There is little doubt Turkmen rug collecting is presently the number one area of interest.
If anyone needs confirmation just check-out the number of icoc exhibitors where these weavings were featured front and center.
Also the recent extraordinary prices paid at auction, like the “S”group torba and Saryk main carpet at rippon-boswell, the “S” group ensi at grogan, the "tree asmalyk at Nagel, or the multi-gol main carpet at sotheby NY, add further evidence of this trend.
Some might believe this is a fad and like others will soon fade.
However, nothing could be farther from the truth as many collectors now realize Turkmen rugs can be as old and significant as Anatolian ones. This is the main reason for this second-wave of Turkomania.
After all many, many of those pre-18th century Anatolian rugs were woven by the descendants of Turkmen people, who migrated into Anatolia from at least the 11th century onwards.
RK has long championed this fact and been vocal in our belief there are extant Turkmen rugs that date, like Anatolian ones, from the 15th and 16th century, forget 17th and 18th.
The question that remains, however, is how does one distinguish a 500 year old example from a 300 and that from a 100?
Since we are not really interested in making more competition for our collecting pursuits we generally keep quiet about this and are decidedly wont to release some of the markers we use to judge these weavings.
But RK has always been generous with information, though it has often been to our detriment, so we see no reason to not occasionally release both privately and publicly some of our ideas and methodology.
As we mentioned several days ago when we attended the dealer’s fair at the icoc in Stockholm we saw but could not purchase this rare Turkmen weaving.
And since then we have been trying to decide if we should write something more about it here on RugKazbah.com.
Obviously we decided we should and what follows are some brief thoughts about it, which we are also sure will be seen as highly controversial by many readers.
First off, calling it “eagle group” is nothing short of non-descriptive although its general structural characteristics, asymmetric knot open right with one line of cotton wefting, fit the characteristics of eagle group II.
Who made these eagle group weavings, and particular to this commentary, who made the eagle group II examples?
Good questions and ones that pretty much negate any belief the eagle group designation as a whole is anything but more nomenclature with no actual advance in the who made what question,
This question hangs over Turkmen rug research like a veritable sword of Damocles, and is one RK believes will probably never be 100 percent solved for examples pre-dating the 19th century.
But hope springs eternal and perhaps some long forgotten pre-18th century manuscript or traveler’s account will turn up with drawings of Turkmen weavings denoting exactly which group made them.
Forgetting this question, there is another sword aimed at Turkmen rug research, and that is the age question.
There should be little question Turkmen people were most probably weaving complex patterned pile carpets before the migrations west occurred beginning in the 11th century -- or that they made them during those migrations.
As yet these weavings are lost and completely unidentified, as are the first pile weavings made by Turkmen when they reached Anatolia.
Several months ago, RK provocatively suggested the fragment below is one such weaving, but we have absolutely no proof, other than circumstantial, to back-up our idea.
eastern Anatolian pile carpet fragment RK has provocatively described as the progenitor of the Saryk Timurchin gol
We published a series abourt this: “An Ancient Saryk Main Carpet and its progenitor” in the Turkmen topic area where this fascinating fragment was first illustrated.
And for those readers who have not seen them we suggest you do so.
Also unidentified are any pre-19th century Turkmen weavings but it is patently obvious they exist and any disbelievers are nothing but Luddites.
But back to the age-question and how RK deals with it.
We have analyzed many hundreds of old Turkmen weavings and established many continuum of similar examples based on iconography, color and structural determinants.
By doing so we can now place almost any weaving among its compares and continuum-date it accordingly.
We also have formulated certain ideas about the minor characteristics all Turkmen weavings share.
Ideas like proportions, major and minor border differences, gol details, etc and use these to also base those continuum dates.
We have already illustrated the so-called eagle group II mafrash Motamedi sold in Stockholm and we do so again below.
While at the dealers fair we brought several people interested in Turkmen weavings over to see it and had some informal discussions with them about it.
We voiced our opinion the mafrash was a so-far best of type example but someday an older and better one will appear.
Eveyone questioned why we thought so, and as that was not the time or place to discuss our position we left it hanging.
But today we decided to at least publish one piece of what we consider to be proof that substantiates our claim.
All archaic period, and we mean in date terms pre-18th/ 17th century, Turkmen weavings are perfectly articulated statements where every element of design and materials are perfect and of the highest order.
There are very, very few of these extant, but they are some and we believe the Saryk main carpet we wrote about in “An Ancient Saryk Main Carpet and its progenitor” is one such weaving.
detail, Timurchin gol from an ancient Saryk Timurchin gol MC, RK collection
We do not believe the Motamedi mafrash is , and we would place it in the next period, as an early Classic period example.
There were several clues we noticed to lead us to this conclusion and we will now demonstrate one of them to hopefully back-up our position.
We are not going to discuss others as we feel doing so will not be in our best interests, and in fact we are not sure if we should even have written this or discuss what appears below.
The easiest clue to identify the mafash is not an ancient, ie archaic period, weaving is the articulation of the main border, and to illustrate this we are publishing a detail from an archaic period Turkmen where it also appears.
Left, main border from the early Classic period Motamedi mafrash; Right, main border from an Archaic period Turkmen weaving
There are a number of subtle differences this comparison illustrates and we suggest readers study them carefully, as well as try to find other examples in your libraries of published Turkmen weavings.
We grant seeing pictures on a computer screen is not like seeing these weaving in the flesh but, nevertheless, these subtle differences are identifiable.
RK also realizes our reticence to really get down and discuss more about these two photos, as well as other points we could cite, might make this exercise seem irrelevant.
But we also believe it will stimulate some readers to search, and in that search be instructive.
As a postscript we would like to offer a wild guess as to what Turkmen group made the eagle II weavings – the Tekke.
We say this based on a number of clues and perhaps the most relevant is the fact the Tekke are one of the oldest Turkmen groups and they, at different times in history, inhabited various locations in Turkmenistan.
Obviously, being able to figure out where they were and when is the system needed to decipher those two sword of Damocles questions and since we are not going to add anything here and now we will leave the sword hanging by that tenuous thread.
But, rest assured, RK is on the case and we hope before the fat lady sings we will have enough evidence to not only prove our Archaic Period designations but also to show the earliest eagle group II weavings, like the Motamedi mafrash, were made by a particular clan of Tekke weavers.