Re: Why the difference?

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Posted by Wendel Swan on June 28, 1999 at 22:42:09:

In Reply to: Re: Why the difference? posted by Tom Cole on June 28, 1999 at 19:25:35:

Tom Cole posted:

"Wendel- While my own area of expertise does not extend to the Shahsevan and Baktiari, I believe I am in a position to identify a pre-1850 rug from the Afshar and Baluch groups. Regarding the Taimuri rug fragment pictured in HALI 97, Baluch Style, I believe that fragment is pre-1850. I have also seen a couple Afshar weavings I have no hesitation to date to pre-1850. Just looking at a picture of the pieces does not convey all the information necessary. Touching it, examining it closely and living with it for some time while comparing it to other examples of similar types will assist in this mundane process of assigning a date. As I have stated on cloudband, it is a MULTI-FACTORIAL process by which these rugs can be tentatively considered to be earlier than most of what we see."

Dear Tom,

The Taimuri fragment is splendid. I'm not a Belouch expert, but it has the "look" of an ancient and treasured masterpiece. It could be from 1850 or even 1750, I suppose, but wouldn't you concede that it also could have been woven in 1860 or 1870? The Afshar you advertised in the Marketplace section of that same Hali 97 also looks very old and might be one of the pre-1850 Afshars you believe can be identified as such.

You know that I understand precisely the multi-factorial process. There being no teacher like experience, I have the greatest respect for the opinions of those who have seen and handled lots and lots of rugs. But their opinions are not evidence, such as pictorial records, provenance or scientific testing.

Adages that I have personally used such as a rug having an "old back" or an "old handle" mean everything but prove nothing. The fineness of the wool, the compaction of wefts, the depression of warps, use and abuse are all factors in determining those tactile qualities that we all covet in what we communally refer to as the oldies. Yet those factors do not necessarily have anything to do with age.

Collectively, we don't know, really know, very much about the age of tribal rugs. The participants in this board might gather and agree on a handful of tribal rugs (let's exclude Turkmen here) that could pre-date 1850. But our consensus, I believe, would still be a COULD.

If we collected Old Master paintings, we could learn when, where and by whom the work was done, how many layers of paint there are, who the subject was, the name of the first buyer and even maybe the chain of title. Certainly not true with rugs.

I sometimes find the process extremely frustrating. I've been working off and on for a couple of years on some attribution issues myself and the only conclusion I seem to be able to reach is that the more I learn, the less I know.

Best regards,


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