Eagle-group, formerly jon thompson collection
The belly-flop thompson did over the Imreli fiasco was significant; it marks the beginning of his transition from a passionate collector of Turkmen rugs to a basher of them and someone who now perpetrates the myth Turkmen weavings are “peasant”, late and derivative.
This was a sad turn of events for rugDUMB but more importantly it was a sad turn of events for thompson, for it turned him into the greedy, poseur phony RK has accused him of being.
The Imreli fiasco needs little push or publicity from RK, as anyone who is anyone already knows how much egg and ketchup thompson ended up indelibly smearing on his face.
And he made the situation worse by stupidly trying to laugh it off and pretend it was all a big joke.
Who but a pompous arsehole would, when caught red handed with his chapter on Imreli in the Washington Turkmen catalog in print, try to laugh away his mistake?
But that’s exactly what jon the con thompson tried to do, and its for this reason RK began to call him jon ‘the con’.
Unlike dodds, who has proved he is an out and out thief by ripping off the Los Angeles County Art Museum’s Collectors Circle for 250,000 dollars, thompson’s crimes, and yes thefts, are only intellectual, not monetary.
But regardless of this difference both of these miscreants continue to walk through, and are treated by rugDUMB, like their feet don’t touch the ground – amazing.
Why thompson cooked up the bogus Imreli classification is a mystery to all but it is one RK believes we have solved.
Unlike his “S” group isolation and identification, which was based on cold hard facts and verifable documentation, the Imreli research was flawed from the get-go.
Here is thompson’s introduction for it in the Turkmen catalog:
”The most difficult tribal weavings to study have been the Yomut. What we loosely call Yomut includes weavings made by several tribes over quite a long period of time. However, by continuing the same method of study which has led to the more accurate delineation of Salor, Saryk, Chodor and Arabatchi weavings, a “new” group can now be identified. This time, however, academic modesty has been discarded, and the weavings have, with strong circumstantial evidence and with due celebration been baptized with the name Imreli.”
In this paragraph lies the clue to why thompson screwed up big time to use a vernacular of today’s speech.
He believed he was the pope and, therefore, he could unilaterally “baptize” these weavings, regardless of the fact many of them did not even fit the loose criteria he declared them to possess.
It is obvious in the late 1970’s thompson was feeling his oats; his identification of Salor had brought him great acclaim, and he had just begun to work with leading German dealer Eberhart Herrmann. This arrangement did not last long, and RK will discuss it in a subsequent part of our series on jon thompson.
Like many formerly unknown persons who are thrust for one reason or another into the spotlight, thompson began to think he was a star, and someone who could, just on his word, convince his public of anything.
This circumstance is easily interpreted from reading his introduction to Imreli; his unshakeable conviction his bogus theory would, with “modesty disgarded” in his own words, be accepted “with due celebration”.
And he was correct until a growing chorus of voices, RK’s included, dared to point out the obvious flaws, errors and omissions his Imreli theory contained.
Proving our point even further was thompson’s even more flawed and stupid fall back position that the Imreli designation was only a trial balloon, as he called it, a provocation, and finally a joke as he desperately tried to dig himself out from the hole he had dug.
Sorry, Charlie, eeerrrhhh we mean johnny, there’s no wiping egg off your face with more egg, you dummy.
So there was thompson, the heralded Turkmen expert who was left with holding a bag of stinking doo-doo in his lap all the while trying to convince all, and himself probably, it was a sack of rose petals steeped in Chanel no. 5.
This event marked the end of thompson the Turkmen collector and the beginning of thompson the classical rug lap-dog.
Before we leave the Imreli mess let’s quote some of what thompson disingenuously wrote about the ex-Phillip’s Eagle-Group main rug he surreptitiously owned.
"Plate 56 shows a main carpet of this group…It is probably very ancient…”
Detail; Turkmen; Plate 56
By the way, when RK bought the other polariod from jim blackmon, mentioned in Part 5, we got as a bonus the detail which we publish above.
Isn’t it interesting thompson circa 1979 or early 1980, when the Turkmen catalog was being written, believed this rug to be “very ancient” but some years later his opinions about the age of Turkmen rugs changed radically?
This change is part and parcel of the Turkmen basher jon ‘the con’ thompson became.
And this change-over can be directly linked to the reality check, and kick in the butt, thompson received at the hands of his Imreli fiasco, and the demoralization that then immediately set in when he realized not only was the emperor wearing transparent clothes but his picture, and that of his pimpled back-side, was on billboards throughout rugDUMB.
In an earlier piece RK wrote on RugKazbah.com we mentioned in the thompson collection sotheby sale of 1992:
“For instance, in the sales catalog of his collection there are 61 Turkmen pieces but only one is dated “18th century” and a mere 7 dated “18th or 19th” century.”
However, in the Turkmen catalog 18th, early 19th and first half 19th century dates are commonplace entries, in fact they are the majority.
So what might you ask happened between 1979/80 and 1992? Did modesty overcome dear dr jon?
Did he do new research to convince him his earlier dating was flawed?
Did he get a new crystal ball, or a oujji board?
Did the Good Lord visit him and whisper the ‘real’ truth in his ears when HE wasn’t hanging out with former president george bush?
Nonsense to any of these explanations, thompson’s rejection of early dating for Turkmen weaving was due entirely to his demoralization over the Imreli embarrassment and his soon to be conversion into a classical carpet lackey.
Even more proof of this can be gleaned from the stupidly naïve text thompson scribbled for the hajji baba 75th anniversary Timbuktu to Tibet catalog.
Here is an early 19th century, if not older, Saryk chuval thompson seemingly, like an
turko-idiot, dates to the mid-19th century.
It is almost as if, according what someone recently wrote about that exhibition, “…Turkmen studies had regressed by several decades.”
If this was obvious to a neophyte aficionado, why wasn’t it obvious to others?
That answer is because rugDUMB believes gods and guru like thompson or dodds, regardless of the reality they have been shown to be intellectually dishonest, and worse in dodds’s case, cannot possibly be questioned, even when egg is dripped from their faces.
But we digress, let’s get back to thompson’s rational for bashing Turkmen rugs, one he does to raise on high his conversion as a classical rug lickspittle.
But first, for completeness, here is our commentary on thompson’s description of the Saryk chuval, one we consider to be a best of its type, ie. early second period.
“Tribal attributions have been worked out from material collected and data recorded by General Bogolyubov, Russian Governor of the newly-formed Transcaspian Province, beginning in 1899. More information has been added by Valentina Moshkova, who made several expeditions to study Central Asian weavings between 1929 and 1945. She died in 1952, and the results of her field work were published in 1970. However, many uncertainties remain.”
First off those “many certainities” didn’t seem to concern thompson when he was writing the Turkmen catalog, and to regurgitate them in 2008, almost 20 years later, can only be ascribed to the Turkmen bashing agenda thompson now promulgates.
With amazing disrespect, and blind hubris, thompson tries to forward the idea Turkmen studies has stood still since Moshkova.
What rubbish but the underlying intent, the Turkmen bashing, again rings clear once one knows his agenda.
Again thompson’s glibness and lack of scholar’s sweat pours through his text like salt though a shaker, and the outrageousness of this statement is truly disgusting.
Once more, thompson dates this, convincingly late 18th century chuval, unbelievably as “second half of the 19th century”.
And considering he then goes on in his description to state “This example is believed to represent the oldest type of Saryk weaving, its age indicated by the soft red ground colour, which changes in later examples to brown and finally, in the latest pieces to purple”, his dating is even more ludicrous and questionable.
RK finds this unfathomable; for it implies, again with good reason considering thompson’s Turkmen bashing agenda, there no Saryk chuval made before the mid-19th century.
Does jon ‘the con’ thompson truly believe what he wrote, or is he conning his audience again and floating trial balloons?
Either way let RK counsel any reader not to believe what he writes, which is nothing but stupid, blatant hot-air that is part and parcel of thompson’s transparent agenda to disrespect Turkmen rug weaving traditions.
Now let RK teach the good dr thompson something: These changes in color were due to the geographic movements and displacements of the Saryk, and many other Turkmen tribes -- it is these changes, and the histories of these movements, that can be used to date many Turkmen weavings, as the historic locations of certain groups are now becoming documented.
Hasn’t thompson ever heard of Yuri Bregel and his seminal work “An Historical Atlas of Central Asia”?
Or the writings of Siawosch Azadi, who more than anyone else in rug studies (Bregel is a historian not a rug scholar) has published equally as seminal information on this subject?
This bring us to another point, the failure to thompson to mention Azadi, and many others, in the bibliography he assembled for the Timbuktu to Tibet book.
These errors and others in thompson’s fractured agenda-bending nonsense text are considered unassailable and remain so until today because of his alleged guru status.
Adding insult to injury thompson then goes on the trash this important, exceptionally rare and beautiful, not to mention seriously old large format Turkmen torba.
First off dating it “mid-19th century” is Luddism at it highest heights, incredibly reactionary, and frankly stupid considering the work RK and a few others have done to establish proof through example of a Turkmen weaving continuum that is at least 400 years old.
“Although” thompson states “we know this is the face of a small storage bag…”
Small storage bag?
Come on, con-man thompson, the piece measures 45 inches wide, that’s 3 inches shy of 4 feet; surely there are larger storage bags that came off pre-commercial period Turkmen looms but not many, in fact very few -- very very few -- except if you want to quibble about less than 10% of its size.
Who is thompson kidding, or does he write gibberish knowing no one will read it, or those who do will not dare comment?
He continues “…its precise tribal origin is unknown.”
Is this patently obvious statement, one that is true of any, and every, early Turkmen weaving, something that qualified thompson to write this catalog?
RK can only reiterate this demonstrates the lack of any real work or original thought in thompson’s text, and it is truly embarrassing for someone who is so heralded as the reigning Turkmen rug expert.
And the platitudes he then mouths ring amazingly hollow: “Although simple in concept, the perfect balance of proportions between field and border, the calm simplicity of the field ornaments, and the wonderful use of color make this small weaving a masterly representation of the woven art of the Turkmen people”
Prose like this would be more appropriate to an auction sales catalog, not an exhibition, especially one like this.
Questioning why such common, and worthless, rug-patter appears in this catalog only returns to the answer RK has provided: thompson’s Turkmen bashing agenda and his guru status.
RK believes almost nothing happens by accident and the 180 degree turn-around RK has demonstrated thompson took, from his pre-Turkmen catalog days to his curating and authoring of the 2008 hajji baba exhibition and catalog, are ascribable to getting caught with his pants around his knees over the Imreli debacle and his becoming a classical carpet sycophant.
With that in mind RK wants to leave you all with this quote from thompson’s preface to his Timbuktu to Tibet text
“The marvelous ‘classical’ carpets from the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, still to be found fifty years ago, are now vanishingly rare and so expensive that they are beyond the reach of all but a few. Of necessity, collectors have had to turn to other types of object, with the result that the field of interest for club members has been vastly expanded, and with it has arisen the need for study and research.”
We find this both stupid and comical, for if thompson really believes the only reason to “collect” or “study” non-classical carpets is because they, unlike ‘classical ones, are attainable, financially or otherwise, he is even more disingenuous and contemptible than we have pictured him.
What a slur and denigration, not only to those who collect and study what thompson implies are inferior works but to those art works themselves and the people who made them.
RK has worked diligently to demonstrate, and prove, these non-classical or, if you must, small-scale society weavings are equal to, and in many cases far more historically important than, those “marvelous classical carpets” thompson paeans over.
From such a position, one by the way few would try to discount, reading thompson’s words are equivalent to “fighting words” and we take extreme displeasure and umbrage to the stupid, elitist and unfounded position he attempts to advance.
In truth thompson’s distain and continued put-down of non-classical rugs, like those from Turkmenistan he used to be besotted by, is surely tinged by the embarrassment of the Imreli mess and the big-money allure and esteem those imperial rugs bestow on their owners or to those who sell and study them.
But there is another reason we have not mentioned, and that is thompson’s desire to remove the stain of having long been a penniless “collector of those boring red rugs” as he admits he used to be known in London in the old days.
After his financial clean-up, thanks to the sotheby sale of his collection in 1992 and the other favorable deals he did from 1980 on, ones RK will discuss, thompson’s now a rich man.
And like the pot who wishes to call the kettle black to deny his own blackness, jon thompson is trying, vainly mind you, to remove that stain.
RK has a number of bones to pick with thompson but the biggest is his duplicitously transparent under-dating of Turkmen weaving, his back-handed commentaries and the holier than thou condescending attitude his writing demonstrates.
RK has known for many years of thompson’s flawed agenda to raise himself in the eyes of others by lowering the Turkmen rugs he used to admire, worship and, yes, live for.
This agenda explains the patently obvious contradictions his actions exhibit, and now we trust many others can also see through this charade and call thompson’s spade a spade.
End of Part 6