In Part II of this discussion we will take a look at kaffel’s “write-up” of his soumak bag, which we have re-pictured here again for ease of discussion:
RK.com has added comments, which appear in bold type following kaffel’s.
“Published: Rippon Boswell 11/16/96, lot #114; Hali 91, p.157
1'6 x 1'5, c. 1860-70, Southeast Caucasus”
Obviously kaffel bought this bag at rippon in 96 where it was estimated for 4500DM. It ended up selling for 4400DM, which at the time equaled $6,600 as the DM was at that time 1.5 per $. In my opinion this was a high price to pay for a bag like this but noting the price kaffel paid is not germane to this discussion but it is germane to the modus operandi that kaffel and other “collectors” follow. This type of collector, which kaffel epitomizes, buys exclusively or almost exclusively at auction. Would kaffel have paid a dealer $6600 for this bag? RK.com knows kaffel long enough and well enough to be willing to conclusively state NO to this question. But all this is moot concerning the rarity and value of the soumak so let’s get back to the discussion.
“While this motif frequently appears on cargo bags, it is relatively rare in saddle bags.”
While it is to kaffel’s credit to be observant enough to realize this, the fact that the real reason for this was lost on him isn’t.
Clearly kaffel equates this motif’s : : appearance on this bag as something important and valuable, even though he doesn’t state it outright, it is implied. Unfortunately kaffel reasoning is faulty. This motif, as Part I suggests, is a later rendition of a much older more complex one and the fact it appears on cargo bags, i.e. mafrash, and not other soumak bags well supports this conclusion. There have been some other discussions here on RugKazbah.com dealing with the mafrash/khorjin questions and for further explanation we hope readers will search them out in the “FLATWEAVES” Topic Area if they are not already familiar with them.
“A blue ground pair (piled) was offered by Woolley and Wallis on 7/2/03, lot #46.”
Many “collectors”, like kafffel, predicate their buying on past performance (i.e. auction records, past sales or publications) and while this methodology works for certain types of art objects it is totally fallacious for others like Oriental rugs. Why? Because rugs, unlike stamps, coins, etc, are individual not multiple works of art and on top of that there is no recognized official grading system to universalize the condition aspect. RugKazbah.com recognizes the value of knowing what sold where and for what price. But when it comes to deciding how much a weaving is worth their incalculable variables negate using any relationship to their past sales performance as a "judge" of value. In any event in this instance we are sure kaffel’s incorrect assumptions about the rarity quotient of this motif drove him to buy it.
“A reverse-soumak khorjin was offered by Sloan's 9/26/00, lot # 219 (Kabul Antique Rugs, Hali 104, p.136).”
This exercise of noting other “pieces” might be fun and games for kaffel to play but for RugKazbah.com, especially since the pieces he notes are not even similar save for the use of the “motif”, it is just another wasted exercise - fact is there is absolutely NO relationship between the soumak in question and the pile bag, reverse-soumak one or any others kaffel cites.
“A rare Qashq'ai bagface was published in A Skein Through Time (1996), pl.36.”
Keep going, mr kaffel, but in the final analysis what does a Kashgai bag have to do with your soumak??
“Werner Weber displayed a worn, old bagface at the Dealer's Fair at ICOC 9 (Milan).”
How prescient of kaffel to have even noticed but with the dismissive tone he uses to characterize it, i.e worn old bagface, one wonders why he even bothered.
“Sotheby's NY 9/17/92, lot #96, offered a reverse soumak bag; an almost identical bag is plate 6B in Persian Flatweaves . Parviz Tanavoli, in Shahsavan , attributes cargo bags with this motif to Hashtrud, as well as to Khamseh/Bijar areas.”
Too bad kaffel can’t reason about the “motif” as well as he can cite worthless references for it.
“Our piece is notable for its colors and fine weave.”
RK hasn’t seen kaffel’s bag in the flesh but we are willing to wager it is not as fine as real old and rare soumak bags are. As for the coloration? Again we’ll wager kaffel’s bag’s dyeing is not nearly as remarkable as it could/should be and, in fact, RugKazbah.com believes his bag’s coloration is limited, boring and monotonous.
“The border pattern is more typically Caucasian than Persian”.
This border, in this form, is exclusively found on soumak bags and kaffel’s piece exhibits the last grasp and gasp of this pattern. Notice the differences between it and the old version as it appears on the other bag, from the Weaving Art Museum exhibition, in this comparison. Here they both are:
Rest assured if seen in the flesh kaffel’s piece cannot compete, it would be like looking at a fine art print next to the original oil painting. There is no comparison and only the most dead-eyed observer wouldn’t agree. The origins of this border pattern are unknown but for any readers interested in some speculation following this link might be interesting:
“No other red-ground soumak bag with this motif is known to me.”
This , in common with the rest of kaffel’s citations and explanations, provides little of value in trying to assess what this motif is all about. And what could possibly be so significant about its appearance on a red-ground?
“Quite a rare piece.”
Perhaps it is in kaffel’s mind but after reading RugKazbah.com’s comments how many readers would now agree?
Buying antique oriental rugs is a hard job – there should be not doubts about this. There are a number of buyers, like kaffel, whose reliance on past performance often leads them astray. Too bad for them sensing the importance/value of any weaving is far more than adding the sum of its parts. The kaffel collection, like some others we could name, proves this maxim and, sadly for them, shows the fallacy of this approach.