RK knows something about Anatolian slit-woven tapestries(kelims) and we also know something about Josephine Powell.
Josephine was in many regards like Caroline Mc Coy Jones, for these two women were not afraid to express themselves nor were they ever afraid to buck convention and the status quo.
However, unlike Caroline, who was shackled to and controlled by her rug world “handlers” (cathy, aka flying penis, cootner, jim blackamon and john weretime to name the most egregious), Josephine waded through the sewer, which is perhaps the best way to describe the oriental rug world, on her own steam and at her own pace.
The ethnographic element of her collection of kelims, her photographs and accompanying fieldwork is a monumental achievement.
This part of her legacy is well worth any of the praise hali and others have showered upon her.
That said, and of course what follows is nothing more than RK’s opinion, her collection of kelims is, quite frankly, not worth a whole hill of beans.
The majority of the pieces, like most of those now enshrined under the copper roof of the deyoung museum in San Francisco, are nice old kelims. However, they are not better or important than those in the inventories of several dealers we could name as well as other examples, which have appeared at auction.
The primary reason the kelim “market” shot up like a roman candle and then fizzled is for just that reason – there are very, very few kelims that are genuinely historic and important.
It is clear slit-tapestry, the technique all kelims utilize, was, until the 19th century, a by and large an indigenous weaving technique and examples were not made for export or foreign consumption.
Had they been we would, and trust us on this one rugfans, have many more extant first period, or as RK has christened them, archaic examples.
The initial BS and crapola that surrounded kelim “collecting” was mostly bogus – those who saw goddesses and flying genitalia everywhere soon realized the fallacies inherent in any half-baked interpretation of the research material and back-tracked pretty quickly or dropped the whole enchilada like it was a hot chile pepper.
This is clear, and fact is the kelim market is still as dead as a doorknob for that very reason.
In closing we gladly add our voice to proclaim and honor the important work and sacrifices Josephine
Powell accomplished and underwent but, please, lets not deify her collection. Rather, RK opines, we all should see it for what it is – a study collection of late 18th – 20th century examples.
We all know how the press makes stars; mostly so they can write about them, sell papers and benefit in many other ways. This is the way hali and the icoc/acor organ grinders also operate and RK is not only tired of watching them spin the wool to their designs but, even more, then tell everyone how to wear it.
Josephine Powell was a star but her collection surely doesn’t create anywhere near the supernova hali and the rest of the rug world bureaucracy would have us all believe.