Since publishing our detailed view on the WH, aka grogan auction engsi, RK has been questioned why we did not include discussion of the 1991 “Salor” engsi article written by robert pinner.
In fact one big-shot in rugDUMB leveled criticism and assailed our not mentioning the “two other Salor engsi with doubled curl leaf borders” pinner illustrated.
Yesshh like how would that change anything, considering pinner never pointed out the doubling-aspect of the curl-leaf border, which was the reason we did, we repeatedly asked with no reply forthcoming.
So-called "Salor", Type A "S" group engsi
In light of these comments, and what we see as spurious criticism from mr big-shot, we decided to spend some time critiquing and rebutting many of the ‘points’ pinner made in that article.
While it is unfortunate robert, aka pin-head as we liked to call him or herr knot-counter as others have, pinner is dead and can’t reply to RK's comments, fact of the matter is we doubt were he alive today things would be any different.
In this regard RK has once again moved front and center on RugKazbah.com the 1925 Pope article about the lack of critical review for oriental carpet studies in his time.
Things are no different today and bogus carpet gods like pinner, thompson, denny, et.al., feel they are above criticism or critique no matter how correct or pertinent.
And worse those in rugDumb, unlike RK, are afraid to even whisper in private, let alone publish in public, any comment that might be construed as critical.
A bit of background on robert pinner before we proceed to take out our scissors and shred a number of key ‘points’ in his article.
RK met pinner in 1974 and at that time pinner was far from a Turkmen rug collector, expert, or even journeyman.
He was only the checkbook holder and check signer that allowed his wonderfully bright and super-interested in Turkmen rugs wife, Lesley, to collect.
Her untimely and unfortunate death several years later thrust pinner into her shoes and while he did not wear them well he sure tried.
Few of the pieces, and none of the best ones, in the pinner sale at sothebys were purchased by pinner.
They all had been selected by Lesley and quite honestly in the many years after her death, and before his, pinner did not come close to approach her level of understanding and expertise of Turkmen rugs.
Like many of the big names in rugDUMB, RK knows the truth about pinner and the fallacious respect and homage he and they receive and continue to receive.
The Salor engsi article pinner wrote is a perfect example, so without further ado let’s wade in and see what pinner had to say.
So-called "Salor", Type B "S" group engsi
The first and biggest criticism we can level is pinner’s absurd, and completely unproven in his article, or anywhere else since, the idea a Salor engsi is, as hali put it “…a compendium of designs which occur in the weavings of other Turkoman tribes.”
This is overblown nonsense as even back in 1991, when pinner penned this statement, RK knew about and owned earlier and contemporary engsi to the “Salor” ones, which not only have nothing to do with the designs on these Salor engsi but, in fact, can be shown to have been their probable source.
In his first paragraphs pinner credits, and rightly so, thompson’s ground-breaking annotated Bogolyubov publication as the first to identify “S” group weavings as a distinct type based on their unusual structure.
However, pinner’s further comments about thompson’s tenuous other identifying criteria -- color and design -- are surely not nearly as correct.
But the following statement by pinner “…under the name “S” group, later confirmed as Salor” reveals him to be nothing but a turko-fool.
RK defies anyone to prove anyone called Salor, or belonging to a group called Salor, wove any Turkmen rug that is “S” group.
This debate, one that not only concerns what is a Salor weaving but what is any other in name only identification, is large one.
And while RK is no supporter of thompson or appreciator of his later work, we do credit his excellent research using structure and not anyone else’s ideas about who made any early Turkmen weaving, be those ideas from Felkerzam, Bogolyubov, Moshkova, etc.
One fact pinner and everyone else gloss over concerns the lack of any positive pre-middle 19th century identification of any Turkmen weaving to any Turkmen group.
And while what was happening weaving-wise in Turkmenistan post-1860, when all the literature written by the likes of Felkerzam, Bogolubov and others was generated, can be used to base opinions about rugs being produced then, or perhaps a decade or two before, it is surely not fine to describe and provenance rugs made 100, 200 or more years before.
There is no doubt “S” group is “S” group, but pinner’s belief “S” group is Salor is nothing but unsupported and undocumented hearsay passed off as fact.
We also do not agree with pinner’s blanket and undocumented statement “…for the Salor engsi is to some degree a compendium of Turkoman designs which recur, as if at random, in the weavings of several Turkoman tribes.”
Why pinner does not go and show them is obvious: They are only minor designs, not the major ones that define a “S” group engsi, and surely not in any way indicative of “Salor” culture or their specific totem.
And after all, identifying the specific totem of any Turkmen group is one of the, if not the first and most important, goal needed to begin to understand who made what rather than guessing like pinner and other authors do.
As if to neuter his statement pinner then immediately says “It is interesting to examine the features that distinguish the two types (ed. of “Salor” engsi) from each other and from other Turkmen engsi.”
Talk about dropping a hot potato, pinner not only drops it but then proceeds to sit on it and smolder.
Carpet god pinner soon makes the following statement, which time has shown to be absurd.
“To this I would add the unlikelihood that many more examples (ed. of “Salor” engsi) will appear in the near future”
Since 1991 and the publication of the pinner article more have surely appeared, but they like those pinner knew are basically carbon-copies.
The WH engsi, is the most different “S” group engsi to yet surface and it would be interesting to hear what pinner might have said about it.
But we digress…
We need mention pinner’s then cover-all-the-bases approach by stating, again absurdly, “ I have therefore done the best with I can with what is available, knowing that the next two or three Salor engsi to turn up may substantially revise the picture.”
Well, mr pinner, it is now 21 years and no “S” group engsi has substantially revised the type and the small and degenerate details that separate the WH engsi from the others are surely nothing to base any revision or new opinions.
We likewise take acception to pinner’s touchy-feely statement “…it is difficult to avoid the impression that the Type A design is the older, representing an altogether richer repertoire”.
The type A and B engsi are so similar that the minor differences are meaningless, particularly to support any idea which is the earlier.
And “richer”, a poor choice of word for use in the age-game, is only in the eye of the beholder; as one man’s richer is another's busier, and one man’s more simple is another’s more concise and less crowded.
These are nothing but opinion and, in pinner’s case, worse as they are undocumented or substantiated ones.
It is interesting to note while mentioning the curl-leaf border pinner does not discuss the side-by-side doubling and the medallion effect this causes.
His silence is surprising after spending many words discussing elements of the border designs that are far less significant or curious.
Is it possible pinner did not notice this?
Consult your crystal balls and oujji boards as RK would believe he just plain missed the forest such doubling causes for the trees, since we have little respect for pinner’s alleged Turkmen expertise or eye.
RK must say anyone who doubts our opinion of pinner needs to read the say nothing text he and Dr. Murry Eiland produced for the deYoung Museum’s Weidersperg catalog “Black Desert Red Desert”.
And get this: After it was published, and rightly criticized, each author blamed the other for the lack of anything worthwhile.
What embarrassing finger-pointing, and what it says loud and clear about pinner and Eiland’s over-blown reputations.
But back to the “Salor”engsi article.
Starting off discussion of the typical quartered engsi field with a major error pinner states “However, in Tekke and Yomut ensis the upper sections of the field are longer than the lower, while in the six Salor ensis…..the number of rows are roughly equal.”
Sorry, pinner, this is again not true on any universal level, and neither you nor anyone else can prove it to be other than, at best, by some few exceptions.
Like many pinner interprets the animals in the upper panels of “S” group engsi as birds while, all things considered, they are probably camels.
The triangular “khibita” they have on their backs, or it is just their hump, are surely not features found on any birds we have ever seen or heard about.
But had pinner in 1991 seen them as camels, and not birds, he would have had to disavow his earlier, lengthy paean to birds that appears in his and franses’s “Turkmen Studies” publication.
And by the way, the far more avian creatures in the lower panels of “S” group engsi are probably vultures, an association pinner also was not able to grasp and cite.
Another unexplainable pinner-ism is drawing notice to the animals on the elem of Arabatchi and Chodor engsi and call them camels, but fail to see the very similarly articulated ones on the “S” group engsi as camels as well.
So much for pinner the sleuth and carpet icon detective.
We also do not buy pinner’s explanation of the trident/kotchak found on the tops of the khibita or hump on the camel’s back as “sky symbols”.
Sure, this would work if one could prove it was a “sky symbol”, and that such a design existed on a bird, and that bird was the source for those in the elem panel.
But this is surely light years away from what pinner’s “sky symbol” idea tries and fails to accomplish.
It is just another far-fetched and undocumented opinion he might have held but surely did not prove to any convincing degree, especially since the animals are camel and not birds.
We could suggest a number of other comparison for this trident emblem but, quite frankly, this is nothing but unrelated guess work as the elem discussion is: Are they birds or camels? Also where did these icon originate?
Of even more shooting from the hip and missing the target is pinner’s attempt to relate the “S” group engsi to Anatolian prayer rugs on the basis, get this, of their both having “panel” at either or both ends of their fields.
Wow, talk about stretching the pizza dough thin, pinner makes it transparent, transparently far out and meaningless.
Does anyone really believe, after all the far more salient area of possibilities for real engsi research, the statement from pinner below is anything but self-reinforcing chatter?
“But the presence of such panels in both types of rugs (edTurkmen and Anatolian), and the apparent migration from the top of the field to the ensi position at the base in some types of prayer rug, are interesting enough and warrant further study.”
Were he even ½ the Turkmen scholar rugDUMB credits him, pinner would have been able, even in 1991, to discuss the “S” group engsi in far more realistic terms.
The fact, and this is one we have repeated again and again, the “S” group engsi are so homogenous and atypical compared to any other type of pre-commercial period Turkmen weaving seems to have been lost on pinner, and his article suffers for it.
This is easily understood when one can place pinner in a real, and not assumed, context of his place in Turkmen studies.
It is clear from his body of work, and surely not only this article, pinner had no original thoughts and his knot-counting and often patently obvious references hardly were able to make up for this inability to say something new and innovative, even if it was wrong.
Turkmen studies, and oriental rug studies in general, require inspired ideas and connections, and those few authors who have been able to do this stand out from the crowd.
But this is something a robert pinner could not muster, and his “Salor” engsi article, and just about everything else he wrote, proves it, and proves it decisively