The how’s and why’s of design origination and derivation are two of the most interesting and intriguing aspects of Oriental Carpet research. They are also some of the most difficult determine and vexing to contemplate.
RK has been interested in this area of inquiry for many years and have found that often the most simple and logical explanations are the most probable. However, locating simplicity in complex forms is very difficult, as anyone who has ventured into such types of research will readily agree.
RK is also not very interested in the origination of many designs found in classical carpets, or their transference between and among the many different branches of this weaving tree.
We are, however, interested when the motifs and patterns relate to those found on the non-urban, clan weavings we collect and study.
Naturally the inherent chicken or egg question: Did the design go from classical to non-urban or vis-a-versa, is a central one and is, most likely, only answerable on an individual basis.
We sincerely doubt there was a one-way street in either direction and we are not raising this issue to discuss this imponderable question.
Rather, we are writing to comment on the rather amateurish demonstration recently done online by one of professor clown’s minions, which by the way contained and was based on several equally amateurish conclusions drawn by some big names in rugdom.
The apparent object of this attempt was to explain the design found on this well-known Turkish Rug:
We agree this rug is a “splendid” one, as “A Splendid Rug” was the title the author gave to his effort but that’s about as far as agreement with us would run.
The rest, including the hallowed words of wisdom quoted from jon thompson and
Christine Klose in their attempts to explain the design find equally little traction or validity as far as we are concerned.
Here’s some of the description the author recounts:
This is the unique 16th century triple medallion rug from Anatolia in the Black Church, Brashov, 148 x 202 cm, 1300 kpsdm, on which Christine Kose(sic) focussed(sic) in her presentation, and which Alberto Boralevi ‘looking mainly to the colours’ attributed to the Karapinar area in Central Anatolia. Also, as it said in the handout to his presentation, this is probably the ‘most intriguing and most interesting piece in the whole collection.’”
Well, first off, we’d suggest Mr Boralevi forget he ever heard the word Karapinar so he could never use it again so indiscriminately.
This rug has nothing to do with anything Karapinar. Period.
It is most likely a western Anatolian Village Rug and not from any central or eastern Village weaving center we’ve ever heard about.
Secondly, while we view it as “interesting”, it would surely not be called by us the most “intriguing and interesting piece in the whole collection”.
Not by even a long shot, as there are some real pisser rugs in the Collection of what is commonly known as the “Black Church” in Brashova, Romania.
In getting to the meat of the matter, the author then dutifully cites what thompson and Klose had to say:
“Apparently, the rug has in the past been widely discussed by several authors (Jon Thompson 1980, Christine Klose and Ali Riza Tuna at 6th ICOC Hamburg). ‘All of them have noticed the resemblance between the pattern of this piece and that of classical Turkmen carpets.’ This is how Christine Klose acquainted us with this perspective:
“The image shows an endless repeat pattern familiar from classical Turkoman rugs; varying the field-sector allows for design alternatives that look astonishingly different: In the case of ‘our’ rug three cruciforms on the same axis appear to have sintered into one body, flanked by two half-göls and two quarter-göls on either side.
What appears as being unique to us, actually may have been not quite as much out of the ordinary in the 16th century.”
This piece related to Turkmen rugs? Yesshh, get out the fishing pole and can or worms because Thompson and Klose’s fishing expedition is getting ready to depart from the dock, All Aboard.
We will, in just a minute, provide a far more plausible explanation but let’s continue with what RK sees as nothing more than straw-grabbing nonsense.
“I am indebted” the turkkotek.com author wrote “to Christine Klose for providing the following image in the course of the preparation of this essay. It shows rug A-28 of the Vakiflar Museum Istanbul; judged by its appearance, from east-central or eastern Anatolia and perhaps a contemporary of CAT. 4 – with a size of 380 x 210 cm a rather large rug.
Especially noteworthy is the similarity of the cruciforms in the two rugs, an observation on which Christine Klose built her Timurid tradition hypothesis.”
Here is the rug Klose provided but first off let us state it is a far later example, circa 1800 in our view, and not nearly from the period the Black Church piece can be ascribed:
If we did not know for a fact this actually is the rug Klose cited, we would have suspected there was a mix-up because this rug has, at least in our estimation, absolutely NO relationship to the issue at hand.
In fact, it is totally obtuse to mention or picture these two rugs in close proximity for any reason.
By dragging in another alleged big gun rug expert, we learn the following from turkkotek.com:
‘A number of other interesting thoughts and images in this context provides Dennis Dodds (1986 ?) Truly Classical. Hali 39, pp 17-22, when he discusses the connection between East Mediterranean designs of the Classical period and early Anatolian rugs with reference to a fragment of a Sivas area weaving in the Bertram Frauenknecht New York exhibition:
‘While much is known about the westward migrations of Turkic peoples and their contributions to the design vocabulary of the weaving cultures that they influenced, the role of the entrenched, resident cultures who were dominated by the Turks and by Islamic people in general is less frequently discussed. When observing form and style in the art of this region, it is particularly important to understand that Islam borrowed frequently and enthusiastically from the decorative conventions of existing local cultures.’”
You all will, of course, remember mr dodds as the conniving greedy carpet-bagger who bilked the Los Angeles County Art Museum into believing his circa 1750-1800 alleged Karapinar rug was circa 1550 and a masterpiece of its type.
Either that or dodds was so ill-informed and ignorant as to actually believe his rug was as per the dream induced description he used to mislead the Museum.
Either way dodds deserves to have anything he says about anything carefully investigated and vetted.
Reading what dodds wrote does nothing other than show how an author can use many words to say nothing, as that’s exactly what dodds’s spiel accomplished, nothing.
On the other hand, at least thompson and Klose present an idea – that the rug in question is relatable to Turkmen rugs. However, we do not agree with this hypothesis either. And neither should you or anyone else who has enough ocular power to open the eyes wide enough to read the following words and see these photos.
The medallion rug from the Black Church is, in our estimation, not 16th century but rather mid-late 17th. Also it has nothing more to do with Turkmen rug weaving than any other Anatolian rug of this period and thompson and Klose are way off base to suggest differently.
Let’s take one of the medallions and turn it 90 degrees:
Now let’s look at two Ushak rugs. The first is a very typical small medallion carpet and the other a black/white detail from a typical large carpet that contains more than one medallion:
We believe no one has to strain their grey-matter to see how the “designer” of the Black Church’s rug developed the three medallions it displays. The unique perimeter outline all these medallions display is no coincidence, it is too distinct for chance to have played any role here.
Also, these medallions are nowhere to be found in the pattern-book of any Turkmen weavings we are familiar with.
No, here the simple explanation of turning a very important and well-used “classic” medallion shape on its side and re-using it in a different but very similar fashion tell us all we need to know.
We cannot end without mentioning the absurdity of the maxim the proud, design-exploring turkkotekker then finished his piece with:
“This about hits the nail on the head is the background against which CAT. 4 should be evaluated.”
Saying that is akin to the fool who declared, in 1900, the U.S. Government Patent Office should be closed because “everything has already been invented”.
This is, we agree, even dumber then buying into thompson and Klose’s mis-gotten ideas about Turkmen influence or any, for heaven’s sake, the more incredibly absurd floating of any “Timurid hypothesis”.
And dumber even yet is the “cruciform” hunt this turkkotekking author galloped off on. That’s why we have avoided any mention of that useless Hi-Ho Silver, and away.
Finding viable design parallels, like the one we present, to explain questions of design orientation and derivation might look easy but, in reality, these connection prove often to be quite elusive and hard to grasp – no matter how simple or close to home they might turn out to be.