Posted by R. John Howe on 05-20-2007 05:01 AM:

A Failed Inoculating Purchase

Dear folks -

Our participation in ICOC XI was part of a longer, driving tour of Turkey. We arrived on 4/16 and came home on 5/14 and I had decided early that I would refrain from much purchasing since I wanted to be able to eat and sleep indoors during the last week of our stay. And my wife's yurt-raising skills are somewhat atrophied since we both retired.

So I decided to look around a bit before ICOC XI officially began and to make an early, inexpensive purchase of something I liked, in the hope that it would have a kind of inoculating effect. That is the background for what follows.

I own a fragment of an embroidered Turkmen camel head dress that you have seen before.

I like the holistic look of such a fragment and responded to another that I encountered during our first walk-around the evening of April 16.

I've rotated it 90 degrees below so you can look at it a bit more closely.

As I've examined this second piece I see things that make me ask questions about it (although I still like it).

First, a dealer down the road from Istanbul, looking at it indicated that it seemed not to have any visible places where the other parts of the head dress fastened. He wondered whether it was a piece that had been made, but not finished (that is, side straps had NEVER been put on).

This made me look at the perimeter of the piece more closely and to notice that the embroidery of the outside edge seems inferior to that in the piece's interior. That seems especially to be the case of the strips that have the X's on them. These X's are formed by single threads, something not noticeable in the interior embroidery of the piece.

I now wonder whether a newer outside perimeter may not have been fashioned to restore the original piece the edges of which had become worn.

I still like its color and graphics and it was very inexpensive, so if it is a mistake, it is not a costly one. It's on the wall here and we can do direct scans of it, if there are further suggestions or suspicions about it.

Oh. About it's inoculating function. It worked fine during ICOC XI, in part because prices at the dealers' fair were very high (despite this many dealers report that they did quite well), but once the conference was over and we began our driving tour in the country-side, its inoculating power failed completely.

This means that there are other pieces to talk about, too. But first I invite thoughts and comments about this one.


R. John Howe

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-20-2007 12:54 PM:

Hi John,

I like that trapping, though I couldn't comment on its age. How do the colours seem to you?

I think you have mistunderstood the pathophysiology of rug collecting (cacoethesis lodicis?). An initial exposure (rug purchase) does not serve to immunize against further purchases, but rather starts an autoimmune reaction that soon develops a life of its own. Only powerful immunomodulator therapy can get things back under control. Spouses or significant others can perform this function, unless they too suffer from the same immune dysregulation. Failing that, aggressive therapy can slow things down for a while, like spending a lot of money on a fake (see the other thread). Regardless, the condition is often progressive with frequent relapses. Happily, sufferers of the condition are blissfully unaware of their malady.



Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-20-2007 01:41 PM:

Booster Shot


You neglected one of the standard procedures with vaccinations, the Booster Shot.
I bought the kizil chuval pair the day before the ICOC and then on the last day, at the Arasta Bazaar, purchased a single, small item as a Booster Shot to strengthen the immunity.
This thread should probably go on the Turkey I Bought in Istanbul thread, because both pieces were purchased in Turkey - your head dress and this little immunity booster:

As you can obviously see, it is not in pristine condition. As a matter of fact, my perception of perfection had probably been affected by the condition of so many ancient, tattered Turkish textiles that this one appeared practically intact.
What is it, you ask?
Well, on the ICOC cruise bus I showed it to Jon Thompson, who agreed with my finding that it was probably woven by the Boteh Tribe, NW Iran, 19th century.
It is 13" wide x 11" tall, 33cm x 28cm, with approximately 9x9 symmetric knots per square inch.

Here is a picture of the back, where it is evident that, as I suggested in an earlier salon on Chanteh's, whatever materials were at hand are used for these smaller pieces, along with a variety of techniques quite likely for practice in use on larger pieces:

These next two close-up shots are "upside down" compared to the first two, because the pile as shown on the first two shots is in an upwards orientation. These next two photos show the piece with the pile down. The light blue and bright white knots are cotton:

From the back, you can see that there was cotton used also for the wefts in this area, along with a few extra-weft inserts that extend for a couple of inches near the bottom of the piece:

The Booster Shot worked, because other than trinkets for gifts back home, these were all the weavings I bought in Turkey!

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-20-2007 05:14 PM:

Hi Patrick,

I don't mean to nitpick, but I note the piece is only 11 inches tall in certain places.

If I recall my research correctly, the Boteh tribe is not indigenous to Turkey, and are limited to a small group forcefully resettled there by Othman I to perform certain customs functions at the airport. That would seem to indicate that the Turks imported this piece of yours and others of its ilk. Coals to Newcastle, if you ask me.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Chris Countryman on 05-20-2007 09:26 PM:

Resistance resource depletion

Greetings John and all,
Your attempt at resisting purchases by buying early actually has some scientific basis. In a recent article entitled "Spent Resources: Self-Regulatory Resource Availability Affects Impulse Buying," the authors talk about how people resist initial temptations and then, when their self-control resources are depleted, spent more on impulsive purchases.

This is why the supermarkets put some of their junkiest food up front--you may resist that but you will buy other stuff later.

Basically what this means is that we ruggies are doomed. As your and Pat's pics prove, there are too many treats at these rug conventions to keep up the resistance forever. My recommendation is a version of what Pat did: buy small things at regular intervals. At least then you can tell the wife that you were saving your "self-regulatory resources" to keep yourself away from the junk food.

Maybe a new motto for the rug world would be appropriate: "Buy wisely, buy often."


Chris Countryman

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-21-2007 12:40 AM:

Rabid Rebuttal


I am measuring this piece diagonally, just like televisions, so the 11" measurement is accurate!

The resettlement of the Boteh Tribe to Turkish airport customs jobs could possibly explain why such a valuable piece was allowed to exit the country - it was seen as an opportunity to advance their cause of independence.
They want admittance to NATO and the European Union.


Who is saying anything about resisting initial temptation? I bought both the kizil chuvals and this chanteh immediately upon the first moment of inclination. And if the supermarkets hid their junk food behind the counter, with brown paper wrappers, I would hunt it down and purchase it mercilessly.
So putting the cheap, crummy fragments and late, decrepit rugs on top of the pile doesn't stop me. I have a whole collection of the stuff, waiting for it to appreciate in value just like the Enron stock I bought for $200 a share...

And John, that second piece you bought, it's not a camel head dress, it is a loincloth...

Patrick Weiler, late, very late, Sunday night.

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 05-21-2007 07:32 AM:

A Trapping Fragment

Hi John,

I like your new piece. I don't think you should waste any more time looking for strap attachments - this is probably part of one of those large composite trappings that are a little more typical of Yomut work. I think this is equally true for your first piece as well.

I don't have an image handy - I'll try to find one - I'm talking about the ones that have a rectangular lattice of diamond shaped pieces along each side that drape the side of the neck, that are attached to each side of a long rectangular central panel that rides along the top of the neck.

Your piece would be the part stitched to the end of the central panel such that it would drape over the head.

The quality of the embroidery work is reminiscent of that little antique tobacco-pouch/coin-purse/cell-phone-case I showed a while back:

Edit: Hah ! I found an image. In this one, it looks like the/your head cover has slipped back down the neck. Is it possible that this is one of those ornery uncooperative camels that are rumored to exist ?:

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 10:55 AM:

Hi all,

I recently saw a very large Turkoman camel trapping that included a head piece, and extended back to a large back piece with a rectangular opening for the hump, and had a bunch of silk diamonds sewn together to hang down along the side. It was intriguing, but since I don't own a camel, and our dog is a bit small for that and only tolerates getting dressed up by our daugthers at Halloween, it was hard to think how one might display it!

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera on my last trip so I was unable to get a photo of it. Maybe I can get it a picture next time, or have someone send it to me. It was an interesting piece.


Posted by Steve Price on 05-21-2007 11:04 AM:

Hi People,

Here's one that's nearly complete (the camel is missing):

It appeared on Turkotek about 7 years ago, when we were reluctant to post larger images because of the limitations of our server space and of the computers our readers used. For a little discussion about it, here's the link:


Steve Price

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 11:06 AM:

Thanks Steve. That was fast!

That is very similar to the one I saw. As I recall, the one I saw had a larger back panel with a rectangular opening.


Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 11:08 AM:

By the way, the Salon/discussion referenced by Steve mentions locks of hair sewn onto the trapping. The one I saw had that too. Curious...


Posted by R. John Howe on 05-21-2007 11:08 AM:

Some Similar Pieces

Dear folks -

I've seen a number of fragments such as the one with which I began this thread. Here it is again for ease of comparison.

Now, I think this piece is interesting, not an embarrassing acquisition but I do not think it has the aesthetic quality of the similar piece (below) that I purchased several years ago.

Peter Andrews and a German collector of Turkmen embroideries, opined that they had not seen the design on this second piece before. So it is, at least, that unusual.

Nor would I claim that my first piece is nearly on the same level of aesthetics as some other examples of which I know.

Here are three pieces included in Jeff Spurr's exhibition at ACOR in Boston (they may be in Jeff's collection as well).

I think these latter three pieces are among the best of this sort that I have seen and are at a different level entirely than the modest little piece I have just purchased.

Just so you can examine for yourselves, some of the different sorts of items that reside in this format grouping and can see that I am realistic about what I have bought in this instance.


R. John Howe

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-21-2007 11:29 AM:

James, In Mongolia the first camel born of the season gets a special trapping that includes a lock of it's father's beard hair. Sue

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 11:35 AM:

Thanks, Sue.

These locks were not camel. In fact, they looked and felt like human hair.


Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 05-21-2007 12:03 PM:

You're welcome, James,
The outer coat of good quality camel hair is almost identical in qualities to good quality human hair. I've spun both. In the US, at least, it is impossible to import good camel hair because it is destroyed by the processing required to assure it doesn't carry anthrax into the country. I have some imported camel hair of that sort and it doesn't resemble good quality human hair at all. Sue

Posted by James Blanchard on 05-21-2007 01:49 PM:

Well, I haven't met any camels with that sort of hair, but maybe I don't know any fine-haired camels. The ones with which I am familiar seem a bit more grizzled. Moreover, this hair was almost black in colour.

Someday I could recount a great (and true) story from the Sind desert about a male camel in "heat" and a VW Beetle with a sun-roof and a faulty starter. Male camels "in heat" are generally kept separate from female camels so they can get a bit "desperate", and they foam at the mouth prodigiously. (actually, I guess there is not much more to say...)


Posted by Steve Price on 05-21-2007 01:53 PM:

Originally posted by James Blanchard
Someday I could recount a great (and true) story from the Sind desert about a male camel in "heat" and a VW Beetle with a sun-roof and a faulty starter. Male camels "in heat" are generally kept separate from female camels so they can get a bit "desperate", and they foam at the mouth prodigiously. (actually, I guess there is not much more to say...)


Hi James

It conjures up quite an image.

Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 05-21-2007 04:29 PM:

Truth in measurement


All I can say is, if you had been a boxer, they never woulda laid a glove on you. And as much as it kills me to say it, I like your piece, at least, what's left of it. I secretly approve of the "buy junk" method of collecting, and I can attest to the truth of your report on the results (i. e., a vast collection of junk).

Rich Larkin

Posted by Gene Williams on 06-01-2007 07:09 PM:


Chuck, Richard, James,

Question: Is that James' MAD Ersari rug drapped over the camel?


Posted by James Blanchard on 06-01-2007 10:14 PM:

Don't think so...

Hi Gene,

That looks like a Yomut asmalyk on the side of the camel. I imagine there is another similar one hanging on the other side. But my MAD Ersari does have an faint odour that could be camel... It intrigues our dog.


Posted by Steve Price on 06-02-2007 07:26 AM:

Hi Gene

It does look like a Yomud asmalyk, and it appears to be on the bride's camel. She's probably in the kejebe, the tent-like thing on the camel. It's too bad the photo isn't better and in color - there are a number of interesting textiles on or around the kejebe, including some that look like they might be what we usually call tent bands.


Steve Price