Re: Commercial Motives

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Posted by Alan Nagel on March 04, 1999 at 08:52:05:

In Reply to: Re: Commercial Motives posted by Marvin Amstey on March 03, 1999 at 11:53:29:

have efforts like Black Mt/Woven Legends, Zollanvari, Tolga Tollu, and Bohmer's DOBAG had a 'paradigm shift' on the rug community at large? They have certainly had an impact on the marketing ….
But have they really made us think differently about rugs either as a general community or as a specific research community? I've no idea.

: …Woven Legends and the others have … made me more aware of the spinning and dying process. I've learned that some new rugs are truly good rugs. …. as a rug collector, I would not put a great Tekke main carpet [or] … an antique beautiful large Bidjar on the floor. A vintage Aubusson is beautiful, very decorative and very expensive. The new production introduced by Berji Andonian's company is nearly as beautiful and 1/10th the price. This furnishing activity has made me aware of what is being done out there, and it is impressive. Has this become a paradigm and changed my collecting point set? Absolutely not! The decorative rug business has always catered to the furnishing markets for 1000 years; some of these might become collectable - long after we're gone. These are not the same as ethographic rugs which most Americans collect; nothing's new about them - only new discoveries of ethnic groups. Regards, Marvin

A cogent and pointed reply. Still I'm not fully convinced on the following: a history of [US] rug collecting over the past 80 years seems agreed that there's been a significant shift valuing from prime rugs produced for the +/- aristocracy in weaving areas (some wd say top-end 'decorative' rugs) to ethnographic or local-culture utilitarian work with skilled design and production more or less for weavers' 'own' use--even if part of dowry and productive of change in social status (prime 'vernacular weaving').

Is the shift in rug collecting a mirage? e.g. the best collectors/connoisseurs have always been devoted to the prime ethnographic pieces?
Is it just a matter of fashion? e.g. we can only make our best bets and committments in a limited context where style counts?
Is it a matter of a paradigm shift? e.g. mid-19th to +/- mid-20th century collecting was driven by values heavily weighted by grandeur, heroic-romantic stories of great leadership, "the great game" of colonial conquest and spreads of [our] virtue, etc.; after anthropology got serious in the 1920's, it slowly filtered and spread out into the arts as elsewhere and we became more committed to the life-habits of other peoples and became devoted attention to artifacts closer to fundamental commonplace life, its decoration and celebrations, etc.?

I'll go with the latter. And then return to my puzzle about just how much the Web helps folk like me educate ourselves in conversation with more knowledgeable folk like you--even when we challenge or disagree! A democratization/popularization change perhaps?
AND how much does that change in ready exchange of information go hand in hand with a change in the whole big picture--paradigmatic change?
OR is it just a matter that I'll keep my eye open for something I can believe I like enough to buy, with all the added info., exposure to e-images, and prowling among not the half-dozen rug shops I can usually visit in a year but the dozens of dealers who post their stock on web-pages and/or (yes I indulge) throw their stuff into the ebay auctions--market change, but your paradigm still rules?

My hunch is we can't fully separate things easily.... The mother and daughter weaving a piece for the dowry are after all participating in a market as well as perpetuating a vernacular tradition; the collector shows pieces for complex values--decorating walls instead of floors; and so on.


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