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October 25th, 2016 02:04 AM
Jeff Sun Filiberto-

I am impressed by your memory! Yes. I would concur that the carpet is likely a synthesis of older rug themes, or likely an outright copy of one not seen yet. I am comfortable calling it a "reproduction" given the circumstances.
October 24th, 2016 04:53 PM
Filiberto Boncompagni Albeit I would prefer DEFINITELY item #99...
October 24th, 2016 04:39 PM
Filiberto Boncompagni Hi Jeff,

Correction! I wrote "because I think it's an almost exact reproduction of a specific rug I think I saw in Kaffell’s book on Caucasian prayer rugs (cannot check now, I am not at home)".
I am back home and I checked. No, it isn’t on Kaffel’s book. But I remembered having seen this rug quite clearly in one of my books. Perhaps in Bannett’s & Bassoul “”Tapis du Caucase – Rugs of the Caucasus”?
Nope. No, yes…well, almost.
Your rug:

Item #99 of the above mentioned book, “DAGESTAN PRAYER RUG”


Field of the first, border of the second. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Of course, I am not sure; your rug could have been copied from an antique Daghestan prayer rug that was just like this.
Nevertheless, if it the two illustrations were an inspiration for the design of the new rug, the result is good. Could it be considered a reproduction?
So is it a reproduction? To me this would imply that it is a PRECISE copy of something already existing, but I have no evidence that is the case either.
Well, if there were around dozens of PRECISE copies of your new rug, I would call it a reproduction.
But I don’t know, and you don’t know… and it is a nice rug, so ultimately I wouldn’t care.


October 23rd, 2016 06:25 PM
Rich Larkin Jeff, Filiberto,

Fascinating thread. I have a few comments myself, but I'm tied up for the moment. Back soon.

October 23rd, 2016 04:29 PM
Filiberto Boncompagni2 OK. Geography.

So, let’s start with city carpets. Take one of those Persian city rugs like a Kerman, Tabriz or any other city where they have a century-long tradition in making luxury carpets in workshops with designs copied by cartoons by highly skilled weavers.

A modern, high quality Tabriz is not a reproduction, it's just a modern Tabiriz.

If, let’s say, it’s a Chinese copy, instead, I would call it a reproduction.

If the copy is made in China with the intent to deceive (same weave, side finishing etc. like a real Tabriz) and sold under the Tabriz label I would call it a fake.

So far so good. Things go muddled with your modern prayer rugs, the one made in Caucasus and the other made in Turkey, though.

Ethnically, the one made in Caucasus would be legitimately called Caucasian.
Or not?
Well, if we consider that the Caucasian population is formed by more than 50 ethnic groups end most of the time we are unable to identify which one wove what, I would say that the “authenticity” of Caucasian stuff resides more in the adherence to the lovely weaving (and interweaving) tradition that developed during the centuries in that land.

It must be also mentioned that in the Caucasus the REAL weaving tradition concerned much more flat-weaves than piled carpet. The latter had a strong commercial expansion under the Russians at the end of the 19th century and was somehow edulcorated by governmental sponsored programs (the Kustar) carried out also later by the Soviets.

Kustar notwithstanding, IMHO, in its golden age the Caucasian cottage rug production managed to reach high results. Unfortunately the weaving tradition declined sharply in the second part of the last century together with the previous spontaneity and creativity that was present even when the weavers copied the Kustar’s cartoons.

In Turkey (again IMHO) it seems the weaving tradition survived a little better, and ethnographically speaking, they share some groups with the Caucasus. In few regions they make rugs very similar to Caucasians too. According to “rumors” there is in Turkey a current production of fake and artificially aged Caucasians that are indistinguishable from the real items, even for experts.

Your Anatolian copy (yes, I call it a copy) is very good, perhaps better than the Caucasian modern rug, a little stiff IMHO. Would I call the latter (the one in the first photo) a copy? Mmmh!
Perhaps a “modern Caucasian reproduction”. Yes, because I think it's an almost exact reproduction of a specific rug I think I saw in Kaffell’s book on Caucasian prayer rugs (cannot check now, I am not at home). And, of course, geographically it's Caucasian.

So, what about that modern Tabriz? It’s not a reproduction as well? Yes, but all city rugs are supposed to be reproductions of cartoons. Caucasians are more, let’s say, “interpretation ” or variations on the theme.

As I said, things go muddled…

I have to stop here for lack of time – but I would call the Beluch as such, out of habit perhaps. Let’s wait for the opinion of others.
October 23rd, 2016 01:58 PM
Jeff Sun Filiberto-

Yes. Ethnicity is part of it. So is geography.

For example: There are many Turkmen in Pakistan, yet in my mind the carpets they create are different than their geo-centric forerunners. Yes, the designs and methods are clearly derivative of older designs, and maybe you could even call a Peshawar carpet a "Turkoman Design", but to call it a Turkoman carpet, even if it were woven by people of Turkoman extraction seems a stretch. The popular colloquialism seems to be to call their carpets "Pakistani".

Conversely, there are many Tibetan Refugees in Nepal, they make rugs and even though they are often of a very modern design and the methods and materials are not precisely the same as north of the Himalayas, the popular colloquialism is to call them "Tibetan Carpets"...even though I personally don't see them as such.

To take it to this particular example to the extreme, there is a large Tibetan community in Queens, New York. If they suddenly took to making carpets rather than their day to day office jobs, would their carpets be "Tibetan", or "New Yorker"? Or something else entirely?

But circling back, yes ethnicity does play a part. So does Geography. Where the line is crossed in determining the "origin designation" of a carpet is not always very clear.
October 23rd, 2016 08:43 AM
Filiberto Boncompagni2 Hi Jeff,

A question like yours would require lengthy reflections and discussions…

Before going into that, let me add an element that is underlying in your post but not clearly spelled: the perceived (or otherwise) ethnicity – i.e. authenticity - of the rugs in question.
Because, for a city rug (say, a Kerman) the question would be simply between an antique rug and a modern version. Right?
October 23rd, 2016 01:31 AM
Jeff Sun
Real, Reproduction, Fake or...who Cares?

This is more a a philosophical post. The question is simple, what constitutes a "real" carpet, a reproduction or a fake...and on a certain level, why do we care?

Let's take this first example. It is a caucasian carpet obviously. Or is it? It is in fact completely modern having been made in Baku only about 10 years ago. So yes, it is from the Caucuses, but it is not likely the weavers have anything in common with the weavers during the "Golden Age" of Caucasian carpets of the Pre-1920s. It has the same vegetal dyes, same design, and honestly, better weave quality than vintage caucasian carpets. So is it a reproduction? To me this would imply that it is a PRECISE copy of something already existing, but I have no evidence that is the case either. Nor was it sold under the pretense of being anything other than modern.So I could not call it a FAKE. So it could be qualified simply as a nice modern rug

Now consider this next rug. Like the first one is also Caucasian in design, and just as good in every way as the previous rug, except that it was made in TURKEY, about 5 years ago. Again, it would be hard to tell this from a 1900's design except that I know it is new.Because it is not geographically from the Caucacus, is it no longer a Caucasian rug? Is it "Faking" at being Caucasian? My feeling, without a lot of logic, is "No", it too is a Caucasian rug. I'm sure others will have differing opinions

And now, yet another prayer carpet. This one is Belouch. And not a very nice one. It's completely modern with synthetic dyes and many many breaks in the warp and weft. Yet. it is actually made by Belouch weavers in Afghanistan. Is it a "belouch"? In this case, I'd say, again, without much logic that it is NOT. Perhaps because in my mind "Belouch" as in "Collectible Belouch" would signify some level of quality that this rug just doesn't have. Where as to the contrary the Turkish carpet above, DEFINITELY has quality in spades. This is dangerous ground of course, because for sure there are many rugs from Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere that have excellent technical and aesthetic qualities, and yet are built to non indigenous designs. So are they fakes? Maybe. How and when these factors cross over in the the realm of "reproduction" or fakery, honestly, I don't exactly have sorted out mentally myself!! I just kind of feel it when I see it so to speak. Which would be the best explanation for me: Genuine= A Certain Feeling.

Now to finally break free of the prayer rugs, Consider one last carpet from Ningxia. It too , was made recently. Actually, it was made in July. And it was made in Ningxia itself, but to an old design, but maybe not quite an exact copy. Does that make it a repro? Or not? In the end, this one I file under "Who Cares?". It's is really a gorgeous piece and looks great on a the floor where I would have to build a serious business case before putting down a real Ningxia antique.

Your thoughts? What makes a rug real, a repro, a fake, ...or just a great carpet?

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