Because there are hardly any signed, or marked in any other way, historic oriental rugs that were made in non-urban environments, determining their date and place of manufacture, or research to establish their importance and significance, is and has always been severely compromised.
This is clearly the greatest impediment standing in the way of creating more wide spread interest and awareness for these works of art.
Regardless of these obstacles, there are several techniques experienced researchers have at their disposal. While RK does not believe in the efficacy of some of these, like C14 dating, we do recognize and utilize two others in our work. We believe they are the most efficacious and positive tools now extant to answer such questions.
The first is structural analysis, which when done correctly, can lead to grouping weavings into clusters based on certain shared and common aspects gleaned from such analysis.
The separation of what are now well knows as the Turkmen “S”group comes to mind as one of the great successes using structural analysis.
We would like to mention here that we do not agree with many who equate “S” group with the weavings of the Salor tribe. Rather, we believe such an extrapolation is at best tentative, as there is little evidence to support the correlation between any pre-mid 19th century Turkmen weaving and the group that produced it.
The second technique we have full faith and confidence is known as art historical comparison. Basically, almost every rug type can be shown to be part of a continuum and, when any example is compared others of its type on such a continuum, it can rather easily be seen where it fits.
Granted this will never establish an object's place of manufacture, or weaver for example, but it does allow for a chronological date to be assigned and for its merits, or lack thereof, to be established. Thus a skilled researcher can then postulate just how good an example it is compared to those others of its type.
Beauty is surely in the eye of the beholder, and so might be importance.
However, experts generally agree, as what they see as beauty, or rate as important.
While this might be a bit of an overstatement in the rug world, there is now, and has been in the past, agreement between those who are knowledgeable.
We do well recognize the lack of definitive certainty any art historical comparison implies but, once again, if the comparison is skillfully and expertly constructed the results carry quite a significant chance to be positive and correct.
Recently, on another online website, we noticed a number of photographs made at the Istanbul icoc Turkish Museum exhibits.
We are publishing three of them in this thread to demonstrate the use of the type of art historical comparison we just described. This process will then communicate and demonstrate:
1. they share a relationship that is determinable
2. their relative positions on the type of operational chronology we mention
3. how such an art historical comparison can facilitate determining their individual merits and importance.
That these three “prayer rugs” all share an extremely rare and archaic design format is quite obvious. However, this relationship, and the small continuum it forms, has until now never been recognized or discussed.
The reason for this is because we, and perhaps some other investigators, have never seen two of examples, only the one at the left being previously known and published.
We have already illustrated this amazing survivor and undoubtedly it is the archetype of the group. It, and a number of other early Turkish “re-entrant” prayer rugs, is illustrated in a series of posts we wrote some years ago entitled: “A Tail of Two Prayer Rugs Part III”, which is now, once again, in the "Best of RugKazbah" Topic Area.
By the way none of those other prayer rugs could be included above and, in fact, we know of no others that can.
The second, and until now unknown to us, prayer rug illustrated in the center was exhibited at the icoc in Istanbul from, as we have been informed, the TIEM Museum exhibition.
Not so coincidently, the TIEM also has the archetype, the example to its left, in its collection as well.
RK wonders if the Museum’s reference notations about these two pieces might substantiate our thought they were found together at the same time, in the same place?
Regardless of the significance that possibility could claim it is easy to say they are quite similar and surely related: The center piece being the junior and a “copy” of the archetype.
The third example on the right is also easily determined to be a “copy” of the "copy". We do not think it necessary to spend time or energy fleshing out that postulation.
Perhaps one that does necessitate some discussion is why this unusual and highly enigmatic prayer rug format was never as numerously “copied” as almost all other “prayer” rug styles?
We intend to continue this discussion as time permits and will take up that question and several others this comparison relates. Stay tuned….