Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >RK Examines Anatolian Kelim
Part XII
Sat, Jan 9th, 2010 05:42:09 PM
Topic: RK Examines Anatolian Kelim
Part XII

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 RKs 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

Author: matthias wohlgemuth
email: [email protected]
Sat, Jan 9th, 2010 11:05:13 AM


We don't have the Hermann catalog, nor the Vok book, so we missed remembering that one.

We did see it at Hermann's exhibition, now that you have jogged our memory, and while it is, as you remarked, closer to the archetype it is not really the same -- the reversal of the icon being the most obvious but only one of the differences.

If you send us a scan, rk at rugkazbah dot com, we will post it and discuss why we feel as we do.

By the way, we also remember another piece that was, when we last saw it, in the herwig bartels 'collection'. We remember it as being better than the Hermann/Vok piece.

So that adds another one to the group but it, too, is a Classic period example.

You and others may think this strange but RK knows of no Anatolian kelim group where there are two extant archaic period examples.

This fact is another that has always reassured us our theory of archetype is valid.


a hello and the minor addition that the (an-)other one is reproduced in Herrmann VIII and in Vok Collection Anatolia. It's much closer to the WAMRI than the 100 Kilim example, similar proportions, similar layout, same (original) number of icons, lotsa yellow, but direction of icons changing... greetings

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