Correction, comparison, progressive abstraction and mirror copies

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All in one post! The first is a carpet from the Bruce Baganz collection in Texas. It’s fine detail suggests that it is an antecedent to the two rugs compared in a previous post. More importantly it reveals an error in our attribution. I plead haste and over-confidence! This particular design does NOT represent the defeat of the Soviets, and the road north through the Salang Pass, as I had suggested previously. No, a careful reading of the scripts in this more precise Baganz carpet shows that it depicts the city of Herat: the Hari Rud river, the famous Malan Bridge, even the Herat Silo, the Herat Forest, and the road to Mazar Sharif (the long way). Now compare it with a carpet acquired recently in Herat:

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You will see that the major elements of the second carpet are a mirror of the first – even though some of the minor elements float around the pictorial spaces. Two things can be derived from these observations: one it is common to find mirrored figures in pictorial rugs, suggesting one is copied from the reverse of the other. Secondly, the pattern is flexibly interpreted: see how the machine gun and other elements are moved around by the maker, flipped upside down, reinvented. This suggests that either the cartoons for each element exist as separate patterns, or that the makers carry even these new designs in their memory, and as we do using Photoshop, they can flip the design to fit the spaces. Impressive!

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