TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Available Resources
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 08:21 a.m.
Dear People,

One way to approach the matter of what we might reasonably hope to learn in the intermediate term future (say, the next 10 to 20 years) is to look around and see what resources are there from which to learn it.
Here are some that come to mind:
1. Traveler reports from before the 20th century, which Jerry mentioned in the introductory essay.
2. Fieldwork by anthropologists and the like, to explore surviving traditions and infer the preceding ones from them. Chenciner's discovery of the embroidery of the Kaitag/Dargin district is a good example of the unexpected outcomes such work sometimes has, but even the more expected outcomes could be very informative, as they have been in the past.
3. Research into documents of various kinds. Wertime/Wright's Caucasian Carpets and Covers presents an approach based on documentation of what designs were woven in which places in the early 20th century; Robert Pittenger has done some interesting digging around in the files of the British field offices in the region of Afghanistan around 1900 and earlier; the writings of some of the Russian military of their findings in Turkmenistan, are all good examples. There's lots more waiting to be done.
4. Old European paintings sometimes provide a lot of information about what kinds of rugs were owned by Europeans at various periods, and how they were used (as tablecovers, for instance, something we'd be unlikely to guess without some kind of evidence).
5. Technological applications awaiting refinement, like physical methods for date attribution. The introduction of C-14 dating of rugs is certainly a milestone along this path, even if guys like me don't think it's reliable.

How's this for openers?

Regards,

Steve Price


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  Leslie Orgel mailto:%20orgel@aim.salk.edu
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 11:19 a.m.
Hi Steve,
Are there any substantial early photo-archives from the rug-producing regions? If there are, they might reveal a great deal about the way carpets, bags and other collectorsí items were used in the second half of the nineteenth century, and possibly about the rise and fall in the popularity of different designs and weave types. No color, but you canít have everything.
Best wishes,
Leslie

Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 08:41 p.m.
Leslie,

I once talked with a researcher working with Mr. Jim Opie. One of his tasks was to check all of the photos in old National Geographic magazines for reference photos of rugs. I suspect that most available resources have been thoroughly inspected. It will most likely take a fortuitous find to unearth a collection of early photos with rugs in them. Just like there will sometimes come onto the market a collection similar to one a dealer told me about several years ago. A woman sold him a large quantity of late 19th/early 20th century rugs that her grandfather had collected when he was in the middle east many years before. No one in his family liked them, so they stayed in the basement until he had died. She got them and no one in her family liked them so they stayed in the basement until she retired and was selling things off before moving into a smaller home.
The next big problem is one you can attribute to Bill Gates. His photograph image company has bought up all of the rights to all of the news agency photos from history and has stored them in an underground vault miles below the ground. Because it costs around $28 per photo to digitize, they will only be making the more "popular" photos available to the public (all rights reserved). This means that MILLIONS of old news photographs are now unavailable to researchers.
Look in your attic. You may have the answer to all of our deepest questions.

Historically yours,

Patrick Weiler


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 09:15 p.m.
Hi Patrick,

The fact that one of Jim Opie's guys scoured National Geographic for pictures of rugs doesn't mean that this source is all mined out. In fact, if the guy didn't report his findings, the fact that he did the survey is of no consequence at all.

Likewise for other sources. I wouldn't imagine that they are all deeply hidden and have never been seen. But to do anything with the information that's in them, somebody has to dig it out, arrange it on some digestible framework, make some persuasive arguments about what the findings mean, and convey all of the relevant stuff to the community of rug collectors.

Regards,

Steve Price


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  09-10-2001 on 09:29 p.m.
Dear folks -

This post is also triggered by Leslie Orgel's question about photographic archives in rug producing areas.

Although I suspect its value to us is limited, I ran into one here in Washington that shows that surprising things in such areas exist.

It is a recent Library of Congress exhibition of some photographs taken by a Russian nobleman photographer mosty in the pre-revolutionary 1900s. The truly surprising thing is that many of them are in very good color.

Here's the basic link to the exhibition:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/making.html

And here is just one image that I found arresting.

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/images/p87-8001.jpg

Another truly remarkable thing is that you can order digital images from this archive in particular levels of quality.

And someone mentioned looking through the issues of The National Georgraphic. Well, some time back, Steve put me onto the fact that you can buy it all on CD-ROM now and although the search engine in my copy isn't great, it is possible now to undertake such a task with relative economy.

Regards,

R. John Howe


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  Filiberto Boncompagni mailto:%20filibert@go.com.jo
Date  :  09-11-2001 on 05:13 a.m.
Dear John,

You are always a good source for interesting web sites!
This one will take a long time to explore. So far I spent more than one hour on it. For you busy people, look at what I found. Iím sure you will like these three pictures.

Interior of a Yurt (I think) : Four people seated on a carpet, in front of a backdrop of textiles

http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/ppmsc/04800/04841r.jpg

Profile of an Uzbek woman standing on a carpet at the entrance to a yurt, dressed in traditional clothing and jewelry

http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/ppmsc/04400/04412r.jpg

Georgian woman standing on a kilim

http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/ppmsc/03900/03968r.jpg

The kilim has a hot green, but I think it is just a problem of the picture rendering.
All the photos are created/published between 1905 and 1915.

Regards,

Filiberto


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  Stephen Louw mailto:%20slouw@global.co.za
Date  :  09-11-2001 on 06:14 a.m.
Hi,

Three potential sources spring to mind.
Firstly, I suspect that there is a lot of material in Russian archives that has yet to see the light of day. The WW review of the kustar material is a first, tentative, step, but no more. Sadly, most Western carpet lovers cant speak Russian, and the quality of Russian social history research is, with few exceptions, dismal.

Secondly, some of the best carpet history available has been gleaned from related sources on commercial activity. Walker's study of Imperial-Indian trade records, and Helfgott's (sp?) study of Iranian carpet manufacturers in the nineteenth century, for example, stand out. I suspect that there is a lot more here for professional historians and anthropologists to unpack.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, oral history. Whilst it is true that we have lost the chance to interview survivors of the pre-1880 carpet weaving era, I believe there is a lot more we can learn about carpet weaving, and the changing role of carpets in community life, through oral testimony. Sadly, much of the earlier ethnographic work is so tied into blood-and-guts (volksnationalisme) conceptions of tribe that it is often misleading. John's comment, in another thread, "has anyone seen a real Ersari", seems to suggest a similar frustration. As someone attempting to do fieldwork in rural India, I hope that I am not wrong about this.

Regards,
Stephen


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  09-13-2001 on 03:20 p.m.
Dear folks -

Just one more image from the Library of Congress exhibition.

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/images/p87-8086.jpg

Is that a "good blue" or not?

Incidentally, the images we shown here have been put to good use by Richard Isaacson, in his curating of a just opened exhibition of Central Asian bags at The Textile Museum.

Regards,

R. John Howe


Subject  :  Re:Available Resources
Author  :  Jim Allen mailto:%20turkomen@vei.net
Date  :  09-14-2001 on 05:22 p.m.
I would like to comment on Dr. Louws' questions in this thread. He notes:
Three potential sources spring to mind.
Firstly, I suspect that there is a lot of material in Russian archives that has yet to see the light of day. The WW review of the kustar material is a first, tentative, step, but no more. Sadly, most Western carpet lovers can't speak Russian, and the quality of Russian social history research is, with few exceptions, dismal.
1) Richard Woods' name comes instantly to mind having written a brilliant synopsis of the Russian history of the Turkoman tribes portion of "Vanishing Jewels", a book our illustrious Dr. Marvin Amstey contributed so generously to. Richard has been retained to write a book on the subject and I am anxious to see it published.

Secondly, some of the best carpet history available has been gleaned from related sources on commercial activity. Walker's study of Imperial-Indian trade records, and Helfgott's (sp?) study of Iranian carpet manufacturers in the nineteenth century, for example, stand out. I suspect that there is a lot more here for professional historians and anthropologists to unpack.

2) Turkoman weavings are historical documents that tell their own stories about who wove them, what the weavers thought was important about life, and generally portrayed things needed in order to be a Turkoman. There is nearly nothing written about them or their weavings before the 18th century but Jesuit monks, like John De Caprini, did travel to the "land of darkness" in those earlier times and a careful reading of their accounts was revolutionary in my own thinking. It is here that I learned about classical nomadic society. It is here one learns what constitutes the Royal nomadic life or about the hells angels on horseback.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, oral history. Whilst it is true that we have lost the chance to interview survivors of the pre-1880 carpet weaving era, I believe there is
a lot more we can learn about carpet weaving, and the changing role of carpets in community life, through oral testimony. Sadly, much of the earlier ethnographic work is so tied into blood-and-guts (volksnationalisme) conceptions of tribe that it is often
misleading. John's comment, in another thread, "has anyone seen a real Ersari", seems to suggest a similar frustration. As someone attempting to do fieldwork in rural India, I hope that I am not wrong about this.

3) Having seen first hand the flower of Turkoman learning and social authority I must sadly report that the Turkoman have absolutely no idea who they are now or who they once were. Turkman Bashi, the great Khan, is a Yomud. They have had a total cultural lobotomy by 100 years of Soviet occupation and are now in search of an identity.

Jim Allen


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