Re: some questions

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Posted by Wendel Swan on June 25, 1999 at 06:32:16:

In Reply to: some questions posted by Christoph Huber on June 24, 1999 at 13:18:00:


You wrote, in part:

: Do we have to see the relation between Timurid- and Turkmen carpets as different from the one between precursor and successor?

I think you should not look for direct lineage between the so-called Timurid carpets and the Turkmen carpets.

You also wrote:

: 2) The above mentioned stability has (as pointed out in the HALI article by Hans Sienknecht) the consequence that we have almost no indication of age neither in design nor in the amount of free space in the field. In my eyes there isn't much anymore, is it?

The stability is indeed astonishing, isn't it? However, you can easily see the same kind of continuity of design in Anatolian carpets.

On the open space issue, about 8-10 years ago I heard a well-known "authority" on Turkmen rugs tell an audience that you could always tell how old a Turkmen rug was by measuring the distance between the guls. The older the rug was, the greater the distance was. This seemed to be nonsensical to me, even though crowding of the elements did take place in very late 19th Century and 20th Century pieces. However much we might prefer the aesthetics of more open space, it is not determinative of age.

You also asked:

: 3) Why were Turkmen carpets (after the Anatolian Kilims) chosen for this undertaking? Wouldn't it have been better ... to gain some more experience before doing so by testing for example Caucasian carpets for which (at least to my understanding) a more refined framework for "conventional" dating exists?

Jurg Rageth is a rug and textile dealer in Basel. He is well known in the rug world for having sold some very old Anatolian kilims and fragments thereof. Pile carpets could be readily dated through the European paintings, but the ages of kilims was then still somewhat speculative. Although C-14 dating is an expensive process, the prices of the kilims justified the scientific investigation of their ages.

Although Jurg is not known as dealer in Turkmen material, several European collectors of important Turkmen rugs decided to bring this technology to the dating of pieces that they believed were old enough to justify the process. Thus, the second C-14 symposium was born. I had hoped that American rug societies, perhaps with the cooperation of the Textile Museum or the Met, would bring the participants to the United States to repeat for us their findings. Unfortunately, this has not yet happened.

As to C-14 testing of Caucasian rugs, there is probably too much doubt about the existence and origin of pre-1700 Caucasian rugs for this to happen. Most of the dated Caucasian rugs are quite late and their lineage to the classical Caucasian carpets is doubtful.



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