TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Flea Markets are the Same Everywhere
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  03-28-2001 on 10:49 a.m.
Flea Markets Seem the Same Nearly Everywhere

Dear Filiberto -

I know that I'm supposed to focus on the Hajj experience but the thing that struck me about your initial essay is, as Pat Weiler also noted, how much flea markets world over seem to look alike, on the Hajj route or not.

There is one such within easy distance of my home here in Washington, to which I walk most Sundays.

At this market you can sometimes find

an exotic item of furniture.

Some semi-serious antique books

Some quite serious Mission Oak furniture and quality Arts and Crafts lamps.

And, some rugs

This particular flea market has flourished in upper Georgetown for over 15 years, and is noteworthy, in part, because it usually has five or six dealers who display oriental rugs only. Most of their wares are new rugs, but some of them do occasionally ferret out pieces arguably of collectible interest.

The Georgetown flea market has come under political pressure in the last two years. Some of its neighbors do not see it as a community resource of the sort they wish to host. Although this decision is in appeal, it seems likely that this particular flea market may soon disappear.

Bob Emry, who like me, is a regular at this flea market, and I have bought reasonably well at this market. Here are some of the dealers from whom he and I have bought and some of the pieces I have purchased there.

First, here is the Afghan rug dealer who has been a regular at this flea market for the longest period of time. His name is Ahmad.

Here is the first rug I bought from him.

As you can no doubt see it is a Bordjalou Kazak with an “arch” and a “keyhole.” I liked its colors, its relative spaciousness and it archaic seeming border. I subsequently sold it during the 1996 ICOC to a NYC dealer at a very slight profit and earned what is likely the long-term emnity of his booth partner for refusing to pay a commission for his indicating when the dealer might return.

Here is a second piece I bought from this dealer, a Khorrasan “soufreh,” an "eating cloth."

These pieces are also sometimes described as “bridal paths” since they are apparently used in marriage ceremonies. This one is perhaps 12 feet long and 3½ feet wide. I have folded it on the wall, sometimes, to make it fit, but also to cover a couple of holes in the field. Some day I'll have them redone.

I like the “tribal” feel of this humble piece. The tan of the field is mottled with black and the jagged edge is very appealing to me. Likewise the ends, that are done in a colorful weft-faced flatweave, seem to me to “fit” the sides and to finish the piece crisply.

With the piece in his hands Parviz Tanavoli suggested that it is Khourrosan Kurd. When I responded that others had guessed Khourrosan Afshar, he immediately agreed that it could be that too.

The second dealer is an Afghan lady with the unlikely name of “Miller,” she told me the result of intense pursuit of a green card.

She is a hard worker and tries to learn and nowadays increasingly often finds material that is potentially interesting.

I’ve only ever bought one piece from her, this Kurdish rug, which I purchased purely on the basis of its color.

Kurdish collectors have remarked on the intense greens.

I cannot at the moment recall the name of this third rug dealer from whom I have bought interesting material .

The piece I bought from him recently was this SW Persian bag.

I liked its asymmetrical placement of the grid on the field and it has decent color. I washed it repeatedly and even the back began to look older and better to me.

So that's the sort of thing one can find here in this flea market. Bob Emry, has, I think, done better than I have.

No Hajj pilgrimages involved, that I know of, but some of these pieces have in fact come a long way.

And don't all flea markets look a lot alike?

Hope that's not too far afield, Filiberto.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Flea Markets are the Same Everywhere
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  03-28-2001 on 12:12 p.m.
Dear John,

On the contrary, I enjoyed the virtual visit of your Flea Market. That was a beautiful Kazak, it’s a pity you sold it.
Do you usually go there with your digital camera? It is a very useful and versatile tool, I noticed. A visual note-book, perfect if you see something of interest but you are not sure if it’s worth to buy or not. Once at home and downloaded the pictures one can search easily his books or the Internet - or e-mail the images to a friend for his advice.


Subject  :  Re:Flea Markets are the Same Everywhere
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  03-28-2001 on 03:12 p.m.
Filiberto -

I do not own a digital camera and have only taken the one I do own, once to this flea market. The purchased rug photos were all taken after the fact.

I hear that there are joys associated with owning a digital. The debate here suggests that they may still not give the fidelity of color (but what does?) that folks like us look for. My brother had one at a family gathering last November. $1500 and the images seemed light to me. Maybe operator problems but I've not been tempted yet.

I have an Nikon N60 with a Tamron 28-200 lens. It is reputed to be a camera that will let me take decent rug pictures without having to become a photographer.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Flea Markets are the Same Everywhere
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  03-28-2001 on 03:44 p.m.
Dear John,

Judge by yourself. The pictures you see on my Salon are taken with a modest $300 digital camera, resized to a lower definition (otherwise they are too big). The camera offers a lot of options, but I generally use it in Auto mode as a point-and-shoot. The think I like more is the possibility to shoot free-hands in Macro at a 4 inches distance - with very good results. That’s impossible with a normal camera, you need a tripod for that. You can also check the result of a picture on the LCD screen - if isn’t good you cancel it and try again. And you don’t have to wait to finish the film.


Subject  :  Digital cameras vs film
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  03-28-2001 on 04:15 p.m.
Dear John,

There are great differences in functional aspects between digital cameras and those that use film, and, not surprisingly, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Let's start with cost. Digital cameras are, perhaps, three or four times the cost of comparable conventional cameras. A good single lens reflex digital will cost a few thousand dollars, a good conventional single lens reflex can be had for well under one thousand. On the other hand, there is no film cost associated with the digital. You simply download into your computer the pictures you want to keep. So, if you take very large numbers of pictures, the economics lean toward the digital.

Color rendition favors the digitals under many circumstances. You can take photos in sunlight, incandescant or fluorescent light with really good color balance (or, at least, with nearly the same color balance). Films have different spectral sensitivities, and give bizarre colors if mismatched with the light source.

Another big plus for the digital is that you can see whether the shot is what you want it to be right away. Furthermore, if you post lots of stuff on the web, it's very fast and convenient. I can decide to post a photo of some rug, take the picture, adjust the image and file sizes, upload it to the server and see it on Turkotek in less than 10 minutes.

But then there's the down side. I mentioned cost. Another is the limited storage capacity of most digital cameras. I can travel with enough film for hundreds of (mostly awful) photos, but few digital cameras can store more than, say, 50 to 100 high resolution images. To go beyond that means even more expense for removable media. And image resolution of digitals, except for the very high priced models, is not even close to that of fine grain films.

On the other hand again, computer monitors are rather low resolution devices, and a 50 kb image file looks pretty good. Very few of the images on Turkotek reach 100 kb.

What is a boy to do? I own a pretty decent single lens reflex, and use it for anything that is going into print and for most travel and family photos. I also own a point-and-shoot digital that I use for anything that's going to be seen only on a computer monitor or anything I'd like be able to see immediately (Filiberto mentioned using it for browsing shops, for instance).

Steve Price

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