Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >Is the Marby Rug a FAKE?
RK says YES
Mon, Mar 14th, 2011 02:15:19 AM
Topic: Is the Marby Rug a FAKE?
RK says YES

(we are posting this here, as well as in the Hot Button Issue Topic Area, because the Marby rug is the lead image the icoc 'organization' is using to pump interest in their forthcoming 'conference'. Too bad all their pseudo-Anatolian carpet expurts are too inexpert to spot a reproduction.)

The Marby rug; Museum of National Antiquities; Stockholm, Sweden

RK likes to bust bubbles, especially when they are ones no one else has the expertise or courage to tackle.

Our putting the Richardson prayer rug in its place might have ruffled some feathers but the bubble we are going to stick the pin of reality in today will, no doubt, ruffle a whole lot more.

In the early 1990s we ventured to Stockholm and Gteborg, Sweden to examine the collection of early textiles illustrated in Carl Johan Lamms Carpet Fragments publication, as well as others conserved in the two museum collections.

It was not the first time we had visited Sweden, nor the last we like it there, and highly recommend anyone who is thinking of visiting during the time of the icoc to make the trip.

Wed suggest spending more time than a weekend as there is much to see and do besides rushing around to listen to the usually boring lectures and seeing dealers and collector exhibitions that are far more politically than quality chosen.

But we did not start this missive to replay our previous icoc warnings, so lets get back to that bubble we have set our sights on busting.

While in Stockholm we had the opportunity to see at very close range the Marby rug.

pop..Pop..POP it aint old.

Regrettably it was encased in plastic and we were unable to get a hand on it, but we did get real close. Real close.

Close enough to be 99.9999% sure it aint as old as it claimed by all; fact is we believe it is not even 100 years old.

RK can definitively state we do not in any way believe that rug is 15th, 16th, 17th or even 18th century.

We believe it is a fake placed in the church, where it was found and allegedly spent centuries, to trick bamboozle and deceive.

And that it did. Here is the official blurb about it:

Marby Rug
Holding Museum: Museum of National Antiquities,Stockholm, Sweden
Original Owner:Church of Marby, Jmtland
Museum Inventory Number:SHM 17 786
Height 160 cm, width 112 cm
Material(s) / Technique(s):Wool; knotted.
Date of the object:Hegira 700823 / AD 13001420
Period / Dynasty:Ottoman
Provenance:Anatolia, Turkey.
Description:One of the few examples surviving in Sweden from a tradition of carpetmaking in the early Ottoman period in Anatolia. In 1925, the so-called 'Marby rug', Sweden's oldest preserved oriental carpet, was found, cut in two pieces, at the abandoned church of Marby, a village in the province of Jmtland. Belonging to the group of animal carpets, it shows red, stylised birds standing symmetrically on either side of a tree set within octagons on an ivory ground. The birds and tree motif has been long known and very common in Central Asia.To judge from their presentations in Italian paintings of the 14th century, animal carpets with a tree flanked by two birds already seem to have been popular at this time. However, they reached the peak of their production and circulation during the first half of the AH 9th / AD 15th century. The provenance of this rug from a village in Jmtland in Sweden is important as it shows that the export was not restricted to Italy, but also reached the Baltic region. Animal carpets disappeared towards the end of the AH 9th / AD 15th century.
Apart from the Marby rug, some fragments with the motif of birds flanking a tree from Fustat in Egypt are known and there are two completely preserved examples. The first was found in a church in Italy and is now in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin, Germany, and a second was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1990.
How object was obtained:Bought by the Museum of National Antiquities in 1925.
How date and origin were established:The rug was dated by radiocarbon (Carbon-14).
How provenance was established:The patterns of the border and the guard strips are characteristically Anatolian; the guard strips also appear in another group of early Ottoman carpets discovered in the 'Ala al-Din Mosque at Konya, Turkey

Before we discuss some of the myth and misrepresentation dispensed above let RK present the possible modello the artiste who created the Marby copied.

Anatolian animal rug RK dates circa 1600

Here are the two side by side, any questions?

left: detail of an animal rug illustrated in Early Turkish Carpets, Yetkin; right: detail of the Marby rug, erroneously in our opinion dated 14th/early 15th century

RK published our research and commentary on the Lamm textiles in 2004 online in the Weaving Art Museums exhibition Ancient Carpet Fragments.

Here is what we wrote about the Marby rug:
As is mentioned in the introduction, Lamm originally published these fragments as part of his effort to place the Marby Rug in its proper perspective.

I have my doubts about how old this carpet is and, though Lamm and other experts believe it to be 15th century, suffice it to say I dont.

The more simplistic rendering of the animals shares some parallels with this fragment(ed. pictured below) particularly the long horns and shape of the animals head.

Plate 13, Carpet Fragments, Carl Johan Lamm; republished as Plate 11 in the Weaving Art Museum Ancient Carpet Fragments exhibition

But the rest of the iconography and some of its physical details dont appear to place the Marby rug within any of the early groups of these animal rugs and surely do not imply and deeper connection to these fragments.

Comparing the Marby to a genuinely ancient animal carpet like this one in the Islamic Museum in Berlin should return a no way verdict from any expert.

Lamm, Pope and other carpet scholars and researchers are long dead and they cannot revisit their opinions on the Marby.

However, many of todays crop of wanna-be and pseudo-experts continue to forward the bogus opinion the Marby is a 14th/15th century weaving.

The official story above makes reference to the animal rug in the Metropolitan Museum in N.Y. as a significant analog for comparison.

Animal rug purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and dated by them to the 14th century, dating RK also opines is seriously flawed.

RK knows this rug well, as we personally examined it long before the Mets ex-curator dan aka do nothing dan walker championed its purchase in 1990.

We had the opportunity to examine this rug when it was with several other now famous early Anatolian rugs -- the cut in four animal rug illustrated in Kirchheims Orient Stars and the Faces rug -- in the London home/gallery of Lisbet Holmes.

Just to reiterate what we are already on the record as stating, we do not believe the Mets rug is, as they contend, a 14th century example made in Anatolia(Turkey).

Our position is as follows: The Mets animal rug, which they paid 750,000 dollars for, was made in Persia, is an Afshar, and we date as late 17th century.

The 14th century c14 dates, the Marby and the Mets animal rug returned, are in our opinion specious to say the least, and again demonstrate the danger of believing the reliability of c14 dating for many oriental carpets.

There was a genuine 15th century animal rug in the group Lisbet Homes had for sale but we never saw it; it was sold just before RK got wind of her having these rugs in her gallery.

It was sold to a very astute Italian collector, who presumably still has it in his collection.

RK has seen a good large transparency and we definitely believe it is the real thing, a 14th/15th century Anatolian animal rug.

Before we leave this tack we must also reiterate another of our previously stated for the record positions: The Kirchheim cut in four-part animal rug, which by the way he sold for a reported 10 million dollars, is Kurdish, made in eastern Anatolia, and dates according to us early 17th century.

Animal rug, ex-collection Kirchheim, illustrated in Orient Stars

Again it too is copy, but a provincial one, of the earlier animal rugs seen in the Italian paintings of the 14th century and later. The goat hair warp, somewhat looser and funky articulation of the pattern unmistakable signs to support our contention.

By the way, the animal-in-animal icon this rug and the Mets show can be traced back to an Anatolian slit-tapestry fragment RK discovered on our research expedition to Egypt, which we illustrate and mention below.

Anyone who views the Marby next to a rug like the one in Berlin must come to the conclusion the Marby is a two dimensional poster, and late copy, compared to a great work of art like Berlins.

In the official publicity for the Marby rug reference is made to a small group of rare textiles from Fostat in Egypt that show two animals on either side of a tree.

RK is also very familiar with these as well, as we studied them in the flesh on our 1989 research expedition to Egypt.

We illustrated several, some previously unknown, in the Cult Kelim catalog we wrote and published in 1990, as well as republishing them in the Weaving Art Museum websites exhibition Cult Kelim in 2002.


One in particular, which had not previously been known, provides what we believe is the earliest known version of this iconic pattern.

slit-tapestry medallion depicting animal in animal, in this case anthropomorphic birds; cover photo, Cult Kelim; Cassin; Islamic Museum collection, Cairo, Egypt

Here is another from the Cult Kelim catalog and the Weaving Art Museum exhibition.

Fragmentary slit-tapestry showing animals flanking a tree; Islamic Museum collection, Cairo, Egypt

We would like to get some samples of the Marby rug, the Berlin animal rug and several of the ancient fragments we illustrated here, plus others from our previously published related works, and do some comparative testing.

However, this seems highly unlikely as the museums in question are not prone to allow even small snippets of there textiles to be taken for analysis.

Regardless, we can comment further on the quite nonsensical references made about the Marby above and, while were at it, those made in the Mets official blurb about their animal rug.

Calling the Marbys border and guard strips(sic) characteristically Anatolian is true but what a flimsy place to hang ones hat this rug is 600 years old.

And even more laughably it is the only one cited.

Same goes for the curators comment about the Metropolitan Museum of Arts animal rug published on their website.

Curator Comment
When this rug was discovered a few years ago, its unusual field designrows of animals within animalswas otherwise known only in a rug depicted in a Sienese painting of about 1410, The Marriage of the Virgin by Gregorio di Cecco di Luca (National Gallery, London).

The pattern of the painted version, partially obscured by standing figures, was not comprehensible without the Metropolitan's rug.

The field design probably derives from medieval textiles patterned with single or paired animals in compartments.

This purchase, hailed in rug-collecting circles, brought to the Museum one of the best preserved, earliest Turkish carpets in the world.

Only two other carpets of a similar date are known.

This amateurish say nothing commentary is unworthy of a museum with the stature and reputation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and past that comment we have nothing further to say.

Oriental rug studies, God what a misnomer, is full of erroneous lore and myth, not to mention out and out deception, and while we believe others might have suspicions about the Marby none have broken the ice to comment.

So you might think now after RK has floated our super icebreaker frigate thru the Marby others will remark that we are either full of the brown stuff or we are right.

But guaranteed just like the bogus dodds bellini story RK crushed and reduced to dust our doing the same, although much more briefly, on the Marby will not engender any comment.

And equally revolting the icoc rug-sheeple will troop off the Stockholm, stand in front of the Marby encased in its plastic box, and marvel at its alleged antiquity.

What else to expect in rugDUMB?

Author: jc
Mon, Mar 14th, 2011 02:15:19 AM

Since posting our belief the Marby rug is a much later reproduction and not a "15th century" weaving we have spoken to a number of people who question or even, like us, believe it is not genuine.

As we stated in any other art field a situation like this would provoke some inquiry or comment, especially since the Marby rug is being hyped as one of the major "attractions" of the coming icoc 'conference' in Stockholm.

Regrettably, rugDUMB proves once again to be asleep at the wheel and afraid to wake up.

It also proves RK denunciations of the icoc committees and all those involved in the planning and organizing of the coming Stockholm event are too rug ignorant, gullible and afraid to admit their mistakes.

RK should remind them: Big people make mistakes, little people are always right.

So to the all you icoc lilliputians let RK remind you the truth always comes out; sometimes, however, it takes decades as the truth about the Marby rug is now proving.

Author: jc
Thu, Mar 10th, 2011 01:30:34 AM

Today RK reveived an email from the editors at that rag hali called "News from hali" or some such nonsense, pseudo advertising, pumping their stuff.

Included was their attempt to push the sagging responses for signups to the coming icoc in Stockholm.

We have recently heard things have not gotten better in that department and those in charge are getting worried there will be a huge shortfall in revenue, something that should have been obvious to these numbskulls from the get go.

Travel is expensive and cumbersome, especially from the US, and since many prospective attendees hail from there it is no surprise few have signed up.

But the lack of paying ruggies going to the icoc is not the reason we are sending this missive about the email we received.

Far from it, as within was but another mention of the Marby rug.

Using words like 'see the marvelous 15th century Marby rug', those idiots at that rag hali still have not gotten it thru their thicker than London fog was in Dicken's day craniums that the reputation of the Marby has been questioned, no attacked.

To ignore this is tantamount stupidity and to continue the now century old charade the Marby is anything but a reproduction, a fake, is dumber than dumb.

It is truly a shame rugDumb is so full of naive, gullible 98.6 degree mouth breathers, who are either so ignorant, or is it stupid, and fearful of opening their mouths to do anything but gasp at a breath of polluted air that they can not speak up and question the almighty hierarchy that rules the roost.

The Marby is a reproduction,and like allowing dennis the cheat and liar dodds to escape any censure or even notice, to do so with the Marby proves what RK has said for many years = its time to clean house and depose those who have perpetrated this nonsense.

Remember, folks, your icoc subscription check will go to giving them and their friends free rooms at the hotel, free dinners and hospitality suites, free taxi rides and more.

Plus most of those who attend those icoc board meeting have, as we have heard, all their expenses paid.

How do you like them apples?

RK can tell you for a fact we don't and that's why we have nothing to do with anything the icoc touches.

Author: jc
Mon, Feb 28th, 2011 05:52:46 AM

The picture below was made today, Feb. 28, 2011 and as anyone with even one half a myopic eye can see there is the highly questionable Marby rug front and center on the icoc's internet homepage.

In any honest, let alone self-respecting, organization an accusation like the one RK leveled about Marby rug would cause at least some soul-searching done in private, or better yet a public inquiry.

But hell no not in rugDUMB.

Here a proven liar and cheat, dennis dodds, heads the organization and there has been no response and no action, only silence.

As far as RK is concerned, and you should be too, this stinks to high heaven.

It besmirches whatever bogus academic claims the icoc makes and leaves a big black mark over their already tainted honesty -- but what else to expect after the icoc allowed dennis the thief dodds to remain in his position after the Los Angeles County Museum of Art heist/ripoff?

Author: jc
Sun, Feb 20th, 2011 03:38:53 AM

This thread has been read more than 250 times and since RugKAzbah.com's readers average 1.7 visits that would mean at least 125 people know about our position.

We find it impossible those on the icoc committee do not know about it and their 'silence' on the subject bodes poorly for their big talk of being "experts", being "interested in reseach", being interested in "academic standards" and all the other hyperbolic malarcky their press releases and advertisements trumpet.

Fact is the entrenched "status quo" in rugDUMB is as thick as a foot of concrete and as impenetrable, and therefore anything or body that questions this is ignored, sidelined, defamed or denigrated.

This is, and should be by any standards, truly deplorable and the fact there will be no debate or even notice concerning the age and genuineness of the Marby rug -- the now well publicized logo for the coming conference -- is but one more proof of RK's accusations.

Time for the icoc committees to institute a reality check before they atrophy themselves into oblivion.

BTW: RK has heard from someone on the inside and in the know registrations are pathetically slow and way behind expectations -- perhaps some controversy and reality checking might liven up sales?

Author: jc
Sun, Jan 9th, 2011 04:46:05 AM

As predicted, and one did not need to have a crystal ball, not one peep about our assertion the Marby is a reproduction.

Also we have tried to learn, and are still in the process, the exact circumstances of the Marby's "discovery" in the church.

Even though that was less than a century ago it seems to be clouded in some mystery -- further supporting our claims the rug was planted there.

We are also trying to get some samples of it for in-depth forensic analysis but as yet no answer to our request.

Stay tuned for more; but don't hold yer breath there will be any even though dodds and the rest of the icoc committee continue to feature the Marby as a main attraction for "conference" attendees, as well as in their publicity.

By the way: RK has heard registrations for the Stockholm event are few, and so far less than necessary to support all the free-bees and perks the icoc committee hands out to their clique of sycophantic ruggies and their buddies(free this and free that)....

Therefore, we question whether this present lack of pre-event sign-ups will side-swipe the event like what happened in the last acor debacle?

Frankly, we doubt this will be the case as the icoc has more $$$ in its treasury than the acor folks did, and after all that's what it's all about money -- and speaking of money, go ask greedy dodds how many free rooms, perks, and free this and free that the icoc will dish out if you doubt what we say.

Author: jc
Wed, Jan 5th, 2011 03:47:43 AM

One of the chirping emails we have received from the peanut-gallery wants to know where we get off calling the icoc expurts "inexpert"

Well now, seems mr/ms peanut-gallery has a short memory, as three of the biggest icoc alleged experts, jon aka lazy boy thompson, louise aka easy lou mackie and Walter Denny all believed dodds's bogus 'bellini' was the real thing when it is clear and plain it is a late genre period reproduction, dating not to the 16th century but to the later part of the 18th or even early 19th.

To his credit Walter Denny revised his opinion and publicly admitted his error some months later when he saw the 'bellini' in person.

However, according to RK, had Denny, thompson or mackie been the experts they are cracked up to be they should have recognized dodds's 'bellini' was a later reproduction.

These three stooges, as we referred to them in our critiques and rebuttals to dodds's stupid claims about his 'bellini', probably have at one time or another been to Sweden and seen the Marby in the flesh.

And frankly having done that, and not declared it's supposed 14th century dating to be suspect, casts a long dark shadowover their reputations and expertise.

So to the peanut-gallery we suggest you all quit badgering RK and go email, call or speak in person to Denny, thompson, mackie or any of the other icoc honchos who's reputations make them out to be Turkish carpet experts.

Author: doesntmatter
Tue, Jan 4th, 2011 12:25:34 PM


Perhaps RK should start with congratulations, as well.

Your post is the type of response we have rarely received, a to the pointproperly poised one without any rancorous nonsense expressed or implied.

To answer what you posed we can only state the proscription -- we trust you have read the lengthy Anatolian Kelim expos we published here on RugKazbah.com last year at this time where we detailed the meaning of proscription as opposed to prescription as these two words pertain to oriental rug studies-- that existed in Anatolia at the time the Marby was allegedly woven, 14th century, precludes the possibility any "bad" or "weak" rugs could have been woven.

This idea is one we have championed and tho it is an obvious one we never have read any other author who set it out as we have, so while we do take credit for it, it is possible someone else did mention it prior to us.

Regardless of who or when such an idea was forwarded we totally believe, and can prove, there were only masterpieces made in the archaic period of any rug type's continuum, and then as the continuum progressed in time "bad" and "weak" rugs were produced.

The fact you seem to think others will now discuss this, ie the Marby is a fake, surprises us; and while we would be please to see it, we know it will not happen.

RugDumb is a pathetic place where stupidity reigns and frankly we see no possibilty this will change. Plus the fact you write in here and are too afraid to do it in your own name speaks volumes in support of our belief.

The stooges and sheeple will troop off to Stockholm and as we wrote stand in front of the plastic tomb the Marby was encased in when we saw it and Ohh and Ahh; no one will dare say, or even whisper, is it a fake.

We never implied or stated "chicanery" was involved with the c14 dating--where'd ya get that?

We only stated our firm and long standing public stance c14 doesn't work for most oriental rugs.

And by the way, how about clueing RK in to why you are too scared to post in your own name....


Mr. Cassin:

Only after a little boy exclaimed that the King was naked did the crowd see it. It just might be that you too will open many eyes and minds with your posting about the Marby rug.

You have stated that you believe the rug to not be old, and you imply that chicanery was involved in its discovery and possibly its C14 dating. There is however, for those who might agree with you that the rug is nothing special, another possibility.

Perhaps the rug is both very old, and very weak. That hypothesis too flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that there is a very strong correlation between age and quality. Perhaps it is simply the case that there are very old weak rugs but that:

- most aren't looked at twice to consider whether they might be very old, and/or,

- there are not many of them. Either because people didn't bother weaving them when so great an investment of time and resources was involved and standards were generally higher, and/or weak rugs, as now, were not cherished and very old ones had little occasion to survive.

So... is it out of the question that a nothing special rug was woven centuries ago and just happened to survive because someone who didn't know better thought enough of it to donate it to a provincial church? In any case, more will be discussing such a question as a result of your latest provocation. Congratulations!

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