TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Maybe this will help. Maybe not.
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  08-31-2001 on 06:54 a.m.
Hi People,

A number of elements have gotten mingled in the long, sometimes contentious thread "Straw Man". I believe that this may have confounded the lines of thinking for many, and would like to try to sort those elements out.

When I say that one of my rugs is, for example, "Ersari" (it could be Kuba, Shirvan, Bijar, Bergama - that detail doesn't matter right this minute), I am really telescoping a number of statements. Here are two of them:
1. This rug has certain characteristics that resemble those that I call Ersari. That commonality is enough to lead me to believe that it belongs to that group rather than to some other group.
2. I believe I know, at least to a first approximation, who the weavers were for the rugs I call Ersari.

Those two statements interact in our minds, but either one of them could be wrong without negating the other. That is, they are logically independent.

Now let's look at how we arrive at each one, starting with the second. The identity of the weavers of Ersari rugs is what Yon has referred to as the authenticity of Ersari attribution. The best sources from which to authenticate it are things like field work and historical documentation (using that term fairly broadly). Often it's little more than marketplace lore. No matter how much we examine a rug, it never answers the question of authentication. Yon has kindly offered to lead us in a discussion of that topic at a later date, so I'll drop it for now.

The first issue, whether the characteristics of my hypothetical rug justify its inclusion under the Ersari mantle, is the main focus of this Salon. In general terms, those characteristics fall into two broad categories. There are the things we can see from a little distance or in a photo in a typical Sotheby's catalog. Those, I've called design, etc. There are those that usually require a little closer examination. Those are the structural characteristics.

So, when we gather sensory information about a rug - that's what we do when we look at it, feel it, smell it - our object is to process that information in such a way as to lead to a reasonably reliable aproach to the first statement above. Which sensory information is most likely to do so is a decision with which we are faced.

And that's what this Salon is about.

I hope that made it more clear. If it adds to the confusion, I apologize to anyone whose time I am absorbing by trying to clarify.

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Maybe this will help. Maybe not.
Author  :  Jim mailto:%20abey@vei.net
Date  :  08-31-2001 on 09:29 a.m.
For the novices reading this thread it would be nice to get a feeling for why we are having this discussion. From my perspective as I go around the world looking for things to buy and sell I uniformly encounter this phenomenon. Any rug, no matter what its' structure, with a famous or desirable pattern is called by the name of the famous pattern. The work of the collector/buyer is to ascertain the truthfulness of their assertions. A worst case might go something like this. A customer sees a discussion on Turkotek about the value and desirableness of a Turkoman rug and goes to his corner rug store asking for a "Turkoman" rug and the vendor brings out a nice Pakistani facsimile. With the slightest bit of technical knowledge this novice might avoid the mistake of buying a Jufti knotted pseudoturkoman rug for a genuine one. This process can be refined to eventually tell the difference between Genji and Kazak weavings and so on. In the end the process fails to actually prove the authenticity of a collectible rug because the facts surrounding the technical aspects of the weaving of a truly old rug are not known in any deep historical context, thus decreasing or invalidating the techniques overall validity. I think the lesson here is that a little technical understanding of weave characteristics is a very good thing but in the end it can never replace the buyers' eye and good taste as avenues toward aesthetic rewards. Jim Allen

Subject  :  Re:Maybe this will help. Maybe not.
Author  :  Marvin Amstey mailto:%20mamstey1@rochester.rr.com
Date  :  08-31-2001 on 09:48 a.m.
Steve and Jim,
Very nice summaries and conclusions; puts it all into perspective.

Subject  :  Re:Maybe this will help. Maybe not.
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  08-31-2001 on 10:53 a.m.
Hi Folks,

Jim Allen is right, of course, in noting that market value is determined in part by the origin, so having some skill at attribution can be worth money. Attribution is not an aesthetic judgment, as he also correctly points out, and wonderful colllections are that way because of the wonderful aesthetics of the pieces in it.

On the other hand, though, there are people who see attribution as an exercise independently (or in addition to) its relation to market value. Like many collectors, I like to know what the things in my collection are. I think this is a fairly fundamental aspect of collector psychology, by the way.


Steve Price

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