It’s only one hundred and twenty kilometers from Konya to Karapinar but it might as well be a thousand if one is measuring all the weavings attributed to the latter location. As far as we are concerned hardly any of those were really made in Karapinar, a place that has been a sleepy back-water village its entire life except for the mid-sixteenth century when a large mosque and complex of buildings were erected by the Ottoman Sultan Selim II in 1563-1564.
This was the only period when Karapinar was anywhere on anyone’s map, a historical fact that negates possibilities all the rugs bearing this misplaced moniker were ever produced in its environs.
While there is no actual type of rug that can be correctly called ‘Karapinar’ there is a medallion, with several variants, found on a diverse group of rugs that have this design as their most common feature. So, yes, there is a Karapinar design group but we seriously doubt any of the early, key weavings with that medallion were made in Karapinar, or anywhere close. Remember the 120 kilometers between Konya, where most of the post 1700 ‘Karapinar’ medallion rugs were probably made, and Karapinar was a long journey on the back of a mule, horse or by foot, which were the only means of transportation at that time. Konya had the facilitie to produce these carpets, not sleepy old Karapinar. Konya also had the trade routes and connections to facilitate carpet business, none such existed in Karapinar.
Concerning this ‘Karapinar question’ many years ago, in fact in 2003, RK began to reduce to a fine powder the supposed Karapinar myth and provenance, and there is absolutely no reason to revisit any of those arguments or documentation now. However, in the context of a several recent and related events the Koyna/Karapinar question once again deserves some careful dusting off -- The two carpets below being at the epicenter of those events.
Left: so-called Karapinar long rug, recently sold by krikor markarian; Right: so-called Karapinar long rug, private collection
While there are iconographic similarities these two carpets are, like many other so-called Karapinar carpets, very different on so many grounds it is impossible for anyone with enough intelligence to tie shoelaces to believe they can be both called ‘Karapinar’.
Fact is neither deserves that descriptor, as both were very likely made in and around the Konya/Cappodicia region.
The markarian long rug, the far lesser in all respects, was very recently sold for what appears to be a record price for this type of weaving. Unfortunately for the naïve, inexperienced, unskilled buyer and his ‘advisors’, who are not much farther along the knowledge trail than he, the record price he paid, according to his own admission, was 250,000 dollars.
Funny but as soon as we heard the story -- RK had already known about markarian’s rug and his attempts to sell it for a number of years -- we could not help remembering this was the same price paid to dennis, the liar cheat and thief, dodds for his bogus ‘bellini’ carpet. Seems greedy carpet sellers think alike.
Fact is markarian’s long rug has more than price in common with dodds’s ‘bellini’, as both are nothing but late genre period revival reproductions. And both were called 16th century by their owners, while they are at best midle-18th century genuine copies.
The buyer made a big mistake, as not only is markarian’s rug not a period example, and it should be for that price, but it is a fragment that was found in three pieces. But after some quality ‘restoration’ by markarian the three pieces, the field in two sections and one severed border were stitched together along with who knows how much more added foundation and pile ‘improvements'. Voila.
Getting it fixed and ready for sale was far easier than selling it and as hard as markarian tried he could not get anyone to buy it at his asking price of $150,000. And it remained in his shoppe for almost 20 years, as the story goes. Then, a miracle, the rug got sold and sold for $250,000, a major payday for mr restorer markarian. This is another example of the old sucker born every minute adage, one well worn carpet collecting epithet. It saved the day for markarian and sank to the foggy bottom that naïve and unskilled collector’s wet-dream of forming an important Anatolian village carpet collection.
By the way, RK knows this collector well and were he smart enough to know the pseudo-experts he relied upon are not nearly in RK’s class, but they are far more willing to work with him for his paltry pay-scale, RK would have saved him from buying markarian’s over-dated, over-rated, over-priced loser long rug.
We illustrate a second rug as comparison, because while it, too, is not 16th as some pundits maintain but rather later 17th century, it is a whole lot better in every respect than markarian’s. This rug has real class and beauty. It’s the real thing, plus it is in quite good condition. Three qualities markarian’s rug sorely lacks but shouldn’t considering the $250K price paid. Both are pretty weavings but the markarian rug’s flashy skin-deep appearance cannot compare with the sustained visual and sensual aesthetics the other rug displays.
For RK’s taste, however, we’d take any day the rug below, a genuinely early 16th century Anatolian Village rug with the archetypal look and medallion all these so-called Karapinar rugs try but fail to emulate.
And for those readers with advanced connoisseurship who will understand our admiration for what we believe is the root of the Konya Karapinar design type RK once again republishes this amazingly early fragment.
The term ‘Anatolian Village rug’ is, like the ‘Karapinar’ provenance, grossly over and misused. Most of these so-called village rugs were made in small workshops by specialist weavers. There is little village about them, their materials and iconographies. Only the earliest ones, like the two illustrated above were made in an village environment where the community produced weavings the historic weaving culture promoted and predicated how they should and would look.
Neither the markarian or the other private collection carpets are village products. They are products of a workshop system, one that was able to produce truly impressive examples like the latter, as well as far lesser ones like markarian’s.