As many of you old-timers might know, RK has been collecting flat-weaves -- soumak and kelim -- both from the Caucasus region as well as central Turkey, since 1967.
Much, but not all, of our collection is illustrated in several exhibitions on the Weaving Art Museum website:
Might we suggest readers, who are interested in these types of weavings and have not already seen the ones we have put online, visit the museum.
Besides for our collecting interests, we have also pursued innovative ideas, and areas of research. We have published our finding in both books and online.
In fact, we were the original proponent and researcher to relate late Paleolithic and early Neolithic archaeological discoveries and objects with certain archaic Anatolian flat-weaves.
The first exhibition on the Weaving Art Museum website, “Archaeology and Anatolian Slit-Tapestry Weaving” is actually an online presentation of a book we wrote in the late 1980’s and published in 1990 "IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim".
We originally planned to publish the 10 early archetype/prototype kelim from our collection, and much of the text, in another project. RK acted as publisher and co-author with James Mellaart, the famous Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Anatolian archaeologist and scholar, Belkis Balpinar, the former director of the Vakiflar Museum in Turkey and udo hirsch, who unfortunately turned out to be nothing but a snake-in-the-grass greedy, kelim-bagger.
Tentatively titled "8000 Years of Anatolian Kelim" Mellaart, Balpinar and hirsch finally submitted the first drafts when a combination of events made RK uneasy about the project. We then decided to turn it over to johnny eskenazi who eventually, with hirsch, published the work, sans our contributions, as "The Goddess from Anatolia”.
This is not the time and place for an in-depth discussion of those events but considering the outcome and reviews "The Goddess from Anatolia" received, which surely qualify in anyone’s opinion as extremely critical, we feel we made the right decision.
In our work, “IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL” no speculation is presented as fact; nor is there the inclusion of controversial material, two important aspects which separate it from “The Goddess from Anatolia”.
All the archaeological material from the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age periods we included is well-known, having been previously published and accepted as genuine by specialists in this field.
Plus every example, illustration and photograph is clearly referenced and footnoted, as are many of the ideas we present.
On another flat weave front, RK also has a collection of archetypal Caucasian kelim, as well as archetypal and prototypical soumak bagfaces from this region.
The second Weaving Art Museum exhibition ”KELIM SOUMAK CARPET and CLOTH: Classic Weaving from the Caucasus”contains some of the examples from that collection as well.
We mention this to provide a little background concerning our now almost 40 years of collecting and researching Near Eastern flat-weaves to qualify our comments on the hali review and also on mr raoul tschebull, who wrote it.
We first met tschebull sometime circa 1973/4, when he was a rug collector, who worked for a large commercial bank in NYC.
Around that time, tschebull’s publishing project ”KAZAK, which by the way is the only published work of his we are familiar with, was being released.
For the time, it is an excellent work and still today stands well against all other books about this genre of weaving.
We were impressed with tschebull back then and enjoyed several meetings and discussions we had with him.
Perhaps about 5 or so years later, we heard tschebull moved to Germany, left the bank and, lo and behold, soon became a full-fledged rug dealer in the US, which he still is to this day with a rug store in southern New England.
We can’t say the change from collector to dealer did anything brilliant for tschebull’s rug expertise or personality.
In fact, tschebull, just like fredrich spuhler who became a dealer after leaving the Berlin Museum, turned into an obnoxious, know-it-all rug poser.
This is not the place, once again, for RK to flesh out our complaints about either one of these two miserable rug-dealing-creeps but rather to discuss the “review” tschebull wrote.
We are going to re-publish some relevant sections and add, in bold type, our comments.
"Islands of Pile in a Sea of Flatweaves – ICOC Review”
“HALI asked the author((ed. raoul tschebull), an experienced specialist in collectable heirloom weavings from what might be termed ‘Greater Azerbayjan’, to scout the Istanbul ICOC Dealers’ Fair and the academic programme for 19th century rugs and flatweaves of note from Iran and the Transcaucasus region.”
As far as we are concerned tschebull is a phony whose expertise on any rug subject, flat-weave or not, is questionable.
Some years ago, tschebull went on an “expedition” to this region to “research and study” the people and their weavings.
This “expedition” and that “research” is probably the reason for hali giving tschebull such glowing credit.
However, the truth about tschebull’s expedition includes the following totally astounding fact: He stayed there for only 2 days!
Now please, who in their right mind could possibly believe anyone, even a slow Johnny like tschebull, could do anything significant, or learn anything significant, in 48 hours?
So much for tschebull the expert - or hali’s pumping up his feeble credential way past their net worth or reality.
“At the ICOC XI rug fair the most interesting piece for me was a heavy, weft-faced slit-tapestry kilim, with dog-toothed vertical stripes in red, green, and dark blue (1). Such kilims are virtually unknown. The sellers, the Kaplan brothers (Karavan) from Konya swore it came from the Borjalu Valley, but stylistically and especially from a colour standpoint, it looks like balanced and weft-predominant plainweave textiles from southern Karabagh (see, for example, Vok Collection: Caucasus Persia, pl.79), possibly from the weaving centre of Bahmanli. These latter textiles, most of which came to the market after the break-up of the Soviet Union, are squarish, fairly well-known, and are considered by some to be sofreh.Typically they have warps that match the colour of the wefts in the vertical stripes, which makes lightweight balanced plainweave possible while allowing for sharp colour differentation(sic). Some have supplementary weft decoration. The Karavan kilim also has dyed warps that match the wefting, but there seems less reason for the weaver to have used this approach since the fabric is tightly weft-faced. One other example with quite a bit less bling in the Vok Collection (pl.44) has warps of undyed beige wool and colours separated by ‘contour wrapping’, which is absent from the Karavan kilim, which is dinged and stained, but fixable. I was quoted $8,200, including the refurbishment. I admire this piece, don’t need it, and don’t think there’s a long line of collectors who want to buy it.”
RK has never been interested in mid-19th, later 19th and 20th century flat weaves, so we will reserve commenting about what tschebull wrote.
But we cannot resist asking why he dissed the owners of the last piece for no reason?
Does tschebull really think they cared a wit that he “don’t need it”.
Or does tschebull actually believe saying he “admired” it was anything but a disingenuous statement, as he immediately followed with his doubts “…there’s a long line of collectors who want to buy it.”
This typifies for us tschebull’s, and we must say many other rug hoi polloi like him, invidious character and obnoxious willingness to always prove his position of rug-superiority.
Really, such a statement and tschebull’s belief of his superiority behind it, is laughable and shows what a rug-creep tschebull truly is down below that pseudo-veneer of rug salesman affability.
”One such jajim, probably from the Moghan/ Sabalan area, composed of nine strips of fabric taken from two weavings of slightly differing widths and sewn together in alternating colours was on Udo Langauer’s stand (2). The use of two separate bands of material is not very common, although the size and format are fairly customary, as is the brown wool braid sewn onto the four sides. The primary design, which looks like birds in flight, is unusual in jajim, but can be seen on a tent-band in Parviz Tanavoli’s Shahsavan (pl.274). Age is difficult to estimate on a piece with good strong colour, but it is reasonable to think this jajim was woven at the same time as sumakh bags with these colours.”
Once more this type of flatweave is not earlier than the mid-19th century and, therefore, out of RK areas of interest and expertise. However, we would take exception to tschebull’s ridiculously encompassing statement “ Age is difficult to estimate on a piece with good strong colour, but it is reasonable to think this jajim was woven at the same time as sumakh bags with these colours.”
Difficult to estimate age because of strong color? What the freak does that mean?
After reading a statement like that, RK’s desire to continue this almost evaporated – that’s why we refer to what he writes as tschebull-shit.
Plus relating these kelim to the cross-design soumak bags, with suppossedly the same colors, is equally as stupid and incorrect.
Well, for starters, the kelim might belong to a homogenous group, which is often the case with weavings made post mid-19th century.
However, we are well versed in the history, various time-periods, myriad of different areas and makers of these cross-design soumaks.
They are in no way a homogenous group, nor does the fact some have similar or even somewhat similar color palettes to the kelim translate as tschebull speaks it, as anyone with any expertise in these weavings will vouch.
To believe that group of experts includes tschebull is nothing more than more tschebull-shit.
”On the ‘academic’ side, Bob Chenciner, Chuck Paterson, Magomedkhan Magomedkhanov and Paul Ramsey gave a truly multimedia presentation on a group of Daghestani interlocked tapestry weave textiles, namely Dums and Davaghins. It only seemed natural that Bob referred to them as D&Ds. A variety of live pieces were shown, discussion of Caucasian raptors as sources for D&D imagery, and information on the revival of natural dyeing in the region so that good reproductions can be made and sold on the DOBAG model.”
RK might venture a guess that bob chenciner, aka mr kaitag, might soon with his kaitag partner-in-crime, little lord franses of Mayfair, be hawking these interlocked tapestry-woven textiles as the next greatest thing, since kaitag, in rugdom?
Readers of RugKazbah.com know RK is the only one left standing who doesn’t believe the kaitag BS, crapola, over-the-top hype and over-dating chenciner and franses are guilty of perpetrating.
There is little doubt kaitags are the Ghiordes prayer rug fraud of our rug collecting generation and RK feels sorry for all the collectors who have been bamboozled into believing kaitags are anything but later 19th and 20th century provincial weavings.
RK is also dismayed no one else has challenged their specious documentation and dating of kaitags, forget about the high prices these flossy, not very old or beautiful provincial embroideries now generate.
It’s absolutely obvious the best of them are nothing more than copies, and rather poor ones at that, of earlier and far more important and beautiful Caucasian embroideries. Frankly, RK has never seen a kaitag we think is as good as the worst example of those earlier embroideries.
”Chenciner is a rare character: both entertainer and serious academic. He’s always a treat to hear and his enthusiasm is infectious. My own most open-mouthed appreciation of his talents occurred while watching him explain in what I assumed was slightly off-centre Russian to a group of rapt Azeri officials in Baku why their textile tradition was wonderful. In any case, it is a real joy to see someone addressing the non-pile Islamic weaving tradition in a serious scholarly manner, with added humour.”
RK doesn’t “know” bob chenciner at all but we did meet him a couple of times back, circa 1980 or so, in London. This is way before the chenciner started the kaitag shake and hustle with franses. At that time, though, we thought he was a serious rug collector and researcher but, perhaps the desire for dollars, well in his case English pounds, was too strong to resist and chenciner went for the gold and left his honesty and bent for serious academics by the wayside.
The same, but somewhat lesser degree, could probably be said about tschebull.
After observing him for several decades and being, at times, on the other end of the sharpened stick he calls a pen, we’d just like to say he earned, long before this icoc review was written, the moniker: tschebull-shitter.