Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >RK Looks @ the acor Exhibitions
Fri, Apr 28th, 2006 09:41:30 AM
Topic: RK Looks @ the acor Exhibitions

Both acor and icoc events are tripartite affairs – ‘lectures’, exhibitions and dealer fairs – and acor/Boston followed in these now well-established footsteps.

RK has, in the past, written about our ideas for making these events better and will not bother to provide more solutions to the problems we saw last weekend but rather, at this point in time, discuss the many shortcomings as well as few high points this one achieved.

Since we were prevented from registering for Friday’s lecture series (the only day where we felt there would be any interesting talks) we will not be able to comment here about how good or bad even the couple we chose to attend were.

As for the dealer’s fair? We attended it on several afternoons and thoroughly enjoyed our time there but did not see any weavings that interested us enough to pull the trigger and bag.

We have already mentioned the grumbling we heard from a number of stand holders who bemoaned the fact two major rug auctions were going on while they were trying to do business.

There is no doubt this hurt sales in a major way for many but, we also know some dealers did well selling both to other dealers, to registrants and to the public at large.

Frankly speaking there were a number of good pieces and good buys at the fair but we did not see one piece that was a best-of-type or an example of major significance in the areas we are interested.

The fair was held in a “castle”, an ex-national guard armory, across the street from the conference hotel and it appeared to be well-suited and well organized, though it is always best being in the hotel rather than across the street since there is so little free time at these events.

The exhibitions were all in the hotel, except for a couple of lesser satellite ones that were in showrooms close by.

We have already expressed our outrage and disgust the acor organizers allowed the bogus embroidery show pacquin organized to go forward in light of the fact those pseudo-Ottoman needleworks are reproduction and, in our estimation, out and out blatant fakes.

Regardless of their actual age, be in 1 year or 100, they are not Ottoman, they are not important and they are ugly, garish inventions based on some vague interpretation of the design principals genuine 16/17th century ones established long ago.

Not only should the acor board by rebuked for allowing it to take place but they should be doubly rebuked for allowing wall labels to date these monstrosities 17/18 century, which were as fanciful as hopkins and pacquin waving tinkerbell’s magic wand at them– total BS.

Speaking of hopkins, another sore point for RK was the upfront and center display of his over-rated “collection” of Belouch rugs.

As the titular head of acor/Boston, hopkins sure showed no shame in parsing off a huge area to hang his mostly so what belouch rugs.

This wall was one of the better of the five or so he spread his rugs over. Of these four small format rugs the best, which by the way we “discovered” in 1979 in Paris and sold sometime in the early 80’s to a now bankrupted English dealer, is the second from left and since it has already been exhibited and published a number of times before, do we really need to see it again?

Not bragging but we still like it better than any other Belouch small format rug we know and way more than any other rug in hopkins’s corral.

And what do we think about the other three? Well, the “border” piece at the end is interesting enough but the other two could have remained at home – pity hopkins didn’t remain there with them.

We spoke to some anonymous acorites and each one expressed some consternation about him and the way he played his role as Indian-chief organizer.

Regardless, it is his role as a collector at issue here and his display -- even putting them on a white backdrop rather than the green others used – should have been seriously vetted and culled, as it is patently clear hopkins is not the great Belouch collector he’d like to be considered.

Four or five pieces from him would have already been too much, after all who needs to see that “bird” bag (bought at some earlier acor/icoc event) that was made too long after the fact to have that glow and wool quality great ones exhibit.

Is this a “bad” bird bag? No, but neither is it anything to warrant a spotlight outside hopkins’s living room and had he not been chief pooh-bah of acor/Boston even Superman couldn’t have shoehorned this piece and the rest of his collection into that show.

Another grandee exhibition was the mitchell and rosylee rugnik Caucasian rug exhibit.

Held in the basement of the hotel, a more unsuitable venue one would be hard pressed to find.

Allowing their art collection to be displayed there demonstrates having the money to buy art and having enough knowledge and taste to appreciate it are often not synonymous.

RK wouldn’t take our bathroom mat and show it there, nothing could look its best down there.

This subtle but major problem was lost on the boorish newbie rugniks, who probably still haven’t figured out the why of the whole let-down yet.

Anyway, though it did have good ceiling height, the rest of the environment was skewed to the max and a number of colorful jolly rugs ended up looking their worst. Being there reminded us of looking at rugs in books with bad printing -- the out of register, poor color separation and press work hiding any nuance.

Besides for the horrendous ambiance another down point was, as a whole, their pieces all had a certain reflective or contrived “look” about them. We have spoke about this before and the grogan ensi would be another example of what we are talking about.

Even though that “look” was early, many of the rugnik rugs were not period (pre- or just post-1800), but those made right afterwards and a few even more so. At least that’s the way we see it.

We intend on publishing some additional pictures of their ‘show’ and add more comments soon but let’s end this installment with a pic of our favorite from their cedar chest:

It’s the best of their acor pieces according to us and, by the way, we have heard they do have other better pieces they chose not show. A good decision and one they should have made before committing this and the others.

We hope it is true because the acor show does not justify all the time and expense the rugnik’s have expended in attempting to make a “collection”.

Our favorite, this Kazak-type long rug, has a wild, archaic'looking' main border that makes it appear to be quite old.

But, in fact, it is a 19th century rug as far as we are concerned.

The border is spectacular and inspired by pre-1700 “Caucasian” embroidery designs but the field and, especially the one remaining guard border, unmistakably place this rug post-1800 and we venture circa 1840.

Not the oldest but, all points considered, it was our favorite of the lot.

Author: R
Fri, Apr 28th, 2006 09:41:30 AM

RK Replies:

We were not privy to the economics of the acor/Boston event but, if was like other acor/icoc's, the conference committee pays those, and all other expenses, out of the money raised from the dealers for their booths at the fair and from individual conference registrations.

We doubt any of the "exhibitors" at the acor shows chipped in to hang their pieces there.

One of the icoc's in London did charge the participants but that was done by jon thompson. He charged for any illustrations used in his Carpet Magic" book, which was the de facto conference publication.

We are somewhat curious why you are inquiring?


Paying for the space in the hotel and the electric for the spot lights or any other expence associated with the exhibition.

Thu, Apr 27th, 2006 09:22:13 PM

RK Replies:

Paying for what? The space in the hotel? The electric for the spot lights?


Greetings. I like to know who is paying for the acor exhibitions, dealers or people who own them? Thanks

Author: jc
Thu, Apr 27th, 2006 10:41:30 AM

We made some photos of the walls of rugs the rugnik displayed and here is the first of those photos:

Of these three pieces, the weakest in our estimation was the small format yellow rug with four ascending and contiguous medallions.

We can appreciate the wool and dye quality the best rugs of this period (1840-1860) display but, because they are quite removed from the historic cultural and weaving traditions of the Caucasus, they hold little interest for us at this point in our rug studies.

Granted this yellow rug has style but those two pair of oversized quadrupeds placed between the bottom and next up medallion, the typical Saychour “running dog” outer border and the other almost as typical “red” inner one strike us as too rote and common to be interesting.

Additionally the strong geometric designing that fills the medallions lacks any trace of the ‘early’ iconography that always accelerates RK’s admiration and respect.

We commented on that pseudo-earlyish look or ‘veneer’ many of the rugnik pieces display and this little yellow rug has some of that quality as well.

For instance the octagon in the bottom medallion, the unusual (but meaningless) in-fill the others have, two equally wide borders, the green and yellow fine trefoils separating those borders from the field and the well proportioned and articulated ‘hooks’ that surround each of the medallions. Also, the proportions of all aspects of this rug’s design are well set out and organized.

But, like many on view at acor, this one and others hanging in the rugnik’s basement dungeon, they lack any real connection to the older far more interesting and historic ‘1700-1800 period’ – at time when most of the really great rugs were produced in the Caucasus.

For instance:

The piece to the left, a Genje/Kazak area rug, from the rugnik “collection” looks to be slightly earlier than a similar one in Schurmann’s seminal publication “Caucasian Rugs” illustrated on the right.

Both these examples, a number of others from the rugnik “collection”, as well as many from Schurmann’s book, have that formulaic appearance and early “veneer” mentioned earlier.

We carry the notion the Schurmann rug was made as a prayer rug and might agree the rugnik piece could also have had that purpose in mind when it was created.

There can be little doubt these two rugs are brothers, or sisters if you like, and, in fact, they may be even be twins.

The almost exact repetition of very unique rug designs like we see here not only occurred in the 1830-1860 period when these two rugs were undoubtedly produced.

We can spot other examples of earlier rugs that are far less formulaic yet as closely related in design as weave as these two.

The following two earlier Kazaks show a good example of this:

The example on the left is from the rugnik “collection” and the fragmented one on the right has belonged to us since 1974 and is illustrated in our “Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth: Classic Weaving of the Caucasus” book.

We must say we were quite surprised to see almost an exact replica of our medallion Kazak rug hanging in the rugnik show. Naturally we examined it pretty carefully and found it to be, weave and color wise, the veritable twin to our piece.

However, because ours has larger chunky medallions and fewer rows of them, five in the rugnik and four in ours (originally it had four rows before it was cut down into the large fragment that remains)we might believe it might have been the model for the other.

Also while the border articulation appears to be almost exact, there are some subtle but telling differences that can be noted by inspecting this detail of our piece:

We did not make a good enough photo of the rugnik example to show it in detail, however, it does show a strong reduction in detail, particularly the side borders as the top and bottom are more closely allied.

Also, the repetition of certain design elements in the field of the rugnik piece as compared to the more whimsical hand that drew the other, implies theirs was made afterwards. Plus its failure to include some other icons present in ours draws the same conclusion.

Were these two rugs with the same very unique design made by the same weaver? Or were the materials used to weave it produced in the same locations?

Also, were the two related pieces (the rugnik and Schurmann examples) we illustrate above also both made in the same circumstances and/or location?

We surely can not answer questions like this now but if/when the forensic analysis program we envision for the Weaving Art Museum gears up we believe the data we will collect can/will enable us to draw finite conclusions required to answer such questions.

One final note: We can not prove the Kazak on the right is somewhat earlier than the one on the left, though our ideas about why we feel it is certainly are more than just conjecture or the “my rug is better than yours” psychology so rampant in rugdom.

We’d like to cite another rug that took us down memory lane --this Moghan design Kuba area long rug:

We bought this rug in the middle 1970’s in England and held onto to it for a while as the candy-cane coloration and great proportions were powerfully attractive.

They still are but as our taste moved into earlier, more iconographic weavings, we grew tired of pretty rugs like this and sold it in the early 1980’s.

Frankly, we do not remember to whom we sold this rather wonderful example of the type.

The last piece we’ll take a look at in this installment is a prayer rug from a very rare and important group:

There are only a few, genuinely old, examples of this group and the rugnik piece is, for us, just on the dividing line between those and the few later and far inferior ones.

The best of this early group are silk wefted, possess incredibly wonderful coloration, amazing fine weave and great articulation of design.

The later group lacks the silk weft and brilliant colors, as well as turning the archaic design into one that is only a reflection of the former.

The rugnik piece demonstrates this and while we wanted to illustrate one of the great ones of this type we cannot find the reference.

Many long years ago we remember buying one with berdj andonian from dennis dodds – and what a struggle we had dealing with dodds over the purchase.

Regardless, we got it and RK wishes we could find the photo of it to post here – it was a pisser of a rug that makes the one the rugnik’s collected look rather anemic and life-less by comparison.

Their piece is not a bad one but it is not well done enough to make RK laud it.

Actually, we hold that feeling for most of the rugnik pieces and although their “collection” does shine compared to the Caucasian Rugs generally seen on the market, it pales badly compared to the great ones that only very seldom come along.

In closing, as we are a collector, too we know the problem of deciding when and what to buy. And while buying is fun and makes any collector feel like they are actually “doing” something, we have grown to believe it is best to keep one’s power dry until something really noteworthy comes into one grasp.

For us it is clear the rugniks followed too closely the route gourmandise in their pursuit of a "collection".

They are not alone here, as most collectors also fall prey too often to temptation, either through unbridled exuberance or lack of real expertise, and buy too much or end up with rugs that are not good enough.

However, on the other hand and as our readership knows, RK's chosen path is committed to the far more difficult to travel route de gourmet.

Less is definitely more and that lesson is but another we feel the rugniks need to internalize and practice before their “collection” will reach the heights they believe they already have scaled.

Author: jc
Wed, Apr 26th, 2006 06:02:07 PM

RK's rug standards are high and the comments we offer about acor or the rugnik's show are so based.

It is unfair to take them out of this context and to those who will attempt to let this be your cue.

Presentation is not everything but it is important when trying to make an impression and no one will argue the rugniks are not trying to make an impression.

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