Proscribed vs Prescribed
Plate 5; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
To say RK was in the right place at the right time would be a serious under-statement; actually, we were standing there waiting for it to happen, when it happened.
There’s a big difference there, think about it before you go on reading.
Once again what follows is a very brief summary of the dynamic period 1979-1981 when the majority of few archetype kelim to ever appear passed through several peoples hands to end up in two collections – the one that is now in the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and ours.
RK is not boasting or shooting the shit when we say no other collection has archetype examples and, after recounting a bit more of the story, we will demonstrate why such a seemingly braggadocious statement is fact.
But first let’s illustrate the first genuinely early and important, but not an archetype, Anatolian kelim we discovered.
Private Collection, London
Life works in strange ways, and RK is no stranger to realizing the metaphysic of the universe.
In a chance encounter, totally unexpectedly, that kelim was spread out at our feet.
This was in 1978 and to say we were speechless might be too restrained a comment.
The owner, who was not in any way a rug or kelim collector, knew the piece had a special “power” as he called it, but little did he know how that power effected RK and how we used that power to acquire pieces that were tons more powerful.
Again, this is meat for our autobiography and we will not cook it up here.
After admiring it and complimenting him, we seriously and intently tried every which way to get the owner to part with it; but to no avail.
Because he saw we were as enchanted with the piece as he was he finally consented to allow us to make the two photos, which we did with a Polaroid camera we had in our rented car parked outside his home.
The story then jumps forward about a year to fall of 1979 when one of those foreign dealers, who was traipsing to Istanbul to buy rugs, visited RK in NY.
We had heard he had bought some interesting kelim and we were determined to see them, and if what he had was great, to purchase.
So after a pretty fantastic dinner at a wonderful restaurant RK often frequented we took him back to our pad and opened a couple of ½ bottles of old Bordeaux, as a mini-tasting.
This guy was no stranger to inebriation but we must say we had already twisted up his socks before we had even left the dinner table.
After some long hours of conversation before and after the meal, as well as in our living room, we asked him if he was in the mood to taste another very rare and special ½ bottle.
He said sure and we produced a 1959 Lafite, pulled the cork, poured the entire half bottle into two large tulip glasses, handed him one and said “Drink up, lad, the nights still young” even though it was now well past midnight.
We both took a nice rich, full mouthful and sat back enjoying it on top of the already potent buzz from the dinner and the other wines.
We can remember this as if it were yesterday, so etched in our mind, and we are sure his, this moment in time was.
RK then pulled out the picture of the kelim you see above and handed it to him saying “Bet you ain’t got a kelim as great as this”.
RK said it as a fact, and not as a question, believing we could finesse him into showing us, what we had heard, he had recently bought.
Well, sure enough it worked like a charm, he reached into his bag and whipped out polaroids of two kelim.
Now before we get further into the story RK must admit the kelim above, though it was the earliest and best Anatolian kelim we had ever seen, whether in the flesh or in picture, was in our instinctual understanding not 300 or 400 years old.
We also need to mention at this point, in the fall of 1979, we had not formulated our chronology or conceived of what the earliest, ie archetype, kelim would look like, but all that was going to change after what then happened that evening.
Once RK started hearing about, and seeing, some of the early Turkish Village rugs that were appearing on the market we suspected there might also be such ancient kelim.
And since RK had been collecting kelim, though only rare and early white ground ‘Caucasian’ ones, for almost a decade we were primed to have such a belief.
That night with that large tulip of ’59 Lafite in our hand we actualized our belief as the foreign dealer handed us those two polariods saying “Oh yeah, look at this”
Those two kelim shown in his polariods became ours that evening, and they are Plates One and Two in our “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim” book.
Plate 1; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
Plate 2; “Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim”; vol.2, 1989
As soon as we put our eyes on the polaroids he handed over, we knew we had, at last, found what we believed existed-- an ancient, archetype Antolian kelim.
Not only did we find one but we found two, freakin’amazing.
We then readily agreed that his was better than the one we showed and said “How much?”
He looked at us, took another sip of the ’59 and quite confidently said “Oh, they’re not for sale, I paid so little for them I will never have to sell them”.
RK knew, even back then, how to turn a situation to our advantage and we looked him straight in the eye and said “What if we make you an offer you can’t refuse?”
We saw our prey’s eyes flash and knew then and there the prize would be ours – all we had to do was hit a number that would make his jaw drop.
And hit that number we did.
But, being a fairly accomplished trader, he then tried to get more out of us.
At first we stuck to our offer but then, to help him save face and allow him to make his mind up to do the deal, we agreed to purchase a fragmented yomud group chuval from him as part of the package.
That’s the bare-bones gist of what happened that evening, the full unexpurgated version will, you guessed it, grace that autobiography.
Over the next 24 months we obsessively hunted more big-game archetype kelim; sometimes paying whooper prices, and other times getting them for a song, as the sellers did not know by a long-shot what we knew.
Then, like a sudden rain shower stops, no more archetype kelim came our way.
OK, enough of the history of how we got our collection, let’s now turn attention to demonstrating why we believe there are less than a dozen, actually only 11 extant archetype kelim.
Let’s end this part with a list:
There are four in the deYoung Museum, courtesy of Caroline Jones
There is one in the Vakiflar Museum but it is not illustrated in the catalog published in 1982, authored by Balpinar and hirsch
There is one illustrated in “Kelim” by Petsopolis and because of our offer to our readers to pin the tail on the kelim we will refrain, for now, saying more about it
And there are five in RK’s collection, all of which are illustrated in “Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim" and four of which have already been shown in the three already published parts of this discussion on RugKazbah.
Again, we know our statements appear to be boastful and conceited but, as the old saying goes “Put up or shut up” and we will start putting up in Part IV.