The text accompanying the 27 ensi from the show in D.C., all of which are pictured in the book produced for the conference, is not only brief but almost non-existent.
It begins with Peter Hoffscheister's, the supposed "curator" for this exhibition, attempt to convince readers the ensi was/is a "Doorway to Paradise". While this idea might be as good as any other to explain the rational behind these uniquely designed weavings, Hoffscheister's argument lacks any real substance and might best be described as a day late and a dollar short.
He has already tried to float this in the two other ‘works’ he has done and in fact in his first effort – “Turkoman Rugs in Franconia” - written 22 years ago his argument was far better laid out and supported.
In the D.C. catalog Hoffschiester briefly day trips through Central-Asian mythology, informs readers of how it was "exciting...to find an ever-growing group of collector friends....to share the experience of being able to assign, by degrees, ensi to an ever growing number of tribes.", and ends with a quote from ex-Dr. Jon Thompson from the Carpet Magic catalog.
All well a good you might say but really now, what has Hofffscheister's effort as "curator " done here to increase understanding of ensi or provide anything new to what we already don't know?
The answer sadly is nothing.
During the months leading up to the conference the ensi exhibition was trumpeted and hyped. However, while it was interesting to see 27 ensi in the same room, many of them had been previously shown or published, a number of them were less than star-quality and the lack of an interesting or informative text surely did not live up to the expectations the organizers, conference committee and publicity in hali tried to generate.
These short-comings can not be excused or accepted in today's "world of carpets".
Along with Hoffscheister's sophomoric three pages of dribble, two other authors, Elena Tsareva and Simon Crosby, take a crack at providing their own ‘introductions’.
Tsareva's, entitled "Decorative Door Cover" begins with the following absurdly misplaced notion "Traditional folk culture has an intriguing universal feature: Whatever is produced has to be decorated; and if there is an ornament, it usually has magic meaning of this or that kind."
Please now Elena, much of your audience are folks who have been involved with Turkmen rugs for a long time and expect something more than such silly generalities, especially one like this that has been around since the 1920's and is as outdated as the graf zeppelin.
Did your original thought loose out in translation or have your ideas of scholarship never really developed?
Incredibly, her contribution goes even further down-hill from this low starting point witness this : "It would not be impossible to suppose that ensi can be regarded as a kind of icon - or thanka - to represent the basic cosmological ideas of the population of western Central Asia."
This reads like a classic-comic book not an astute or scholarly work but amazingly Tsareva continues this spinning spiral : "We can continue this comparison and suppose that ensi composition was designed by priests of a high rank of initiation as it is impossible that this complicated composition could have been compiled by itself, in the course of the centuries."(bold type added)
Whoa now Elena have you lost control of that ouijji board or perhaps you have been dosed by a friendly merry-prankster?
Hoffscheister was at least able to keep the dribbling off his vest but with this Tsareva has ended up with hers in her lap - this woman needs help, please make sure she gets some.
But in the end, their third musketeer "author" Simon Crosby, somehow managed to produce a few paragraphs, entitled "A Passion for Ensis" that take the cake as the most nonsensical and silly contribution in any book on Turkmen Rugs I have ever seen.
Let's close this with his words: "I have been asked what I conclude from my thirty-year-plus study of ensis. Well, sorry to say, I conclude that I now know a while lot less than I once thought I did."
That's fine Simon, however, since you admit this is the case, why did you bother to tell everyone else and on top of that write the gibberish you have contributed?
And by the way, since ensi is both a singular and plural noun, no 's' is required to pluralize it.
Just one of many facts you might have picked-up over those thirty-plus years that obviously you have missed or is it forgotten?
Regrettably, another opportunity to focus real interest on a historic weaving group, like the ensi, has been lost and in place of something lasting and substantial, only a veneer has been produced - and a pretty thin one at that.