Posted by Steve Price on June 29, 1999 at 07:34:46:
In Reply to: Why the difference? posted by Yon Bard on June 28, 1999 at 16:37:16:
I can't speak for the folks at the auction houses, but my own view is more or less like this:
1. If we have a known provenance for a textile, we can be sure that it dates back to at least the date at which it was collected. Can be older than that, but can't be younger.
2. The oldest provenances for Turkmen weavings, I believe, are the Russian collections made in the late 19th century and the Rickmers collection of the early 20th century. So we can be absolutely certain that those rugs were made no later than about 1880 (the Russian pieces) and 1905 (the Rickmers).
3. Some of the pieces in each of those collections had obvious wear, so we may reasonably assume that they were not recently woven when collected. My best guess would be that a utilitarian textile (which is what most of these are) would be in pretty shabby condition within 50 years, which might put the oldest Turkmens with known provenance into the early to mid 19th century. On this basis I don't believe that there is a significant number of Turkmen textiles that predate the year 1800, nor do I know of any convincing evidence that such pieces exist or, if they do, which ones they are. As must be clear by now, I view C-14 dating as a red herring. This is because the sources of error (mainly smoke contamination) cannot be eliminated by repeating the analyses and could make the rugs appear to be hundreds of years older than they really are.
4. I don't know of any tribal northwest Persian, Caucasian or Belouch pieces with provenances predating the mid-20th century. By the same reasoning as for the Turkmen, I'd place the oldest ones into the mid-19th century.
Thus, I pretty much subscribe to the common ranges of dates that people like the Sotheby's, Skinner's and Christie's folks use. The very oldest Turkmen might be early 19th century or so, the very earliest other tribal stuff, 1850-1875.
Post a Followup