The SOS in our title is a famous acronym most widely an abbreviation for Save Our Ship and even though it is highly applicable for rugDUMB, which is sinking having been doubly torpedoed by stupidity and greed, RK does not use it thusly.
Same Old Shit, perhaps better expressed as Same Old Stuff for those prissy ‘family oriented’ readers, is our intent here and now in our continuing look at ben fernandes’s collection.
This SOS is particularly valid when referring to “S” group and Saryk engsi, both of which are represented in Singapore ben’s collection and grace the pages that rag hali devoted to announcing the opening of his ‘museum’.
Before we get into explaining our “S” group/Saryk engsi SOS – not that it really needs it as we are sure most of you get it already --we should spend a few words questioning what mr fernandes’ museum is all about.
As most of you know RK founded a museum – the Weaving Art Museum – in 1998, and in 2003 it was recognized and granted full status as a public charity by the US government’s IRS division responsible for charity organizations.
This legal definition allows the Weaving Art Museum a number of important privileges, not the least of which is giving tax-deductible vouchers for any donations from both public and private sources.
There are many other advantages a federally recognized nonprofit institution, like the Weaving Art Museum, allows and hopefully someday enough money will be raised to accomplish the aims the Weaving Art Museum’s mission statement details.
Now then RK wonders if Singapore ben’s museum is similarly legally endowed, as nowhere in the paucity of publicity about it are any legal or mission statements to be seen.
RK does not like naked conjecture but considering the above, and our knowledge of non-profit organizations, we’d have to surmise fernandes’ “museum” is one in name only.
Or perhaps it is just some type of tax write-off for him to use to pay for his having bought all those SOS rugs?
OK, enough of this, let’s get down to the niddy-gritty and take a critical look at fernandes’ collection.
Since RK has not yet ventured to visit Singapore ben’s warehouse museum, which is the description that rag hali and not RK has hung on it, we can only discuss the few pieces illustrated in the article.
First and foremost, since it was plastered on that issue’s cover, is this mid-period Saryk engsi.
Frankly, besides one example which we have written about in the past, RK has never seen a Saryk engsi we like and Singapore ben’s does nothing for us other than remind us how boring, formulaic, stiff and derivative these engsi as a group are.
Same can be said for his “S” group engsi, another Turkmen ‘type’ RK relegates to the basement, or perhaps should we say sub-basement.
The rather stupid hype rugDUMB attaches to these two type pf engsi is both unsupportable and myopic, as these weavings are as droll and predictable as can be.
Sure, sure, they bring big prices at auction but 75 years ago, as we often like to point out, so did Kula and Ghiordes prayer rugs.
For RK the Saryk and “S” group engsi are today’s equivalent of those now somewhat ‘disgraced’ types of prayer rug many old time collectors, like James Ballard, allowed themselves to believe were the bee’s knees of rug collecting.
But unlike Ballard, whose collection still contains many great and important non-classical rugs – Turkmen included –, a collector like Singapore ben’s collection is nary a blip on the horizon a James Ballard blazed.
But fernandes is not alone, neither was Ballard, in falling sucker for weavings that later proved to be basically worthless in any artistic or historic sense.
RK dos not have the time or patience to destroy the silly myths deifying the far too many mid-period and later Saryk engsi, and nor do we feel like doing it for the lesser number, but still too many, “S” group ones as well.
Let us mention: Were either of these type of engsi what they are cracked-up to be, by hali and other pundits in rugDUMB, there would not be so many “paint by the numbers” examples extant.
And, while rarity has in itself no redeeming quality or import, when it comes to weaving rest assured if there are many very similar examples, and both Saryk and “S” group engsi qualify, it signifies such examples are far more likely to be commercial production than indigenous product.
Go examine as many, and there are many published, of these engsi as you can and you will see what we are saying.
RK likes to lead, and lead by example we do, so here is an engsi we believe expresses the “formula” all those later and derivative “S” group ones mimic.
Unknown archaic period Turkmen group engsi, RK collection
Sure, sure RK knows rugDUMB’s peanut gallery will chant: Where are those “animals” and other figurative ‘bird-head’ iconography those “S” group engsi display?
Well, listen up pups, RK maintains these are nothing but pseudo-icons placed there by later post archaic period weaver’s who were disconnected with their own weaving culture and instead influenced by foreign ones.
If you examine the earliest Turkmen weaving you will never see designs like those on the “S” group engsi.
We could continue this discussion, and perhaps we will at some later time, but since we are writing about Singapore ben’s collection and museum we will take leave of it for now.
RK will continue our look-see at the two other pieces illustrated in that rag halis’s article on Singapore ben’s “Wild Mountain Loom collection” soon so stay tuned.