Home > Turkmen Rugs >sorgato on the age of his Saryk MC
Thu, Mar 5th, 2015 08:30:09 AM
Topic: sorgato on the age of his Saryk MC

Age Question re: a Saryk Main Carpet

In the latest edition of that rag hali a letter to the editors, written by Milan dealer David Sorgato, questions their dating of the rare Saryk MC now in his possession that was sold in the sotheby NY “distinguished collections” sale.

Lot 138 Saryk MC ex-Robert Hendrikson collection; sold at sotheby NY "distinguished collections" sale

Sorgato believes it earlier than the circa 1860 date in the sotheby catalog, or the mid-19th century dating that rag hali’s report of the sale advanced.

We wholeheartedly agree with Sorgato but part company with him concerning his opinion it might be 18th century.

We’d say it’s 1800 at the earliest.

In his rebuttal Sorgato mentions a number of caveats to support his position. Some are valid, others not.

For instance Sorgato states were the carpet actually mid-19th century there would be others around for comparison.

Maybe there are others that are still undiscovered. Or maybe there aren’t but this type of tautology -- there are none so therefore it must be older – is worthless.

He then cites the carpet’s “extraordinary size” (8ft. 8in. by 7ft. 10in. (2.64 by 2.39m.) but fails to mention why.

It surely is somewhat smaller than most other Turkmen MC but it is not really that small to imply it was made to be used in a nomadic yurt and not in a village house, which is where Sorgato is surely going with this line of reasoning…or trying to.

Several years ago a far smaller and definitely earlier Saryk MC, but with the Timurjin gol and not a gulli-gol, appeared at Austria Auction Company in Vienna.

On account of its small size (6ft. 3in. x 5ft. 10in. 190x178cm) any idea it was made to be used in a nomadic yurt are far more plausible.

Also having only 18 far larger major gol versus the Sorgato MC’s 36, ie twice as many, adds further evidence that carpet is 18th century or earlier.

Sorgato also mentions his Saryk MC’s ground color, the weaver’s treatment of the diamond secondary gol, the unusual tertiary gol and the narrow “kufic-esque” main border as further proofs.

For pre-commercial period carpets comparing color is a none-starter and anyway doing so without dye testing furthers this avenue’s worthlessness.

And what exactly is this “treatment” of the diamond secondary gol Sorgato is talking about?

We have seen several photos of his Saryk carpet and have yet seen anything unusual about them.

As for the “unusual” tertiary gol?

We might agree it is unique but under careful inspection we see a gol that is not early but later, one we would date 19th century surely not earlier.

Plus the weaver’s use of so many of them and in such a regular grid also implies to us 19th century designing not something earlier.

And while the main border of Sorgato’s rug is narrow -- often an early sign and feature – its use of five minor borders, three between the selvedge and the main border and two inside the main border and the field, negates thoughts his Saryk carpet’s borders might indicate pre-19th century production.

We do agree with Sorgato’s belief his Saryk carpet is a link to “Salor” carpets but this is obvious; and, in fact, since no one can prove the Salor ever made one RK would prefer the use of term “S” group, as this carries factual import the word “Salor” distinctly lacks.

Being challenged, naturally that rag hali’s editors had to answer Sorgato letter with their comments.

We surely agree with their statement “dating Turkmen carpets” is “at best a subjective art rather than an objective science”. But might we add what isn’t in the carpet and textile field?

We also agree some of the similar Saryk gulli-gol MC examples they listed are earlier than Sorgato’s, but not all of them are.

For instance the so-called Leverhulme/Reuben carpet appears to RK to be at least contemporary with Sorgato’s, if not somewhat later.

All in all that rag hali’s editors did a poor job of proving their point that Sorgato’s carpet is mid-19th century.

In fact they failed to because it’s not.

But so did Sorgato in trying to evidence his carpet is pre-19th century. It’s not also, but it is a great example of Turkmen MC that sold at sotheby for a dirt cheap price.

And in the end, regardless of it being 19th century, it's a rare beautiful Turkmen weaving and David Sorgato should be congratulated both for recognizing this and for buying it.

Nuff said…

Author: Giulio
email: dedrael@libero.it
Thu, Mar 5th, 2015 08:30:09 AM

Dear RK, I said late 1st Q not 1st H,then we basically agree on the weaving period. Ciao,Giulio.

Author: Giulio
email: dedrael@libero.it
Thu, Mar 5th, 2015 06:10:50 AM

RK Replies:

Ciao Giuilo:

The vagaries of the actions of Turkmen carpet weavers are surely unknowable, but for sure they are there for all to see.

One thing we can know is that the earlier the weaving the greater the chance some irregularities to the usually strict major/minor gol setup will occur.

The fact sorgato's carpet exhibits some strong ones supports an earlier dating than your thoughts of first half 19th century.

It is also positive the use of what you call "strange symbols" was purposely done and we can be pretty sure there was meaning behind it.

This is one of the most compelling factors of Turkmen carpet studies -- the discovery of small, easily overlooked details.

And again these details are rarely found in post early 19th century examples, and far more likely to occur in pre-1800 ones.

As for your stating it is woven with a symmetric knot, do you remember it one node of the knot was more prominent, ie. larger, than the other?

Was there any observable, even the slightest, warp depression?

These factors, if present, might point to our contention it was woven by a minor clan of the Salor and not by a Saryk weaver.

From all we know, and have observed over decades of studying Turkmen weavings, RK cannot believe sorgato's carpet was made after 1800, or much before.

It's a major piece, and he should be congratulated for purchasing it.

The fact he has been unable to sell it has nothing to do with its worth or merits and totally due to the lack of knowledgeable collectors.

Another situation RK is sure will change in the coming decades...


Dear RK,dear JC,

appreciate all your arguments and thank you for your replies.

Your graet competence is out of discussion.

My understanding is that we can conclude that this MC was woven approximately late 1st Q 19th which was the point risen by David Sorgato vs Hali evaluation.

Having personally seen the piece in Sartirana and other occasions it is my belief that it is Saryk woven (symmetric knot,last row of secondary guls,apricot orange,size and others).

But this carpet is also very strange and uncommon with some details which are difficult to understand:

-The half tertiary gul is missing on the sides except in the 7th row left.

-The tertiary gul is totaly missing on the last row like to drive the attention to the last row of Saryk secondary guls.

-Some strange symbols are somewhere replacing the tertiary gul on the sides.

Who knows the meaning.....

My best greeting,Giulio.

Author: jc
Wed, Mar 4th, 2015 04:37:35 AM

Here is a photo of the Saryk MC Giulio mentions.

"Saryk" MC published, that rag Hali issue 166 page 111, in a review of the selling exhibition tom cole mounted in conjunction with the 2010 edition of the Capri Motel sell-a-thon

The secondary gol above is no doubt a later version, as are all the others we know, of some far more archaic emblem that so far has not surfaced. But we are sure it will someday!

In any event this rare gol is found on Saryk and Ersari MC's, we do not know of any other group using it.

By the way RK has always considered it to be the precursor of the more contrived Kurbaghe gol found on many middle period Tekke MC.

And although Giulio quite correctly points out the replication of the central octagon as a tertiary element in the sorgato carpet there is little that can be drawn from this occurrence.

However, any debate begs the far larger unrelated question whether or not cole's rug was actually Saryk.

We are not going to spend time on that issue because the smoking gun is the fact it is knotted with an asymmetric knot open right, which is not a feature of early Saryk weaving but rather Ersari.

Therefore, we have trouble believing cole's rug is anything but an early Ersari product modeled after an equally old, or perhaps older, Saryk MC.

Again, RK finds merit in Giulio's observation and encourages him, and others, to remain on the hunt for salient details to add to the ever increasing database of Turkmen rug studies.

Author: jc
Sun, Mar 1st, 2015 10:30:13 AM

Tomorrow, on monday, RK will publish the photo from Hali 166 Giulio mentions, stay tuned...

Author: G. Berni.
email: dedrael@libero.it
Thu, Feb 26th, 2015 07:39:46 AM

RK Replies:

Greetings Giulio

Your contribution poses some interesting thought and ideas.

However, RK has trouble agreeing.

Let us tell why.

Because the Timurchin gol is clearly the only MC primary gol which was woven only by one group -- the Saryk -- it deserves to be considered property of the Saryk. This distinction cannot be ascribed to any other gol on a Turkmen MC except the kepse for the Yomut.

All other gol found on MC are shared gol, for instance the Salor gol or the Tauk Nauska.

As for MC minor gol we know of none, secondary or tertiary, which are property of only one group.

So your idea seems to go against what is shown by the now quite large corpus of pre-commercial period Turkmen MC's.

Your idea of the age of sorgato's carpet appears to us to be more valid, though perhaps a bit on the late side, ie we see early 19th not as probable as circa 1800.

The cultural mechanics that determined what gol a weaver would/could/should use on a MC (main carpet) are far too unknown for us to discuss.

We believe, therefore, the origin of the design of the tertiary gol -- an octagon shaped box with a center star -- is probably not as you portrayed it -- an abbreviated version of "the usual 18th century Saryk secondary gul" -- because for one a very similar version appears in more than a few main borders of early(and later ones too) Tekke MC's.

As for who wove sorgato's carpet we would have to gently suggest a minor clan of the Salor.

In general Turkmen studies makes the simplistic error the weavings of any group, like the Salor or the Saryk, were homogenous in structure, materials and design.

This lineal concept has always seemed to us to be incorrect, and if there is any unifying characteristic it is the dyes used. And this too is far from provable even considering the historical geographic migration and movement (forced and otherwise) all Turkmen groups underwent.

That substantial corpus of now extant and known MC's more than proves this variation, surely not any cohesion.

The pre-commercial period Turkmen weaving oeuvre is much more complex than we all make it out to be. This is perhaps the only thought or postulate that is a sure thing.

So, Guilo,the fact we do not agree with your view does not mean in any regard your contribution is unappreciated or not worth the effort. On the contrary, we see it as a worthy contribution and thank you for doing so.

And please do not be discouraged by our rebuttal, contribute again whenever the spirit moves you.


Dear RK,let me gently jump into this interesting discussion.

In my opinion the MC was woven in the period between 1788 and 1832 most likely early 19th.

1788 Saryks and parts of Salor living in the middle Amu Darya region moved together to the just liberated Merv oasis.Saryks were the majority and got predominance on the Salors.

That's why they could start weaving Salor like MC's.

On top the tertiary gul together with the last row of secondary gul are the signature of the Saryk origin.

The tertiary gul in my opinion is same as the center part of the usual 18th century Saryk secondary gul(see Hali 166 page 111),no space enough to weave the complete gul.

Hope to have given some not stupid contribution to the discussion.

With best regards,Giulio.

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