Posted by Steve Price on 10-24-2002 04:22 PM:

Why so few kilims at ACOR and ICOC?

Hi Michael,

You point out that there hasn't been a kilim exhibition in the US within recent memory, which I believe is accurate. Not only that, there are very few kilims included in the exhibitions of ACOR or ICOC - sometimes none at all - although they typically include a very wide range of stuff. I think that's very peculiar.

You mention in the Salon that all the kilim exhibitions in Germany have been collector presentations, not dealer exhibitions. There is at least one exception to this of which I am aware. Bertram Frauenknecht mounted a kilim exhibition in Munich in June of 2000. The on-line version of the exhibition catalog is at


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 10-24-2002 11:24 PM:

Steve -

I don't mean to seem to answer for Michael but can tell you that one issue that came up a lot in our discussion of pieces for the ICOC X exhibitions is space.

Kilims take a lot of space to display and this likely affects both collecting and exhibitions.

Maybe they have more space in Germany. I know that Vincent has responded to my claim that The Netherlands has a greater population density than any other Western country by indicating that Dutch ingenuity has produced some wonderful concrete apartments that are resulting in more and more space for rugs.

Perhaps something similar is happening in Germany.

Seriously though, I'd guess that the size of kilims and the space needed to display them fully turns out often to be a limitation. I only own one Uzbek kilim but can only display it so that one quarter of its full width is visible.


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 10-25-2002 05:41 AM:

Hi John,

Space issues probably have an effect on how few kilims are shown in ACOR and ICOC exhibits, but there does seem to be space enough for some very large rugs and other textiles when the people who organize the exhibitions want to use it for that.

To cite some examples that come to mind easily, there was an exhibition of Kyrghiz reed screens in Philadelphia's ICOC and some huge carpets at the main exhibition there as well. And, of course, not all kilims are large. Many are no bigger than, oh, a typical Turkmen ensi for example, and many are fragmentary.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 10-25-2002 07:33 AM:

Dear folks -

Just to make Steve's indication about the fact that kilims do vary in size and that some of the most interesting ones are fragmentary, here is a link to the advanced search feature of the image data base of the DeYoung Museum in San Fracisco.

I tried to give you a more precise link but it will not permit that. If you type "kilim" into the subject line and hit enter you should get what they have.

They list 71 kilims in their collection and you can see them virtually in various degrees of closeness. Lengths and widths are given.

During one visit I made before ACOR 5 (when Turkmen rugs were shown), Jones kilims from the permanent collection were featured.

Don't try to visit for awhile since the Museum is rebuilding and is closed until 2005.


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-25-2002 02:54 PM:

Hi everybody,

thanks for correction, Steve. But for me it is important that you corrected it and that we did not mention it first from our side.
As Bertram Frauenknecht is a close personal friend of mine of course I knew about this exhibition. I have had a preview and found the result so that I drove two well known American collectors/scholars in my car from Traunstein near the Austrian border to Munich to Bertram's gallery before I moved home.
I cannot believe that the space problem of early kilims are the reasons for the apparent difference in the treatment of kilims in North America and in Europe. Our gues was the erroneous expectation that the magnificent start that they had in San Francisco could not be topped was the main reason. The exhibitions that we mentioned that witnessed the opposite did not have that much media coverage at all, together with the ongoing scarcity of "real" information/research ... whereas what got coverage were these "theories" and upheated debates of the "mother-goddess"-kind and that might have shocked off people who were interested in a more serious approach ?

Any comments for that ?



Posted by R. John Howe on 10-25-2002 08:25 PM:

Michael -

Another reason for few kilim exhibitions in the U.S. may be that not many folks here collect them.

I know of collectors who have individual pieces but no one who is primarily a Turkish kilim collector. The only really serious collector of kilims visible to me here is a member of the TM board who collects Caucasian flatweaves, including importantly, larger kilims.

Do you know of American collectors of Turkish kilims?


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 10-25-2002 09:10 PM:

Hi John,

I own three Turkish kilims (plus one Qashga'i and one Caucasian). I don't think of myself as a kilim collector, but if three specimens makes a collection (an old saw that I learned years ago), I guess I am one.

Saul Baradofsky also has a significant number of Turkish kilims in his personal collection, and I believe he's shown them at the Textile Museum on a Saturday morning presentation.

So, that makes two of us just in Virginia, and I'll bet there are others in this state and many more in the rest of the US.


Steve Price

Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 10-26-2002 05:47 AM:

Hi Steve -

Not to quibble, but while I know that Saul HAS some kilims (he showed two in the TM rug morning that we have archived here on Turkotek) I didn't know that he COLLECTED them.

I thought that I have heard him say that, generally, he collects things he doesn't sell (e.g., some smaller bag formats, etc.) and doesn't sell what he collects.

Certainly a person who has visited Turkey to buy textiles as often as he has over the last 25 years must have some nice specimens.

Perhaps he will indicate whether he sees himself as a "kilim collector."

Still, I don't know of anyone who primarily collects Turkish kilims, despite at least one U. S. dealer who seems to deal primarily in kilims. And Marla Mallet shows a few. This would suggest that someone is buying them.

Folks are resisting my suggestions about why we have few kilim exhibitions in the U.S. Perhaps there are no reasons.


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-26-2002 09:33 AM:

Hi everybody,

I still wonder for the real reason. I can understand that for home textiles the preference is for piled weaves, which are mainly products of settled people anyway - no nomadic habit I want to say except as an occassional source of income.

But from a textile art point of view I am astonished, because

My idea was that therefore kilims are much more collectable than the bulk of piled weaves which are late commercial products anyway (look at the "Fachralo Kazak" thread started by Jerry Raack to see what I mean). And I still look for a reason why this is not so - and in Northern America to a higher degree than in Europe. Kilim collecting is not a mainstream fashion here.



Posted by Steve Price on 10-26-2002 10:12 AM:

Hi Michael,

One reason people prefer pile to kilim in their homes is simple: it feels much nicer on your feet when you walk on it. It also wears better, an important consideration for floor coverings (and I believe most rug collectors start out with floor coverings, then get sucked into the full blown neurosis later).

One of the things you said in your last post is, the degree of "command" that the weaver has over what she does it much higher: kilims are more a kind of direct expression (in spite of the fact that there are much more technical limitations against creating any kind of image).

I'm afraid I don't understand this point at all. It would seem to me that the limitations imposed by the slit kilim technique reduce the weaver's ability to express herself. How can it result in greater command of expressive ability?


Steve Price

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-26-2002 02:21 PM:

Hi everybody,

Steve, do not be afraid, please - we were expressing something misleading as I guess.
Technically the limitations of kilim weavings are indeed higher, so it is more difficult to express what one wants to express. But to weave a kilim is something that comes easier: less yarns necessary ( means less time consumption, less money for the dyer), weaving speed is higher, you see the result of what you do quicker - these factors encourage people to experiment with more ease.

My "kilim-of-all-early-kilims" is Rageth, pl. 16, and this shows this aspect in a nearly perfect way. She even
used big areas of vertical lines. That is the point: if you can you can ... and you dare to do it.

Look at the Raack kazak in the neighbouring thread. Such a design any experienced weaver can command as it is - but in case she would find that the outlining of the motives does not look good enough, if she would prefer to use 3 knots for the brown outlining instead of 1 then the whole spacing of the piece starts to shift. Very experienced weavers can do this in a way that they can indeed imagine the end result of what they are doing today - most weavers cannot and it would take 2-3 pieces more to weave till one has found a solution that one likes. Just for this effect may be the border must be changed or the next rug must have a slightly bigger size .... these kind of things. Like playing with computer software: until you finally pressed "return" and look for the new screen you do not know exactly enough how the result will be.

When we started our KOEK project in Karaman 1992 the main advantage was to be able to work with two weaver ladies in one big sized room together ! Normally, at least in Central Anatolia, one can see a female weaver only for short visits. The cottage industry works like this. You drop the design, the prepared loom, the dyed yarns and the design and may be within the next 1-2 months you "control" the progress by dropping in for a cup of tea. But you are never around when they talk about what they are doing - while they are doing it. This chance was the fortune ! From such experience I know that the command is higher with a kilim weave. Even for a dowry piece they do not weave for fun - and a mishappened carpet represents a lot of wasted labour, money and image. - And now look at the picture 1 of our essay: you can literally see how she experimented while weaving ! How this concept works with striped kilims I must not explain here. Theoretically it would be possible with piled weaves too. But, as a matter of fact, the number of early courageous-experimental carpets is extreme small ! Nothing when compared to such type of kilims !

You mentioned that a pile weave feels different on your feet. Yes, but see that this is a home textile application, not textile art. Of course the leading kilim collectors have piled carpets as simple floor covers, at least most of them. By the way: if one walks over a village type of rug ( soft but firm, sophisticated) with shoes or over a kilim there should be a nice thick felt under it ! No, early kilims are collected as woven pictures ! As it is done with the "real" , the pre-commercial village rugs.

And now I can get two birds with one stone: we had this discussion of "dyes and ethnographical value" recently. Now look at the Raack kazak: first of all most of the "real" village carpets come on us in the form of rather fragmented material. No way to use it as a floor cover. The same with kilims, even to a higher degree. I guess anybody who has eyes ( at least when looking at the close-ups) will admit that the high quality natural dyes in it ( look at the horrifying quality difference to the other pieces there, the late pieces have the mentioned "imalat kirmizi", (this matt red-brown from cheap madder dyeings) is a pleasure in itself, even without taking any care for the design - so I need not to write further about decay .... as these dyes can be made today as well there would be the limit that only a weaver firmly routed in her own culture would be confident enough to dare these colour combinations. And if this would come into the reach of the cottage industry one has to forget it anyway: this type of motives with this standard of dye quality would result in a dead, stiff weave when done from a ready design. To imagine how this design would look with equivalent bright synthetic dyes would amout to a nightmare. And to have these bright dyes killed together with the wool by sun fading would result in a pastel, "soft" nothing - if one still has the picture of this carpet in mind.
( thank you, Jerry Raack, for letting us see the difference between textile art and "home textile" ). After seeing such a thing anybody who would use the "late" pieces or even the "semi-antiques" with partially synthetic dyes in this league has a neurosis, I would say, and recommend to move to areas where the own talents are. There must be some .... ;-)



Posted by Tracy Davis on 10-26-2002 03:00 PM:

Dear Michael, I have a question for you. If "cheaper and easier" makes for greater expression and a superior art form, as you claim, then why don't we like synthetic dyes?

Posted by Steve Price on 10-26-2002 03:15 PM:

Hi Michael,

If cheaper and easier is better, does that make not doing anything at all the best?


Steve Price

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-26-2002 03:53 PM:

Hi Steve,

the emoticon you choose is the answer that you wanted to provoke ! I mean: the adaequate answer !

Happy saturday,


Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-26-2002 03:59 PM:

Hi Tracy,

no, one cannot put it that short. I did not say: cheaper and easier is better ... I said: the weaver, the artist, should have the command on what she is doing. If one has , example given, some extreme expensive materials that cannot be recovered after having been spent at the weave, this creates a negative feed back on creativity - that was my thought. You are too anxious then - the result is may be quite perfect, but anxious, nothing "daring" in it.
And for the synthetic dyes: very easy - with these type of motives they are simply ugly, at least for people like me and for a lot of collectors who learned "the eye" for that over many years. As stated whereelse before I started, like most likely most of us, with broken synthetic dyes thinking that these must be natural. Again: try to imagine such a huge kilim with synthetic dyes, brrrr....

Greetings, and "Prost" for you, Steve Price...


Posted by Steve Price on 10-26-2002 04:38 PM:

Hi Michael,

The only thing better than doing nothing at all is doing it in good company. Nicht wahr?


Steve Price

Posted by Alan Garrison on 10-27-2002 06:38 PM:

Many thanks to Michael and Memduh!

There are a few individuals who are primarily interested in kilims in spite of their some of their more obvious challenges, many already mentioned in previous remarks (size, size and size!).
Then there is the condition issue. It does take some imagination and maybe even clairvoyance at times to recognize their beauty, especially if not all the parts are there. And what about attribution? At least with Caucasian material, there seems to be some easily identified designs common to a specific village. But with kilims, at times one can only guess.

Collecting them is a daunting task given the usually exagerrated age estimates, which seems to be common in the literature as well. And speaking of literature, Michael and Memduh mentioned the McCoy Jones collection which is splendid in itself, but the accompanying catalogue was primarily written by the person who assembled the collection, rather than a disinterested party. It does make a splendid picture book, but is weak in attribution, technical aspects, but very rich in a vivid imagination.

All of this notwithstanding, kilims are splendid ethnographic artifacts which may be out of favor, a little misunterstood and somewhat neglected at least in North America. I am greatful to our European cousins who are trying to dig a little deeper into the subject.

Posted by Michael Wendorf on 10-29-2002 09:50 AM:

Rageth plate 16

Dear Michael:

Of course, there are some collections of early kilims in the US. How about the Wolf collection as an example? As for exhibitions, one could say that there are few exhibitions of textiles, rugs and kilims generally, not just kilims.

When you wrote that Rageth plate 16 is the kilim of all early kilims what plate 16 are you referring to? Rageth has published several books on kilims: Fruhe Formen und Farben and Anatolian Kilims Radiocarbon Dating are only two recent ones. Plate 16 in Anatolian Kilims Radiocarbon Dating is woven in dovetailed tapestry, not slit tapestry which makes it interesting in and of itself.

Thanks for the Salon.

Michael Wendorf

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-29-2002 03:07 PM:

Hi everybody, dear Michael Wendorf,

of course I mean Rageth, Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating , the latest reference book of important kilims.
Pl. 16 is for methe kilim of all early kilims because it displays at best what this type of art can show:
excellent material ( the basic dyes is this rich and expensive rosy-red madder, the "king of madder reds" ; a deep blueish "mor", violet only from madder) and on top of these quite an array of early colours, but never disturbing the main image idea. That is my second point:
the balance between a more or less rigid idea and some playful variations - but which never endanger the hegemony of the concept, the basis image idea. This is possible only when commercial pressure is far away and a certain self-confidence rules. I can imagine such a thing only where people are kinf of sure of their own culture, not when it fel victim to another hegemony producing one.
When one realizes own ideas ( looking at some similar own old piece or not, it must not be !) this attitude must be there ! Otherwise this concept ( own influence plus basic ideogrammatical design tpyes) does not work and results in either stiff or over-busy (or both) images.
This is the headache I have with late pieces, may they be in kilims or village rugs. I guess it is the same with the best classic Navajo weavings. It evolved, it reached a peak, then there was decay ( yes, Chuck and Filiberto ;-) !).
That is why the socio-cultural environment of the cottag industry never could produce such things - not 1880, not today. The dyes one could have, but the rest of the set ...

This kilim is not a nomadic thing but down for use in the house. It had once been quite a heavy weave. An A-piece, but in this case it does not include to know the name of the group that it produced it ( only where it was found). The rest of the story is clear, though.
Stylistically it is the grandfather of all "Baklava"-Kilims ( I guess the design movement occured much earlier than this piece actually represents). Just substitute the vertical lines of the medaillon "steps" by diagonal lines - that is all. And for its feet one may have different solutions, including parmakli-type ones.


Michael Bischof

Posted by Saul Yale Barodofsky on 10-29-2002 05:34 PM:

Why so few Kilims at ACOR or ICOC


Greetings and many thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking article.

I also would welcome more pictures as illustration and as just yet another excuse to view beauty.

A point of information:
Michael Bishop is one of the few Westerners to not only live in Anatolia, and learn the language, but also to study their traditional life, history and the materials they used to weave with.

I fondly remember seeing a large wall of his, closely filled with skeins of dyed wool - colored from pink through brown to purple.
Maybe 100 colors(?).

His reply to my querry: these were all varations of the colors that the madder plant can make. I'm still in awe.

He also introduced me to the ground-breaking fact (to me) that mohair was added to sheeps wool (or, was it visa versa) for an enhancement of the color.

As far as American collectors of kilims are concerned: I am aware of more than a few. Most of them prefer to remain anonymous, although I can and have borrowed examples of their holdings for exhibitions and lectures. And, like Steve, I have a few put away, and over 70 early (and unwashed) fragments.

A question on the lack of attention to kilims:
Is it possible that we are still under the 19th century prejudice against kilims? This "simplex" answer would certainly explain why carpets are given much more space and attention in our conferences and exhibitions than kilims.

All best

saul yale barodofsky


Posted by Michael Wendorf on 10-29-2002 11:12 PM:

dovetailed tapestry weave/plate 16

Dear Michael and Readers:

So now I am clear that your "kilim of all early kilims" is plate 16 in Rageth's Anatolian Kilims & Radiocarbon Dating. I respect your insightful and educated judgment. Very helpful as well.

As I study this piece, it is one that has also intrigued me. The weaver's use of big verticals, as you described them, seems to me to be a related to her use of the dovetailed tapestry technique rather than the typical slit tapestry technique. In using dovetailed tapestry the weaver could weave the verticals without compromising the integrity/strength of the kilim with what would otherwise be long vertical slits. However, the use of dovetailed tapestry is barely known in Anatolia. It seems to me that dovetailing is more closely related to Iranian production and kilims woven near the Iranian border area and areas of Iraq. Of course, this is not to say that dovetailing is not old and long used. Quite the contrary. In fact, you may recall the fragment of dovetailed twill tapestry in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Daniel Walker wrote briefly about this piece, found in Egypt and attributed to Iraq or northern Syria 11th century AD, in Rageth's book. See page 176.

I am not sure what this means, if anything, in the context of your Salon or otherwise. However, it is interesting to me that in choosing your kilim of all early kilims, you focus on a piece that seems at least structurally out of the mainstream of Anatolian kilim weaving.

Thank you for your comments, Michael Wendorf

Posted by Michael Bischof on 10-30-2002 03:52 PM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Michael Wendorf,

thanks for your detailed comments ! Structurally this piece is unusual, but not outside what we know of some other (few) outstandingly early Anatolian kilims. Please look at the article of Dietmar Pelz :"A Small Group of Four Kilim Fragments with Rows of Double Niches" in the mentioned Rageth book. Plus there is the famous Sivrihisar long kilim and the not less famous red-blue saf kilim in the McCoy-Jones collection in San Francisco. In addition the use of dove-tailing to avoid vertical slits can be re-inventented by any talented and motivated weaver at any time. How good would depend on her - you should know that at least one of them found a solution better even than in these early kilims. And ( personal communication Dietmar Pelz) in South America, somewhen B.C., there is a little weave with that "modern" Anatolian solution. Difficult to interprete it then.

Here one sees again how vital it is to know the origin of a piece exactly, by first hand source. While this is the case with pl. 16 and some more fragments it is not the case with1 more kilim , no "A-piece" so research is limited.
At present looking at the data that are there it seems so that a certain Turcoman group which was well represented in upper Mesopotamia
and (!) in Anatolia in the 11. and 12. century and that later moved around in Anatolia might have made all these pieces. Fascinating research, but again: one needs much more "A-pieces" for that. It is difficult enough in its own and safe data would make life easier.

Aesthetically ( please notice as well our discussion in the thread about Jerry Raacks early Kazak fragment) I hope my choice will not come to you as a surprise. This kilim stands ( for me) in a prototypic way for the "spirit" of such authentic weaves, even much more than the above mentioned pieces - this balance between the main idea and the playful variations, symmetry and the right amount of breaking this symmetry in lower hierarchical areas.
Therefore this textile art ( village rugs as well, yastiks included) cannot be done neither in workshops nor in the socio-cultural frames of the cottage industry. In case one tries it nevertheless the results are significantly too stiff or too "busy" - when we stress "early" here we mean this "spirit" and for sure not the (absolute) age. Even today it may thrive ... in kilims one has more and bigger areas made just from colour and then it is more important what dye it is. Theoretically it might work with properly choosen (different) motives and synthetic dyes as well - but, ladies and gentlemen, until today I simply could not see the one convincing example. So I must suffer the fate to be called "imperial" and "draconian..." - but, damned, if you like at pl. 16 and the examples in our essay, shouldn't it be possible that this judgement is just , yes, .... right ?

All that does not mean that one cannot organize this "spirit". Let us see to where this salon goes - may be we must discuss about sociology and psychology as well.


Michael Bischo

Posted by R. John Howe on 10-30-2002 04:19 PM:

"Slit weave" vs "Dove-tailed" Tapestry

Dear folks –

The two Michael’s are exchanging thoughts about “slit weave” tapestry weaves in kilims, versus those that are instances of “dovetailed” or “comb-toothed” or “shared-warp” tapestry.

Just so that everyone will have access to the distinction being made and its significance, here are two drawings of these two weaves from Marla Mallett’s “Woven Structures.”

First, this is what “slit weave” tapestry looks like:

Vertical color changes require the wefts to return in both directions and so produce gaps. If the design is diagonal, these gaps can be kept short and the structure of the fabric is not weakened. But if one wants a longer vertical area of color change, then the gap will unavoidably be longer and structural weakness is risked. Marla has pointed out repeatedly that this is one of the great design challenges facing the kilim weaver working in slit weave tapestry. She says the greatest designs turn out also not to compromise the integrity of the fabric.

I think Michael Bischof may have originally been thinking of slit weave tapestry when he suggested that the weaver of Plate 16 in Rageth was showing some “daring.”

Here is his phrase”

“…My ‘kilim-of-all-early-kilims’ is Rageth, pl. 16, and this shows this aspect in a nearly perfect way. She even used big areas of vertical lines. That is the point: if you can you can ... and you dare to do it.”

What Michael Wendorf has noticed is that this vertical drawing in Plate 16 is less remarkable than it might seem, since it is done in “dovetailed” tapestry, and the defining feature of this latter weave is that warps are shared by two colors at vertical color change.

This permits, as Wendorf has pointed out, vertical drawing with different colors of any length, since there are no gaps created in this latter weave.

Notice that the “clean” lines at the slits are necessarily given up somewhat in “dovetailed” tapestry. Long vertical color changes are achieved, in “dovetailed” tapestry, at the cost of a slight “fuzziness of line.”

Just to make this distinction the two Michael’s are discussing concrete.


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael Wendorf on 10-31-2002 03:28 PM:

A certain Turcoman group in upper Mesopotamia

Hallo Michael B., John and fellow readers:

Thanks to John for the diagrams relevant to our little discussion. Thanks to Michael B. for the further comments.

I have heard the reference to plate 16 and the McCoy Jones plate 1 kilim (the red and blue multiple-niche piece) before. Rageth also links these two pieces and the Sivrihisar piece (found Ulu Cami Mosque) from the Vakliflar due to dovetailing. I compared also to the multiple-niche pieces discussed by Mr. Pelz. I understand these four pieces do not have dovetailing?

I think the links among these pieces is more than a little hopeful. The Jones piece with multiple-niches uses dovetailing to create the essential verticals of the niches which are almost like walls of a building. Plate 16 uses dovetailing as part of a stepped design. The multiple-niche pieces discussed by Pelz have some color similarities, but the dovetailing would seem natural for the same reasons as the Jones piece - to create the verticals of the niches - yet as I read the article there is no dovetailing ( In fact, the gables show interlocking but in design only and through use of slit tapestry).

None of these pieces seem related to the dovetailed twill tapestry woven fragment in the Metropolitan musuem dated to the 11th century. But in addition to that, why assume the existence of the dovetailed twill tapestry - if a connection could be made to these other pieces using dovetailing - suggests a Turcoman group was well-represented in upper Mesopotamia and Anatolia and moved around over several centuries to make these various pieces? I do not understand the basis of such a theory. I see Iranian influences.

Aesthetically, I cannot say your choice comes as a surprise. 16 is a beautiful kilim, but I see only an image. I still prefer Jones plate 1 and plate 8. These pieces I have seen. But I do understand what you describe that you are seeing. Your comments are helpful.

Thank you, Michael Wendorf

Posted by Steve Price on 10-31-2002 08:08 PM:

Hi People,

Here are Plates 1 and 8, referred to in the previous posts, from the Jones collection.

Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 10-31-2002 08:12 PM:

Dear folks -

We should mention that Plate 1 in Jones is larger than the bed on my scanner and so what you are seeing in that instance is a large detail of that piece.

Plate 8 is complete but might serve as a kind of test of Michael Bischof's seeming preference for deeply saturated colors.


R. John Howe

Posted by Vincent Keers on 10-31-2002 09:57 PM:

Hi John,

I'm in tears and all.
This plate 8. Did halloween shake the scanner or is it as fragile, moving as it seems to be.
Like to add. Isn't it fantastic this weaver made two parts in perfect balans. She could count, she didn't mess up the warps, but gently moved the wefts true the warps...very slowly.
Brains and beauty!
And those colours. I see these colours at certain elavated moments in my brains. But that's only chemicals, giving impulses. This is much more beautiful.

Thanks John and Steve for the image.

Best regards,

Posted by Marla Mallett on 10-31-2002 10:16 PM:

Anyone looking at the McCoy-Jones kilims in the DeYoung catalog needs to be aware that very few plates in that book come close to resembling the actual kilims. The book plates are far more saturated in color--much more brilliant than the kilims. The exhibition was shown with very low light levels (we can probably all remember groping around in the dark), partly because the pieces were far more appealing under those conditions. In ordinary tungsten light, daylight, or the light in the museum storage rooms, many of the pieces are revealed as quite dingy and faded, with pale grayed colors. I say this partly because collectors, being more familiar with the book plates than the actual kilims, expect to find similar pieces with strong color, and invariably are disappointed. This has been a problem with many kilim books. The Rageth book seems to be an exception; likewise, the Vakiflar book comes close to representing the actual pieces in that collection.


Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-02-2002 12:38 AM:

Hallo everybody,
some further explanation why Rageth pl. 16 is, for me, the early kilim of all early kilims:
it contains the basic design idea of all so called "Baklava" kilims ( a numerous and important group of kilims) in an early, straight form and ,yes, it needs some special techniques like dovetailing to keep the vertical line integer.
If one compares the piece ( again: anyone who could contribute a nice scan of pl. 16 for this salon discussion ?) with the Krefeld catalogue, pl. 43, a younger but still somehow early fragment, this is obvious:

All one needs for a transfer from the medaillon of pl. 16 to this piece is to exchange vertical lines with diagonal and finger-type of
details ( "parmakli") at its top and basis.

Yes, Marla Mallett, the lighting in San Francisco was "supporting". A typical dealers type style: a very dark room and then spotlights.
The best way to achieve a liturgical mood, a secretive impact and in this illumination the dyes look warm and gloomy ( and some weaker parts of a weave may be hidden in the shadow). But I have a trained (experienced) eye especially for dyes and my comments here are based in each case on having seen the pieces, here and in Anatolia, before they went to San Francisco or Europe, washed and unwashed. From this perspective San Francisco No. 8 I would no longer regard to be a top piece ( competition is high ), but No. 1 still is. A pity that it is not radio carbon dated. In a way it belongs into this group ( with the Saf fragments that Pelz talked about) and most likely with the Sivrihisar piece, too. And I believe ( ! , real hard witness we could not put together today) that all this material is connected by the fact that a single Turcoman group has made them.
The deep rosy-red madder is, together with a blue-like "mor" (violet only from madder) the champion among the madder dyes, costly to make, and to use it as a ground colour is a symbol for "plenty" ... it is still wonderful in pl. 16 . But you are right: illumination is important.
And that is one of the reasons why the Essen exhibition is my favourite kilim exhibition: they pulled together the absolute top pieces of certain groups and showed them in a huge white Bauhaus style industrial building with plain diffuse Northern daylight - the most true but the most "cruel" light one can imagine. The best for viewing each detail ! Even the professional repair in some pieces was evident at one glance. To do this needs courage - and applause is the bread of the artist.

Much more than a saf kilim , which is another type anyway, this pl. 16 ( and , using a different approach ) No. 29 in the Krefeld catalogue express the much desired balance between strict concept and playful variations - something that is, in my experience, the ultimate thing in this type of textile art. These pieces ( and some of the bestearly striped kilims) display this in a nearly perfect manner - and share this with a few highlights of the classic Navajo period. Different ages, different places but a coherent result. - From my own
involvement in the cottage industry in the Orient I know that this combination is what cannot be realized , at least not in the normal style.
If one forces "creativity" by ordering mistakes to be done, if one applies chemical wash or forced abrash while making the dyes, crazy designs ... whatever: one fails this balance. This only a master weaver with the right "spirit" can do ... and for masters there is no age the determining factor. It can happen today as well as 300 years ago.

One questions of mine is still unanswered: had this San Francisco event a discouraging effect on kilim collecting in Northern America or not ? I know only of one couple that own some "top pieces" together with different other textiles - but leaving these two people aside the "champions" for kilim collecting seem to be in Europe. Wrong ? If not wrong: why ?


Michael Bischof

Posted by Ali R.Tuna on 11-03-2002 04:26 PM:

Rageth plate 16

Michael and al.
I am posting the picture of the Rageth plate 16 and a close up taken to show the slit tapestry technique.

The internet definitely will not reproduce exactly the excellent colours -the rose red and the violet.
Despite the first class colours and fantastic creativity , I am a little disturbed by the total lack of of the negative space. The red forms a background only; but I still like this kilim a lot.

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 11-05-2002 10:58 PM:

Greetings Michael and All- Not that I am the most versed concerning kilims in general and and quality/quantity of kilims available in the United States in particular, it has been my impression that , at least within the trade and excluding specialized dealers, kilims constitute only a small percentage of the carpet trade and that only the slimmest fraction of these represent anything more than commercial/trade goods. Perhaps this phenomena can be as much attributed to the spacial distance by which the U.S.A. is removed from the centers of production as the comparatively recent ascent from strictly utilitarian to aesthetic artifact. In short, is it possible that kelims are underrepresented at the American shows because quality goods are comparatively scarce in the U.S.A.?- Dave

Posted by Saul Yale Barodofsky on 11-07-2002 02:57 PM:

Dear Dave,

As both a dealer and a collector (since 1978), I do have some opinions on the subject.

I have found that kilims historically are more interesting to Europeans in general. And, more importantly, for the older "world class" pieces, Europeans are willing to pay more for them then most Americans would consider.

I personaly watched a European collector pay $85,000. for an early (but fragmented) kilim in Konya in the late 1980's. And, he was happy to do so. It was a great piece.

Much of my experience with American collectors of textiles, are that they tend to be more price conscious, than piece conscious.
(All present company excluded).

As my Turkish family (and teachers) many times told me, "So you spend too much on a piece. You would have spent the money on something else anyway. Now, at least, you have the piece."

One of the common messages I have heard from American collectors (again, of course, all present company excluded), is how little they paid for the piece they were showing me. Rather than its artistic merit, or rarity, or age, price seemed to be a major consideration in their expressed view of the item being shown.

When Carolone Jones purchased the fragment collection, she paid what was at the time an astronomical price. However, it then generated a book and 2 world class museum exhibitions: one in San Francisco, and one in Belguim. Perhaps not too high a price, considering what it inspired and produced.

Just to put things in perspective, this "astronomical figure" was about the same amount of money one would have to spend on ONE lesser Impressionist painting.

Another possibility is that our roots as American collectors come from our experience in "rugging," and seeking for the mythical $50 bag face. Perhaps Americans are just "bargain hunters" by nature? The hunt and the prize being joined in our minds.

Or, perhaps, because Europe is so much older than America, they have a greater sense of, and appreciation for, antiquities in general, and in textiles (the most fragile of antiquities) in particular?

I look forwards to any suggestions and insights,

All best

saul yale barodofsky


Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-08-2002 06:39 AM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Saul,

thanks a lot for this well focussed contribution ! I think one should add that the gentleman who you mentioned was a Turk who works in another Near Eastern country, no "fool dropping in from the street". And that since then nothing comparable to his piece surfaced , till today.

Bargain hunting: as a main tool to build up a collection it is a safe ticket into mediocricity. In former years when I ran a gallery the most unpleasant time I had was when I visited collectors to view their collections. In order to kill any hope for me, as I was in the position of a dealer, they proudly presented the extreme low prices they had paid - and expected to see surprise and respect in my face. Yes,sometimes it happened - as rare and unique as unique pieces are. In most cases it was an unwelcome waste of time with mediocre things ( my own measure is what I remember) and the trouble I had to escape in a polite way without selling false compliments. More often than not I failed. Today I am more careful and before I do not know what a specific collector has, what his taste and expectations are I do not even start of thinking to send pictures.
Hunting for bargains and early kilims and village rugs are contra-indications to each other. The professional coverage of this area in the whole Near East is so dense that an outsider working against this "net" has no chance. On his own he even cannot find out whether a certain spot in one of his pieces is repaired or not. How this "net" works we described with pl. 29 in the Krefeld exhibition, but it works in general like this. So "bargains" are pieces with which something went wrong- and they are presented on the most active tableau available, in the area of Istanbul.

That a certain person, living 100 km from here, that is not willing to pay the demanded price for a particular piece in Germany payed easily the triple in the moment he believed that he found a "twin piece" of it in "Aksaray" (pseudonym for a certain place in Central Anatolia) is not another dealers story: it had happened. It had not been possible to sell a whole set of a particular textile type here - but it was very easy and quick to do it at a remote place in Turkey, for a price one never would have got here. Therefore the unavoidable opposition, the dealer as the natural enemy of the collector, is a mind set that does not work here. People who tried it nevertheless were either dismissed empty-handed or were punished by paying much more than more smart competitors who do not need the feeling of having humiliated a dealer, which they believe was in a troublesome economic spot. The best collections, as we guess, are not necessarily those who paid the highest sums. So bargain hunting is not an endemic American brain illness.

Another interesting feature for hunting early kilims ( and village rugs) is that they normally do not appear at auction houses. These are used only sometimes as kind of "outlet" for pieces mentioned above. If I put my mind together I have no single idea of a top piece that went through auctions, may be with 2 exceptions. That means this is still not done on beaten pathes.

I agree with you, Saul, that the investment of Caroline Jones was excellent - especially if we now look back. It was a great success
- so great that I still believe it discouraged more than one American could-be-collector to touch kilims, thinking that he never could
reach that level. So the Europeans did this job. But it must be admitted that it worked on Europeans as well.

Early material is very often fragmented. That creates a lot of new chances, but risks as well. That is why a offered to compare two pieces of the same design group - normally a great fragment looses value if a better piece of similar age comes up. This creates psychological trouble for a dealer : how to price a unique fragment when this possibility is there ? Look at the title page of the Rageth book. It is the oldest and aesthetically ( to my guess) the best piece of this esoteric rare group, but not the only one ( some of the few other known pieces overtake it in terms of fineness of the weave and another one in the condition of its dyes). But within 14 years nothing better surfaced. So one cannot exclude it but it is unlikely - as I firmly hope.


Michael Bischof

Posted by Saul Yale Barodofsky on 11-08-2002 02:05 PM:

Greetings Michael,

Congratulations on an interesting and thought provoking saloon.

I do have a question and a few comments:
When you say the "gentleman was a Turk" living in the near east. Are you refeering to the purchaser of the $85,000. kilim?

This particular gentleman was/is a German collector. And, might I say, a gentle and cultured man of high intellect. He was delighted to be allowed to view this piece, and to then be permitted to purchase it.

As you imply, it is not every person who is looking for early pieces who knows where to look, and even if they do, they are rarely (if ever) shown what is available. Great early pieces tend to be treated as private (almost secret) treasures. They tend to be shown only to REAL customers.

In this aspect of the business, the axium of once seen but not sold, means the piece becomes diminished. And, therefor more difficult to show, and thus sell.

Thank you for your comment on "bargain hunting" being a safe ticket into mediocrity. I must say that once, when I had purchased an "important" piece for too much money, and was disconcerted by my poor judgement, I was given a great piece of advise in London: "Sometimes it just happens that way. Don't worry. Let the piece find it's own. Relax and enjoy having it pass through your hands." I did, and it did.

I must also say that sometimes spending money at the Top of the market can produce a powerful collection: witness Orient Stars.

I await the museum with foresight, or a collector with a creative imagination to begin acquiring more of these vanishing examples of tribal art before they are all gone.

All best,

saul yale barodofsky


Posted by Marla Mallett on 11-08-2002 02:42 PM:

Dear Saul, Michael and everyone,

I can wholeheartedly agree with what’s been said in the recent posts. I can especially empathize with Michael’s tales of bargain hunters and embarrassingly mediocre collections. I’ve always been mystified by the lack of interest displayed by American collectors in superb kilims. But because of this, I’ve made few attempts to handle expensive fragmented early pieces. People always make polite noises when shown a wonderful early ragged piece, but one can almost hear the snickers when they leave. Without a market for such things, I’ve instead sold a zillion old bags and bag faces over the years. Less than perfect condition is somehow more easily tolerated on a small scale. I have a small personal collection of early kilims, and in the last few months have acquired four more early Central Anatolian pieces (early 19th century, probably); these have been predictably relegated to my stack of “personal” textiles, simply because I so rarely encounter people who have the slightest interest in such things. I can’t really afford to have my money tied up in this way but it is difficult to resist. Thus over the years, though kilims are my first love, a majority of my textile gallery sales have been in textiles from other parts of the world. It’s frustrating indeed. It has been so for the 27 years I have had a textile business. As for sharing my interest and enthusiasm for old kilims, that’s had to be primarily with friends in Turkey.

Even among complete kilims in good condition—lets say mid-19th century or pre-synthetic 2nd half, 19th century Anatolian kilims—my best pieces have nearly all been sold to individuals who don’t consider themselves collectors, but rather just people who buy occasional pieces because they love them. The majority have been artists or architects who have an innate understanding of structural design, an understanding and concern that usually seems to be lacking among pile-rug collectors. I’ve sent many of my best pieces to Japan—a surprise to me. The most well-heeled US collectors who have come to me inevitably confess that they want pieces in near-perfect condition—pieces that they won’t be embarrassed to display for their friends. I have occasionally fantasized that along with current trends in suburban house styles—immense two-story foyers and living rooms—would come a boom in the collecting of huge, dramatic kilims, but that has proved to be foolish thinking. In those perfectly manicured surroundings the textile art must be perfect too. Preferably “antique,” but in perfect condition.

The difference in “kilim climate” between the US and Europe? We surely must acknowledge the early efforts of Bertram Frankenecht, Yani Petsopolous and John Eskenazi in the promotion of good early kilims—both their publications and exhibitions. That meant Germany, the UK and Italy. Three kilim publications by Bertram were especially important in making potential collectors aware of the power in Anatolian kilim art. It’s a raw power that doesn’t fit comfortably into just any parlor. Displays by these dealers and several that followed were crucial in developing attitudes among collectors. There have been no equivalents among American dealers. Turkish dealers are very familiar with the American market, and I well remember the shock in Istanbul when a few years back (late 80’s?) one American dealer paid $30,000 for an Anatolian saf. No one could believe that there was a market for such a thing in the US, though $60,000 pieces were passing through the European markets. Well…after a couple of years, that saf apparently did sell—for $31,000. That event did not encourage other US dealers.

One problem in familiarizing collectors with old kilims is that their size makes for great difficulty in conveying their power through photographs. The smaller the textile, the easier it is to photograph and accurately portray in photos—whether it be in books or on computer monitors. My breath can literally be taken away when a huge, magnificent kilim is unfolded in front of me…and I’ve looked at lots! So much of the power is so often dependent upon the scale of the weave. THAT is rarely conveyed in a 6 inch or 10 inch photo. The best Anatolian pieces are nearly all huge. People are constantly writing to me saying that they want small kilims. They may have been blown away by a large piece they’ve seen somewhere, but then ask for the same thing reduced in size. It’s comparable to people wanting typical Kazak pile-rug designs in room-size rugs. The scale is an inherent part of the expression and this is misunderstood.


Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-08-2002 02:50 PM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Saul,

do not let us mistake two different things: what you mean and what I mean happened at the same time and occasion. But the gentleman whome you mean is a top ranked judge and this piece is published - as his wife might not know this figure I do not tell more. The person that I mean is in fact Turkish, but lives outside of Turkey in the Near East, and that kilim is not published yet.

Yes, this business is in some aspects funny: we as Human Rights watchers and liberal Westerners laugh about the Oriental males preferences for virgins. But when it comes to important pieces we prefer such "virgins" strongly - we must have the first look. Though these are works of arts and why a piece should be less valued if some prominent other people saw them ( and did not buy)
should not mean anything. But it matters ...

As a kind of self protection I forced myself to put the following question: where will this piece be in 5 - 15 years ? What "substance" does it have, apart from great open graphics (which might be out of fashion then), apart from being the only piece with a green empty field in the middle ( all others have a red one) ... ? The table cover piece of Rageth and the pl. 16 in it had immediately this position in my mind that they would have defended their rank even after 20-30 years to come.

The most charming yellow ground village rug that was found until today ( it is in the Orient Stars book, but meanwhile sold to Switzerland to a guy who deserves it more, according to what I know and have seen) did not sell well at the beginning. Being in Konya on that day it fell on me to offer this piece to one of the five richest people in Turkey, a guy well known from all media.
He simply had no eye for art - plus he thought that in Konya people should behave like analphabetic stupid villagers from just behind the mountains when it came to pricing. He had earned about 200 000 $ the same morning from some real estate speculation in the city the same morning - but later he bargained in vain with an "eskici" ( who sold too cuval full of antique door knockers) finding the claim of 30 $ "shocking for from such a man". Like I said: a safe ticket to mediocrity: they say that he must pay money to invite the Television to film his collection. More than a year later the piece went to the Orient Stars collection. Seeing it there this Turkish gentleman would just remember that "something similar" was offered to him by a crazy German in Konya some time ago ... never mind, this gentleman has other talents...

Museums, hmm, at least as crazy as the "early kilims world"... I will cross my fingers over the Ocean !



PS. Marla Mallett, tomorrow morning I will try my best to give an equivalent response !

Posted by Saul Yale Barodofsky on 11-08-2002 05:39 PM:

Why so few Kilims at ACOR & ICOC

Dear Marla, Michael, and all.

Nice to hear from you.

Perhaps we should stop awaiting others to do what we all feel is important.

How about those of us who have private collections of, and access to the unpublished collections of others, put together an exhibition of Anatolian Kilims - both whole and fragmented.

Surely it would be fun, and it might even be groundbreaking for the United States.

Michael, yes, we are now speaking of the same gentleman. And, as a possible explanation of the bizarre phenomena of only collecting "unseen" pieces: It is one thing to own and pay for a famous piece of art. But, here, in the world of uncertain placement and pricing, people might feel a bit more unsure of themselves and their taste.

After all, it is one thing to purchase a painting by Lotto. But a kilim from the same time period? What is it's real worth? Where does it place amidst all the other pieces of this genre?

I like the advise Mc Coy Jones gave during an interview I had with him for the old O.R.R. "Find a knowledgable dealer, and take their advise." Almost 20 years later, I still like it.

all best
saul yale barodofsky


Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-09-2002 02:43 AM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Marla Mallett,

"I can�t really afford to have my money tied up in this way but it is difficult to resist. Thus over the years, though kilims are my first love, a majority of my textile gallery sales have been in textiles from other parts of the world. It�s frustrating indeed. It has been so for the 27 years I have had a textile business. As for sharing my interest and enthusiasm for old kilims, that�s had to be primarily with friends in Turkey."

Looking back I would guess that two persons were especially "innovative" or somehow "advanced" in the field of early village rugs and kilims: Bertram Frauenknecht and Franz Sailer. Not this gentleman in Munich who joined things after they had proven to be a bit successful. My own contribution I cannot mention here, of course.
From Sailer I remember a nice advice: the most expensive mistake a dealer can make is to develop a taste better than that of the majority of his customers. When this happens his stock of unsold pieces of great merit piles up, like cancer that exhausts the body ...
The second advice was: never criticize a piece that a dealer/friend did not sell yet ...

From your lines I read that the condition of a textile is in fact a dominant factor. That means, and we stressed that more than once, that the bulk of such thoughts ( and of the pieces that were bought out of this mood later) belongs to what we would call "home textiles" ( as opposed to "textile art"). You decorate your home with something that you like - but it must also please your average visitors. I guess that any kind of real art would disturb this expectation and shake up the balance inside most of the viewers. The nonchalance displayed in early kilims ( compare this huge Ermenek kilim in the essay) is laughing on our concentrated daily mood
of competition and success. Now imagine: you worked hard, you had success, you bought one of those new middle-class palace houses with huge salons and you invite people to enhance, continue your success. Will these people like you in case one of your walls with such a kilim on it laughs about them ? I do not know the USA good enough, admittedly. May be this feeling of how minute I am people can concede only once a week, Sunday morning in the church ? So early kilims are not for collectors in such a society but for churches ?

It has to do a lot with the own experience and with the way how close one admitted oneself to come to the subject. Since it hit me in the early seventies I used any chance to come as close as possible to these textiles in order to study them, to learn what their "character" is ( and though I am a teacher by profession I started to become a dealer, in order to have better access to the real data about these piedes). Till today this did not stop. But with experience not only the demand is changing. The attitude, the goal, changes as well. Early kilims and village rugs are sought for because of their images - and not because of their decorational value.

The power, the aura of an image - that is absent in the bulk of the late handsome but complete material. Though power and aura have nothing to do with age but with the socio-cultural background/frame in which a textile is made! To discuss this aspect
further I will open a new threat "content" and I start to discuss a textile made for a Mamluk wedding in medieval time.

To transport this "power" via photographs, even if big sized catalogues, is difficult till impossible. By now I have notice that 4 American readers will come to Krefeld to view the exhibiton after viewing an auction preview next week - and this is a good start.


Michael Bischof

Posted by Bob Kent on 11-10-2002 08:36 AM:

on money and mediocrity

I find the remarks on bargain hunting and mediocre goods interesting. People may focus or even dwell on dollars due to the difficulty of knowing what things should cost in an illiquid market with relatively few buyers and sellers. But since the price for one thing could be at different levels depending on who is selling it, what connections they have to buyers, etc., why not look for bargains? Don't dealers do the same thing when buying - look for things with good prices that will allow good margins?

More importantly, buying things cheaply would only assure mediocrity if 1) prices were the same for goods of some objective quality, and 2) the collectors/buyers tended to want the same objective qualities. For example, I have been to the fantastic Anatolian exhibit at the Textile Museum twice. Of course those pieces were selected for age, rarity, design prototypicality, etc., and I liked the show very much. But the second time through I just decided to evaluate everything as I usually do - look straight at the gloss of the wool and the amount of life in the colors, ignoring all else at the start. On those criteria, several the pieces in the exhibit are - dare I say it? - mediocre. My point isn't to knock that exhibit, but more to knock the idea that mediocirty is so clear (i.e., that objective quality is so clear) when individuals' criteria differ.

Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-10-2002 10:20 AM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Bob Kent

"why not look for bargains? Don't dealers do the same thing when buying - look for things with good prices that will allow good margins?"

You misunderstand my statement if you take it like "do not look for bargains , will you ?" But in case bargain hunting is the central "philosophy" the slip into mediocrity seems unavoidable. That is the result of what I have seen until now. Because first should come the attempt to move as close to the subject, so close till it becomes to be "alien", then to learn as much as one can (and learn to bear the unsafe feelings that nobody can be sure of what he found out) and then decide to get what at that moment seems attractive or valuable. If you do this, learn and move a lot unavoidably some day you will meet such "bargains".
But we are no stupid kids. Calculate all the time you spent on learning and all the expenses spent on it ( books, travels, your own time not to forget - other people might have done straight holiday ...) and then you will find out that the price of 50 $ spent for an important 17th Anatolian village rug at some dusty little shop in Divrigi ( to create an example that will not happen ) is alltogether much higher than this gentleman who formerly worked in Munich would have charged on a high flying splendid summer afternoon... Don't mind: the guys who went to straight holiday did not improve the content of their brain like you did. Learning is also fun, very exciting, and in this field it is the combination of your eye and your brain that counts. You charge yourself with something valuable - the pieces then come "automatically".

But believe me: that people who first mention how ridiculous low money they spent on their pieces .... have such pieces ! This happens if the pleasure of picking up this "I ' ve got a bargain" - feeling is the dominant approach. There are a lot of such people among any type of collectors and this is what Saul Barodofsky meant . Until now I never met anything that I can remember ( my private main measure) with any of such people. The advice of Franses that I cited here leads to a cheaper approach to something remarkable ...
We had a nice, educated, funny, entertaining collector personality in Europe, Jan Timmermann, who died recently. This gentleman
used to pick up his collection over many years from flea markets. But he also, to my opinion not with less energy, tried to learn what he could from the best examples that could be viewed. He got a really nice collection, not with early kilims and village rugs, ended up a bit later, but very good. If he would have done this professionally he would not have survived the first year. There are some little "pickers" who do this constantly, yes, but except random successes they apparently cannot muster anything. And even if they find something early: this is not yet researched material that came to us by fate, no connection visible to its roots, so how
can we learn what this is ?
May be my perspective is different: it is still possible, but not cheap, to have access to such pieces in situ and this is what I prefer. Or brand new textile art where I can meet the people who do it.
" ...but more to knock the idea that mediocirty is so clear"
No, mediocrity is rarely so clear. An example, a preview in an auction house: a matt, pale, worn down Caucasian rug ( second half 19th century) is on offer, the estimate is 1500 $ ( 2 obvious repair places are "admitted", there is some more...). A couple in front of me speaks loud like: look, the same carpet we saw last week in the Theatinerstrasse in Munich at ... but for 30 000 $ ! Pah, we are no fools, here is what we will get. - This type of late "Kazak" is not my personal favourite ( and for me no "collectors item" anyway) but I knew the piece they mentioned. A best-of-its-type piece, full pile, strong colours, on consigment from a guy in London to the "Birthday"-man, "many happy returns", offered by a world-famous retailer who cannot run away in case later some trouble surfaces with that piece, at the upper edge of, yes, the market at that time. To mention this carpet and this worn-down rest in one sentence I found shocking and ignorant - and the estimate for such a thing too high. This type is raw material for "modern improvements" and should be 300 $ in the US which is the best place to find them.
A piece in that TM exhibition may be "mediocre" in the gloss of its wool (especially when it is a village rug from Western Anatolia - this wool type from daglic sheep does not keep well its lustre over centuries) - but for sure there are some damned good reasons why they put it on show. May be it is important in respect to certain design considerations, ..... I do not know, haven't it seen, but that can be,yes. Anyway, the likeliness that high educated stuff puts unimportant mediocre stuff at the wall is as low as the chance that the fever of a (primarily) bargain hunter discovers great things on the flea market.

As very early material is more often than not fragmented then one must be cautious, I admit. Some of them are still aesthetically great, have impact, may be "handsome" in certain aspects ... but a lot of them are ugly, what I called "objects of study". In this case one must be damned sure about the importance ( this contains in any case something that one can formulate and communicate - I would give a sh... on what whoever "has in his nose" ) of this fragment - in case we talk about substantial money.
If the "importance" of that fragment lies in the fact that in all known parallel pieces the bird-like figures have red eyes and this is the only one, though fragmented, that has green eyes I would leave the shop in a burst of laughter...

And secure all information related to its origin, this I want to repeat. In this respect I would be upmost careful - and I would look to the person who offers it and not to the piece.

So: happy learning ... and hunting !

Michael Bischof

Posted by Bob Kent on 11-10-2002 11:55 AM:

bargains, again

"Calculate all the time you spent on learning and all the expenses spent on it ( books, travels, your own time not to forget - other people might have done straight holiday ...) and then you will find out that the price of 50 $ spent for an important 17th Anatolian village rug at some dusty little shop in Divrigi ( to create an example that will not happen ) is alltogether much higher than this gentleman who formerly worked in Munich would have charged on a high flying splendid summer afternoon."

MB: Well, I do buy books and travel, but a long line of employers have shown me that my time is not so valuable . ..

Of course I see your point but different people like different things, travel and reading are half (or more) of the point.

Of course the TM has good reasons for the choices, I have no doubt, but as a gloss man not everything there worked for me while some had it all. There'd probably be less bargain hunting and insecurity about prices paid if more sellers presented things with prices on them (e.g., cloudband). Actually, some "bargains" when combined with reading have helped me avoid mediocrity - I have only owned one yomut chuval, it was worn and cheap, but it was _very_ spacious and had nice dyes. Now, I have zero interest in another one without these features no matter the condition or price.

I think that Europe may just be too different from the US for anything but Bill Gates becoming a collector to bridge the gap. I attended the Graz conference this year and was stunned at the (subjective, Bob-guaged) quality and condition of things there ... shit, I thought people just roasted a goat and swapped a few worn baluchs around the fire. It was the only time I could understand why people would pay $30,000 for a carpet. In fact, I decided to forget the whole thing otherwise I would have quit buying rugs right there!

Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-10-2002 12:54 PM:

Hallo everybody, dear Bob,

wow, now I am absolutely curious: would you mind to report a bit more in detail what your impressions in Graz were ?
What is the difference in attitude, taste, preferences, style of communication, approaches between European collectors and
Americans ?
Last year they had a kilim focus. Did you hear anything about that ?

Your choice with the Yomud cuval is, most likely, the same that I would have done. In case one looks for the image the condition is second ,unless one has too much light oxidation so that the dyes stop to "work". But for a good spacing ( imagine the psychological condition necessary to deliver it !) and the impact that such a piece then has I forgive holes etc. - I do not want to have a proof that she did enough knots in little details for my money. May people collect what they want: I find these late things boring after having seen these other ones. But I am very sceptical against claims of incredible age or other tapitolyrics ( compare my estimation of the
litte fragment in San Francisco by klicking on the blue link "archaiv" in the essay) with fragments and I am even suspicious in case somebody uses the term "archaic" in a descriptive or evaluative way. Then I want to hear in clear words what the piece has beyond our impressions.

Please understand my point: I like to travel and learn as well. But in case you do this professionally you must count this as labour,
what you learn by doing it increases your taste, your ability to select ... may be my words were not clear enough: I know a great collector, who paid great money for some great pieces. In his holiday he managed to realize a stunning unknown textile in a North-Western American antiquty shop and bought it for a reasonable but not for a bargain price. If this textile ( whose identity had to be researched later: without certaincy then ) would have been in the Oriental textile antiquities market, may it be Istanbul or Täbriz or Rajasthan does not matter, it would have costed much more, for sure.
And another of the "big boys" who even spent much more, in nearly all cases from the creme de la creme of the international dealers ( what has to do with this concept of saving money, but only for people who can play in that league). Once he went on bargain hunting and found an unusual thing. For him, in relation, it was a bargain price. For me it was kind of shock. Later, when he prepared a book, I was invited to write one chapter. I rejected it. One of the reasons was that I rejected his idea what this bargain piece was - he could not offer any argument for his "smell" it could be of considerable age. I found it to be rubbish and he felt even offended by my estimation, for which I had a lot of reasons ( Radiocarbon dating was not "ripe" at that time).
When the book came out my first look was how the author managed a kind of workaround to avoid corrupting his name. No more words for that... so learning is the thing, not the amount of money on has to spend ! Much money and names of respected dealers cannot create any great collection - and though later the name of the buyer is attached to it is always the person who has put it together that counts, the thoughts, reflections, doubts, dreams - and questions.

To visit Graz for meeting carpet collectors is not a bargain hunters normal behaviour ,is it ? Too far, too expensive .... imagine how many bag faces ....



Posted by Bob Kent on 11-10-2002 02:06 PM:

professional? labour? me?

"wow, now I am absolutely curious: would you mind to report a bit more in detail what your impressions in Graz were ?
What is the difference in attitude, taste, preferences, style of communication, approaches between European collectors and
Americans? Last year they had a kilim focus. Did you hear anything about that ?"

Michael: Nothing professional about that visit, I have a suitably slight job and no illusions about making money -- and why should I, if the best predictor of future achievement is past behaviour? Trying to make money would take the fun out of it. Graz was an easy trip from a summer teaching job.

You are asking big questions, but here's one difference in style of communication that stands out: I barely have a command of Ohio-suburbs English, and with my rare insight I notiecd that they tended to speak German. But OK, My detailed impressions: I couldn't find the place (it is well hidden!), the registration was $20 including a nice meal (not $400!), I met some _very_ nice people, and the lamb and wine was tasty. I missed a lot due to my lack of language and the sheer volume of material, and maybe they had trick lights or something, but the rugs seemed to be better, brighter, and in what I assume was "German condition." I mostly remember Baluch/Timuri rugs like I had never seen before -- drawing and color and condition. Same for kilims, the combination of color, drawing, and condition. Much more of an 'oohh aahhh' factor.

Like I said, I have largely had to forget what I saw in Graz in order to spare the feelings of those textiles already unfortunate enough to wind up in my hands. ...

Posted by Ali R.Tuna on 11-10-2002 04:07 PM:

Hello everybody,

If I was a beginner in the matter- and maybe I still am- reading the conversation in this tread would not give me more motivation of pushing forward with the Kilims be it in the US or anywhere . Why ?

First , it looks like it is very complicated to buy pieces that are of some worth. The prices we are talking are in the 30M$ to 85M$ and above . In addition only a few people seem to have located and sell these pieces on the market.

Second, it seems to be extremely difficult to learn by seeing better pieces because if I do not declare that I am ready to spend the equivalent of two-three years of College tuition for my kids , I even do not have the slightest chance to see the better Kilims.

Even if I found a charitable dealer that is willing to take my education , the poor guy will no more be able to sell these pices because they are not virgin anymore as I have seen them .

If the people who have acquired the fantastic kilims that the rumor says were the very best , are also very secretive- only unpublished and unexhibited pieces are the very best I hear- , then I still can not learn from these.

Then I turn myself to the museums . But there also , I understand that some of the pieces would not be really worth but I need a special guide to be sure which pieces are right now top and which pieces are no more judged by the "connaisseurs" as worthy.

Then let's say I am still courageous and dared to spend some money on a kilim. I could not show it to any knowledgeable person , because I am much afraid to be considered as a low taste jerk and a bargain hunter.
I would even not enjoy my kilim so much because if I put it at home or look at it under light, the dyes might go away and than my kilim will depreciate. So best lighting would be darkness and next generations could still see how a wonderful kilim it is !

So, on one side we are surprised about not having more Kilim aficionados, not enough recognition etc.. . But on the other side we make it so complicated , so secretive , even cynical and fobic that we have what we merit.

If in other areas people would apply the same approach , then nobody would drink wine beacause the very best are only coming from a few chateaux and you have to pay 600$ or more a bottle.
Prohibition to enjoy unless it is the best

Nobody would dare to buy and hang a painting at his home because it is not a Van Gogh or Matisse.

It is not by critisizing the buyers and their behaviour that we will get more people loving Kilims. People try to do their best and they try to enjoy with the means that they have.

If we do not teach people what is a good kilim and what is less good by setting more clear criteria , if we do not show our very best pieces around , if we do not show people why in a good Kilim we have more pure art than a Matisse or Picasso at a "bargain" price, then we will not gain more people and recognition to the cause of Kilims.
The only person who has courageously done this for his textile love area , namely carpets, is Cristopher Alexander. In the " Foreshadowing of 21st century Art " he has laid out the principles that differentiate good carpets from less good ones. While others have focused on provenance and knot count for more than a century , Alexander has focused on what makes a good carpet overall.
We have to follow a similar approach for the kilims .
Otherwise we will keep discussing the trees without being able to say if we are in a forest or still in the woods.

Ali R. Tuna

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 11-11-2002 02:00 AM:

Absolutely, Ali.

I AM a beginner, by the way, and I guess I will continue to be a beginner for a very long time.

Some of the arguments of the Show and Tell thread "Edge Treatment of Fachralo Kazak" are resurfacing here. This Salon made also several references to that thread.

Michael, if you don’t mind I’ll ask Steve to archive it inside your Salon because it contains a concrete example of a discussion about what should or shouldn’t be collectable.


Posted by Steve Price on 11-11-2002 06:04 AM:

Hi Ali,

I agree with most of what you said, and I've repeated many times my attitude that there is no moral imperative for a collector to collect this or to collect that. Just liking it or not liking it is reason enough for most people, and everything else has to do with making sure you don't overpay for what you get.

But your referring to kilims as a cause caught my attention. I guess I'm about as much of an evangelist for rug collecting as the next guy (how else am I to justify the time I put into this site?), but I have a bad time trying to see it as a cause. Why should I care whether someone doesn't give a hoot about textiles or really goes nuts over things that leave me cold?


Steve Price

Posted by Ali R.Tuna on 11-11-2002 08:21 AM:

Dear Steve,

You might have to excuse some excess language by non native english speakers on your forums.

Whan I used the word "cause" it was not meant in a fundamentalist way but to pull more people to the "understanding and appreciation of Kilims"-replace "cause" by that expression.

I myself have started with carpets , cuvals , cicims and all. So I am not a specialized KIlim collector.
Actually I am not a collector at all but just try to find some "good textile friends" that I enjoy the time with. I have been purchasing items I liked for more than 20 years without much cross reference other than the Museums in Turkey and elsewhere and publications like HALI.
I only came to kilims later .

So I agree with you that "cause" is probably a too strong wording.


Ali R.Tuna

Posted by Steve Price on 11-11-2002 08:48 AM:

Hi Ali,

I apologize for overreacting to your post. You owe no apoplogies for your command of English. It's very much better than my abilities in any of the other languages that I use occasionally. For that matter, it's very much better than that of some Americans who send me e-mail.


Steve Price

Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-17-2002 03:28 AM:


Dear all, dear Ali R. Tuna,
thanks a lot for your overdriven picture. It aimed at provoking - and it worked.

"First , it looks like it is very complicated to buy pieces that are of some worth. The prices we are talking are in the 30M$ to 85M$ and above . In addition only a few people seem to have located and sell these pieces on the market."
Of course I will not tell here who paid what for which piece, when and to whome ... but the figures you give here are lunatic. I admit: how can you know ? - The number of top pieces that were surfaced per year never changed. It is below 10. In the moment the market is slow, the speed of hunting is slow therefore. Prices did not go down as everybody keeps what he has. Those pieces that have something wrong ( different possibilities, including those that affect the integrity of the piece, like chemical washing, synthetic aging ...) and/or did not perform good are offered cheaper, yes. The main place for them is still Istanbul - but as the people are modern and international you might get an Istanbul piece offered in Zürich or Vienna with great ease.

"Second, it seems to be extremely difficult to learn by seeing better pieces because if I do not declare that I am ready to spend the equivalent of two-three years of College tuition for my kids , I even do not have the slightest chance to see the better Kilims."

This behaviour is not a special property of people who deal with early kilims. You have that in all art forms as well.
If I would show to you a kilim that you would not like to afford what happens ? You admire the piece that you will not buy - but you will not buy the piece that you could afford and that you would have liked - if I, behaving as a fool, would not have shown to you the better piece. It is hard to deviate from this "principle". Who am I to overrun reality ?

I once made an exception in Konya showing good material, obviously too expensive, to an American collector/author
who had the "hunt for bargain" - illness in spite of this knowledge. The result was like one had expectrd. But 2 years later I run into a heavy insulting "accident" after delivering a lecture at ICOC in San Francisco - and in this moment this gentleman stood up and said: I do not know the background of this dispute but I can say from my experience that this person behaved like a gentleman in a moment nobody could fairly expect that from him .... Late rewards ...

"Even if I found a charitable dealer that is willing to take my education , the poor guy will no more be able to sell these pices because they are not virgin anymore as I have seen them ."
The brutal truth: you are wrong. As long as you are not one of the top players it is not important whether you have seen it or not. As long as you can keep your mouth, of course, there is no danger at all...

"If the people who have acquired the fantastic kilims that the rumor says were the very best , are also very secretive- only unpublished and unexhibited pieces are the very best I hear- , then I still can not learn from these."]
No ! The rumors I cannot stop. This is nonsense to .... more than 95%. More often than not the customers who bought middle pieces create these rumors to "lift" their pieces. Believe me, please, as I could witness it: after having sold a top kilim we tried and try our best to motivate the buyer to publish it/exhibit it in a not too far time. Of course this person has no obligation to do so. In the majority of cases this was and is successful.
And for our own behaviour: we constantly went to the edge of what can be done without harming our business to educate people on these matters. We had made seminaries in Konya, introduced guests to weaving ladies ( together with Samy Rabinovic we do it each year, Morehouse was there, Walter B. Denny ... ) travelled with clients quite far in Anatolia, established backyard insights into this field, and showed a lot of pieces on lectures, sometimes even those which were not sold yet .
Yes, Ali R. Tuna, including you - the last time after the Volkmann event in Munich as I remember well ,even though it was clear that in this particular situaiont they would not sell by doing so I showed some pieces to you. Did you forget that ? So something like "lack of support" I simply do not want to hear. Unless you mention to me ( not necessarily in the public ) whome I brushed off.

"Then I turn myself to the museums . But there also , I understand that some of the pieces would not be really worth but I need a special guide to be sure which pieces are right now top and which pieces are no more judged by the "connaisseurs" as worthy."

With early kilims forget all museums except the de Young in San Francisco. But this is limited to see the pieces there - information you will not gain. Here you stress a real unpleasant factor:
we do not have serious independant research for building up measures that can claim to be convincing. The reason why we proposed this grading system is connected with this problem: to find a safe starting point for research.

Do not listen too much to what "connoisseurs" say. A big part is like teenage gossip ... and has to do with changing fashion.
Make up your own mind ! An example: this early Ermenek kilim in the essay was, when it was sold, not by itself a top piece. If you see such a piece in Turkey, unwashed, dusty, matt you never know how it will look later. Of course you depend on the advice of other people then, just for this aspect. And: we told frankly before the sale that most likely this piece would create overwhelming applause with about 30% of the auditorium when it would be exhibited later, but that may be 70% of the viewers would or may reject it as to coarse, brutal, primitive, stark ... the wonderful special blue was visible after it was washed, by the way. This is a risk.
Therefore we did not try to hide the fact that early kilims are still a quite "fresh" part of the art market, no reliable measures around yet, risky, but also "gainy" ... something for the adventurous people. To give you an idea: the person who owns the piece had seen the original place before. So he had moved to this remote place - and he knows the locations in Anatolia better than 90% of the cream de la cream dealers, who know, at best, shome shops in some big cities. "Adventurous" includes moving very close ...

On Friday I was on a preview of an auction. More than 90% there were what I would call "home decoration textiles", but at their top level. Established, known, boring ... from my perspective. Kilim lovers want something different ...


Michael Bischof

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 11-17-2002 06:52 AM:

Money again

Hi Michael,

Could you please give us only an idea of the price range those top pieces can reach, without going into the details?
That would not infringe the rules of Turkotek… Just an indication of the Min an Max values.


Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-17-2002 08:24 AM:

more about money...

Dear all, dear Filiberto,
hmm, early kilims are much more rare than , e.g., eagle kazaks. In spite of it fate makes it that an esoteric rare group like those "Dazkiri" saf kilims ( see the title page of Rageth) releases, over more than 10 years, three pieces that are not of the same age
but have merits of their own each. Then there is no "no. 1 piece" .... all of them have been sold above 30 000 $, that I can say.
This "chapter" was closed more than 10 years before. 1 piece came later and was sold via an auction in London but that could
not match the previously mentioned ones.
There is one "bone"-kilim that was ( but from hearsay !) the most expensive kilim sold until now, again quite some years ago,
for more than 100 000 $. The other top pieces have been below that level, then. But keep in mind, please, that for unique things
no max/min - relation can be applied. What a certain customer in a particular situation pays for them .... that's it.

I find it misleading to concentrate on flatweaves too much that people normally do not see, at least not for years, so they cannot compare in the sense of the word. Those rumors that Ali R. Tuna mentioned are there: not a new situation. And in most cases
people try to lift pieces into auratic heights by gossiping them up. So please differentiate with all the energy that you have between stories and events that are real. We have the impression that this type of gossip is as counterproductive as the impact of the San Francisco exhibition had been - people wrongly suspect whatever they do they could not match that level. Not all but a lot of those pieces were below 10 000 $ "FOB Anatolia" - at their time. Pieces that overtake corresponding kilims in the McCoy-Jones-collection, even radio-carbon-dated, are available below 15 000 $ , but today ! When a piece is the earliest of its group plus ( even more important !) when it has some aesthetic impact better than its younger followers it will not be cheap. But 25 000 $ are a kind of psychological barrier over which nobody can jump over with ease.
Early fragments are quite cheap - but keep in mind that then the business is risky: everything depends on proper studies. 2000 $ for a medieval looking fragment of the second half of the 19th century is a waste of money ! It depends on your choice of advice.
I have seen a 3000 $ sale of a modern "partially natural dyes" production piece which was crooked ( not flat lying) at a German auction house , low ( but still too expensive !) prices for early looking rubbish. I would guess if you see the whole market most money is made with overdriven late insignificant material with a ghostly early appeal - the best choice to catch the bargain hunters on the wrong foot. For early "objects of study" ( that are really very old but not "handsome") everything depends on proper documentation of their significance. When then the word "archaic" comes up ... the question should be: what does it have that later pieces do not have. Make a list. The more subjective (aesthetics based) your arguments are the more careful you should be !
Compare our footnote for the little fragment in the McCoy-Jones-Collection, please. Such a thing for a mentionable price, without having any idea what it is ( and therefore: what significance it has ...) is the perfect "trap". And to find the "frame", the checkable story behind it, would cost much more than the piece actually would be.

All in all, compared to other art objects, flatweaves and real village rugs are still extreme cheap - if one day we will discover their
real importance.

At the end one plain technical-sensorical argument: dye lakes one can make as well in the form of an extreme fine powder, mix it with oil and paint that on canvas. Attention: I mean here exactly the same dye lake like it could be developed in the wool fiber. If you compare that you will see that wool is such a fantastic "substrate" that the vividness of the colour is manifold better than the same thing on canvas. This is not a subjective lunatic impression ! In case on measures the light fastness results on wool are by far superior to those on canvas ! Leaving the Oriental weaves and their designs at the side: just for the pleasure of colour big areas of splendid natural dyed wool are out of any competition. And this aspect serves some (!) early kilims.



Posted by Ali R.Tuna on 11-21-2002 04:28 PM:

Dear All,
Dear Michael Bischoff,

Personnalizing this debate to our private cases would miss the point I have made in the earlier post and I do not want to move on that ground.

You mention that other art markets are also very secretive. However , I also have wonderful examples in the other direction:
In the city I live there is an antiques street where all the fashionable art galleries are. I enjoy to walk by on Saturdays. Several paintings are exhibited on the windows and inside. About nine months ago I was struck by the appearance of a wonderful painting by the Belgian surrealist master Rene Magritte. It represented a figure of women on a wonderful sea background all in soft blues, lilas and roses. She had the eyes of a statue and had a colomb on her shoulder. The painting stood there for a few months. I admired it at every passage . One day I have decided to enter and ask for the price. The price was a seven digit sum in $ .The gallery owner was happy that I enjoyed the painting and has toured me through his gallery, and we have also shared views of how nice that painting was.

She did not seem to be grading her customers and was happy to talk about the painting.
I know that when I will need a painting this will be the first place I will go. I am sure I will get best value for what I pay.

A few months later the Magritte was gone. A passerby had purchased it . Now there is a Braque replacing it and a Chagall on the other side.

I am also encouraged to see, that on the internet sites where people post for textile pieces, a few gallery owners have now prices indicated. The same for everybody!

This will definitely help the beginners because they can compare for similar pieces and the owners have also to provide some explanation if they are out of the range.

Transparency , clear appreciation principles and showing the keys of enjoyment with kilims will provide more pening for new people to appreciate the KILIM art.
Let's not forget we are discussing why we do not have more kilim interest in the Americas.

I have mentioned C.Alexander for carpets in the previous post.

Actually , I have forgotten Mr. Fraunknecht for Kilims - thanks for posting in another thread Mr. Frauenknecht to remind me- as one of the first people who has shared principles of appreaciation based on aesthetics .
There is still this wonderful article in Hali Vol5 No4 from 1983, p.477 which after nearly 20 years has not lost its actuality in the Kilim field. Fully recommended !

Ali Tuna

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 11-21-2002 09:23 PM:


Dear Mr. Tuna,

It has occurred to me that one reason for the dearth of good, old kilims in the American market is that it is somewhat more difficult to "manipulate" them into better condition than it is for pile rugs. This makes them less marketable to condition-oriented buyers.
It is a very poorly kept secret that a lot of the very expensive rugs on the market have undergone "reconstructive surgery".
Is it, in fact, harder to repair a kilim than a pile rug, and to make it look original?
I owned a mid 19th century Aydin kilim of 9' x 5' with a striking hooked design, but with condition problems exacerbated by early 20th century repairs which had bled.
A top end dealer regretted that it would have cost too much to "fix" it.
I wish I had kept it, damage and all.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Ali R.Tuna on 11-22-2002 05:59 AM:

Mr. Weiler ,
Yes , I agree.

Fixing the Kilims for display and enjoyment can take more effort and investment than the acquisition of the piece itself.

I understand that this will keep initially people away from them because acquiring holes and dirt for some amount of money does not look very natural.

I have myself acquired my first kilim fragments several years ago , not that I wanted to keep them "as is" but wanted to cut and make some cushions initially. But by looking at them more and more I did not dare to destroy their integrity.

So, it is definitely a learning process.

The good news is that the techniques of cleaning , mounting and conserving have made a lot of progress. Actually , more than the techniques (which requires a lot of hand work) , our approach to it has made progress.

I do not know , but today I assume nobody would repair a fragment but rather try to "render" the piece such that it can be observed closest to the original aesthetics without alteration.

The "digital reconstruction " technique pioneered by Mrs Steinbock and Mr. Koll in their exhibition book is another one that fully matches our century's capabilities.

We still dream of a digitally reconstructed backgound that a fragment or complete kilim could be mounted on. IT will come I am sure . Maybe with these dyeing process that Mr. Bischoff was mentioning.

Faking has one advantage : it provides cost affordable processes. If used for good purpose that it might be of huge help !


Ali R. Tuna

Posted by R. John Howe on 11-22-2002 08:15 AM:

Dear folks -

I think the digital restorations are an imaginative way to try to provide an image of what the whole piece implied by a kilim fragment would have looked like. And while some skill is involved, it seems more accessible and inexpensive than some alternatives.

I understand that some museums, if they arrange to have a fragment that they own "made whole," so to speak, specify that it must be done so that the area of the original is discernible. This is precisely the opposite objective of many restorations of pile weavings.

This latter thought bring to mind the instance reported by Christopher Alexander in his difficult book on Turkish village carpets. He owned a beautiful, old fragment, or perhaps more than one, from the same rug, but could not puzzle out initially what the design of the complete piece looked like. But finally he was able to do this to his satisfaction. He wanted, then, to be able to look at this complete design, without disturbing the integrity of the fragment(s), so he gave the complete design to a skilled needlepoint artist and commissioned her to "complete" the piece in needlepoint. In this way he could enjoy the image of the complete piece without disturbing at all the character of the fragments.

This sort of restoration by needlepoint supplement may be less suitable for kilim restoration. But it is another imaginative way to arrange to enjoy looking at a original "whole" piece.


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-22-2002 02:01 PM:

rumors and condition ....

Hallo everybody, hallo Patrick Weiler, hallo Ali R. Tuna,

puh, I must admit that you apparently underestimate by far the progresses that have been made concerning finishing antique kilims .... shall I put I smiley here ?
I do not want to shift the discussion on a personal level, Ali R. Tuna. I just had the impression that some remarks ( for me: entirely remarks from the Istanbul subculture...) on so called miracle kilims would have a similar misleading effect on people like the success of the San Francisco kilim event had on collectors in the US. I know from inside how few of those rumors represent something "real".

As by now mentionable early kilims are available starting at about 2000 $ to enter kilims is affordable, for sure. If one climbs only a bit higher early ( even radio-carbon dated pieces) are still cheaper than questionable poche offers on the auction scenery. And we should not forget: this is an open, but unprotected market where nobody is responsible for the output except the person who bought a piece at the end. No space left for A-pieces .... ;-)

One thing I want to add when people start to cry about the condition that early pieces often have: with early kilims and authentic rugs one does not look for some floor cover. Whether one can use them is absolutely unimportant ! Hopefully nobody will hit me now for being snobbish or imperial looks for the authentic image ! Condition may distress people, sometimes, but that is the same with any real art. It is never just a kind of pleasant decoration, it may be as well a bit "disturbing" ( the painting "Guernica", for instance, or similar works of art). Estimating them as art makes it necessary to raise the professional standards a lot, though. Otherwise it remains an empty claim.



Posted by Steve Price on 11-22-2002 02:18 PM:

Hi Michael,

Picasso's Guernica is, as you note, a distressing work of art. I think it is a mistake to equate the distress it imposes with that imposed on a viewer by the shabby condition of a fragment of an ancient kilim. The weaver did not intend the kilim to convey a message of distress, and to the extent that it elicits that message its artistic purpose has been changed or even eliminated.

There are sound art historical reasons for collecting fragments, but we should not pretend that they are intact works of art or that their artistic effect is the same as it was before they became fragments. Ali Tuna's reconstruction was a perfect demonstration of that.


Steve Price

Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-22-2002 02:56 PM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Steve Price,

I agree with you on your comment. That todays look of a fragment is not what the artist had intended is clear. But I had something different in mind: I did not mean the distressing effect of the shabby condition ! I meant, for expample, the imposing, raw, even brutal expression that one has when been confronted with a big red ground kilim, which I assiocate of being opposite to the impact that a smooth impressionist painting of a summer flower meadow would have.
Great kilims may be even disturbing in that sense if they would be in perfect condition. If there would not be the case that then a lot of collectors would guess that it lacks the "early look".



Posted by Vincent Keers on 11-22-2002 08:19 PM:

Dear all,

A fragment is a fragment.
A complete kilim is a complete kilim.
If you like kilim, do not buy a fragment.
I like fragments to be in a very distressed condition. I do not like fragments that are fixed up. I want to see the naked warps holding the piece together. Some nights i can dim the light, put a light on the fragment and the wefts and warps that stick out in combination with what I still can see, the beautiful colour combination, the curvelar wefts, make me feel.
I want the wefts crawling and hanging on with there last strength. A soft "in memoriam" to who ever made it. Jesus, if she could only know, how happy she makes me for 1, 5, 4 minutes at this moment and time. Yes she has lived.
And who ever thinks he can point one finger at my fragments, I'll send him an army of Amazons.
Because plate 16 reminds me of the cigarette burned "illuminated" holy scripts one can buy in the tourist shops. The holes are all to neat. And I agree, this kilim has impact, but the neat cut holes are very distracting. Kitsched up and polished. "Doctor, did the operation succeed?. Yes sir, but the patient died."

Best regards,

Posted by Marla Mallett on 11-23-2002 01:48 PM:

Hi Vincent,

You have hit on a pet peeve of mine! I HATE seeing textiles with the holes “tidied up.” Whether it is holes in the midst of a piece in which the frayed warps have been trimmed off, or an end frayed out evenly and trimmed. Especially the holes! How UNNATURL such an appearance is. In Turkey, if one complains about this tampering with the pieces, though, one is told that German dealers require it! If anyone has ideas about what we can do to stop this butchery, I’d like to hear them.


Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-24-2002 06:24 AM:

Hallo everybody, hallo Ali R. Tuna,

your wish to have more transparency by publishing prices of antique kilim sounds better than it actually is, in my opinion. I think it is the right idea, urgent to be realized, for any new item whose technical features are quality-related - and we have tried to recommend that as a necessary standard thing for any new weave here on Turkotek since long. The details should be known, leave the prices for the market.
For antique pieces is would mean to compare apples and potatoes.
Old pieces that are found in situ and later offered on the market one should compare with a corpse that has been drowned under water for some weeks. Often it is decapitated, even some or even all finger tips have been removed. A lot of chemical may have been applied to let the remaining rest look better for the moment of sale.
So I guess it is intellectually understandable that comparison of prices makes sense only when there would be a full knowledge available on all these details. The market for second-hand car should give the comparison. Does it make sense to compare a car with
a known record, all papers available, with a written guarantee of the retail shop listing all the damages, with another offer where the customer has no detail knowledge at all and where he gets rid of any right towards the seller after the purchase, bought "as it is" ?

To understand the background for our readers:
Yesterday Ali R. Tuna and I had met at a fabulous seminary event at the Deutsches Textilmuseum in Krefeld that was attended by over 100 kilim lovers. A full lecture program and then a Show-and-Tell in the evening with the highest level of quality that I can remember from similar events.

But it also became obvious how difficult it is to evaluate the "C-pieces", whose origin and present condition is unclear, to use the most pleasant word. In case one does not know the origin and may not be sure whether what one sees is what has been there once how can one come to coherent conclusions then ?

The impact of the kilims aesthetic qualities one can never catch by comparing prices. Two pieces of the same origin
and age, woven even by the same weaver, may differ a lot , e.g. by using a different colour scheme. What does it mean then for the "better" kilim if the weaker piece is offered for 4 000 $ ?
I agree with Ali R. Tuna that there is too much artificial secrecy and gossiping in this relatively small field. Please compare our essay where we report the "set" of the early dated Ermenek kilim and mentioned that other pieces came out together with it, having a very different design, though. These pieces are still on the market. What could it contribute if anybody would publish the selling price of this pictured Ermenek kilim ?



Posted by Michael Bischof on 11-24-2002 08:50 AM:

mounting fragments...

Hallo everybody, hallo Marla, hallo Vincent,

Hi Vincent,

You have hit on a pet peeve of mine! I HATE seeing textiles with the holes �tidied up.� Whether it is holes in the midst of a piece in which the frayed warps have been trimmed off, or an end frayed out evenly and trimmed. Especially the holes! How UNNATURL such an appearance is. In Turkey, if one complains about this tampering with the pieces, though, one is told that German dealers require it! If anyone has ideas about what we can do to stop this butchery, I�d like to hear them.

you are right. But pl. 16 was found like that. Nobody "cleared" any hole. Of course when fragments are mounted on linen ( the second best solution, but suitable woollen fabrics are not available for this particular purpose) this requires a lot of technical skills
by the person who does it - and big amount of aesthetical understanding as well. Any loose warp should be fixed, not removed.
The quality of mounting therefore is never a kind of standard. One has very big differences, similar to qualities of weaving.
In Europe I would like to mention the leading "mounting artist" Sigrid Schmid-Eckel in Kuchl near Salzburg ( in old days working at Galerie Sailer) who has learned this in Anatolia itself . She can even hide the fine silk thread used for mounting within the twist of
the warps ! And of course I should mention Harry Koll who did the mounting for most of the pieces exhibited in Krefeld, except for the previously mentioned Ermenk kilim which was mounted by Sigrid Schmid.
Of course the success ( or failure) of this mounting determines the final aesthetical impact of the fragment - and, arrgh, it costs a lot..



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