Not missing a beat in their continued clarion, calling jurg rageth’s “Turkmen Carpets: A New Perspective the greatest thing in Turkmen Carpet Studies since their free with each new subscription offer of a cheapo made in China plastic knot counter, the latest issue Summer 2016 of that rag hali does not disappoint.
First off there’s another episode of Marcus Voight plays slackjaw and awed OMG interviewer of important rug personalities. This time its mr magnum Turk0pus author jurg rageth enjoying the soft-light sycophantic admiration Voight just can’t help himself from exuding in almost every paragraph he pens.
“Jürg was trained as a technical draughtsman. Precise drawings of cold steel parts do not necessarily seem like a prerequisite for dealing with the soft and creative world of textiles, but his trained eye found an easy way into the inner workings of patterns.”
RK first met rageth, as we have written, in the early 1980’s when Johnny Eskenazi introduced us to him.
We were visiting Eskenazi’s former gallery in Milan and rageth, then a fledgling Anatolian Kelim dealer, had several bags full of mediocre late examples he was trying to get Eskenazi to purchase. So much for Voight’s sugar coated thought the supposed rageth “trained eye” was anything but a dead one when it came to “the inner workings of patterns” on those totally forgettable Anatolian kelim he was trying to flog.
Voight, like that rag hali, has so much vested interest in maintaining a party line making sure to flatter to an almost sickening level those in rugDUMB deemed worthy he just can’t help himself. Forget his never questioning what, if anything, makes them worthy
Simple answer is their willingness to play ball with those who control the scene and believe they know best. Sorry, but their always knowing best does nothing other than mostly feather their own nests and make sure to keep the revenue flowing into their pockets.
Oh Yeah, there’s also their needs and desires to be treated as nobility and even royalty.
When it comes to jurg rageth and the almost 20 years he spent conniving financial support from many in the carpet world, or fanning the wallet-opening-flames of others like sienknecht, hecksher, munkasci, etc, who believed his carnival barker’s specious spiel concerning the efficacy of C14 dating for contaminated Turkmen weavings, Voight and that rag hali remain mute, never will they mention this part of the tale.
Nor will a softball pitching ‘interviewer’ like Voight ever bring up the c14 contamination issue, that 2000 pound gorilla that looms as large as King Kong over a scantily attired Fay Wray for all those equally as scantily believable c14 tests in rageth’s publication.
Nor will anyone question the honesty of rageth pocketing 25% commissions on all the c14 tests done for this book and his earlier Anatolian Kelim c14 publication. Let alone bring it up.
But, all this and more aside, it comes down to content and on that issue, too, Marcus Voight and that rag hali can only praise, surely not ever examine the validity of, what rageth wrote.
Almost twenty years is a long time, and 900 pages is a lot of book and anyone who has bothered to read RK’s in-depth examination cannot help but question that rag hali’s gushing praise or a Marcus Voight’s groupie drool of an interview.
Onward and upward….
Then, there is the ‘proper review’ of rageth’s book in the book review section of this issue.
We had heard a rumor, several months ago, it was being written by an ‘art historian’ and not someone from the rug world.
Immediately we began to wonder who that rag hali has gotten to write this forthcoming review.
Turning to page 126, RK found the review and learned its author was someone by the name of Ulrich Schneider. Not being familiar with the name we searched for more info on the internet and found scads of people share this rather common man’s name.
We then refined the search to include “Ulrich Schneider art historian” lo and behold we found a link to rippon-boswell’s website listing of their “team members”. One of them being said Ulrich Schneider.
But we could have saved the trouble as on page 19 Schneider’s CV is listed telling readers for more than thirty years he worked with museums as a staff member and director. Now he is boswell’s works of art guy, whatever that means.
As we stated we were wondering who that rag hali was going to get to write this review and not to sound snotty we figured it would be some flunky, and guess what, that thought was not far from reality.
Now Schneider might be a whiz at “works of art” but he clearly ain’t got the chops to examine rageth’s text from any of the several viewpoints a capable reviewer could bring to the task.
First choice, naturally, would have been to get someone who was a Turkmen rug expert. But alas there are none. Well except RK and we all know they wouldn’t let the big bad wolf RK into that rag hali’s chicken coop.
Second, a competent western Central Asian historian. Third choice an anthropologist or ethnographer whose career was in this area.
We could go on with suggestions but obviously ben evans, the forever lazy sod editor, couldn’t be bothered with some hard work to find and then pay someone of caliber to write the review, so he got Herr Schneider, an eager but ill-equipped scribe to give readers nothing but more kick in the pants impetus to buy the book, but no really good and valid reasons why.
Schneider’s review might on the surface seem more informative than the short blurb about him on page 19, however, it is in fact as ambiguous and illusionary when it comes to substance.
From the onset it is perfectly clear Schneider does not know anything about Turkmen rugs other than what he gleaned writing this review. Nor is he capable, or willing, to examine the veracity of the verbose art historical comparisons rageth uses to try and determine how Turkmen iconography developed.
Well, maybe that’s not fair. Could be Schneider is capable but he doesn’t spend a sentence attempting to do so.
The answer might be he knows it’s impossible, as rageth’s lengthy art-historical detective work is repetitive of what others, like RK, have already published, and often rambling to the point of distraction. It's far from convincing at any rate.
Though to his credit Scheider is good at often saying nothing but the obvious, stating unrelated facts as if they were pertinent, and at times suffering big word-itis.
Witness “Tested dates range from 15th century (1), 16th century (12), 17th century (40), 18th century (40) and 19th century (34), to the 20th century (1), with most dating from well into the 17th century to 1880. This is significant because the textiles were produced when the speed of travel averaged less than 25 kilometres per day. In the study of dialects, this is not considered a factor that favours intermingling. We may thus assume that the rugs were produced using autochthonous techniques and design principles.”
RK is sure we will not be the only reader to question why in his three full pages of text Schneider’s review does not once mention the questions surrounding the reliability of c14 dating for Turkmen rugs and just accepts the results as if those questions do not exist.
And what does the 25 kilometer range of travel have to do with the subject at hand? Maybe it got lost in translation, or did the dog eat the rest of Schneider’s idea?
Because his assumption being able to only travel at most 25 kilometers per day was the reason for the autochthonous techniques and design principles Turkmen rugs exhibit is patently ridiculous, as their techniques and design principles were developed at least over hundreds of years and in that time period even at 1 kilometer a day such information could have been transmitted from very far off lands.
Just the above quote should disqualify any alleged credentials Schneider might carry as a capable reviewer for this publication; forget the way the rest of the fawning, totally compromised pablum he serves up makes him look.
Reading Schneider’s review, and then reading it a second time, led us to the conclusion he did not read this book very carefully, and probably at best only skimmed through it.
We cannot be bothered to fact check every statement Schneider makes but the one that stuck out like a searchlight on a moonless night was the following “This study is the first to provide evidence of Mexican cochineal in Turkmen textiles. The Salor only used lac.”
The first part is true, though the actual claim rageth mistakeningly makes in the book is he was the first to positively identify cochineal. He wasn't. That distinction and honor goes to Mark Whiting, who did so in 1976 and publicly announced this at the first icoc in London.
Rageth’s discovery, however, is to have identified the specific type of cochineal, which turns out to be Mexican cochineal.
But it is the second part, “the Salor only used lac”, that unmistakably shows Schneider’s incompetence.
This is a grossly ignorant misstatement no one who actually read this book could possibly have made.
We reproduce below a quote, and there are numerous others, from the rageth book and one of charts describing a Salor weaving, cat. no. 16, which tested positive for both cochineal and madder as the source of its red dyes. But no lac.
These were included in RK’s review, Part 4, of rageth’s book and provide proof positive of Schneider’s almost inconceivable error.
“In our study, six Turkmen weavings (ed. 16, 36,110, 117, 127, and 157) radiocarbon dated to before 1650 contained Mexican cochineal on wool.”
cat. no. 16
Far more than half of Schneider’s review deals with his observations about the European museum world, new interests in scientific tools to research art, and other generalities at best only obliquely related to rageth’s publication.
It is just as factual to say most of the other half is nothing but cheerleading his belief this book will make a lasting impression on rug studies and “In particular, his refreshingly unclouded interdisciplinary perspective, using all available methods from linguistics to isotope analysis, has allowed him to create a treasure trove that will inspire many new approaches to research.”
We are sure “no new approaches to research” will result from this book, in fact this type of claim is nothing but another thread-bare piece of hyperbole often included in other reviews that rag hali has published. Another is the mythic discussions their reviews have alluded to but were never subsequently reported, or even happened.
This review as well as last issue’s laudatory article written by dewitt mallary, the translator and the sales representative for the English edition, perfectly demonstrate the mockery of anyone calling either a “review”.
These are nothing but advertisement – prejudiced, one-sided, biased prose written by partisans; and for that rag hali to claim different is as bogus as telling readers Santa will come shimmying down your chimney with a sack full of presents come next Christmas.