Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >Auction Hype Christie Part 3
Author:jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Sun, Jul 5th, 2009 04:38:21 PM
Topic: Auction Hype Christie Part 3

RK should have already demonstrated well beyond any unprejudiced observers viewpoint our position the Christie’s rug is nothing but a workshop invention – what we like to call a pastiche.

There should be little disagreement with our analysis, well little disagreement from anyone unprejudiced.

When we spoke to the new owner, who is an Italian rug dealer named moshe tabibnia just after the sale and before our first posting on the Christie’s rug, he was reluctant to believe our position.

Quite frankly our posting the analysis we did here on RugKazbah.com was almost exclusively for his account as he disbelieved our statement that the rug he paid 206,000USD for is not what he “thinks” it is.

Not to belabor the point whatever tabibnia thinks about the Christie rug is worthless compared to what RK knows about it and we will now continue to prove this statement.

Again, we believe we have already proven our point -- in black and white for all to see here on RugKazbah.com -- the rug is the pastiche, later genre period workshop reproduction we told tabibnia it was when we last spoke.

Since posting our analysis, which by the way we can flesh out further should it become necessary, we have not spoken to tabibnia.

We did, though, have two quite long telephone conversations about it with him.

During both of those calls tabibnia’s patter about the rug, and his reason(s) for purchasing it, stuck us as specious.

In fact we found just about everything he said about the rug, and his purchase of it, to be nonsense.

One thing that is not nonsense is the fact he, or someone on his behalf, shelled out $206,000 for it – that’s alot of money for a rug RK believes is an ungainly, ugly surely mid-18th century at the oldest workshop invention masquerading as a genuinely older Village rug.

In those two calls tabibnia kept harping on the little animals that are between the large boxes in the border.


detail of the animals in the border of the Christie rug

He said “If the rug is the pastiche you claim where did those animals come from?”

We answered that we remembered seeing them and now we will reveal to all, including mr doubting thomas tabibnia, where and how they ended up on his 206,000 dollar mistake.

But first let RK reiterate what we are talking about when we use the words late genre period reproduction, workshop and pastiche.

Anyone who has read our analysis of the dodds/LACMA bogus bellini should already recognize these terms but for those of you who have not read RK’s extensive reportage on dodds’s LACMA rip-off, or for those of you with short memories:

1. late genre period reproductions were made in all rug weaving areas at all times.

Sometimes these efforts were made as “revivals” or homage to/of the work by earlier weavers, other times they were purposely done as reproductions to fool naïve and unsuspecting buyers. RK knows a number of pre-19th century rugs that fall into this classification.

2. workshop production is basically factory production where the weaver is working from given specific design with materials given to her/him either in a factory setting or in some other place.

The significant fact here is that the weaver is not weaving for any reason other than to fulfill an order from someone outside, and while this is a broad description it should be obvious that a weaver who is not the designer, who is working in a workshop with materials that are given is not doing what weavers of genuine Village rugs did.

The workshop rug is, like the late genre period rug, nothing but a copy or invention created by someone who is not the weaver.

This class of weaving, when well-done, can be difficult for anyone but the most highly experienced to recognize. But they are recognizable, and while the dodds LACMA bellini is a blatant example of a workshop pastiche the Christie rug – because of it’s apparent “uniqueness” – is not as blatant -- therefore it is more capable of fooling all but the most experienced.

However, regardless of its “uniqueness”, it is still nothing but a pastiche workshop copy.

3. pastiche has the following dictionary definition: an artistic composition made up of selections from different works – a potpourri or a hodgepodge.

In using the term pastiche to refer to a weaving RK implies the individual elements of its design have come from a number of earlier weavings and are used out of their former context.

The rug tabibnia bought at Christies is all of the above and our previous two posts contained visual proofs anyone who is at all conversant in oriental rug design should be able to figure out.

We admit we wrote them, and this one as well, for mr tabibnia’s benefit but perhaps his abilities to extrapolate the nuance of differences between his $206,000 mistake and the far older and undeniably greater masterpieces we published are still not apparent.

So, should that be the case, we will now spell out in no uncertain terms how those animals in the border he was harping on were “invented” by the Christie rug’s designer and, of course, where they came from originally.

First off let’s start with a rug that is in our estimation mid-18th century – ie somewhat but not very much earlier than the Christie’s rug which we date to the circa 1800 or the early 19th century:


Plate 17, page 210; Carpets-Vakiflar Museum Istanbul; 1988.

This rug is dated 16th-17th century in Vakiflar book but, as we wrote above, RK believes it to be later, circa mid-18th.

It’s not an impressive Turkish Village rug by any means but it is miles above the Christie rug and we cite it here only for this reason:


detail showing one of the eight rows of animal-like “latch-hooks"

These latch-hooks are based on similar representations of “animals” the following far earlier masterpiece Turkish Village rugs display.


Plate 31, page 238; Carpets-Vakiflar Museum Istanbul; 1988.

This outstanding Village rug is dated in that book 16th-17th century but RK would date it circa 1600-1650. It should be obvious it is much earlier than Plate 17 but the authors, Belkis Balpinar and udo hirsch, were not experienced or expert enough to see what we trust our more astute readers can.

The rug's actual age is not important to this discussion and RK only mentions age to show how difficult it is for most alleged “experts” to really understand the nuances of genuine Village rugs.

We illustrate this rug for the following:


detail of Plate 31 showing two of the eight animals that appear in the field

Look carefully at these animals and notice the two smaller more skeletal animals contained within their bodies.

Both these larger, and more so the smaller animals, bear quite a nice similarity to those in the border of the Christie’s rug – in fact we see an undeniable relationship.

But we realize someone like mr doubting thomas tabibnia might not – that’s why we can not only show the smoking gun but let him smell the gunpowder and see the flash of fire from its barrel.


detail from a rug Rk considers to be a genuine masterpiece Turkish Village rug of the 16th century.

Here is that rug


Plate 30; page 236; Carpets-Vakiflar Museum Istanbul; 1988.

The detail of the animal comes from one of the eight squares, four that are part of the medallion and four which surround it – two below and two above.


detail Plate 30 showing one of the eight squares, some of which have animals in their opposing quarters

Frankly we find the animals in the Christie’s rug to be insipid, stupid and nonsensical in comparison to those in any of the three genuine Turkish Village rugs we have cited.

It should now be clear where the animals on the Christie’s rug come from – we have proven it in spades here and while we know there are readers who will discount what we say, honestly, we couldn’t give a damn what they think because we know anyone with rug experience and an open mind will have to agree we have proven our point -- even mr doubting thomas tabibnia.

RK was surprised tabibnia focused and fixated on the animals in the border of the Christie rug as being anything significant or important, let alone worth hanging his hat on.

But foolishly hang his hat on them he did.

RK has never believed tabibnia to be an expert, especially on Turkish Village rugs, or Turkmen. But we did believe he was enough of a ruggie to know the difference between a blatant workshop weaving, like the Christie’s rug, and the real thing.

Clearly we gave him far more credit than he is due.

We could go on citing and referencing other facets and aspects of the Christie’s rug to further explain and support our position but our desire to do more than what we see as a minimum to prove our point has been accomplished.

In closing let us unequivocally state no one can really know the exact age of any of these, or any other pre-mid-19th century, rugs. However, they can be placed on continuum of rugs of similar types to get comparative ages—and that’s what we have done here as well as in all our other writings and research on carpets.

There is an over-riding issue here – and that is perceived “beauty” and “importance”.

It should be frightfully clear from what we have written about the Christie’s rug that we find it to be sorely lacking in both those criteria – it is not beautiful nor is it important.

Just because a bidder like tabibnia is pushed by an underbidder to pay 206,000 dollars doesn’t turn a pigs ear into a silk purse with a gold and diamond clasp.

Far from it, and whether or not tabibnia can sell the rug at a profit to someone who believes his sales pitch and spiel is not the issue here.

Clearly there is a huge difference between commerce and art appreciation – a difference it appears tabibnia and the under-bidder are completely unaware.

And by the way knowing who the under-bidder was -- RK and many others we are sure know who that was -- might well prove our point, as that person is even far less equipped, not only in financial terms, than tabibnia is or appears to be.

We trust ‘nuff said…

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