Home > Turkmen Rugs >A Tekke engsi and maltzahn's ministries
Sat, Jun 2nd, 2018 12:58:35 PM
Topic: A Tekke engsi and maltzahn's ministries

We have much more than once expressed the opinion detlef maltzahn, the owner and claimed rug expert of rippon-boswell auction, is an asshat wearing clown. Likewise we recognize there are those who think maltzahn is ‘the top’ expert and hang on his every word as if it were from God’s mouth to their ears.

This is not unique and the rug ‘experts’ at other auction houses also have those who blindly and religiously trust their opinions. However, none of them seem to have what maltzahn has – a small cadre of suckers who shell out big prices for weavings that are not nearly as valuable or significant as claimed.

Proof of this pudding is all over maltzahn’s face and shirt. Thanks to the now numerous, and ever increasing number, of those purchases that are reappearing in his auctions and selling for 30, 50% and less than what they originally cost years and decades ago. And while we have not bothered to make a list we have seen enough proof to state it as fact.

Herein lies the gist of our title – “maltzahn’s ministry” -- the bogus belief he is, if not a carpet god, then the pope in his client’s eyes.

We also have for good reason disparaged his sometimes off the wall cataloguing statements. Anyone in the know could not come away with a different conclusion, the coming June 2018 sale providing no exception.

Gone are the days when RK would bother to both review the offerings and rebuke maltzahn for his nonsensical over-rating and dating sale patter, as well as his sometimes outlandish name-game playing at rug provenancing. We have better things to do with our time.

Be that as it may, we could not help going on record concerning several easily questioned weavings, although there are others in this latest mismash of mediocre offerings that could keep us busy.

First and foremost is the Tekke engsi, lot 60, estimated for 15,000 euro.

Lot 60

Eschewing the word engsi/ensi dopey detlef calls it a ‘door rug’. Too bad there is absolutely no evidence, let alone proof, rugs of ths type were ever used to cover a domestic doorway before the very end of the 19th and beginnings of the 20th century. The fact Lot 60 is considerably earlier, from a period when no one has any real idea what their function actually was, completely negates such a description. While calling it pre-1800 is something we find ambiguous, and most likely over-dating, we will not kick up a fuss.

There is little doubt it’s an interesting and early engsi in most Turkmen rug collector’s eyes, however, RK knows different.

Although we are not going to spill all the beans let’s provide some support for our opnion.

Many moons ago, in fact in 2006, a somewhat similar engsi was sold at an auction outside Boston timed to coincide with the last gasp of the acor franchise.

Engsi sold at a Boston area auction during the final acor event before its belly-up demise

It sold for 35,000 dollars hammer price to eberhart herrman, and RK did not miss the opportunity to put some facts next to the myth-making many made of this weaving.

Any interested readers unfamiliar with this story can bone-up here:

And here:


Unlike that one, lot 60 at rippon does not have the highly unusual knotted warp finish remaining. If so, it could be suggested they were both from the same original weaving source, aka workshop. Since this is not the case, and we highly doubt they are related by anything other than the obvious design similarities, it is easily assumed they have no real relationship other than they are both Tekke weavings and share what we can only call cutesy drawing of what we long ago named and formerly called the “dancing girl” flowers in its two elem and main border.

Left: Detail ashik flower head icon Lot 60; Right: Detail ashik flower head icon from 2006 Boston area sale

It is on these fanciful Turkmen icon, which we have of late begun to call the “ashik flower head”, we will rest our case neither of these two engsi, or others of the type like these two from the Washington icoc Turkmen engsi presentation (shown below), are much earlier than circa 1800.

Number 6 from the Washington DC icoc catlog on the left; and number 7 on the right.

It’s clear these two engsi, and others easily cited, are not as old or interesting as the one from the 2006 sale or Lot 60. However, all that said and appreciated, no example of this group of Tekke engsi are what RK considers to be ancient, aka pre-1700.

These engsi, like the more well known and renown Tekke animal tree engsi, are nothig but later additions/creations grafted onto a much earlier group of iconic weavings, like the bird asmalyk and in this instance a far older version of engsi with the ashik flower head (b/w detail shown below).

We are not going to publish a dissertation to explain why, only show the archetypal version of ashik flower head icon from an engsi we consider to be not only pre-1700, but pre-1600.

Detail ashik flower head from an ancient western Turkmen engsi; RK collection, unpublished

There is one major but subtle difference between these two types of `ashik flower head` icon.

Those, like lot 60, have little ‘three fingered hands’ at the ends of the arm(s) below the ashik.

As far as RK is concerned this is a later accretion/addition to the earlier hand-less iconography, like the ancient version in the b/w photo above.

Fortunately we also have in our collection a Tekke engsi that is appreciably earlier than lot 60 and any other of the ‘three-finger hand’ type we have ever seen. Its ashik flower head, detail shown at the beginning and below, provides what we see as one of the transitional iconographic steps between the earlier (hand-less) and those with the ‘three finger hand’ icon.

Detail Tekke engsi trasitional ashik flower head, circa 1700; RK collection; unpublished

To put the cherry atop this comparison we’d like to speculate on the source/origin of the three-finger hand.

As far as our experience tells us this icon is unique to a very particular type and group of weaving where it only ever appears. We wonder how many readers will recognize it?

One additional comment: It had great longevity, as we can trace it in this group from circa 1400 to the very late 19th century. That’s about 500 years.

And while we have no proof it is the source, the fact it appears only in these two groups of weavings makes this far more than a blind shot in the dark.

OK, let’s just drop this here and mention two other lots in minister maltzahn’s upcoming June 2nd evangelical where his ignorance is hung out to dry.

Lot 125 receives a definitely unwarranted canonization from the pope, aka detlef maltzahn, when he christened it a “saf” in the catlog entry. “A saf design kilim of impressive graphic effect.

Lot 125

This kelim has as much to do with saf as pope maltzahn has with the Vatican.

Long ago, in our 2009 Anatolian Opus, RK put to final rest ideas any Anatolian double-niche kelim were ever made as a saf, or originally used for prayer. Regardless of how thin or broad the double-niche might be it is now past stupid to keep calling them saf.

We have no doubt somewhere, sometime, someone could have used one of these weavings for prayer, but this and a winning powerball ticket does not entitle anyone to claim, as dopey detlef contiues to, they are saf.

What is far more probable and supported by some ethnographic field work is these always large, at least 3 meters and frequently longer, double-niche kelim were made as wall-hangings to hide the contents of the niches often found in village and town mud-brick houses. Their lack of ancient icon, amulets and symbols, their uncomplicated overall patterns, added to their large size pretty much guarantees these kelim were secular and not cult weavings.

That secular nature once again implying they were never meant to be, or were initially produced as, saf.

By forwarding the prosaic idea a kelim like lot 125 was woven as a religious, and not a domestic, object all maltzahn does is demonstrate either he knows little about these weavings or he is just to greedy a carpetbagger to correctly portray them.

The second and last lot we will mention is a Turkmen MC lot 136.

Detail Lot 136 questionably called 'Karadashli', and even more questionably dated 17/18th century, in maltzahn's catalog description

A very old Karadashli main carpet presenting a spaciously conceived field design of three rows of large tauk naska gols and a palmette border.

There’s enough issues we could raise with maltzahn’s description to keep us busy for paragraphs, let’s just mention the most egregious.

First and foremost if we have any pet peeve with the turko-ignorance of many pundits it’s their feeble and misguided oft-repeated ‘spaciousness’ meme.

Granted, early Turkmen weavings have major and minor gol that are much larger and squarer than later examples. They also display well proportioned breathing room between them. However, the use of that word is more often than not applied to weavings that have too much distance between their major and minor gol – like that frequently seen in middle to late Ersari chuval. Or to weavings like this one that do not really have it properly created.

Too much or two little space are both signs, as are gol that are far wider than high, not of an early weaving but a later one.

The latter case and point here because Lot 136 does not have the ‘large’ size Tauk Naska gol a 17th/18th century Turkmen MC would have.

Any carpet that, like it, is 2.5 meters long and has three vertical rows of 10 gol each could never qualify as having large gol. There simply ain’t enough room.

By the way, the minor gol which are large appear to us to be out of proportion with the much too narrow height of the Tauk Nauska majors. This imbalance is another giveaway this is not a 17th century MC.

In fact, this is the sole reason for the ‘spaciousness’, which is ersatz, phoney and not what appears in genuine 17th century Turkmen MC.

In addition the ‘palmette’ main border does not in any way, shape or form have the detailed articulation and sinuous drawing skill a weaving of the 17th century displays.

We sincerely even doubt calling it a Karadashli is correct, but thanks to maltzahn’s lack of providing even a mention of the type of knots used we cannot definitely say so.

But the color palette, use of the Tauk Nauska major gol, and the so-called ‘boat aka palmette’ main border -- all rather unusual features for a Karadashli product – tend to lead us to discount this provenance.

The rug is beat-up and damaged enough to make someone of detlef maltsahn’s limited skills, or one of his ministry believers, think it is 17th century.

Sorry to rain on that parade but condition is never a valid criteria of age. Assessing this carpet’s age based on genuine ones, and not fairy-tales, it is quite apparent to RK it dates at best circa 1800.

What is not speculation is that it is rather ugly and ungainly, with elements that are out of proportion. And in the final analysis three rows of ten somewhat compressed vertically major gol is not an early format, most assuredly not one to expect to see in a 17th century Turkmen MC.

RK is quite sure of something else – maltzahn hopes by the end of his sermonizing his parishioners will fill up his collection plate. This is a reality we sincerely doubt will happen, although we do think he will have a 50-60% sale rate if he sells at or somewhat below the lowly estimates many lots in the sale carry.

Author: jc
Sat, Jun 2nd, 2018 12:58:35 PM

Well RK was on the money when we predicted a there would be alot of unsold items. In fact, our estimate of a 50% sale rate was far too optimistic, as little sold and hardly anthing sold well -- maltzahn fell on his face so to speak..

Actually the sale percentage was considerably worse. Of the 225 lots, according to the live auctioneers tally, barely 88 of them sold for a rather dismal 39.1% sales percentage.

We are surely not going to waste any of our time explaining why other than to say mediocre offerings at price levels that were too high, and frightfully inconsistent as well, make not the possibility for any brilliant outcome.

And as we predicted the Tekke engsi sold somewhat bigly for 23,000 euro hammer price, virtually twice the estimate. This shows the legion of foolhardy turko-morons who of late have been declaring the death of Turkmen rug collecting how wrong they are.

Nothing could be farther than the truth, as the result for this engsi proves.

But even more significantly it also proves should/when a genuinely early, pre-1750 or earlier engsi or any other rare Turkmen weaving shows up it will make a record price.

There is alot of dosh sitting on the sidelines of the Turkmen rug collecting market patiently waiting for something really great to appear and when it does trust RK the price will be remarkable and explosive.

The not a saf Anatolian kelim dopey detlef called a "saf" was one of the many lots that did not sell or even attract any interest. No surprise there.

One item that did perform extremely well was lot 85 a Kashmir moon shawl. At one time long ago RK had the greatest collection of these weavings and. in fact, an early issue of that rag hali vol 3 no.4, contains an article RK wrote that was the world's first published description of these rare and exceptional weavings. A number of them are illustrated in the Weaving Art Museum exhibition "Tapestry Flowers: Shalws of Kashmir"


Way back when we owned the earlier archetype of lot 85 and if our memory serves us well it is illustrated, in black and white, in that article. Unfortunately we do not have access to our photograph archive and are unable to post a color picture. Perhaps we will soon pay a visit to where it is and will then be able to do so.

BTW: the correct name is not moon shawl but chand-dar, as the article explains.

It, lot 85, made 9,000 euro hammer price. Again proving the market for Kashmir shawls shows no slowing down. Sorry are we that we do not still own our former collection.

That's about it for our coverage of this sale. We will, though, give a little advice to maltzahn and other auctioneers who believe they can repeat what they formerly did and find success in today's heavily bifurcated marketplace.

Listen up: Forget even reasonable estimates for anything but the best weavings.

Ridiculously low estimates work, they get buyers interested and make lookers into bidders. Never forget when buyer's believe they are getting a bargain they will often overpay thanks to that belief.

'Nuff said...

Author: jc
Mon, May 21st, 2018 02:54:34 AM

Tekke ‘gopaz’ engsi; published Weaving Art Museum “Turkmen Trappings” exhibition, plate 3; RK collection

As the famous saying goes "There are diamonds and their are diamonds". Its meaning is obvious -- just because two objects share the same name they do not necessarily have the same value, qualities, age, historical significance or importance.

Same with engsi/ensi but more specifically the idea the engsi was a 'door rug'.

In the late 19th and early 20th century there is plenty of contemporary proof engsi were hung in doorways of ordinary dwellings(yurts). However, this is not necessarily the case when considering engsi that are 200, 300, 400 or more years old.

What is painfully obvious, and completely destroys any idea during these period engsi were ordinary door rug, is the fact there are so few early engsi extant.

And no, Sylvia, they all did not just get used up and thrown away.

This is a completely ridiculous explanation, as even small fragments of early weavings were saved and treasured, not simply chucked away like a McDonald's hamburger wrapper.

To answer this intriguing question -- what was the historic function of the engsi -- RK is on record expressing our belief the engsi was originally a shaman's object, one which separated his physical quarters and metaphysical spiritual world from the purely domestic and profane ones of his clan/group/village or town.

We cannot prove this with any documentation or specifics. However, certain facts have led us to this conclusion.

We are not going to rehash what we have already written on this subject and will just point interested and motivated readers to the following webpages.





Plus there is more, just look around in our Archives or use the search on our homepage.

Happy and enlightening reading to you all

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