TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Who will collect?
Author  :  Stephen Louw mailto:%20slouw@global.co.za
Date  :  08-17-2001 on 04:18 a.m.
In another thread, Steve suggests that "by mainstream collectors ... we can think of the people who go to ACOR and ICOC, and subscribe to HALI, as typical specimens of this breed."

This, of course, assumes a significant degree of continuity between the type of people who collect today, and those who will collect in 100 years time. Thinking as a political scientist rather than a rug collector, I suspect that this is unlikely. Two issues spring to mind.


Firstly, if collecting is an affluent “middle class” phenomenon, then we need to ask, where will the affluent “middle class” live. At present, the “collecting world” today is dominated by the US, and by the US dollar. Those living outside the dollar zone cannot easily collect the same pieces that US collectors collect for financial reasons. This effectively rules out most of Africa and South America, much of Asia, and parts of Southern and Eastern Europe.

How will events in the next 100 years change this balance of power? I suspect Europe will become a much stronger market than it is currently, but beyond that, who knows. It is often suggested that demographic shifts in the Arab world, and the growth of a strong middle class (especially those linked to the oil economy) will shift attention away from the type of “ethnographic” or “tribal” carpets collected in the West, perhaps in the direction of super-fine silks, etc. As the Chinese economy grows, we can probably anticipate an even bigger market for expensive collectibles in the East, etc. This too will help define the direction of rug collecting.


I use this word advisedly, as I don’t fully understand it. But I think we can agree that most of use value our rugs in part because they speak to and about a culture other than our own. I like to speculate as to the cultural meaning of certain artifacts I collect, symbols in rugs I admire, etc. I suspect that this sentiment underpins much of the collector market today.

But will this still be a factor in 100 years time? Will culture be so globalised and universalised that the search for meaning in other cultures loses its value? Or will this globalisation of culture encourage collectors to dig deeper into the “ethnographic” past as a reaction to the sterility of a mono-cultural environment?

I suspect the latter. With globalisation most of the world seems to be in a process of abandoning its “traditional” roots, a movement which cannot be halted. Collecting cultural artefacts of the past can, however, help mitigate this anomic experience.

Just a thought.

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  John_Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  08-17-2001 on 05:51 a.m.
Stephen -

What follows doesn't nearly do justice to your nicely complicated thought above, but take just the third one, very briefly and superficially.

If, the concrete, that Vincent sees moving implacably in on The Netherlands, is, generally, one small a part of the homogenizing effects of globalization, there will be ample motivation, in settings into which it intrudes, for seeking the ''cultural" aspects of earlier times.

I think that people with concrete walls and floors will be predictable, even eager, members of the universe of future rug collectors. They may begin with decorating preoccupations but then so did most of us.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  08-17-2001 on 07:17 a.m.
Dear Stephen,

My working definition of mainstream collectors for purposes of this discussion, people who go to ACOR and ICOC, and subscribe to HALI is simply meant to focus on a particular group and avoid getting bogged down in arguments about who we mean. There are, no doubt, people who collect dollhouse rugs, people who collect matched sets of Pak-Bokharas in various sizes, and people who collect automobile floormats. As for bag collectors, there are 17 web sites that I know about run by collectors of airline barf bags (I put on a link to one that includes a bag I sort of donated to the guy who operates it - the details will make an interesting story for another day). None of these collector types is interested in ACOR, ICOC or HALI, and to that extent at least, I think my definition is useful.

Will there be some historical continuity between today's group and a comparable group in 100 years? I suspect so.

You raise the issue of collecting in what we might today call non-western cultures. It's actually alive and well in Japan (where the well-to-do prefer formal silk rugs on their floors), and in much of the middle east (again, with preference to formal workshop rugs). And remember, the rug producing countries are non-western and people there have been collecting for centuries. The very old Turkmen stuff we have is a result of the fact that Turkmen collected their own products (although not for the same reasons that we do today).


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  08-18-2001 on 04:34 a.m.
I wonder whether this discussion has reached a junction that requires asking the added question: "Why do people collect?"

Not to take us too far afield from John's initial direction, I think we will be in a better position to speculate on "Who will collect?" once we have a better handle on the "why" of it. This is a more fundamental question that underlies the "who" of it. To get the ball rolling on this (before leaving town for a week) here are a few possibilities.

1) Pride of ownership. Self-esteem may be enhanced by owning things that are admired by others.
2) Investment. Some collectors accumulate possessions with the primary intent of seeing them increase in value.
3) Compulsive behavior. What else can explain a garage full of National Geographics? Or the $20,000 collection of "toilet" related knick-knacks recently offered on eBay? Or barbed wire collectors?
4) Ironic commentary. Collectors of "kitsch" fall into this category. And, dare I suggest, collectors of airline barf bags, too?
5) Beauty. The impulse to surround oneself with beautiful possessions seems self-explanatory.
6) Resonance. People collect things that resonate with something in their psyche. Collectors of muscle cars of the 1960s may be doing so to recapture something of their youth.
7) Reaction. In an era of the machine-made one collects things that are handmade.

I'd like to propose that these reasons are as valid today as they will be 100 years from now. There will be collectors. They will be people who, for these reasons, need to collect. What they choose to collect will vary as much then as it does now. But, like now, that choice will be moderated by what is available. One hundred years ago Classical period rugs were available on the market. People with sufficient wealth and taste bought them. Many wound up in museums and are no longer collectible by anyone regardless of their wealth or taste. It is reasonable to suspect that the choices available to the collector in 100 years will be similarly truncated.

Will Wendel's Shahsavan pieces be on the market? Will Michael's Kurdish pieces be popping up on eBay2101?

If you woke up tomorrow and wanted to collect golden sculptures from Dynastic Egypt, you'd be out of luck. Our speculations on the collection interests of ruggies in 2101 must take this into consideration.



Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  08-18-2001 on 08:10 a.m.
Jerry et al -

I think the "why" question not tangential at all and I like your listing. I agree that the "whys" might well help us to spot likely "whats."

Some posters had already alluded to some aspects of items on your list here.

I would encourage others who have notions of "why" folks collect to add to Jerry's listing above.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  08-18-2001 on 09:15 a.m.
Dear People,

We spent two weeks on the "why" question, more than 50 Salons ago (my, how time does fly!). Start at http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00015/salon.html


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  08-21-2001 on 09:11 p.m.

One aspect of rug collecting has only been alluded to peripherally here:
How many people will there be on this planet in 2010?
Statistics show that the population (currently over 6 billion) will double by 2040. Assuming this increase continues a bit more slowly, there will be 24 billion people (give or take a few rug collectors) alive in 2101.
Divide your collection by 4 and that will give you some idea of how many rugs per collector there will be.
Add in a few natural disasters that will eliminate a percentage of the "collectible" rugs (remember the fires in the bay area a few years ago?) That leaves fewer rugs per collector. This plays into the "are there enough collectible rugs around for there to even be rug collectors" question to be even more relevant.
There may not be as many museums per person in the year 2101, but there will be a lot more museums then than there are now. A lot of them will want a rug or two. Just like they all seem to want a Picasso and a Monet now.
With 24 billion people around, grabbing collectible rugs from each other will probably take a second row to finding enough to eat and even more importantly, something to drink. Water is already a significant instigator in regional disputes. How much of it will people be willing to give up for rug collectors to wash their rugs with?
I conclusion, I think collectors will be looking for the smaller pieces. Except in the Netherlands, of course.

Populously yours,

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  08-22-2001 on 06:15 a.m.
Pat -

Good thoughts all.

Not sure I care for the possibility of more museums vying for collectible rugs. That's likely to result in more collectibe rugs being "buried" in museum storage vaults.

And I hadn't considered that the occasional immersion rug washes I do in the bath tub now may become a social no-no by the year 2101. More, such rug washing may, in fact, be illegal then. You've given me a potential rug-related moral issue to tussle with.

Less cleanly yours,

R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  08-22-2001 on 06:48 a.m.
Hi Patrick,

I just love statistical projections - it's what makes economics such a precise science.

If the following propositions are true, your projections (and, consequentially, John's ethical dilemma) will be accurate. Here are a few:
1. The "collectible" rugs, 100 years from now, will include only those that are collectible today. This will be true if no more collectibles are made starting tomorrow.
2. The percentage of the population who are collectors will be approximately the same as it is now. This will be true if the world population increase is distributed evenly among the current population.

What about the water shortage? The shortage isn't of water, it's of fresh water. We actually have plenty of water on the planet, most of it's just too salty for household purposes. On the other hand, the Global Warming Jeremiahs (Lord, I miss the Ice Age!) tell me that we'll soon be up to our knees in water as the polar ice caps thaw, so perhaps it will be our moral duty to absorb as much water in rugs as possible, just to keep the water level down.

Befuddled, as usual,

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  08-22-2001 on 08:43 a.m.
Dear folks -

Some may be disappointed that the quality of our conversation here is uneven, but in my view, a salon is a conversation with a focus but within which some unevenness is not only permissible but often part of what is enjoyable about the conversation.

Digression may often be one of the factors that dilutes the quality of the conversation but not always.

Such, I think, is possible in what follows.

Steve's comment about warming trends and floods reminds me of some reading that I have come onto that seems at least relatable to possible "ruggy" interests as reflected in such things as the work of Elizabeth Barber, who most of you know, writes wonderfully and authoratatively on prehistoric textiles.

Wendel Swan put me onto a related book by Bruce Smith, entitled "The Emergence of Agriculture." And, recently, an ancient friend who is a retired U.S. spy, a ruggy and a skilled rug repairer, recommended another book with a resonating argument.

This latter book is Noah's Flood
ISBN: 0684859203
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks
Publish Date: 01/01/2000
Author: William Ryan | William B. F. Ryan
Binding: Paperback , 320 pages

It's a good read and deals with the "ups and downs" of water levels over time in the area near the Black Sea.

The author(s?) clearly know how to dramatize scientific research and research findings, although some may find their tendency, sometimes, to speak favorably of themselves and their work in the third person, a shade pretentious.

Anyway, Steve's comments give me a chance to recommend these two books that seem to me either related to or relateable to, our ruggy interest.

The trends described in them may provide fodder for the sort of speculations we have attempted in this salon.

Digressively yours (it's apparently contagious, Pat),

R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Who will collect?
Author  :  Vincent Keers mailto:%20vkeers@worldonline.nl
Date  :  08-22-2001 on 11:49 a.m.
Dear all,

Sorry I can't force myself to make any suggestions. It just isn't my piece of cake.

W'll be needing waterproof rugs in The Netherlands. Recent years, w're getting our share of tropical rains. Last week Rotterdam ,our main port, was flooded.
So one day we'll float away.

Some more facts: The Netherlands 300x200 km's
16,000,000 : 60,000 = 266 humans km2
12,000,000 : 60,000 = 200 pigs km2
(Could be the other way around, but that doesn't change a thing, although pigs tend to behave more civilized)
8,000,000 : 60.000 = 133 cows km2
14,000,000 : 60,000 = 233 chickens km2
4,000,000 : 60,000 = 66 dogs km2
Households 4,500,000 : 60,000 = 75 H.h. km2
Animal Farm is here!

Still, people are having more life-space and keep on looking for more life-space in the future. My home is my castle and .. the world.
So, in 2101 no "Dutch" to collect anymore. My children will be living up-river Germany, Switzerland etc. because over there all the riverbanks have been developed into concrete river banks..One of the reasons our private delta paradise is flooded.

The Warrugs? They should be banned. So let's burn them all....Yes, I'm a pig, I know.
(It's normal to burn art in Europe, so do not hold it against me. I'm only acting as a good obedient pig.)

One thing more: 100 years? 0/100 was six generations. 1400/1500 was four generations. 1900/2000 was three generations. 2000/2100 is only two generations in the western society.
W're already living the year 2101.

Blup, Blup,
Fishnent Blup

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