Polaroid photograph of the so-called Imreli carpet dr, jon thompson bought and owned although he dishonestly hid that fact and illustrated it under the previous owner’s name in the catalog of the 1980 Turkmen exhibition at the textile museum, Washington, DC
“The ‘Eagle Group. Who Were the Weavers?” is the sixth story title, and a provocative one at that.
Let’s now look together and see if Elena Tsareva can live up to her title and tell us who wove the eagle group pieces.
We must say this is something we highly doubt she can do convincingly, or even adequately, but wonders never cease so on we go.
After citing the groundbreaking work already done on these so-called eagle group weavings Tsareva comments the two hoffmeister carpets, cat. 87 and 88(shown in the chapter scans below) are type 1.
She also relates cat. 88 is entirely silk wefted, has some loop-pile weaving and other technical “quirks” she regrettably does not enumerate.
She then goes into fairy tale mode
“To compare the pair, one can say the design of cat. 88 is more nomadic in character, while cat. 87 is closer to the products of the agriculturalists of the southern part of the Caspian coast, whose population contained Oguz-Turkoman strata dating back to the Oguz presence in the area.”
This is pure opinion, and for sure RK does not think it is bad or unscholarly to present opinions.
That said, we do look poorly on opinions that are presented, as Tsareva does, without explanation or even a shred of documentary support.
Why, any astute reader will ask, is cat. 87 closer to the “agriculturalists” and cat. 88 the “nomads”?
Forget about any answer from Tsareva, she offers none.
Tsareva then mentions the similarity the complex main gol these carpets and the Chodor ertmen share, as well as both groups use the asymmetric knot open right and some cotton in their wefting.
These are good observations, as are the structural and technical ones she mentions about the two torba cat. 89 and 90.
But reading her attempt to figure out just who made the Eagle-group weavings one can dismay coming across this passage
“the structural characteristics of Eagle-group main carpets suggest that their producers were sedentary people, while their ornaments point to archaic tribal components in their genesis. There is also some evidence of the commercial character of the craft, in the form of the variability of the shapes of the eagle-gol and other motifs, which stands in marked contrast to the greater stability of motif seen, for instance, in Salor hali gols.”
Here is but another example of Tsareva’s inability to honestly formulate thesis based on established premise, even her own.
What she calls stability of Salor main gol, as we have commented, is nothing but rote copying in conjunction materials that are so similar they must have been produced in a workshop, as no other environment could/would have produced such regularity.
So while trying to draw differentiation between eagle group and Salor MC Tsareva is on not only shaky ground, she falls into a major hole of her own digging.
The eagle-group, as well as the “S” group, aka Salor, MC are undoubtedly, in our opinion, Persian products made for the Turkmen, or by Turkmen groups who have become, or always were, far more Persian than Turkmen.
Basically because their weaving techniques are not like any other contemporary Turkmen rugs. The Eagle-group being extremely fine and the "S" group, aka Salor, being woven on a two-level, aka depressed, foundation.
Also both types have wool that is spun with far more regularity and precision than other contemporary Turkmen products; other than perhaps tentbands, which we also have come to believe are likewise workshop production done outside the weaving environments that produced other Turkmen rugs.
And then there is the quantity, more in the "S" group, aka Salor type and lesser in the Eagle-group, of examples that are so similar and alike they appear to be identical twins and not brothers or cousins as is the case with almost all other pre-1850 Turkmen rug types, save Tekke torba and engsi, most of which we would argue are post-1850 regardless of others who believe differently.
We also do not agree with Tsareva stating
“…the tribe who made the eagle-gol pieces had to be…large…to produce such luxurious weavings in quantities sufficient to have survived to our time in some numbers.”
This also shows how Tsareva bends fact to fit her ideas, as there are very few eagle group MC and they, unlike the “S” group, aka Salor MC, are not a homogenous group by any means.
Eagle-group MC can be easily divided into cluster for our continuum, ie early to late ones; whereas the “S” group, aka Salor, MC are basically, save a very, very few exception, all the same age.
Well wadda ya know in answering the question: Tsareva’s guesstimate, who wove the type I eagle group MC, is the….. Imreli….Gad Zooks, shades of Dr. jon thompson’s long disgraced theory.
Granted Tsareva’s rebirthing of thompson’s boner is specific to type I pieces, but nonetheless we view it as nothing but pure guess work based on no facts – just like thompson.
One thing is in Tsareva’s favor, at least she presents it as tentative while thompson didn’t.
So to close, not only does Tsareva leave the question “Who wove the Eagle group carpets” unanswered, she does so by resurrecting thompson’s far more foolhardy stab at the same question.
A propos, RK would like to end our commentary of this chapter with a little rug collecting social–history.
Polaroid of the thompson so-called Imreli carpet placed on the illustration of it from the Turkmen catalog
Here’s an interesting story few, if any in rugDUMB know: The story of the Eagle-group MC illustrated above.
This rug is illustrated in Turkmen, the catalog of the 1980 Washington Turkmen exhibition, as Plate 56.
The caption says collection “John D. Phillips, Jr." which is only partially correct.
RK knew and was quite friendly with John Dolan Phillips Jr., who was a carpet collector/investor living in San Francisco, until and up to the time of his somewhat mysterious disappearance and presumed murder, in the 1981.
His story and demise is not germane for this discussion so we will avoid any other mention of him other than in conjunction with Plate 56.
One day while we were visiting with Phillips, who lived in North Beach, San Francisco, he showed us the carpet to ask our opinion.
We had previously seen it with jim blackmon, who at this time, circa 1979, was a rather penniless carpet-restorer living in a yurt out in Inverness, Marin County, about 40 miles north of the ‘city’, as San Francisco is called by natives of the area.
The carpet wasn’t blackmon’s, and when he showed it to us it was in his possession for some small repairs and was definitely not for sale.
Trust us, we tried to buy it, but blackmon insisted it was not for sale at any price.
Well, sometime later, when Phillips showed it to us we asked him if it was his and after stammering around some, and trying to avoid answering, he finally said, “yes”, it was his.
We asked him where he got it and he said he could not say and, when we mentioned blackmon’s name, Phillips asked us if we had seen it before.
We said “yes” and that blackmon had showed it to us.
Philips seems rather perturbed at this but again asked us our opinion.
We then said “is it for sale we’d like to buy it” and Phillips said “no, it wasn’t”.
We then told him we thought it was a great early main carpet and if he was going to sell it we’d like to have the opportunity to buy it.
He said “well, ok but I am not going to sell it”
Several weeks later we heard through the grape-vine that thompson had been in San Francisco looking at Turkmen pieces for possible inclusion in the Washington show.
We did not see thompson, nor did we try to, for at this point RK was not getting the best vibes from him and had no reason to want to see him.
Soon thereafter we heard, again through the grape-vine, that thompson had bought the carpet from Phillips for $16,000.
On our next visit with Phillips, who we often visited and talked with about rugs and many other things, we point blank asked him if it was true that thompson had bought the main carpet.
Again, as was Phillip’s modus operandi, he tried to obfuscate the issue and not answer but eventually on our insistence he did affirm he had sold it to thompson and was awaiting payment.
Remember all this happened in late ‘79 or early 1980, still quite a bit of time before the Turkmen exhibition, which was in October 1980.
So at the time of the opening, jon thompson, and not John D. Philips Jr. owned the rug.
Where it is now we don’t know.
As you can see in the photo above there is a polaroid picture in the center of the carpet.
RK made that picture for illustration here by taking the polaroid and laying in on the illustration of Plate 56 in the Turkmen book.
Soon after learning Phillips had sold the rug to thompson we were out in Inverness visiting blackmon in his yurt.
We asked him if he had a picture of the carpet and he said yes and produced the polariod.
RK asked him if he would give it to us and, of course, he said no.
But when we offered him 100 dollars for it blackmon gave it up right away, and that’s how we got it, and have it to this day.
When we saw the main carpet in the exhibition and saw the wall label stating it was in John D. Phillips Jr collection we then knew our suspicions about thompson’s honesty were completely correct and right on.
That’s it for today, and by the way the story of the thompson and the so-called Imreli carpet appeared on RugKazbah in the
What is jon thompson Guru or fakir,
Part 4 thread
published Jan 23, 2010, RugKazbah.com discussion board
jon thompson Topic Area.