The catalog for the Christie spring oriental rug sale on April 21th has been released. The online copy can be viewed on their website: http://www.christies.com.
It is decidedly better sale in all regards than Nagel’s and skinner’s with far better quality across the board.
It is also an extremely good looking and stylish catalog aimed squarely at Christie's clientele that sits more at 'decorative' end of the antique rug market than the 'collectible'.
This stated there are some interesting collector pieces, many carrying attractively low estimates RK is sure will be eclipsed on sale day, particularly those from the Caucasus region.
The cover lot, and big nuke, is a supposed Moghol tapestry. We say supposed on account of there’s nothing like it that we have ever seen or read about. And neither has anyone else.
Lot 100 flatwoven carpet supposed to be from Central Asia or China late 13th/ first half 14th century
And while something like this is surely not in line with our interests we cannot help commenting on its ungainly proportions, somewhat inharmonious color balance and two dimensional floral and bird design. Not to mention the shot in the dark provenance and dating.
The border looks like a poor rendition of one seen on a certain group of early Melas area village, western Anatolian, rugs.
All in all this, and the long winded "it looks like this piece from this museum and that piece from another" left us questioning the supposed provenance and million one hundred thousand dollar high estimate.
Nowhere in that description is one fact, or even factoid, to attach the alleged Mongol provenance to this weaving.
We even question Christies calling it a 'kilim', as that word implies slit-tapestry construction and lot 100 is woven with dove-tailed wefting, not slits.
More proper and correct would have been to call it a 'tapestry' and not a 'kilim'.
Also not having any c14 dating, though readers know RK is no fan of this test for old weavings on account of the decontamination issues as well as the lack of reliability for post 1400AD objects, seems specious.
Did Christies do a c14 test and get a result they didn't like?
There are just far too many questions surrounding this tapestry to make any story believable.
Detail lot 100. Were this weaving actually what the Christie catalog states the level of technical weaving expertise would in our opinion have to have been higher than this weaving displays. The catalog refers to the weaving’s “bent wefts”, which again fails to recognize the proper terminology "eccentric wefting”. This technique was utilized by highly skilled weavers to create the curved lines that endow a flat-weave with naturalistic outlines, something that is impossible to create with wefts laid purely on the horizontal. But the weaver(s) of Lot 100 appear to have either been unfamiliar with the use of this technique or inept and amateurish in their ability to create those naturalistic curvilinear articulations. For instance: Notice the gloppy outlines of the pearl disks in the border, the dark blue on lighter blue leaves of the large peony in the detail, and the crude red outlines the far too large and equally crude three orange pips in the center of the peony. This is not refined weaving or expert use of eccentric wefting, it is nothing but sloppily inexpert tapestry work. There is nothing refined and artistic about this weaving and RK sincerely suggests Christie’s rug department withdraw the lot for further “research and study”. Clearly they should have done this before presenting such a mishmash of blabber to try and provenance this weaving to all the far more historic and significant weavings listed in the three page catalog blah-de-blah.