Home > Archive >A Rare Piece?
Wed, Jun 30th, 2004 10:48:02 PM
Topic: A Rare Piece?

There was also another soumak bag that flopped out of kaffel’s cedar chest for his presentation at acor. Here is the photo:

We also include, in it’s entirety, what kaffel had to say about his other soumak bag with RK’s comments following in bold type:

“While there are many soumak bags with a pattern of all-over octagons on an ivory field,…”
RK begs to differ with kaffel about this statement. There are not many bags with all-over octagons, even if you include newish ones that are genuine and not reproductions made to look old. Considering kaffel’s strongest point as a collector, besides his financial resources, is his obsession in noting what was published where and what it sold for his erroneous statement about the number of these soumaks is surprising.

…“what particularly attracted us to this piece is the odd relationship of field to border…”
Yes, mr kaffel it is odd, in fact that odd-ness should have alerted you to the fact your bag is a late, somewhat degenerate version of older bags. Yours is a pastiche, an amalgam, and we will now show two much older soumak bags that relate to your “piece”. Here are their photos:

By the way, both of these are also included in the Weaving Art Museum soumak exhibition. The first one is the oldest soumak bag I have ever seen and is the archetype of this design type. The second, while not as ancient is still very old – much older than kaffel’s. It can be seen as the prototype for kaffel’s “piece’s” main border but more about the border soon.

“…the small field almost functions as a central medallion against a disproportionately bold border.
What kaffel so gingerly refers to as disproportionately bold actually would be more properly described as totally out of proportion. One of the easiest to recognize tell-tale sign of degeneration is a poor command of proportion and kaffel’s bag’s field to border relationship fits that description to a “T”. Notice, dear readers, and you to mr kaffel, how the other two bags shown here remain in ‘design-balance’ even though their borders are equally exceptionally wide. Sorry ralph, again you missed the boat but you did end up in a dinghy, which isn’t too bad.

“This particular "anchor" border is known on many bags…”
Again kaffel's exaggerated the number soumak bags with this borders and puhleeze, mr kaffel, save your anchor analogies for your dinghy-rides and spare rugdom such pedestrian and foolish nomenclature as enough of it already exists.

“…with a single octagonal central medallion,…”
The octagon bags kaffel mentions are similar the one from the Weaving Art Museum exhibition shown above. Should any of you soumak fans be interested in further information about it and another of the type you will find they were featured in another series of posts here on RK.com. You can access them by looking around the various Topic Areas. Briefly, this one is the oldest and best example known of that group and by the way the other half is also on loan to WAMRI.

“but it is unique for the type with an all-over octagon design.”
Sorry again mr kaffel but the fact your soumak bag’s pastiche of designs is unique is totally meaningless in the real world. Why you might ask? Because such design recombinations like yours lack the integrity and, more significantly, negate the as yet unknown “symbolic” content the earlier originals, your piece apes, possessed. This is not the time or place to hypothesize what content they might have carried but suffice it to say this just didn’t happen by accident but rather from a purposeful intent to convey a ‘message’.

“Note that the negative white space can be read as perfectly-formed six pointed stars.”
For your information, mr kaffel, the field of the first WAMRI bag provides the archetype for those goofy six-pointed stars in the field of your “piece” as this detail clearly demonstrates:

This exercise could continue but we will close it off now by briefly detailing the derivation of the “bold” border, as he characterized it, of kaffel's “piece”. Here are three details of this border type:

The first, starting on the left, is from the first WAMRI soumak bag and it is the archetype. The next is from the second WAMRI bag and though not as early, it is still far older than kaffel’s and should be considered the prototype for his. The last is from kaffel’s bag.

There are a number of details to substantiate this comparison and while we could “feed” them to you all we would rather our readers stretched their minds a bit for themselves. Go study them well and also carefully examine the photos of the three bags. In doing so we are sure this can’t help but increase anyone’s, even yours ralph, understanding of how later bags, like kaffel’s, are nothing more than contrived amalgams of far earlier weavings. 'Nuff said?

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