Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >Karapinar: Facts and Myths Part II
email: jack@rugkazbah.com
Wed, Jul 16th, 2003 12:00:23 PM
Topic: Karapinar: Facts and Myths Part II

In the previous post two details of so called Karapinar medallions appeared. One from the Brunk piece and the other from Michael Fransesís Textile Galleryís inventory. It is no surprise to me Franses dated his piece, which is in my opinion late 18th or even early 19th century, to the 17th century, as he has done this repeatedly. There are innumerable examples in Textile Gallery advertisements, as well as those from Eskanazi Gallery who work in tandem with Franses, where late 18th and early 19th century rugs are over-dated to the 17th and even 16th century. And while this practice is not really germane to this discussion of Karapinar rugs and raises a far larger issue of the quagmire of dating Oriental Carpets in general, it does have some bearing on it as it will be necessary to place the Brunk rug into perspective.

As many who are familiar with my writings about rugs will know, I do not believe in placing dates on them and rarely do, except in instances like this where others have already place their feet in their open mouths. Rather than making guesstimates as to how old a rug is, I prefer to place them within the continuums almost all known types of Oriental Rugs belong. By "them" I mean pre-commercial period pieces, as my interest in chemically dyed later rugs is non-existent and while I do recognize some commercial period pieces can be interesting to some viewers Ė they arenít for me.

Ok then letís start to examine some Karapinars and place them within a continuum. But before getting into that exercise, letís examine the aforementioned details of two so-called Karapinar rug medallions and see what they can show us.

Here they are again, remember the Brunk example is one the left and the Franses Textile Gallery one on the right.

First examine the interiors of these medallions. The Brunk example, even in this small jpeg, looks alive and vibrant while the same cannot be said of the Franses example. Notice the complex arrangement of both curvilinear and straight white lines surrounding the four-lobed medallion in the Brunk piece and the complete absence of this feature in Fransesís. Notice the floral elements within the lobes in Brunkís and the simple skeletal forms the weaver of Franses piece substituted in their place. Compare the red and white crenellated outer shell surrounding the medallion in the Brunk piece as compared to the rather limp and squarish yellow line defining Fransesís. Compare the beautiful floral motifs within the medallion defined by the crenellated line in Brunk's and the Fransesís weavers repetition of those skeletal forms there in their place. Lastly, notice the sinuous and wonderful floral forms within the corner pieces surrounding the Brunk medallion compared to the jumble of unrelated motifs the weaver of the Franses example crammed into this space. I could go on with this but I am sure even the most dead-eyed disbelieving rug collector should get the picture. Right?

Just for drill letís now take a peek at the blurb Franses wrote about his rug that appears on the Textile Gallery website where it is offered for sale.

Here is a photo of the entire Franses Textile Gallery piece and his description of it follows

ďKarapinar, Turkey 17th century 138 x 190 cm (4ft 6in x 6ft 2in), wool pile on a wool foundation
The attraction of the rare group of thirty or so known 16th- and 17th-century rugs from Karapinar, which are keenly collected, is based upon their powerful designs, which are almost entirely confined to this particular family of rugs.(-ed.-Is Mr Franses so blind to believe this rug compared to any of the other genuinely old examples, which presumably he knows about after referencing them here, has a design that could honestly be called powerful?)

Most examples have a large crenelated(sic) central medallion, often with pendants at each end. The corners of the field usually contain a quarter of a diamond-shaped medallion. The borders are invariably on a dark brown or black ground, often dyed with an iron-based mordant which has caused the wool to corrode, giving an embossed effect; against this are placed curvilinear abstract designs in bright colours.(-ed.- The designs in this border are far from curvilinear suggesting again either Franses is blind to what a curvilinear design really looks like or he just plain doesnt know the difference)

Karapinar is situated in the middle of an arid region one hundred kilometres east of Konya. Because it was a fair distance from the main trade routes, it was relatively isolated from the commercial influences brought about by a growing desire for oriental carpets in the West from the late 15th century onwards. Consequently, rugs woven in this region continued to imbue strong, ancient tribal qualities (-ed.- Again Mr Franses is treading on very thin ice as all the motifs in a 17th century Karapinar rug should be derived from Court inspired drawing and motifs of ďtribalĒ origin only present in degenerate examples like this one evidences) right up to the end of the 17th century; their designs remained 'purer', less affected by changing tastes and fashions in the outside world.

The particularly fine example presented here is noted for its superb colours and strong robust design.(-ed.- Again can Mr. Franses honestly believe this is a ďparticularly fine" example compared some other ones of thios group that really do fit this description?)

This rug was first seen by the late Dr May H. Beattie in the storage of the Sultan Selim Mosque, Karapinar, on a field trip to the region in 1959.(-ed.- If t his is so, how did it then get into private hands?) She illustrated it in her 1976 study on Karapinar rugs, where she also published the only western painting (a Portrait of a Lady, circa 1620-1630) that we know to depict a Karapinar rug.
Provenance: Sultan Selim Mosque, Karapinar, 1973; Private collection, Europe; The Textile Gallery, London; Private collection, Chicago. Published: Beattie, May H., 'Some Rugs of the Konya Region', in Oriental Art, vol. XXII, no. 1, Spring 1976, pp. 60-79, fig. 26; Hali, issue 87, July 1996, p. 58 (in colour). Exhibited: London/New York, Colnaghi, Turkish Rugs and Old Master Paintings, exhibition organised by John Eskenazi and The Textile Gallery, 14 February to 2 March 1996 (London), and 15 March to 3 April 1996 (New York).
Currently on loan to Hampton Court Palace
ref : 14240 Price on application. All items are offered subject to availabilityĒ

There is not ONE facet of Fransesís rug that could lead any really knowledgeable rug connoisseur to a belief that it was made in the 17th century.

We at Rugkazbah.com would welcome Mr Franses or Mr Eskanazi to reply here and attempt to support their opinions about this late and degenerate example of the so-called Karapinar design.

More to come in the next installment of this discussion when several more so-called Karapinars, including the Cantoni example in the Rijksmuseum, will be illustrated and compared with the Brunk piece.
Stay Tuned

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