There were a number of other pieces from individual collectors at acor/Boston, besides the rugnik and 'opkins pieces, and RK intends to cover them as well in our conference review.
And, while we do intend to finish our rugnik and 'opkins notes, we felt at this juncture it might be instructive to picture two 19th century Caucasian ‘type’ rugs that interested us far more than anything we saw on the walls in the rugnik’s show.
To do that, and to counter the rather dismissive comments we aimed directly at their 19th century Caucasian rugs, we’d like to picture a rug or two from that time period we do appreciate:
We would not call this, pretty amazing, long rug “Caucasian” but we do feel it was made in the southern Caucasus by, most probably, some band of Kurdish weavers.
Regardless of its parentage, it is quite a piece of work – fantastic and archaic inspired design, wonderful coloration and right on proportions.
It’s a 10 as far as we are concerned.
Here is a detail showing the impressive drawing in the medallions:
Now there’s a weaving to marvel at and to wonder how such a conceptual arrangement of archaic Near Eastern iconography could have been so artfully amalgamated, by a weaver working circa 1820-1840, into the overall pattern this rug displays.
We were literally stopped in our tracks when we first spied it – this rug could be a poster rug showing how, even up to just before the mid-19th century, ancient icons and mythology could be properly aspected and depicted.
RK has to almost believe it was only by accident a rug like this one, and a few others we have seen over the years, could have been produced since so few weavings made in the Caucasus or nearby contiguous regions of Turkey or Persia in this time-frame were able to achieve this superior level of weaving prowess.
That said we must emphasize when the details of the medallion drawing, as well as other areas in the field and borders, are carefully examined they do demonstrate a lack of a true facility and understanding of the archaic iconography this rug is based upon. But these shortcomings are far less noticeable than we see in almost all other rugs made in this time frame.
Of course, this is to be expected in a post-1800 weaving and, therefore, not detrimental to the rug’s importance or to our appreciation.
We like to call rugs like this honest weavings because everything the weaver did was traditional and within cultural confines we expect to see.
Just for grins let’s put it next to our favorite piece from the rugnik “collection”, that long rug with the wild border:
Many years ago in conversation with a friend who collects classic Navaho Blankets, we came up with the term soul vibe to describe weavings where the weaver was able to imbue the finished product with some subtle and indefinable animate quotient -- almost as if the weaver was able to instill life, itself, into her work.
This ethereal soul vibe is something we still, after all these years, cannot define but we sure can sense.
It is also something RK demands present in the rugs and textiles we collect.
We have found it in weavings, regardless of their age or parentage, made in all areas of the Near East – not only the Caucasus.
This quality is, like all great rugs, impossible to define, even by someone like us who has sensed its presence for many long years.
As we walked through the exhibitions most of the rugs, not only the rugnik or hopkins pieces, stuck us as soul vibe-less .
In fact, going through the many of the books and photos of rugs that are now generally available for reference, we find this to be the case – most weavings, be they 19th century or 17th century or in between, lack this quality.
Capturing it can be related to the talent of certain painters to bring life (or is it the ability to put life?), into a canvas.
Clearly this skill is one that cannot be taught or many other paintings, and rugs by the way, would be much better for it.
Is sensing this soul vibe teachable? We’d have to believe, yes, it is, and we are surely interested in spreading this concept.
By the way, we have never spelled out the soul vibe
idea here on RugKazbah.com or in our other writings but we have, in the past, intimated its existence.
Sensing soul vibe, like any other subtle and inestimable quality, takes practice and effort -- that is why we posted pictures of these two long rugs side-by side. We’d ask you to stare at them for a while and see if you agree with us.
Another rug we were enamored of was this piece:
Again, this weaving is not really a Caucasian rug but one made in a nearby and contiguous area.
If asked we’d forward the moniker, North-west Persian (NWP), as this might be as close as we’d offer.
We chose to illustrate this rug not only because we respect it but because it, too, can show us the presence of our soul vibe quotient. Let's see how it compares to another rug, the yellow “medallion” rug from the rugnik “collection”, that doesn't:
As we wrote yesterday, we appreciate some aspects of the rugnik’s “medallion” rug but when it is directly compared to a superior, and probably contemporaneous weaving like the NWP, its shortcomings are very apparent.
Granted these are not the best of pictures but even they demonstrate our point – notice the clarity of the drawing in the NPW and the skilled interpretation and re-interpretation of many traditional motives.
The wonderful borders, both main and guard, highlight this weavings connections with a traditional weaving culture. They also, simultaneously, show by comparison the lack of these qualities in the rugnik’s smaller format yellow rug.
Also we would like to mention the powerful perspective the NWP rug’s various sized “medallions” create, “perfect” proportions that manifest the important third-dimension all great rugs display.
For us, the NWP has soul vibe to the max, drawn from both its superior connections to its traditional weaving culture and to the skill of a weaver who was able to internalize and respect the tenets of that heritage.
We will continue our look at the acor/Boston exhibitions as time permits. So stay tuned…