Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >icoc Istanbul re:Kelim on view
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Fri, May 4th, 2007 06:19:18 AM
Topic: icoc Istanbul re:Kelim on view

Categorizing the weavings commonly known as kelim has proven to be even more difficult than rugs and other types of Near Eastern textile.

For unlike them and prior to the mid-19th century, it appears, from all indications, kelim were not made in large numbers or for export. Nor were they considered important by early carpet and textile dealers and collectors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In fact, until just recently, they were perhaps the most undiscovered of any type of Oriental Rug.

Things definitely changed during the late 1970s and early 80s, when a number of books and articles were written and published by numerous authors, some knowledgeable other not. Some of these shed new light on slit-tapestry examples, the proper name of the textile technique used to make these intriguing, indigenous weavings.

At icoc Istanbul there were a number of slit-tapestry, ie kelim, on view; most from the Josephine Powell collection.

There were also a few from the Vakiflar, among which this example was the highlight:

RK has been researching and collecting kelim since the late 1960s and some of our research and collection is published in the Archaeology and Anatolian Slit-Weaving Exhibition on the Weaving Art Museum website(http://weavingartmuseum.org).

In the text accompanying that online exhibition, which was by the way originally published in the large format book we also authored in the late 1980's(Image Idol Symbol : Ancient Anatolian Kelims) we proposed grouping all Anatolian (Turkish) slit-tapestries into four chronological groups.

The oldest of these we named Archaic, the next Classic, the next Traditional and the last Commercial.

We believe there are only very few extant examples(actually not more than a dozen), which can be placed in the Archaic Group, and only one, the Vakiflar compass Kelim illustrated above, was included in the icoc exhibitions.

None of the Powell pieces, in our opinion, are early enough to be called Archaic or, for that matter, does any one even come close.

Perhaps, the second best kelim of view at the icoc was another of the Vakiflar pieces, plate 39 from the Vakiflar kelim book:

After a reader suggested we post some of our thoughts about this kelim we will, over the next while, be turning our attentions to it and some related examples.

Stay tuned for more

Author: jc
Fri, May 4th, 2007 06:19:18 AM

Matthias: While the compass kelim is old and unique, personally we would not put it in our top two. And the Vakiflar white ground X kelim is, as you describe minimalist, however, we prefer what we believe to be the archaic version: plate 5 in the Weaving Art Museums online kelim exhibition:

As for the Vakiflar plate 39? We find that blue/black striping surrounding the Xs not nearly as effective as plate fives rendition, not to mention the icon-rich environment fives medallions sits in compared to the Vakiflars minimalism.

Author: matthiaswohlgemuth
email: [email protected]
Thu, May 3rd, 2007 04:10:21 PM

Greetings Jack -- These two pieces are arguably the ones I would choose if I could;-) from all Anatolian kilims known to me - with the possible exception of one or two fragmented examples! Whatever category of absolute age they may belong to, in my eyes they are the esthetically most powerful and pleasing.

I find the degree of abstraction of the "compass" kilim amazing: it seems to show the uttermost reduction of this particular 4:1 layout possible. Unlike Anatolian pile rugs with the "compass" and others, e.g. Shasavan sumak bags, the quarter designs in the corners are reduced to mere triangles without any indication of arrows. Just the main shapes of the pattern in plain fields of color...

I am equally intrigued by the open space of the kilim with double hooks which are sort of freely floating on the white ground (just as the green elements on the "compass" are on the red ground). Again there seems to be some reduction: The usual hexagons between the double hooked hexagons are lacking.

In wider distance from each other than usual the designs seem more separated, not part (anymore?) of a continuous pattern. This might account for a loss of the positive-negative effect - which, on the other hand - is very much present between the arms of the large double hooks at the field's ends.

I feel that these two pieces do perfectly fit into the current mainstream taste of "minimalism", and I wonder whether the feelings we have with regard to their age is biased by this.

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