Home > Turkmen Rugs >Review: new hoffmeister collection book Part XIII
Fri, Jul 22nd, 2011 03:30:07 AM
Topic: Review: new hoffmeister collection book Part XIII

Border detail, unknown Turkmen group, Archaic Period engsi, RK collection

Starting the next chapter with a question, that is more a non sequitur than a query, Tsareva asks

Unidentified Rugs. To Attribute or Not?

If the carpets in question are unidentifiable how can one attribute them? Well, we mean, how could one attribute them with confidence.

Tsareva does try to explain her choice for this title but to us it is just more palaver meant to overlay something with even less logic behind it.

The first of the pieces in this chapter is cat. 135 a torba fragment with a design Tsareva calls universal – the great bird, the famous Semerv, or Senmurv as she spells it, flanked by two dogs.

This interpretation is surely not secure and there are many just as plausible others.

This is why trying to interpret amorphous designs, like this one, is never a good idea.

She relates this very rare example to two others she knows, however, we could add several others including the one just sold in Stockholm at the icoc Dealers Fair reviewed and pictured by RK several weeks ago.

That one was, in our estimation, earlier than cat. 135 and a Tekke; while this one, with cotton wefting, surely is not a Tekke.

We’d place it in the Eagle-group II, an idea also not lost on Tsareva.

In discussing the border Tsareva calls it “…quite rare and belongs to the archaic stratum of Old Turkic motifs connected with animal herding, camels in particular”.

Here, for comparison, is the earliest version of that “…two linked straight crosses alternating with diagonal ones.” we know
Border detail, Archaic Period engsi, RK collection

Border detail, cat 135, hoffmeister collection

Comparing the two, even in small pictures on a computer monitor, we do not believe it is possible not to see the difference, for instance the animation in articulation of this iconic border pattern in our detail and the lack of it in cat. 135.

Next to be tackled by Tsareva is cat. 136 a fragment of a torba with a field element associated with certain Eagle-group pieces, but that is not the case here.

We will not venture a guess as to what group produced it, rather we will mention that element is, most likely, the archetype for the degenerated version seen in the elem of the “S” group engsi sold in Boston recently.

RK has discussed that engsi and its elem at length, and this short mention here will have to suffice.

Here is the URL for the first part, of the five part series “Dissecting the WH engsi”, all of which can be found in the Turkmen Rug Topic Area


The final piece in this chapter is a chuval, cat. 139. At first sight one would suggest a Salor label, but as one looks more closely certain visual features…the aberrant coloring of the gol, the additional outer border, and also the elem.

These reasons are cosmetic, the only feature separating this chuval from an “S” group, aka Salor, attribution is the asymmetric knot open to the right, and not to the left as is their style.

There is heavy depression warp depression, ie two level warp structure, according to the technical analysis published in the catalog and, like a number of other such open-righters or pseudo-“S” group examples as RK likes to call them, this bag’s provenance is unknown.

One thing is sure its materials and color palette are well in the range of “S” group, aka Salor, weavings so whoever made them must have been living in close proximity.

A careful reading of RK’s previous comments here and elsewhere readers should know we do not believe the “S” group, aka Salor, weavings are indigenous Turkmen products, so when we say whoever made cat. 139 was living in close proximity we are really saying the workshops, or commercial weaving circles, that produced them were closely allied.

That’s it for this story, and will not comment on the last two chapters in the book.

The first, about the tentbands, for two reasons:

1. the difficulty in illustrating them in full on our website format and your computer monitor

2. RK is working on presenting our take on the tentband question sometime in the future, and this is not the place to make public our ideas

And the last chapter, about flatweaves and embroidery of the Turkmen, because we have, we believe, done enough and grow tired of this exercise.

Readers who need to reference these chapters, the german translation or the complete technical descriptions can see them in the book.

In closing we are going to do an epilogue discussing the few pieces from the hoffmeister collection we rate as exceptional or important for their iconography and offer our final comments there.

Stay tuned…

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