RK recently read the publication Richard Isaacson authored on tentbands.
This catalog was published by the textile museum of Washington D.C. in conjunction with (or was it soon after) an exhibition on tentbands they sponsored.
Technically, it is an extremely well produced catalog but, after reading what Isaacson has to say about these mysterious Turkmen weavings, we can only say his text has not shined much light on them.
But before we dissect some of the author’s statements, let’s mention the high quality printing, excellent layout and attention to detail this volume clearly demonstrates.
That attention to detail is, we believe, best expressed by the inclusion of large, three page gatefold pictures for each of the 39 tentbands included in the volume. These pages each show three tentbands in their entirety.
RK wishes to congratulate the textile museum, and their donors, for spending the considerable amount of money and effort such a printing job requires. RK should know how time consuming and expensive this was because we published four high quality books and know firsthand how difficult this goal is to reach.
We are not going to be able to finish our commentary on what Isaacson has written today but we would like to mention dan walker’s introduction.
But before we turn our gaze to him let us unequivocally state after reading Isaacson’s text we did not find one new and original idea, thought or statement about Turkmen tent bands.
That said, Isaacson does refer to the musical score-like juxtaposition of designs on tentband, as well as to the musical rhythm their design seem to play to him.
This is a good analogy but nothing to base a publication upon.
Sadly, that is the only originality about Turkmen tentbands we spied after reading Isaacson’s text.
We will discuss his work later on but for now on to walker.
Formerly walker was the director of the Islamic Department at the Metropolitan Museum in New York
City. He was there for 15 or more years during which time he, frankly speaking, did hardly anything other than warm the director’s chairs up to 98.6 degree F.
He only produced one exhibition, the maladroitly titled “Flowers Underfoot” exhibition on Mughal carpets.
By the way, walker’s supposed field of expertise is oriental carpets, however, one might have trouble visualizing this considering how little do nothing dan, as we like to call him, has done in his professional life.
But let’s not pillory walker for his past and take a look at his present.
In his introduction to Isaacson’s volume, walker incredibly states the following about the tentbands in the exhibition:
“They have a unique function in securing the erected walls of the trellis tent, which would otherwise collapse under the weight of the roof structure and the covering felts.”
Well, once again, dan the rug dunce is in action showing how little he knows, or is able to perceive or learn, about Turkmen weaving.
Either walker did not bother to read much of Isaacson’s text, or any other about tentbands, or he just plain decided to write some nonsense knowing no one would comment.
Just past walker’s intro Isaacson writes:
”Two or three of these bands, made in different widths, may circle the walls of the tent. These are the critical elements that provide the tension necessary to brace the walls against outward collapse under the roof weight and strong steppe winds”
Apparently that is as much as of the text as walker read, for his statement above neatly paraphrases it.
However, if walker had the interest or intellect to read further he would have seen Isaacson write:
“Other tent bands have a different purpose. They form a decorative frieze, made to add beauty to the tent for very special occasions such as wedding, inauguration of a new home, or visit by an important guest.”
It is remarkable walker, in speaking about the tentbands in the exhibition, did not realize these are all “decorative” bands that never were meant to provide any “structural” function.
But writing rug nonsense like this is typical for rug posers, and alleged experts like walker.
To not realize the important difference between the ordinary and undecorated, or at time simply decorated, structural tentbands and their completely different cousins, the decorative tentbands that always display far more complex and unique iconographies, is just plain dumb and stupid.
In fact, that encapsulates our opinion of walker when it comes to discussing his supposed rug expertise.
We will continue this thread and offer more of our commentary soon, so stay tuned.