TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  03-30-2001 on 01:22 p.m.
Dear Steve (and All),

Do you remember the article “Dyes and Dating Caucasian Weavings” you wrote for the Oriental Rug Review Vol. 15/4? The article is still available on the web at:


You presented there a ”Daghestan rug of the type usually identified as Avar” with a date -1331 of the Egira (1913/1914 A.D.) whose dyes included a fugitive fuchsine, and a Caucasian saddlebag, also dated, with natural colors. This is the saddlebag in question:

What a coincidence! My rug, dated 1914, is possibly an Avar.

And...Look at what I found at the Hajj Flea Market

It is almost the same bag: same design but different colors - some of them are faded. It looks quite old with two small holes on one face, heavy wearing on the corners, stains on the back but still in good condition.

The saddlebag was so dusty and smelly that I had to wash it - I did not expect any color run: I was right.

As you can see the colors are: white (cotton) madder-red, a purplish red faded to pink, two browns, a little of deep blue (only in some spots) some faded light blue and two yellows. One of the yellows is used for the outline of some motifs. The other, used for the fields, is faded. Here is a close-up. See the yellow field with a little light blue and the yellow outlining?

Looking at the back side I was expecting to find a stronger yellow…

That’s true for the outlining, but the field is gray-beige with a touch of purple. One of the famous fugitive fuchsins? But why on the front side the wool is yellowish? Am I missing something here?

I did my best to fine-tune the pictures, what you see is pretty close to the original colors.

Waiting for your opinions,


Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Vincent_Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  03-30-2001 on 03:41 p.m.
Dear Filiberto,

Thanks for this lovely salon. I'm enjoying it a lot. Thank you for sharing this beautiful bag. The lack of colors, the lack of overwhelming colors, makes the bag more beautiful. It's a designers state of the art. Especially the borders. I love these kind of borders, as if the design has been thorn out.....and it gives the design a timeless touch.
The colors make it a tender item. A fragile non-confronting, non-bombastic, easy-going piece of textile art. So the colors have faded? Fuchsine? Think so, but that doesn't bother me at all.
Think, most people like the Rugreview piece better, that's why the genuine textile-art can still be found.
It's like with Richards white embroideries compared to the bombastic, color-abused grandmothers flower curtains that suddenly pop-up everywhere I look.

I do own a Russian textbook. But I can't make a lot of the text in your rug. I thaught I could read "friend" and think the first line is left-right and the second line is right- left, and some of the characters are backward.
But, I'm sure others can do this translating much better. Hope this will stimulate someone out in Russia to help us, Da?

Think you're having a good time, and thanks for sharing that with us Filiberto,

Best regards,

V.P.C.M. Keers

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  03-31-2001 on 03:11 a.m.
Many thanks Vincent,

I also noticed the writings on the rug are "mirrored". How do you spell the Russian for "friend" in Latin alphabet? I doubt that someone in Russia is reading us.

P.S. - What V.P.C.M. stands for?

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Vincent Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  03-31-2001 on 07:12 a.m.
Good morning friend Filiberto
*óÓPOE YTPO *PYR Filiberto,

Friend is pyr with a strange character like this * as first character but then closed at the bottem as a square. The character looks like a Yürth. It's pronounced as D like in Da, door, do.
The first character in Good should be closed at the bottem as well, but I can't find it on the keyboard.
At means: At, to; At a friend's.
Friend in Russian: *(the Yürth)pyr. (Dboer?)

At babDpyr? At good, dear, friend? Bon compagni?
Think my Earlobes are getting in the way by now.

All those Characters in my name? Something to do with religion. It's the way I'm registerd in my country. Not having a beautiful name as yours, we had to compensate it.

Best regards,
Bceró xopówero (All the best) Vincent

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  03-31-2001 on 08:03 a.m.
Dobroe utro Vincent,

Our software doesn't accomodate Cyrillic, so illustrating Cyrillic text is probably only possible by scanning it and then posting it as an image.

To get back to Filiberto's question, the closest we can come to spelling the word with our alphabet is:
"Friend" = drug (the letter u has the same vowel sound as "cool".

I opened this message with "Good morning, Vincent..."

Vincent, drugaya maya; khorosho, ne pravda li?

Regards to all,

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  03-31-2001 on 09:16 a.m.
Well, if you say so…I printed the Cyrillic Alphabet and I was trying to find a concordance between what you both wrote and the inscriptions. No way. I may be thick…
Never mind. Thanks anyway.
But… Excuse me if I insist: what about your opinion on the bag dyes?

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  03-31-2001 on 10:24 a.m.
Dear Filiberto,

I can't see the inscription of writing on your piece very well. Vincent's attempt to represent Cyrillic was, as you noticed, not successful. You also suggested in your Salon that the inscription might be Cyrillic script, rather than printed Cyrillic. The two forms of Cyrillic look as different as the corresponding forms of our alphabet do, maybe even more so. A "t" in script, for example, looks just like our "m" in script, while their printed "T" is just like our printed "T".

As for the dyes, there does appear to be an early synthetic violet, probably fushsine, which suggests that the piece was made around 1900-1925. If your question about the dyes is about whether they are attractive, Vincent thinks they are, I think they are dull, the very opposite of the Caucasian aesthetic.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Vincent_Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  03-31-2001 on 08:00 p.m.
Spokojinoj notjsi Steve,

Da, Eto trudi trud li?
And it's in the silence, beauty can be found.
Think the bags are made perfectly. It's a shame that who ever made them, was coned by some dye salesman. And I do not think the original soft blue color, thaugh more beautiful, the loss of it makes the bags less.
Especially when we think of the periode they where made in. Not the most happy days for Russia. So it tells a genuine story. That's what art is about, ponimaj li? Cmïfe.

Dear Filiberto, think you're very lucky in finding this rug with your name in. So someone in 1914 made it, because they knew you would pick it up at some Hajj. Your name does mean Good companion/friend? I will never find myself a rug with my name in.

S oedawonstwiem,
With pleasure?

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 01:19 a.m.
Yes, Vincent.
Companion, like compagno (pl. compagni) in Italian comes from the medieval Latin "com" and "pani-". "Pani" means bread. "Com" means "in common". i.e. somebody with whom one shares his bread.
You can translate in English my name as "Good Companions".
We are going linguistics on this thread!
Thanks for the appreciation for my bag.
Mille Grazie,


Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 03:14 a.m.
Uh, I forgot.
My question concerning the dyes was more intended to know if the beige was originally a fugitive fuchsin. Thank anyway, Steve, for your frank opinion on the bag esthetic.
The first time I saw it I didn’t want to buy because it seemed too faded.
A few days after the bag was still there…I looked at it again…And I dropped it.
It was only at the third time that I took the decision and started to bargain.
After I washed the bag, it looks much better. The uncharacteristic lack of too many colors together with the strong design gives this piece a sort of heraldic-device look. Not bad at all. I know it wasn’t meant to appear like this, but I suspect that I wouldn’t have liked at all its original appearance.


Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 08:02 a.m.
Dear Filiberto and folks -

I started to muse a bit yesterday morning on the basis of the exchanges here. My post got lost and that might be as well. But I'm stimulated to say something similar now.

First, many of us are socialized into a color palette that we use to detect whether a weaving is likely to have synthetic dyes. Not only is it likely that this learned palette is inaccurate in this respect, it is also sometimes the case that synthetic dyes have faded in ways that are not unattractive. Often they contribute by simply going away but they can "mellow" too, although they do not do the latter with the reliability of natural dyes.

Second, there are signs of seeming contradiction in the color aesthetics of those of us who admire natural dyes. Sometimes we laud the "saturation" (as Vincent notes). But we also frequently talk favorably about the "softer" shades that natural dyes tend to move to over time.

Third, there are some Persians who quite specifically admire and seek rugs that most of us would find pale, faded, even "washed-out." They use words like subtle to describe the color aesthetic they seek. I know of some folks who hang silk rugs with the pile pointing toward the top to achieve a similar effect (something that makes me sorrow about the "waste" of good color). Vincent's comments suggest that while he can appreciate rich color (he comments on a blue today in the Chelaberd he is repairing) he also occasionally enjoys a little rest from the bombardments of color "saturation." A visit to a more quiet part of the color spectrum where he can rest his eyes (if not his earlobes) and perhaps notice the character of the weaving. Most macrame is of this sort. A matter of something close to pure texture done without much color or color variation. This permits one to appreciate better the technical quality of the weaving. Macrame people talk about the technical quality of the knots and prize "knot definition."

Fourth, I think efforts to avoid any synthetic dyes in the weavings we collect can, if pursued too fiercely, somtimes cut us off dysfunctionally from some pieces that are actually quite beautiful and deserving of collection. Unless saying the phrase "Possibly before 1850," is critically important, the desire to exclude synthetics entirely can move beyond aesthetics to a kind of ideology that can seem beside its own point (i.e., how the colors "look")

A postscript about the "mirroring" of an inscription. If what has been done is a simple reversal, it might be useful to say out loud some things most of us know. Old rugs are sometimes used as patterns to weave more recent rugs. Often the pattern is more clearly visible on the back. Rug weavers have often been illiterate and simply weave by rote what they are looking at. This can explain such "mirroring." Most of us have encountered reversed dates in inscribed pieces.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 11:52 a.m.

A couple of things you bring up are very interesting. You mention "the more quiet part of the spectrum where he can rest his eyes." If I remember from grade school days, many desert dwellers make their clothes and tents DARK to rest their eyes from the harsh glare. Consider many Baluch weavings, with very dark (what we could call somber) colors. I suspect the darker colors allow the pupils to widen, thereby reducing the effort needed by the eyes.
Not that this counters your suggestion that some people like softer colors because they can be more relaxing.
In the case of the faded bag, I would actually strain my eyes more, trying harder to see what it USED to look like and I would strain my brain by trying to see what it SHOULD have looked like

Then you mentioned the "waste" of good color. This leads to a question: If a color is wasted by being pointed upwards, is it really there

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 12:15 p.m.
Dear Patrick,

Your mention of the theory that Belouch wove their textiles with a dark palette in order to rest their eyes is new to me, thus bringing the number of theories close to the number of colors in their usual palette.

Here are some others:
1. They use a very dark palette that looks much livelier in bright sunlight, which is the predominant situation in their environment. This is probably the most prevalent explanation.
2. They use a very dark palette because they begin with dark colored wool, and dying can only make it darker.
3. They use a very dark palette because it supports an aesthetic in which motifs can fool the eye by being composed of low-contrast areas abutting each other.

Someday, someone will ask a Belouch weaver to explain. Since the palette, including the dyes, that they used were essentially unchanged until about 1940-1950, there's even still an opportunity to interview someone who wove what would be called an antique in the marketplace.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 03:00 p.m.
Pat -

You said in part:

"Then you mentioned the "waste" of good color. This leads to a question: If a color is wasted by being pointed upwards, is it really there"


What you may know I was referring to was the tendency of colors to look darker if one stands on the end of a piece with the pile "pointing" toward you. If you then go to the other end the colors will seem lighter. The difference is the result of the absorption versus the reflection of light on the pile threads.

As you may also know, this effect is much more dramatic with silk rugs, apparently because they have a sheeny surface on the sides of the pile threads that reflect light more dramatically than do the sides of wool pile threads.

Anyway, some folks deliberately display silk rugs with the pile knots pointing up to display more subtle versions of the rug's colors. This does not suggest that the darker shades would not be visible if the rug were reversed on the wall so that the pile ends pointed down.

It's a separate question of what the colors on a silk rug are but noticably darker shades on a given silk rug mounted with the pile pointing up are always definitely "there."


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Vincent_Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  04-01-2001 on 08:06 p.m.
Dear all,

In my life as a ruggy I became aware of the difference between girls and boys...........
Think this has something to do with Barby etc.
So could anyone advise me on this subject?

What is State of the Art and what is not?
I think our rugs would look very different if Jezus, Mohamed and Bhoeda where girls. Or Alexandra the Great, Jenghisa Khan oh...what about the Mother Goddess.......

Think John has a very open mind about the color subject.

It's like Filiberto has experienced with his bag. One look, a next look and a next one. Cleaning carefully. Apreciating the texture, smelling the wool etc.
It's great to own a rug that you like while nobody else does. It's more fun appreciating and finding out for yourself what turns you on. Have a look in Hali......I'm bored to death last 10 years or so. The A..Ha erlebnis can get very boring to.

Best regards,

ps. If everyone likes the rug I like? For me that's the a staring point for self reflection.

Subject  :  Re:A Caucasian Saddlebag
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  04-02-2001 on 03:38 a.m.
Dear All,
About "mirroring". I wrote it between quotation marks because it is not a real mirroring. The letters are written in the correct way (direction), only the order is reversed, like in "amor - roma". The date, 1914, is also written twice but not mirrored.
About appreciating rugs that nobody else does. My opinion is this: if one likes something and others share his taste, so much the better. If they don’t, it’s O.K. too! No need to be in distress for lack of general consensus. Besides, taste changes… Look at the Baluchi rugs. A few years ago almost nobody wanted them.


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