Quality vs. Imagination

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Posted by Jim Allen on July 07, 1999 at 08:24:26:

While weaving was still of paramount importance in the near East the best talent was put to work on its' projects. Works of genius were produced in all ages where it was appreciated and in our times people with good taste and the resources to do it have stripped out the "new" colors and made these virtuous weavings older. This has tended to reinforce the assumption that old rugs are better. It is just a myth. The real question is can you tell a really good work of art from something less enduring? It is true that weaving itself has undergone changes in fashion and some nomadic weaving was done for information purposes of mythic import but the bottom line is beauty and the genius it takes to produce it. I am no longer afraid to buy great rugs with bad dyes and I don't go around taking them out either. I think there is a strong element of greed in the entire process and not so much pure enjoyment of the art form. It is funny to watch peoples' attitudes change with the addition of information or imagination that is devisive. I think we should spend more time appreciating our collections and less time worrying about their pedigree. As for telling just how old a rug is, dye analysis, a trained eye, vast experience, and lastly exotic testing will get you very close to the true age. It also interests me that in a field like Navajo weaving, where there is a more professional component involved, questions about age are far more technically oriented, less subjective. They do it with fiber analysis. Different breeds of sheep produce wool with very characteristic fiber morphology. This could be done in Central Asia. It could be done by simply microscopically examining wool samples from different tribes. I personally can usually tell different tribes work by the feel of the wool. Jim

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