We all have heard the old maxim "never speak ill of the dead".
Does speaking ill include telling the truth?
RK has wrestled with this question once again since learning of michael craycraft’s demise.
So far we have been quiet, but after reading absurdly over-laudatory praises to him, including in the latest issue of that rag hali, number 184 summer 2015, RK felt moved enough to shed the light of reality we are now quite famous for shining on others on him as well.
We first met crayfish, as he was often referred to way back then, in the late 1970’s.
It was on one of our trips out west to find carpets for our collection, to trade with other collectors, or for the small crew of European dealers who were in those days crossing the Atlantic in search of pieces to buy.
Over the next few years we became very friendly, so much in fact on our trips west we were often invited to stay with him and his rug collecting partner and wife, Anne Halley, in the guest studio her father had built on a long pier jutting out into Tomales Bay, an islet on the Pacific ocean about 70 miles north of the Golden Gate bridge.
Anne’s father was an interesting guy who loved the sea and boats. She and michael lived in the big house on the large parcel of land he owned in the township of Marshall. The property included a small marina on the nice slice of water frontage it had.
This was during the time craycraft and Halley owned Adraskand oriental rug gallery in point Reyes Station, a sleepy tiny little one block main street town in Marin county, north of San Francisco and about 10 miles south of the house in Marshall.
Anne Halley was the Baluch rug collector, she had the checkbook, and craycraft was her ‘advisor’.
At this time craycraft knew next to nothing about Turkmen rugs, and we are pretty sure one of the reasons he invited us to stay, and was always so glad to see us, was because we showed him our Turkmen collection, our discoveries, and shared our knowledge with him.
The years past by and RK is sure over this time period craycraft learned a lot from us about Turkmen weavings, and the other types of weavings we collected.
Eventually our friendship with him encountered some serious problems with his ethics and eventually turned to animosity on our part.
We need not rehash the entire story but will mention the straw that broke the camel’s back of our desire to have anything to do with him.
In 1987 after RK signed an agreement to allow peter hoffmeister to join our Tent Band Tent Bag publishing project we offered craycraft the opportunity to distribute the book in America.
It was a sweetheart deal offered to a “friend” that included putting his gallery, Adraskand’s, name in the book.
All craycraft had to do was pay for the shipping of 400 books from Germany to California.
He was to receive a thirty percent commission off the retail price.
Needless to say craycraft did not have to think twice and immediately accepted the opportunity.
About a year later RK’s trust in our book “partner” peter hoffmeister had evaporated thanks to a number of sleezy and under-handed actions and lies we learned he had and was continuing to perpetrate. Our signed agreement had been abrogated and we decided to take action to prevent hoffmeister from stealing everything and leaving us empty handed.
At this point we called our “friend” michael craycraft and asked him to refrain from sending any more money for the books he was selling to hoffmeister and to give it to us, as hoffmeister was refusing the honor our agreement.
To our great surprise craycraft refused and said “I made the deal with hoffmeister”.
This was complete hogwash as RK set up the entire deal and craycraft not only did not know hoffmeister, but did not even know who he was before RK offered the distribution deal to him.
The refusal to come to our aid was the end of our friendship with craycraft.
But having his name in RK’s Tent Band Tent Bag book, and all the learning he had done at our knee, amazingly had instantly turned michael craycraft into a supposed well respected Turkmen rug expert.
What a joke. A joke that did not last too long.
Frankly, craycraft was a know-little then and still was on his demise.
As time went on his Turkmen rug pronouncements were increasingly seen as ridiculous and frequently ended up as the butt of many jokes among those who really do know something about these rugs.
After he moved to Europe thanks to Anne Halley finally closing her checkbook he proceeded to amuse the in-group of serious Turkmen rug collectors with his often off-the-wall gaffs, and ended up being a swami ‘guru’ to a very small circle of amateur Baluch rug collectors.
His days of having anyone take him seriously long gone to memory.
We could write much more about craycraft but will let these three previously published RK comments demonstrate why craycraft was nothing but a Turkmen rug clown that does not deserve, even in the rose coloured glasses of those who eulogize his death, to be labeled a Turkmen rug expert, like what has just appeared in the editorial of this issue of that rag hali.
And we quote:
“…Michael Craycraft who passed away in May,...was a key player in the promotion of tribal rugs, mainly Baluch, Turkmen…”
published April 27, 2008
Today’s internet rambling uncovered this engsi which is offered for sale by someone, mister michael craycraft, who’s ridiculous attributions outdo even the lunacy of a steev price or a jimbo allen.
RK is the first to admit provocative ideas can sometimes lead to discovery and innovation, however, there are those in RugDumb like mad michael, as we have decided to nickname him, and another former employee and compatriot of his tom, aka sneak-cheat, cole whose ideas are not provocative -- they are down right stupid.
They personify RK’s Stupidity in RugDumb label and we will demonstrate by posting the following pictures of rugs they are presently hawking.
This is the engsi and while it is a rather ordinary looking, not very distinguished, version of a typical one ascribed to the Tekke, mister craycraft doesn’t think so.
He states it is “Chodor” on the website we spied it on, and then on his own he calls it “Tekke(?) Chodor”.
And on what does mister craycraft, a turko-idiot supremo, base this outlandishly dreamy attribution?
Here’s his description, you figure it out:
“orderly weave but low knot count. Knot is similar to Chodor work. It is certain that a Tekke spindle was not used in the spin. Scale of iconography is very generous while the Tekke style elem is perhaps the most perfectly executed that I have seen. 70% of the wefts are dyed a copper orange. The material of the colored wefts might be cotton but is most probably wool. The top 15% and the bottom 15% of the engsi is natural ivory wool. The natural dark brown wool in the elem is fuzzy on the back like angora or camel wool. The separator bars between the major compartments composing the main border lack the variety of typical Tekke work. A rare and unusual engsi”
Is it the knot that is “similar to Chodor work”, or the “70% of wefts…dyed a copper orange”?
The “fuzzy” wool?
“The separator bars”?
In all seriousness we don’t have a clue and believe neither does mister craycraft.
Is he “fuzzy” or has he been spending too much time lifting glasses of separator bars to his lips?
Probably, but we’d offer his desire to create some “sensation” about this uninteresting, rather ugly and totally unimportant engsi might be the real reason for his taking the plunge and trying to float the idea it is “Chodor”.
We know mad michael is a reader of RugKazbah.com so let RK inform him we have seen some other mid-19th century Tekke engsi with dyed orange, or red weft.
His equally as dubious declaration the “Tekke style elem is perhaps the most perfectly executed that I have seen” is nothing but worthess patter.
We suggest after mister craycraft either gets some new glasses, or learns how to remember the rugs he has seen, he will realize the elem is OK but it surely does not deserve any special mention, let alone exclamation.
But as dumb and stupid as the aforementioned points of his description we have ridiculed his “It is certain that a Tekke spindle was not used in the spin.” takes the cake.
We laugh as we write this but it is painfully clear it is mister craycraft that is spinning and if he actually believes he can differentiate between a “Tekke spindle” and a Chodor one, or ones belong to any other known or unknown Turkmen group we’d like to have some of what he is smoking!
Regardless of his state of sanity or inebriation this is complete BullShit that reaches a level RK has rarely encountered in our 40 years of reading rug literature.
BTW: this “rare and unusual engsi” can be yours for 1,285 euro but before you open you wallet might we suggest doing some further study and discussing this with your local rug dealer, who we are sure can talk you out of it over a cup or two of overly sweetened tea?
Mister craycraft’s flights of fancy would be hard to outdo but sneak-cheat tom is right behind him with his dumbass attribution for this small ‘so-called’ Tekke marriage rug:
We’d have to say this rug is far more beautiful and desirable than craycraft’s boring Tekke engsi but cole’s calling it a “kejebe” rug is way stupid, although it does fall far short of craycraft’s Tekke spindle and other fantasies.
Here’s a close up and if anyone, even sneak-cheat cole himself can substantiate why the “kejebe” label has been virtually pasted onto this cute little rug we will be glad to mail them a copy of one of our books for free, including postage.
But don’t strain your peepers looking for some clue to cole’s
“kejebe” caprice ‘cause it ain’t there.
What’s going on in RugDumb?
Are you all so asleep, or is it just so inexpert, to allow fakirs like craycraft and cole to peddle their wares with such outrageous impunity and bombastic meaningless attributions?
published Jan 12, 2004
Mr Galerie Arabesque, aka michael craycraft, is now becoming more well known for his strange and off-the-wall rug attributions than his former niche as mr. Belouch.
There have been several citations here on RK.com calling to question some of his outlandish and patently absurd descriptions.
Here’s another one:
and the detail of the weave:
This piece is now posted on cloubland.com where it carries a price of 3,300 Euro. Originally it was posted there, about a week ago, as a “Yomud Engsi”. Now it's a proto-Chodor engsi.
What do you think happened to change Mr Arabesque’s mind about its attribution?
Doubt I could answer that one without laughing out loud.
The old saying in the rug business used to be “If it doesn’t sell, raise the price”. But now I guess it’s “If it doesn’t sell, change the attribution to a more exciting one.”
Supposedly this engsi is symmetrically knotted and the presence of part cotton wefting, which was unmentioned in his description, is clearly visible from the photo of the reverse.
In any event, no proto-Chodor weavings have symmetric knots and I am sure Mr Arabesque knows that but I guess this is just another of his wild and woolly attributions.
As ole Willy Shakespeare remarked “A rose by any other name is still a rose” but obviously in Arabesque-land a Yomud engsi by any other name is.
By the way: This attribution, which is now more often called pseudo-Chodor, is highly speculative and while there are clear and present differences in Chodor weavings the proto/pseudo delineation is still a work in progress. But it seems mr Arabesque missed the under construction signs before he fell headlong into this still un-finished building site.
published Aug 13, 2012
Just today the rug above appeared on the internet in a "dealer's" advertisement with this curious caption: "Old Tekke funerary rug".
Now, what pray tell gave michael craycraft, the would be seller, the idea this rug was used in a funeral; was made to be used in a funeral (and then ended up on the floor where it was trampled almost to death); or even in the 1 chance out of a million it was actually associated with a "funeral"?
RK can see none, nor have we ever heard such a use for this rather common type of later Tekke weaving.
OK, the seller states there are four colors of silk. So what, this doesn't help to confirm his stupid idea.
This is not the first time Mr craycraft has posited inane, might RK say asinine, ideas about Turkmen rugs.
He appears to be full of them, but we'd suggest he keep them to himself or at least only share them with those foolish enough to listen.
Doing it publicly only increases his reputation as a turko-dummy, crackpot and moron.
Let's all remember one of his most notable idiocies: being the first to discover a pre-S group weaving, which was nothing but equally as lame-brained.
Clearly this will not be the last time RK will be moved to ask mr craycraft where, or is it how, he makes this nonsense up?