Size: 9 ft. 2 in. x 2 ft. 3 in.
275 cm. x 67.5 cm.
Archaic group kelims are extremely rare among the many thousands of published
examples available for comparison. So far, less than a dozen are known and several
have been carbon dated to the 13/14th century AD, though such dating methods
are far more reliable for articles which have not been subjected to the types
of contamination that weavings would normally experience. Because of the contamination
factor as well as other technical variations, carbon-dating must be considered
as less than 100 percent reliable, however, these early dates do coincide with
other theories which also have postulated that these kelims could have been
made more than 500 years ago.
The preceding three examples were not often copied by later weavers and in fact
each of these masterpiece weavings has been rarely reproduced. However, the
kelim above has many overtly similar but significantly later copies. What kept
weavers from reproducing the first three Plates as frequently as this one and
why is it considered to be the Archaic example? Presently it is not possible
to answer the first part of this question and until these kelims undergo forensic
analysis only the following arguments can provide an answer to the second part.
The most definable quality separating this kelim from later copies is its intensely
brilliant hues of coloration. These unmistakable and distinctive colors resulted
from dyes and dyeing methods no longer available or known to subsequent generations
of weavers. The exclusive use of the finest semi-wild high mountain sheep wool
was also a contributing factor because of its ability to retain an abnormally
high concentration of dye. The particular way this type of wool feels to the
touch also provides another criteria as its handle is distinctly different from
the highly domesticated lowland sheep wool used afterwards. The spinning of
the wool here and in all other Archaic examples is far more varied and exhibits
a greater degree of irregularity than that found in any other group. Eccentric
or curved wefting, an ancient weaving technique, is often present in the earliest
examples while rarely encountered in later groups. Lastly, the iconography used
in the Archaic group weavings frequently utilized designs taken from the pool
of prehistoric image/symbols and even when combined into large complex patterns,
these designs retain their iconographic content and are still easily recognizable.
In the later groups of kelims, these designs are used carelessly and without
any indication of their original use or meaning.
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