Chodor mafrash with iconography related to those discussed below but not mentioned by taylor; offered for sale on the internet some years ago; whereabout unknown
It has been awhile since RK has written about taylor’s blog, which he energetically continues to publish.
We haven’t because basically its modus operandi has not changed one iota – many good scans of rugs with little, or sometimes incorrect, descriptions and opinions, particularly when discussing non-classical weaving.
And doing so today is surely not because taylor had finally seen the light and is now able to provide his readers not only a panoply of good photos but some excellent analysis and commentary as well.
No, sadly john taylor has little if anything to say about the rug types he focuses in on.
Content, and we mean good cogent content, is king. And as helpful and interesting as taylor’s photo comparison might be for some readers, who do not have an extensively library of rug books and publications, RK and many others we know do.
But rug expertise is not really to be garnered from book learning and photographs. It takes real hard and long effort to master this idiom.
Step one is being able to recognize what “type” of rug one is looking at.
Step two knowing the closest comparables and others of its ‘exact’ type.
And step three knowing where an example fits on a continuum of it comparables, i.e. how good it is compared to its brethren.
Many in rugDumb have mastered step one and step two by looking into their rug books to find comparables and others of the type. But very few truly have a good handle on step two by knowing many of the unpublished comparables or others of the type which are not found by perusing library references.
Experience can be a great teacher and rugDUMB is now full of collectors who have 20 plus years under their belts.
However, when it comes to step three there are very, very few who can properly recognize where an example fits on the continuum of its type.
In this field one can easily feel confident in saying “earlier is better”, and being able to recognize what RK calls an archetype or prototype is a valuable skill.
One in which taylor, and many others, have not yet shown prowess.
To use a well-worn ruggie motto – good, better, best – is the way to go, always go for the best and forget the rest.
Were taylor able to provide accurate good/better/best analysis with the load of photo scans he uploads he might just put RK out of a job!
No chance of that happening this century, as taylor’s skill-set will never have the depth RK’s has achieved.
We are not trying to compare us; no, not at all.
There is no comparison.
And even though our longtime and fairly close relationship with taylor hit the skids in 2006(at our bequest and we have not seen him since), at that point in time his rug knowledge was unfortunately far, far below his skill in repairing rugs and spinning/dyeing wool to use in that work.
From what he has published online we can tell it has not increased much in non-classical carpets, which is the area we are speaking about.
RK can say taylor was a very accomplished rug repairer, and it is too bad he did not continue down that road instead of first trying to be a “dealer’, and now a rug world pundit.
Content is where it is at, anyone can look through a library of rug books, group pieces by specific ‘type’, digitally scan those pictures and then post them online.
We surely are not trying to diminish taylor’s contribution because we feel it is a good one. Clearly he has spent countless hours scanning photos to build a digital library of images.
Someone once said “A picture is worth a thousand words” and perhaps john taylor should take that to heart and publish the scans without trying to comment short of giving some identifying data for each scan, ie where he found the photo, it’s size, structural data, and any other related story(s) that might be attached (who owned it, where it was discovered, it’s history since discovery, etc).
This would work far better for him than trying his weak hand at analysis/commentary.
The latest taylor rugbam blog entry looks at “Two types of mafrash”, which is its title as well.
Turkmen mafrash, early 19th century; Sorgato, Italy
The photo above and this one below are examples of the first type.
Turkmen mafrash, early 19th century; newman, USA
RK has never found one of this type that was a pre-1800 prototype, and until we do we will resist owning one.
Sorgato’s appears to be in fine condition, the other not so – it is perhaps 25% of the original. But no matter it shows fabulous wool and glowing color, which we are positive are not photoshop enhancements.
We can make such a statement because we know, and have owned other pieces, with different designs mind you, we feel have the same provenance, ie made by the same group(s) in the same locale(s).
It is quite obvious Sorgato’s comes from an entirely different weaving environment, the coloration which can be seen in a photo, and the wool quality which can’t, the strong clues to identification.
Had taylor provided the structural analyses RK could say more. And this is another weak link in rugbam’s belt, he does not seem to feel posting structural data is important.
We find this both amazing and distressing, as taylor was a repair man who proved he knows the ins and out of that trade, because that job centers on materials and structure why has he not spent additional time to attached this info to his internet published ‘scans’?
It can be, in some instances, as important as a good picture. And often far more telling evidence to determine provenance.
On his blog taylor has published a dozen or so examples of this type but none of those give these two much challenge in the good, better, best contest.
They are the best so far, as RK's desired 18th century archetype/prototype has not yet made the scene.
Go look at taylor’s blog entry and see for yourself. Should any reader question our choice we’d enjoy hearing from you with some rational for your choice.
The second type of mafrash is this
Turkmen mafrash, early 19th century; j. thompson, England
Perhaps taylor did not notice this, too, is a fragment missing the entire left side border arrangement and 2/3rds a panel.
Regardless, it is the best one in taylor’s grouping, and a mighty fine one at that.
This one possesses jewel-like ornamentation and RK might guess it’s archetype/prototype was the root which sprouted the other type taylor chose to publish.
And while this example has that fine-line delineation the other lacks; dense, closely packed motif; higher knot-count; and a lot contrast on account of the white ground field it just comes across as to busy, a virtual groaning smorgasbord of Turkmen elements.
We like it and hope to one day see that archetype/prototype, which we are sure will not be as packed.
RK is not going to spoon-fed this but readers should study these images, and those additional ones on rugbam, to see if they agree with our idea these two type of mafrash developed from a common root/source.
And yes it is obvious as the nose on your face all their designs have a tent-band look.
This is about the only bit of analysis taylor offered.
But let’s end this with what is called a “passing shot” in tennis(one which passes an opponent by without any return volley).
It will, if the above has not already, demonstrate the difference between taylor’s inability to provide interesting, enlightening, cogent, insightful commentary and RK ability to do so.
We could easily initiate a number of further discussions over these two types of mafrash but the one we think deserves mention is perhaps for many quite a stretch. And RK’s faithful readers know we are never afraid to publish ideas some call far-out and unlikely.
Rug research is not mathematics, nor is it science. Rather it is, and must be, interpretative, the major necessary caveat being the interpreter’s expertise to ascertain and connect subtle, often hidden, clues.
First the idea there is a yet undiscovered archetype/prototype mafrash group these tent-band-type descended from, is ours and ours alone.
We believe this on account of the codified iconography they all display. Plus, the fact they are rare but still somewhat numerous fits a pattern we have seen, and been able to document before by actually discovering that archetype.
To take this a step further let RK postulate the entire tentband oeuvre developed from far smaller weavings like that mythic archetype mafrash.
Perhaps this is just too unsupportable but we cannot help think it true based on the fact all known tentbands are highly repititous, some with only three type of major panel, which in itself is bi-polar(the same on the left as the right with a distinct centerpoint where the two halves meat.).
Many older tent-bands are most probably a comparative age to the three mafrash published above, though there are some few seriously earlier ones.
But the amount of work, wealth and resources needed to produce a Turkmen part pile, or full pile, tent-band was enormous, way beyond the means of any but the most powerful and secure Turkmen clan.
Therefore, and remember this is speculation based on those circumstances, we see it highly likely the unusual horizontal non-gol iconography(versus the almost universal vertical gol style seen on almost all Turkmen weavings) placed in unified sections on tent-bands originally appeared on small, immensely easier to produce mafrash or torba.
So when will that archetype turn up?
PS: We see a chance it might not actually be a Turkmen product, and we have been looking in other related weaving groups for such a specimen.