Home > Turkmen Rugs >Review: new hoffmeister collection book Part I
Sun, Jul 10th, 2011 12:22:46 AM
Topic: Review: new hoffmeister collection book Part I

The hoffmeister collection book begins with an introduction written by Daniel, aka Danny, Schaffer, who has in the past more than once confided to RK he does not know much about Turkmen rugs.

This does not bode well for hoffmeister’s choice of hired-gun to introduce his collection's publication.

Whatever the reason Shaffer was chosen, and not the perennial favorite dr. jon thompson, we can only say he has obediently followed what hoffmeister wanted because his intro strikes us as overly specious on many counts.

The most probable reason thompson was not given the job was his fee for doing so. No doubt about it hoffmeister is a cheap-skate and we are sure thompson would have charged far more than hoffmeister paid Shaffer and after RK's experience publishing the Tent Band Tent Bag book with hoffmeister, and experiencing all his efforts to cheap out at every opportunity on the production of the book, we know of what we speak.

Just compare the Tent Band Book, which RK wrote and only produced the cover -- the rest of the production done by hoffmeister -- to any of our other publications and the difference between spending to get a great result, compared to cheaping out to get a mediocre one, becomes evidently apparent.

And while the color reproduction and clarity of the pictures in the hoffmeister collection book are adequate in comparison to other Turkmen books, they are far from outstanding. To get outstanding results one has to pay alot and clearly this was not hoffmeister intention.

Also the binding of the book is substandard and RK is sure these books will, after use, suffer problems and if not very carefully handled fall apart.

The cover material (this is not the color dust jacket but the front/back covers and spine or boards as they are called in the printing business) are as cheap as one can get. They are what is called in the publishing trade "text book", surely they are not "art book" quality, forget about "delux or luxury".

To publish the other three books RK wrote and produced we, out of necessity, learned the printing and publishing trade including many of the tricks and errors between making a high quality book and a mediocre one.

Production wise the hoffmeister collection book is a mediocrre effort and already after some use our copy, when closed, is slanting to the right and the space between the pages is already irregular. These are the initial signs of binding problems to come.

OK, that's enough about the book's production, let's get into what it says.

Shaffer begins his intro begin with the following sentence:

peter hoffmeister of Dorfles-Esbach, near Coburg in Germany, has been collecting, cleaning, studying, lecturing, and writing about the traditional rugs and carpets of the Turkoman tribes of Central Asia for forty years.

First off let RK explain our use of the term “hired gun”.

In the old West, and we are talking about America, west of the Mississippi River, in the mid-to-late 19th century, those who could not defend themselves or their property turned to a hired gun, or many of them, to ensure their safety and that of their property.

Schaffer is undoubtedly interested in oriental rugs and is, or more to the fact was, himself an avid collector of Belouch rugs long before these weaving became fashionable and popular.

And, of course, his now long time editorial involvement with that rag hali surely qualifies his credibility as someone who can write about rugs.

But taking aside his confiding to us he doesn’t know a whole lot about Turkmen rugs, RK questions the honesty of what hired gun Schaeffer has written.

After all hoffmeister surely paid him either directly or indirectly, so what Schaffer has written was done not critically or factually, as we will demonstrate, but rather to please.

And therefore it might be called vanity press, and more critically pure ad-man hype and nonsense.

RK prefers the second, as calling hoffmeister a lecturer or writer about Turkmen rugs is akin to calling the NY Yankee’s batboy a World Series athlete.

For those of you who don’t understand, let RK explain: The batboy is a young man who has the job of handing the bat to each player before his time at the plate and then to retrieve it after use. He also cleans the bats, and takes care of storing them after the game.

So in that job, should his team win the right to play, the batboy gets to go to the World Series. But he surely has nothing to do with his team’s winning or losing.

Much in the same manner describes peter the crook, cheat and let us add turko-know-little, hoffmeister, who had been around Turkmen rugs before we first met him in 1981.

However, at that time hoffmeister knew little about them, and trust us we spent an inordinate amount of time with him, so we know what we say.

Then, and until recently, hoffmeister was surely someone who could not have been called a player in the higher echelons of Turkmen rug collecting – more to the point would be calling hoffmeister someone on the periphery.

Now then, Shaffer’s describing him as someone who is a lecturer and writer is in fact nothing but more complete hype and nonsense.

So is Shaffer’s regrettable use of the word Turkoman, which is completely incorrect as their country is Turkmenistan, not Turkomenistan, and therefore the people who live there are Turkmen not Turkoman.

But the finer points of Turkmen rug study are difficult to master, and Danny Shaffer’s first sentence demonstrates he needs some additional tutoring, not only for his shameful incorrect use of that out-dated term Turk0man but also if he really believes what he has written about hoffmeister.

By his own account hoffmeister bought his first Turkmen piece, which is arguably his best, by accident in 1971.

Also by his own account he knew nothing then and for a long time afterwards.

So how in the world can Shaffer state hoffmeister has been doing all this gloriously significant work on Turkmen weavings since 1971?

Sorry, Shaffer, that’s nothing but pure bull-biscuits and cow-pie.

We continue with Shaffer’s comments:

In that time(ed. 40 years) he has assembled one of the largest, best, and widest-ranging private collections of antique and historic Turkmen knotted-pile weavings in Western Europe and the Americas, rivaling the holdings of major museums in the West and in Russia, as well as in Turkmenistan itself

Again here is a hired gun defending his paymaster but at the same time Shaffer’s stooping rather low, so low in fact his butt-crack is showing.

Quantity is surely no match for quality and RK has now had enough time to study the pictures of the pieces in the book and very, very few of them are really anything to praise to high heaven as Shaffer has done.

Also, we defy anyone who knows more than Shaffer about Turkmen rugs to agree with the formidable praise Shaffer has so liberally sprinkled like fairy dust over the hoffmeister collection.

Shaffer goes on about hoffmeister’s collection

…(it) is distinguished above all else by its combination of artistic excellence and art historical importance.

Again those are big shoes to fill, and as far as RK is concerned hoffmeister’s flat-feet might be size 12 but his ability to dance to the Turkmen tune in those shoes is surely not a Fred Astaire performance, regardless of Shaffer’s loud applause and whistles.

We will get into comparing a goodly number of pieces from the hoffmeister collection to other, far better, earlier, ones where real artistic excellence and historical importance can be seen after we finish with the intros Shaffer, Tsareva and hoffmeister wrote.

Almost every sentence coming from Shaffer’s pen is dubious but this one, we believe, takes the cake.

The carpets, rugs and other woven transport bags and ceremonial trappings(ed. in the hoffmeister collection) have been acquired, often at considerable expense, on the Western carpet and textile market

Might the fact the hoffmeister collection has been offered for sale over the past two years (pictures were circulated so we have been told to a select few prospective buyers with no takers) be the reason Shaffer the advertising man mentions the considerable expense hoffmeister the collector has expended in his collecting efforts?

Surely it is, according to RK, and here again here’s Shaffer stooping and butt-cracking even further…Tsk Tsk….

Reading Shaffer’s account of hoffmeister’s alleged “academic career” as a Turkmen scholar is equally as dumbfounding to anyone who knows what’s up.

Of the period of collecting Mr hoffmeister has lectured on the subject of Turkmen weaving to academic conferences in the West, in Russia, in Turkey and in Turkmenistan.

Really? How many times…once in each country? in toto three or four times?

This does not make hoffmeister anything but a wanna-be, especially since those “academic” conferences are about as academic as play period in a second grade classroom. Yesshhh, get real Shaffer.

And considering the fact RK wrote most of the best of the two or three lectures hoffmeister has ever given surely makes our opinion far more credible than Shaffer’s, the hired gun.

There is little to no doubt hoffmiester is a turko-know-little, a poseur, and someone who wants to be a somebody in the Turkmen carpet world, and he has used his family inheritance to buy his seat.

What else is new in rugDUMB?

Shaffer goes waxing on praising hoffmeister’s place in Turkmen academia as reading the scan of Shaffer’s complete intro below shows and RK feels we have said enough.

Shaffer ends his eulogizing the great Turkmen collector hoffmeister with the following:

The hoffmeister collection is an important repository of art and woven artifacts that provide a physical documentation of of key areas of Turkoman material culture.

Oh yeah, Danny? What about all the other Turkmen carpet publications, many of which dust this new one by hoffmeister?

No, no shoveling over-arched, exaggerated hype and pretending it is truth is never acceptable, even when one is paid to do so.

In closing, just like Shaffer can’t get the Turkmen/Turkoman thing right, neither can he get hoffmeister’s collection or hoffmeister’s record as a Turkmen academe right.

Here, below, is Shaffer’s entire intro, read it yourselves.

And trust there’s much more to come, as RK will soon take an equally critical look at the intro and acknowledgement hoffmeister wrote himself, then on to Tsareva’s text and the rugs from the hoffmeister collection.

Stay tuned….

Daniel Shaffer’s complete introduction

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