Home > Turkmen Rugs >Dissecting the WH,aka grogan engsi
Part I
Author:jc
email:
Thu, May 19th, 2011 11:45:00 PM
Topic: Dissecting the WH,aka grogan engsi
Part I

The Turkmen rug is, no doubt about it, the most unknown of all the types of oriental rug.

There is, however, lots of pseudo-knowledge with some of it is based on the scanty reports of their ethno-history.

Too bad not one of these reports, mind you, includes even one pre-19th century sighting of a rug in situ that’s described well enough to be identified.

And then, let’s not forget, there is all the name-calling: Tekke this, Salor that, etc, etc., that are again unverified provenance for any pre-mid-19th century example.

so-called “Salor” engsi

So it all boils down to the weavings themselves, they are the one and only piece of real evidence we have, all the rest is just blah blah blah.

This is why RK never bothered much to “learn” about Turkmen ethno-history, nor have we been interested in attempting to play pin the name on the weaving game that seems to occupy the time of most researchers and hobbyists.

Rather, RK has concentrated on studying the myriad types of Turkmen weavings and then grouping as many of the truly old “appearing” examples we can find based on verifiable criteria -- color, material, and structure.

Then we work on establishing a continuum for each specific group based on the identifiable and quantitative changes in those factors, plus those in their iconography.

We believe this provides the only method available to begin to understand Turkmen weavings, and through such comparisons how their particular iconographies developed.

This methodology does not tell, and so far nothing else has, what these early weavings were all about for their original owners, nor does it explain why they were woven for them.

Likewise, we cannot imagine the same socio-economic determinants active in the 19th century were also present in earlier times when these weavings were produced, nor can we imagine they were made for, or used for, domestic or mundane purposes, as it appears they were in the 19th century.

Of course we are only referring to complex-patterned ones and not to those made with simple, rote and repetitive designs like stripes, boxes, etc.

We are not afraid to say we imagine the earliest Turkmen weavings were created for spiritual purpose with sacred iconography that was the symbolic representation of their unwritten/spoken lore.

This preamble is to put into perspective the following ideas concerning how an engsi like the grogan example came into being and how its deviant form was quite possibly generated.

RK harbors no thoughts engsi were not among the, if not the, highest expression of that spiritual spoken universe the Turkmen undoubtedly maintained.

We say undoubtedly as all their neighbors: to the north, the Sythians; to the south, the Indians; to the east, the Chinese; and to the west the Persians (and others) all had long standing vibrant spiritualism and religious beliefs.

But before we dissect the grogan engsi we must make a few more thing clear.

We know our limits and the limits of our methodology; so we hope this is clear to all, especially those who do not believe there are archetype Turkmen weavings.

Or that the incredibly subtle, but nonetheless visible, differences comparison of each specific type demonstrate are the result of one weaver being a better weaver than another.

We can demonstrate over and over how the archetypes, ie the “better” ones, were the models for those later ones, ie those not as “good”, and were not the result of one weaver being a better one.

OK, enough perspective, let’s get down to some nitty-gritty.

The grogan “Salor” engsi, which we will henceforth call the WH engsi as it was allegedly “discovered” in West Hampton, Long Island and also until it can be positively determined to be “S” group or not, has a number of aberrant features.

Here is a list we have cataloged so far:

1. the color is far from typical for "S" group, although there is another similarly colored, an “S” torba we know that belonged to an English collector.

2. the triple-tiered elem with a curious iconography in the top and bottom rows that is then repeated in the outer border.

3. the equally curious and even more strange iconography in the elem’s middle row

4. the missing three-sided (left, right and top) synak border(or any other) which, in other examples expresses a virtual open, rather than closed universe, whereas the WH engsi borders are all four-sided and enclose it in a frame (ie. creating a closed-universe versus an open one)

5. the addition of the Saryk-style double kotchack inner-border surround in the four field quadrants rather than the typical “S” group engsi use of it only for top, bottom and not the sides which again implies a closed versus an open universe

6. the use doubled curled-leaf, aka P or recumbent animal, borders rather than the typical “S” group engsi single one— we believe the archetypal form is tripling the curled leaf border, as this allows the most complex interplay of its elements

7. the appearance of the #, aka tik-tak-toe, signs wedged between the curled leaf is atypical and again a convention we see as later and not archetypal

What does all this mean?

Our position is the WH engsi is a middle period concoction that leans heavily towards early Tekke-style iconography.

We say concoction because it is, as the following analysis will prove, a complicated pastiche created by grafting some unique features from an extremely rare form of Tekke engsi onto the typical standard “S” group engsi format.

We will, as soon as we have the structural data on the WH engsi, present our evidence how the most curious of all its deviations, the elem, was developed.

So stay tuned…

Author: jc
email:
Thu, May 19th, 2011 11:45:00 PM

We will, today, post at least the first half of our analysis of the WH engsi.

Regardless of the fact beau ryan of Concord, Massachusetts wrote in to RugKazbah.com claiming the WH engsi is open left, RK will stand by our correspondent, who told us it is open right.

Of course we have not seen it in person and verified, personally, whether or not the knot is open left or right.

BUT since our man is a seasoned, methodical observer and beau ryan aka bo-bo is, as that moniker implies, a less than expert, wanna-be rug 'expurt' in the mold of michael grogan, with whom he often works as an agent, we'll stick by the open right conclusion.

RK should also add we had several persons email grogan to inquire about the structure and, so far, grogan has not replied to them.

This is quite telling, as either grogan can't figure it out or he wants to avoid the issue and lead people to believe it is open left and "S" group, rather than the open-right pseudo"S" group weaving it surely appears to be.

Author: doesntmatter
email: doesntmatter@yahoo.com
Sun, May 15th, 2011 12:20:10 PM

RK Replies:

Since you seem to wish to stand on ceremony how about identifying yourself instead of hiding behind mommy's skirt of anonymity?

Also, before we delve into your questions, this is our website and we will handle our replies to anyone like yourself as we wish.

Your moaning we "deface" your message is frivolous and doesn't even bear weight for a reply, so let's just end it here.

Writing in double negative might be confusing to someone who is confused but to anyone else it makes sense.

And, yes, that means an affirmative.

Of course your pseudo-editorial attempt to prove your English is better than ours means the same thing as we wrote, so we'll not bother to answer the other attempts you made to "translate" what we say.

If you do not like our writing style, so be it that's your personal opinion. But what we write is not aimed at the whim of what someone like yourself might agree with or not.

Let's all remember, you are someone who has written here before and today's attempt to act properly, and be on your best behaviour, surely does not negate your other impertinent remarks.

After we spent sometime examining the WH engsi we were able to place it into a perspective and we will soon explain that but for now let's just say it is not going to bring the big bucks we originally suspected it might.

However since rugDUMB is dumb, it might.

RK has learned never to underestimate the naïveté of a rug buyer,especially at auction where the interplay of bidder and underbidder, both of who are ignorant, lends each courage and support to inflate a price beyond reason. And speaking, or should we say moaning about, confusing your "Being neighbored by cultures rich in spiritual and religious beliefs provides for the logical inference that the Turkman culture was itself rich in such beliefs. As to which, if any, Turkman weavings are richest in the expression of such beliefs, the fact of the spiritualism of their neighbors provides no clue. " far surpasses anything of ours you questioned.

In the first of the two the Weaving Art Museum Turkmen exhibitions we authored, titled "Turkmen Trappings", the relationship the inhabitants of south-western of Turkmenistan, those who made the weavings called Turkmen, shared with the southern Siberians, both in language and other cultural traditions, was briefly examined.

Much more is known about the groups living in southern Siberia than those in Turkmenistan but some, or perhaps much, of what is now known about the belief systems of the southern Siberian people also applies to the Turkmen.

This centers their spiritual world on animism and shamanism, both of which can be traced in the weavings of the Turkmen.

Such a discussion is well beyond the confines of this one and we will leave it here with one last word: It is sure the Turkmen had "religion", every developed society does and theirs must have as well.

And while there is no proof positive of this, nor their highly developed weaving culture is its expression, RK finds it impossible to believe this is not the case.

We have said it before and will repeat it again: it's not really the actual age of a weaving that makes it important, it is connection to the weaving culture.

So weavings made in the archetypal period have strong, indelible connection and later weavings dilute this connection until, quite frankly, there is little left.

We can, and soon will, demonstrate with a high level of probability how the iconography of the WH engsi exhibits this dilution.

And we are equally sure after we build a database of forensic analytical information on the physical features -- dyes and materials -- these will also prove it as well.

And remember the truth is never an ad hominem, and telling the truth is never an attack.

Prissy, politically correct pissants only further the destruction the guilty perpetrate by their silence.

We stand on and by our accusations, and the fact none of those who have been accused have bothered to try and negate our accusations speaks volumes in our favor, not in theirs.

So quit hiding behind this false premise, and mommy's shirt of anonymity, if you want to duke it out with RK.

If you don't then go pissant somewhere else, and be sure to take your self-inflating, back-hand compliments (either I have too much time on my hands, or I believe that your substantive ideas on Turkman weaving history and culture are important) with you.

Hope that is clear enough and doesn't need editing.

------------------------------------

Dear Mr. Cassin-

Looking forward to your further thoughts on this curious piece. A few questions please. Your answers to these may help myself and others more clearly understand your points.

You wrote: "RK harbors no thoughts engsi were not among the, if not the, highest expression of that spiritual spoken universe the Turkmen undoubtedly maintained." This is quite confusing. I believe you mean to say that you believe that engsi were among the Turkman weavings expressing the highest degree of spiritual symbolism and ideas? Indeed, these are the weavings that perhaps conveyed the highest degree of such expression? Is that an accurate summary of your thought?

You wrote: "We say undoubtedly as all their neighbors: to the north, the Sythians; to the south, the Indians; to the east, the Chinese; and to the west the Persians (and others) all had long standing vibrant spiritualism and religious beliefs." Being neighbored by cultures rich in spiritual and religious beliefs provides for the logical inference that the Turkman culture was itself rich in such beliefs. As to which, if any, Turkman weavings are richest in the expression of such beliefs, the fact of the spiritualism of their neighbors provides no clue. Would you agree with that?

Your next three sentences/paragraphs are ungrammatical and very confusing. Perhaps your idea is more clearly expressed by substituting for them something like the following? "There is a strict correlation between purer (better) cultural expression in Turkman weavings and their age. It is the period of production, not the skill of weavers, that is determinate in this regard." Does that accord with your view?

Clearly, I either have too much time on my hands, or I believe that your substantive ideas on Turkman weaving history and culture are important. If only you would restrict your writings to ideas, and cease with ad hominem attacks. Ah well...

Finally, I would appreciate if you would not deface my message, but rather if you would provide any response/comment you have to it in a separate posting. That is how such things are generally done.

Thank you for the interesting post.

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