During the last two decades appreciation for all types of flat-woven textiles has grown immensely and no longer are these documents of warp and weft placed on the back shelf of art history.  For the past decade this focus of energy has spotlighted the kelims of Anatolia (modern day Turkey). Along with this elevation of status has come increased interest to determine the historic and artistic roots of this weaving tradition. Perhaps the most interesting and provocative theory suggests patterned slit-tapestry weaving maintains an iconographic tradition reaching back to the seventh millennium B.C or before. Supported by remains - such as architectural decoration, wall-painting, pottery, sculpture, and even textiles - found at Neolithic, Bronze Age and later archaeological sites - proponents of this thesis have already found many examples of design similarity and outlined a tentative historical context.

Surprisingly, some of the historic, post 1500 B.C., segments of this continuum have proven the most difficult to document.  It is at this objective and specifically the time period from the end of the Coptic weaving tradition of Egypt, circa 900 A.D., to the earliest known Anatolian pile weavings, circa 1400 A.D., that this brief monograph is addressed.  The ten slit-woven tapestry fragments presented here provide an insight into an important transitional stage in the development of the Anatolian kelim. 

Unfortunately they raise as at least as many, if not more, questions than they seem to answer.  And while they provide no definitive solution, it is hoped that their publication will lead to not only more concrete conclusions concerning these specific weavings but also the eventual acceptance for the reality of a 9000 year or more artistic and cultural weaving tradition. 

The publication of these fragments and their appearance at this time is crucial. Before their presentation here Plates One, Four, Five, Seven and Eight were scarcely known and the others - Plates Two, Three, Six, Nine and the Logo for this exhibition, which can be seen on the Museumís homepage - completely unknown even to this small group of highly motivated researchers and cognascenti. As a group they make a notable contribution and even though only a pitifully small file of concrete evidence can now be presented to provenance three of these weavings to Anatolia, their place within the long continuum of slit-tapestry weaving is far more secure. Hopefully the opportunity for further indepth forensic analysis will be forthcoming and those results will provide the conclusive information necessary to unravel their mysterious origins.

Written by Jack Cassin 1990 revised for The Weaving Art Museum July 2000


No written text may be reproduced without the  written consent of the copyright holder, the Weaving Art Museum,  Inc.  All Materials ©WAMRI 1998 - 2000 The Weaving Art Museum and Research  Institute. All Rights Reserved.


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cult kelim plate 1


cult kelim plate 2


cult kelim plate 3


cult kelim plate 4


cult kelim plate 5


cult kelim plate 6


cult kelim plate 7


cult kelim plate 8


cult kelim plate 9