Unfortunately the differences between a great piece of art and a good one are often subtle and require considerable experience, education and connoisseurship to discern.
It is for these reasons explaining them to uninitiated viewers is sometimes difficult.
However, those that exist between a mediocre and a good piece are much more easily conveyed and those between the mediocre and bad are the easiest.
The discussion at hand - What is an archetype and how is it differentiated from a copy? - is an interesting and pertinent one but classifying soumak bags into these various or other categories is not, well at least not for me.
The two other comparisons of soumak bags we have discussed lent themselves well to identifying the answers to this question, as the differences between them were more obvious and easily explained.
This is not the case here and while the Atlantic collections bag and the WAMRI example do have differences they are harder to explain for several reasons.
The first and most important is tying to do this with small pictures on a computer screen. This medium does not allow the full spectrum of colors, or lack of them, to be communicated nor does it allow minute but significant distinctions of drawing, particularly proportions, to be properly conveyed as well.
So with these caveats in mind lets examine several aspects of the WAMRI bag and see how it differs from the other.
Here is the WAMRI soumak
and here is the Atlantic Collections example
If both these bags were side-by-side at the first glance they might appear to be exactly alike but after some time spent looking at them in person the WAMRI bag would be seen as far superior. Even the most uneducated, but perceptive viewer, would be able to sense this but not really understand why.
The first reasons would be the better scale and proportion of the integral forms the WAMRI bag displays. Secondly, the WAMRI bag is more tightly spun and finely woven, with a more highly patinated surface that suggests greater age.
But since a face-to-face comparison is impossible, as is handling them, the following detailed examination of the medallion they share provides some demonstrable criteria that are even noticeable in jpegs.
Here is the WAMRI medallion
and here is the Atlantic Collections
The first is the overall compact and pressed-in appearance the Atlantic Collections medallion exhibits compared to the open and more spacious presence the WAMRI medallion captures.
Notice there how each element of this complex design both stands alone and is in synthesis with all the others- this creates a real sense of three dimensionality. This doesnt happen in the other example.
Notice the extra tucks the weaver of the WAMRI medallion added to the octagon at the center of the medallion, which by the way, is an octagon in the Atlantic Collection piece but not so here. The addition of these tucks not only adds complexity but also three dimensionality.
Notice the four hooks within the octagon in the Atlantic Collection soumak really are hooks while in the WAMRI piece they different. Not only are they more highly articulated but that articulation has added four additional animal forms, (see their crests?).
Notice also the weaver of the WAMRI example created a far more graceful and alive depiction of the four large and semi-abstract fantastic animals above and below this inner medallion within the larger octagonal medallion.
They are the featured icon of these rare soumak bags.
This finer drawing line, the addition of the crest that each animal exhibits plus their flowing sinuous style separates them from the leaden and stiff representations seen in the Atlantic Collections bag.
The same is true for the two pairs of extensions attached to the central medallion. The Atlantic Collections weaver was not able to re-create the dynamic and potent iconic structure the WAMRI medallion possesses.
Granted these nuances are, as explained above, difficult for most viewers to see even after they are demonstrated. But the overall majesty and magic the WAMRI medallion manifests should now be apparent, especially if some time is spent studying these medallions with them in mind.
I have no doubt when these two soumak bags would be shown side-by-side even the most skeptical readers of this analysis would believe and see how these and other tiny but telling features of the WAMRI soumak support it's being the prototype and the Atlantic Collections piece a copy.