Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 03-26-2004 11:38 PM:

Berber Motive and Design Symmetry Progression.

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 03-27-2004 11:35 AM:

Berber Fundamentals

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 03-27-2004 04:37 PM:

High Atlas Weaving

Posted by Louis Dubreuil on 03-29-2004 01:27 PM:

Berber designs

Bonsoir David

Just a word about berber designs : if there are obvious games of geometrical recombination of simple motives this game is never just an aesthetic game. In the berber weaving, more than in another weaving culture (because the culture is still, or was still very alive in the 1950's) any sign has a magical or prophylactic meaning. The real meaning is always hiden by the women who weave the rugs in order to protect their female culture that is distinct from the male's one (the woman works at home or in the fields and weaves, her husband goes to the souk to sell the weavings, the woman doesnot speak anything but berber language, her husband speaks arab). These secrets are transmited from the mother to the daughter for hundreds of generations. This cultural system explain why we can find the same motives in neolithic pottery than in berber weavings.
There is no reason to search any correspondance between berber motives and the old carpets you have placed here. The only thing that is shared by all the weavers is the art of making symetrical combination from simple forms in order to put the "world" that is depicted in the rug in a certain order. But this is not true for a great number of berber rugs that dispay designs that are not at all symetric neither regular : those rugs are the expression of a "great female art". In this art women show inexpressible things as "parturition contractions", as "copulation", as "vulva", often displayed as "toothed vagina". This motive ( named by specialists the "without name motive") is also found in other tribal cultures as in anatolia or in Iran.
I'll search some pictures to show you what I mean. You can find interessant things in the book "AZETTA", see biblio.

In an other way we can have the hypothesis that this is the primitive berber motives that have inspired the other weavers as those who have made "your" old rugs !

Meilleures salutations


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 03-29-2004 09:31 PM:

From Simple to Complex

Bonjour Louis and All- I'm flattered,the subject of this post was intender to be much simpler, and only to suggest a geometric relationship between Berber and Mamluk design motifs. They suggest that the Mumluk could be a refined and more complex version of a Berber. Notice the panel format and concentric geometric designs. No proof but fun.

Note the geometrics in the diagram, and #4-4c. #4 is found extensively in Mamluk rugs, and #4a is a precursor to many geometric designs, among them arabesques, Holbeins, and as depicted in#4b and#4c, the Memling and the Ladik/Berber
rosette shown below.

Posted by Louis Dubreuil on 03-30-2004 02:02 AM:

berber again

Bonjour David

Ok, there was an ambiguity because the mamlouk pictures was posted without commentary and that could be interpreted as if the Mamlouk types were berber prototypes. I agree with you in the idea that the Mamlouk designs could be refined derivation from the berber motives. This idea is corroborated by the existence of iconographic proof of the use of berber textiles in the XVI century painting in the Neederlands (see AZETTA, cf biblio).

Meilleures salutations


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-31-2004 05:58 AM:

Hi Dave,

Sorry but I am quite skeptical about the idea that Berber design influenced Mamluk carpets.
In my opinion its more logical to assume that Mamluks, like the Islamic art in general, were inspired by patterns from well-established pre-Islamic cultures. As the Egyptian one, both Pharaonic and Coptic:

The Greco/Roman and Byzantine:

and the Persian

Here is an example of a floor mosaic from a III century AD Roman villa in Paphos, Cyprus:



Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 03-31-2004 06:11 AM:


Dear Filiberto- Please don't get me wrong-I am actually rather skeptical myself- I just thought it interesting that they share some common characteristics- Dave

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 04-11-2004 09:32 PM:

Mathematic Origin of Designs?

Filiberto and All- May I suggest a compromise, or better yet a dictate of mathematics, as the source of all patterns? The following is a quote from the Textile Museum's discussion of symmetry and pattern in carpets.

"Possibilities for the composition of a design are limitless, and may rely upon choices. But possibilities for the repetition of that design, wheather symmetrical or asymmetrical, are limited by the laws of pattern formation and are subject to the constraints of symmetry."

Maybe the reason we see the same patterns everywhere is due to the fact of the limitations of our options?- Dave