Summary (feeble attempt at)

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Posted by Yon Bard on July 09, 1999 at 20:35:54:

This discussion has provided at least one positive result: Proof that no Salon should be allowed to run for more than two weeks.

We didn’t plan it this way, but our topic was timely – coming as it did on the heels of the HALI C14 report and the controversy surrounding the Cyr carpet. We had an interesting discussion, and were happy to see several new participants.

It is not surprising that we did not provide conclusive answers to any of the questions that had been posed. Many promising proposals were explored, but invariably someone would shoot them down: Tactile and visual (microscopic) clues were dismissed as indicators of wear, not age; variations in dyes or rendering of motifs were judged to be irrelevant; and C14 dating was deemed to be totally inapplicable to dating tribal rugs by one contributor, while another one saw no value in it at least for the present. Having consulted with an expert, I believe that these negative attitudes are not quite justified. True, the results have a large degree of uncertainty (the largest, currently irreducible, cause is the variability of C14 concentrations in tree rings, from which the standard curve is derived) and are subject to other errors besides (though proper procedure, e.g., confining the samples to warp threads and cleaning them thoroughly, can practically eliminate contamination). Yet results obtained so far have already significantly increased the credibility of claims for early dating of some Turkmen, and helped focus attention on the most likely pieces.

Some perhaps tangential discussions raised interesting questions. For example, are better rugs likely to be preserved longer than inferior ones? If so, does this account for our perception that often ‘older’ and ‘better’ are synonymous? Not unexpectedly, the discussion bogged down on the definition of ‘better,’ and whether our perception of quality would agree with the original weavers’.

After all is said and done, the consensus (if there was one) supported Tom Cole’s call for a multifactored approach. When esthetic, structural, tactile, and scientific factors are taken into account, perhaps an accurate relative (this is older than that) rather than absolute (this was made on 7/9/1799) chronology can be established, even when individual factors may be misleading. But even though some contributors asked why worry about age at all -beauty is all that matters - we shall keep playing our dating games (see Turkotek Show and Tell forum), and whether a fortune is at stake or merely our quest for knowledge, we’ll date rugs BECAUSE THEY ARE THERE!

Thanks to all participants for their contributions, and to the 'Committee' for giving me this opportunity,


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