Designs on Rugs Chapter Two


   Flatweaving designs have here been grouped according to their most traditional appearance in weaving.

Arrested designs

   Certain designs, often described as archaic are woven persistently over a long period where few external influences are allowed to change the design. In particular, techniques such as cicim and zili which tend to limit the weaver seem to have encouraged the retention of completely unchanged designs for hundreds of years. The octagonal gül composition of Turcoman rugs is still being woven in Turkestan in a form similar to the one seen in Turkmen, Timurid and Jalaired miniatures of the 14th to 16th centuries. Rugs with zigzag pattern in Timurid miniatures are very similar to today’s pattern of Turkmen zili minders, çuvals and small ground rugs.

   The eight-pointed star in octagons of the Seljuk rugs is presently being woven on zilis and on kilims. A great number of kilims, zilis and cicims woven in Turkmen settlements today bear these octagons which are still called the Turkmen gül. What are the conditions which still allow for the continuation of this traditional arreted design? Zilis with four octagons are still to be found in Anatolia and are commonly knownas Obruk zilis. Obruk, now a tiny hamlet consisting of no more than ten houses was once a communal center with a large caravansaray and mosque surrounding pasture lands began to settle in the pasturages. These villages still produce weaves which must be similar to those of the parent group from which they segmented. Rugs with a design of 1-4 octagons with forked projectionss and a combination of cicim and zili techniques and, oddly enough, some kilims with the same motif all appear to have changed very little from their antecedents which were probably woven in Turkestan. Very similar motifs are still to be seenn on modern Turcoman knotted-pile rugs.

Turkoman Pile Rugs

Migrating designs

    Migrating designs are produced by weavers who have segmented from one parent group and moved to scattred areas throughout Turkey. These designs vary little from region to region, expect in minor motifs, despite local changes in weaving materials and dyestuffs. Groups knows for their woven rugs such as the Afsar, Karakeceli, Sarıkecili, Horzumlu and Aydınlı are widely scattered, so to ascertian the unity within their flatweaves we look for  the identical designs in widely different geographical areas. Up to now the Afsar, Aydınlı, and Horzumlu designs have looked like a conglomeration of different elements which makes them extremely difficult to analyze. However the rectangular, repeated hooked octagons used as a main motif in Karakecili kilims and the six-pointed stars in the end borders and their dark blues and reds make it possible for us to pick out pieces wherever they may be and label them as Karakecili.

   Similarly, large, white kilims bearing bold octagons with hooked extensions tend to be linked with the Aydın region. Other similar kilims, slightly varying in detail are found in central Anatolia between Konya and Kayseri and in southeastern Anatolia between Gaziantep and Adana this distribution tends to confirm documented reports of the relocation of the Aydınlı tribal group during the Ottoman period.

Original designs

   Original designs are those which are unprecedented or unusual. They are designs which go beyond mere idiosyncratic interpretation and which were apparently devisedfor a specific symbolic purpose. They are rare but do occur from time to time. One particular kind of white ground prayer cicim hassuch a design, a tripleniche mihrab surmounted with leaf-like cypresses. These cicims, one known as Obruk, are not a product Obruk but are in fact the product of the village of Kecimuhsine, which lies 35 kilometres northwest of Konya. It is obvious that these prayer cicims were developed for a particular religious purpose, and that rather than evolving over generations this design was created and became traditionalized. In fact the villagers confired that this design had been faithfully woven there for about three to four generations. Over sixty rugs, both old and new, examined in this village bore the same composition with only slight vaiations in detail. The number of cypresses varied from three to six, the ground pattern was compact in some and more spaced out in others and there were some variations in color. The same tripleniche was used in very different compositions by neighboring settlements who perhaps shared the same religious idea. The villagers apparently lived in a completely traditional community and yet they do not remember which tribal group they belonged toi claiming only a Khurasanian ancestry.

   It is our belief that if we can ascertain that some compositions are original and definitely linked to a tribal group then this will help us to unravel the more complex design of other groups whose back ground is unclear. Outstanding examples which can be tranced are the so-called centipede kilims of the Yüncü yörüks of Balıkesir and the cicims of the Helvacıs. Investigation about such communities as these may help us to understand woven products from all kinds of areas and ethnic groups in Anatolia. Insufficiently supported or mistakenly interpreted theories can thus be clarified.

Transferred designs

   Transferred designs occur when nomadic groups which splinter and move to new territories form new groups of diverse origins. There under the influence of their new environment they begin to add some new motifs the their parent groups’ designs. These they add to show their new identity in the new surroundings. The prayer cicim of Keçimuhsien (Konya) mentioned earlier as an original design is also an excellent example of a transferred and, in this case, reinterpreted design used by groups pf diverse origin. The same design of the Keçimuhsine cicim with fewer motifs appears i Karapınar, mostly on a beige, sometimes red or dark red field woven in camel hair, while the yörüks of Niğde have produced this design on 3/1 span alternate diagonal zilis in dark brown and black goat hair. Because of the technique of  the latter,  i.e., the ground being filled with weft floats, the appearance of the design is quite different. This tribal group does not know cicim weaving. In fact, the local modification of design with technique has produced what is really an entirely new composition. Cicims woven by the yörüks of the Taurus region have simplified the parent design by changing the contour arragement of the mihrab niches. This original religiously inspired design of the Keçimuhsine cicims became so prominent in this area that it was simplified even further and adapted to rugs woven in a long looped and long knotted technique (tüllü).

   Yörük and Türkmen tribal groups throughout the Taurus region, from Mut to Antalya produce a variety of rough goathair kilims using their own adaptations of designs found widespread in Anatolia. The variety of motifs they us emay be due to their different origins. Perheps the only design characteristically its own is known to be woven around Mut. This is pine cone and comb-like pattern woven on kilims with eccentric/curved weft contour bands. This same design is seen on smaller rugs woven by settlements of once nomadic groups around Manavgat in the western Taurus. The elibelinde motif used widely throughout Anatolia is also found in this region in an unusual form. Many other minor motifs which appear in a variety of arrrangements help create entirely new designs. A single elibelide or Türkmen gül may be the main motif, the dominant part of the composition, or it may be used as an additional motif, a peripheral or even a border elemet. Alternately, it may even be used in multiples to produce a new main motif such as a medallion formed from two or three gül grouped together. The frequent reoccurrence of the elibelinde motif might suggest that it was originally the damga of a once prominent tribal group which later splintered.

Designs influenced by other art (court art)

   The floral patterns typical of Ottoman court art-carnations, rosettes, tulips and hyacinths-which are found especially on tiles and textiles of the Ottoman period reappear in one small group of kilims apparently as the result of direct transfer. Those elements which are also found on some traditional Anatolian rugs, particularly kilims, are instead adapted and appear as geometric stylizations. The kilim technique is more appropriate than the cicim, zili or sumak for this. Carnation designs from the Ottoman tent kilims reappear as a pattern of repeated carnation motifs on vertical or offset rows in the kilims of Konya, Gaziantep and Adana regions and in some Kurdish kilims in the Van and Kars regions. Some medallion kilims with floral motifs, said to be the products of the Uşak region, are woven in different technical forms than the traditional kilims. They are in some ways closer in technique to the tent kilims and perhaps represent a closer link to this influnce. They are interesting, if incidental, by-product of the court style.

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