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Author:jc
email:
Fri, Dec 24th, 2010 02:02:09 AM
Topic: Turk0moronica

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.

Author: jc
email:
Fri, Dec 24th, 2010 02:02:09 AM

We have been informed the ends of the Beshir prayer rug have been rewoven.

This then would discount and nullify our position on them, but it does confirm and vindicate our ability to properly assess certain features from photographs.

We have made errors here, of memory and of not having x-ray eyes to be able to have seen the ends were rewoven.

However, our position on the Beshir remains -- we believe it is

1. not an early example and is, like the Tekke engsi sold at grogan's auction some years ago, a later workshop example;

2. not made in the cultural environment wherein genuine historic Turkmen rugs were produced

3. and not worth the price paid.

The grogan Tekke engsi was older, but surely not as old as many people, buyer included, believed.

The same holds for this Beshir prayer rug and we are positive should we ever have the opportunity to take a few small sample for testing we can prove our position.

One more point, and this is opinion -- we know the market well and were the Beshir prayer rug the real thing we are sure it would have elicited much more buyer interest and sold for a commensurately much higher price.

One other little, but highly significant, fact people seem to have ignored: Since Turkmen rugs are not artist produced but culturally produced the reality a genuinely old "unique" example could exist is rather slim. Fact, we say next to impossible.

Therefore we defy anyone to find another "unique" classic period -- pre-19th century -- Turkmen rug that has no analog or where there is no remarkably similar example, especially in an urban produced Turkmen weaving which this "prayer rug" surely is.

Voluminous publication of old Turkmen rugs now exists and maybe not every type and genre is known but enough are for us to take such a position.

Unique smells of worshop, and while surely the motif on the prayer rug are known the particular assemblage of those motif into the package it presents is not.

Let's hear what the peanut gallery has to say to them apples...

Author: jc
email:
Thu, Dec 23rd, 2010 12:45:11 PM

Memory is a strange thing, it often plays tricks on us, and RK has just had ours play one on us.

The Beshir prayer rug sold at sotheby is the same one sold at the American Art Association(AAA) sale of 1932.

In that catalog it is illustrated in black and white.

We had not seen that catalog or the picture of the rug in many years, hence our remembering it as better than the one in sotheby's.

So we are very incorrect in writing these are two different rugs, and of course saying the one from the AAA is far superior.

We were also wrong in saying it was in the "Quill Jones" collection, as it wasn't but rather in the Richardson collection and that it sold for 375 dollars. It sold for 400.

this photo was copied from an article on the internet entitled "Early Rug Collectors of New England" where, as you can see, the Beshir prayer is illustrated.

But, and here's that big but again, we are still claiming the rug is late, ungainly and ugly.

Ungainly and ugly are opinions that are personal and, no matter how expert the person is who utters them, they still are opinions that can't be proven.

However, late can and this photo tells it all:

There are a number of questionable aspects that become apparent in a good, large color photo of this rug. And it is these characteristics that led us to our conclusions about it.

One of the most telling are the warp threads, which can be easily seen in a good close-up like the one above.

You can bet the farm on this one: No classic period, or archetype, Turkmen rug will sport warps like these. There are others we could point out, rest assured.

So, dear readers, RK made some errors here but we did not err in stating this Beshir prayer rug is late.

And if you, anyone else, or the buyer and under-bidder, believe it is beautiful, so be it -- RK will not argue the point.

But we will argue its age and reiterate if the buyer wants to allow us to examine it in the flesh and take some small samples we are sure we can prove it is as we say -- not made Turkmenistan, made probably in Afghanistan, and made post 1900.

PS: thanks go to an astute gentleman who emailed us today and pointed out the sotheby prayer rug was the same as the one sold by the AAA.

He suggested we "pull our piece" and we wrote back we would not do that and would admit our error.

'Nuff said for now

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