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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.

Rug Conferences: Fertile or Futile? presented by Jerry Silverman

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, there were no oriental rug conferences. People who wanted to learn more about rugs generally had to do so in academic or museum environments, in one of the very few oriental rug societies, on one’s own from books, or - even more rarely - in the field.

Such is no longer the case.

While the aforementioned alternatives still exist, in the last twenty years they have been supplemented by the “conference.” The great virtue of the rug conference is the widening of the audience for rug appreciation. Hundreds of people can see the latest scholarly findings straight from the scholar’s overhead projector. For the price of admission, a couple days in a hotel, and transportation anyone with any degree of interest in oriental rugs can brush shoulders with the most knowledgeable experts, listen to their presentations, and even ask questions. Lesser (or equally important, depending on your priorities) virtues of rug conferences include the opportunity for socializing among the participants, the opportunity for buying and/or selling rugs, the opportunity to build or destroy reputations, to see exhibitions, and more.

The concept of the rug conference has become such a success that scarcely a season passes without its own. Some, like the International Conference on Oriental Carpets and the American Conference on Oriental Rugs are held biennially. Others are held annually, like the Textile Museum Convention. Still others are held on a one-off basis.

...which brings me to the purpose of this Salon.

I want your opinions on what makes the “best” rug conference. Many of you have been to rug conferences and undoubtedly have opinions. More than a few of you have even been on organizing committees of rug conferences and have already wrestled with some of the questions that will arise here. (Even if you have never been to a rug conference but have been to conferences of other kinds, you may have worthy insights to contribute - possibly things overlooked by those of us with just a “ruggie” perspective. Please feel free to add to the discussion.)

Some questions we will probably want to address include:

1) What purposes do rug conferences serve?
2) With those purposes in mind, is there a single optimum plan for a
rug conference or should there be several types?
3) How frequently should they be held?
4) What improvements would you suggest in the existing formats?
5) Should duelling be revived to resolve differences arising between
ruggies at conferences and elsewhere? Should tickets be sold with the
proceeds split (40-60) between the conference organizers and the

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