Re: Are better rugs peferentially preserved?

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Posted by Harry Ulfan on June 21, 1999 at 20:08:37:

In Reply to: Are better rugs peferentially preserved? posted by Steve Price on June 21, 1999 at 06:44:00:

: Dear Yon,

: You note that the position that better rugs are preserved preferentially is not rigorously proven. That's true. In fact, it cannot be rigorously proven. Nor can most of the other things we routinely take to be true (not just in Rugdom, by the way).

: I've made that assertion fairly often and publicly, so I thought my rationale might be of some interest. Here it is.

: 1. I assume that some broad criteria for what is "good" are the same now as they were in the past. In general, the skill needed to create a piece, the amount of time it took to do so, and the expense of the materials involved are and have been significant elements in the judgment of whether something is good or bad. These are not the only factors, obviously, but they are significant.
: 2. I further assume that people are more likely to discard something bad than something good, and are more likely to take steps to preserve something good than something bad. There will be individual exceptions, of course, but if we deal with large numbers of items I think this can be taken as axiomatic.
: 3. It follows from this that over time the better pieces will have been preserved to a greater extent, and the worse pieces will have been discarded to a greater extent. That is, over time the average quality of the surviving pieces of a cohort of items will become higher than that of the original cohort, and the longer the time, the greater the average quality of the surviving pieces will become.
: 4. The issue of whether there are excellent new pieces is related, but not identical. Of course there are excellent new items, but selection has not yet weeded out very many of the worst. Furthermore, to the extent that new production is influenced by the surviving examples of old production, the newer cohorts will gradually improve so the average quality of new weavings may be expected to be better than the average quality of old pieces at the time the old ones were made TO THE EXTENT THAT THE NEW PRODUCTION IS INFLUENCED BY THE SURVIVING EXAMPLES OF OLD PRODUCTION. I do not know how great that influence is, although I do not think it is major.

: I hope this is not so longwinded as to be boring.

: Steve Price

I have read during the last half hour so many
important observations that I can't relate to all of
them point by point (without reading them over
and over again, that is) , so I'll just add a few
words :
1) As an (amateur) artist for many years I can tell
you how amazing it is that when I feel that my
creation is "good" - other people (with the given
sensitivity) feel the same ! It is quite unlikely that
I (or any artist) will discard of a "good" work.
The viewer will acknowledge his/her appreciation ultimately by putting their hands in
their pockets (saying "It's gorgious" means very
little). Hence, they are less likely to discard it.
2) I assume that creating a rug has always been
more of a "group project" than an oil painting
(one person dyes,another makes the loom,another spins the wool,another draws the
design,another weaves etc.) and so each one
of the people involved in the project can not
possibly have the same sense of creating a
whole entity such as a painter might have. As a
result I can assume that the weaver has always
been more prone to either commercial requirements or practical purposes.This means
that we in the West (many years later , in the
case of old or antique rugs) give these creations
our own artistic (aesthetic) values while subjecting these works to a whole set of different
3) In direct relation to what I said before , perhaps we should examine how it is possible
that we often have an abstract painting (that
may be a minimalist work with open spaces and
maybe no more than 2 or 3 colors) on the wall of
a room that has a very "busy" rug (full of many
small motives with very little open spaces around
them and with all the colors of the rainbow) on
the floor. I am asking questions on the essence
of our artistic perceptions and am looking for
observations from other participants.
4) I think that answers to the points made here
will be directly related to preserve or not , "good
or "bad".

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