In the late 1970's a rug dealer from America coined the phrase "turkomania".
This was during the early phase of collector interest in Turkmen rugs, which at the time were still rather foolishly and erroneously called Turk0man, as the country is Turkmenistan, not Turk0menistan; so the people are Turkmen, not Turk0men and the weavings therefore are Turkmen and not Turk0man.
But this small point, and many others, has in many quarters of rugDUMB still not taken root.
What can RK say other than that's why we coined the phrase "rugDUMB".
Since those thrilling days of yesteryear, ie the 1970's, collector interest in Turkmen rugs has ebbed and flowed from high to low and now back again to the high.
However, those in rugDUMB who are part of the resurgence in "turkomania" are still laboring under many mistaken notions regardless of the fact many of them, but surely not all, can now enunciate Turkmen, and not Turk0man, properly.
RK, and others, know RK was a big part of this now 20 year resurgence in collector interest, as the publication of our research and part of our collection in 1989, which is when the TENT BAND TENT BAG book was published, not only inaugurated and coincided with this new wave of "turkomania", it stimulated it.
For example prior to RK's work and pictures of that part of our collection hitting the hands of the rug-public main carpets, not chuval, torba, engsi and tentband, were the high flyers and big ticket items at auctions and in dealer exhibitions.
But that abruptly changed after our book TENT BAND TENT BAG took its place on Turkmen collectors, fanciers, accumulators, Liebhabers and investors book shelves, coffee-tables and desks tops.
Today "turkomania" is still in the aftermath of that abrupt change and anyone who doubts this is either ill-informed, brain-dead or such a prejudiced RK hater they can admit fact.
All this said we did not start this to pat our self on the back or blow our horn; no, rather we say this to set the record straight both for all the newbie "Turkomanics" who have joined the scene since 1989 and for those who just still don’t get it.
And, this is more the reason, we needed to create some perspective to discuss the picture above, which is from the now just finished sotheby December rug auction.
Lot 54, a Beshir prayer rug, sold for 56,250 dollars. That's, in our expert opinion, alot of moola for not much of a weaving.
It is dated 1875 in the catalog but clearly the buyer and the under-bidder did not believe that date. Neither does RK.
However, we are pretty sure, well actually we are positive, both of them believe this prayer rug is older, while RK believes it is probably quite a bit younger.
The design of this prayer rug is an extremely rare one, in fact RK knows of only one other, the one it is copied from.
Perhaps the buyer and underbidder know it as well, but whether or not they do seems to have been immaterial to their lust to own it.
The prayer rug we refer to is a champion, one of the most beautiful and artistic Turkmen rugs we have ever seen. And it’s at least 250 years old.
It was sold by the American Art Association(AAA) auction house, of New York City, in the late 1920's or early 1930's.
The sale included pieces, and the Beshir prayer rug was one, from the "Quill Jones collection".
Fortunately, it was one of the few pieces illustrated in that catalog.
If our memory serves us well it sold for 375 dollars -- a big sum at that time when the depression was raging in America and “brother can you spare a dime” was on everyone's lips.
Well not exactly everyone's as some, like the buyers at the AAA sale, were still liquid and rich enough to buy oriental rugs for high prices.
We have the catalog but since our library is not available at the time of writing this we cannot provide more of an exact reference or publish the photo. Too bad, because this prayer rug is all and more than our description describes.
Compared to it the sotheby example is nothing but a wet dishrag at best.
Now then the crux of this missive, as the title might suggest, is our coining the new phrase "Turk0moronica" to replace the old one "turkomania".
RK is sure some of our readers might ask why are we disparaging Turkmen collectors and the sotheby prayer rug?
Well, for all you simple-simons out there, here's some bon mots for you all to chew on.
1. The sotheby Beshir prayer rug is a rather piss-poor "copy" of the Quill Jones example
2. OK, but it is the only one..so what says RK it is ungainly, geeky, and ugly; besides the fact it is not really old.
3. Since RK did not attend the preview, and has only seen the photo in the catalog and on the web, you might doubt our take on it, right? Well, don't as the proportions, articulation, materials that are well visible in the photos we have seen, all prove our point.
In fact, should the buyer wish to allow us to view the piece in person and take some small samples for analysis, we are sure we can prove our position.
We could easily go on with our analysis of lot 54, however, that is not the purpose of this post.
"Turk0moronica" is. And describing the sale of lot 54 for 50,000 plus typifies for us calling it Turk0moronica.
RK recently published our opinions about the Saryk main carpet(MC) sold at rippon boswell.
The Saryk MC sold for 85, 400 euro, that’s 112,000 dollars at today’s rate of exchange.
Not a cheap either but that buyer got something well worth the price.
The buyer at sothebys didn’t, and not by a long shot.
Turkmen rugs are, like Anatolian village weavings, much harder to learn about and assess than Caucasian or Persian rugs, as well as Ottoman and Safavid “classical carpets”.
RK is not demeaning these rugs, nor trying to discount the connoisseurship necessary to judge them, but we are stating a fact – developing the necessary levels of expertise and connoisseurship to judge, and judge correctly,Turkmen and Anatolian village weaving is a much more difficult task.
Proof is in the pudding and the result at Sotheby for a late, ugly, poor copy to sell for about half the price of a genuinely important and valuable one is nothing but Turk0moronica.
RK is pretty sure lot 54 was made post-1900 in Afganistan or some other location far from Turkmenistan.
How do we know this?
Well, that’s what separates RK from the “turkomaniacs” and Turk0morons -- expertise.
So, once again, our congratulations to the buyer of the Saryk MC and our heartfelt condolences to the unlucky “winner”, read loser, who now has that miserable copy of Quill Jones’s masterpiece Beshir prayer rug on the wall as a trophy of Turk0monica.