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PLATE FOUR
Archaic Group
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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