Re: Commercial Motives

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Posted by Marvin Amstey on March 04, 1999 at 11:25:12:

In Reply to: Re: Commercial Motives posted by Alan Nagel on March 04, 1999 at 08:52:05:

: 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

: 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.

: Alan

My comments pointedly were about Americans. There are a whole host of folk out there who collect Persian rugs from the 19thc.; Turkish rugs from the 18thc.; fragments of classical rugs; fine silk rugs - almost none of which are the ethnographic rugs we seek. therefore, I'm not will ing to buy into any shift in collecting as a paradigm. I do believe that your observation that we learned more from anthropology in the first half of this century to lead a lot of us to collect those sorts of items; but, it didn't affect everyone. In summary, your conclusions are as mine: we can't separate these influences and no one group has the majority view. regards, Marvin

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