( ed. A little less than three years ago RK published this extensive review of the Milestones Tabibnia publication.
It has been viewed by hundreds of visitors and continues to capture attention.
Today we reread it in its entirety and believe doing so would also benefit readers interested in an unbiased look at a number of classical carpets said to be 'important'.
Importance, like the term beautiful, is relative; surely it is not fact. It is nothing but opinion.
While RK's well-documented appraisal, which is not opinion, provides crucial evidence to the contrary.
It proves what dr jon thompson, moshe tabibnia, that rag hali magazine and the pretentious title, "Milestones in the History of Oriental Carpets", have tried to claim for this publication is nothing but opinion, which frankly bears little in comparison to reality.
We do hope motivated readers will see for themselves, and in the process expand their own perceptions and knowledge of classical carpets.
Milestones in the History of Carpets” was published in 2006 by the Moshe Tabibnia Gallery in Milan, Italy.
The ‘book’ is a lavish production – big, glossy and well produced in all regards.
However it is, in the final analysis, a dealer’s catalog of pieces that are/were/will be for sale rather than a “scholarly tome”.
The text, written by dr jon thompson attempts to, as Mr Tabibnia told me in
October of 2006, “…be controversial but that’s good as the carpet world needs controversy.”
RK only recently acquired a copy -- actually it was a trade with Mr Tabibnia for one of our paper-bound Anatolian Kelim books– and digging into thompson’s text was often hard work regardless of the salubrious writing style thompson brings.
As our readership knows RK is surely no fan, in any way mind you, of “classical carpets” and since that’s all this book is about we resisted getting a copy.
But after being out for five years, and the opportunity to acquire one was present, we decided to go ahead and add it to our already groaning shelf of rug books.
Our readers also know we are no fan of dr jon thompson, and since we have already written enough about our past ‘relations’ with him on RugKazbah.com we will not revisit that topic here and now.
RK also finds it hard to believe Mr Tabibnia’s purpose in publishing this book, said controversy or not, was anything more than a glorification to any and all prospective buyers of the “collection” it illustrates.
In keeping with this unspoken but clear as a sunshine reflected in a mirror purpose the “introduction”, written by Marino and Clara Dall’Olio, extols the value of the rugs within to prospective buyers.
In fact, their introduction is so pointed in that direction one wonders if they are going to profit from any sales along with Tabibnia.
Tongues in rugdumb have been wagging about Mr Tabibnia and his gallery for the past ten years or so – both for his high profile and expensive auction buys (a number of them turn up in the Milestones book), as well as the swank and ritzy gallery he has established in Milan’s central district.
Those tongues have also speculated as to where the money has come from to allow Mr Tabibnia to create such a rug-palace, but since RK has no knowledge of the where and the how we will just put it down to his good fortune to have been in the right place at the right time.
But RK’s intention here is not to discuss Tabibnia, his gallery or dr jon thompson’s rug career, as reviewing what thompson has written is our objective.
There is no doubt thompson has an excellent command of the English language and has been, after all, at the rug game for 50 plus years.
Those two attributes should definitely allow him to produce a text that is both important and lasting.
We say should because in our opinion he fell short of either and we hope to make this clear with our review.
Basically dr jon thompson advances one major and several lesser thesis which provide for him a springboard to try and reclassify the history of certain Ottoman and Safavid carpets.
Hence the controversy Mr Tabibnia mentioned to us.
We will in the next parts of this review get down and dirty critiquing them but before we do a couple of additional comments.
Firstly we need to bemoan the sad lack of commentary and review in RugDumb and our republishing A.U. Pope’s 80 plus year old rant on the subject shows this is nothing new.
RK wonders how many of the ruggies who bought, or were given, the “Milestones” book actually read it?
Frankly, we’d guess very few, but that alone is not the real reason for the silence of the lambs.
Fear, and fear of crossing the line of bogus propriety and ‘political correctness’ that dominates rugdumb, is far more the answer.
Yes, of course, there is that rag hali but their self-interested and even more objective purpose to further, and never question, the status quo of those in RugDumb, who belong to the in-group, prevents anything other the predictable praise from ever appearing in their pages for what someone like a dr jon thompson or a Moshe Tabibnia might do.
So without a real audience of readers, or honest critics, someone like dr jon thompson is free to float any balloon he can blow up and never fear it being burst by any well-aimed or errant pointed object.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the “Milestones” book is the goodly number, and their quality, of photographs of early classical rugs used to illustrate the text.
Though many have been previously illustrated, some many times over, it is still one of its good points.
RK can’t help but draw analogy to the Ganzhorn ‘compendium’, as both it and the “Milestones” book have alot of pics with a text that, when carefully read, does raise a number of flags of well-put objection.
Stay tuned for more...