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Salon du Tapis d'Orient

The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.

Day 1: Dealer's Reception (continued); Day 2

Dear folks

One thing left over from last night's reception. At one point Muammer Ucar, the younger of the Turkish dealer brothers,

took me by the arm, saying that he wanted to introduce me to "Ivan". I didn't take in whom he meant but gradually it became clear that he was taking me to meet Ivan Solderholm, the publisher of Jozan, our fellow web site.

I took a photo of Ivan and he of me in my "UN costume." Here is Ivan's picture.

I told them both that Jozan must be an instance of successful branding, since I had no idea really who Ivan was.

Ivan's first Jozan report on ACOR 8 is linked here.

Friday morning at ACOR 8 opened with an address by Elizabeth Barber, the student of prehistoric textiles whose books most will know and should.

Barber is that rare thing, a fine, accessible lecturer who makes an understandable argument but who is able when asked to show at any point the very substantial erudition on which it is based. She was her usual, masterful self but I won't say much about her speech. Austin Doyle took close notes and has promised me a summary in a day or two.

Let me say here only that Barber reported that the times when textiles were first made are being pressed further backward. She offered a weft twining image from 25,000 BC. And the mechanisms by which weaving emerged in its various forms are being more closely articulated the times when the first sheep appeared are more accurately identified, the time, when wooly sheep seem to have been first produced and the ways in which loom character and development indicate what was possible and likely by way of weaving.

After Barber I went to Jurg Rageth's session, "Scientific Techniques in Oriental Carpet Studies." Rageth reported on his continuing work in attempting to date and attribute Turkmen weavings more closely. He gave results for carbon dating and for some dye and mordant analysis he has done. He said he was working with the questions of: How old are the oldest Turkmen weavings? Which dyes produced the brilliant reds in them? And how were the brilliant reds produced?

On the first question he gave data on the ages indicated by carbon dating of 118 Turkmen pieces woven by various tribes. Of these 19, mostly appear to have been woven before 1700. Among these early pieces are carpets, bags and tentbands. No piece shows results before 1500.

In his section on dye analysis Rageth, said that different dyes are to some extent distinguishable under microscope. And earlier weaving seemed also to be marked by the use of wool with higher numbers of plies. He has encountered Turkmen pile wools with as many as 12 plies. He reported on 212 samples taken from most tribal groups. His primary report here was on the use of insect dyes, since these seem implicated in the brilliant reads. He began with the use of insect dyes on wool.

He has found that the Salor tribe used Indian lac almost exclusively and that the other Turkmen tribes almost always used Mexican cochineal (which reached them through Spain). Rageth also said that he was surprised to find the range of colors produce with Mexican cochineal: that the resulting reds are not always pinkish but can be quite dark. He reported that Mexican cochineal began to be used very heavily in the late 19th century, about the same time that the number of plies in pile wools was reduced to as few as two. Mexican cochineal became so available and so inexpensive that it seems often to have supplanted madder reds among tribes such as the Tekke.

Rageth reported that sorting out the use of insect dyes on silk is more difficult. Hard to distinguish the use of Mexican cochineal from Armenian cochineal and there may be other varieties as well used with silk. He said one scholar has suggested that perhaps as many as 30 different insects were used for dyes in silk.

Rageth seemed to contradict Jon Thompson a bit by reporting that there is a great deal of silk in early Salor pieces but that a lot of silk in pieces made by other tribes is an indicator of a later piece.

A last point under his dye analysis was that it appears that the Salors used lac dyes until the very end of the 19th century, since it is found in their pieces in which there are also synthetic dyes.

In the third major part of his lecture, Rageth reported the results of his analysis of mordants. He reported favorably on the book "A Perfect Red", indicating that this author and others report that a process for using tin as a mordant was perfected by a known person and began to be used widely. Rageth showed how this historical fact was used to indicate that a pieces whose carbon dated suggested that it could have been made in either the 16th or the 17th centuries was in fact made in the 17th because its dyes had tin mordants. He also said that the use of tin mordants seem to have been given up after 1850 and so can be used in a similar way to identify the likely age of a Turkmen piece.

Rageth noted that tin appears to damage fibers, especially silk and that this probably accounts for the fact that the silk in many seemingly older Turkmen pieces is corroded, even gone.

He concluded saying that dating of Turkmen weavings is becoming more precise. Dye analysis is permitting some tribal attribution distinctions. That mordant analysis is also providing a basis for settling some questions of age in Turkmen weavings. Rageth did not say when he expects to publish his findings.

In the afternoon I attended Marshall and Marilyn Wolf's "Antique Zili Flatweaves" presentation. They presented a great many wonderful, often sizable pieces of this sort and argued that they are under-collected and still reasonable priced. Most of the pieces they showed had not been in the public previously and no photos were permitted. One interesting feature of this talk was Marshall's repeated description of how they conserve pieces. They apparently have an English restorer who hand dyes backings for pieces that have been damaged so as to minimize the visibility of the faults. He also showed how such pieces were attached to the backings so that when hung the backing carries the full weight of gravity.

Later in the afternoon I heard Kurt Munkacsi speak on some groups of Turkmen bags with similar designs. Kurt said that he was a "clumper" rather than a "splitter" (the latter being those who tend to report a new Turkmen tribe each week). He compared lots of bag faces with similar designs, for example, those with three full and six half major guls.

I took a lot of pictures but was too far back for many of them to be useful.

Friday, ended with another reception the feature of which was a costume competition, although the New England folks also provided a very skilled belly dancer beforehand.

Only seven contestants appeared but I can provide you with what seem to me to be the two most interesting costumes.

Last year's winner of this contest was the Chinese dealer, Wenhua Liu, who accentuates the authentic. Here is her effort this year.

Suzanne Kaufman from Chicago is an avid hat collector and entered this year with what seemed to me to be a very accomplished costume.

I can't report who won because I left this reception to photograph the Rudnick's Caucasian exhibition before the result was announced.

I have photos of all of the rugs and gallery cards in the exhibition by Mitch and Rosalie Rudnick.

They have, likely, one of the best Caucasian pile rugs collections in existence.

Here, I'll give you just one.

The rest are a present for Filiberto when he returns from vacation.


R. John Howe