Detail, Beshir torba, Archaic Period, RK collection
As promised in this epilogue we will mention the few examples from the hoffmeister collection RK rates as the best.
Just for the record we are judging them against all the other known examples of their types and, trust us, this will be brief, as his collection is long on middle and frightfully short on top examples of Turkmen weavings.
Of the 17 “S” group, aka Salor, pieces, well 16 really as the engsi, cat. 13, is no “S” group, aka Salor, not by a long shot, the only one really worth mention is the chuval fragment, cat.17.
“S” group, aka Salor chuval, cat. 17, hoffmeister collection
And guess what? RK discovered it many long years ago with another fragment, exactly the same shape and size, from the same pair of “S” group, aka Salor, chuval.
We sold them soon thereafter and at the moment can’t remember to who, but surely not hoffmeister.
Let’s all remember in the Tent Band book there are four (Plates 2, 3, 4 and 5) of the earliest and most important “S” group, aka Salor, pieces extant. These were from RK’s former collection, there were none from the hoffmeister collection in the book.
Because when we met him in 1981, and up to the time the Tent Band Book was published in 1989, hoffmeister did not own anything “S” group, aka Salor.
And when one compares the other pieces in the Tent Band Book from RK’s collection to those of hoffmeister there is frankly no comparison.
Nor is there today, but that’s a story for another time and place.
By the way, the chuval fragments, one of which ended up in hoffmeister’s collection (cat.17), were not nearly as early as the two complete “S” group, aka Salor, chuval (Plates 2 and 3) we formerly owned and published in the Tent Band Book; hence our decision to sell them.
RK has also discovered and bought a number of “S” group, aka Salor, chuval but the two in the Tent Band Book were the best and the earliest.
And compared to the other “S” group, aka Salor, pieces in the new hoffmeister collection book cat. 17 is the earliest, except for the two small MC frags, cat 2 and 3, and the chuval cat.7, which are all are its contemporary.
The rest of his “S” group, aka Salor, weavings are only what we like to call money pieces, since they often bring big prices at auction, but they are not historically or artistically interesting or important.
Compare the coloration and crisp articulation of the fragment (cat. 17) to all the others in this chapter and our opinion becomes quite apparent.
Here’s a brief mention of some: The large kejebe three medallion torba, cat. 9, is boring and not nearly the best of type.
For starters the balance of the gol shape is off, it is way too elongated, and the main border far too thin, wimpy and completely overpowered by the additional ľ U-shaped “elem” added to the lower part of the weaving.
The two non-medallion kejebe torba, cat, 10 and 11, pale in comparison to others, especially when compared to the best of them, the one we also formerly owned and published in the Tent Band Book. (Plate 4)
His “S” group, aka Salor, engsi is not bad but we find it, and all of them in fact, stiff, two dimensional and nothing but carefully done copies of each other.
The other “S” group, aka Salor, pieces are instantly forgettable – so much for hoffmeister’s investment quality “S” group, aka Salor, trove.
From his Saryk we only rate the small banner gol chuval fragment, cat.25, as superlative, the rest are second rate.
His lobed gol MC is a rare thing but, compared to a few others of the type, not really a comer.
In the Tekke section we like the germech, cat. 35, and the pseudo-khalyk, cat. 39 but neither is ancient enough to raise our flag.
His Tekke torba, cat. 40, is still our choice for best in the collection award.
And the other Tekke torba we mentioned, cat. 42, is a winner as well, just not as powerful a bell-ringer as cat. 40.
His Yomut pieces are not close to best of type or even beautiful, so we can pass them over without losing a step, though the chuval fragment, cat. 84 is exemplary but hard to look at in its present state because it is so disfigured.
Yomud chuval, cat. 84, hoffmeister collection
We know the piece well from the Tent Band Book days.
Better would be to remove the border, well what’s left of it, on the smaller fragment and join it to the larger fragment.
This way it would read properly and look a whole hell of a lot better.
RK told hoffmiester to do this more than 25 years ago; he did not listen then, and we are sure he is still too stupid to do so now.
The few Eagle-group examples are also not superlative and quite honestly we do not see why Tzareva made such a big fuss about the chuval with the horizontal stripes, cat. 91, or the several others from different weaving groups hoffmeister owns.
RK find them derivative, as the patterns in the stripes are basically watered-down ones found on tent bands.
But again, these is no accounting for taste or the lack of it.
RK spent some time discussing the best of his Chodor holding and we have nothing more to add.
Same with the Arabatchi, but we do need to add some words to the MAD, aka Ersari, section.
When hoffmeister asked to join our Tent Band Book project in the mid-1980’s, the factor that tipped our feelings toward allowing him in were the two Beshir chuvals that are still in his collection, cat. 126 and 127.
Beshir, MAD, chuval, cat 126 and 127, hoffmeister collection
Both of these great and early chuval were formerly in the Simon Crosby collection, and we had seen them on the trips we made to see Simon, who used to live outside London.
This was in the late 1970s and early 1980’s, and each time we went to visit we tried a little bit harder to buy these chuvals.
But Simon was not selling.
Then several years later we saw them with hoffmeister. The Simon Crosby story is an interesting one, and let’s just say hoffmeister and not RK was around when Simon desperately needed money. This is, we are positive, the only reason he sold them.
So when hoffmeister asked to join the Tent Band Book project we made it one of the caveats he allow us to chose the pieces from his collection to be published in the book. Naturally we included the two chuval.
Here they are again, published again in hoffmeister’s new book. Don’t they stand head and shoulders over all the other MAD weavings, as well as just about almost everything else, in the book?
We surely think so.
Again for the record Crosby was, but that's part of the untold Simon Crosby story, far greater and more knowledgeable a collector than hoffmeister is, was and ever will be.
Just note: Hands down, the three most outstanding examples of Turkmen weaving in the hoffmeister collection are the two ex- Simon Crosby Beshir, aka MAD, chuval and the Tekke torba, hoffmeister’s first purchase the Tekke torba, cat. 40.
The latter a hoffmeister dumb-luck purchase and the former two plucked from Crosby’s collection.
The rest, 100 plus Turkmen weavings, are just filler if you ask us…