Archetype Anatolian kelim; RK collection; published Image Idol Symbol : Ancient Anatolian Kelim, 1989; Plate 4
Ten years ago RK wrote and published online what has become known as the Anatolian Opus and archetype thesis. Both that originlal and a revised version remain online. Here is the link for the one document revised version.
The original versions twenty parts can be found in our Archives.
Since we realize the sheer amount of information the Anatolian Opus contains might be daunting enough to prevent many readers from doing more than looking at the many pictures and reading the captions, we decided to republish a short but central part and combine this with another much shorter paper that compares two early kelim and presents an argument one is the archetype and the other a somewhat later copy.
First our thesis: There is an extremely small group of archetype examples. Each one is a proprietary iconographic statement of still unknown and unidentified original weaving groups. These groups maintained historic weaving cultures that preserved their proprietary iconography and provided the transmission source for those iconographies to reach subsequent generations of weavers.
These archetypes are the rosetta stone of the historic Anatolian kelim weaving culture and tradition. This concept cannot be understood without understanding the second part of this thesis: These weaving cultures were ancient and functioned within inherently sacred and esoteric traditions that over an extended period of time progressively became secular and profane.
We also proposed, and proved, Anatolian kelim can be divided into four major weaving periods. This methodology is based on the fact the iconography on all Anatolian kelim from the three later periods was originated by the weavers of the few Archaic period examples. In other words there is a direct causal design relationship all Anatolian kelim share with an archetype, or with a combination of two or more archetypes.
To begin to document this thesis the eleven Archaic period examples need to be presented along with their present provenance. This is done in no particular order or regard to their importance, value or beauty. Each is equally important, valuable and inherently beautiful.
There is one in the Vakiflar Museum Collection, Istanbul Turkey, but it was regrettably not illustrated in the comprehensive catalog published in 1982, authored by Balpinar and Hirsch and remained unpublished for many years thereafter. Another is in the Berlin Islamic Museum Collection, Berlin Germany. It was first published in black and white in Kilim authored by Yanni Petsopolis in 1981. Five are in this author’s collection and are illustrated in the 1989 “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim” publication. The remaining four are in the Fine Art (deYoung) Museums Collection gifts of Caroline and McCoy Jones and published in the 1990 catalog “Anatolian Kilims”, authored by Cootner, et. al.
Plate One: Vakiflar Museum, Istanbul Turkey; Inv. No.S93; 1.72 x 3.60cm, 5’8” x 11’10”
Plate Two: Islamische Museum, Berlin Germany; Inv. No.I 3088; 153 x 395cm, 5’0” x 14’1”
Plate Three: Author’s collection, USA; 325 x 72 cm, 10’8” x 2’5”; published “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2.Plate 1, 1989
Plate Four: Author’s collection, USA; 337 x 72 cm, 11’3” x 2’5”; published “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2.Plate 2, 1989
Plate Five: Author’s collection, USA; 240 x 125 cm, 8’ x 5’published “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2.plate 3, 1989
Plate Six: Author’s collection, USA; 275 x 67 cm, 9’2” x 2’3”; published “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2. Plate 4, 1989
Plate Seven: Author’s collection, USA; 372 x 74 cm, 12’5” x 2.5”; published “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2.Plate 5, 1989
Plate Eight: published “Anatolian Kilims”, Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco, California; Inv. No.1987.387; 210 X 102cm, 3’6” x 6’9”
Plate Nine: published “Anatolian Kilims” Fine Art Museum, San Francisco, California; Inv.no.2003.87.4; 383X182cm, 6’X12’7”
Plate Ten: published “Anatolian Kilims”, Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, California; Inv.no.1989.79.2; 254 x 141cm, 4’7” x 8’4”
Plate Eleven: published “Anatolian Kilims”, Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco, California.; Inv. No.2003.87.3; 254 x 142cm, 4’8”x 8’4”
With this thesis as background, we believe revisiting the following comparison of two early kelim below we published in 2017 is timely thanks to the renewed interest the Anatolian Kelim continues to experience.
Upper: Anatolian Kelim fragment, marshall and marilyn wolf collection, unpublished but exhibited in NYC April 2008, kelim (A); Lower: Anatolian kelim fragment, RK Collection, published “IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim, 1989, kelim (B)
Although these two kelim “look” very similar they do have some quite significant stylistic and iconographic differences. Ones that granted can be interpreted in different ways by those who do not want to face the reality the wolf kelim (A) is the early descendent copy and the other kelim (B) the archetype.
OK you might say why? Keep reading..
The most salient difference is the repositioning of two very important icon we have identified as integral parts of this narrative picture. The first is the turbe (fig1) and the second is the flaming rhomb(fig2).
Left: Fig1 turbe; Right: Fig2 flaming rhomb
A turbe is a mausoleum. They exist all over Anatolia from different periods. Clearly only the rich and most important people were interred in such buildings. They are always the same shape, conical. This shape is believed to continue the prehistoric posthole and reed style dwellings which were circular in shape with a conical structure of reeds fastened together at the top.
The flaming rhomb can be interpreted as fire, an important element and part of certain pre-Christian Near Eastern ritual and religious belief.
In kelim (B) both of these icon are positioned under the blue gabled arch and inside the sacred niche(s) it forms.
However, in kelim (A) they have migrated outside that niche into the area around it, and in fact the turbe(fig1)are hung off the gabled arch like some after thought.
This is no accident or coincidence. It demonstrates the weaver did not know or even understand the meaning they carried within this ritualistic narrative iconography. More about this will follow, but let’s first highlight other differences.
The sacred flaming rhomb (fig2) has also been repositioned outside the gabled arch niche, but worse has now been placed inside a hexagon (fig3). We can only see this as stifling and constraining this icon reducing it at best to a meaningless design/amulet/ornament. Comparing it to kelim (B)’s version makes this abundantly clear.
Fig3 flaming rhomb hexagon
But there is another, smaller flaming rhomb (fig4) in kelim (A) that appears off to the extreme right side.
Fig4 small repositioned flaming rhomb kelim (A)
It is impossible to tell if it, too, like the rhomb in the hexagon was doubled like fig3 or if it was a halved like those in kelim (B) fig2. Considering the possibility kelim (A) might have been originally deep enough for the two arms of the gabled arch to have met at their junction (fig5) with enough room to have the vulture icon(fig6) atop the double helix(fig7) like on kelim (B) fig8 , then this small flaming rhomb might also have been doubled.
Left: Fig5 detail kelim (A) showing what remains of the gable arch perigee junction; Middle Left: Fig 6 vulture icon kelim (B); Middle Right: Fig 7 double helix icon kelim (B); Far Right: Fig 8 vulture and double helix icon kelim(B)
In any case the superior articulation, coloration, scale and the positioning of the flaming rhomb under kelim (B)’s sacred niche more than implies the repositioning of this icon in kelim (A) lessens its ritualistic significance and therefore that of kelim (B) itself.
But there are more evidentiary hints to this conclusion
The addition of many more legs, as well as a lack of detailed portraiture and number of colors, make the animals on the kelim (A) (fig9) a far shadow of those on kelim (B)(fig10). Plus it is their presence and a weaver’s ability to add life that defines kelim (B) ‘s imagery and separates it from later copies, even ones as early as kelim (A) appears to be.
Left: Fig 9 Detail animal kelim (A); Right: Fig 10 Detail animal kelim (B)
Because of kelim (A)’s extreme fragmentary condition, it is impossible to make any aesthetic judgments. Nor is it possible to try and compare other design factors to those seen on kelim (B), like the missing borders and end panels.
But RK believes the points we have mentioned should be enough to justify our position kelim (B) is the archetype.
In our earlier comments about kelim (B) that began with the publication in 1989 of the IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim book we have always mentioned its narrative style as opposed to the unitary style of all the other archaic period examples. But we have, so far until now, shied away from saying just what is being narrated.
Let’s now leave facts and evidence behind and wander into the land of myth and story telling.
The only comment we saw on the facebook thread worthy remembering was peter scholten mentioning the Turkish phrase gök yolu, which translates literally as sky-road or way, in response to our idea the arms of the gabled arch are the path the vulture flies after collecting the soul of the dead.
We have always believed the few white ground archetype Anatolian kelim were used to display the body after death and before internment. These kelim were then placed in the turbe if the dead person was rich and important enough to have constructed one, or donated to the local Mosque for the less affluent.
Belkis Balpinar mentions sometimes the kelim that was used to display the body was taken home and reused the next time someone in the family died.
In any event, and regardless whether any of this is fact, the story or narrative kelim (B) recounts could very well memorialize such a ritual and ceremony. It seems highly unlikely and beyond chance the vulture icon would have been placed on the blue gabled arch just by accident. And the appearance of a clearly depicted double helix, which modern science has demonstrated is the design of human DNA the most essential element of human life, under the vulture can easily be imagined to relate to the practice of excarnation, which was, and still is in some isolated villages in Anatolia practiced as cult of the dead activity.
So the iconography on kelim (B) recounts a mythological story of the human soul and its journey into the sky after death, a concept most pre-industrial societies and cultures maintained.
In our attempt to learn more about gök yolu we found nothing more than its literal translation but we were not able to do this using Turkish language sources. So if some reader who is fluent in Turkish can learn more RK would be very interested if there is more to this tantalizing phrase.
Were we able to scientifically analyze the materials and dyes of kelim (A) and (B) we are fairly positive other material differences could be noted. But until that happens we are confident our analysis of their iconography and visual characteristics prove with little doubt kelim (B) to be the archetype and kelim (A) to be a somewhat later copy.