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Archaic Group
Size: 10ft. 8 in. x 2ft. 5in.
325cm. x 72.5 cm.

The source for the repeating main patterns, formerly known as the keyhole design, has been greatly refined and the following description will provide a far more accurate explanation. Actually these designs are woven representations of prehistoric idols, first sculpted in stone and later modeled in fired clay. Their form has been influenced by the progressive developments in figurine sculpture which occurred throughout Europe and the eastern Mediterranean from the late Paleolithic, c.30,000BC, through the late Bronze Age, c.500BC. The earliest known effigy figurines are female representations. They have been recovered from Paleolithic cave sites located in France and Spain. These idols invariably exhibit an important style, the indented-shape, which will be shown to be the source design for these figurines and the woven representation seen here.

A group of idols made of baked clay with incised decorations supplies the key linking the kelim's design to its prehistoric prototypes. These idols, Fig.10 and Fig.11, were recovered from Cirna, an archaeological site in Romania associated with the Girla Mare Culture. They are dated c.1500BC, nearly at the end of a design continuum beginning c.30,000BC. At that time the first rudimentary, transitional schematic figures are engraved at a several cave sites in southern France. Fig.12 is one example of these crude efforts and is particularly significant because it provides the earliest reference to another style of idol depiction, the sitting goddess Fig.13. Two mammoth tusk carvings Fig.14 and Fig.15, found at Mezine, a late Paleolithic site in southern Russia, exhibit further development of the schematization of the indented-shape. They also introduce two other important symbols, the radiating diamond and hook designs, both designs often encountered in slit-tapestry weaving.

Technological advances in pottery making discovered during Neolithic allowed more realistic modeling of figurines than in the Paleolithic when only crude stone sculpting was possible. Fig.16, 17 and 18 are typical and present the earliest sitting goddess style fired clay figurines as well. The idea of a seated deity versus a standing one reflected the great social, political and cultural changes Neolithic society underwent. Two unique carved stone idols from this period Fig.19 and 20 show the earlier abstract style, which is very reminiscent of the well known Paleolithic style.

By 5000BC a figurine Fig.21 shows the indented shape stylized into a refined, repeatable and easily recognizable format. A somewhat earlier figurine Fig.22 from a c.6000BC site in Yugoslavia was perhaps its prototype. A late Neolithic effigy vessel Fig.23 decorated with a radiating diamond design is remarkably similar in style to the concentric, radiating outlines seen above. The central indented shaped motif on the effigy vessel's crown further emphasizes the connection of this design with the deity. The indented shape tradition continues as the dominant style until c.2500BC when new and different styles of effigy figurines began to appear. Perhaps the most well known is the violin-shape Fig.24, which will eventually replace the indented-shape style throughout the eastern Mediterranean region. However, the indented shape still continued to be produced in some areas of the Aegean until c.500BC as Fig.25 and 26 both from Greece demonstrate.

Figures captions 10 - 26

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