TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Fragmentary thoughts
Author  :  Wendel Swan
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 09:14 a.m.
wdswan@erols.com Dear Mr. Gorden, While I have acquired whole rugs, perhaps as much out of habit as by intention. I wouldn't reject a fragment, per se, if it otherwise fit in to my collecting addiction and have done so on two or three occasions. Aren't the standards for judging a fragment the same as those we use to judge any other rug or textile: color, design, execution, rarity, age, fineness, tactile qualities and condition (among the myriad other factors and not in that order) - except for the fact that we expect the fragment to excel in one or more areas because there is less of it? Perhaps durability is the only characteristic we don't expect from a fragment that some might in a rug. If, as you say, most rug collectors aren't interested in fragments, it is probably because most rug collectors aren't interested in, have little chance to examine or can't afford really old carpets (pre-1800, let us say). Without knowledge of the whole carpet, most of us have diminished interest in only a portion of it. However, there are obvious exceptions. Who wouldn't want a fragment such as those in the Flowers Underfoot exhibition of Mughal carpets at the Metropolitan Museum last year? On the other hand, who would want a fragment of an Afghan war rug? Is a detached mafrash panel a fragment so that we should prefer the complete box? The answers to these questions lie in the fact that, fundamentally, aesthetics (appealing to the senses) cannot be entirely divorced from our perceptions of rarity, historical importance and age. To use your comparison to paintings, why isn't a perfect yet detectable forgery of a Rembrandt as desirable or valuable as the original? Also, while art historians might argue over whether a particular work is Rembrandt or school of Rembrandt, the inherent qualities of the painting don't change. Yet, once proven to be such, a school of Rembrandt work may be relegated to a museum's storage. Each of us sees different qualities in what we collect and we collect for many different reasons. While you see "little aesthetic merit" in the Vakiflar domes and squinches carpet in Hali #32, I see a weaving of tremendous composition. Glory may not remain in its now faded colors or in the areas that no longer exist, but I find it to be a great, moving piece of historical importance. The easiest assessments to make about a rug are completeness, fineness and condition. First-time buyers might reject a rug because the "fringe" or even a part thereof is missing. To them, such a rug is unacceptably fragmentary. At the other end of the spectrum may be two important fragments sold at Bonham's in London in April of this year. I saw these tiny specimens and, although I personally did not find either to be "beautiful," bidders found them to be worthy enough to send the prices to $27,770 and $48,410, respectively. We all have standards by which we make our judgments on what we like and therefore what we buy. The discussions on TurkoTek clearly demonstrate that the bases for our personal preferences are difficult to articulate. Longevity and breadth of experience tend to create some consensus, but even the most seasoned of collectors and dealers find that they must agree to disagree on the relative merits of certain pieces. Permit me to make another analogy - this time to wine. Why would anyone buy wine except to drink and to enjoy the taste (its aesthetic merits)? Just as with rugs, those who buy wine do so for different reasons and find much more than just taste to savor. The color, the bouquet, the legs and the depth are among the important factors but these too cannot be distinguished from aesthetics. An aficionado of Chateau Lafite might buy a recent vintage for a cellar, knowing that it won't be drunk for 15-20 years. Or one might buy a 1945 Lafite as a wonderful, but still improving, splurge. Others might buy a bottle from the 1784 vintage with no expectation that, if it is ever opened, the wine would be drinkable. But suppose that Thomas Jefferson once owned that 1784 bottle of Lafite. What some would envision only as a sensory delight becomes transformed into an historical artifact. Thank you for the thought-provoking Salon. I am interested to know what you have collected over the years. Wendel Swan

Subject  :  RE:Fragmentary thoughts
Author  :  Erol Abit
Date  :  08-30-1999 on 05:59 p.m.
Dear Wendel, I am not replying to content of your post but its title. Therefore I wanted to add some "fragmentary thoughts" by making analogy to rugs and rags. Can we say rugs are representatives of "integrated thoughts" and rags are of "differentiated thoughts"? If yes, my question is then which comes first and which, a rug (integration) or a rag (differentiation), teach us more? To me, it does not matter since the rug itself too is not a complete one. Let me give an example to make more clear. Some weeks ago, on a board, someone asked by typing "cn u rd ths?" This was a fragmentary expression of an integrated expression of "can you read this?" My rug/rag knowledge is not good but can we say that the relation between rags and rugs are very like in this example? If yes and if our aim is to learn from rugs/rags, it doesn't matter whether teachers are rags or rugs... It was some fragmentary thoughts hence I won't preview this post before posting. erol1999@altavista.net

Subject  :  RE:Fragmentary thoughts
Author  :  Sam Gorden
Date  :  08-31-1999 on 11:19 p.m.
()gordsa@earthlink.net Dear Mr. Swan, Thank you for your response. Any work of art is the concept of its creator. Nothing can convince me that a delapidated weaving incorporates this concept. Standards have nothing to do with the latter. If we accept the idea that the Oriental rug may be a work of art and an emotional communication from the weaver to the onlooker than most fragments must be a failure. I maintain that rarity, historical importance and age have nothing to do with the case (with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan). You might say that an excellent copy is just as great as the original. For me, this is impossible. It is a question of intent. Rembrandt communicated his emotional reaction via his work. The copyer's sole aim was to duplicate the original. The intent is the paramount consideration! The ancient Romans said "De Gustubus Non Est Dispudandum" You can't fight over taste. In my talk at the Turkish rug conference, I developed the concept that this is a cultural phenomenom which varies from era to era and from society to society. It should be noted that the carpets, depicted in 17th century Dutch paintings, upon which Wilhelm von Bode and his gang based their claim to be carpet experts, revealed no fragments. You raised the question on how much impairment is permissible. The answer is that the involved damage does not alter the original concept and does not diminish the rug's aesthetic quality. Finally, the mute evidence of the lack of appreciation of these derelicts as indicated in the priced auction catalogs of forty years ago and today's enormous prices. How did this phenomenon occur? It is the result of arduous promotion on the part of Hali,the rug cliques, dealers and academicians. To me it indicates a stern dedication to self-welfare. You asked me if we are collectors. Our accumulation consists of about sixty-five pieces, almost all of which are 19th century tribal rugs. We have some 18th century specimens and one 17th century Kula double-niche prayer rug. Three of our rugs were given pride of place in the 1986 I.C.O.C. These appear in the catalog "Antique Oriental Carpets from Austrian Collections"(II) on pages 28, 49 and 89. In conclusion, allow me to thank you for the time and trouble you took for your comments. These were received with appreciation and gratitude. Sam Gorden

Powered by UltraBoard 2000 <http://www.ub2k.com/>