This weekend in Arlington, Massachusetts. the rug "collection" from the “Bradley” estate was sold at auction. RK attended the preview and sale and will, in the next day or so post further photos and commentaries on the more interesting lots.
We actively participated in the sale and purchased several pieces and probably will, sometime in the future, post pics of what we bought.
We will also, in a future post, talk a bit about the collection and auction in general.
We are, however, now including a photo of the lot that brought the highest price at the sale, 309A - a "Salor" kejebe torba fragment.
This fragment, unlike the complete single medallion sold this past Friday at sothebys in New York City, was a late - what we like to refer to as second period - version of the type (or if you will an early third period example). The sotheby piece was an early second period (or if you will a late first period) one. To see an early first period piece, please refer to the example in Schurman "Central Asian Carpets"
Let us once again state for the record that none of these large posh torba are ancient, as we believe the kejebe pattern - those with kejebe and "complex" medallions - is a somewhat more recent convention, i.e. circa late 18th century at the earliest.
We have never seen one that strikes us as ancient.
We did, at one time own a Saryk kejebe torba - it is illustrated in "Tent Bag - Tend Band" - that we feel predates any known Salor or "S" group example.
This is not the time or place to begin to enumerate the hows or whys concerning the development of the kejebe but, trust us on this one, we have developed a rough schematic progression to explain the process that culminated in this design’s gestation.
The sotheby example was presumably knotted on fully depressed warps with an asymmetric knot open to the left. Since we did not attend the sale or preview, we cannot vouch for this presumption and, unfortunately, all of the folks who we have spoken to told us they didn't bother to check it for themselves. This is typical for ruggies, who talk the talk but rarely ever walk the walk.
In any event, since we did attend the Morton preview and sale and personally handled and photographed the fragment, we know that piece was open right.
This difference, open left or right, is highly significant and important as it differentiates the mythic "S" group from ordinary Salor work.
Besides being open left or right, there are several other criteria that must be applied in order to place any example into its proper place in the design type and to, more importantly, understand it. Needless to say this also must be done to "value" it, i.e. answer the how much is it worth question.
One of these criteria is the dye palette, particularly the dyes used for the silk highlights. We know there were at least three different ones - cochineal, kermes and lac. For all intents and purposes third period pieces use cochineal while the second and first periods have kermes and lac. They also can have some cochineal but not a great amount.
This factor is, we feel, as close to any single determinant one can use to place one of these torba into perspective.
Of course, one must really scientifically analyze any dye to positively determine its origin but anyone with enough experience and expertise can readily determine the difference between cochineal and the other two dyes in these pieces with some degree of certainty. However, determining whether kermes or lac is present is impossible without proper analysis. Again this is not the place to discuss the various methods of dye analysis but it is important to note the necessity of applying them to positively know what dye is present.
Another factor we have noticed that can be used to place one of these examples into perspective is the articulation of the design, particularly the shape of the outline of the complex medallions, the size of the ornaments within the medallions and especially the size and placement of the "kejebe" with the niche.
Again we are not presently interested disseminating what has taken 30 plus years to learn about Salors, "S" group and the kejebe torba. But for those of our readers who have carefully followed our other writings on this subject we believe they have gotten a pretty good idea of what we have developed.
Anyway, at the Bradley sale the fragment brought $12,500 plus a 15% premium, which was, in our opinion, a price that was way too much. Besides for the fact it is, at best just 3/4 of a complete piece - that is if it was a "two seater" and, at the least only 1/2 if it was a "three-seater" , the drawing of both the kejebe, medallion outline and interior ornamentation was quite compressed compared to the best, first period, examples of the type. But, in all fairness to it, the drawing overall was surely acceptable compared to other second and superior to all those from the third period.
While the red color used for the woolen areas of the Bradley piece was rich and very beautiful, we found the over use of cochineal silk to be garish and, to our eye, somewhat disconcerting and actually ugly. This over-abundance of silk is typical for later Salor work and, like the design compression and lack of proper proportion, hallmarks for these groups.
After a protracted, and what seemed to be an excruciating ordeal for the bidder in the room who finally ended up buying it against a phone bidder, the auctioneer finished off the sale and the, by then dwindling number of those in the crowd, clapped.
It was bought by wanna be rug dealer, beau, aka Bo Bo, ryan who is clearly in our opinion someone with more money than rug sense (actually cents in his case, as the Bo Bo as we have christened him still is a neophyte ruggie).
One of the other rug dealers at the sale opined he is figuring since the piece at sothebys brought $32,500 he got a “bargain”. Well, should that be the case, let us burst Bo Bo’s bubble and tell him:
1. the piece at sothebys was not only complete and definitely earlier bit it was also better in all respects and far more beautiful.
2. half or three quarters of a rug is never worth a pro-rated percentage of a complete one
3. and even if it was, the sellers costs associated with selling a piece at sothebys would take another bite out of the proceeds.
But in the heat of “battle” many auction bidders get carried away and then the old buyers regret quickly sets in.
We are sure the subtle factors of open left or right and dye sources were lost on a wanna-be like Bo Bo or, perhaps if he was lucky enough to be bidding for someone who is picking up the check, any customer who would be even more foolish than he to have him as their “expert”.
RK is sure to hear about what actually was making the little wheels in Bo Bo's cranium turn and are even more sure we will all see this fragment again.