The ACOR "Restoration"
This very handsome little rug was in one of the ACOR exhibitions.
The descriptive caption on it was as follows:
Central Anatolia (Modern made with old materials) 3'8" x 3'9"
From the collection of Jerry Raack
Ivory wool warps, primarily red wefts 2 to 4 shots; wefts pass over outermost warps and selvedge is wrapped with red wool.
Appears to be an antique, with an obvious repair in the upper center portion of ivory field, scattered other repiling of ivory field and a corroded major border. However, it may be modern:
* Wool pile is the same color on front and back and deep down in the knots. True antiques generally have lighter colored wool at tips of knots than at base and back.
* Knots are very clean, with no dirt visible anywhere. It is nearly impossible to get out all dirt on old pieces that have been used significantly.
* Major border has 5 colors ranging from black to dark brown, and light aubergine to a light purple. All have "corroded" to the exact same length even though they would have been made with different dyes and would have been expected to corrode at different rates.
* Deeper red color in top half of upper left medallion has wool that is still tightly twisted although the wool in the rest of the piece has no twist remaining.
* Mottled yellowish green in the medallion in the upper right actually has a significant number of knots made with wool where the 2 strands are of completely different colors (pure yellow and pure green). This is not possible for wools that are first twisted together and then dyed.
* The green color in the kelim end at lower right is of a different color than the other greens in the kelim ends. None of the greens in the kelim ends appear elsewhere in the the rug. Also, there is a significant difference in the number of rows of weft that make up the various kelim colors. This would not occur if they were woven completely across at initial creation.
Did someone go to a lot of work to produce an old looking rug from old materials, but in very recent times?
The owner of this piece was only made aware that it might possibly
be new two weeks before the exhibition. After a close examination by himself and several local dealers he came
to the conclusion that it was almost certainly new...and made to deceive.
The highly reputable dealer who sold it to him was also fooled as to its age and offered to take it back. The owner decided he'd keep it because he liked it and because it was such a terrific example of what can be done by diligent, hard-working, low-cost counterfeiters.
After the exhibition came down on Saturday evening, the owner told me that three people refused to believe it was new - even after reading the comments that were posted beside the piece.
That's how good it is.
Who would have expected that it would be worth the time and effort to make fake "village" rugs? Tuduc forgeries of classical rugs brought Big Bucks from museums and wealthy collectors. These, however, are priced in the $2,000 range.
Artificial condition notwithstanding, if the design were one of the Microsoft Windows logo, it would be difficult to deny the modern age of the piece. This one has a rather unusual design. Are there any known analogs?
That's the thing, Patrick. There are no historical analogues.
The motifs have an archaic "resonance" without really relating to anything. It doesn't appear to be an
According to someone who knows, this is not a unique piece. There were others made in about 1990 with similar motifs and layouts. There have been more made since. Supposedly, this one is one of the first - but it isn't the last.
It serves as a splendid cautionary lesson for all of us.
Does Size Really Matter?
Another odd feature of this rug is the size. It is either too short or too wide for the average yastik. A first impression is that it may have been "cut and shut" to be such an odd size. As small as it is, one would think a "forger" would have made it yastik-shaped. Maybe they were just practising on small rugs before trying for the longer, lusher 18th century Konya look?
I recently bought an old Afshar on e-bay that was quite square. The photos were not very good and the design had horizontal lines, leaving me to suspect it was a longer rug at one time. It was not cut, but was "just" an Afshar, but there was no way to tell without the rug in hand. The relatively square shape is so unusual that it set off the suspicion alarm.
Other bidders probably thought it was a mere relic of its former self, too, so the bidding was not very spirited. Of course the owners description of it as a Kazak probably didn't help. It doesn't look anything like a Kazak.
The solution to your cautionary tale is to only buy REALLY cheap rugs. No one would go to all the trouble to fake a really cheap rug, would they?
The forger was undoubtedly correct in believing that a unique rug (with an ivory ground to boot) would attract a more-than-willing buyer. It simplicity is reminiscent of some Zakatala rugs. A few of them are small, but I've never seen an old one resembling this.
However, a couple of years ago an eBay dealer offered a piled bag face labeled as Zakatala which had the same feeling as the Raack rug but with a single motif rather than four. Just as with the Raack example, it would have been a real find if genuine. However, my specific questions about warps and wefts went unanswered. I had too many suspicions to pursue the face any longer; the wisdom of that intuition has now been confirmed.
As to comparable pieces, Krikor Markarian offered (I believe at Burlingame) an extremely attractive and highly unusual Central Anatolian square carpet on a ivory ground with simple motifs. One couldn't really compare it to the piece under discussion, but someone may have been motivated to try to get a fraction of its asking price.
I have a couple of questions.
First, has anyone suggested where this particular fake may have been woven?
Second, what is the evidence of the use of old wool?
It has long been reported that the wool from old jijims was used in some of the Mashad sumak bag fakes, but one restorer told me of various difficulties in doing so. I remember her mentioning something similar to a reason that was used to identify the Raack rug as a fake: the color variation that exists when some of the wool is not exposed to light or wear.
there is a mention of Tuduc. I have seen his work only once, at the ICOC in Vienna, at the Sailer stand. I was shocked. How can it be that it was successsful ? The only thing that resembled a classical rug was the design, which was painstakingly copied. But the wool, the weave, and especially the dyes were completely different. Like a copy of a dark picture, oil on canvas, done with the aquarell technique. It looked "wrong", like a Mediterranean type person, with a teint according to her heritage, with bright blond hairs. Or a pale Central European person, with blond-reddish hairs and an according skin colour, with hairs dyed deep black.
This thing is different. The size is not totally wrong. It might have been a minder, not a yastik. The dyes do not look overwhelming, but not wrong. The design is so easy that it can have been made by looking at a design element in an old rug, not be using a ready design on millimer paper, thus avoiding the unevitable stiffness of the modern "production" type weaves. The only thing that is clearly "wrong" is the way the single motifs are displayed
in two horizontal rows on a minder which therefore has no center. No weaver would ever do that. This is synthetic. Someone must have told her to do it like that.
The solution, Patrick, is not to buy only a really cheap thing.
Imagine one day when the fake did not sell it will get cheap. And then ? No, the solution would be to look at the person, not at the piece, find out everything that is known about the background of the piece. Therefore we stressed this A-, B- and C-type classification.
With the C-category you can never be sure whether it is a fake or not. And if you use the short cut that you propose you waste your life time with mediocre things waiting for the one win that will come, may be. But then make up a kind of time/energy- and result-calculation.
It is like not to begin a sport because one feels that one never beat the champions.
What about enjoying the sport itself ? The persons that I know that got some wins never used this short cut and they knew and know that enjoying often costs some money.
I visited the store of a local (Seattle, Washington) rug dealer from Turkey. He had a couple of rugs on the wall that could have been mistaken for antique Caucasians from a distance. The first was a remarkable copy of a Chi Chi. The design was perfect. The back looked authentic. But the ends did not look like the real thing. Probably because the weaver had never seen the real thing. The wool and the feel of the back were harsh, scratchy almost, giving away the age. It was not being sold as an antique, but the price was as high.
The second rug was a long, narrow copy of a Talish. It had the idiosyncrasies of an asymmetric border and the beautiful blue open field design. But the weave was identical to the Turko-Chi Chi, something a true Talish would never have.
The feel reminded me of the "fake" Caucasians made in Romania 20 years ago, but without the artificial "aging-by-sandpaper" treatment the Ropmanian copies had been given. (Tuduc was Romanian)
It is remarkable how well a new rug can be made to look like an old one. It would only take a few more steps to be more convincing, but would it be worth the cost?
we must be careful now not to mistake the topic. What you mention here is a new production trimmed so that it resembles antique pieces. It is not "new-from-old".
If you like you may contact a person in the Western part of the US with whome I handled a piece of this production 2 years before in Turkey - from your description it is the same type/origin. First I cannot agree: in these pieces the colours are "wrong". In Turkey there is no place to learn how to make natural dyes. Therefore all that they try to do is to find suitable backyard tricks to establish the look of the piece to come close to the original. But if you would put a real antique in the same light besides such a reproduction it is immediately evident. The reds are different. The blues are lightyears away from the original as they are synthetic Indigo done with the industrial caustic soda/hydro sulphite process plus
"modifiers". Especially if you look for certain dyes that one would have in good early material like a deep real aubergine, some deep saturated brownish/blackish/purplish tones done only from madder, the
thing gets clear in a short time.
The wool of these pieces is much better than in any comparable production of today. But this creates a problem: the handle would be too soft. So certain methods are applied that change this - and these kill the wool. For this reason you had the impression: harsh, scratchy. A pitiful waste of wool and human labour as the performance of such a rug is killed too.
What I hesitate to believe is that the price is like that of a real antique one - in case the old rug would have the same condition. I think a real piece would be much higher priced than these pieces are, if they are not worn down, patinated etc.
So we have again the Rifesser problem: the market does not accept things at their real value. Therefore
the need to trim the look.
The feel of the modern reproduction Turkish rug is harsh. It is reasonable that treatment of the wool to impart the older look is responsible for the feel and appearance. The "white" wool is yellowish, to give an appearance of age.
What the heck, they will still probably outlive the original retail buyer!
I have attached a photo of the "square" Afshar I bought recently.
The colors are a bit dark, the design is not easily made out and the description as "Kazak, made in Pakistan" (that's a new one!) probably contributed to a low price. The condition is evenly worn, but with no "bald spots". It has a design found more often on small rugs and bags.
There are about a dozen colors, including sky blue and various greens and yellows and orange. I would place it at late 19th century, although the worn condition could make one think it is older than it really is.
The square format is quite unusual for most areas except Afshar.
You have used the term "minder" in regard to a small weaving. What was a minder used for?
no, they won't survive the owner. And they will detoriate with each wash, as opposite to what would happen with a not chemical washed piece. The yellowish warp is a typical indicator for that. In Turkey they euphemistically call it "saritma yikama", gold wash. Go around and have a look at your friends houses for 4-5 years old chemical washed rugs. 5 years, but they often look ghostly.
A minder is a squarisch little rug, the size about the width of a yastik. With a back side you can make a cushion out of it, for example.
In Turkey there are not serious producer of these rugs. So far
I know that only some repairers are producing these kinds of rugs. Because they have the time for finding old yarn
from fragment kilims which they get less money than wool, and have relatives who is making rugs-kilims and they
are using their relations for making rugs. Ofcourse some one making their natural colors as they require, they
are not very intrested how colors are done just want the basic colors some times beautiful rugs are done. When
the rug done than they think how to make it look older, the easy way they put the rugs on the floor for many days
and whashing it untill they are satisfited. Than ready to sell for the market. Michael Bischof mentioned that there
are no place to learn how to make natural dyes in Turkey ! I would ask him where did he learn how to make colors?
Now days reproduction of old rugs is slove because they did not succes.
thanks a lot for your contribution ! It confirms what Jerry Silverman has stated and what we tried to explain in our essay.
May be you misunderstood what we said. I mean the following situation: let us assume your firm needs a real red, a good, deep mor (violet only from madder) or even a natural Indigo shade (what cannot be made with the normal industrial caustic soda-hydro sulphite dyeing technique). This you can either buy from a dye plant that is able to make it. But in Turkey there are only two such places. Or you could send a young employee to a kind of school to learn there how to do it. It would take 3 years, theory and practice combined. We said: such institutions do not exist in Turkey. How we learned it ? You know that already. More than 20 years of own research in Germany and in Turkey, combining a lot of branches ( chemistry, biochemistry, botany, industrial dyeing technology ....) to achieve a result that we like but which is most likely not the same technology than the ancient one was. Nothing like "back to tradition" as this tradition in Turkey, Iran etc. is dead since long. A dead tradition cannot be "revived". One can try a new start, but this will be a new reality.
Yours sincerely, see you in the summer
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