TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Economics
Author  :  Mike Tschebull
Date  :  03-26-2000 on 06:24 p.m.
It’s true that with the advent of disappearing trade barriers and more convertible currencies, low value production - at least in economic terms - like weaving rugs, is being supplanted by high value, like say, gluing microprocessors onto circuit boards. In the case of new rug production, only by weaving at a cost below machine-made rugs - or by producing at the very high end - do I think rug weaving can survive long term. But at present, with the vast pools of unskilled labor available in many countries that are weaving rugs, higher and higher quality products make their way onto the world market. There are more rugs on the market with hand-spun and prepared wool and natural dyes than at any time, I believe, since before World War Two. The phenomenon is basically driven by rising old rug prices. Several large producers are bringing excellent carpets in from Turkey (and there is, of course, DOBAG), good things are coming out of India, and Pakistan is now a leader in high quality rug weaving. Iran has a few small high end rug weaving operations, and their products will now make their way into the US market. New rugs are produced more like Ford’s World Cars, with design, materials and labor sourced all around the globe. I guess you could ask if rugs produced that way are “Genuine” - or does it really matter?

Subject  :  RE: Authenticity
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  03-27-2000 on 08:46 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear People, Mike raises the very sticky issue of what is and is not "genuine". This is a tricky matter, not only with regard to "ethnographic" rugs, but with tribal art in general. Caucasian rugs, for instance, became "less genuine" when collectors learned about the kustar system under which so many were produced. The magazine African Arts devoted an entire issue to this subject almost twenty years ago. Some points that muddy our thinking include: 1. Is an object "genuine" if the same person who makes it for local use (perhaps even for ritual local use), also makes it the same way for sale to outsiders? That is, does the authenticity somehow depend on the motive of the object's maker or the actual history of the object? If so, why, and how could anyone know? 2. Is an object "genuine" only if it is more than 100 years old? By what process of reasoning could that conclusion be reached? Bear in mind that African carvers were making tribal artifacts commercially and Turkmen weavers were also doing so at least 100 years ago, possibly much earlier than that. Regards, Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:
Author  :  Jay+Burkette
Date  :  03-28-2000 on 09:45 a.m.
jaylib@tin.it Hello, Steve puts his finger on the crux of an important issue; however, as a young collector, I cannot help but think that this discussion also has the potential of being a dead end. I'll make an attempt to explain: Just a few days ago we discussed on the "Show and Tell" board a newly woven rug by one of the participants in the discussion. Obviously the rug would not be "genuine" by many definitions. By the same token, however, it is "genuine" in the sense that it is handwoven and tries to follow some older Anatolian motifs/construction/material/dyes/etc. I ask myself - if an object is created for the market (which, most literature agrees, has been one of the strongest motivating forces behind weaving, tribal or city, for some time) yet tries to follow/expand/stylize patterns or ideas that (1) continue some weaving tradition, or (2) have been and/or might be highly saleable what does it matter? The carpet may not be "collectible" in some discussion circles; however, I don't know how I would classify its "genuineness" (to coin the word.) This really comes to light when discussing, for example, Turkmen gulls in carpets both antique and modern. O'Bannon/Ford/Moshkova et.al. would argue for the ancient existence and persistence of tribal gulls (in a "living" and "dead" context) that rose and fell due to inter-tribal warfare/conquest/intermarriage. Eiland and others would argue that these gulls were, rather, tribal interpretations of city carpet palmettes and other designs that were adapted/stylized for tribal use over the years. Now put that into the context of our discussion - is a certain Turkmen gull carpet any more or less "genuine" if it was woven by a woman of a tribe not normally associated with that gull, using construction/materials common to both tribes? The real question becomes, as Steve has already mentioned, "Would we even know?" This becomes especially true of newer carpets of this genre which borrow border patterns (and field designs, for that matter) from many places and origins. Add to that the fact that the huge balance of current goods are made for the Western market and the discussion becomes even muddier. Many would say this makes the argument for only older weavings to be "collectible," but then we are back to another question, "What part of today's 'art' will become the 'collectibles' of tomorrow?" I refuse outright the argument that today's weavings are not "genuine" or "collectible" solely for the reason that they are contemporary weavings. While they might not match up (or however you want to say it) to pieces from the turn of the century, it seems plain that several centers of production and controlled projects are dedicated to reproducing tribal/village patterns with good materials, good dyes, and original construction techniques. One may argue that as the designs are not "original" the products are less "genuine." However, that too is a dead-end argument as the facts show that most antique production (city or tribal) that we know of was copied or adapted in some form from earlier designs that came from various centers of civilization. What is not, in my opinion, a dead end discussion is the role of the weaver in and with the weaving. Here I (this is only my inexperienced opinion) strongly side with Sam Gorden when he states that when the weaver and the designer are the same person the result becomes art rather than craftsmanship. This, I believe, starts to raise some real questions/concerns with current production that can be productively, rather than circularly, discussed. At the end, we return to the beginning of the discussion. I think most of us would agree that personal preference is and has to be the source of collection decisions/goals. To that end, the current production has a lot to offer within its context. Let's hope in this salon we hear from some of those who have worked or who are working with the projects/production in Turkey. They should have a unique perspective on the cottage industry weavings currently in production in Anatolia. Regards, Jay

Subject  :  RE: Authenticity
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  03-28-2000 on 11:05 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Jay, The whole issue winds up revolving around the fact that most rug collectors today favor what we might call "ethnographic rugs". This was a major topic at ACOR in Chicago a few years ago. The question then becomes whether a particular piece has ethnographic authenticity. Who cares? That is, if an object is artistically successful, what difference does it make whether it is ethnographically genuine? Anyone can adopt this position, and it is almost unassailable. But for better or for worse, the fact is that most collectors do care, and care very much. We can get into collector psychology in trying to figure out why they care so much, but sooner or later we will bump into the pleasures of fantasy as an end point. Mark Traxler's rug is really neat, but it's obvious that a Christian male Minnesotan can't make a Turkish village rug that is ethnographically authentic. So, we take it for what it is. That's pretty good and quite unambiguous, and we treat ethnographic authenticity as irrelevant. The modern Turkish production is a bit stickier. Some, as Jenny's Salon shows, are workshop rugs and ethnographic authenticity is irrelevant to them. Others, though, are village products, made by weavers trying to capture the art of their ancestors and using traditional methods to do so. What are we to make of their rugs? My personal view is to treat them with as much respect as we would treat rugs of comparable quality made in the same area 100 or 200 years ago. We tend to forget that many of those were made for the European market, in the hope of generating income for the weaver, just as the new ones are. That is, the hunt for ethnographic authenticity is oftentimes a form of self-deception. Fire at will. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:
Author  :  Safak+Civici
Date  :  04-05-2000 on 02:43 a.m.
Why do we have to somewhat put down any Turkish rug that we suspect is being made for sale ? I would not call a rug "genuine" just because it is made with handspun wool and natural dyes to an antique pattern (exactly: DOBAG rugs and all the Woven Legends), because there the weaver, drafter, wool spinning and wool dying persons are not the same. And do not tell me those rugs are not made for the commercial use !! I would rather call a Yahyali or a Taspinar or a Yoruk or even a Kayseri rug genuine, because in those cases (except the Kayseri), the woman spins, dyes it partially with vegetable, partially with synthetic dyes, interprets her own pattern and still sells her rug on the market, after maybe using it for a while. If genuinity means one of a kind, then this described rug should earn this title, you can't ask the lady to make 10 more the same type. But I am afraid with all the work shop rugs, you order 10 of the same, they will be the same size, pattern, dye. I am afraid that in the Western world the rug that gets the best marekting is being regarded as the best, whether that is true or not. And please don't put rugs down, just because they have synthetic dyes (I can;t get over Joyce Ware's negative attitude towards contemporary Turkish rugs in her Oriental rugs price guide). I hope I did not step on too many feet.

Subject  :  RE:
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  04-05-2000 on 08:57 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Safak, I'm not sure, but I think you may have misunderstood some of the messages in this thread. They are quite positive about modern Turkish production. I just returned from ACOR in San Francisco, where a full hour talk about modern Turkish weavers and weaving was given by Josephine Powell and some positive comments were also heard at the focus session on "The Market". Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:New Rug, Good Rug?
Author  :  Patrick+Weiler
Date  :  04-05-2000 on 11:35 p.m.
jpweil00@gte.net It may help to look at this situation from a different perspective. Over 100 years ago, when many of the rugs that are now considered collectable were being woven (many in weaving "factories"), a group of painters began the impressionist school. They were ridiculed, ostracized and marginally profitable. Who knew that 100 years later their paintings would be the most valuable on the market? Modern Turkish weaving is, too, undergoing a profound metamorphosis. Will these weavings be equally desirable (within the market for rugs, of course) 100 years from now? No one knows, and we will not be around to find out. We do know that quality weavings from that era 100 years ago are desirable now, just as inferior weavings from that time are not as desirable now (consider the hideously dyed Turkish production from 100 years ago). The market for these new rugs is definitely different than the market for antique rugs, just as the market for impressionist paintings was different than the market for Pre Raphaelite paintings and majestic landscapes at that time. It will just take a hundred years or so for the true future value of current rug production to materialize. Patrick Weiler

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