Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >RK Looks @ the acor Exhibitions Part II
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Wed, May 3rd, 2006 01:04:23 PM
Topic: RK Looks @ the acor Exhibitions Part II

There were a number of other pieces from individual collectors at acor/Boston, besides the rugnik and 'opkins pieces, and RK intends to cover them as well in our conference review.

And, while we do intend to finish our rugnik and 'opkins notes, we felt at this juncture it might be instructive to picture two 19th century Caucasian type rugs that interested us far more than anything we saw on the walls in the rugniks show.

To do that, and to counter the rather dismissive comments we aimed directly at their 19th century Caucasian rugs, wed like to picture a rug or two from that time period we do appreciate:

We would not call this, pretty amazing, long rug Caucasian but we do feel it was made in the southern Caucasus by, most probably, some band of Kurdish weavers.

Regardless of its parentage, it is quite a piece of work fantastic and archaic inspired design, wonderful coloration and right on proportions.

Its a 10 as far as we are concerned.

Here is a detail showing the impressive drawing in the medallions:

Now theres a weaving to marvel at and to wonder how such a conceptual arrangement of archaic Near Eastern iconography could have been so artfully amalgamated, by a weaver working circa 1820-1840, into the overall pattern this rug displays.

We were literally stopped in our tracks when we first spied it this rug could be a poster rug showing how, even up to just before the mid-19th century, ancient icons and mythology could be properly aspected and depicted.

RK has to almost believe it was only by accident a rug like this one, and a few others we have seen over the years, could have been produced since so few weavings made in the Caucasus or nearby contiguous regions of Turkey or Persia in this time-frame were able to achieve this superior level of weaving prowess.

That said we must emphasize when the details of the medallion drawing, as well as other areas in the field and borders, are carefully examined they do demonstrate a lack of a true facility and understanding of the archaic iconography this rug is based upon. But these shortcomings are far less noticeable than we see in almost all other rugs made in this time frame.

Of course, this is to be expected in a post-1800 weaving and, therefore, not detrimental to the rugs importance or to our appreciation.

We like to call rugs like this honest weavings because everything the weaver did was traditional and within cultural confines we expect to see.

Just for grins lets put it next to our favorite piece from the rugnik collection, that long rug with the wild border:

Many years ago in conversation with a friend who collects classic Navaho Blankets, we came up with the term soul vibe to describe weavings where the weaver was able to imbue the finished product with some subtle and indefinable animate quotient -- almost as if the weaver was able to instill life, itself, into her work.

This ethereal soul vibe is something we still, after all these years, cannot define but we sure can sense.

It is also something RK demands present in the rugs and textiles we collect.

We have found it in weavings, regardless of their age or parentage, made in all areas of the Near East not only the Caucasus.

This quality is, like all great rugs, impossible to define, even by someone like us who has sensed its presence for many long years.

As we walked through the exhibitions most of the rugs, not only the rugnik or hopkins pieces, stuck us as soul vibe-less .

In fact, going through the many of the books and photos of rugs that are now generally available for reference, we find this to be the case most weavings, be they 19th century or 17th century or in between, lack this quality.

Capturing it can be related to the talent of certain painters to bring life (or is it the ability to put life?), into a canvas.

Clearly this skill is one that cannot be taught or many other paintings, and rugs by the way, would be much better for it.

Is sensing this soul vibe teachable? Wed have to believe, yes, it is, and we are surely interested in spreading this concept.

By the way, we have never spelled out the soul vibeidea here on RugKazbah.com or in our other writings but we have, in the past, intimated its existence.

Sensing soul vibe, like any other subtle and inestimable quality, takes practice and effort -- that is why we posted pictures of these two long rugs side-by side. Wed ask you to stare at them for a while and see if you agree with us.

Another rug we were enamored of was this piece:

Again, this weaving is not really a Caucasian rug but one made in a nearby and contiguous area.

If asked wed forward the moniker, North-west Persian (NWP), as this might be as close as wed offer.

We chose to illustrate this rug not only because we respect it but because it, too, can show us the presence of our soul vibe quotient. Let's see how it compares to another rug, the yellow medallion rug from the rugnik collection, that doesn't:

As we wrote yesterday, we appreciate some aspects of the rugniks medallion rug but when it is directly compared to a superior, and probably contemporaneous weaving like the NWP, its shortcomings are very apparent.

Granted these are not the best of pictures but even they demonstrate our point notice the clarity of the drawing in the NPW and the skilled interpretation and re-interpretation of many traditional motives.

The wonderful borders, both main and guard, highlight this weavings connections with a traditional weaving culture. They also, simultaneously, show by comparison the lack of these qualities in the rugniks smaller format yellow rug.

Also we would like to mention the powerful perspective the NWP rugs various sized medallions create, perfect proportions that manifest the important third-dimension all great rugs display.

For us, the NWP has soul vibe to the max, drawn from both its superior connections to its traditional weaving culture and to the skill of a weaver who was able to internalize and respect the tenets of that heritage.

We will continue our look at the acor/Boston exhibitions as time permits. So stay tuned

Author: robert
email: [email protected]
Sun, Apr 30th, 2006 07:54:56 AM

RK Replies:

Greetings Robert:

These rugs and some other we are getting ready to illustrate were in the New England Collectors show. They were not for sale, well, at least publicly. However, we were told the long rug was purchased at a previous acor but do not know if that is true or not.

By the way, we have also learned all the costs associated with providing the various "exhibitions" at acor/Boston were underwritten by individual sponsors.

In our opinion, the best and most worthwhile of the exhibits was far and away the collector's show, many of the others were marred by either too many lesser examples that should have been more diligently vetted or, in the case of the fiasco in presenting pacquins bogus embroideries, been completely purged from the show rooster.

Again, politics and not rug expertise was the driving force behind these errors. No doubt, acor/Boston will be remembered, by not only us, for presenting too many exhibitions filled with too many lesser examples.

RK believes less is always more in this instance and, by showing only a few great examples, the cumulative effect would be far greater than providing what we called a smorgasbord of fair to middlin', and some that can't even be so characterized, quality of rugs and textiles that, in truth, can be seen when visiting almost any good dealer of antique rugs stock.

Also, Robert, your mention of the squeezed medallions is right on time, as we will soon illustrate the archetype weaving that Kurdish long rug is copied from.


I also like both of these rugs.

The only fault I can find with the first one is that the medallions appeared squeezed by the borders.

I agree that it is probably made by Kurds, and possibly the second one too, since its borders were popular in East Kurdistan rugs in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Were these rugs for sale on dealers row or exhibited from private collections?

Thanks for your excellent coverage of the ACOR.

Author: jc
Sun, Apr 30th, 2006 07:48:36 AM

Great artworks -- be they paintings, sculptures or weavings -- are always more than the sum of their parts. This is something that should be clear to anyone, even those with only rudimentary knowledge and appreciation.

That inestimable soul-vibe quality is part of that equation and while we grant it is not possible to positively prove, it is surely not impossible to perceive.

Author: Harry Krishna
Sun, Apr 30th, 2006 05:11:22 AM

RK Replies:

And not to glorify too much your question with a reply, we'd nevertheless like to ask what particularly you are referring to.

Slinging invective is usually the sign of inferior intellect and we trust we are not straining yours too heavily by posing such a question, or are we?


Who writes this bull$hit for you, Jim Allen?

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