The second introduction to the hoffmeister collection publication was written by the collector, peter hoffmeister, himself.
RK feels we need to repeat a little history before commenting and critiquing what hoffmeister has written about himself, his career in rugDUMB, and of course his oh so brief comments about some of the pieces in this book.
In the spring of 1981 on one of our trips to Europe we were introduced to hoffmeister by bertram frauenknecht, who warned us to be careful of dealing with him as, according to frauenknecht, hoffmeister had cheated him out of some commissions he was due from other introductions.
It was a mistake when we disregarded frauenknecht’s warning but, we must mention, in the end frauenknecht turned out to be just as sleazy, greedy, selfish and personally dishonest as hoffmeister.
Over the next 3 years our friendship with hoffmeister grew and when he asked to become involved with our Tent Band Book project we said OK under certain conditions.
The entire story of what happened is published here on RugKazbah.com’s discussion board on the link we already cited but here it is again.
The hoffmeister saga Parts I-VIII
Once again, RugKazbah.com’s discussion board does not support active links, so you must copy and paste the link above into your browser window or go directly to the peter hoffmeister Topic Area on our homepage and you will see the eight part saga under this thread you are reading presently.
To cut to the chase why RK calls hoffmeister, hoffscheister, we can definitively say not only did he not honestly fulfill the contract he signed with us for making the Tent Band Book but he then cheated and connived to use the book for his own purposes, including tax fraud.
He also cheated us out of any profits and refused to repay us for the money we had paid our artist for all the illustrations and drawings in the book.
And on top of all that, hoffmeister surreptitiously without our permission or knowledge photographed some of Mellaart’s photos and used them in the “lecture” he gave in Leningrad and elsewhere.
By the way, RK wrote most of that lecture and although hoffmeister agreed to credit us he never did.
So is it any wonder we call hoffeister a thief, a cheat, a liar and a plagiarist?
We have not spoken to him since 1991 when we met in Munich and RK heard, for the first time, the speech we wrote without any credit or even mention of our name and saw the stolen Mellaart photos.
Right then a there we found out what a cheat and thief hoffmeister is….
OK enough of the background of what happened between RK and hoffmeister, let’s see what he has written in his introduction.
His first sentence recounts how, “In the late 1970’s the collector and publisher Simon Crosby suggested I should publish my collection of Turkmen rugs…thirty years have passed and I am still collecting Turkomans.”
This is generally the truth but we must again point out, like Shaffer, hoffmeister shows his novice status as a Turkmen carpet collector by using the incorrect term Turkoman. Plus not adding carpets to what he wrote implies hoffmeister is collecting Turkoman people and not their carpets.
Stupidity at the worst, bad editing at the least, but in any case both errors are inexcusable and unprofessional.
He then immediately follows with “The inventory(ed. our emphasis) has grown considerably, while encouragement to publish another volume has come from other quarters, and here it is.”
Well now what collector refers to his collection as an “inventory”?
None we have ever met, and if ever a Freudian slip was made in rugDUMB it has to be this one of hoffmeister’s.
Clearly the rumors about his inventory, eerrrhh collection, being for sale surely must be true. Good luck is all RK can say, as he will need it, but we digress.
In almost comical terms hoffmeister then says about the choice of examples he and Tsareva chose “…we decided to include all the pieces form the 1980 book that are still in my possession, as well as those from a lesser known little book Tent Bag Tent Band (1988), together with those others that have been published elsewhere.”
First off hoffmeister did not even get the title right, it is Tent Band Tent Bag, not Tent Bag Tent Band.
Did he do this on purpose to confuse readers?
Is he Alzheimered-out, or just too stupid to remember?
The first reason is the one, as hoffmeister surely does not want to remember what he did, including the tax evasion. Nor does he want others to as well.
Plus calling it “lesser-known”?
This is nothing but nonsense from the mouth of hoffmeister, a proven liar and cheat.
The Tent Band Tent Bag book is very well known, in fact not only is it far more well known than the Crosby book but RK not immodestly can say it is probably one of the most well-known books on Turkmen rugs.
And “little”? If anything is little it is hoffmeister’s ability to be honest and tell it like it is.
Need more proof as to what a conniving, deceitful creep peter hoffmeister is?
On we go….hoffmeister then liberally applies the fairy dust all over himself by saying “In that 1980 book (ed. the Crosby publication) I put much emphasis on my ideas about the abstract art of the Turkoman. Through the study of the history of religion, in particular the work of Mircea Eliade, I had discovered that it is the image of the cosmos that the Turkoman engsi (tent-door rug) seeks to represent. ”
This is hogwash as any reading of the Crosby publication shows little if any references to hoffmeister’s claim.
He continues “I may have been the first to draw attention to this theme, to which I have devoted much attention, then and since, up to the present day: hence the comprehensive representation of engsi in my collection”.
This too is hogwash as the idea the engsi represents the cosmic tree growing from the earth and reaching heaven is surely not hoffmeister’s discovery.
By the way, RK does not believe this concept is what engsi are all about, and we therefore find hoffmeister’s premise to be nothing but more wishful Turkmen-thinking.
As for the “comprehensive concentration” of engsi in his collection? What does that really mean?
More nonsense as there are 21 engsi but there are also 21 MC and fragments of MC; 85 chuval and torba and fragments of them; 27 tentband and fragments of them; 4 khalyk; 2 asmalyk.
So statistically if there is any such concentration it is chuval and torba, not engsi.
Plus, of the 21 engsi he does have most are better than average but surely not stars, archetypes or best of types.
Pointing this out might be nit-picking but it clearly demonstrates hoffmeister is prone to exaggeration and drawing incorrect and imagery conclusions.
What can be worse than reading an author who is so full of himself that what he says is instantly rendered false and incorrect on face value?
More on engsi and the hoffmeister claims later.
Recounting how he got involved with carpets and art buying is, in our opinion, unnecessary and not only is it boring, it is droll.
And this next sentence is laughable “It was one of life’s coincidences that one on occasion, far from any large city, I came across a very early Turkoman torba that matched my sense of great art to the full. I bought it and it has since been radio-carbon dated to the mid-17th century or earlier (cat.40).”
Catalog number 40, Tekke torba
As we mentioned earlier this is arguably the most important piece in the hoffmeister collection.
On that first occasion when we met hoffmeister he showed it to us and we must confess having more than a small bit of envy.
That feeling remained and we are on record for stating on a number of occasions, and in print, hoffmeister’s, cat 40, is the earliest and best example of a Tekke torba we have ever seen.
And our opinion was made long before the C14 date,1448-1529(49.1%) 1539-1634(50.9%), was done.
However, recently RK purchased a torba we believe is even earlier and far better than hoffmeister’s.
We were not going to publish it but, since RK always documents and supports what we say with fact and because we want this critique of the hoffmeister collection publication to be something special, we will now publish a detail of the minor gol from our torba.
Left: detail minor gol, catalog 40 hoffmeister collection; Right: detail minor gol, RK collection
At this time we are unwilling to write much about our piece but we will state we believe it is the archetype for his and the few other examples of this extremely rare group of large format torba.
We also want to take this opportunity to christen this gol with the name “archaic gol”, as we believe it is one of the few extant Turkmen rosetta stones.
This is not the time and place to discuss this minor gol but we will say it is the archetype the chemche, gurbaghe and others, like the minor gol on the famous Ballard Arabatchi large format torba.
But we digress again, so back to hoffmeister puffing and preening himself and, in the process, desperately trying to rewrite history.
After he stumbled on the Tekke torba, cat. 40, hoffheister says he went to Hamburg, saw the 1970 Ethnographic Museum Turkmen exhibition, and got “filled with enthusiasm”
He is referring to the Azadi curated exhibition which was surely not without fault, particularly the unsupportable and now almost comical over-dating of many of the pieces in the catalog.
However, Azadi was prescient and right, there are 17th century and earlier Turkmen weavings but regrettably they are just not the ones he claimed in this catalog.
This aside, nonetheless, the 1970 Hamburg exhibition was ground-breaking, and after visiting it hoffmeister says “…now my search began (and)…almost all these purchases from the early 1970’s are still on my possession.”
This too is hog-wash, and here is an interesting story Azadi told me to prove how hoffmeister’s “eye” for Turkmen weavings was surely not developed enough at this time to ensure what he said is not, once again, rewriting fact with nonsense posturing.
Seems sometime soon after the exhibition hoffmeister visited Azadi, looked at many pieces and, after heavy bargaining, bought one.
About a week later, according to Azadi, hoffmeister called and said the piece was “no good” and he wanted to return it.
Azadi tried to convince him he was wrong and, after realizing he couldn’t, agreed to send hoffmeister three other pieces from which hoffmeister could choose one.
Since all these were more expensive hoffmeister agreed to pay the difference and return the original purchase with two of the others Azadi would send.
Azadi sent the pieces and after some time and further bargaining hoffmeister chose one and agreed to pay the difference.
He then shipped the original purchase and the other two back to Azadi but after many weeks went by with no sending of the difference he owed Azadi called him.
When he called, according to Azadi, hoffmeister said “You are a crook” and he would not pay a crook for cheating him.
Azadi tried to reason with him but he refused to send the money and, to end it, Azadi told him never to return to his shop.
And, of course, Azadi never got paid.
We know other stories people have told us about hoffmeister the crook and cheat.
After going to Hamburg, seeing the exhibition, and deciding to buy more Turkmen rugs hoffmeister tries to impart some advice for collectors based on what he learned.
Not a bad idea but because his comments are general and banal they are basically worthless.
For instance he says “subjective feelings which prompt the decision to buy a rug or carpet may not prove long lasting.”
And this “To study means to look properly, to compare, and to learn to distinguish between good pieces and those where the result is less successful.”
Now that’s real information a new collector can take to the bank, huh?
After dispensing a few more similarly hollow pieces of advice hoffmeister says he found collecting”groups” to be his preferred methodology and then embarks on a “brief guided tour, personal, subjective, and by no means comprehensive through some of the groups and themes of the PH collection.”
Here hoffmeister is correct, as his comments are by no means comprehensive. Fact is they are so brief and “personal” they come off as nothing but more worthless patter.
For instance, after spilling a few say-nothing words about his Tekke main carpets(MC) he then, with great authority but no supporting documentation, says the following about one of his eagle-group MC “The first (cat.88) is certainly the work of an important maker – the characteristic design is executed to perfection and the piece has exemplary wool quality and coloring.”
Now that’s real “scientific” and “art historical” information to base such an opinion on, isn’t it?
Let’s all remember this in light of Shaffer’s comments about hoffmeister, the lecturer, authority, etc etc.
And is this comment about one of his two Arabatchi MC is anything but equally as weak, and nothing but baseless opinion?
“The two arabatchi main carpets are of different ages. The earlier example (cat.104) has three rows of gols, its border is more prominent and the side-gols have more variation in their design. The sides of the younger one (cat.105) may be slightly reduced but are beautiful and precisely drawn.
What can RK say except hoffmeister has really nothing to say other than the obvious because he is what RK claims -- a turko-know-little.
We are not going to bother to point up hoffmeister’s inability to project the impression, let alone give fact to the idea, he has something, anything, to add to Turkmen studies.
Sadly, he doesn’t; and we, again, refer readers to the complete introduction text hoffmeister has written which we publish below so they can see we are telling it as it is.
But before we sign off, this dumb as a pet rock hoffmeister comment deserves notice
“I particularly want to mention the four Tekke khalyk, which were made for the wedding ceremony by the family of the bride. Where exactly they were hung on the bridal camel, which carried the bride in procession to the yurt of the groom, is not certain. ”
Oh yeah says who? Nobody we know other than a turko-know-little like peter hoffmeister.
Perhaps later 19th century ones were but this is surely unsubstantiated for all khalyk, especially the earliest ones.
He continues with “ A khalyk might perhaps have served to decorate the opening of the bridal litter in order to shield the young woman from unwanted view.”
Now please, how can two narrow strips of weaving shield anyone from unwanted view?
This, like a number of other dumbbell ideas hoffmeister presents, again makes mockery of Shaffer’s comments about hoffmeister’s Turko-academics.
We also can’t avoid commenting on hoffmeister’s directing readers to his published essay on engsi, which was a short, and again say little to nothing piece, accompanying an exhibition he staged in Washington at the icoc in 2003.
That essay is, like what is written in his new book, absolutely bereft of anything that even slightly resembles scholarship, even in a barren desert of scholarship like rugDUMB.
In closing our comments about hoffmeister’s introduction, we must state the only thing RK is thankful for is it was only 7 pages in length; however, even reading those 7 pages was arduous.
Here is in its entirety for those of you who have the time and energy to mush through such a boring and droll bunch of words, the hoffmeister introduction and acknowledgements:
(Here is the missing line of text:
“into the period between 1500 and 1675 AD.”)