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Author:jc
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Wed, Nov 24th, 2004 11:30:27 AM
Topic: Chicken or Egg

Over on another internet rug discussion site photos of a Beshir long rug with a compartmentalized design are eliciting comments that RK.com can’t ignore. Typical for the sandbox chat room atmosphere that pervades this ongoing clownish circus, the owner’s initial commentary – here’s his opening:
“I am trying to focus my collecting instincts on rugs from the middle Amu Darya region, especially their main and long carpets (kelleh) which, in my view, offer a fascinating mix of urban and rural influences, incorporating creatively various Central Asian, Chinese and Persian aesthetic influences. Clearly the products of fairly established weaving settlements (the size alone suggests this) and, in all likelihood, woven with an obviously commercial intent, collectors do not always appreciate these rugs, which are sometimes even – horror of horrors – catalogued as decoratives!”
- says little besides displaying a pompous use of verbage and a little content.

Several other of the equally inept participants have furthered the “discussion” with their own cockeyed opinions and viewpoints. These folks can’t even identify the piece correctly – it’s a BESHIR, not an Ersari. While the owner did offhandedly attach the Beshir attribution, his insistence on calling it “middle Amu Darya” is just another attempt a high folutin-ism in our eyes. But the pathetic parroting of the absurd “tarantula Beshir” moniker strained Rk.com’s reticence to critique what frequently goes on there and our previously declared position of ignoring this site to the max.

Here is a detail of the Beshir along side of another from a Belouch Main Carpet.

RK.com is sure the more astute readers have already figured out the reason for this post’s Chicken or Egg title and after the next few sentences we are sure everyone will.

The rug world is stuffed full of “lore”, the majority of which is and will remain forever unproven, and antiquated downright dopey attributions, like “tarantula Beshir”. RK.com has voiced our disapproval of the rug world’s continued repetition and acceptance such nonsense and championed a far more intelligent and rational approach. So far our efforts seem to have fallen on deaf ears and in the myriad of publications, auction catalogs and yes, especially on the internet, the status quo remains unchanged. This is a sad situation and just one more visible reason why the study and appreciation of Oriental Carpets remains on the bottom rung of the art world.

Pointing out foibles and criticizing them without providing remedies is pointless and, while Rk.com can be rightly described as a “doubting thomas”, we have always included solutions in our critiques.

Rug “lore” has long held the Turkmen weaving culture superior in all respects to that of the Beluchi. This is mostly true, however, it is not written in stone and often later Turkmen weavings – those produced post early-19th century like the Beshir in question, which dates to mid-century – do not conform to this paradigm.

Case in point is our Chicken or Egg comparison.

In comparison to the Belouch, the Beshir’s proportions have that later compression and elongation later weavings almost always display. In addition the cutesy pair of boteh within the designs central element lack the integrity and charm of what appears within the Belouch’s. Furthermore, the almost lifeless arms and three flaccid “stars” emanating from the Beshir hold little candle to the treatment the weaver of the Belouch was able to portray.

It is easy for RK.com to raise a number of other points in comparing these two carpets but we feel these are sufficient to prove our point – the main one being our call for the rug world to recognize its frailty and to consciously strive for improvement.

As an aside and even though we frequently disagreed with poor old, now departed, robert pinner’s take on things we do heartedly agree with his comment about the internet site where the Beshir appeared:
“Why would a group of people who know rather little about oriental rugs want to spend so much time talking about them in public?"

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