TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Application to Piled Rugs
Author  :  Marvin Amstey mailto:%20mamstey1@rochester.rr.com
Date  :  01-14-2001 on 03:28 p.m.
I can appreciate what Ms. Wolf has stated and some of the few scientific references she makes. However, the experience of many collectors is that great rugs- classic 18th c. and earlier that were exposed to everyday use and wear (e.g. the early Holbein rugs used as table covers) - show very little evidence of color fade. In fact, it is the stability of those colors that add to the rugs' greatness. I'm sure all of us could find many examples of this long light exposure without obvious color change. Certainly the Turkoman bag faces were exposed for many years to bright sunlight. Maybe that enhanced the colors?! I would appreciate any comment from Ms. Wolf about these points and pile rugs in general.
Thank you,

Subject  :  Re:Application to Piled Rugs
Author  :  Sara Wolf mailto:%20sjcenik@aol.com
Date  :  01-14-2001 on 04:39 p.m.
One of the difficulties in speaking about older pieces is that we have no idea what they originally looked like. More recent, analine-dyed pieces often show fading that is easy for you to detect visually. It is not only the color change that concerns the museum conservator, but the damage to the fibers themselves. This is certainly much less visible, but takes its toll over the long-term.

Perhaps another kind of recent example would help illustrate the point. Are you familiar with the DOBAG rugs from Turkey? Those are new production pieces that employ natural dyes. They are quite vivid because they are not treated with a chemical wash to "soften" or "age" their look. Compare those to a venerable rug, and you'll begin to have a feeling for the amount of change that really takes place. The "mellowness" of an older piece is some measure of its value, and that mellowing is a result of color change and fiber degradation.

Subject  :  Re:Application to Piled Rugs
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  01-14-2001 on 07:58 p.m.
Thank you for sharing your expertise in this area.

It would be interesting to find a pair of bag faces that were "separated at birth", with one being stored away and the other displayed.

It seems that the major research upon which the "standard" lighting level is based on is over 20 years old, and is not specifically based on oriental rugs. There have been advances in lighting technology in that much time. Are you aware of any more recent studies done using the more advanced lighting techniques?
Granted, museums are saddled with the same budget burdens that we all are, but has there been any thought to a newer technology such as lighting that would increase to a higher level when the object is being viewed and return to lower levels when the viewer moves along? It might be a little like walking through a haunted house, but at least the total light would be reduced.
Visiting the DeYoung museum during the recent ACOR was a real challenge. The light level was low enough that one needed to watch where one's feet were while trying to get close enough to the rugs to appreciate them. I realize that the museum has a need to preserve the objects within it, but to the extent that they are not adequately viewable?

I believe that there are also new glass technologies that allow only some wavelengths to pass through and when "switched on", allow more light through. Kind of like "sun-sensor" sunglasses only more advanced.
Perhaps a study of the true effects of various lighting specifically on textiles, combined with the application of advanced lighting techniques could shed a little more light on the subject.

This topic is not only of interest to museums, but also to the rug collectors who like to have them scattered around for enjoyment, study and decoration. Do you have any suggestions for us, other than to live like moles?

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:Application to Piled Rugs
Author  :  Leslie Orgel mailto:%20orgel@aim.salk.edu
Date  :  01-16-2001 on 01:10 p.m.
Dear All

I once had the experience that Patrick speculates about. A specialist tribal rug dealer sent me this nineteenth century Afshar bag as a possible purchase.

He sent along for comparison a more recent and substantially less expensive example with exactly the same design. The more recent face had very harsh colors but was in perfect condition. The old piece showed considerable wear. I never questioned the relative dates, which I think might have passed as "last quarter of the nineteenth century" and "about 1920" in a typical dealers catalogue.

Val Arbab, who has done a lot of restoration, happened to come by while I was looking at the two pieces. She said "Leslie, do you realize that these are the two faces of the same double bag?" The warps varied substantially in color across the width of the bags, and she had noticed that they lined up exactly. I do not know how they came to be in such different condition, but there is no question that she was right.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that I bought the damaged piece and sent back the one that was in perfect condition! How crazy can you get.

Best wishes


Subject  :  Re:Application to Piled Rugs
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  01-16-2001 on 03:48 p.m.
Leslie -

A wonderful story! If it's "crazy," it's a group phenomenon, since you did what we'd nearly all likely have done.

It also gives credence to Sara's original thought here that we really don't know what the weavings we collect looked like originally. Side by side we'd often not recognize that the one is the pair of the other.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Application to Piled Rugs
Author  :  Sara Wolf mailto:%20sjcenik@aol.com
Date  :  01-18-2001 on 07:05 p.m.
There is some research going on about lighting, and I understand that the Getty is about to issue a draft new standards on museum environment in the next year or so for review by conservators. There have been some advances in lighting technology, and hopefully that will "shed some new light" on the problem.

Even within the category of "oriental rugs" there is a wide variety of materials, dyes, etc., to consider for lighting. As an example, one might show a silk rug and a wool rug in the same gallery. The silk wil be substantially more susceptible to light deterioration than the wool. Ergo, you light for the silk, and the wool is "in the dark."

It would be impossible to test every dye in every rug before an exhibition. We know that some dyes are more light-stable than others, but I repeat again, it's not just the dye that is the problem. What you don't see is the deterioration to the fiber itself. The lighting standards are an average.

I just went to the Department of the Interior Museum this week to look at an exhibition featuring a Navajo rug with a sandpainting design. The gallery there had a visitor-sensitive light switch that turned on when you entered the gallery for that piece and a couple of others. It was very disconcerting to adjust back and forth between the displays that were lit full-time, and those where the lights went up and down. I'm sure this technology could be improved, but I personally hated it.

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