Home > Turkmen Rugs >RK reviews rageth's New Perspectives Part 5
Wed, May 4th, 2016 12:10:42 AM
Topic: RK reviews rageth's New Perspectives Part 5

Detail ancient archetype Tekke large format torba(LFT); RK Collection

All the ‘new perspectives’ in rageth’s Turkmen book, and there are not many, are serious flawed or outright worthless. As we have written the only thing of value is the raw dye testing data, however, jurg rageth’s attempts at interpreting this information do not really provide any new perspective for Turkmen studies. They do confirm one point – cochineal dyestuff from Mexico was used in large quantities. We have already pointed this out and will mention it again later.

We also should restate the main reason for this book’s failure is rageth based the entire text on the validity of using c14 radiocarbon to prove the ages of some Turkmen rugs. Theoretically this should be possible, in practice not.

In fact rageth’s own data and admission shows this to be the case, and proves the results of c14 testing cannot stand alone as a useful measurement of a Turkmen weaving’s true age.

Authoring a book whose very foundation is as questionable as the results of dating Turkmen carpets with radiocarbon analysis is nothing but reckless, a veritable house of cards.

The C14 expert scientist rageth enlisted, Dr. Georges Bonani of the ETH laboratory in Zurich, contributed a short essay in the back of volume 1.

Like Wouters, the dye specialist who contributed a short say-nothing essay, such is also the case with Bonani, who basically just repeats the same essay he wrote for rageth’s “Anatolian Kilim and radiocarbon dating catalog”.

RK did, however, notice two worthwhile quotes concerning his testing procedures and his views on their results.

Discussing the methodology for testing Bonani writes “In addition, some of the samples are cleaned with organic solvents in a Soxlhlet extraction apparatus.

Fine, well and good but wouldn’t it be of reader interest, as well as competent writing, to explain which samples were chosen and why?

Dr. Bonani is mute on these questions, an obvious error considering contamination issues are the major stumbling block for testing articles like carpets, which have been exposed to all types of contaminants. His ignoring this subject is surprisingly suspect to say the least.

RK is no expert on radiocarbon dating but we have done some careful study and learned, for instance, certain parts of these decontamination procedures can, and have, skewed results. More so, there is no universally accepted protocol to decontaminate samples, each lab has its own methods.

Factors like these are just some of the obstacles trying to date contaminated historic Turkmen weavings with c14 analysis present.

Bonani also offers this reality check: “Especially for objects younger than 300 years, the temporal variations of the C14 production almost always leads to ambiguities (two to five possible true age intervals). C14 analysis alone of samples from this historical era are therefore not too meaningful.”

RK has added the bold type to highlight the fact even the practitioner rageth employed recognizes the limitations of his craft for the task. This should have been a stop sign to treat the c14 testing results as anything but ancillary, not central, to this publication’s hypotheses and arguments. But it wasn’t and rageth went motoring on like it did not exist.

And face it, that 300 year mark is not absolute. We have learned it can well be considered to stretch out another 50 or 100 years to definitely encompass the time period when almost all historic Turkmen weavings were most likely woven.

Detail ancient Eagle-group MC dated in catalog 17/18 century but RK says probably older, cat. no.113; private collection

Following Bonani’s paper, rageth has written one titled :”From Visual Guesstimate to Scientific Estimate.”

Far better, and more honest, would have been to title it “From Visual Guesstimate to Scientific Guesstimate”, as not one of the multitude of alleged ‘scientific estimates’ rageth offers are anything but a scientific guesstimate thanks to c14's issues.

Anyone who has delved into the relatively tiny number of pre-1980’s Turkmen carpet publications surely knows even the earliest authors, researchers and travelers in Turkmenistan noted the possibilities certain weavings could be as old as 17th century. Both Felkersam and Dudin proposed this possible dating for certain Turkmen rugs they had examined and this book's alleged c14 results dating some examples to that time period surely is no new perspective.

So far RK has not mentioned the small number, but still too many, incorrect citations and references in rageth’s text, and while mistakes do happen it is clear the editing was not good enough to catch them.

For instance remarking on several weavings with long publishing history and appearances in early literature, rageth cites an outstanding Saryk MC, cat. no 45, and a tent band he calls Saryk, cat. no. 37 that appeared in Neugebauer and Orendi’s groundbreaking 1909 “Handbook of Oriental Rugs”.

However, it is actually cat. no 46 for the MC and 38 for the tent band. This, and other similar errors are poor quality editing, especially considering several paragraphs later rageth uses the correct citations, a mistake 15 years of production time should have eliminated.

There is also a serious amount of repetition in the 880 pages, on account of rageth and his co-authors repeating what already was written.

Worse is the fact rageth keeps repeating himself, as the following story about how it all began appears on page 9 and again on page 331:

The introduction of radiocarbon dating in the field of oriental rugs on the occasion of a symposium and exhibition on the dating of Anatolian kilims in January 1997 brought an unexpected turn to age determination in the field of Turkmen weavings, based for more than 100 years mainly on guesswork. That same year the “dating fever” spilled over into the camp of Turkmen collectors.

That “dating fever” struck like a winter influenza and a number of stricken collectors imagined, finally, there was a way to date Turkmen carpets and therefore a way to both understand how they developed and more importantly set a basis on which to value them.

Regrettably neither came to pass, nor will they unless completely new dating techniques are discovered and proven.

Sensing a new group of donors, with weavings to c14 test and open wallets to pay for that testing, rageth makes his intentions for personal gain perfectly clear when he writes about the February 1999 Turkmen carpet dating symposium:

Now it was I who got excited about the potential of this study, and began intensive study relating to Turkmen carpets with the intention of expanding the scope of the project and publishing the results.

His plan worked perfectly and collectors like kurt munkasci, david d’hurl, hans sienknecht, peter hoffmeister, etc supplied rageth with a seemingly never ending stream of Turkmen weavings to test and profit from by arranging it with Bonani and the ETH lab in Zurich.

RK knows for a fact jurg rageth made commissions on all the tests he arranged for the Anatolian kelim publication, and we believe the same commission structure existed with the Turkmen c14 datings. We are not sure if he made commissions on the dye analyses but we would be surprised to learn he didn’t.

As we have said rageth made a living out of producing the Anatolian Kelim and Turkmen books, and anyone who believes he did all this for no remuneration is naïve to say the least.

Detail early Yomut MC dated in catalog 17th century, cat. no.102; Textile Museum Washington, DC

In his efforts to demonstrate how important he believes c14 dating for Turkmen weaving is rageth’s paper compares it to the other extant conventional dating methods.

The first is a visual age estimate about which rageth writes:

The method most commonly used by enthusiasts to determine a carpet’s age is the visual age estimate…based on comprehensive knowledge, long standing experience –- combined with a sure instinct -- and common sense. The connoisseur is often not really able clearly to define his principal of judgement(sic). We are often dealing with more or less unconscious application of criteria of perception, like the recognition of pattern or design, and comparisons and correlations to similar or even different examples.

On face value this is laughable because any “connoisseur” unable to define his positions is surely no connoisseur. And by the way rageth uses this term incorrectly, amateur would better express what he is trying to say.

The amateur loves but doesn’t really know why or much about what he loves, whereas the connoisseur is someone who has highly developed knowledge. Go read their dictionary definitions, rageth should have as well.

He is right about instinct having a strong role to play, and for those who have it, plus long experience, it is far easier to correctly sense a weavings importance and age.

Design and composition are the next criteria rageth mentions as tools to define age. He then proceeds to use one factor, something he calls ‘tribal specific’, to discuss a well-published Tekke torba cat. no. 56 from the hoffmeister collection.

Tekke torba dated to the 16th century, cat.no.56; peter hoffmeister collection

Interestingly enough this is hoffscheister’s best and earliest Turkmen weaving. It also was the first one he purchased. We can honestly say that first purchase was complete dumb luck, as even today his knowledge level is far, far lower than his unwarranted reputation holds.

By the way, RK knows hoffscheister extremely well having spent a great amount of time with him before he proceeded to steal the Tent Band Tent Bag book proceeds and, worse, our research and ideas to then present them as his own.

Hoffscheister truly has nothing original or worthwhile to say about Turkmen weavings. RK wrote the entire “Tent Band Tent Bag: Classic Turkmen Weaving” book, including rewriting the short introduction credited to him.

And his contribution to his collection’s publication is basically nil, having hired story-teller Turkmen carpet tinkerbell elena tsavera as author because he could not do it himself.

About the torba rageth makes the following contention, one that is totally incorrect: “…this torba (cat.no.56) shows an unusual form of the chuval gul, and also the secondary motif, the so called satellite gul, is alien to them; it is ‘borrowed’ from the torba of the ‘Eagle’ gul group II and is either typical for the region or for a hitherto unidentified group of neighbors of the Teke in Southwest Turkmenistan in the 17th century. For another torba with the same secondary motif, see cat. no. 96

We have illustrated cat. no.96 below, although we recognize it has absolutely nothing in common with cat. no. 56 other than sharing perhaps the most commonly used Turkmen gol and a significantly later version of the secondary gol.

Plus this decidedly not Tekke torba has nothing to do with his arguments the “chuval gol” is unusual or the so-called “satellite gol” is alien to the Tekke, especially consdering cat. no.56 shows the earlier version of the secondary.

The incorrect reference to a “chuval gol”, more about this soon, is as wrong as thinking its form is unusual. It’s not unusual, it’s just early.

And the “satellite gol” is surely not alien to the Tekke as it appears on the earliest Tekke weaving we know, the ancient archetypal large format torba(LFT) illustrated here just after cat. no.96.

cat. no.96 an early Yomut/Eagle group LFT dated 17th century in the catalog, deYoung Museum, gift of George Hecksher

Reading through this book cannot help but demonstrate rageth also does not know a whole hell of a lot about historic Turkmen weavings. We have noticed numerous errors and mistakes that show his shallow knowledge; the following is not unique, there are many more examples.

First off the major gol cat. nos 56 and 96 display is not a chuval gol, it is a torba gol.

Frankly, there is no such gol as a chuval gol because there are just too many different configurations, sizes and shapes of this gol found on all types of chuval, torba and even some MC. The more correct term for these is banner gol, first suggested in the pinner/franses “Turkmen Studies” publication.

The gol you see on cat. nos. 56, 96, many other torba and even some chuval and MC is, save some very minor but important details, the one and only format for these torba gol.

In addition all the different forms of these banner gol, what rageth and others incorrectly call a chuval gol, can be traced back and shown to be just variants of the historic and archaic torba gol.

Ancient archetype Tekke LFT with torba major gol and a secondary gol that RK calls the rare, or R, gol; unpublished; RK Collection

Some years ago we discovered this torba and while RK has already shown details of the main and minor gol online, this is the first time the entire weaving has been published.

Of course rageth probably does not know this example, but even so his baseless suppositions this minor gol and the “unusual form of the major gol” are somehow foreign to Tekke historic weaving culture are nothing except an unfounded hot air fantasy.

By the way, RK wrote a detailed paper titled “The Rare Gol and the Chemche” that explains more of our research on this ancient minor gol:

To try and further his ideas about using design to indicate age rageth then goes on to make more mistakes.

Another example exhibiting a comparable correlation between type of border and age of the piece is illustrated by two Teke chuval, cat, no, 60 (fig.1) and cat. no. 61 (fig.2), with nearly identical design in the field and elem, but very different in age. The earlier piece is framed by a rather usual floral border (fig.1), while the younger piece shows a border type quite common in 19th century Teke weaving(fig.2).”

Left: Tekke chuval cat. no.60; Right: Tekke chuval cat. no.61

RK has long known and written that the iconography found in a Turkmen weaving’s borders, as well as in the borders of other historic weavings like Kashmir shawls, can provide a significant dating clue.

Trying to prove these two Tekke chuval are “very different in age” is not his only error, saying cat. no.60’s border is floral is another.

It is far more likely anthropomorphic, rageth’s belief Turkmen carpet design is based on the floral styles of the Safavid and other earlier Central Asian cultures clearly prevented his correctly interpreting this and other far earlier icons found embedded in historic Turkmen weaving culture. More about this in a later installment of our review.

An early form of a Turkmen border that is floral can be seen on cat. no. 96.

Detail, cat.no.96 showing a beautiful rendition of the iconic flower in box main border

Using the black and white photos figs. 1 and 2 rageth tries rather unsuccessfully to claim their major borders as proof fig.1(cat no. 60) is significantly earlier than fig.2(cat. no.61).

Fig.1(cat. no.60) and fig.2 (cat. no. 61)

We will not argue the point the border of cat. no.60(fig.1) appears to be a slightly earlier version. However, we will point out when studying them carefully it becomes obvious the motif in the border of cat. no.61(fig.2) is the reciprocal form(figure-ground) of the border motif in cat. no.60(fig.1).

It is impossible, and only a naïve thought, to date any Turkmen weaving on the basis of just one design element alone, all aspects must be considered to make any competent judgment.

Another point rageth missed is cat. no. 61’s minor border(fig.2) is far rarer and earlier than cat. 60’s main border. It can found on very few Turkmen weavings of any age and is in all respects the sainak icon which appears on all true engsi.

Detail ancient Tekke engsi showing sainak outer border; RK Collection

An archaic version of this border appears on our ancient Tekke LFT. It is the earliest example we know. Another, though slightly later, can be seen on the minor border of the Arabatchi MC we have already illustrated.

Study the Arabatchi border carefully, there is a very subtle but important difference that has morphed the sainak icon into a flower. This flower has been created by carefully knotting the space inside each sainak icon with white, orange or red dyed knots.

Although we cannot prove which came first, the sainak or the sainak-flower, it seems clear to us the sainak and its close identification with engsi, the most iconic of all Turkmen weavings, and not the sainak-flower wins hands down.

Left: Detail Tekke LFT with the sainak icon as the outer minor border; RK Collection Right: Detail Arabatchi MC with the sainak-flower minor border; cat. no. 127, private collection

It's interesting to note the sainak-flower also appears in the border of cat. no.61 (see comparison photos below). But because the weaver did not have the skill, or perhaps real knowledge of what she was weaving when she used knots of different color inside the sainak, the form of the flowers is not as readily recognized or as charming.

In part 3 of our review we wrote about cat. no. 61(fig.1) and it is germane to repeat it here.

Far stronger arguments could be made for cat. no. 61, the Tekke chuval, being at least first half of the 19th century.

For instance the sparing use of the insect dye on silk, its rare and very well articulated lower elem’s ring-tree icon, and the larger than normal comb motifs in the upper elem are never elements found in later 19th century Tekke chuvals of this type.

But it is the really rare inner and outer minor borders, which harken back to some of the earliest iconography found on Tekke trappings (see photos below), as well as other very rare and early types of Turkmen weavings, that seals the reality cat. no. 61 is decidedly earlier than rageth’s questionable guess.

Left: Detail Tekke chuval minor border cat. no. 61; Right: detail ancient archetype Tekke LFT minor border, RK collection

This minor border is exceptionally rare, we know only a handful of appearances and absolutely none of them dating to the middle 19th century.

Taking all this into consideration RK cannot possibly accept rageth stating cat.no.60 and 61 are “very different in age”.

Although we concede cat. no 60 might be slightly earlier, frankly we think it is a jump ball and both are approximately the same age, first half 19th century.

But there is no jump ball concerning rageth using the border argument to anchor his claim. This is another example of lacking the necessary knowledge base to make proper comparisons, and in a larger sense to author any publication where it is required.

Continuing his attempts to demonstrate he is capable of framing design comparisons to support age estimates rageth then pictures what he calls a “comparison series”:

…another realm of visual age determination, (is) the comparison of designs…series of the same design type from the same tribe or region…a good example fo such a series, even though only three pieces, is the set of Qaradashli khali with chuval gul field design, figs 3-5 (cat. nos. 84-86). The earliest piece shows, although only at one end, an alem design copying the 17th century Safavid/Mughal flower style. This piece not only shows the best drawing of the main border of this small group, but of this type of border in general. The secondary motifs designed in the form of flower crosses are also of exceptional originality and without comparison examples. Last but not least, the color quality, especially in the minor borders with the ‘running dog’ is of unequaled beauty.”

Figs 3,4,and 5

Yomut MC dated 17th century in catalog, cat.no.102, Textile Museum Washington DC

Where to begin to set the record straight and show rageth’s vision is too clouded and inaccurate to be accepted?

In this group it is obvious fig 3, cat. no. 84, is the earliest and its elem shows what he calls the Safavid/Mughal flower style. However this MC is definitely not worth such lavish praise, nor is it the best of its type. That distinction belongs to the Washington Textile Museum’s eponymous (torba gol) Yomud MC, cat. no. 102.

Top: Detail cat. no.84 flower elem, private collection; Bottom: Detail cat.no.102 flower elem; Textile Museum, Washington DC

Because cat. no.84(fig.3) is on the cover and belongs to hans sienknecht, rageth’s main supporter and cohort, it is only natural it has been elevated to heights it really does not deserve. Perhaps were both of them more knowledgeable this gushing praise would have been tempered.

Granted it is an early and interesting MC, but the Textile Museum’s, cat, no.102 plus other exceptional ones are known. It should be undeniable the Textile Museum’s is far more beautiful, with as interesting features and surely equally as early, regardless of the difference in the c14 dates rageth reports.

Next there is the Qaradashli, aka Karadashli, question.

What are the features defining this increasingly cited attribution? So far none of consequence RK has ever heard prove even one weaving, let along a whole group of them, should be attributed to this tribe.

It is well-known one once existed, but no one has been able to identify any technical or design features that are unique enough to define exactly what is a Karadashli weaving.

Rest assured rageth does not even try, and his wholesale acceptance of this nebulous attribution is quite questionable.

Comparing the structural data and design vocabulary of this supposed Karadashli MC to the Textile Museum’s example, which rageth calls Yomut and we concur, shows nothing that could be used to bona fide the Qaradashli attribution. Same goes for all the others in rageth book he anoints with the same Qaradashli label.

Listen up, rageth is not alone and other authors have used the Karadashli provenance, but were rageth a genuine Turkmen carpet expert he would question this, and failing to find any answers eschew using it in his work.

It is quite obvious cat. no. 84 and cat. no. 102 are visually very similar, both have the same major gol, their secondary gol while not the same are quite close, the major borders are the same at the sides differing somewhat at the upper and lower ends. Structurally they both have a symmetric knot but cat. no. 84 has more offset knotting and a coarser weave, 1995 knot per dm2 to 2301 knots per dm2. Color-wise they are also not the same but are still quite close, cat. no. 84 having a classy light blue that does not appear in cat. no.102.

So while these characteristics show they are not the same, this does not equate to attributing cat. no.84 to the Qaradashli. The only supposed Kasadashli feature is that light blue, but this is far from real evidence. Surely it is not something to base an attribution on, as rageth and obviously its owner have done.

This name-game playing is very amateurish work. What would have been far more professional and expert would have been to do complete dye testing of both carpets, only cat. no. 84 was tested and that testing was not done by Wouters so it does not have all the information his tests reported.

Instead of rageth's shotgun approach to writing this book and choosing the weavings to be dye tested (we will not bother to talk about radiocarbon dating) far better would have been to chose a number of small groups of similar but different historic Turkmen weavings, like cat. nos 84 and 102 along with figs 4 and 5, and do complete dye testing of all the colors plus intensive fiber analysis and complete and thorough structural analysis.

By compiling such a database on forty or fifty such groups (of 3-6 examples each) a really informative and ground breaking publication could be achieved using the same amount, or even less, testing rageth’s failed publication did.

But clearly this was way beyond the limited scope and skill of a jurg rageth.

The next unacceptable statement involves whether in fact cat. no.84 has “..the best drawing of the main border of this type of border in general.”

Again rageth misses realizing this distinction belongs to the multi-gol Yomut MC cat. no. 108.

Multi-gol MC, cat. no. 108; DeYoung Museum, San Francisco; gift of George and Marie Hecksher

The more lively and assuredly salubrious way the weaver was able to articulate the border; the slightly better proportions; the more detailed style adding the short kink to the undulating vine in the upper and lower borders, which is even better achieved by the best of the bird asmalyk; and lastly the less demanding and demonstrative way the border of cat. no.84 overpowers the rest of the design all imply cat. no.102 is the superior weaving.

One additional observation we can offer to put cat. no. 84 into its proper perspective is discussing the secondary gol, which rageth over-estimates.

Comparing it to the Textile Museum’s MC, cat. no. 102, cannot help but show the difference between Turkmen aesthetics at the highest level. Cat. no. 84 is less pure and far more a derivative combination of style and motif assembled into a ‘new’ form.

This new form was undoubtedly created using the central axis icon of the ancient Tekke LFT’s secondary gol as a base onto other design elements have been grafted.

Left: central axis icon from the secondary gol of the ancient Tekke LFT; Right: Secondary gol cat. no.84

This is not unknown, RK has traced a number of similar ‘creations’ back to older gol forms. But here it is especially interesting because it shows this process existed during the earliest period these carpets were produced.

From all the available evidence it is clear certain Turkmen gol were proprietary to certain weaving groups and iconographic change like we just traced is, in our view, the result of some important disruption to that proprietary system.

RK has often noticed naïve and semi-skilled eyes often regard gol forms that have been created in the same way we describe the secondary on cat. no.84 as far more significant and important than they actually are. The praise rageth gives cat. no. 84’s is a perfect example.

To add another layer of proof the secondary gol of cat. no.84 was developed from the Tekke LFT’s notice they both display a five spot and cross in their center. Think their appearance is just coincidence? Better think again. And remember the five spot and cross are reciprocals of each other.

An important point not to overlook here is the definite non-linear way Turkmen carpet designs developed and were used. It is perfectly possible for a later carpet to display gol that are earlier in form than an older carpet, and vis-a-versa.

RK does not believe the c14 dating results for cat. no. 84 that make it earlier than cat. no 102 or 108’s, and a more detailed art historical comparison would further prove our position.

And rageth/sienknecht boasting “…the color quality, especially in the minor borders with the ‘running dog’ is of unequaled(sic) beauty.” is patently absurd compared to cat. no. 108’s truly glorious explosion of color or the far more quiet but sparkling tones of brown and blue the Textile Museum’s MC, cat. no. 102 displays.

We should also mention the many times rageth lack of Turkmen chops can’t help him from making very obvious well-known statements appear to be more, or at times, less than what they actually are.

For instance this one, as obvious as the nose on his face: “ The presence of early synthetic dyes provides some information on the age of a textile.”

Wow, what an understatement. Finding a Turkmen weaving with early synthetic dye provides the best possible post-1850 dating indication. And while RK is not interested in weaving from this period, it is occasionally eye-opening to learn one that visually appears earlier than post 1850 in all respects isn’t based on identification of early European dyestuffs.

The next section of rageth paper deals with C14 radiocarbon dating and its problems.

Reporting samples from the famous Pazyrk carpet were c14 tested by Dr Bonani and gave a result of 383-200B.C is a proof c14 testing for woolen objects can work.

However, since the Pazaryk was for 1,500 plus years in a naturally protected environment and after its discovery was also carefully sheltered, it is not any surprise.

But implying, as rageth does, this is a notch in the belt for his C14 Turkmen weaving testing holds no water, nor is in any way even applicable.

What is more telling is the following story he recounts of three Anatolian carpets that share very similar, but not identical, design.

…The second carpet (Fig.8)emerged in Switzerland in the summer of the same year…it was radiocarbon dated. This indicated periods between the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries as possible dates of origin (AD1650-1678 -27.1%; AD 1737-1810- 53.0%; AD1928-1955-19.8%).


After synthetic dye was found this carpet was then believed to be some type of reproduction, according to rageth made by Tuduk.

But the results of the c14 testing surely did not indicate that, after all two of the four dates it gave AD1650-1678 (27.1%) and AD 1737-1810(53.0%) make it seem at the least a circa 1800 date is possible.

Furthermore in light the fact they were the highest percentages, and the other two far lower, without the identification of the synthetic dye would anyone who trusted the reliability of C14 dating think those dates, or an average of them, were not accurate?

Of course not, and this is the problem with C14 dating. It cannot stand alone, something many including rageth now believe, as this quote from him shows “From these three cases above it is clear that in radiocarbon dating textiles, the statistical probabilities expressed in percentages must be treated with great caution.” But he still trusts a process that has proven over and over to be unreliable or efficacious. Go figure.

The use of tin as a mordant in the cochineal dyeing process is a well discussed, or is it over-discussed, topic in this book.

Finding substantial evidence this is the process to produce many of the bright reds seen in pre-1800 Turkmen weavings is one of the very few items rageth’s project can rightfully claim. But a far less secure part is the contention rageth forwards no tin mordant cochineal could have been produced prior to 1610, and he bases a number of dates on this idea.

RK has already proposed some rebuttal, but there is one more possibility we can add. If the water used in the dyeing process naturally continued a high level of tin, either from previous human activities like mining or from other natural geophysical reasons, any resulting dyed material would supply a tin signature in testing. This therefore is another reason to suspect rageth 1610 tin mordant rule is not sacrosanct, and in fact is no rule at all.

Another topic of conversation in this section concerns the C14 test results of cat. no. 108, the DeYoung multi-gol MC.

Although in this case we are dealing with a unique piece of presumably great age, a 17th century dating cannot be documented with certainty. However, in addition to radiocarbon dating there are other factors like design and drawing, in particular that of the border, arguing for such a dating.”

RK knows this MC well and we should, we sold it to Hecksher.

Seeing it in person is far more the experience than a picture can convey, and it was this quality that pushed Hecksher over the edge to purchase it for what is still a record price for any Turkmen weaving.

The fact it did not conclusively return a very early date is not its fault, it is the fault of the dating process.

The next section deals with what rageth names “unconfirmed re-testing results.

With six of the 123 examined weavings, a second test did not confirm the first measurement...such corrections were sometime a disappointment…the first example is the outstanding Salor chuval, cat. no. 13.”

S-group chuval, cat. no. 13

“The first measurement resulted in a radiocarbon age of 325+/-55yBP. This was an unambiguous pre-1659 dating…a second measurement resulted in a radiocarbon age of 220+/-50yBP. This second result, although considerably lower is still lying in the permissible range…For the sake of clarity the piece was tested a third and fourth time...But, both the third and the fourth measurement resulted in an even lower radiocarbon age than the second. Nevertheless, the results still allowed the calibration of a weighted mean, but with which 210+/-30yBP clearly resulted in a post-1650 calibrated calendar age. The early dating to between 1450 and 1650 could not be confirmed.”

To continue this charade rageth then tries to float “The lac dyed wool does not, however, contain tin while all other examined lac samples from Salor pieces dating from ca 1650-1859 continued tin as a mordant. This at least allows the possibility of a pre-1610 dating. Admittedly it must be noted that examining a higher number of lac dyed samples from Salor pieces would increase the validity of this supposition. However, the Salor chuval cat. no. 13 is free of tin and of such outstanding quality that considering a 17th century dating is still appropriate.”

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot, yikes, rageth’s refusal to come to grips with the fact C14 testing is not reliable is no more apparent than this episode proves.

Other obvious questions about the re-testing process include: how many tests were redone, how many times were they redone, and what was the criteria for testing them a second time? None of these are addressed anywhere in his publication.

We cannot resist the sheer dubiousness of the following quote from jurg rageth: “Replicated measurements should be undertaken in the same laboratory to ensure continuity of operating conditions.”

They should? Really now, wouldn’t common sense suggest having tests of the same samples done by different labs to check the efficacy of the process and the results? We surely believe so.

In his conclusion to volume one rageth pats himself on the back, too bad he is the only one who will: “…123 weaving were examined by means of radiocarbon dating. Eighteen of these 123 pieces have been reliably dated to the 16th and 17th centuries. Therewith have not only new standards been applied, but these new results went beyond the scope of all previous age estimates.”

No new standards were achieved and no new results have gone past the reliability quotient of other pre-existing dating methods.

more to come, stay tuned…

Author: john lewis
email: john_lewis@mac.com
Wed, May 4th, 2016 12:10:42 AM

RK Replies

Hi John:

RK knows you are a regular reader of our papers, articles and notices so probably you are aware of the story we recounted about it.

When we first met peter hoffmeister, the scheister from Coburg Germany, we went to his home with bertram frauenknecht. This was in the later winter of 1980.

He was somewhat friendly with him but had had some trouble with hoffsheister's 'ethics', and told us to be very careful of any involvement with him.

RK did not think much of frauenknecht's warning, putting it down to his own ethical problems. But he was right and we should have never gotten as entangled with him or trusted hoffscheister as we did. OK, hindsight is always 20/20.

Anyway, the main reason for the visit was our wanting to see his Tekke torba, cat. no. 56 in rageth's book, which we had drooled over since first spying it in the Simon Crosby "Turkmen Carpets from Franconia" publication.

Seeing it for the first time in the flesh convinced us even more of what we knew from seeing the picture -- it was both very early and a great weaving, the best Tekke torba we had ever seen.

We tried to buy it but hoffscheister was not selling no matter how hard we tried. But we did, on that first visit, buy an interesting Yomut torba, which in fact is also in rageth's book, cat. no. 80.

This was the only rug business we ever did with hoffscheister besides allowing him to take part, by financing it, in the Tent Band Tent Bag: Classic Turkmen Weaving book project. We have written about that mistake at length.

So that day in 1980 we saw his great Tekke torba and went home with the interesting quite old, but surely not nearly as old or important as his Tekke torba, Yomud one.

By the way rageth calls the torba we bought Qaradashli, another one of his arrows shot in the dark at a non-existent target. He also dates it "17/18th century. We doubt it is earlier than circa 1750 but definitely pre-1800, in that window.

As time went on, and our involvement with hoffscheister, his wife Ursula, and his two children continued we had plenty of other opportunities to study his Tekke torba. Eventually we came to the conclusion his was not the archetype, and there was an earlier generation(at least) of the type.

We wrote about this a further length in the "Rare Gol and the Chemche" paper which again is here:
as well as here in "Breakthroughs in Turkmen Studies":

Anyway, one day 25 years later, there it was in the hands of a savvy dealer who knew it was something good. He just didn't know, and really how could he, how good it was.

However, he was savvy enough to ask a very healthy price and after some intense discussion he agreed to our offer.

We are absolutely and totally convinced, convinced as much as we are about anything to do with Turkmen weavings, the Tekke LFT is the earliest Turkmen weaving extant.

We have photos of a couple of later ones of the type, LFTs with 4 rows of three major torba gol and the R gol secondary, and perhaps one day sooner or later we will publish the continuum and discss it.

For now our attentions are focused finishing the rageth book critique and review.


Your Tekkie LFT really is wonderful

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