Trans-Caucasian long stitch embroidery fragment; RK Collection; published "Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth: Classic Weaving of the Caucasus" and Weaving Art Museum second online exhibition "Soumak and Kelim Weaving of the Caucasus"(http://www.weavingartmuseum.org/ex2_main.htm)
RK has published the photo above, an ancient trans-Caucasian long stitch embroidery, a number of times and until recently we had no idea how or where this iconography could have originated or how it might have developed.
We have guessed the medallion represents some sort of archaic astrological device, its zoomorphic emblems perhaps derived from some now long lost, unknown, planetary symbology.
This still might be the case; however, such a definition still begs the question where/how did those emblems originate.
Sometime ago we came across an illustration of a textile from the Abbegg-Stiftung collection (below). The caption is quoted directly from the Abbegg’s accompanying published one.
“Tapestry band with deer. This long tapestry band reveals the ornamented nature of the figural motifs. The winged deer with double antlers have undulating contours, and their bodies are decorated with designs of different colors.”
The Abbegg calls it a deer but for RK it conjures up the image of a wooly mastadon, on account of the powerfully rendered longer front legs that somewhat cantilever its body to a more upright position.
Also, the tusk jutting up from the jaw and, of course, the huge double set of antlers protruding from the top of the animal’s head are all physical attributes of no deer we have ever seen.
And although relating this textile to the embroidery is far-reaching, we just cannot help but see parallels with the similar overly pronounced hooks, twisting gnarled projections, and the subtly different visual treatment afforded to all the seemingly “similar” repeating aspects of their iconography.
Again we do not believe the embroidery, which is most probably some centuries later than the Abbegg’s slit-tapestry, should be seen as a somehow a later ‘copy’.
Rather we’d forward the idea both have a common source, which initiated this type of incredibly unusual and archaic iconography.
And, as equally far-out as this conclusion might be, we find the repeating pincer-like elements that form the upper and lower border on the Abbegg textile have such an affinity with the two nut-brown ‘beetles’ in the embroidery’s medallion thay ensure this is more than just naked coincidence.
These are all extremely rare design elements we do not remember seeing in any other type of textile.
Lastly, we must mention the relationship the bizarre drawing decorating the Abegg animal’s body, both at the shoulder and rump, has with several areas of the embroidery, particularly the amulets on the brown “beetles” backs.
Also the deliberate expression of negative space drawing, ie figure/ground, both weaving’s possess likewise seems to connect them far more than just a coincidence might suggest.
Here are several winged horses from early complex structured silk weavings that show this form of iconography an its distinct differences with the Abbegg animal they have called a "deer".
We’ll leave this discussion here, as no further conclusions are possible. Perhaps someday more evidence might appear but until then it does present an interesting puzzle, n’est ce pas?