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To conclude we have decided to illustrate an early textile from Antinoe we found in Alte Stoffe a small book published in Berlin in 1917.

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illustration 70

Today Antinoe is part of the metropolitan sprawl of Cairo, Egypt. However, circa 600AD when this textile is believed to have been produced, it was a separate city with its own long history.

Surely Antinoe is a great distance from Turkmenistan but because ancient east-west trade routes facilitated the transmission of all types of goods -- and textiles were one of the most important -- postulating the Egyptian cultural tradition responsible for the exaggerated kotchak head-crest was connected far more than just visually with the Turkmen, where the same large curved horn or kotchak can be seen on so many pile weavings, is not far-fetched.

The meanings these patterns of significance held for those who made, wore and saw them is lost in the dust and sand now covering many of these formerly thriving areas. The historic and cultural relationships textiles, like this one, represented remain for discovery and investigation and through them we might just shift those mountains of sand.

The cresent moon on the animals foreleg, the sun disk on the haunch, the pearls on the neck-banner and those on each leg, like the kotchak and many other details on much later Turkmen weaving, are not meaningless decorative touches or there by accident. These are ancient and important icon, amulet, talisman and emblem and the fact they have remained viable and potent over thousands of years tells one of the great still unrecognized stories of mankind’s developmental history.

Archaic period Near Eastern and western Central-Asian knotted-pile and flat-woven objects are the last remaining frontier. They are repository of many long lost ideas, concepts and culture and the complicated processes, techniques and knowledge necessary to produce them has protected and ensured their survival.

Today textile studies truly stand on a precipice and unless new paradigms come to the fore to replace old, tired and worn-out ones the looming abyss of time will eradicate the possibility to continue to further piece together this puzzle.

We trust this presentation helps put to rest one of the oldest and most worn out -- the idea iconography originated in the court atelier and then was passed down to the village and tent-dwelling weaver. There is no doubt many of the textiles in our target group have court association yet other ancient media, like the early Anatolian pile carpets and the prehistoric archaeological ceramics, carry no such imprimatur and on that basis alone any unbiased assessment would have to agree this linear concept is flawed.

When some of today’s great advances in scientific laboratory technique will be coupled with far greater art historical investigation and research we are sure those prejudices and the looming abyss can be successfully breached. But perhaps our optimism is not well put so we also ask: Will those efforts be made or will textile art once again fall into the dustbin of art history to remain as ignored as they have been since the industrial revolution created power looms capable to reproduce on cheap commercial fabric the complex patterns and proprietary cultural iconography formerly reserved for much loftier purposes and patrons?

In closing we must say we hope this is not the case and soon others will join the Weaving Art Museum, and this writer, to begin the scientific testing and ethnographic collection of materials necessary to build the data-bases that can, and will in our opinion, provide the facts that have always been missing in textile and carpet studies.

     

     
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