Coincidence or Relationship?
Sometime ago RK illustrated in our “Karapinar Myth or Fact” discussion a detail of a very interesting ancient central Anatolian weaving from our collection.
We are not at all boasting when we say this fragment is one of the, if not the, oldest pieces of non-Seljuk Anatolian Village pile weaving we have ever seen personally or in publication.
Archaic period Anatolian Village rug fragment; RK collection
The colors are amazingly rich and crisp and not only are they deeply saturated but literally drip off the weaving onto the floor and form puddles before your eyes.
Of course, that is a bit of exaggeration but we cannot think of better words to describe this weaving.
It exemplifies our terms archetype and archaic period, and like the 11 kelim we have designated as archetypes this pile fragment demonstrates the highest level of dyeing any Near Eastern textile we know attained.
But even though color is an important ingredient, it is iconography that for RK is the tell-tale element that not only floats our boat but one that signifies a weaving is from the archaic period.
We have spoken about this at length, and a number of discussions here on RugKazbah.com have chronicled our thoughts, so we trust readers are familiar with where we are coming from.
When we illustrated our fragment we mentioned it was, in our opinion, the most archaic example of that so-called “Karapinar” design format and let’s just leave it there.
However, we have for the longest time harbored the notion there is a flying shaman, similar to ones on pre-Columbian Peruvian weavings we have seen and studied, embedded in its iconography.
These pre-Columbian weavings provide fascinating examples of ancient weaving cultures that flourished in South America particularly in Peru from circa 100BC onwards.
Their survival, like textiles from Egypt, was due to submersion in desert dry earthen burials where the conditions were perfect for preservation.
Unlike other areas, for instance Anatolia and other Eastern Mediterranean locale, which very well might have hosted equally old weaving cultures but not the correct environmental conditions for weaving to survive.
There were a number of pre-Columbian Peruvian weaving cultures; our favorite being Paracas, which also happens to be the earliest.
The weavers of Paracas were highly skilled and were able to weave and embroider in a number of technically demanding styles, the most demanding of which is called triple-cloth -- a combination of complex embroidery done on an undecorated simple weave ground cloth.
Here is a detail picture from one of these rare triple cloth textiles
Detail of a flying shaman from a large complex iconographic Paracas masterpiece weaving dated 80BC-160AD; Varidskulturmuseet collection, Gothenburg Sweden
We had not seen this textile before recently and when we did the remarkable resemblance of the Paracas flying shaman to the one on our Anatolian fragment stuck us as too strong a similarity to be just a coincidence.
Here is a detail of the Anatolian flying shaman where we have outlined his body with a black-line to facilitate identification.
Over the many years we have owned our Anatolian fragment we have seen a number of Paracas weavings with all sorts of flying shaman but this one on the Varidskulturmuseet’s textile is the closest in all respects.
The connection between ancient South American weaving cultures and those of the Near East, like Anatolia, have not been investigated but in our opinion there seems to be more than just coincidence in their development and use of complex iconography.
This is a topic way beyond our interests, expertise and research areas, and our mention has been only to identify and memorialize what we see as an extraordinary appearance of a quite significant design, the Peruvian flying shaman, on an archaic and ancient Anatolian Village rug.
Fact or fiction; coincidence or relationship – perhaps time will tell…