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Virtual Show and Tell Just what the title says it is.

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Old August 5th, 2018, 03:13 AM   #1
Danielle Duperreault
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Default Caucasian prayer rug

I’ve enjoyed reading through the past few weeks of turkotek posts. I particularly loved seeing everyone’s amazing caucasians, ersaris, melases, baluchs, khamsehs (it is beautiful, Phil), etc … Also Joy, we should talk.

I found this rug in a small shop yesterday. I know this is some sort of Caucasian prayer rug. Based on design elements alone, I would guess either Kazak or Fachralo. In terms of handle, the rug does not flop like a blanket, but it is still fairly floppy-----a sort of stiff-feeling floppy. This might be due to the rug being absolutely filthy. Here are some stats:

Size: 36 inches X 54 inches
kpsi: around 10 X 10
wefts: wool, some pale blue and some white
warps: uhmm … ?
selvedges: Two blue and two brown/black (I think)
pile: very low

I would also like to be able to date this rug but based on design alone it could have been produced anytime between 1880 and 1980, which isn’t helpful. How do I go about determining an at least solid approximate date using this rug as an example? What structural elements do I need to focus on? I've done more reading, I've been to auctions, I've felt-up a whole slew of rugs, and now I would like to be less stupid. Any suggestions or insights would again be greatly appreciated.







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Old August 5th, 2018, 03:31 AM   #2
Steve Price
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Hi Danielle

The design is Fachralo Kazak, but I don't think that's where it was made. Here's why.
1. The knots are deeply depressed. You can tell that from looking at the back. Each knot goes around two warps, but notice that only one warp per knot is visible from the back. This is easy to see in the third and fifth photos. The other warp (with the second loop of the knot around it) is hidden because it isn't in the same plane as those that are visible on the back.
2. The colors are much too pale to be characteristic of a Fachralo or any other kind of Kazak. Since they're the same on the front and back, that's unlikely to be the result of fading due to light exposure.

My best guess is that it was made in China or Pakistan, probably mid-20th century.

I hope this is useful.

Steve Price
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Old August 5th, 2018, 03:59 AM   #3
Danielle Duperreault
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Actually Steve, that is extremely helpful. It explains everything that seemed odd about this rug: the spongy pile, the odd colours, and how it feels. I had no idea they were making copies of these so far East so early on. I would like to read a book that focuses on this type of 20th century rug production. Is there one?
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Old August 5th, 2018, 05:02 AM   #4
Rich Larkin
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Hi Danielle,

I have seen a few of just this type of Caucasian prayer rug over the years. As Steve has aptly described, in structure and palette, they are not like the older Caucasian rugs they are trying to imitate. I used to take them for Soviet era Caucasians fostered by the authorities, but woven by people who did not have a direct connection back to the tradition of the earlier rugs of the nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries. It is possible experienced pickers and dealers supplied me with this information as to the rugs' provenance. I am not sure about that at this point. I don't know of any literature oriented to these particular rugs.

Rich
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Old August 5th, 2018, 08:45 AM   #5
Phil Bell
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Danielle,

I used to have a very similiar rug, amazingly it was the one I referenced yesterday. Amazing because I have had very few rugs really and this one is quite unusual. Mine was cotton warp and weft, yours look like it has a cotton warp. The dimensions are similiar and the border design identical, it looks like the knot is asymmetrical as was mine.

The chap I bought it from called it Armenian mid 20thC. Mine also has echoes of Caucasian rugs with a typical Talish motif but the palette is different.

Interesting! I gave mine away as a 40th birthday present so I still have visiting rights if I need to look again.



Phil

Last edited by Phil Bell; August 5th, 2018 at 12:48 PM.
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Old August 5th, 2018, 12:49 PM   #6
Phil Bell
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Danielle,

Here is a photo of the one I gave away



The dealer that desrcibed it as Armenian seemed quite sure but I have realised that Trade attribution is simply a language and he did describe my Jaf Kurd as a Kazak which was way out. Having said that he does have many years in the business and must have handled thousands of rugs and exchanged information with other dealers etc. The difference is he really only needs a name as a label, he probably doesnt actually care where it comes from.

Phil

Last edited by Phil Bell; August 5th, 2018 at 01:40 PM.
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Old August 5th, 2018, 12:52 PM   #7
Steve Price
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Hi Danielle

They make all sorts of things in China, from Caucasian rugs to subSaharan African sculpture and everything in between.

I'm reminded that I attended a meeting of the Oriental Rugs Retailers Association as a reporter for the late, lamented ORIENTAL RUG REVIEW around 1990. Among the things that caught my attention was an exhibit of new Caucasian style rugs with strange colors. When I got home to my bookshelf I realized that the colors were faithful copies of those in Bennett's Caucasian. The wholesale must have brought a few copies to China and contracted to have rugs made from them.

A well known, now departed fraud in the world of African art did the same thing with wood sculptures. The carvers did the best they could to copy the pictures, but with some weird results like tusks being rendered as long ears.

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Old August 5th, 2018, 03:03 PM   #8
Danielle Duperreault
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Thank-you everyone. Turkotek is an oasis of carpet-related sanity and common sense.

Rich: I initially thought it might be Russian too, since it clearly wasn’t Turkish. Mid-century China or Pakistan were not in my vocabulary of possible producers of rugs of this type. I have an old Russian kazak here so I compared them side by side when I got it home, and nope. Steve is exactly right. I ignored the feel of the pile and didn’t consider asymmetrical knotting, which is the key to this puzzle. These are good lessons for me:
1) always be rigorous and methodical when it comes to issues of structure
2) assume nothing

Phil: First of all, happy belated birthday. Thank-you for posting the photo of your rug. It is identical to mine in terms of how odd it is. But still pretty! The man from whom I bought mine runs a small vintage shop and had no idea what kind of rug it was. Yesterday I came across a few similar rugs being sold online. They are being advertised simply as “vintage kazaks.” There is a lot to be said for accumulating enough knowledge to safely navigate the complicated and sometimes bizarre world of carpets and carpet lore.

I will test the warps later today. Even the wefts look and feel like cotton. But I did burn tests on three different strand and they all burned like wool. I will try again in a few days when my allergies clear up and I my sense of smell returns. (Rich: I am considering trying the chewing test, but this rug is really so so dirty).

I have a small khamseh. It is nowhere near as nice or vibrantly coloured as the three you posted, but I am nonetheless smitten with it. I might pester you one day for background info.

Steve: I have seen recent Chinese copies of Caucasian rugs. Pakistani ones also. I (incorrectly) assumed copies from these countries were a later phenomenon. I found a copy of Bennett at the library here. I will have a look at volume 1 sometime this week. Maybe I will find mine.

I like the tusks to ears story. My first stab at a dissertation topic involved looking at forgers and forgeries in their respective cultural / economic contexts. I eventually changed my area of focus, but I am still fascinated. I blame Anthony Grafton.
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Old August 5th, 2018, 06:37 PM   #9
Rich Larkin
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Hi Danielle,

Any chance you could post a close-up or two of your PR from the pile side in an area where there is wear, and the knot collars at the base of the knots are showing up well? I am interested in whether we can tell from that aspect whether the knots are AS or SY. The two are not especially easy to distinguish in closely knotted rugs with fully depressed warps.

BTW,
Quote:
"I've done more reading, I've been to auctions, I've felt-up a whole slew of rugs, and now I would like to be less stupid."
I would say keep handling as many rugs as you can. There is no substitute for it if you want to develop a sense of confidence in approaching rugs, IMHO. This dynamic tends to be overlooked in the age of the Internet. I would haunt the dealers and the auctions. The latter permit unlimited handling, but the former start wondering whether you are ever going to buy anything. Be strong!

Rich
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Old August 5th, 2018, 09:01 PM   #10
Joel Greifinger
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Quote:
I would haunt the dealers and the auctions.
Hi Rich,

Where could most folks find dealers in 'brick and mortar' stores who carry older rugs? Unfortunately for those who get the bug at this juncture, the opportunities for that sort of 'haunting' have become sadly diminished. Every year, the number of specialized dealers who meet customers 'by appointment only', go entirely online or retire from the biz seems to grow rapidly. Just dropping by to chat, finger the rugs and learn seems more like a story of bygone days.

Joel
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Old August 5th, 2018, 09:04 PM   #11
Phil Bell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Larkin View Post
I am interested in whether we can tell from that aspect whether the knots are AS or SY.

Rich
Rich,

I am going to stick my neck out and say Asymmetric because I think it is from the same folk that made mine and I think you see the warp lines more clearly on the front of an Asymmetric knotted rug when they are worn.

I am only wrong 60% of the time when it comes to identifying rugs but I hope my structure knowledge may be slightly better. We will see.
I also think the wefts will be cotton. Just waiting for Danielle to tuck into a nice weft platter.


Phil
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Old August 6th, 2018, 05:50 AM   #12
Patrick Weiler
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Danielle and Phil,
Both of your rugs have the same major border, which is "resolved" around the corners. Most likely the source is the same. Romanian rugs in Caucasian designs were appearing 25 years ago, but I don't recall what structure they had. A beginning collector today would spend a fraction of what average antique rugs were going for at the height of prices, before Hermann stopped bidding prices up to unsupportable levels back in the last century. With the internet, rugs became a commodity except for the most rare, old and few highly sought after types such as Turkmen, Anatolian, Shahsavan and some Caucasian designs. It is not possible to sell enough rugs to pay rent for a brick and mortar store as it was when dealers could go to Istanbul or auctions to acquire stock. Now the collectors buy at auctions and fly to Istanbul. And international dealers sell on-line more quickly than a rug would sit in a pile in a retail store. The good, old rugs, bags and kilims still retain their ethnographic, artistic and tactile glory, but their value has declined the same as "old brown furniture", beanie babies and baseball cards.
Keep searching!

Patrick Weiler
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Old August 6th, 2018, 12:20 PM   #13
Chuck Wagner
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Pat,

We've had house guests so little time to post, but: I really like that Alaskan Anatolian rug. Nice find.

Regards
Chuck
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Old August 6th, 2018, 02:27 PM   #14
Rich Larkin
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Hi Joel,

What!?!

Quote:
Just dropping by to chat, finger the rugs and learn seems more like a story of bygone days.
You mean there is no reason for me to come out of my cave?

Yes, that was an anachronism. Reflex response to the age old question, "How can I find some good rugs?" Still it is so that one must handle a large volume of rugs with a lot of variety in order to understand the situation properly. I guess it can no longer be done easily. Screen images coupled with technical details are not a sufficient substitute in my opinion. Even now, as I sit here at the keyboard pontificating about this and that, I am relying on memory from a past life, more than screen shots and such. Unfortunately, the recollections become dimmer as time goes by.

Which brings up these knock-off prayer rugs. Patrick's reference to the Romanian copies seems like promising idea, though I have the notion I was seeing rugs like them twenty-five years ago and longer, and they seemed to have some age on them at the time. But I may be mistaking these rugs for another group.

So, Phil, I think get your point about the appearance of the slightly worn surfaces of rugs with AS knots: They have the appearance of corduroy fabric, with parallel vertical lines of pile showing. However, that effect is not always so clear in rugs with fully depressed warps (though it usually still works). Another point is that SY knotted rugs also have a diagnostic appearance on worn surfaces, viz., a 'cobblestone' look. I thought one or two of Danielle's images showed that from a distance; so I am interested in seeing it up close.

If the rugs are AS knotted, it almost certainly takes them out of the Caucasus, and begs the question even more, where did they come from.

Rich
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Old August 6th, 2018, 04:29 PM   #15
Ken Shum
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Danielle,

I also say that there is no substitute for handling and viewing authentic first hand. Eventually you can tell at a glance (Even from a pic on the internet) if a rug is a genuine article or not by the colour, layout, devices etc.

Ken
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Old August 6th, 2018, 05:48 PM   #16
Steve Price
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Hi All

Without disputing the usefulness of handling lots of rugs, without the guidance of knowledgeable mentors, the likelihood that you will learn much about age or geographic attribution from it is very small. If you turned me loose in a library with every book ever written in Chinese, it's unlikely that I would learn how to read Chinese from being there. Give me a mentor who knows the language (a book with some translations would help, but not as much as a mentor) and I'll become fluent in the written language if I have the time and desire to do it.

Regards

Steve Price
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Old August 6th, 2018, 11:01 PM   #17
Phil Bell
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I am pondering the dealers description of the rug as Armenian, he freely admitted it was mid 20th Century at the oldest. He knows his Caucasian rugs so it was odd that he chose Armenian to describe it.
I will email him. They both have Caucasian designs but certainly mine is the least caucasian in structure I can imagine. Despite its relative modernity it did have some nice colours but the cotton foundation gave it a stiff harsh feel.
This was the rug I spoke of on one of my first posts when I alarmed people by describing 'going nuclear on it' in an attempt to remove a bad stain. Cotton doesn't give up its dirt easily.

Phil
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