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email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Fri, Jan 27th, 2006 09:55:48 AM
Topic: Fool's Gold

From RK's perspective rugdom is now spiraling out of control, granted the spiral is a s-l-o-w downward one but it is getting stronger and steeper year by year.

Unless one is a long time and highly experienced observer this degeneration might be impossible to detect, after all no-one besides RK is even mentioning it.

Let’s take a look at what RK is talking about.

The proliferation throughout the market place of fake and reproduction Caucasian rugs, particularly Kazaks, has been taking place for years and from our perspective has showing no signs of slowing down. In fact it is increasing, as the presence of these fakes can now be seen in almost every major auction.

A more recent area of fakery, and another one that has become a real business, is reproducing brand new soumak khorjins and suzani embroideries and passing them off as antique ‘treasures’.

The pieces these two areas of dishonest fakery have produced-- yeah yeah we know when is fakery ever honest! -- are, for those in the know, rarely difficult to spot and RK has often led the parade to out them for what they are.

However, we are often alone in voicing our awareness of these fakes and our displeasure with those who pass them off, as well as those who are foolish enough to buy them and then object to our calling them repros and fakes.

The fact the rug world has barely made public issue of this disturbing trend is bad but what is far worse is the lack of censure the 'establishment' has directed to those who make, design, buy and source and then pass them off as real, old and right.

Then, of course, how could one not mention the LACMA/dodds fiasco?

It is truly amazing RK remains alone in publicizing what an error LACMA made in purchasing a rug that was sold to them as circa 1550 when, as far as we are concerned, it is circa 1750-1800 at the earliest. By the way there are legions of other knowledgeable folks who agree with our position, not the least of which was one of the experts who vetted the rug for LACMA and then after actually handling it revised his dating upwards to circa 1700-1750.

LACMA’s seesawing public posturing is especially telling as the museum now recognizes circa 1550, the original dating, was as bogus as a 4 dollar bill. Unfortunately for all concerned, except the greedy seller, LACMA still foolishly believes it is circa 1650, a position that flies in the face of every iota of evidence RK has presented to the contrary.

Again, there has been no public discussion anywhere but on RK.com about this grievous art-crime, as we have so characterized it, nor has there been any censure of the seller for presenting a dossier of fallacious BS to support his ludicrously over-dated opinions of this rug's provenance.

All in all the silence rugdom and its quasi-establishment has chosen to maintain about these issues is, in our estimation, nothing more than heinous and culpable.

Protecting the fakers, be they maker or seller, who consistently pass these repros as real, or the greedy, like dodds, who abuse their position within that quasi-establishment for personal profit speaks incredibly poorly for all those who count membership in that quasi-establishment.

As in the LACMA/dodds case, where either dodds knew his rug was nothing more than an end of the line late, genre copy and then lied openly about it or was just too ill-informed and stupid to even realize that, the quasi-establishment’s turning a deaf ear to reality has only exacerbated the downward spiral we mentioned above.

Right then, on the heels of these blatant transgressions of trust comes the publication of an alleged new group of period Ottoman embroideries in the magazine that is the de facto house organ of the rug world's quasi-establishment.

From our position on high this smacks of the same horrendous logic present in the LACMA/dodds case -- either the author and the editors of the magazine know these embroideries are fakes and are disingenuously presenting them as real and right, or they are too inexperienced and dumb to realize they are not. We should mention the article does at times make a half-assed attempt to explain their presentation as a ‘search for the truth’ but any astute reading shows that is just a ploy and nothing more than spurious posturing.

Either way, or any way, there is no place they can hide nor could they mouth satisfactory words to ameliorate their error.

Blaming them for this is righteous and they should be called out for their mistake.

However, what is truly regrettable is the publication of this article has once again strained to the max the extant thin line of credibility antique Oriental Rugs and related weavings maintain in the art world.

Whether hyping this supposed new group of Ottoman embroideries, that by the way even a first level student of Ottoman textiles could recognize as highly questionable, was done in error or by design matters not.

Nor does it matter whether the author and the editors of the magazine did it to add to the repository of "knowledge" about period Ottoman textiles or to just to profit from the sale of these amateurish needleworks in the author’s case, or in the case of the magazine to profit from the sale of magazines or a book that might come out of this "discovery".

What moots any of these "excuses" is the fact these embroideries are clearly fakes and new reproductions, even the likes of the author and editor should have recognized.

This post is the first of a series we intend to publish about this "discovery" and we suggest our readership email or call the magazine's offices and register their dismay at the lack of expertise and professionalism hali has exhibited in devoting such a huge amount of space to present these embroideries in any light other than one of very high suspicion and distrust.

And while you're at it why not call LACMA and speak to the textile curator, Sharon Takeda, or their legal counsel, fred goldstein, and register your voice and opinion there as well?

Once again, we are sure, RK will have to slog through the ignorance and indifference that characterizes the world of Oriental Rugs and related weavings on this issue alone with little support from anything other than the truth.

Much more to come....

Author: robert
email: andersonr100@hotmail.com
Fri, Jan 27th, 2006 09:55:48 AM

Except for a relative hand full of notable exceptions, the field of antique oriental rugs and textiles has been relatively unscathed by “fakes” and forgeries until fairly recently.

Contrast this with Chinese ceramics, for example, where Song and earlier wares were faked as early as the Ming dynasty, and now 99.9% of everything coming out of China today being sold as an antique is instead a modern reproduction.

Now more than ever it is buyer beware!!!

The current situation vis a vis rugs raises many questions, such as why now?

The fact that Kazak and certain categories of Turkoman rugs with good color and in mint condition bring outrageous sums of money regardless of their artistic merit provides one possible answer.

It suggests that there are a lot of people with a lot of money but with very little knowledge or experience to guide them.

Such a situation is a natural set up for the proliferation of fakes on the market.

It is especially troubling that this ignorance seems to be so pervasive that it includes even museum directors and curators, individuals to whom many would naturally look for guidance.

Rug collectors and would-be rug collectors must now, more than ever, learn to rely on their own inner “eye”. Of course this is a process that all collectors go through, learning from numerous “mistakes” and the occasional successes until very gradually the successes outnumber the mistakes.

In some ways the situation existing in today’s rug market is analogous to that in the stock market, treacherous waters indeed for the ignorant and unwary, when less than a decade ago not much stock-picking savvy at all was needed. Will this have a similar market-dampening effect, or is it an opportunity for those willing to learn?

The answer to both questions might be yes.

The one glimmer of hope is that honest (often brutally so) individuals like JC and sites like RK.Com and the WeavingArtMuseum.Org will carry on their work to educate and enlighten, serving as a shining beacon in the darkness for all who have eyes to see and minds to comprehend.


RK Replies:

Robert, thanks for the kind words and astute viewpoints. We have had our webmaster add line spacing to make your post more easily read.

We would like to ask you to identify yourself publicly here on the board so as to squelch any more miscreants emailing RK.com to accuse us of fabricating your posts.

We ask you to do this only for that reason and hope you will see fit to honor our request.

Again many thanks for your input.

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