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PLATE SIX
Classic Group
Size: 6 ft. 10 in. x 3 ft. 3 in.
205 cm. x 112.5 cm.

The three large architectural designs filling the field of this slit-tapestry have been associated with the prayer arch, which is seen on almost all Islamic prayer rugs. However the original source of this design is pre-Islamic, as a wall painting Fig.35 c.6500 BC from the Neolithic site of Catal Huyuk so aptly demonstrates. Indications from the archaeological remains found at several Paleolithic cave sites imply this design was the painted recreation of the actual sacred niches in which it is believed many of the earliest female deity statues were originally placed for protection and worship. The continuity of this design is remarkable and shows again the influence prehistoric designs played in the formulation of the kelim weaving tradition.

This again raises the question of whether the weavers of early slit tapestries consciously understood the historical connections or original meaning of these designs? Although no factual information exists to answer this question one thing is sure, the presence here of a very specific type of wear has resulted from use as a prayer mat. It would than seem highly unlikely that the weaver was conscious of the prehistoric source and would only have only related to its function as prescribed by the conventions of Islamic religious practice. However, the following model may indicate other aspects of this relationship.

The continuum these prehistoric image/symbols maintain began with cave wall engravings and paintings during the later stages of western European Paleolithic cultural advancement. During this initial period these icons had real meaning : They were images of life and integral part of human consciousness. Sometime at the very end of the Paleolithic and transition to the beginning of the Neolithic two important technological discoveries, animal and cereal grain domestication, were first attempted. These innovations directly facilitated the following explosive societal growth, development and change which occurred throughout the entire Neolithic period. Yet the archaeological artifacts recovered throughout this sequence reinforce the continued unchanged meaning and interpretation of these icons. Soon though, continuing technological, socio-political and economic abrasion, caused by further developments closely associated with food production, radically altered this situation. What had previously been part of actual consciousness became symbolic and soon an all powerful tradition disintegrated. However, many old icons were retained with their original meanings lost and forgotten. This process of change was often one of replacement as the way this design was reinvented by Islam - a collective consciousness transformed into collective uncounsciousness.

The weavers of these kelim could not possibly have had conscious understanding of the historical connections or original meanings these icons maintained - only the continued repetition within the isolated kelim weaving tradition connected them with the prehistoric past. Likewise, it was solely this weaving tradition which guaranteed their continued, culturally sanctioned preservation.


Figure Caption 35

fig.35 Wall-painting showing mortuary or early reed houses from Catal Huyuk level VI.
pg. 153 Catal Huyuk - A Neolithic Town in Anatolia

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