We are sharing parts of this powerpoint presentation with our readers for several reasons. First and foremost it gives us the opportunity to make public the level of our expertise and ongoing research on early Turkmen weavings as compared to other so called researcher’s efforts.
Secondly, it give us pleasure to share with others what we are know and what we are working on. This has always been the case, and although our willingness to share has often caused problems we still believe in the long run it is beneficial.
Before the internet, and even long before our book publications, we had large 8x10 photos of our collection and we were not shy in showing them to friends and rug collectors we met. We have some good stories to tell about the problems this sometimes created but this is not the time or the place to recount them.
It is, however, a good time to memorialize in print the circumstances that led to our discovery of this Tekke engsi. And since we are no longer interested in continuing to make public our knowledge, discoveries and research, we think publishing these slides from the powerpoint presentation is quite generous and in keeping with our former willingness to share with others our information and pictures.
In the early 1990’s we were living in the Hollywood hills, sharing a large house with a lawyer that was coincidently almost directly under the famous “Hollywood” sign.
The greater Los Angeles area is probably the metropolitan area with the most ‘flea markets’, antique shows, swap meets and other venues where it used to be possible, and even probable, to find interesting old rugs. It was one of the pleasures that enticed us to live in L.A. There were others.
One of those was at that time an old friend of ours owned the most in/hip night-club in town. It was located on Beverly Blvd near Crescent Heights, called the “Monkey Bar”, and every night once its doors first opened was the watering hole for L.A.’s glitterati, young stars and wanna be’s, as well as a certain group of the most famous male stars. The fact Jack Nicholson was partner was the main reasons for the Monkey Bar’s instant success, and for about two years it was the night-time scene of scenes, especially after the doors closed a 1AM and no one unknown to the management was allowed to stay, or admitted.
Knowing the owner gave us carte blanc entrée and we went often to watch and particpate in the bacchic, dionysian activities that took place therein. Must say only Studio 54 in NY was a better scene.
One Saturday evening at about 3.30AM we left the club and headed down to Orange county to go to a once a year flea market a friend had told us about that was going to take place later that morning. We arrived about 5AM and soon found the huge parking lot where the flea was going to take place. But it was empty, not a soul or car in sight.
We figured people would start trooping in soon and sure enough after about 15 minutes the first ‘seller’ arrived driving a dilapidated fairly large mobile home that looked like it might not make it back from where it came.
Soon the door on the side opened and a good looking blonde woman and her lolitaish teen age daughter started to take their tables and other stuff out to set up the stand. We walked over, said “Good Morning” and asked her if she had any oriental rugs to sell.
She said “Yes, I do” and if you help putting my things out I will show them to you. So for about 10 minutes we worked with them and then finally she came out with a bundle of smallish rugs.
“Here they are” she said “Take a look”.
We unrolled them and lo and behold the ancient Tekke engsi, shown the first two slides of the presentation brlow, flopped out. There also was a large fragment of an old Tekke MC with a very wonderful elem panel, a worn but righteous early 19th century Ferahan prayer rug, and a couple of others rugs that were junk.
Large Tekke MC fragment and detail of elem
We quickly rolled them back up as more sellers and buyers were now starting to come into the parking lot.
“Listen” I said to her “I just want to buy two of them what do you want for these two” showing her the Tekke engsi and MC.
“You gotta buy them all” she replied “I need to sell them all together”.
“OK then” I said “How much?”
“I need to get x-hundred” she said “And you gotta pay cash, I don’t take checks.”
“Alright, how’s this for an offer?” I said.
“That’s a pretty good offer" she said "but tell you what. I know some of the rug dealers and they will come soon so if they won’t pay more I will sell them to you. Come back in an hour.”
Knowing any rug dealer, even the dumbest of those that haunt flea markets would buy them immediately I peeled off some Andrews for her and put the roll in my car trunk.
But first I said “You have been really nice so I am going to give you back a few of them I don’t need or want.” And gave her the junk rugs in the bundle, keeping only the two Turkmen rugs and the prayer Ferahan.
It was easy to see from the burn marks they all had these rugs had been in some kind of fire but no matter the Tekke engsi was a champion, and what was left of the MC something special.
The story goes on but that’s all RK will recount now. We will add we sold the Ferahan prayer to a friend who still has it in his collection and we cut the Tekke MC into three equally wide fragments, sold two to someone we would today not sell an overpriced puddle of steaming piss, and kept the third. Some years later we sold that fragment to a good friend back east who also still has it in his collection.
The drawing of the MC’s elem, which in the mid-1970's we christened the ‘dancing girls’, is one of the best, if not the best, Tekke renditions we know of this composite icon.
Yeah, the early to middle 1990’s were the last of the good old days one could find noteworthy weavings at places like that flea market.
And while it is still possible today we do not bother, as the chances are about the same as finding 100 dollar bills in the street.
We had a good run from the middle 1960’s to the middle 1990’s and discovered a number of excellent weavings, almost all of the greatest ones we still have. We can honestly say we mourn the passing of that time-period when finding early rugs was only a function of how much energy and stamina you had to find out about and go to places like that parking lot where people would bring all kinds of stuff to sale.
And if you were knowledgeable enough you could sort through the junk and occassionally find treasure like RK did that early morning in Orange County.
Here’s part three of the Turkmen powerpoint presentation Engsi: Secular Door-Cover or Cult Object.