Plate 24, “Milestones”
Before we get into our objections with thompson’s text let’s mention where we find agreement.
First is questioning the validity c14 dating provides for oriental carpets, as these statements from thompson makes clear
“We now have a dating method for organic materials based on the unvarying rate of decay of the naturally occurring isotope Carbon-14 which has been verified and calibrated by tree ring dating. But this has limited usefulness in the field of carpet studies”(pg 27)
“Recent focus has been on Carbon-14 dating, but it is a well-known pitfall to rely on a single test – especially a statistical test – in matters of diagnosis…”(pg.223)
A second point we find agreement with thompson is the reality most carpet designs can be traced back to an “original” or archetypal source, and degeneration of a particular design can be ascribed to it being a later copy of an earlier one. And, the earliest examples of every type were the models for all the later examples.
RK has often discussed being able to put any Turkmen or Anatolian weaving in a continuum of similar ones, and to relatively date any example by its place in such a continuum.
We have been a proponent of this methodology for as long as we can remember, and we are glad to see dr thompson thinks likewise.
“…one is led to the inevitable conclusion that an imperfect version of such a design was somehow derived from an earlier perfect one.”(pg.30)
And here is another of several we could cite
“Thus the degree of ‘design-decay’ increases in proportion to the number of copies separating a carpet from the original, and can provide an indication of its relative age. That is to say, the greater the design-decay, the younger the carpet. Using this intuitive principle, a set of carpets of similar design can be arranged in sequence according to the degree of departure from a presumed original.
The point of this digression is that so many of the earlier Turkish carpets we know do not appear to be the ‘originals’ but, in light of the intuitive principle outlines, seem to be derivatives based on older models. One is therefore always looking for the most perfectly formed designs, which will be the earliest and therefore closest to the source – perhaps even representing its origin.”(pg.31)
The third, and regrettably last thing we could say with which we whole-heartedly agree, is the importance and beauty of Plate 24, the 2003 Brunk auction carpet.
So-called, and most erroneously in RK’s opinion, “Karapinar” carpet from the Foy-Casper collection sold in Ashville, North Carolina at Brunk Auction Gallery in 2003
“Far surpassing in grandeur and condition its nearest rival, the fragmentary Bernheimer piece, this hitherto unknown Karapinar carpet has extraordinary visual appeal and...appears to be the oldest and best example yet known of a group of carpets about which there is still much to learn.”(pg.236)
Try as we might that’s it for anything else thompson has written in the Milestones text with which we can honestly say we find complete agreement.
Of course, from what we have learned from our somewhat cursory studies of western Asian history, we do not find any objections with thompson’s recounting of the major historical events he cites.
But when it comes to just about everything else he has written about Tabibnia’s carpets, besides his praise for a few of them with which we’d concur (Plates One, Seven, Twelve, Fifteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, and Twenty One) and some of his analogy with ceramics, art from other media and archaeological weavings like fig. 5A, all we can say is either we have serious doubts or completely disagree.
stay tuned for more…