RK has followed for the past several weeks a "discussion" on another "rug" website concerning a kelim formerly owned by a california rug dealer named tom weisbuch, who is now deceased.
RK knew weisbach pretty well.
Well enough to have about as low an opinion of this now departed rug-poseur as we do about many in rugDUMB who, like weisbach was, are less than honest personally/professionally and surely not as expert about carpets and kelim as some now wish to cast him/them.
We don't need, or want at the moment, to recount why RK has such low opinion of weisbach, as it surely was not the reason we decided to comment on the issues raised in that online discussion.
Here's a picture of weisbuch's kelim which now belongs to a collector who was, as he states, “…proud to catch it.”:
In all honesty RK did not want to spend our time commenting on this kelim or the idiotic, online, romper-room level discussion about it and old Anatolian kelim in general.
However, as many of you know, if there is one area of carpet studies RK is most well-known for it is Anatolian slit-tapestry (kelim).
Our book “Image Idol Symbol : Ancient Anatolian Kelim was the outgrowth of a long, very involved and complex, still ongoing research project.
Many people don’t know the facts behind what became generally known in rugDUMB, during the early part of 1990-1991 as the “mother goddess controversy”.
Therefore, we will spend some words, for the first time publicly mind you, to set the record straight, since RK was the originator of what, sadly, begat that controversy.
In 1979-1981 RK discovered, and purchased, the nine early Anatolian kelim illustrated in that book that are now also shown in the Weaving Art Museum online exhibition titled “Archaeology and Slit-Tapestry”.
Prior to 1979, RK had never purchased an “Anatolian” kelim, as we were collecting rare early kelim from the Caucasus.
Those kelim can be seen in another of our books “Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth”, published in 1990, and also on the Weaving Art Museum website in an exhibition of the same name.
One might wonder why, until 1979, RK did not purchase and collect kelim from Anatolia (Turkey).
Simply put, the reason was because no early Turkish kelim had ever been seen in Europe or America, and these places were our stomping and hunting-ground.
Actually it wasn’t that RK did see them, fact is they did not exist in those markets or either in the Turkish market for that matter.
Should anyone doubt what we say, go reference the examples in the two kelim books of the late 70’s -1989 period, “The Undiscovered Kelim” by David Black and Clive Loveless and “Kelim” authored by Yanni Petsopolis with the assistance of michael franses.
RK knew then, what many know now in hindsight: The examples shown are, at best early 19th century later renditions and, at the worst, highly degenerate examples of their types.
Other are nothing but rather commercial grand-tour type ‘early’ airport-art Victorian and Edwardian period take-homes.
However, and not to get stuck in this aspect of our story, there is one great early masterpiece example in “Kelim".
RK will identify it later in this series of posts we intend on publishing but, for now, let’s all play pin the tail on the kelim as we ask if any astute kelim student, with Petsopolis’s book in their library, can identify it.
Should someone write in to our discussion board and successfully identify it, RK will send them one of our dwindling supply of our “Kelim Soumak Carpet and Cloth” books as a prize and gift.
But back to the weisbuch kelim and the rather stupid and amateurish ongoing online kelim discussion.
After living with the first two of the ancient Anatolian kelims we bought in 1979/81, RK realized not only how remarkable and intriguing their iconography was but, more importantly, how baffled we were to explain, in even the most general terms, where and how these motif and icon came to be.
At this point let us illustrate those initial two kelim we acquired in 1979:
Plate 1, “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”, vol.2, 1989
Plate 2, “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”, vol.2, 1989
In the accompanying text we laid out, in broad strokes, a general chronology for all Anatolian kelim.
This suggested four major periods of production : Archaic, Classic, Traditional and Industrial.
We purposely avoided date guesstimates, and now 20 years on our doing so was 20/20, as the Anatolian kelim dating quagmire has swallowed up and spit out all and everyone who has foolishly ventured into it.
In fact, the aforementioned discussion is hung-up and tied-up in the fantasyland c14 dating is valid and worthwhile.
At the center of this discussion is a book published by a former small-time kelim dealer turned “expert” from Basel Switzerland, jorg rageth.
In that book are illustrations of many allegedly “early” kelim that have been ‘tested’ in a c14 laboratory in Zurich, Switzerland.
RK first met rageth in the mid-1980’s and we were not impressed by his mediocre “merchandise” or his understanding of Anatolian kelim, his chosen métier.
We are still not impressed by ragth in any degree other than his unbounded ambition to be a someone in the kelim world.
We should also mention it was rageth who pawned off, with dennis dodds-style ridiculously overblown sales talk and stupidly high prices, a number of mediocre Anatolian kelim on Heinrich Kirchheim that can still be see in Kirchheim’s book “Orient Stars”.
By the way: All of them were soon discarded by Kirchheim after he learned how badly he had been taken and bamboozled by rageth.
But we disgress, back to rageth’s book, c14 and other issues about old Anatolian kelim.
That book and its contents has been known to RK since its publication in 1999, and we can assuredly say we do not believe even one, (except for the East Berlin saf) is from what we consider to be the Archaic period of Anatolian kelim.
Nor do we put any faith or countenance in the c14 dates it forwards.
But, as RK often says: Talk is cheap and opinions are like tongues, everybody’s got one.
Unfortunately this is all the time we are going to expend on this today, however, we will in the coming days demonstrate with our usual accuracy and unassailable documentation why we believe the kelim in that book are not from the first period of production.
We will also, once again, explain why we don’t trust the c14 dates.
In this exercise we will also clearly demonstrate where the former weisbuch kelim fits in its design type, as well as explain where and how its design originated.