in that book are as, or even more, credible than the art historical comparison that form the basis of that continuum.
Before we look at the second type of saf, the pseudo-saf, we should mention another group we call the thin-mirhab type.
late Classic period thin mirhab type saf; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection, plate 9
RK harbors little faith these thin mirhab kelim, of which this and a couple others are the earliest but none of them earlier than the late Classic period where we have dated this example, were ever really saf.
Their ‘mirhab’ are far too narrow to have ever functioned as niche for prayer, and after all that’s the intended use of any saf.
For this reason, and the addition of a toothed rhombus within the mirhab, rather than the more proscribed/prescribed form, we believe this group, regardless of what other authors have opined, are nothing but decorative hanging and were never meant to connote any religious significance.
The last group, pseudo-saf, we include in the saf category are really, like the thin mirhab group, not saf in the truest meaning of the word.
Classic period pseudo-saf; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection, plate 6
This example and another are among the few Classic period examples, the numerous others we know date into the next period, the Traditional period.
Here is that other pseudo-saf:
late Classic period pseudo-saf; Vakiflar Museum: Flatweaves/ Flachgewebe, Plate 18
We call this group pseudo because of the double-ended mirhab, and although many authors have conjectured this form is in actuality one used for prayer, RK does not doubt this as anything, even a mirhab-less cloth, can be used for religious observance.
Nonethless, we do not agree this was the original intention they were produced for.
RK has personally examined both of these kelim and we have no doubt in our mind the former is older and far more important than the other.
Let’s shows details of both:
The Vakiflar example is a beautiful kelim, its colors are excellent with some finesse at blending them ensemble, the weave is expert and the design has considerable movement and balance.
These attributes are found in all Classic period examples and are, so to speak, the hallmarks.
The same can be said about the deYoung Museum’s example, however, it possesses a far more proscribed articulation of design elements, including within the mirhab an emblem associated with many other, early and genuine, saf.
Notice both have the “S” icon in exactly the same position, flanking the inner mirhab.
This is no accident and in a later part of this kelim examination RK will discuss the “S” icon in more detail but for now highlighting its difference in these two kelim will suffice.
Notice also the deYoung Museum’s kelim has three side borders and the other kelim has actually none, as what might be considered an end border is in fact repeated between each of the three double-ended mirhab sets.
The inner-most border of the other keim has been reproduced and placed, albeit with some variation, on each side of those mirhab sets.
For this reason, and several other design oriented ones, RK has placed it in the late classic period, as it is not as early as the other.
RK intends to broaden and further document our kelim continuum concept, as well as demonstrating additional aspects of our proscribed/prescribed theory in the succeeding parts of this examination of Anatolian kelim.
End part VIII
Before moving on to demonstrate the relationships the other archetype Anatolian kelim maintain to/with their specific groups, as we have done for the east Berlin saf, RK felt it pertinent to add some additional proof to support our position about these saf.
The thin-mirhab and pseudo-saf types just did not pop out of nowhere, they developed from the archetype and this is clear to RK.
Detail; late Classic period thin mirhab type saf; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection, plate 9
Let’s now demonstrate how this occurred starting with the thin-mirhab type.
early Classic period; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection; Plate 1
This saf is the prototype for the thin-mirhab type, or cluster, as we would prefer to refer to a sub-group like this one.
It is also the prototype for Plate 16 in the Vakiflar kelim book:
late Classic period saf; Cover and Plate 16 Vakiflar Museum: Flatweaves/ Flachgewebe
RK believes it instructive to quote the description of Plate 1 that appears in the catalog:
“ One hundred eleven kilims follow this one, of which many are supremely great. Yet I am tempted to assert that this is perhaps the most wonderful of all known kilims, if only ot indicate how highly I value it.
I think of it as an archetype. Its composition of multiple arches is an ancient and uniquely Anatolian concept and I know of no other kilim where the rendition of the multiple-niche composition is so clearly and purely stated.(1) The discipline of its austere palette is exceptional; The harmonic sequences and relationships of just two colors, red and blue, epitomize Anatolian weavers’ inimitable brilliance in the use of color. The series of six archlike(sic) forms are unidirectional and their likeness appear again and again on Anatolian kilims, both on some of the great examples in this collection and, in their thousands, on kilims still being woven today.
This kilim gives us the context for all that follows and, despite thousands of years that separate it from its source, it still resonates with the power of long held beliefs.(2) Thus I view it as both a beginning and an end. I have placed it first in the catalogue, but I just as easily could have put it last. I have structured my observations to reflect this view, and I recommend that anyone working through the plates sequentially return to this kilim.
This is a village weaving by a woman who has long since disappeared and whose name is forever lost. Yet here, as her memorial, is a vision of eternity.
(1). This kilim is remarkably similar to a multiple niche depiction on a wall p[ainting from Catal Huyuk, ca. 5900 B.C., James Mellaart, Catal Huyuk (New York: McGraw-Hill; London: Thames and Hudson, 1967, fig. 8.
(2). In James Mellaart, Udo Hirsch and Belkis Balpinar, The Goddess from Anatolia, vol. 2 (Milan: Eskenazi, 1989), James Mellaart argues the arch form is the guardian of the goddess, the shrine of the diety. It is also according to him the cave, the primordial womb, the representation of all wisdom and power.”
Regrettably, this description, and the rest of those in the catalog, are surely not the representation of all wisdom and power.
Far from it, as hyperbole, absurd allusion, and undocumented assertion, made here and elsewhere in the text descriptions in that catalog, belie even a modicum of wisdom.
This part of the catalog, the plate descriptions, is credited to Garry Muse, the dealer who found all the 111 pieces in the Jones’s collection and, through the ‘help’ of cathrine cootner, managed to sell the group en masse to McCoy and Caroline Jones.
RK knows well the nitty-gritty of the back-story to this maneuver, and we could write extensively about it.
However, this is not the time or place; that time and place will come when RK decides to publish the memoirs of our career in oriental rug studies and collecting.
But RK does need to make a few comments, the first is though Muse is credited with authoring his part, actually it was written by Ian Bennett, who was paid to hold Muse’s hand and to take Muses’s ‘thoughts’ about the kelim in the collection and, not only put them on paper, but frame them in some intelligent manner.
Considering Bennett was far from an expert in Anatolian kelims, and Muses’s expertise is something RK knows to be far less than the myth surrounding him, the text they produced, like the description to Plate 1, is sadly deficient in any respect other than useless patter and hype.
Let’s just examine a few of the comments Muse and Bennett offer up in that description:
1.“ One hundred eleven kilims follow this one, of which many are supremely great.”
Frankly this sounds like steve jobs talking about Apple’s latest and greatest new computer, the only adjective missing is insanely.
Ian Bennett, who possesses a highly educated and brilliant mind, was perhaps, along with Charles Grant Ellis, the greatest, and most prolific, writer on old oriental rugs working during the period 1975-1990.
However, Bennett never wrote or studied Anatolian kelim, and this is painfully clear from the bumbling text he helped to produce.
Bennet was chosen to ‘assist’ when Muse, who according to RK has a rather dim and inarticulate understanding of Anatolian kelim, wanted to write the text descriptions.
It was hoped he could produce something of value but that hope was not realized, as anyone who does understand the subject can readily see.
Just a quick aside for the record about Muse.
RK met him circa 1974 and, at that time, Muse was going to Turkey and bringing back to the USA mediocre, late airport-art woven tourist-quality tschatchka.
On our first meeting, which was in San Franscico, Muse took RK back to his apartment in Noe Valley to see his ‘stuff’ and quite frankly we were amazed at the lack of even one interesting weaving; surely there was nothing for us to purchase.
We told him we were interested in really old and important rugs and offered to ‘tutor’ him so he could, on his subsequent trips to Turkey, find the type of rugs we collected and sell them to us.
It’s a long, complex story what then happened, but suffice it to say Muse eventually got the hang of things and found some of the best and most important Anatolian rugs and kelim.
RK got a few, but the Jones’s, Heinrich Kirchheim and Christopher Alexander got many more.
Truly, the behind the scene story of Muses’s career is a fascinating one that clearly is at great odds with the myth that has been created about, and around, him.
By the way, and in closing our brief mention of Mr Garry Muse, none of that myth is, or was, spun by Muse himself; rather it was been created by a small group of people who needed to place him on a pedestal so they could use that pedestal to further their own agenda, for their own gains.
2. “Yet I am tempted to assert that this is perhaps the most wonderful of all known kilims, if only ot indicate how highly I value it.”
The fact Muse values it highly is unassailable, that’s his opinion.
But to state it is the most “wonderful of all kilim”, and then not offer any documentation, reason or rational strikes RK as nothing but dealer hype that does not belong in a Museum catalog.
3. “ I think of it as an archetype.”
Again this is Muse’s opinion and the reason why he doesn’t support it with fact or even some fanciful allusion can be attributed to his inability to truly make any original statement, his inability to understand the oeuvre of Anatolian Kelim and Bennett’s lack of expertise and knowledge of that oeuvre as well.
Fact is the east Berlin saf is the archetype for this group, as readers will soon see if that fact is not already clear from a careful reading of Part VIII.
4. “ Its composition of multiple arches is an ancient and uniquely Anatolian concept and I know of no other kilim where the rendition of the multiple-niche composition is so clearly and purely stated.”
This is blatantly incorrect as multiple-niche saf exist in almost every other type of oriental rug, including very ancient Persian and east Turkestan examples.
And the fact Muse does not reference the east Berlin saf, even if he foolishly believes the one he formerly owned and is discussing to be better, is an error of huge proportions, and another demonstration of how little he understands the subject of early Anatolian kelim.
5. “The discipline of its austere palette is exceptional; The harmonic sequences and relationships of just two colors, red and blue, epitomize Anatolian weavers’ inimitable brilliance in the use of color.”
While this statement is arguably true, it falls incredibly short of being anything but more hyperbole and RK is surprised Bennett allowed this fabulously incomplete and naïve comment to stand.
Actually there are two distinct tones of red and two different blues, and it is the interplay of their harmony that creates the “harmonic sequence” and brilliance of which they speak.
By the way, RK has spent countless hours with Muse over the past 35 years and a phrase like “harmonic sequence” we can assuredly say never fell out of his mouth or dripped off his lips – this is pure Bennett.
But too bad it falls many long yards short of any goal post, a goal post that could have been reached had even a short discussion of the interplay of the two tonality of red been explored.
6. “ The series of six archlike(sic) forms are unidirectional and their likeness appear again and again on Anatolian kilims, both on some of the great examples in this collection and, in their thousands, on kilims still being woven today.”
This is not hypebole it is completely incorrect, untrue and ridiculous.
There are not, nor were there ever, thousands of saf, not even hundreds and while in Muse’s dreams he might have seen them we defy him or anyone else to produce even 150 Anatolian saf kelim of any age, old or brand new.
RK doesn’t believe we need to continue, as we have already destroyed, in the first plate’s description, credence Muses’s text is anything but silly nonsense and patter.
And don’t think we cannot do it for any other of the 87 plate descriptions he and Bennett authored, as they are equally flawed and as easily criticized.
One last comment and then we will leave Messrs Bennett and Muse alone: The fact Bennett’s name appears absolutely nowhere is a dastardly deception, and although RK is sure he signed an agreement to ‘ghost write’ Muse’s comments, it still is highly improper and unfortunate. Perhaps had Bennett’s name been there he would have worked harder to produce something of value.
Looking at Plate 1 in the deYoung Kelim catalog provides a glimpse how the thin-mirhab cluster developed.
Detail, Plate 1
Here the niche-mirhab are tall and proportionally much narrower than those gracing the east Berlin example, or ours.
Both of these kelim have squat and wide proportions, not to mention a slightly different, more aesthetic treatment of the border element and other minor ones, making them quite different visually than the deYoung Museum’s piece.
The feathering of the border element is absent in their saf, though it does appear atop each of the two side-bars of each niche-mirhab.
RK sees this as a displacement that doesn’t belong there or make any sense.
Those side-bars, which are far thicker and substantial on the other two saf, than they are on the deYoung’s, hold up, in a conceptual sense, the peaked top or roof of each niche.
There is little doubt the niche-mirhab on all saf like these have their root and source in (arch)itecture; and who would secure a heavy peaked roof, like those on these saf kelim, on supporting columns that are thin, narrow and appear too weak to hold its weight?
Of course we are speaking conceptually here but such concepts were not lost on rug and kelim weavers, especially those of ancient Anatolian archetypical examples.
The feathering on the other two saf imparts a considerable amount of movement and motion, adding to the animation RK mentioned in Part VIII.
This quality, which RK believes is significant not only on a visual plane, is not present in the deYoung Museum’s saf; it is suggested, but not realized.
This is primarily due to the lack of the feathering in the upper and lower borders, as well as on the bases of the niche-mirhab.
RK has no doubt the deYoung Museum saf is an old one, but it is not as old as either of the other two and, therefore, we date it somewhat later and place it further along on the saf continuum.
In its own right, it is a prototype for other examples, like the saf from the Vakiflar illustrated in Part VIII:
Notice the dark area below each of the 6 niche-mirhab on the deYoung Museum saf, the absence of this on the east Berlin and our saf, and the even more exaggerated presence of this feature on the saf shown above.
These are all subtle clues to support our belief the deYoung saf is not Archaic period but produced in the early Classic period.
It might be “wonderful” as Muse/Bennett called it; readers might “like” it more than the east Berlin or our example but, in the final analysis, the caveat we pointed out can not be discounted or ignored.
They are facts that are able to be documented, while words like ‘wonderful’, ‘supremely great’ or phrases like “This kelim gives us the context for all (other)…”, and “I think of it as an archetype” are nothing but hot-air, particularly when no proof other than the belief of the speaker accompanies them.
RK recognizes the deYoung saf is, more than probably, the prototype for the thin-mirhab cluster, as well as the main model for the Vakiflar seven-niche-mirhab saf; but, once again, it can not be placed in the Archaic period as it, like the Vakiflar saf that modeled it, was itself modeled after the east Berlin example.
The next issue we need to further explore is how the pseudo or double-ended niche saf cluster developed.
In part VIII we published a detail of this kelim, one of our 11 archetype:
It, as we hope you will remember, is in the collection of the Vakiflar Museum, Turkey,
and we dubbed it the ‘compass’ kelim.
Here is the detail once more:
Now compare it with this fragment that is 99.9% sure from a kelim with double-ended niche-mirhab:
early Classic period; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection; Plate 2
And then compare both to this detail:
Detail; Classic period; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection; Plate 6
The most salient connection between the archetype ‘compass’ kelim and the double-ended niche-mirhab cluster is the bi-directional, north/south, aspect their niche-mirhab display.
And although this is a quite tentative base to build such relationship, the ‘compass’ kelim is the only Archaic period example with a multi-directional aspect.
Adding to this probative connection is the fact each of the ‘compass’, the three four-point medallions, are suspended in a block suggested and defined by the inclusion of four blue triangles above and below each 'compass'.
This block, though very different than anything seen in any pseudo-saf
nonetheless conjures up a form we see as a possible source for the block/placement treatment of these double-ended niche-mirhab sets.
Another possible connection are the different north/south extensions emanating from the middle of the of each double-ended niche.
Plate 2 in the deYoung Museum has a very thick one flanked by 4 shorter saw-teeth; and plate 16, also in their collection, has two arrow-like ones in the same position, that are also repeated in the middle of each of the two white ground side-bars containing the “S” design.
This feature is also present on the other pseudo--saf we illustrated in part VIII; but there it only appears as an arrow-like extension on the center and right mirhab-set, while on the left on it is analogous to that on Plate 2.
Also notice in that example, which we dated somewhat later, there are two rhombs, each with similar north/south arrow-like extensions.
RK feels on very firm ground to classify these kelim, and others of this cluster, as pseudo,-saf, as well as considering plate 2 from the deYoung Museum as the prototype, dating it into the early Classic period.
The ‘compass’ kelim, until another better candidate appears, will stay as our archetype for this cluster. That said, we highly doubt
one will appear.
RK also has a Classic period pseudo-saf in our collection, and it is illustrated in our book as plate 9:
Classic period; Detail; Plate 9; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Were RK a classification freak we could name this type the thin-mirhab pseudo,-saf cluster but we usually resist such unimportant taxonomical differentiation.
We will, however, point out some further aspects of this kelim that relate to our discussion of the pseudo-saf type.
The first is the presence of the “S” icon and second its placement flanking each of the thin-mirhab.
This is exactly the same position the “S” icon has on the early Classic period prototype for this group.
Plate 6, deYoung Museum Collection
This is no coincidence but an excellent example of prescription, which is further supported by the repetition of the inner side border of multi-colored motif on a white ground the deYoung Museum plate 6 displays.
The reason we call this prescription and not proscription should be obvious but let’s spell it out so there is no confusion.
Remember proscription denotes exact reproduction with no change.
Prescription implies careful repetition but not exact reproduction.
So here we see the same “S” icon; but it is rendered quite differently, though, those differences are subtle enough to prevent any mistaking these are the same icon.
Here is the archetype kelim with the “S” icon:
Detail; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection; Plate 27
The exact reproduction of this icon on Plate 6 is one of the main reasons RK places that kelim in the early Classic group; while the changes that are evident in the next Classic group pieces, Plate 18 in the Vakiflar kelim book and ours, demonstrate good reason why they are placed further, though not very far, down on the continuum for this group.
Often early Classic period examples quite closely follow the archetype but they do not exactly reproduce it, as we have shown here.
While after that period, the Classic and late Classic kelim display far great variance from the Archaic period original.
Following this progression of the “S” icon, as it morphs in the pseudo saf cluster might not convince readers our theory of proscription/prescription, or our continuum, have validity.
RK realizes this, and that is why we will, in the succeeding parts of this examination, present a number of other equally as convincing examples, in fact we intend to do this for each of the 9 remaining archetypes; since we have now documented our positions with 2 of the 11 – the east Berlin saf, and the ‘compass’ kelim.
We could add other examples to what we have already shown but we have done enough and we are satisfied for here and now.
One last effort with another kelim before we close this part of our examination.
Quite recently we spied this kelim for sale on the internet, coincidently it was soon after we began our Anatolian kelim examination.
We are sure readers familiar with old Anatolian might be impressed and believe, because of its unique design, it is an important early example.
RK has never seen another, but in our estimation it is what we would call an early Traditional period piece.
Why do we have this opinion?
First let us just say Archaic and Classic period kelim are never unique; and while a couple, like the deYoung Museum’s “S” kelim or the one of ours we showed along with the Altdorfer early 16th century painting, have hardly any other later copies their icon, amulet and emblems are not one-offs, they are instantly recognizable in the other kelim of their specific group and are part of a continuum.
Other Archaic period pieces, like the east Berlin saf have more later copies, these kelim also sharing recognizable icon, amulet and emblem no matter how separated by time from the original they might be.
Proscription and prescription were the two process at work here and because those icon, amulet and emblem maintained such great importance and significance throughout the long historical time from the Archaic to the Traditional period, these processes guaranteed their faithful reproduction.
But, history does not move in a straight line and in different places, and at different times, this system broke down.
Those breakdowns are memorialized in Anatolian weaving traditions, be they pile carpet or kelim.
It is very fortunate, over the past 30 years, so many great early examples of those weaving have now been published, exhibited and are available for study.
Today, looking back to 1979, RK realizes only our instinct allowed us to recognize the Anatolian kelim we saw and purchased were what we believed – archetypes.
Now, we can prove that instinctual belief and this exercise demonstrates that proof.
With that in mind we would like to offer the following, which, we know, is not nearly as convincing as the other parts of our examination already are, and succeeding ones will be.
For all explorers, and RK is an explorer, must be able to use their instinct to direct and sustain their journey into the unknown.
RK might just as well have said this at the onset of this examination but we felt it boastful, and we only write it here knowing we have already shown we are not just opining, we are proving.
The sole ornament on the kelim above is a unique one but it is only an invention made by a weaver, or maybe others whose work has yet to be discovered, set free from the confines of the important governing proscription/prescription paradigm
For us this is not an icon, or an amulet or an emblem; it is an ornament and as such it has no meaning, no place in history and no interest for any one looking to understand historic Anatolian kelim.
The central question, the actual meaning of this ornament or the far larger issue of the meaning of any one RK has called icon, amulet or emblem, is one we can not answer, nor are we going to try,
Other authors, like hirsch, Balpinar, cootner, Muse, frauenknecht, rageth, eskenazi, et.al. have alluded to a “lost language”, one begun way back in the Neolithic period – a language of goddesses and animals like the leopard, a language of kelim lost in space and time.
These allusions might play well to children or those who are gullible believers, but not to RK for the simple reason not one of these authors has offered to define even one word/element of that “lost language”, let alone a sentence, paragraph or story.
Yes, sure, we were the first to recognize the connection between pre-history and Anatolian kelim.
But recognizing a connection, and then building your work and research around it, are two very different positions, particularly when not one substantial, concrete proof of that connection has been offered up by any of those authors.
Not one, go read their work, RK has, and you will have to agree.
Unlike them, RK did not fall for this ‘possibility’, nor mind you do we believe it is hokum – but our work is/was/will always be based on fact and not opining, especially where/when those fact prove such opinions are not to be trusted.
We will, in the Part IX. reproduce our description for the first two archetypes kelim we purchased, Plates 1 & 2, from the book we authored in 1987-1988, and published in 1989Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim.
We are still extremely proud of it, as the description for Plate 1 provides the only proven connection between an Anatolian kelim and a group of prehistoric archaeological objects.
And that, race fans, is something way beyond chattering on about ‘lost language’ or seeing goddesses in motif and ornament invented long after the roots and sources of the Anatolian kelim had dried up into dust and blown away.
But we have once again digressed but not too far from where we want to be, and that’s to place that ‘unique’ ornament in a framework of explanation.
As we just wrote, we cannot explain what it means, but we can offer some documentation how it was invented, just like we demonstrated how the pseudo saf, or the thin-mirhab clusters developed.
However, those cluster are part of the history of the Anatolian kelim and the proofs we offered substantiate this.
Whereas the brief treatment we will give to the ‘unique’ ornament on this kelim demonstrate it is not part of that history, but invented from it.
This is another nuance readers may have trouble grasping but it is one worth pondering until it is understood.
So what is this ornament?
You could say it is a tulip lifted from the Ottoman court, where tulips can be seen in many types of art, not only weaving.
Is it a primitive “elibelinde”, a word all other kelim authors, except RK, have bandied about with abandon?
For those readers who are not familiar with this word it means a representation of the goddess with her hands on her hips; a particular pose the great mother of all humanity is supposed to have been accustomed.
This is the same female deity the book The Goddess from Anatolia spends pages and pages discussing without ever proving any substantial or concrete connection between the female effigy, as elibelinde, and the multitude of post-classic Anatolian kelim where this elibelinde appears.
Cover of the Goddess from Anatolia with elibelinde ornament
RK trust readers can see the ‘similarity’ the white motif in the bottom part of the kelim ornament shares with the one on the cover of the book.
So is this ornament an elibelinde in a tulip?
Well, this is a fanciful explanation RK is sure many if not all of those authors mentioned above might opine.
RK might even agree, but so what?
Then of course those same authors, at least the more archaeologically aware, might then ‘read’ the two bracket motif on the east/west axis -- the elibelinde in the tulip are on the north/south axis -- as the animals the goddess has been frequently associated with based on this famous, and intriguing, clay statue found at Catal Huyuk:
“Large clay figure of a goddess supported by two felines, giving birth to a child. An early example of the concept of the goddess as the “Mistress of Animals” it was found in a grain bin of shrine A.II.I, where it may have been placed to promote fertility of the crops by sympathetic magic” circa 6,000BC
Dear readers, stating the kelim ornament, like that on the cover of The Goddess from Anatoliabook, is an elibelinde(goddess) with two animals besides her is nothing but imaginative opinion.
However, the clay effigy above isn’t opinion, as it looks exactly like a big fat seated lady with two felines(the one on the right is missing) flanking her on either side.
That’s the difference between fact, a real statue that was excavated at Catal Huyuk, and opinion, the elibelinde ornament represents the same goddess and animals.
Here’s another fly in the ointment, there only one female effigy from the Anatolian neolithic with hands on hips RK has ever seen or heard of:
Female effigy; Hacilar, level VI, circa 5,700 BC
There are many other female effigy, in different pose, but only this one with what has become a legend in kelim studies; the elibelinde, a legend RK has always found quite questionable.
Another interesting fact is the absence of any ‘elibelinde’ ornament, or even one with any similarity, on any Archaic period Anatolian kelim.
Of course some, or perhaps all of the authors we mentioned above, would disagree; but RK defies them, or anyone else, to produce an Anatolian kelim with an elibelinde ornament RK will not be able to prove is a Classic or later period example.
Now back to what RK believes the ornament we pictured at the beginning of this closing Part VIIIA tangent is all about.
Since RK doesn’t venture into the fantastic, we have never tried to suggest what any icon, amulet or emblem, motif, let alone what we call ornament or design, means unless we have concrete documentary proof.
early Classic period saf; Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating, plate 9
The following is our attempt to do that for the ornament in question:
Detail from the side border: early Classic period saf; Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating, plate 9
This reciprocal arrow-head emblem is what we feel was used to develop, by mirror imaging, the main part of the ornament
Creating a mirror-image, or doubling, of a design was a feature of post-Classic period Anatolian pile rug and kelim, often appearing, in an easily identifiable form, in weaving from the Traditional period.
The two bracket-like devices on the east/west axis are another motif associated with Traditional period design.
So the ornament, according to our viewpoint, has been lifted from the border of a late Classic period kelim, mirror imaged, and then accreted with the brackets.
This is supposition, opinion if you like; but it is based on fact, mirror imaging exists and can be proven to be a technique found in later Anatolian kelim, and strong logic, the brackets are frequently found as add-ons to older less complex motif, or newly minted ones like the one above.
RK doesn’t like ending on such a weak note but the rest of Part VIIIA is convincing enough to over-ride our attempt to tackle such a difficult question.
End Part VIIIA
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.
These idols, Fig.10 and Fig.11, were recovered from Cirna, an archaeological site in Romania associated with the Girla Mare Culture.
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 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.
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.
They also introduce two other important symbols, the radiating diamond and hook designs, both designs often encountered in slit-tapestry weaving.
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, 17 and 18 are typical and present the earliest sitting goddess style fired clay figurines as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Above is a detail of the archaic group kelim that is very similar to the one published in Part IX.
This kelim appears as Plate 2, in our Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book and also on the Weaving Art Museum website exhibition.
Below, with several small edit changes, is the text description on that website and, like the other, is an abbreviation of the more detailed one in our book.
Plate 2; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Size: 11 ft. 3 in. x 2 ft. 5 in.
337.5 cm. x 72.5 cm.
In the next part of our Anatolian kelim examination RK will show how these two kelim, more than any others, are the major source for many of the Classic period, and later, pastiche types we mentioned but have yet to discuss.
In Part XI we will frame out what we mean by pastiche type kelim and show by example how the iconography on many of these pieces is directly, or indirectly, derived from these two kelim, as well as other Archaic group examples.
So please enjoy what we wrote below and remember this was written in 1987/88.
An additional note: In Part XI, RK will broaden and enlarge the scope of several comments this text mentions but does not flesh out, comments we have in the past 20 plus years often thought about and spent considerable time researching.
Plate One is animated and vibrant, quite unlike the serene presence of Plate Two.
Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Visual differences aside, the similarity of materials, spinning, weaving, and dyeing all lead to the conclusion that these two kelims were woven contemporaneously, possibly by the same weaver.
Were they made as a pair or is each half of a different pair?
This question and in fact the larger issue of whether or not Plates Four or Five also had a matching other half can not be answered at this time.
It is this writer’s opinion the Archaic group kelims made in this format were, like later examples, also made in pairs.
But unlike the later examples, these halves were designed to be viewed alone and not necessarily as part of a pair.
Originally, they may have been displayed draped over a large object which created two panels, where each half appeared as a self-contained image.
The designs on these slit-tapestries are very different, as each was influenced by different styles of deity representation - Plate One utilizing the earlier prehistoric style, and Plate Two the later historic style.
This stylistic difference was based on the change from female or goddess centered beliefs to male or god centered.
Such a change is well supported by the archaeological record, male effigies are almost nonexistent until c.2500BC but afterwards become the predominant style.
During this time period, the late Bronze Age, male dominance was responsible for the centralization of political, economic and military power.
These new conventions replaced the previous social, political as well as religious orientation based on the earlier less developed Paleolithic/Neolithic models.
The differences in the style the major designs were drawn was directly tied to this changeover, and these two weavings must have had an important significance within the confines of the strict weaving culture which produced them.
The two Archaic period examples illustrated in the two previous parts of RK’s examination of Anatolian kelim are, in our opinion, the two most significant Anatolian kelim extant.
This is a pretty bold statement RK realizes will rankle more than a few collectors, dealers and museum people who might believe differently.
But it is fact and, perhaps, after reading and studying what is below some of those folks will concur with our statement.
In Part IX, we demonstrated how the icon on this kelim is directly related and derived from a distinct and highly specific group of prehistoric female effigy/idols.
That group of archaeological recovered effigy can be traced back to the late palaeolithic period(circa 30,000 – 10,000BC) and a number examples have been found in cave sites located throughout northern Europe.
Below is a small selection:
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).
Why these idol were made and then secreted in these caves is unknown, though many theories have been forward since the first ones were discovered more than 100 years ago.
Regardless of why they were created, these facts are apparent – they are beautifully and sensitively modeled; they are carved from rock; and, they are undoubtedly female.
A related fact is all of them portray women with extremely large breasts and equally as exaggerated buttocks and thighs.
However their other physical features are not unusually large and, therefore, after studying many of these idols, both in books and museums, RK formulated a descriptive tag -- the indented-shape -- to describe them, as well as far many more that date from the neolithic(10,000-4,000) thru the bronze age(4,000-1,500) and into historic times(circa 500BC).
This indented-shape was the clue which led RK to realize the seven icon on this kelim are woven representation of these prehistoric idol.
Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Great, readers might say, but how did the indented-shape get on the kelim?
The answer to this important question can be, somewhat, positively answered by this picture:
Interior view of the Yeşil Türbe which is the resting place of Mehmed I, the fifth Ottoman sultan and ruler of Anatolia from 1413 to 1421
The türbe, known as a masoleum in English, was built by Mehmed I to be used after his death.
It is part of a complex of buildings, including a large Mosque, known as the ‘Green Mosque’, begun by Mehmed I’s grandfather Murad I and finished by Mehmed I during his reign.
The Türbe and Mosque are decorated with tile work many believe to be the most accomplished and beautiful of any Ottoman tile decorated building. (RK would have to disagree, our choice would be the Mosque of Rustem Pasha in Istanbul.)
When RK was in Turkey in 1980, we visited Bursa and the Green Mosque and the Yeşil Türbe, which is situated above the Mosque perched on a hill.
Upon entering the Yeşil Türbe and seeing the royal catafalque, sarcophagus in English, RK was amazed to see our indented-shape on the tiles lining Mehmed I’s resting place.
Why this icon was chosen is unknown but suffice it to say it is highly significant for this discussion.
It proves the indented-shape icon was a living one and for it to be placed on the catafalque of one of the most important early Ottoman sultan’s grave markers is something that cannot be thought of as just chance or coincidence.
RK has not mentioned this yet, but, we have since 1981 harbored strong suspicion some of the Archaic period kelim, especially those with white fields, were death kelim used to display the body before internment.
Here is a tantalizing quote from Belkis Balpinar’s text in the 1982 Vakiflar kelim book:
“Donors of Funeral Kilims: The custom of donating a funeral kilim to the mosque is only rarely observed, but it does occur in different areas of Anatolia.
It is suggested that it is connected with a certain weaving group which splintered and moved in several directions.
The usual tradition is that a kilim is used in place of a coffin.
The body is wrapped and tied (often with tablet woven bands) and is carried to the graveside most commonly on a ladder. (In thopse regions there is also a saying that a person “climbs the ladder” when he dies.)
This funeral kilim is eihter(sic) donated to the mosque or returned to the family cupboards to be used again in a family burial.
These kilim are mostly long and one-piece (430 x 160 cm – 450 x 180 cm)(Plate 32)
In summary, carpet or flat-woven rug donations to mosques were given for religious reasons: to gain God’s grace, to achieve personal guarantees for the future life, or to honor a dead person.”
As many readers will remember, RK worked with closely with Balpinar for a number of years and don’t think RK didn’t try to have her flesh out and expand what she wrote about kelim and their place in funeral observance.
Nothing new was ever discovered, and to this day RK still harbors our belief the white field archaic group Anatolian kelim we own
were ancient death kelim made by the group Balpinar’s text hints at before they “splintered”.
While we’re on this subject we’d like to mention: RK published, in 1990, a small catalog of slit-tapestry and other flat-woven textiles we discovered in Egypt in the reserve collection of the Islamic Museum in Cairo.
RK went to Egypt to expressly research the missing period, 1500BC – 1200 AD, in our kelim research, and in honor of our suspicion those white field kelim of ours are death kelim, and related to the fragments we found in Egypt and published, we titled that catalog Cult Kelim.
That catalog is online at the Weaving Art museum website for those readers who have not had the opportunity to see it.
This is not the time or place to discuss this further but the existence of the indented-shape on Mehmed I’s catafalque fills in a large hole in the indented-shape continuum and lends great credence to RK’s discovery this same prehistoric icon was the source for the one woven on our archaic period Anatolian kelim.
Here are the other key archaeological objects that form our indented-shape continuum, which cements our discovery.
They listed from the newest to the oldest, a continuum that ends with the palaeolithic idol we have shown above:
Baked clay statuettes showing the indented-shape; 17.5 cm; recovered from graves in Cirna, Romania; Girla Mar Culture; circa 1,500 BC
Clay diety in the indented-shape; Middle Minoan Period; circa 1,900BC
Schemetic white marble female figurine in the indented-style; 12cm; recovered in Greece; circa 2,800BC
White marble abstract figurine showing an early form of the violin-shape, ie indented-shape; recovered at Beysultan, Anatolia; circa 3,000 BC
Large ritual vase with indented-shape as well as several other important icons; Hacilar I; Anatolia; circa 5,850BC.
This is an extremely important artifact for our discussion and we will, in a later part, discuss its iconography at greater length.
Burnished red-ware ceramic figurine with the indented-shape; recovered from level I, Hacilar; Anatolia; circa 5,850 BC
Small female figurine with important ‘hand’ icon; carved in black stone;7.8cm; recovered at Catal Huyuk, level VI; circa 6,000BC
Fully developed indented-shape terracotta ceramic figurine; 3.5 cm; recovered at Glandice, southern Yugoslavia; circa 6,500BC
Carved ivory schematic figurines; recovered at Mezine; Ukraine, Russia; circa 18,000BC
These archaeological objects, and others we could reference, supply concrete evidence for the continuum we have documented; one that places the effigy icon woven on our kelim firmly in its place in history.
More so it clearly defines its meaning – a female effigy or idol.
This the most complete sequence of objects yet assembled to define any icon, amulet or emblem found on an Anatolian kelim.
RK has been trying since the early 1980’s to find others but, to this day, we have not been able to sketch out such a series for any of the other icon we have recognized.
We will discuss relevant findings we have amassed with some of the other archetype kelim on our short list.
Now let’s leave this issue to list the other Anatolian kelim we place on its continuum.
Here, once again, is the archetype
Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
This kelim, like almost every other archetype, has very few copies and these replica are inferior in all respect.
The major icon, which we feel we have convincingly proven to be a female effigy, is reproduced on only 6 other kelim we know.
The continuum to which they all belong is not much of a line-up, as all the copies are Traditional period, none can be dated as Classic period, which makes this group unusual.
That said, there is one kelim datable to the late Classic period but it cannot really be considered part of the continuum, as it is, at best, only tangentially related.
Classic period; Anatolian Kilim: The Caroline and McCoy Jones Collection; plate 52
Here is a detail; notice the similarity the upper border, and the end panel maintain with the archetype.
RK knows and can demonstrate over and over the reality each of the archetype Anatolian kelim define a set of icon, amulet and emblem and those features are more often than not reproduced in the later examples of each type.
Again this is prescription at work, as the reproduction is far from exact but it is undoubtedly not by coincidence or chance.
When dealing with what RK calls pastiche, or combination types, this is also the case -- a double set design pool reproduced, though being a mixture of two or more archetype, such a larger set of features does not remain as cohesive.
Also, the earlier the copies are the more likely the set, or double set, will be more faithfully reproduced.
Plate 52 from the deYoung Museum collection provides an opportunity for us to prove this concept and the upper border and end panel designs are not the only part of the archetype’s set that was transferred.
Notice the large hooks on the deYoung kelim are part of the archetype’s set as well.
But, of course, their representation has become regular, codified and standardized, whereas on the archetype they are far more in keeping with the animated alive presence that kelim presents.
Notice, also, there are no ‘butterfly’ on the archetype, but they do appear on the one we have often illustrated with it:
Plate 2; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
It in fascinating to note how the deYoung kelim has also codified these ‘butterfly’ by placing them on a pole, four together on the left and three on the right, placed between the far left and far right large figures and two between them.
While not strictly a pastiche type because the two archetypes Plate 52 copies are so very similar, the fact both versions of effigy and the upper border as well as end panels are so different, plus the 'butterfly' are only on one would, if we were pushed, impel us to say, yes, Plate 52 is a pastiche
On the archetype the ‘butterfly’ are a solitary unit, and in the very few instance where they are paired they are almost, but not really, co-joined.
This suggests the pole and should be interpreted as prescription at work; using but not actually repeating verbatim what appears on an earlier example.
RK believes the seven-effigy kelim displays a far more archaic ‘picture’ than the other above
We also readily admit Plate 52 is an early kelim and prototype for many, many later pieces with similarly exaggerated hooks.
We will discuss this emblem in a succeeding part of this examination.
To close this Part here are pictures of the 6 kelim in this small rare group.
Because none is dated earlier than the Traditional period and they are, basically, a homogenous group there is not much of a continuum we can construct or discuss for them.
To begin, this is perhaps the earliest and best of them, but frankly this is splitting-hairs as they all date to the Traditional period and, though they are somewhat interesting in their own right, when compared to the archetype, or even the Plate 52 from the deYoung Museum, they are then easily seen as quite degenerate.
Traditional period; Vakiflar kelim book; Plate 32
Traditional period; 100 Kelim; Plate 75
Traditional period; Goddess from Anatolia; Plate XXI,no.6.
Traditional period; deYoung kelim catalog; Plate 76
Traditional period; De Young Kelim catalog; Plate 75
Plate 75; 100 Kelim; Plate 74
End Part XI
Archaic period; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim; Plate 3
Rarity, of and by itself, is a quality that carries no connotation other than its surface meaning.
However, in the art world it does connote many other nuance and in discussing the Archaic period kelim illustrated above that quality is worth mentioning.
Over the past 30 years only one other similar example has surfaced in the literature:
Late Classic period; 100 Kilims; plate 15
Here is the description written by Yanni Petsopoulos:
“The main feature of this kilim are the five main bands, each of which contains a series of stylized hand or bird wing motif. This is a very rare type of kilim, of which I know only one other example in the Jack Cassin collection.
Its colour range and various elements in its decoration suggest it comes from the Canakkale-Belikesir region. The comparable piece features a rich yellow, absent from this piece and its shorter length. (J.Cassin, Image Idol Symbol, Ancient Anatolian Kelims, New York, 1989, pl.3.)
Petsopoulos is one of the people RK credits for having a good understanding of Anatolian kelim, and his mentioning our piece in his book was both an example of this as well as his honesty.
However, since he was the dealer who sold the piece, RK can understand his avoiding discussing the real differences between them, other than his mention of the “rich yellow”.
Actually there are major differences, and in keeping with RK’s proscription/prescription theory those differences are easily explained.
First and most significant is the reversal or upside down depiction of the major icon.
While this adds a certain eye-blink ‘movement’ to the overall design, that movement is phony as it quickly dissipates the more one continues to study it.
Actually, putting some right-side up, and others upside down, destroys the amazingly sophisticated interplay of color and form – something RK has trouble believing was an accident.
Archaic period kelim are not accidents, nor are these brilliant art-works anything but premeditated and perfectly calculated expression many generations of weaver artists worked to create.
Compare Plate 15 with ours, study the interplay of color and form, as well as the proportions both as single entity and as those entity relate to the whole, and this should become apparent.
While these subtle and nuanced differences might be somewhat hard to perceive from the pictures we publish there are a number of far more easily seen similarities.
It is these where prescription can be demonstrated – the repetition of the distinct articulation of the major icon, the repetition of the two minor bands, the coloration of the motif in those bands(minus the “rich yellow”) and the proportions of the overall kelim though ours is more square and less oblong.
The square proportions are one of the signs we believe place it in the Archaic period and also signify to us the strong possibility the weaving in Altdorfer painting, Suzanna im Bad we published in Part VII, could very well be an archaic period kelim like ours with a different set of icon.
Speaking of Archaic period kelim icon-set, notice how faithfully Plate 15 reproduces the icon set on the archetype.
Same major icon and the same motif in the bands – this too is no accident or chance occurence.
There is another late Classic period kelim in this group but unfortunately we do not have the picture handy amd can only mention it.
It is a slightly better copy of the archetype than Plate 15 and we might date it to the Classic, rather than the Late Classic, period but those differences are not nearly great enough to place it any earlier.
And we do have photo of another kelim from this group but it is a Traditional period example that is a vague reflection of the archetype.
Traditional period; offered for sale in the European market in 2006
Again prescription in the reproduction of the Archaic period formula is readily apparent and the equally as apparent variance likewise.
Here the archetype icon has been reduced to a motif, losing all the characteristic Petsopolous was wont to call a “hand” or “bird”.
This is highly significant and one of the demonstrations how this process, some might call degeneration, operated.
RK is not interested in tying to ‘define’, as Petsopoulos did, what this icon means – we are satisfied in recognizing it as an icon and then calling the one on the Traditional period example a motif.
Regardless of the loss of articulation the main icon has undergone, the set on the archetype has remained coherent. Again this is prescription.
End of Part XII
Archaic Period; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim; Plate 4
This archetype is one RK has great affection for, it’s an eminently admirable and likeable weaving regardless of the fact it is a fragment.
In one of the previous parts we briefly touched on the idea Archaic period kelim with white ground colors were used to display the body before internment.
This is not the time or place for us to speculate on how and why we carry this notion but we would like to mention one small part of the dossier of supposition we have complied.
Over the years we have seen a number, not too many really, of ‘similar kelim; by similar, we mean ones with animals as part of the set of icon this archetype defines.
Most examples do not have the animals, a fact we feel is quite significant and not just a factor of degeneration.
We believe the animals are a vestige of a far earlier, Seljuk and central Asian custom/tradition, and although what we will now write is pure speculation it is, as we said, something we believe.
Certain central Asian groups were undoubtedly closely related to other groups living to the north and east in southern Siberia.
Anyone who has carefully read our Turkmen Trappings: From Tent to Town Weaving Art Museum exhibition might remember our discussing certain important cultural parallel these groups share.
Among the southern Siberians important clan leaders were buried with a great amount of wealth and material accoutrement, presumably to make their life in the ever-after as comfortable as it was on earth.
These potentates often took their horses with them when leaving this life, and the remains of many burial kurgan demonstrate this custom.
We grant this is a rather thin limb to hang-out on, but we have always felt the animals on this kelim are horses and they are there for the reason we just explained.
Regardless of their meaning -- and RK usually does not go in for ‘guessing’ what icons, amulet and emblems mean so please forgive our opening that can of worms -- the careful and deliberate articulation the weaver was able to use to depict them on our kelim is pretty remarkable.
We know of no other example of the type that even comes close to representing them in such an alive and animated manner.
The one kelim of the type we feel comes the closest is this unpublished example:
Early Classic period
RK made this picture in 1980 when we visited the Esrefoglu Mosque at Beyshehir on our extended car trip out to eastern Turkey.
After some diligent effort we located the hojar, the keeper or custodian, of the Mosque and after some palaver, our ‘guide’ translating for us, the hojar took us into the Mosque, into some private rooms and into an adjacent building that was full of rug and kelim fragments.
That’s how we took this and several other pictures of weavings that had presumably formerly graced the floors of the Mosque.
Now RK is sure many of you know of the four ‘Seljuk’ carpets discovered here by Riefstahl in 1931 and believed to have been produced for the Mosque’s inauguration in 1298.
Another group of thirteen ‘Seljuk’ carpets and fragments were discovered in Konya in the Alaeddin Mosque and published in 1907 by Sarre, and among them is this fragment:
It is very similar to another far larger piece found there, and we believe RK is the only person to publicly date this fragment earlier than that other, believing it is the model.
Again this is not the time for place for that discussion but it is pertinent to compare the double-headed ‘animals’ in the border with those on our kelim.
We readily admit the connection between these two iconic animal representations is far more ‘spiritual’ than actual, and that’s all we are trying to imply – their spiritual connection.
We equally understand even that is a tenuous one, but bear with us as we try to flesh out this point.
RK discovered the kelim from the Esrefoglu Mosque in Beysehir when the hojar took us into an adjacent building, which was a turbe -- an octagonal stone building with a conical roof.
Recent photo of the turbe next to the Esrefoglu Mosque. In 1980 it had not been cleaned up and looked completely different.
Was this kelim part of the original decoration? Was this turbe the resting place of the mosque’s builder and name-sake, Esrefoglu Suleyman Bey?
These are tantalizing questions RK has wondered about since our visit, and still have not been able to prove one way or the other.
One interesting part of the equation pointing to a yes answer is the existence in the mosque, at least when we were there, of a number of wooden pieces originally made for the mosque, like the mimbar, the pulpit, the decorations in the Sultan’s loft gallery and others dated to the 13th century.
By the way, if the kelim from Beysehir was made for Esrefoglu Suleyman Bey, who died in the early 14th century, it implies either the archetype is older or we are wrong in believing the archetype is the earlier of the two.
Let’s leave supposition and these questions behind and compare the kelim from Beysehir with the archetype.
The first and most salient point for us is the ‘ears’ on the fully developed animal on our piece and those on the Beysehir example, minus of course the rest of the animals body.
It would logically follow, but not necessarily we admit, having the animal fully articulated is an earlier style than just having the head shown.
Also, in the center of the animal heads on the archetype there is an undecorated stepped-outline pseudo-‘cross’ motif.
While the Beysehir kelim has an important icon in the same place.
This same icon, which we will discuss in a forthcoming part of this examination, appears on our piece as well, in the center of this more intricate one:
Its migration from the field, inside the border area on the archetype, to the animal’s face can be read two ways, but RK’s opinion would have more significant near the border at the beginning main iconography than as an ancillary filler repeated in the face of each animal.
This is a significant aspect but nothing to base the opinion we forward: The Beysehir kelim is a subsequent, post Archaic period copy.
Here are some other aspects RK feels support and document our position.
Notice the three vulture, or ‘double-comb’, icon between the blue hooked arms that bracket the animals on our piece.
Compare them to the two smaller, less animated ones on the Beysehir kelim.
The vulture is an important icon, and one this Archaic period kelim clearly establishes.
Archaic period; Anatolian Kelim Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Plate 58
This kelim, and its single icon, will be discussed in a succeeding part of our examination but for now we believe there should be little doubt this, and the ones on the two kelim in this part, are the same.
Notice also the red and yellow barber-pole border, on either side of the blue arms, is repeated on the Beysehir example but it, too, shows a loss of fluidity and elegance.
Notice the flaming rhomb the archetype has under those blue arms compared to the rather insipid and weak version on the Beysehir kelim.
Detail showing a later version of the flaming rhomb icon
In addition to the rhomb icon, which will also be discussed at a later time, a later motif containing the icon we pointed out in the animal faces is randomly scattered about in the space under the arm.
Watering-down an archetype’s brilliant iconographic execution, as seen in the Beysehir kelim, is a feature of Classic and later period prescription, and the addition of foreign icon another.
So too, as we mentioned, is the displacement of an icon’s position, here from just inside the border on the archetype to the faces of the Beysehir animal heads and the motif above the rhomb.
Go study the 11 archetype kelim we listed in an early part of this examination and you will not see important icon scattered about randomly, or reused as ‘filler’ motif.
The sides borders on the Beysehir kelim are hard to discern but they can be seen well enough to demonstrate they are, again, not animated or original but rather copies of others seen on earlier archetypes.
The top and bottom borders have abstract effigy, or ‘dolls’ as RK likes to call this version of the icon, like those seen on Plate 1 from our book Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim.
Detail top border Beysehir kelim
Detail bottom border Beyshehir kelim
The kelim from Beysehir is an excellent early Classic period example and RK’s pull no punch comparison is not to put it down.
Rather, we feel obligated to explain why we have such a short list of archetype examples; subtle and nuanced differences between an early Classic and an archetype being a main reason.
We will now illustrate one other kelim from this rare group with animals, and then illustrate a number of related examples, which lack animals or even, as the Beysehir piece has, their heads.
Early Traditional period; The Goddess from Anatolia; volume 1; Plate XII, no.7
There are a host of factors that place this kelim far down on the continuum – the lack of the flaming rhomb; the double headed animal and their upside down, rightside up depiction; the late motif used in the side borders; the displaced icon under the barber-pole arms, which hardly reproduce the original in the archetype; the gross top border which is too heavy and far too indelicate, as are the animals themselves and scattered icon used as filler motif.
There are a few others of this group but none are much better than this one; a few could be dated earlier, to the late Classic period, but that’s why we are not illustrating and commenting on them, just more of the same.
There are two related group RK wishes to mention before we close out this examination of the Plate 4 archetype.
The best and earliest of the first is what we call a pastiche or combination type.
early Traditional period; Radiocarbon Dating & Anatolian Kelim; Plate 33
Frankly we don’t like this kelim, another somewhat later example we will illustrate, or any others of its type.
We will readily admit it, and some of the others, are to untrained eyes ‘exciting’ and ‘intriguing’.
However, to carefully trained and educated eyes this kelim has no iconography, only meaningless motif.
That said, there is one icon -- the ‘birth symbol’ formed by the reciprocal space between the 5 hexagon.
However because it is a reciprocal, and not a primary design as it is used in an one of the earlier 11 archetype kelim, it fits perfectly within our early Traditional period dating.
The use of archetypal icon, as reciprocal, is a hallmark of the late Classic and Traditional periods, and demonstrates a somewhat rare form of prescription.
RK also finds this kelim’s overall design jumpy and erratic; for instance, compare the flaming rhomb of the archetype with the hooked concentric hexagon in each ‘medallion.
Notice the red and yellow barber-pole arms are repeated here but the arms are used to surround each of the ‘medallion’ and not, as they do in the archetype, form a continuous cycle across the kelim field.
The barber-pole itself is merely a reflection of the far more fluid and cohesive one the archetype established.
The upper and lower borders, while well done compared to a multitude of later rendition where they also appear, are nowhere near those found on earlier Classic period example.
The same can be said for the hooked-figures placed in organized rows on the field above and below the ‘medallions’.
And the big ‘U’ or ‘tulip’ motif emanating from the center of each ‘medallion’ is, in our estimation, a gross and unnecessary addition, nothing but a later invention.
A similar but later example of the type is this one:
Traditional period; The Goddess from Anatolia; Plate XI, no.7
Like the kelim above, the same prescribed errors are apparent and we need not enumerate them.
The scale in the other is larger and more expansive, which leads us to date it somewhat earlier. This also lends it a more attractive ‘look’ but in the final analysis both are what they are – later copies of an archetype.
The second related type is also a pastiche or combination of several archetype.
This example is not the earliest of the group but it is the most genuine, and the one RK likes the best.
Traditional period; 100 Kelim; Plate 82
Unlike the archetype, where every element works ensemble like a fine piece of machinery, this kelim is funky and wonky.
But better funky, wonky and genuine than a forced attempt to reproduce the proscribed quality an archetype displays and failing.
The big, exaggerated rhomb have some of the character of the flaming rhomb in the archetype; as far as we are concerned they are this kelim strongest virtue.
The blue ground arms, while lacking the red and yellow barber-pole secondary stripes, work well to connect and unify this ‘picture’, and make it a whole not just a number of parts put together thoughtlessly.
The wonky “S” inner side border is a quite genuine prescribed attempt to reproduce this icon with original intent, and the reciprocal red and white top border a charming later rendition of Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol.
Few post Classic period pieces, as well as ones from that period, can be viewed as genuine attempts to recreate an archetype, again this is its greatest accomplishment.
Compare it to this one:
Traditional period; The Goddess from Anatolia; Plate IX, no.7
Although it is technically far more expert than the one above it, and appears to be earlier, those aspects are forgotten when originality and spiritual connection are put into the mix.
This kelim, unlike the other, is a rote expression, one that reproduces a prescribed form with little to no feeling or sensitivity.
RK finds it boring and dull.
Same for the next three illustrations, which we list in a chronological order, oldest first.
late Classic period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, Vakiflar Museum; Plate 33
Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, Vakiflar Museum; Plate 34
late Traditional period; ; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, Vakiflar Museum; Plate 35
The first, Plate 33, has an austere and somewhat monumental quality to it, which we can appreciate.
However when compared to an archetype, like Plate 2 Image Idol Symbol, that austerity and monumentalism cannot be seen in any light other than an attempt to recreate what only the archetype successfully created.
Seeing one last kelim, though illustrating it adds nothing to our discussion, might be instructive for many readers.
Traditional period; private collection
This kelim, as readers can readily tell, is related to the archetype Part XIII discusses.
It was published on the internet by michael bischoff, who is, in our opinion, nothing but a self-styled kelim yapper.
After ranting and raving about his unfounded abilities to discern great kelim from others, mind you without ever giving any real criteria, bischoff then produced this picture and claimed it was the greatest Anatolian kelim ever made.
Again, bischoff made this statement without ever providing one iota of real proof or documentation, and while he, like anyone, is entitled to his ‘opinion’, not being able to support that ‘opinion’ when questioned is not very honest or becoming.
Regardless, this kelim might be cute and perhaps likeable by unsophisticated eyes.
But when analyzed using the type of framework RK establishes in this examination it can be demonstrated just exactly where an example like this fits on a continuum of its type, and it surely doesn’t fit at the top.
The most easily recognizable feature that places it in the group we are discussing is the blue ground arms or gable surrounded by a red and white barber-pole minor stripe.
Let’s forgive the substitution of white for the archetypical red and yellow barber-pole, but forgiving the heavy-handed treatment this feature receives is not as easily done.
Also the archetype’s magnificent flaming rhomb
are reduced to a new but meaningless invention; one RK finds trite and silly.
The side border's motif is not anything archetypical, nor Classic; it is at best traditional and somewhat trite as well considering it is repeated where the flaming rhomb should be.
The black ground color is dramatic but again not archetypical or classic; rather another example of ‘invention’, RK is used to seeing in Traditional period kelim.
Remember Archaic period kelim are proscribed with convention, not made up with invention; Classic period examples prescribed based on those convention.
In Traditional period kelim is where ‘invention’, and that loss of prescription often ran rampant, as weavers were set free from the confine of strong proscribed/prescribed cultural and social traditions.
Therer is no doubt this was the case and like all historical change it did not happen in a linear fashion thoughout all of Anatolia -- some areas this happened sooner and in others later.
Please remember our continuum and periods are not attached to calendar dating; rather they are units divorced from time, useful only as relative measure, not as absolutes.
Also remember adjectives like ‘wonderful’, ‘the best’, ‘the greatest’, the ‘most important’, the ‘earliest’, are just words -- and truly meaningless words when not backed-up, supported and documented by facts, or at least logical argument referencing fact.
So as an aside, let RK make it clear: A clown like bischoff has lots of company in rugDUMB, and one of the main reasons RK is expending this extensive effort to examine Anatolian kelim is to differentiate our positions, our ideas, our research and work from morons, idiots and big-mouthed yappers like michael bischoff, et.al.
End of Part XIII
Plate 5; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
So far RK has avoided discussing color, which is a significant facet of archetype Anatolian kelim and their identification.
However, since this examination is a virtual one, and it is impossible to guarantee accurate color reproduction in any medium other than in-person viewing, we have avoided the pitfalls of trying to explain this issue.
RK can, nevertheless, assure all readers the tone and vibrancy of the colors in Archaic period Anatolian kelim are different than those in the later periods.
Some early Classic period example can come close, but even they lack the unique tonalities archetype kelim display.
These subtle and nuanced difference are not hard to ascertain when shown next to later pieces and seen by properly trained and sensitive eyes.
One of the reasons RK founded the Weaving Art Museum as a non-profit public charity organization was to guarantee tax-exemption for donations from any source, and to then direct those donations to forensic scientists, who would work with us to intensively study the minute differences of wool and dyeing procedures that created those colors.
So far, we have not received one penny and until we have outside funding we will not begin this project.
It is truly sad and regrettable a sizeable amount of money was spent, and wasted in our opinion, on c14 kelim ‘dating’.
RK has studied c14 dating and we have often expressed our view, which in a nut-shell states c14 is a very worthwhile procedure but not for carpets and kelim that have been contaminated through use.
Frankly, we think jurg rageth, who authored the Anatolian Kilims & Radiocrabon Dating book is nothing but a functioning illiterate, and the findings as expressed in the book are worthless.
RK can shoot holes big enough to fly B57’s through, both in georges bonani’s ‘science’ and ragth’s dopey opinion and conclusions.
Intensive dye and wool testing, not c14, will provide truly useful information, but building the data base necessary will take a long time and that work, as compared to the easily secured ‘benediction’ a bogus c14 date gives, is one of the reasons RK’s idea has not met with financial support.
Regardless of our inability to scientifically prove Archaic period Anatolian kelim are ‘ different’ than ones from later periods, RK can by art historical comparison prove our theory and ideas.
That’s what this examination is all about – presenting a new paradigm that demonstrates why the small group of 11 archetype kelim are unique as compared to others of their type and their template.
The main icon on the kelim above is a birth-symbol, actually a tower of them when it is viewed vertically.
The birth-symbol is an icon found in non-urban cultures worldwide, a ubiquitous abstract design found in the small-scale societies of the Near East, the Far East, Oceania, and the Americas.
The earliest representation of this icon were discovered by James Mellaart, during his excavations at Catal Huyuk:
“Plaster relief of pregnant goddess from the east wall of shrine VII.23, richly painted in red, orange and black on a white ground. The hands and feet were deliberately demolished when the building was filled in, probably to rob the figure of its magic potency, a practise common at Catal Huyuk. The goddess was richly dressed and the painting continues on the wall behind, as if she were holding an enveloping garment around her, the prototype of the later Near Eastern goddesses who show themselves to their worshippers.; page 76, Catal Huyuk – A Neolithic Town in Anatolia, James Mellaart
“relief of a goddess, with defaced head, in shrine VII.31; page 46, Catal Huyuk – A Neolithic Town in Anatolia, James Mellaart
These plaster wall-relief date from circa 6,300BC and, while the earliest, there are numerous others dating well into the 20th century.
This archetype kelim, as we will demonstrate, is the template for the many, many extant copies; in fact, it is perhaps the most copied of any.
We will illustrate a number of these others but first we need to prove why this one is l'una (the one).
RK doesn’t think we need to include a schematic drawing to show the ‘goddess’ --her head, her pregnant mid-section, and her vagina -- these anatomical areas are pretty easily seen, right?
Her hooked arms and legs complete the picture; a highly articulated birth-symbol, just like the color picture from Catal Huyuk.
There are various ‘look-like’ similarities between archaeological objects and Anatolian kelim but the two RK has presented, the indented-shape effigy and this one, are not ‘look-likes’ they are beyond that shadow of a doubt we have mentioned, one that is good enough in a court of law.
Notice the three different icon she comports; one in her head, one in her belly, and one between her legs.
This is no accident, the weavers of Archaic period kelim were not guessing, or fooling around – they knew what they were doing.
Remember proscription prevented them from doing anything other than what was culturally ‘approved’ and dictated.
RK has no doubt this kelim’s tower of birth-symbol had important connotation, and the yellow one, the one we illustrate, is the iconic image -- the others a type of repetition of her spiritual energy.
Here is the last one from the other, the left, side.
Notice the differences and how the yellow one we illustrate is the key, its position signaling its import.
RK doesn’t like to hypothesize kelim ‘myth’ or meaning of icon, we are quite content to recognize them and to be able to make others see them as well.
The fact the ancillary icon are different in each version on the tower is significant, the reason and meaning for these changes are lost, their differences however are there for all to see.
When this kelim is carefully examined the lyrical progression of iconographic change becomes apparent, as does the lack of them in the other examples we will illustrate or any others we have seen.
The birth-symbol is not the only icon this kelim displays, let’s look at the others.
Before we do, this might be an opportune time to briefly mention: The four white field Archaic period kelim are all ‘halves’, not one having what presumably was the other half, or even a trace of it.
The obvious questions this raises: Were there ever two halves and why does not one second half exist?
We have no answer, just like we have no answer for: If there were other halves, which we believe there were, how were they put together?
This might seem a non sequitur
but it is not nearly as obvious a question.
When we illustrated the indented-shape icon from the sarcophagus of Mehmed I, the remarkable similarity to Plate 1 (Image Idol Symbol) implies were there another half they would have been put together not as all the later copies, with the indented-shape forming medallion, but rather with the ‘red border’ as the center and the effigy on the outside.
This makes sense considering the indented-shape effigy was a living-icon, as the sarcophagus clearly shows, and having them on the outside would likewise demonstrate this..
Also if RK’s supposition these Archaic period white field kelim were used to display the body before internment, the indented-shape effigy would have been on each side of the body, and not under it.
The same logic could be applied to this kelim as well -- the two half put together making the purple border a double-wide center with birth-symbol on either side.
This speculation aside, let’s identify the other icon this kelim possesses.
Frankly, it is pregnant with icon, more so than any of the other archetype example.
There are large, double-wide, red vulture between the eight jagged-peaks above the twelve birth-symbol.
Again, it is hard to resist spinning the myth this kelim is a birth/death dichotomy, and we’d better leave it at that.
The white border, on the right side, has as an archaic a rendition of an icon, which in later kelim has been cut it in half to produce this commonly seen motif.
Detail, kelim illustrated in Part XIII
In the archetype it is very different, displaying another lyric progression that reads as birth-symbol when the hooked ends of the three complex icon are seen as figure and not ground.
This border’s three complex icon actually are archaic, far more developed, ‘kotchak’ familiar from the borders of many Turkmen pile weaving.
The inner pair of red ground border have that ‘important’ icon we mentioned in Part XIII.
Detail; top border Beysehir kelim showing two permutation of that important icon; a blue one in the partially visible doll on the left, and a brown one to its right in the white space between the red doll and blue one next to it
RK will discuss this icon, and its various form, in a subsequent part of our Anatolian kelim examination, perhaps not until the conclusion as once again we do not like to myth-spin and discussing it demands such.
The birth-symbol kelim’s outer border, on the right side, can also be read two ways; five green birth symbol on a purple ground, or the archaic form of the bracket emblem, four complete and two half ones mentioned in Part VIIIA, on a green ground.
above: left, archaic version of the bracket icon flanked by two birth-symbol; right, a late and accreted version
Figure-ground drawing is not unique to archetype example, however, in later copies it is never as crisply delineated and the reciprocals are not icon but rather meaningless motif or misunderstood and misplaced version of icon.
The outer border, on the other side, has a smaller version of the vulture and what Petsopolous called the ‘hand’ or ‘bird’ emblem shown on a kelim from his 100 Kilims book illustrated in Part XII.
In the next installment, Part XIVA, a number of birth symbol kelim will be illustrated with commentary.
End Part XIV
As discussed in Part XIV, this archetype has a number of icon imbedded in its design and this set of icon is reproduced, to a greater or lesser degree, in every other Anatolian kelim of its type depending on the period of its production.
This is not phenomena; all other archetype, and their copies, demonstrate this same circumstance, which RK has referred to as prescription.
To re-cap for any new readers: This examination of Anatolian kelim forwards three basic premise:
1.There is a small group of extant Anatolian kelim, numbering 11 examples, produced during the Archaic period.
2.These archetype present a specific set of icon, or rarely a single icon, and as such are template for the later examples of their type.
3.All example of each archetype group can be placed on a continuum of relative date based on art historical comparison to the archetype.
The previous parts have presented documentary evidence and proof of these premise, and will continue by comparing a number of similar birth-symbol kelim to the archetype above.
Perhaps the best of those, and we chose the earliest and most faithful to the archetype we could, is this one:
late Classic period; 100 Kilims; Plate 95
While couple others we will soon illustrate are more visually similar to the archetype, this kelim has spirit -- a spiritual connection-- and presents an animated, living version of the archetype.
The birth-symbol have depth and character, qualities most other examples lack, or fail to properly articulate.
The large, somewhat over-powering top and bottom borders would have been a detriment had the weaver placed more birth-symbol icon in the field; but she didn’t, and that ‘knowing’ impresses RK, as well as makes her kelim into something exceptional.
The fact it is woven in one piece has little to do with anything, or it’s dating.
It is the balance, perfectly worked out proportions, expert color combination and blending that also make this piece.
Notice the prescribed treatment the two red ground outer side borders exhibit – here we see the birth symbol and reciprocal bracket rendered as on the archetype.
As you can see the reciprocal figure/ground relationship doesn’t have the crisp clarity of the archetype, but it is there and it’s no accident, proving this kelim’s weaver was privy to the archetype set of icon.
The plain striped filler between the borders on the archetype also found their way into this kelim as well.
These similarities are well worth noting, as the time/space separation from the original clearly limited the chance the complete set of icon would be reproduced.
Another notable aspect is the blank, motif-less, centers each of the eight birth-symbol have, which RK interprets as a memorial of the blank space between the fourth and fifth birth-symbol in the archetype.
The next of the group is also a late Classic period kelim, in fact we know of no example of this group that date earlier.
early Traditional period; Anatolian Kelim Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Plate 58
Ostensibly this example follows the archetype’s ‘form’ far more visually than the first one we illustrated.
But the plethora of misplaced emblem, the loss of any regard for the archetypal set of icon --save the birth symbol itself, the vaguely similar reproduction of the vulture/hand/bird side border and plain stripes -- relegate this piece farther down, the continuum, or as kelim art.
Notice the similarity of the top and bottom border, and the large dolls in the single decorated side border to Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol.
These are icon from the archetype set and here, as is often to case in later weaving, they have become ‘combined’ into and with another archetype icon set.
There is no mistaking this is prescription, as the tiny ‘dots’ above and below each of the dolls have been directly lifted from Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol proving this connection beyond chance, even in a climate of decline.
The decline the prescribed nature the culture of Anatolian kelim weaving suffered is responsible for this, and the many other instances RK can cite.
Remember there are no accident or chance occurrence when criteria like this are present, nor are there when none are.
This might be rule number 1 in studying Anatolian kelim.
The fact this kelim combined icon set from two archetype signify it is later than the first one we illustrated, as well as providing proof on a literal plane for the far more spiritual quotient that example possesses.
Next on the continuum would be these two kelim, neither is appreciably closer to the archetype, so we will list them together in no order.
early Traditional period; Anatolian Kelim Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Plate 37
Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating; Plate 41
The deYoung Museum kelim is typical for the better pieces made in the Traditional period, still expressing the main archetypal icon with fidelity; notice the proportions are far closer to it than the other two we just illustrated.
However, that’s all this kelim has going for it, as in every other respect it is way down on the continuum.
The side border’s exhibit some degree of prescription but the figure/ground relationship is not well reproduced and the addition here of that important icon RK has mentioned is quite out of place.
The unitary repetition of an emblem like it in the centers, as well as between the eight birth-symbol (notice this number repeats the archetype) and in the upper border can be ascribed to the weaver’s displacement from the archetype, another sign of Traditional period work.
This kelim is undoubtedly a half; the lower border a quite degenerate version of the one on Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol.
It is interesting to read the tongue-twister big-word-say-next to nothing text description in the catalog.
It begins “The muted colors of this great kilim create subtle harmonies that soften the dramatic impact of the stacked hooked hexagons.” and goes straight down hill from there.
We are going to illustrate a couple of the others, but before we do let’s quote a bit more from the description for this one.
“Here, however, the use of the ground color for the interior of each motif throws the hooks into strong positive relief; this, in turn, allows us to view the design on the horizontal axis and thus we can see a classic Neolithic image – a goddess with arms raised.”
This nonsense is typical of the ‘goddess-fever’ Garry Muse and other kelim dealers and collectors were infected with circa 1990.
There is no doubt some of the iconography of the Anatolian neolithic period can be glimpsed in certain kelim, but the fact this kelim’s birth-symbol is an ageless universal motif was lost on Muse and others, whose limited understanding of the idiom prevented their assessing what is neolithic and what is nonsense.
One more quote:
“Highly schematic figures, twinned chromatically, appear in the minor end panels. This double image occurs in two gold twin idols from the Bronze Age, one of which is in the Museum of Civilisations in Ankara. The side border is unusal and has an archaic feel to it; colors reverse sequentially between pairs of rectangles and their interior motifs, adding dynamism to a very simple design.”
Those minor end panels do have the important icon, and its reciprocal, but this iconography has absolutely nothing to do with the referenced gold “twin idol”.
“The Museum’s description: Twin idols; height : 4 cm; found in the royal tombs in Alacahöyük; 2300-2000 BC; product of Hattian art; Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey” ,
By the way Muse’s text does not illustrate these idol, perhaps had it he might have realized his erroneous citation.
This is another example of goddess-itis and the silly references not only Muse was prone to make.
This kelim does have a genuine quality but because it is so late that genuineness is its strongest, and only, virtue.
The one illustrated above, along with it, exhibits many of the same deficiencies but it too has some of the icon set of archetype.
Again, this can be detected in the side borders where the reciprocal birth-symbol is missing the bracket; the birth-symbol have been twisted 90 degrees changing the reciprocal between them into something different that appears to us to be a type of hexagonal ‘star’.
The plain stripe borders are included, but the “S” icon, in a post-archaic period interlocking form, has now been introduced into the mix of iconography this kelim presents.
The addition of this foreign, ie from another archetype, icon is again typical of Traditional period work.
Again the same prescribed number of birth-symbol, eight, are shown here, well demonstrating the staying power these archetype icon set possessed.
The red and white upper and lower simple reciprocal border apes Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol, and the single emblem in the field, above and below some of the birth-symbol, have been lifted from an extremely early Classic period kelim we illustrated in Part IV.
Border detail; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim; Plate 8
While we’re identifying sources, the interlocking “S” border has been taken from a Classic period striped kelim illustrated in Part VIIIA.
Border detail; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim; Plate 9
One last comment: Notice the small, almost unrecognizable, vulture icon that have been reduced to just an ‘H’.
They can be seen in the lower half to the left of the first blue birth-symbol on the left, and to the right of the last blue one; as well as to the right of the last blue on the upper half, and 9 others scatted about, four on the top half and five on the bottom.
Lifting and reproducing icon from other archetype, as we see here, is a hallmark of kelim made in the later Classic, and throughout all of the Traditional period.
These two kelim, both from the deYoung Museum collection, would follow on our continuum.
Again they are listed in no order as they both are Traditional period.
Traditional period; Anatolian Kelim Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Plate 38
Traditional period; Anatolian Kelim Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Plate 35
RK really doesn’t have much to say about pieces of this ilk.
They interest us not, as there are no interesting features and their time/space separation from the archetype has lessened the prescriptive nature of the weaving culture that produced them.
One could say they are distant cousins far removed from the family tree.
What does interest us, solely mind you for the confines of this discussion, is the catalog text for Plate 35.
RK has again added our comments in bold type.
“This is another incredible kilim that makes word seem inadequate.
Well, if you have nothing to say then, RK imagines, one might be speechless when confronted with a kelim like this.
“It demonstrates a profound understanding of color and form, its grandeur deriving in part from its size and the scale and proportions of its motif.”
Actually there is nothing profound about this kelim, or Muse’s comments.
Far from it, as the “understanding” he mentions, in RK’s opinion, only represents Muse’s inability to understand it.
The juxtaposition of the five primary colors-- blue, red, yellow, green and white – on the area where the birth-symbol sit is nothing we find to be profound, though it is highly attractive.
If this shifting field color is studied, even cursorily, there is a pattern the weaver followed.
Had she replaced the two red ‘column’ between the three rows of birth-symbol, and other the two at both sides, with similar shifting color changes for the red diamonds that form those column, her kelim might really have been profound.
Leaving them red creates a certain static drag, and prevents this color shifting from visually taking off.
“There appears to be a deep awareness of ancient imagery, which is expressed with uncompromising power on many levels, extending to its coarse weave and thick warps and wefts.”
The author’s mentioning a “deep awareness of ancient imagery” is laughable, so is seeing this rendition as very ‘ancient’.
The coarse weave, thick warp and weft, are also signs this kelim is not historic but rather a later work by a weaver working with coarse materials to hasten the process, and not to, and this is equally as laughable, “express uncompromising power.”
“The disposition of color is deliberate and assists in the creation of the images.”
On the surface this statement is patently obvious, and doesn’t really need mention.
However, considering the “disposition of color is deliberate” in every kelim, one might wonder where the author is going here.
Make no mistake Muse is going nowhere, as the “disposition of color” in this kelim doesn’t create the images.
Far from it; it clearly obfuscates identifying them, not to mention those images are well known from the countless other kelim, they surely are not originated here.
This is an example of big word-it is and losing sight of what really needs to be said, as well as demonstrating Muse and Bennett actually don’t know what they are talking about.
“Each of the four-hooked hexagons arranged in three vertical columns, holds the so-called birth-symbol in its center on a separate ground color”.
The authors are lost because the birth-symbols are formed in-between those colored centers with the red diamond columns between the two parts of the birth-symbol, not inside them.
Though Muse does get it right in the next sentence, doing so negates what he just wrote, only adding confusion on top of error.
“This symbolic motif links the major elements on the vertical axis. The thin line connecting the negative motifs across the red field creates another level of images interdependent on the first. This multi-dimensional aspect of the design is a feature of early kilims.
Honestly, this is hog-wash because a clearly articulated iconography is a “feature of early kilim”, not a “multi-dimensional aspect” created by clever, or less than clever, color juxtaposition.
“Kilims with rows of four-hooked hexagon constitute a distinct design type of which this and the following six are examples.”
True, true, they are Mr Muse but according to our analysis the six are, like this kelim, all later renditions where the icon set has been lost, and their frequent combination of alien icon in the mix has done nothing to facilitate their understanding.
As an aside, Muse once told us this kelim was the most expensive one he ever bought, so perhaps that’s why he is gushing about it.
One last comment: Notice the border on the right side. This is a very late version, a combination, if you like, of the interlocking “S” border and a highly degenerated vulture or “hand/bird” as Petsopolous called it.
This next kelim, also from the deYoung Museum collection, is far more worth words of praise, as it is not contrived as RK finds the piece we just finished discussing.
Traditional period; Anatolian Kelim Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Plate 41
Here is a weaver who produced a weaving with far more understanding of the archetype and, at the same time, created an exciting interplay of color and form.
The balance and proportions are typical for the Traditional period; the birth-symbol slightly too large for the field space, same for the brown ground main border and its ungainly motif invention, each one containing the reciprocal of that important icon RK has mentioned in its center.
But these faults are, when the whole is considered, not terribly detrimental or unattractive, and in the final analysis this kelim is one RK would rather look at than the heralded previous example.
The inclusion of the tooth-comb brown and white border, far more than any other aspect, ameliorates the errors of proportion, and along with excellent color, color choice, and use, this is an very admirable later weaving.
The only remnants of the archetype icon set, besides the birth-symbol, are the plain stripe side borders and the sole inclusion of the important icon in the centers of the birth-symbol.
For RK these are normal examples of later prescription, emphasizing the weaver was culturally connected, and not just tangentially as we would remark was the case for the weaver of the kelim above.
The next is an example of tangential association to the archetype and the specific weaving culture that produced it.
late Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating; Plate 23
This kelim is one of the very few examples of the birth-symbol group where the peaked-gable, or mirhab/niche, icon is present.
Note: It is a fragment and RK would venture to guess originally there were, just like in the archetype, eight of those peaked-gable.
But the migration of the birth-symbol, the major icon of the set, to the border(s) places this kelim far down on the continuum.
The repetition of the important icon in the center of those somewhat misunderstood birth-symbol, and the gable, demonstrate how effective and indelible prescription was, this kelim being well separated and distant in space and time from the archetype.
That is clear, however, there are other connection with that archetype, like the use of purple for the space under, not above, the gable and the thin plain stripe borders visible on the right side.
These, once again, are prescription at work and prove the continuity of ancient weaving culture among certain specific Anatolian clan and larger groups of clan.
This situation was proven by the excellent fieldwork Belkis Balpinar has done in Anatolia, her contribution to the Vakiflar kelim book introducing this proof and her text for the Goddess of Anatolia further expanding it.
What Balpinar has written should be required reading for anyone interested in Anatolian kelim, and RK highly recommends it.
The final true birth-symbol kelim is what we’d call the end of the line.
late Transitional period; 100 Kilims; plate 94
Once more the icon set of the birth-symbol, the border's reciprocal pseudo-birth symbol and plain stripe borders are present.
This is additional proof of prescription by an eternal and protected weaving culture certain Anatolians were privy to and lived.
There are two other birth-symbol type kelim groups we should mention.
RK would really call them both pseudo-birth-symbol or spin-offs as will be readily apparent from these illustration.
Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating; Plate 32
The repeated, almost entirely disguised and hidden birth-symbol is shown in the detail; the birth-symbol in the detail being the reciprocal white figure read on the half red and half blue ground.
And while this alone would not be enough for RK to include this kelim in this listing, notice the larger of the two border on the right side.
What appears, in full clear view, is the reciprocal birth-symbol and bracket rendered exactly like the archetype.
We have not mentioned this in connection with prescription but, like other cultural aspect, it did not move in a linear fashion, and the hidden birth-symbol, along with the reciprocal border, this late Traditional weaving exhibits is perfect example of this process.
It’s unfortunate the other side borders are not extant, as they might provide further evidence of this kelim’s close spiritual connection to the archetype, regardless it is clearly quite distant in actual time and space.
The inclusion of important icon, alone with no others, in the center of each of the border’s large birth-symbol is another clue to this connection; same with the lack of filler motif.
The second related group has already made an appearance in Part XIII.
Early Traditional period; The Goddess from Anatolia; volume 1; Plate XI, no.7
early Traditional period; Radiocarbon Dating & Anatolian Kelim; Plate 33
We add a third example.
former private collection, California USA
This group has birth-symbol secreted between the armed hexagon but notice there are no other element of the archetype icon set present in two of them; and only one, the important icon used here in a minor role, appears in the Goddess from Anatolia example.
What is equally remarkable is the absence, in either of the two, of any archetypal icon from the birth-symbol set, or any other.
The Goddess from Anatolia example does have a recognizable rendition of the dolls from Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol, dots and all, in its outer side border.
We believe this is no accident, and although RK cannot possibly conceive why this group was produced.
We can only presuppose these three kelim were woven at roughly the same time by the same weaver, or by a very small clan of weaver, who may not even have be cognizant of the history the hidden birth-symbol carried.
End Part XIV.A
Plate 57; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Which is the archetype?
It might look like a toss-up between the kelim above and this one:
Classic period; 100 Kilims; Plate 42
When Petsopolous’s second kelim book came out and RK saw it for the first time we had to think long and hard about which one of these kelim was the archetype.
We had, til then, not seen two such close candidate for archaic period dating, and it took quite some time, and thought, to decide the deYoung example was the archetype and the Petsopolous kelim the somewhat later copy.
The icon represents, RK believes, an early wild species of wheat, known as einkorn or emmer.
“Evidence from DNA finger-printing suggests einkorn was domesticated near Karacadag in southeast Turkey, an area in which a number of PPNB(pre-pottery Neolithic B) farming villages have been found.”
This correlation between the archetype kelim, with a unitary icon that appears to be quite visually similar to einkorn, and an area in Anatolia that in the Neolithic was an early place for its domestication lends credence to RK’s suggestion.
The archetype, unlike the other example of the type, has what we see as an earlier style, the unitary icon floating on a field of wide bands of color – emphasizing it and not the way it is depicted.
This is a nuance we feel is another hallmark of the Archaic period weaving – simple but elegant iconography with no frills or clever design ‘tricks’.
Notice each of the remaining two larger central emblem are different from the four smaller one surrounding it in the Petsopolous example – they have a narrow white horizontal line, or bar, extending toward the selvedge.
This small addition is the lynch-pin signifying to us it is the copy and the deYoung kelim the original, as this ‘trick’ is an unnecessary addition. Think about it…
There are others, particularly the way the icon is represented inside itself, as well as the showing icon in a two-one-two formula in each of the large bands.
Also, the individual tones of color in the deYoung kelim and their combination have that special subtle grace and balance all archaic period weaving display.
The Petsopolous keilm is a great one, the best in the book; its colors and their balance and combination admirable and wonderful but it just doesn’t reach the level of sublimity the other achieves, and does so with out yelling about it, or forcing the issue.
This is another hidden but perceptible hallmark of archetype kelim; and one easily seen in person by eyes trained to see.
Archaic period kelim at first appear to be understatement but when further explored and examined become tour de force.
RK has handled and seen the deYoung kelim many times, both before it was bought by Caroline and MCCoy Jones and after it entered the Museum.
In fact in March of 2009 we visited the deYoung and having previously arranged to see several of their archetypes, including this one, we saw it once again.
It is a great, completely under-rated piece of the collection, one RK has always, since we first saw it in the mid-1980’s, held in immense respect and appreciation.
The catalog description is worth quoting here to demonstrate how misunderstood this masterpiece archetype was by Muse:
“These elemental forms, as well as those effortlessly created in the negative space, reflect the quality of the original imagery most clearly. I find this kilim’s simplicity and great purity of color exalting. This is one of the few great examples of its deswign type to have survived.”
Had such superlatives not been hackneyed in almost every text description one might get the idea Muse thought it to be something quite special.
However, this is not the case and for him to so backhandedly state it is “one of the few great examples of its design type to have survived” it absurd on the surface and borders on insult for someone like RK who knows Muse and this kelim for so many decade.
It is the greatest of its design type, bar none.
The 100 kilim example is an outstanding one, as well, but when compared to the deYoung’s it isn’t even in the same ball-park, not by a long shot.
Another respectably old and superior example of this, not so rare, type is illustrated in rageth’s book.
early Traditional period; Radiocarbon Dating & Anatolian Kilims; Plate 39
It is, however, nowhere near the other two in any respect.
Perhaps the most obvious clue is the codification of the icon; the former free floating icon has now been turned into a dead, static, motif-- each one neatly placed in a box.
First an icon, then an amulet/emblem, then a motif – this is a process well demonstrated in kelim and many other near eastern weaving.
The title of our book Image Idol Symbol could have also been Icon, Amulet Motif – we trust readers get it now?
This might be difficult for many readers to appreciate, the codification process, but RK is positive after some serious reflection our point will become reality.
We could easily flesh out more proof why the two others are copies but we are not interested in spoon-feeding our ideas; go do some work comparing these three kelim and in that process you will begin understand the mechanics a trilogy like this demonstrates.
A last word: Notice Plate 39’s inclusion of the very late rendition of the interlocking “S” border – a sure sign this is not a Classic period weaving but rather an excellent early Traditional one.
The stage is now set for the introduction of the next iteration of the archetype as these two examples illustrate.
Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims Fine Art Museums San Francisco; Plate 56
Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 75
No longer is the icon anything but a motif, even its stature as amulet/emblem has been lost; the cohesive prescription apparent in the two post Archaic period kelim above has become only a vague memory, almost an after-thought in our estimation.
Again we could easily flesh this statement to the max but would prefer leaving it for our more astute and interested readers to accomplish on their own.
The numbers are here, go do the math.
The next five we illustrate are the last of the mohican, the end of the line for the continuum the deYoung archetype set in motion.
late Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 49
late Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 48
late, late Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 14
late, late, late Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 13
later than late Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 5
Once again the four main periods RK divides all kelim into are: Archaic, Classic, Traditional and Industrial.
The Industrial have chemical dyes and because none of the kelim above have synthetics we, rather tongue in cheek, added more late’s to each on to signify their lower position on our continuum.
Additionally, there are two related group of the type we feel it necessary to mention.
Here is the first.
Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 55
This Traditional period kelim still has prescription; however, as is often the case in later works, prescription drawn from several different archetype group that resulted in a pastiche or combination kelim.
The main motif is a spin-off from birth-symbol bracket, which is part of the birth-symbol archetype set we discussed.
In the border this prescribed emblem, the figure/ground birth-symbol bracket from the icon set, is far more accurately rendered.
This kelim has some spirit, far more than the two related ones below.
late Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 21
late Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe, The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 78
Again for interested readers we have illustrated these pieces in the descending order our chronology would show.
We will leave it to you to do the math and in doing so we are sure you will add to your knowledge and ‘kelim’eye’.
The last kelim is one of a type that is somewhat well represented in kelim collections.
This is neither the earliest, the most beautiful, or the most interesting; we chose it because it encompasses many of the features the others far more succinctly demonstrate.
early Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 21
Some, like this one, have what we call a ‘split’ motif, other do not have this aberration.
Frankly, we prefer it to the solid version, as it adds some depth to a highly degenerated version of the icon we have discussed in this part.
It’s a long way down from the archetype to the multitude of later, and even far later, example of this type in the published literature; and we trust now the iconic wheat kernal on the archetype kelim of the group from the deYoung museum collection, we have identified and discussed, can be properly viewed along with that archetype and the large continuum of other examples it heads and established.
End of Part XV
Plate 27; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Basically there are two types of Archaic period Anatolian kelim – ones with several main icon we call narrative, and others with only one main icon we call unitary.
The birth-symbol archetype is an example of a narrative kelim and the one above of a unitary.
RK knows of no other analogous example to it; perhaps, someday one will show up but quite frankly we doubt it will.
This unitary icon, one we have called the “S” icon, is frequently seen as a minor or ancillary device in many later kelim, and once identified it is surprising how many instances of its use can be substantiated.
Below are some, mostly presented in chronological order as they would appear on the continuum.
A great multitude of others exist in the published literature; these we have chosen demonstrate the importance weavers of all period paid to this icon, which being unitary has no set with it – the icon itself being the set.
Some, like the one below, have already been illustrated in earlier parts of this examination and their appearing twice or more has no connotation other than the fact our webmaster is overworked enough.
Classic period; deYoung Museum Collection; Plate 6; illustrated in part VIII.A
The key piece of evidence here is the vertical extension the “S” icon displays; this being another example of prescribed repetition: The Classic period example, above, compared with the archetype below.
This is not accident or chance.
It demonstrates the cohesive nature of the weaving environment that produced early Anatolian kelim.
Here is a later kelim with the same unique representation, or tag, linking it directly to the archetype.
early Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe: The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 34
There are, in RK’s opinion, a number of generation between this kelim and the Classic period example from the deYoung Museum and, in turn, more between it and the archetype.
How many? RK would not like to say for the record, however, off the cuff we would say at least three between this and the deYoung, and perhaps twice or three times as many between the deYoung’s and the archetype.
There is no doubt in our mind Archaic period kelim were woven many hundreds of years before the present.
A small but highly noticeable tag, like the one here, proves how protected the iconography on Anatolian kelim was, how important that iconography was to the small scale societies who produced these kelim, and how important it was for them to reproduce that iconography exactly.
Weaving a complex patterned kelim prior to the mid-late Traditional period must have been a large undertaking and we believe the necessary ‘technology’ was not extant in many area of Anatolia.
This is a central fact overlooked by most authors and one RK wants to make clear to the readers of this series.
The collection of wool, its cleaning, carding, spinning and plying was the first step.
The dyeing many times more time consuming; the level of expertise required, from the collection of the dyestuff, to the preparation of the wool for dyeing, the dyeing process itself, and then the mordanting or fixing of the dye onto the wool even more time consuming and demanding an incredibly greater level of training, experience and expertise.
The knowledge of the exact iconography was, perhaps, the greatest and most secretive part of the process.
Remember we are speaking of the earliest pieces, not of the later periods of weaving when the former icon became emblem/amulet and then eventually common, meaning-less, motif.
That’s not a typo, just RK’s way of saying the motif still had meaning, presumably both to the weaver and to the group, but that meaning was not nearly as significant as the icon and then amulet had been to their generations.
In the conclusions of this examination we will discuss this again but for now let’s finish demonstrating the tremendous longevity and power an archaic icon like the “S” possessed.
late Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe: The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 50
This kelim is a late piece, everything about it demonstrates it is far down on the continuum, however, the retention of the tag the “S” icon exhibits is remarkable.
Again this is no accident or chance occurrence, rest assured, the weaver knew, and the culture she lived and worked within taught her otherwise it would not be present.
It is interesting to note the white ground stripes, though half as wide as those they bracket, are the most prominent element.
In our opinion because the icon they display was the most dominant and, yes, potent element the weaver knew needed to reproduced and accentuated.
RK could easily believe the separation in time and space between this kelim and Plate 34 is as great as between the archetype and Plate 6.
And between Plate 50 and the archetype many hundreds of years and many hundreds of miles.
This is almost unbelievable, not the time/space separation, but the maintenance of cohesive prescription through time and space.
As we wrote when we quoted James Mellaart in certain area of Anatolia incredibly long periods of cultural retention were normal and commonplace.
RK has no doubt somewhere even today, in Anatolia, a weaver is faithfully reproducing the “S” icon and its archaic tag.
RK also wrote the retention of cultural trait did not happen in a linear fashion, as the next illustrations will prove.
Classic period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe: The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 18
Notice the “S” icon lacks its archaic tag, those vertical extension are gone.
Now this is a seriously old kelim; RK handled it in 1980 when we visit the Sultan Ahmet Museum, in fact this picture is one we took out in the courtyard as the photos were being made for the Vakiflar kelim book.
So you might ask what happened to the tag?
The answer to this question is imbedded in the difference between proscription and prescription.
In the Classic and subsequent periods there is no proscription, seemingly this must have existed only during the Archaic period; therefore all post-Archaic period kelim have, and express, some degree of modification from their archetype.
This kelim is a perfect example, the slight but significant change the “S” icon has undergone attributable to this process.
Plate 18 is a key weaving, it presents a pastiche, a combination of elements from several archetype icon set used as model for many later generation of copy.
The gabled niche in each of the three large panel taken from the birth-symbol archetype along with the narrow solid color stripes flanking each panel; the paired rhomb in each of those panel from Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol; the barely visible upper and lower border also from Plate 1; and the flip-flopped ‘winged-arrow’ motif, in each of the wide stripe flanking the three gabled niche panels, a spin-off of the archetype icon discussed in Part XV.
This is, once more, prescription at work.
Another example is the appearance of another “S” icon hidden between every two of the ‘winged arrow’ motif.
These “S” icon are white and can be seen when they, and not the ‘winged-arrow’ motif, are viewed as the figure and not the ground.
Lastly, and RK knows this is highly interpretative, the skeletal cross-like motif flanking the green and yellow niches, and only the left side of the blue one, are remnant of the archetype “S” icon with its vertical extension we called the tag.
If you draw the original icon in a rectangle and then look at the reciprocal it forms this motif is generated.
Prescription and the process of design transference sometimes focused on the ground discarding the figure, as appears to be the case here.
Why? This is a tough question to even guess at but here goes: To protect the sanctity of the icon -- to hide it under a layer of design capable of being deciphered by those who know, but missed by those who don’t.
Remember, prescription is not linear and while this kelim is not less a pastiche than Plate 6 deYoung Museum Collection it is significantly later, that separation of time and space perhaps the reason the tag was lost and a ‘new’ motif invented.
The next kelim is even father down on the continuum but it, too, retains a significant number of emblem from Plate 6 and surprisingly the archetype “S” icon tag.
late Traditional period; ; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe: The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 34
Comparing this kelim to others, the prescribed emblem set becomes obvious, this being yet other proof of RK’s three-part thesis.
Below is an end of line, or last of the mohican as we like to call kelim of this period.
late, late Traditional period; Flatweaves/Flachgewebe: The Vakiflar Museum; Plate 23
The changes to the prescribed emblem set are great, but not so great as to obfuscate identification.
The “S” icon, sans tag, is here but the gabled niche and all the other parts are gone, in their place motif that are no longer as significant or potent.
This is the end of the line; a circumstance each of the archetype can be shown to have suffered.
There is, in addition to those above, an important “S” icon spin-off we have mentioned but will discuss in a bit more detail.
Early Classic period; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 9
In our estimation these narrow emblem filled panel, rather than those with the gabled niche, are the earlier form and format.
So, too, is the smaller step-and-peaked double-sided emblem they frame, and not the similarly placed paired rhomb seen in Plate 18.
These point aside, it is the “S” icon with its tag that dates this piece into the Classic and the others the Traditional period.
This kelim has real presence, it vibrates with energy.
Compared to Plate 9, the Vakiflar’s Plate 18, while a champion in its own right, is too busy and accreted; these factors push it down on the continuum into the late Classic period, where some over-design and a lack of true elegance are more often than not the norm.
Also the high level of fluidity and the synchronicity the design elements in Plate 9 manifest can’t be matched by Plate 18. This is another sign of later Classic period weaving.
So to is the brilliant geometry the interlocking “S” border on Plate 9 displays. This border is one we have never seen equaled in any other kelim.
Note bene: The presence of a well delineated icon is not, in and of itself, a guaranteed sign of early work – not at all, as some of these example prove.
But when archetypal icon, along with other associated criteria are present, like in Plate 9, an early date is assured.
Here’s another kelim and a later version of the interlocking”S” border for comparison.
Traditional period; 100 Kilims; Plate 63
The obvious prescription the weaver of this kelim took from the one above is patently obvious, so is the missing genius of its conception and execution.
We have not handled the 100 Kilim example but we are 100 percent positive were the two hung side by side any viewer, even a not very experienced one, would be able to discern why we have dated them as we have.
The proportions on Plate 63 are imperfect, the later interlocking “S” border too large and the complex emblem in the panels to small.
Notice one very subtle but telling accretion Plate 63 exhibits: The ground color for each of those panel continues along the edges of each panel to the selvedge, while this does not occur in Plate 9’s panels.
It’s a very, very small difference but tiny errors in proportion or unnecessary design accretion, like that seen above, are the hallmark of a later weaving culture.
That difference, by the way, prevents Plate 63 from attaining the cleaner, crisper and far more distinct look Plate 9 has.
Details like this, or the others we have pointed out, were not missed by the weavers of the earliest extant masterpiece kelim and careful analysis of these weavings proves this beyond any shadow of doubt.
End Part XVI
Plate 28; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Collection Vakiflar Museum
Plate 58; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Each of these three archetype kelim is unique, there are no closely related analogous later copies. Not one.
There are not even ones that are similar, or any that can be considered as of the type.
So providing any continuum for them is impossible and speaking about their influence is, likewise, a fairly moot endeavor.
The last one, the vulture kelim, unlike the others, is an iconic paradigm; the icon, as we have demonstrated, is part of the set several other Archaic period weavings, like the birth-symbol, Plate 5, and Plate 4, both from the Image Idol Symbol publication.
The analogy drawn between the vulture and several wall-painting from Catal Huyuk is a very valid one.
Wall-painting; Catal Huyuk; shrine VII.8; copyright Arlette Mellaart
But the extension of this icon to Antaolian kelim is at best tenuous.
RK well realizes this but in light of any evidence to the contrary we are content with drawing the analogy.
Catal Huyuk is located in central Anatolia in what one might call kelim country, and the practice of excarnation, allowing bird and animal of prey to strip the flesh from the bodies of the dead, has been, since the neolitic period, a well-known tradition in these parts.
photo showing three excarnated human body from Catal Huyuk burials circa 6,500BC
RK’s idea, supported by some tantalizing fieldwork done by Belkis Balpinar, certain kelim were part of funeral ceremonies, plus the role the vulture played in excarnation, provides some documentation for supposing the last kelim above has three vultures as its iconography.
We are, however, far more secure in believing the indented-shape prehistoric goddess effigy figurines have provided the source for the icon found on Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim.
There is a living tradition for this icon demonstrating its longevity, whereas the vulture icon does not have a this documentary history.
One pertinent question is why there are no copies of any of these three kelim, and only several some of the other archetype, like Plates 1,2 and 3 Image Idol Symbol?
Perhaps, as we suggested earlier, these icon were so important to the kelim weaving groups they dared not reproduce them, except under certain special circumstance.
This idea, the prohibition for wanton reproduction of certain archetype kelim icon, is supported by the presence, on the first kelim we illustrate above, of two panel with vulture icon.
detail showing panel of vulture; Plate 28 deYoung Museum Collection
Plate 3 Image Idol Symbol has what is also probably the vulture icon and this same rational, concerning the extremely limited number of later copies, seems to apply to it as well.
Plate 3; Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim; vol.2, 1989
The middle kelim illustrated above, the one RK calls the compass, has no vulture or any other icon seen on any other archetype kelim.
In fact, the three quadri-directional medallions have no known analog in any Anatolian kelim of any period.
Why then was this one not copied?
We cannot answer that, nor can we even speculate other than surmising it was made be a weaving group that was incredibly insular and disappeared from Anatolia at a very early time preventing this icon’s dissemination and later reproduction.
The rhomb kelim, with the two vulture panel, does have one interesting and later distant cousin.
Classic period; 100 Kilims; Plate 42
We believe viewers see the similarity as well as the later vulture emblem neatly placed above and below the 7 step-peaked niche.
This is but one other proof of prescription and the potent living Anatolian kelim weaving tradition.
It is no coincidence, chance or accident the weaver placed the vulture icon on this kelim.
End Part XVII
early Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims deYoung Fine Arts Museum; Plate 30
This kelim is a virtual smorgasbord of emblem and an apt example for beginning our conclusion to RK’s Anatolian kelim examination.
Before discussing it in detail we would like to publicly answer a question we received by email the other day.
“What is the difference between icon, emblem and motif since their use in your kelim examination seems to be interchangeable.”
A careful reading of what we have written might not lead to the conclusion we have used these three words “interchangeably” but we will admit to having not explicitly defined them, although we did believe we have defined icon well enough to differentiate from the other two.
In our panoply, icon were generated only in the Archaic period; these icon then became, through various transference processes, emblem; and then motif.
We see icon as potent, mystical, powerful – special and highly regarded patterns of significance whose use was reserved, guarded and protected.
Icon are spiritual, they are not domestic – they are of the Gods, from the Gods; they belong to Gods.
Knowing who those Gods were is not important as the societies, and the weavers who produced the Anatolian kelim that are the subjects of this examination, were pre-literate; they have left no clue who they worshiped, when or why, so it is a moot concern.
For RK this issue is way beyond this examination or, for the matter, way beyond anyone in the 21st century’s possible understanding or knowledge.
Rest assured the makers of Anatolian kelim had Gods -- it would be against everything known about human history, and pre-history, to pre-suppose they were God-less.
Simply put icon were a first phase, and emblem a second.
When each archetype, and its icon set, is compared to the later editions it is obvious there were changes in the character and portrayal of the icon set.
This might be interpreted as the icon set moving from the spiritual world to one of the everyday, the mundane domestic world of existence.
The emblem, then, was an approachable symbol; one that, unlike the icon, could be used everyday by everybody.
The emblem could be a protective device, an amulet; or it could be a teaching tool of enculturation; we can postulate other roles but the idea here is of a symbol for something else – something that was formerly holy, unapproachable, and reserved for special occasion and use.
The motif, in this trilogy, was the third phase – something that has become somewhat common-place and displaced.
We have no proof of this thesis but the progression of these kelim from Archaic to Classic to Traditional period demonstrates enough change to imply validity.
The Traditional period kelim illustrated above might be considered a type of sampler of some of the most important emblem.
It is a unique kelim and one we could write extensively about.
We are sure many readers can recognize these emblem, and if you can’t might we suggest reviewing what we have written.
We have not illustrated it here to go over what we have already written, rather we want to discuss that important icon we have mentioned a number of times.
detail; Plate 30
This important icon, actually is one part of dualistic reciprocal – one we read as male and female.
important icon, male
important icon, female
When drawing, or weaving, a pair of either one the other appears between them.
This might be called an Anatolian ying-yang, but not really.
This interpretation and definition of the important icon is RK’s, we have never heard anyone else, prior to our publishing it in Image Idol Symbol in 1989, discuss it or forward such an idea.
It’s not brilliant; it is obvious. Both icon are composed of two triangle -- the male has a projection between the triangle, and the female an indentation.
This conforms with the anatomic difference of men and women and, of course, the sexual – the man enters and the woman is entered.
In the detail above the yellow ground stripe displays pairs of the important icon; the figure is the female, the ground the male.
This convention is not limited to its appearance in Plate 30, or even the Traditional period as the illustration below demonstrates.
detail showing important icon, female, between a pair of important icon, male; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 2
The longevity of this iconic convention, from the Archaic to the traditional periods and even to today, is no accident or coincidence; not by a long shot.
It proves the potency and incredible import certain cultural elements maintained in Anatolia among certain villages and clan.
The next kelim for discussion is one we have known since the mid-1980’s when it was first shown to us by udo hirsch, in whose collection it remained until, we presume, it was sold to the present owners Marshall and Marilyn Wolf of New York.
early Traditional period
This picture was taken by RK at the kelim exhibition held in concert with the Anatolian Kelim Symposium outside Basel, Switzerland in 1990.
At the request of the symposium’s organizer RK helped organize the event, we arranged for James Mellaart to speak and offered considerable advice on how to make the event a success.
This symposium also marked the ‘official’ publication of the Goddess from Anatolia, and that book and RK’s Image Idol Symbol were showcased at the exhibition, though our book had already been in the public’s hands for almost a year.
exhibition showcase with the Goddess from Anatolia and Image Idol Symbol on display
RK knows this kelim well, having had the opportunity to handle it several times before 1990, as well as during the symposium, and we can confidently state it is as we date it.
Recently, someone wrote on the internet concerning its ‘date’:
“This was the kilim collection of Mr. Wolf and… he had C-14 dated to the 15th century.”
This is ludicrous, and it demonstrates how ineffective c14 dating is for oriental rugs, kelim and related weaving.
It also shows the gullibility of many rug collectors and dealers to believe a questionable c14 date rather than a far more secure art historical analysis like the one we will now publish.
This kelim is a pastiche, the large ‘hooked’-medallion a spin-off of several Archaic period archetype, the four hexagonal medallion, and the border, display derivative motif lifted from earlier examples.
The ancillary motif scattered on the white field equally as derivative, and traceable.
Frankly, we have never believed this kelim to be as ‘significant’ and ‘important’ as some pundits believe, and we would welcome the opportunity to critique their art historical analysis but, as yet, none of them have published anything but vapid, vacant superlatives.
Here is the early Classic period kelim, which is main source of the ‘hooked’-medallion.
early Classic period; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 7
RK has spent considerable time studying Plate 7 and could just as easily called it late Archaic period but we don’t like making such fine line definitions.
We believe this kelim, and the type it originates, is derived from Plate 2 Image Idol Symbol and perhaps at some later date we will discuss this but for now we will defer.
We also have another slightly later fragment, below, that was published along with the earlier version above.
Classic period; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 7
That fragment is, we believe, a part of the other half of the one published in the Goddess from Anatolia Plate IX no. 6.
Classic period; Goddess from Anatolia; Plate IX no.6
RK handled and carefully examined Plate IX when it was in the ‘collection’ of udo hirsch and, once again, we are positive it, and the smaller fragment we own, are the copy of the early Classic period fragment, Plate 7 in Image Idol Symbol.
Perhaps someday when we have done forensic testing and developed the necessary database RK will be able to prove our assertions about these two kelim, as well as many others.
Here is the next iteration of the type.
Early traditional period; Anatolian Kilim deYoung Museum; Plate 52
Notice the dolls in the side border, comparing them to those on Plate 7 Image Idol Symbol should make our criteria for dating it to the Traditional period crystal clear.
Also notice the important icon pair to the left of the blue hooked-demi-medallion in the detail; this is part of the icon set of Plate 2 Image Idol Symbol.
important icon pair;(l) Anatolian Kilim deYoung Museum; Plate 52: (r) Image Idol Symbol; Plate 2
The appearance of this icon, plus the late version of the top border reminiscent of Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol, further cements our belief the hooked-medallion is a pastiche developed from, and out of, the archetype Plates 1 & 2.
A step-down on the continuum for this type would be this kelim.
Traditional period; Undiscovered Kilim; Plate 16
The formerly wild and untamed design seen in Plate 7 Image Idol Symbol has now been codified, reduced from a potent emblem/amulet to a motif.
The examples above have traced the hooked-medallion in the Wolf collection kelim; now lets examine where and how the 4 hexagons have entered the scene.
With Plates 1&2 Image Idol Symbol in your mind’s eye realize how this kelim, a pastiche of their icons, came into existence.
early Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & RadioCarbon Dating; Plate 27
Like the kelim at the beginning this, Part XVIII, here we have another virtual smorgasbord of Archaic period iconography.
Here are a few clues to help you decipher its sources – rhomb from Plates 1&2 Image idol Symbol; the skeletal stalk between the half-medallions from Plate 2 Image Idol Symbol; the large kotchak, or double hook, atop each half medallion from Plate 4 Image Idol Symbol; and the two identical side border from Plate 4 Image Idol Symbol.
This kelim is the prototype for the large arms atop each of the half-medallion, as well as the general form each exhibits.
early Classic period; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 8
While this kelim is, in itself, a pastiche of Plate 1&2, it is nonetheless a prototype, and the source of Plate 27 and the group to which it belongs.
Here is a later rendition of Plate 27.
early traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & RadioCrabon Dating; Plate 26
The most outstanding element it possesses are the wonderful rhomb in the center of each medallion, but the rest of this kelim leaves much to be desired compared with Plate 8 its prototype.
With a pair of scissor and print-outs of these kelim we believe any reader can now demonstrate how the hooked-medallions and hexagons on the wolf kelim came into being.
Notice the exact same motif between the medallions and those on the Wolf example – again this is prescription at work.
RK could spend more time dissecting the motif on the Wolf kelim to prove our position but we trust we have done enough.
This analysis is one of many we can prove, remember pre-traditional period Anatolian kelim weaving was proscribed, the weaver bound by many convention, the most significant cultural debt and duty.
Each weaver was a cog in the wheel imbued with responsibility to faithfully reproduce what she had been taught.
Of course the weavers we are talking about were not producing domestic goods, whether for dowry or any other worldly purpose.
These weavers were doing God’s work in creating these spiritual kelim.
The heavily, should we say heavenly, icon laden slit-tapestry they produced were societal creation, not individual.
This is a central concept that must be understood, missing it or denying it can only lead to misinterpretation and confusion.
End of Part XVIII
Fragment of a slit-tapestry, supposedly from El Azam, Egypt; Islamic period but likely much older;
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
In 1988 RK called the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and spoke with Linda Wooley, who was one of the ‘keepers of textiles’, as they call the curators in England.
Prior to calling, and the reason for our call, was our discovery, in a small old catalog of the museum’s collection, of the slit-tapestry illustrated above.
We asked her if she could show it to us, gave her the inventory number and, after some checking, Wooley said she had never seen or heard of the piece but would be glad to try and find it.
Several months later, she called and said she had located it and we could come by to see it.
We couldn’t wait because the picture we had seen in that old guide to the textile collections, authored by Kendrick circa 1930, struck as nothing short of fantastic.
We made an appointment with Wooley and when we arrived she had it sitting on a table in the textile study room.
The textile was pressed between two panes of filthy glass, which were, even worse, broken in a few places and held together with scotch tape that must have been at least several decades old, as it was flaking and brittle.
We looked at it carefully and asked Wooley if we could remove it from the broken glass and inspect it more closely.
She said that was not possible but that she would take care of removing it and we could come back in a few days to see it again.
We thanked her and several days later returned to find it, once again, pressed between two panes of glass but this time the glass was clean, not broken and the edges were sealed with fresh tape.
RK was a bit surprised because we thought we would get to inspect it, and when we asked if we could, Wooley again said no that would not be possible.
OK, we said, do you think we could get a sample of the material to see if it was silk, wool or cotton and perhaps do a simple spectrographic dye test?
Once more Wooley said no but she would see if that would be possible, so we thank her again and left.
About a month later we called Wooley and asked if she had a sample for us.
She was very polite but again said no.
We then said we were interested in publishing it in our forthcoming kelim book and would really want to inspect it again before doing so.
She then got a bit huffy and said she was going to publish it with an analysis and we could wait until then to find out what we needed to know.
Frankly, RK was immensely pissed-off, as before we called her she didn’t even know the piece was in the museum, nor did she have any interest in it whatsoever.
This was not the first time RK got checkmated by some museum curator who was not honest enough to act in a professional and correct manner.
Regardless, we have never seen anything Wooley, or anyone else, has written about the piece and though we tried several more times to see it again we have not been successful.
Anyway, God works in strange ways and several years later RK was fortunate to find and purchase a far smaller, and we believe not nearly as early, fragment in London.
detail, slit-tapestry fragment, origin unknown
RK does not have a color picture of the V&A’s piece but it is a similar ‘copper’ color to ours.
RK believes these two fragments, which have no other analogues we can find, are incredibly old, even older than the next illustration.
The iconography, especially on the museum’s piece, is very complex, mystical and unique with certain similarities to iconography displayed on Anatolian kelim.
The fact it is slit-tapestry (kelim) makes it all the more comparable.
The acknowledged earliest example of slit-tapestry is this example from Egypt, which is in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
This slit-tapestry can be accurately dated into the period between 1453-1405 BC. It bears the cartouche of the Egyptian king Amenhopt II (1450-1415 BC) and was recovered from the tomb of Thoutmosis IV (1415-1405), his successor. Two other much smaller fragments are also known and one, which has the Ka-name of Thoutmosis III (1504-1450 BC), predates it by a generation.
Here is a color detail showing the cartouche.
A large hieroglyphic inscription provides the ka-name of Amenhotp II. His prenomen is contained within the cartouche and on either side are crowned uraei. On the left the uraeus wears the red crown of lower Egypt and on the right the white crown (outlined in red) of upper Egypt. Above the cartouche are given the titles of king.
When RK was in Egypt in 1990 we hoped to examine this and the other fragments but found it was not possible but we did get to make the picture above. Our picture is in color but for clarity we have shown it here in black and white, the detail in color is from the Carter/Newberry book mentioned below.
These fragments were discovered by the famous team of English Egyptologists Carter and Newberry, and we looked for many years to find a copy of their book detailing the excavation of the tomb of Thoutmosis, where slip-tapestry pieces were discovered. In 2007 we were finally successful to find and purchase a copy.
It is interesting in the book this weaving is described as a “portion of a robe” but this is not the case.
There is border and selvedge on both sides and when we took the pictures, even though it was under glass and mounted on the wall in the Cairo museum, we could distinctly see the selvedge finish.
RK believes this is not part of something; it is a complete piece, missing some of the top and bottom but nonetheless complete.
We postulated in our Cult Kelim publication, and the abridged version on the Weaving Art Museum website, this was an apron and we are pretty sure the staining visible in the black and white photo, which is red, is blood.
Was this used for ritual sacrifice?
RK has illustrated these two slit-tapestry pieces to first demonstrate the antiquity of slit-tapestry (kelim) weaving and second to place Anatolian slit-tapestry weaving into this most ancient perspective.
RK has no doubt a few of the Archaic period kelim are Middle Age, 600 years or maybe older.
The iconography these archetype Anatolian kelim exhibit is also one with salient and important historic precedent and connection.
This silk texile has iconography relatable to Anatolian kelim. Another related silk, from a church in Huy, France has an inscription on the back in Sogdian, the language of a people who lived in the region of Bhokara (Western Asia).
Influence from Sasanian, pre-Islamic, art is present – and the spotted animals, the gabled medallion perimeter, the kotchak (double-hooked) skeletal figure(effigy) evidence a relationship with archetype Anatolian kelim; Victoria and Albert Museum; circa 700AD
Seen alone the Archaic period art of Anatolian kelim is impressive, evocative and mysterious.
However, when it is placed within the far larger parameter of eastern Mediterranean and western Asian history some of that mystery becomes elucidated.
RK hopes this examination will both stimulate others to appreciate what certain unknown and unheralded Anatolian kelim weavers created but more significantly might it motivate others to further research and discover the answers to the many questions kelim, like the 11 archetype RK has identified, present.