The push to create a kaitag mountain from a molehill is one rugdom should be quite embarrassed about.
Since time began sellers have kited the importance and value of all kinds of objects and the kaitag obsession and price explosion is surely one that can be regarded as just another one of these meaningless promotions.
RK has already railed on about those, like little lord franses formerly of Queen St Mayfair and his partner robert chenciner who are hyping these flossy embroideries with a total lack of abandon to any reality.
Firstly, RK finds incredulous how anyone could fall for the "buy a kaitag and see “Matisse”" type of logic.
Or the equally as specious naming of certain examples, with monikers like "earthquake" or "tiraz" that are surely as far-fetched and totally ridiculous, to stimulate their sale.
The dire lack of any documented evidence for these ploys flies in the face of rugdom's alleged interest in raising the level of scholarship and research in antique carpets -- in fact, it reduces such patter into the worthless tongue-wagging rugdom has always been famous for.
The most recent issue of hali, number 152, stokes the flames of the kaitag pyre with an article entitled “The Rites of Form and Colour”, an “interview” with the Italian kaitag collector Giuseppe Moreschini, who happens to be an attorney and, from the looks of things, Italian rug dealer ziya bozoglu’s best kaitag sucker.
On the surface, and to those who are not very rug knowledgeable, this article’s paean to the glory and importance of kaitag embroidery might be readable or even illuminating.
However, to those in the know, it is actually a huge con job only meant to glorify the business of selling kaitag way, way beyond their true merit or importance.
When RK was reading it for the first time, we immediately had trouble containing our laughter but as we proceeded that laughter turned to disgust.
Yeeesssshhh, is the entire editorial staff of hali stoned on nitrous oxide? Have they all been taken in by the emperor’s new clothes reality such an article endorses?
Because our time is short, and we have already proven beyond any reasonable doubt buying a kaitag today is about equal to having purchased a Ghiordes prayer rug in 1930 – nothing more than getting caught in a venus-fly trap of hype, promotion and utter nonsense - we will not critique the entire article.
Rather, we will just select some of the juicer and more ridiculous tidbits for comments.
“The rarity of these Transcaucasian silk embroideries is all too evident. Expert opinion suggests that only five to six hundred survive today, perhaps a few more, but certainly not more than one thousand.”
Whenever we hear a salesperson makes such a flagrantly dumb statement, RK has learned to look for the nearest exit asap.
Plus, RK defies franses, chenciner or anyone else to demonstrate by comparison how this “supposed rarity”, i.e. 500 –100 examples, really deserves to be called rare?
For instance, all the known examples of the various groups of cross and long stitch Caucasian embroideries are way, way less. These embroideries deserve to be referred to as “rare” not kaitag, which are far, far more numerous even if one accepts the low number of 500, forget about 1000.
Now, dear readers, can you possibly believe this fact was lost on kaitag promoters like franses, chenciner, bozoglu and hali? It surely was not and calling them disingenuous might be the kindest way to describe their tenuous position.
But let’s continue: “The cover of the volume alone is enough to arrest our attention., with its startling imagery of mythical four-legged winged beasts, perhaps dragons or kylin. While stylized ‘dragons’ are a recurrent motif in these Daghestan embroideries, this is the sole example known in which the image is so intense.”
cover, "KAITAG: An Italian Collection”; “17th century or earlier”
For RK to claim hali’s description of this “piece” is as questionably ridiculous as dating it to the “17th century” should be a no-brainer for any reader who has not been mesmerized by the kaitag shuffle.
These “dragons” look like a cross between a Frank Perdue chicken and a horned toad to RK and, if one is aware enough of what 17th century depictions of “dragons” look like, these flaccid avian forms fail to meet even the lowest common denominator of the type.
Again, RK has to say hali, franses, chenciner, bozoglu are either hitting the crack pipe too much or, because of the absolute lack of any reality in rugdom, just so full of themselves and the spinning of unquestioned hype that they believe they are not going to meet any criticism.
And they are right on because no one but RK has even raised an eyebrow to their outrageous shenanigans.
Going from one ridiculous piece of hype -- i.e. the supposed rarity of kaitag -- to the next, hali tells readers:
“As well as rarity, these textiles are imbued with exoticism and mystery. Their very existence is intrinsically mysterious.”
Well, we might agree with the idea their existence is mysterious -- i.e. unknown with no demonstrable documented history -- but surely this is not in the way the kaitag snake-oil salesmen meant that phrase to be interpreted.
The article continues with this quote from chenciner, which is in our opinion says nothing and is in fact only nauseatingly fraudulent:
“It was as if I could taste their inspiration, created from some frictionless levitation, high above my usual earth…”
RK says chenciner deserves the Joseph McMullan rug snake-oil salesman of the decade award for that one.
Who in their right mind could possibly fall for such illusion and worthlessly transparent promotion?
But let’s face facts: When hustlers lack genuine and substantial proof for their ideas, theories and opinions blatant hype, prosaic homily and far-fetched inference are always substituted – and that’s what we see here.
“His encounter with the embroideries was, he explains, in itself a profound privilege: In a sort of mysterious initiation, four years passed in rounds of endless hospitality…Only then they revealed to me that first Kaitag embroidery.”
Perhaps, that did happen but so what? To say chenciner and the rest of the kaitag disciples have been conned might explain this series of event better, well at least to us that is.
We can go on culling absurdities and hype from the article and the “interview” with the Italian collector but why bother, as it is patently clear there is more hot air, smoke and mirrors here than in an old time circus carnival side-show.
The myriad of questions surrounding these embroideries is about as plentiful as cordwood stacked outside a cabin in northeast Maine in December and we have neither enough time or desire to discuss them further.
However, we must mention one that did not escape the scrivener of the hali article:
“Although the late 19th century was in general a period of decline for textiles, it is difficult to understand why Kaitag vanished altogether, especially in such a closed, protected enclave.”
Well this is nothing but more hali-speak, as the late 19th century was NOT a time of decline for textiles but rather a time for decline in only genuine, indigenous textile production textile production. While production of examples meant for commerce and trade flourished throughout the Near East, including the trans-Caucasus.
To miss this small but immensely subtle point is but another proof of the disingenuousness of all these kaitag rah-rah boys.
But, in truth, it pales in comparison with the following statement about kaitag:
“The ultimate mystery is their disappearance.”
That’s right, for all you who are clever enough to read between the lines to realize, kaitag embroideries have not disappeared because there are now enough of them in rug collections, shoppes, auctions and online to not only disprove such poppycock but to imply dishonesty in any fool caught making such a statement.