Last evening an S group diamond gul torba went off for sale on ebay.
It was offered in a 10 day auction with a starting bid of $9.99.
Now I do not hunt for rugs on ebay but I do have a deal with several folks who do. When they find something interesting they email me the listing and if I end up buying the item they get a healthy commission.
Personally I do much care for buying on ebay or for spending days and days searching for items. There are a number of reasons why I’d rather pay someone else to do it but rarely do I even follow up on what they find. However, if the item is something special I have, on a few occasions, ventured into the mix.
Here is a photo of the torba:
After receiving notice of this sale from him I asked my contact to email the seller to ask some questions and to get additional photos of the torba. My contact even talked directly with the seller for further confirmation of my questions.
After listening to all the “facts” the seller recounted and carefully examining all the photos the following became clear to me:
1. This is most probably real S group, i.e. fully depressed and open left knotting (This is not the time or place to open up the S group can of worms but maybe sometime in the future we can do that)
2. the condition, while severely worn and damaged, is acceptable for a piece as rare as this torba but the coloration and what remains of the dye quality and saturation definitely not
3. this torba looks to me like it was recently washed/cleaned, which means it will not improve much, if any, with further washing
4. the story the seller told sounded good but not good enough to convince me of its veracity
As anyone who is more than casually acquainted with S group weaving knows wool quality and color are the prime features of these Turkmen weavings. Here is a close-up detail of the torba:
By the way, these are the untouched photos from the ebay auction and directly sent from the seller by email to my contact.
The seller’s description mentioned the piece was stiff and “didn’t like to be folded” – was this a carefully worded warning of dry-rot?
Has this torba been slightly chemically washed to tone down the colors?
One thing that is not in doubt is the wear the pile has suffered and the dark, dullish palette have combined to produce something that is not very appealing.
My contact requested photos in daylight out-doors, without flash indoors and with flash and the seller was responsive and sent us many photos. All of them convinced me to stay away because the dark, dull coloration can not be much improved by any means available.
But the final reason I avoided this torba was the presence of a dye I always associate with late S Group pieces. In the detail above the > < show where this dye can be easily seen, although it appears throughout in small areas and details. No way with that color could this is an early S group piece and while it doesn’t have synthetic dyes (believe it or not I bought in northern India many years ago several S group bags – all of which were late and two even had synthetic dyes. This ebay torba reminded me of the better ones from that group – the pre-synthetic examples.)
The ebay torba sold for $5,000.oo, which sounds cheap but in RK.com’s opinion – it really wasn’t. Why? Because the crummy coloration and worn out pile entirely negate any of S group attributes. Though RK concedes the drawing is more than acceptable and it’s the rarest type of S group torba.
But is it worth $5,000.oo plus? Obviously the fact I didn’t hit the enter bid button says it all.
For any of you who are interested the winning bidder’s buying name on ebay is ‘yurt’ and according to the grapevine mr yurt lives in Altanta and is a long time collector of Turkmen pieces. RK wishes him well and hope he enjoys his new purchase.