"Geometric" or "abstract" motives

These terms are often used to describe the specific nature of motives in weaves that apparently do not try to image objects from nature, like animals, plants, humans etc. We have contradicted the use of these terms at the above mentioned workshop of the Freundeskreis orientalischer Teppiche und Textilien in 1991, lining out an alternative explanation opposite to what the "neolithic theory " of Balpinar/Hirsch/Mellaart (1) claimed.

The earliest but completely "mature" motives of this "geometric" type appeared as early as 5500 B.C. on ceramics in the neolithic strata of Anatolia. Whether they evolved there or elsewhere is not known. In order to claim that these are "abstract" one would need to find missing links that witness a transition from the cultures of hunters and gatherers to the neolithic agriculturalists. Such objects do not exist. Hunter and gatherer cultures displayed admirable cave paintings of extreme age but did not release at any place in the world transitional artifacts that could be a kind of bridge to these "geometric" neolithic motives.

In case the "geometric" material is there first it cannot be that it is a result of any "abstracization", so it is not abstract. Dr. Hofmacher and I (M.B.) suggested as a most probable source of design in the sense of Occam's razor that these motives are idiographic symbols taken from early cosmology.

If one draws the position of the Great Bear on the heaven of the Northern Hemisphere at the four decisive dates of the agriculturalists' year ( March 21, June 21, Sepember 21 and December 21) one directly gets a swastika. Following up this with the sacred four directions of heaven (an idea which is in vital use till today in Central and Northern Asia) one automatically creates a self referential "system" with an own "inner grammar" which, complemented only by the well known positive-negative of thinking and drawing, is enough to derive nearly all "geometric" motives that exist in weaves.

It is unlikely that this system evolved in Anatolia proper. The transition between the Eastern Toros mountains and the plains of upper Mesopotamia is a more likely place of origin. But this is speculation. We would not be surprised if this was invented independently several times in history at places that were not connected with each other - but we have no idea how this could ever be witnessed.

All such motives if executed or varied in such a way that at first or, better, second glance "semi-conscious" associations of zoomorphic or even anthropomorphic contents are stimulated are much more successful then, might even create a kind of breath-taking magic. But this a secondary effect and it is not helpful to claim shamanistic influences or similar things - until one would give researched evidence for that. If not proven - and this is exteme difficult - the explanatory value of such suggestions (like "eli belinde", mother goddess figures etc.) is zero. Occam's razor rules!

In spite of 100 years of tapitolyrics this witness did not materialize yet. Quite the opposite: displayed in a too attentive way ("mythisches Geraune") it created a kind of suspicious allergy against all carpet studies in serious anthopologists. This is the only real reason why museum and scientific people stay apart from textile research that we can accept.

(1) Just lately Jack Cassin claimed the "spiritus rector" leadership for this approach in a private e-mail communication which we will not publish here. We are not referees. The first time when this "neolithic theory" was introduced into carpet studies (the idea that, starting in Anatolia in the neolithic period, there had been a progressing stylization of naturalistic goddess figurines into the well-known "eli belinde" - motif, and that this was kept by the local autochthonous population until today - with the consequence that the Turkic population that came later is a kind of epigone which "copied" these authentic local designs) was, according to the best of our knowledge, at an ICOC lecture that Dr. Herwig Bartels gave in London. Shortly after this I heard this "theory" from Bertram Frauenknecht. Within feministic circles and in the esoteric subcultures it was already in widespread use at that time, beginning of the eighties.

If Mr. Cassin claims to have pioneered all this, the best advice for him should be: prove it then. We are amused: normally people try to claim what has been proven right, not something that could not be substantiated in the long period from then until today, kind of "old mistakes".

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