Dear folks –

I composed and put up this salon in a fit of inspiration thinking that I had a subject that would likely explode on its own since this subject seemed widely accessible and because lot of people have strong feelings about color. And in truth color is a large factor in collector consideration of quality.

There has been reasonable participation, given that I got busy with consulting work and couldn’t perform my hosting role as actively as likely is needed. But I was surprised that this salon did not take off largely on its own.

OK, so what did we do?

Steve wondered early whether color harmony could not be objectively defined and there are folks who claim to be able to do something that seems to move in that direction, but it appears that we are not there yet. There was actually a lot of discussion of color harmony, but I’m not sure it went anywhere. We seemed mostly to demonstrate that subjectivity isn’t a basis for progress here.

I started a thread wondering whether we could discover pieces in which the “ground” color was ambiguous. It didn’t go anywhere much although Steve seemed to question whether close analysis was needed much. I was not sure that I got agreement about whether folks experienced what color theory seems to suggest that darker color recede and that lighter ones seem to come forward. If this is not so, then examining “layers” in rugs using conventional color theory seems less than useful.

I asked how important color was to our estimates that pieces seen to be “best of type” merited that assessment. This led to protests about the whole notion of “best of type” some arguing that it was just a marketing play. A person also wrote on the side asking whether serious repair would affect our estimates of whether a given piece was a “best of type.” Arguments that seemed relatively sound were made both pro and con. Several said that major restoration meant that the piece was no longer truly of a give type. Steve argued that some pieces (e.g. very old ones) would be best of type no matter what their treatment.

Amir Aharon started a tangential thread about colorful cows and a number of us joined in. Not sure what it did. It may have been fun but it was definitely not about rugs.

I suggested at one point that we collect some examples that we thought were “less successful” uses of color in rugs and textiles and we assembled a few. There was a discussion of whether orange reds could be placed near blue reds with attractive results and folks went different ways about that. Some examples were posted of Lakai, Turkmen, Uzbek and Caucasian embroideries and folks wondered whether particular palettes that might be seen as jarring in pile rugs might be more acceptable within alternative groups of textiles.

David Hunt posted a recently purchased chuval and made a lengthy argument seeming to say that he felt that it exemplified many positive aspects of color harmony. There were lots of additional images and more discussion but I wasn’t at the end able to take in the ultimate shape of it.

Just before closing, Jerry Silverman put up a nice Shahsavan piece and a Jaff Kurd bag face both of which had very good, harmonious colors. Some others tried to match him but did not quite. There was one small flatwoven bag that was interesting enough to draw an on-site offer of adoption.

I think there is a lot a room here, someday for another effort in this area. I can’t believe that there are not more aspects of our beliefs and practices with regard to color in oriental rugs and textiles that could not be usefully surfaced and examined under light of day to see both what they are and whether they are justified.

Thanks to those who participated,

R. John Howe