Eastern Anatolia, c. 1885

There are a group of rugs that come out of 13th century Seljuk Turkish rug weaving that are identified as “animal pelts”. These are knotted carpets that consist of the image of a splayed animal with outstretched legs, arms, and an abstract rendering of a head. This configuration is the same as we commonly see in bear rugs zebra skins or deer hides. Here in this fascinating fragment we see ochre outstretched legs and arms enclosing another pelt like image colored in light blue. A precise definition of this complete design is elusive, but it appears that the inner pelt may be a reference to some part of the animal’s anatomy, perhaps sinews or bones. It is not difficult to image that at the top of the pelt is an abstraction of a head with horns. In addition centered on the animal’s “back” is an x defined with serpentine drawing. Their heads are facing each other. These juxtaposed animals are stylized dragons. Dragon designs are prominently and somewhat realistically displayed in 16th Caucasian “Dragon Carpets” and the dragon figure was used in a variety of configurations as far east as Central Asia, Tibet and China This fragment has a rough character, big knots, and thick wool. Its palette is limited but extremely effective in expressing the piece’s power and muscularity.

16″x20″

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Description

The Antique Rug Fragment as Serious Art

There are passages in all art that can exist independently as a meaningful aesthetic, functioning separately from the complete work they once belonged to. In these frames we see pieces from archaic rugs, fragments from their mother rug, which had over time been destroyed. Occasionally areas of these old surviving pieces can exist on their own, and still express spirituality, decoration, a sense of magic and what it means to live in a timeless culture. The events that have defined all human life are symbolically addressed here: giving birth, raising a family, tending to animals, accepting the inevitability of death and the absolute belief in the existence of an immutable godhead. These fragments express all that we look for in an art object: beauty, honesty and mastery of craft. These humble fragments establish a life of their own, one that takes us directly without distraction to the essence of rug art.