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EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NEWS
Member Exhibition. The Executive Committee has decided to organize an
exhibition of member rugs sometime in the next couple of years. To this end,
they would like to find out what rugs people would be willing to display. The
preliminary requirement on any piece submitted for consideration is that it was
created before 1920. If you would be interested in taking part in the show,
please submit photos of your pieces or bring them in to be photographed for the
Executive Committee. It first has to be determined what kind of gallery space
would be needed and what type of proposal KCORTA will make to a gallery. Once a
preliminary group has been selected, this group will be further pared down by
an impartial outside referee to the final group that will be in the member
show. All pieces will be anonymously exhibited-the owner will not be named.
Programs for Future Meetings. If you have any ideas for future programs, please make your ideas known to our Program Chairs. They are always glad to receive suggestions from the members. We live only to serve.
March 15th Meeting. Maury Bynum, a textile conservation expert and dealer from Chicago, gave a very entertaining presentation on rug repair and conservation, answering many questions attendees put to him with wit and humor. A very enjoyable evening was had by all.
April 16th Meeting. Arlene Cooper, one of the country's leading experts on Paisley shawls, talked about said shawls on Wednesday, April 16th. Members of the Kansas City area Weaver's Guild and of the Johnson County CC Design group joined members of KCORTA to see what Paisley shawls were all about. Arlene bought beautiful examples of different types of shawls and allowed attendees to feel and see their differences. She showed a remarkable command of the subject in her well-organized lecture. It was a terrific presentation. -Carol Mundy
Upcoming Meeting : June 14th. Robert Torchia, an art historian from Baltimore, will be talking about those objects we would all like to possess if we had millions to spend on rugs: classical carpets. HALI just published Robert's research on the Widener oriental rugs and carpets in the National Gallery of Art's collection (the complete work is contained in the National Gallery's recently published Decorative Arts Catalogue). The collection comprises outstanding Safavid (i.e., classical Persian) examples of the so-called Polonaise type, the Herat type, Indo-Isfahan, a small silk Kashan, and a rare Moghul pictorial rug. The discussion will focus on complex issues of origin, attribution and conservation. Some background on the speaker: Robert earned a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his expertise in oriental rugs and textiles, he is one of the country's leading experts in mid- and late-19th century American painting and portraiture. Robert will be bringing along slides from the NGA's archives to illustrate the talk. He has promised to bring along 6 or so pieces (no classical rugs, unfortunately) from his own collection. Robert is an entertaining speaker and this promises to be a very enjoyable and educational presentation. It will be held on Saturday, June 14th at 7PM at Mundy and Yazdi Oriental Rugs, 5905 Slater in Merriam. Refreshments will be served. Bring your own rug for show-and-tell.
Upcoming Meeting :August 24th. This will be the annual picnic meeting, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, 1-4 PM. Kirk Wynn and Randy Crist will offer up their opinions on what books on oriental rugs are worth having in your library. Hecklers are welcome. More details will be offered in the next newsletter.
CALENDAR OF OTHER EVENTS
Material Culture Exhibition. During late May and the early part of June,
the University of Kansas is sponsoring a symposium on textiles entitled
Material Culture. It will contain programs on old and new textile art. In
conjunction with this conference, Jan Buerge from World's Window (now located
at 332 W. 63rd in the Brookside area) has invited members of KCORTA to join her
in their gallery for an exhibition of Indonesian textiles on Friday, June 6th
from 7-9PM. For more information on the KU conference, contact Cathy Dwigans,
Program Manager, Univ. of Kansas, Div. of Continuing Education, Continuing
Education Bldg., Lawrence, KS 66045, phone: (913)864-3284.
Current Exhibitions in the US. Some currently running or upcoming events
from HALI and the New England Rugs Society Newsletter:
( Magic Carpets, a selection of Islamic rugs from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum; the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY, through Fall 1998.
( Baluchi Woven Treasures: the Boucher Collection; Museum of Art, 1200 W. 38th St., Indianapolis, IN; through August 3rd. This display contains 79 items collected by Col. Jeff Boucher. The majority of the rugs date from the mid-19th to the early 20th century, woven by the nomadic Baluchi people of Iran and Afghanistan.
( Art and Patronage Under Shah Jahan, Arthur Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C., May 5th through February 1998.
(IKAT: Splendid Silks of Central Asia, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington, Boston, MA, May 17th through August 24th.
(Artists of the Loom: Maya Cloth and Clothing of Guatemala, Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley, CA, through June15th.
(Andean Textiles: The Jeffrey Appleby Collection, De Young Museum, San
Francisco, CA, June 21st through August 10th.
ACOR News. There is a rumor that the 1998 ACOR will be held during the
second or third week of May.
Tours. Samy Rabinovic is organizing a tour of Turkey running September 8- 21. He and Paul Ramsey will lead the tour. It will hit many cultural and historical highlights of western and central Turkey. If you have a lot of time and money on your hands, this would be fun. For more information, contact New Horizons International, P.O. Box 187, Newtown, PA 18940; phone (800)620-6867.
Book Reviews by Kirk Wynn. Part IV: South Persian Rugs.
In previous reviews, I have recommended some of the books that cover
oriental rugs <
in general, and Turkoman and Caucasian rugs in particular. Now we turn to the various studies of South Persian rugs. Five tribes (Qashqai, Khamseh, Luri, Baktiari and Afshar) are generally conceived of constituting this group of rugs and domestic weavings from rural areas in southern Iran.
I think that the first book published dealing only with South Persian rugs was Black and Loveless' Woven Gardens (1979). This volume limits itself to weavings from the Fars Province, meaning that QashÆqai and Khamseh are considered almost exclusively. Color and text are good and roughly half of the 60 plates are saddlebags.
Probably the best overall book is Jim Opie's Tribal Rugs of South Persia (1981). One chapter is devoted to each of the five tribes. The real value of this book is the authoritative manner in which Opie differentiates the work of each tribe via side finishes, wool quality, warp color, palette, end finishes and design preferences (many of these rugs were formerly labeled Shiraz; and that was that for the consumer). Here, at last, is a glimmer of True Knowledge. There is also a profound sense of True Love towards the weavings and the people that produced them exhibited on nearly every page. The one significant drawback is that if one wants to find an answer to a specific question, one has to practically reread the whole book (which, now that I think of it, isn't such a bad thing) as there is no index. However, there is a technical analysis of each rugs at the back and a section for rugs that do not fit completely into only one of the five South Persian categories. This last is a good reminder of how carelessly we sometimes use labels of attribution.
Once again, J.P.J. Homer produced a little gem that I recommend-a sales brochure entitled Truly Tribal (1987). With nice tipped-in photographs of interesting collectible weavings (with prices, circa 1987), you can get some feel for what pieces you might find for sale sometime.
The three exhibition catalogues of John Collins, Flowers of the Desert, Shiraz, and Birds and Vases, also add considerably to the material on this group of rugs. The plates are photographs of excellent rugs of consistent quality. Because of Collins' understated style, it's easy to casually read through his intelligent texts. But make no mistake about the thoroughness of his understanding of these rugs: he slips very many remarkable tidbits between the lines, as it were.
I should also mention Tanavoli's book on Lion Rugs: coarse rugs with,
surprise, giant lions on them. These aren't for everyone, but they are
definitely folk art.
OTHER NEWS AND FEATURES
Field Trip to Skinner's April 12th Auction. [TurkoTek note: For Carl Strock's review of the same auction in the New England Rug Society Newsletter, click here.] Since cheap plane fares were easily had, and I figured out a means to escape work that Friday, it was time to take a field trip to Boston and see what one of these rug auctions was really like. If you like rugs, it seemed like a great place to be-280 lots to be auctioned on that Saturday, plus local dealers to visit in the Boston area. I also managed to talk Kirk Wynn into going on this little odyssey.
We left on Thursday and avoided 12 inches of snow dumped on Omaha that weekend (needless to say, neither of our wives were pleased). After an uneventful flight, we got a car and headed into Boston. What an easy town to drive in! Due to awesome timing, we arrive just as the preview starts.
First lesson learned: never, ever, buy a rug from a black and white photo in the auction catalogue-even from a color photo (I don't feel too bad-I'm not the only person that has done this). It is amazing, even with the very good condition reports in the Skinner catalogue, how much your opinion changes when you see the actual rug. A Qash'qai rug I thought might be interesting turned out to be awful. A seemingly boring Caucasian prayer rug came to life with a wonderful color composition. Items dated by the house as early 20th century lead you to believe that the house has a very liberal interpretation of the word early-apparently 1930 is early. Moreover, when they say areas of wear in the catalogue, the rug is shot. A once beautiful Perepidil definitely fell into this category. Some Persian samplers that seemed like they would be fine from the catalogue were both worn and ugly.
It is a lot of fun to go to one of these previews if you like rugs and textiles. You will rarely have an opportunity to see so much at one time outside of ICOC or ACOR. You get to see large numbers of bad and a few good rugs and can understand why people will fork out so much dough for the good ones. If this is representative of what's available, there just arent many good rugs out there. I narrowed down possible quarry to a couple of Afshar bags, two kilims and a Lakai embroidery. We then headed out in search of food, visited dealers and did the tourist thing for the next 48 hours, waiting for Saturday.
We arrive on time for the auction. The registration computer is messed up so we wait another 20 minutes for the start. Then the auctioneer starts flying through the rugs and textiles. It was refreshing to see an auction that moved fairly fast (100 lots an hour) and auctioneers who didn't try to squeeze every last miserable cent out of an item.
The second lesson: Your garbage is probably someone else's gold. It was fun to be shocked by some of the prices people paid for many of these rugs. A colorless, worn 19th century Mahal wagireh (pick your favorite spelling) went for $4000, against an estimate of $1800-2200. Kirk thought that the buyer felt it was an actual Ziegler sampler (a famous German manufactory of carpets in Mahal during the 19th century). Worn and drab Sultanabads, Herizes and others of these types went for large sums of money. The very nice but shot Perepidil went for 1500 against an estimate of 500-700. It was an education. I bid on a couple of items, but they all went beyond the limit I had set on each piece. There were few bargains to be had and you had to act fast to get them. I didn't. All in all, the big rug auctions are a terrific way to get an intensive textile education.
Rugs on the World Wide Web.
There are a few new sites out there to visit if you're hooked up. The first one recommended is KCORTA member Tom Stacy's site: www.turkotek.com. It is now the official site for KCORTA. All back issues of the newsletter are posted there, along with a gallery of member rugs. In addition, Tom has items for sale by him or other rug dealers, news from other rug societies, a discussion board and other goodies. He has some excellent deals on books (you can get a big discount on the ICOC catalogue, for example). It's a very nice website.
A second place visited was the site for the Oriental Rug Review (www.rugreview.com). It has been expanded substantially. There are new articles posted that were not published in the paper edition. Many other things are included or will soon be included in the site-listing of and news about rug and textile societies, more back issues of ORR, the Dudin collection of Turkoman weavings in full color (worth visiting for that alone).
Three other sites are worth a look. Tracy Hartke's Tapetology Pages (www.computrek-mn.com/rugs) is a nice introduction to oriental rugs for the novice. Skaff's Oriental Rugs (www.skaffrugs.com) is an electronic store on the Web, with about 70 rugs available for purchase. It also includes introductory material to oriental rug collecting. The third site is Phil Wallick's electronic exhibition at his Mind Your Business webpage (www.mindyourbusiness.com). He has some very nice rugs on display and a link to his commercial site (I wasnÆt especially crazy about the rugs at that location). All three of these can be accessed through links on Tom's Turkotek webpage.