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Antique Kazak Kilim with 15 Ram's Horn motif, Archaic group, circa 1900
Size: 155 x 203cm (5’1" x 6’8")


The rams horn motif is an ancient motif, found on many textiles including leather cutouts and felts from the Pazyryk burials of the Iron Age Scythian Horsemen. Petroglyphs carved out of rock by Stone Age and Bronze age inhabitants of the region reveal the use of the Rams Horn as a motif. “Prehistoric art in Caucasus and Central Asia is the so-called ‘animal style’, which was connected with the early nomadic people described by the Greeks as Scythians and the Persians as Sakas. The distinct characteristics of the animal style were applied in various media, like wood or metal objects (especially gold), as well as in rock art.” The Zoomorphic representation of rams horns as a motif was widespread amongst many Central Asian people and rendered in recent weavings in the same archaic style as the rams horns of the Scythians.

Ram’s horn (Kochak, Kotchak, Koch Buynuzu, Kochkar, Kochkor, Koshkar Muiz. Kuchkorak), symbolizing the power or fertility is perhaps the most abundantly used element between all Turkic people. The similar shapes can be found in the weavings of other ethnic groups such as Kurds and Luris too.

Various ram's horn motives used in Anatolian and Caucasian / Azerbaijani rugs and kilims

The fifteen hooked polychrome motifs seen here also maintain a direct connection with a key design from the library of prehistoric image/symbols - female deity.

Painted plaster wall-relief showing the diety holding a twinned fabric c. 6300 BC from Çatalyük (A Neolithic Town in Turkey) level VII.

Their similarity furthers proves the viability that prehistoric icons maintained within the Archaic group kelim weaving tradition. A later rendition of this design, known as the birth symbol, appears worldwide as a central design motif in many 18th and 19th century tribal cultures, which again underlines the importance of this symbol and its longevity.

A design found at several Paleolithic cave sites most probably was this icons root source. This simple brace-like design was engraved at a number of sites and shows a highly schematized female form in the birth position - outstretched legs and abbreviated upper torso.

Much later, during the Neolithic this same design, though more highly articulated, reappears on a two handled ritual cup c.6000BC from the Anatolian site of Hacilar, and on a fragmented bowl , also from Hacilar.

Several millennia later another bowl , from Mehrgarh, a site in the Indus Valley c.2700BC, continues to demonstrate not only the continuity of this symbol but also the cultural connection much earlier iconographic forms continued to exert on succeeding generations of design iconography.

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