The reproduction or, in common parlance, the faking of soumak
Khorjin bag faces has been going on for at least 20 years. During this time frame the fakers have gotten better and so have the materials they use. However, they are still fakers making repros.
These bags can be spotted and identified
both thru handling and by photo, although the later does entail further difficulty.
The bag we illustrate here:
is presently offered for sale on another internet site. The price is 2500 euro or about $3200 at today’s exchange rates. A fair price for this bag were it genuine.
This seller’s goods have several times before been the subject of our perusal and found to be, in our opinion, reproductions. This time we have drawn the same conclusion.
At first glance this bag looks fine – sparkling color, strong design, nice secondary motifs – however further visual examination led us to our reproduction classification.
The first clue is the elongation of the central panel, which we would have expected, in a bag with this quality of drawing, to be far squarer in proportions.
The second is the sloppy, flaccid drawing of the main border elements – no weaver worth her/his salt would have been so careless. Also we do not like the scale of these motifs and that of the sets of small triangles above and below them. They are too large and are out of proportion.
There are other clues but we will keep them to ourselves for the moment.
In general the free floating “S” motifs in the red area surrounding the medallion, and in the blue corner pieces as well, have a light and breezy aire to them that is wonderful and attractive. However, because this a highly desirable and rare feature of soumak bag weaving (something that right away raised our suspicion level) and because it doesn’t jive with the rest of this piece’s articulation we feel quite confident in our assessment.
Don’t forget the presence of those cloddy main border motifs - in comparison they just wouldn’t belong in an artwork made by someone who conceived the field’s free and light treatment.
One thing is sure – genuine examples of pre-1880’s rugs and soumaks have a unity of design that can be easily perceived by anyone with deep experience with these objects. That unity is definitely missing here – and that’s the main reason for our opinion this bag is a recent piece of work and not 19th century.