Designer or artisan: who is the author?

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Here is another question at the core of the problem of interpretation: many war rugs demonstrate “mistakes” made by the artisans who produce them. We see many letters, words, phrases which indicate that the weavers who make the rugs “read” their image from other rugs – and if it’s easier to read the pixels from the back of a rug, how easy would it be to mistakenly weave the mirror image of individual letters, words, or whole images? Surely this is why it is the nature of so many traditional rug patterns for the image to be bilaterally symmetrical? That is, to build an image, knot by knot is less a matter of transposing images or motifs as it is a mathmatical task, transmitted as a linear sequence, left to right, right to left, knot by knot. It is surely a more a problem of memorising sequences across each file and progressive variations as the image is built – in this instance, the first wefts are on the right hand side, which is the bottom of the rug.

In this digital medium (that is, the one you’re looking at) Photoshop allows us to see the mirror image, the image on the back of the rug, below. Presumably this demonstrates how rugs are reproduced by the artisan “reading” the back of another rug, pixel by pixel. And in this way the iconographic significance of the image, in this case, the recognition of the emblematic form of the map of Afghanistan, is completely overlooked by the maker.
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And to add to the disaster (an economic disaster for the maker of this particular rug, who realises her mistake as she trims the face of the rug) this is, surely, an image of the disaster that engulfs her country. At least in this instance, her labours have been recognised, twice over.

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One Response to “Designer or artisan: who is the author?”

  1. Area Rugs Says:

    Great post… very informative!

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