Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >Latent Intelligence
Wed, Dec 14th, 2011 10:11:30 AM
Topic: Latent Intelligence

RK has commented about the ridiculous assertions made by michael craycraft, formerly of Adraskand Galley in Bolineas, California and lately of Galerie Arabesque in Stuttgart, Germany.

Mr craycraft fancies himself as an "expert" of Belouch and Turkmen weavings, which is in and of itself as nonsensical as his assertions, like this one we recently learned about.

Vase/tree Qainate latent prayer rug, 1.11 x 1.97 m.

Now what, might RK or any other inquiring mind, ask mr craycraft makes him believe this rug is a "latent prayer rug"?

Does craycraft know something we don't -- something we highly and sincerely doubt.

Or is he just blowing wind out of his butt and calling it Miriah?

We'd have to opine the latter, as there is not one piece of evidence, or even a shred, the weaver, owner or anyone else with full functioning faculties, something craycraft continually calls into question about himself, could point out to validate such a claim.

Plus, were craycraft correct, oriental rug studies would have to reclassify any, and every, medallion rug as a latent prayer rug.

Sorry, craycraft you lummox, that ain't going to happen and let RK give you some advice: Next time you get another of your dumb hairbrained ideas email it to RK and we'll be sure to encourage you to forget about it before you publish it and add further proof to your well earned reputation as a rug clown and fool.

Author: Fahad
email: [email protected]
Wed, Dec 14th, 2011 10:11:30 AM

RK Replies:

Yes, sadly, rugDUMB has always had its share of impostors and rug-clowns, as RK likes to call them.

But unfortunately an "academic background" is not a guarantee of anything, though it does often impose a certain rigor upon those who do possess letters like PhD after their names.

It is abundantly obvious honesty and rug dealing have never really gone hand in hand, and when RK speaks with lay-people who are interested in rugs we often hear how either they have been bamboozled or know of someone who has.

This is, of course, embarrassing for anyone who is sincerely trying to raise public awareness for historic masterpiece Near Eastern Weavings, so what else can we say but it is high time to remove serial abusers, like dennis the menace dodds, from our ranks.

Will this ever happen?

RK can definitively say "No it will not"...well, that is until the grim reaper swings his scythe in their direction.

So RK can only encourage you, Fahad, and others to press on and show rug-clowns like craycraft and frauenknecht their games are not fooling everyone...remember Abe Lincoln's famous quote:

"You can fool some of the people, some of the time. But you can't fool all of the people all of the time."


Hi Jack,

I suppose both have to realize that "dealers expert" knowledge is not sufficient when it comes to collectors who have a background in evidence and evidence-based decision making (I have).

For example, I appreciate Tehrani's attempts to seek truth, unbiased, by application of statistical methods.

Neither of those you've mentioned has an academic background.

But I am quite convinced that the days of wheeling and dealing and just bragging is over.

Impostors are impostors and speculation is just that.

I have responded to Tehrani' reply:"In the absence of hard data, there seems to be a common popular hypothesis by dealers like him that known historical facts, eg forceful or voluntary moves of certain tribes in the 18th century, would allow speculations about the age of their textiles.

(You only have to talk about generally unknown small details in the history of Central Asia and drop the names of certain Khans; I am afraid, any naive customer would immediately believe you that you are an expert and the piece must be old ;-).)

I find that interesting but not very likely.

There is very little hard evidence as regards provenance and age. There are even many fakes on the market.

It seems to be a rather shady business, and your articles provided such a fresh new view."

Impostors are impostors, just like that.

Best, Fahad

Author: Fahad
email: [email protected]
Mon, Dec 12th, 2011 11:45:28 AM

Ciao Fahad:

RK is not surprised at the information you have posted.

Both craycraft and frauenknecht are rug-clowns, however, each for different reasons.

The former, mr craycraft, is someone who believes he can pull attributions and provenance out of his hat like a circus magician but regrettably his rabbits are mostly imaginary.

While frauenknecht mostly refrains from similar prognostication his claim to rug-clowndumb is his penchant for petty and sneak-thiefing.

He is also prone to, as in your case, making silly and stupid claimsto entice buyers to open their wallets and purchase his wares.

How and why after some many years both are able to continue to perpetrate their games is remarkable, but typical for rug dumb, for in any other art collecting field RK is sure they would already have been long shown the door.

Thanks for demonstrating your experiences and providing evidence for what we have often said.


Hi Jack,

Regarding the latent prayer rugs and our recent discussions on pattern evolution and phylogeny of tribal textiles I have contacted Dr. Jamshidi Tehrani of Durham University in the UK who has recently published a couple of articles on that using cladistic methods of phylogenetic analyses of Turkmen textiles (J Anthropol Archaeol 2002; 21: 443-463)and Iranian tribal crafts traditions (Phil Trans R Soc B 2010; 365: 3865-3874). From my email:

"The discussion [with you] circulated also around the colorful descriptions of another American dealer []. It was for instance about a red Hazara "latent prayer rug", a term which seemed to be hilarious for both of us, which he assigned to the 18th century mainly due to the red color (I would have called it "in the tradition of" Baluchi, anyway. But I am not an expert).

In essence, this particular American dealer attributed the rug to the Qala-i Now Hazara and speculated, since he had found an Afshar design pattern in the kilim part, that these Shi'ites (Hazara, Afshar tribespeople of Kabul) intermarried and had therefore produced such a hybrid. I mentioned to him that the Hazara of Qala-i Now were Sunni, [].

My question is, Do you see, from the results of your larger studies opportunities to infer to certain cases such as this particular rug? []."

Dr. Jamshidi Tehrani's response:

"Thank you for your email and your interest in my work. I am afraid I have not carried out any analyses of Hazara or Afshar traditions, so would not be able to tell you about their phylogenetic relationships.

In the absence of such knowledge it is hard to tell whether the kilim pattern you mention represents evidence of blending between their traditions (via intermarriage or some other process, such as contact, trade, etc.), or alternatively, a "missing link" that would indicate descent from a common ancestor.

Having said that, my ethnographic studies of Iranian tribes suggest that intermarriage is a fairly unlikely explanation, since it only occurs under very restricted conditions, namely, when members of different tribes settle in large towns and cities and basically abandon their previous way of life (including weaving), or when their populations dwindle to the point that their survival as independent endogamous entities becomes unsustainable. If you think these conditions might be met in this case then intermarriage might explain the presence of the Afshar kilim pattern on a Hazara rug.

Otherwise I would suggest that other explanations - either descent, or borrowing (perhaps via participation in commercial production?) - are more plausible.

Sorry not to be of more help, and I wish you luck in your efforts to solve this mystery!"

His mentioning a "missing link" possibility is interesting as is his questioning the "intermarriage" issue.

The two latent prayer rugs in question have been removed in the meantime from the webpage (so I won't be able to send him a picture which is regrettable).

Author: jc
Wed, Nov 16th, 2011 11:03:19 PM

Greetings Fahad:

The information you provide is interesting and we can understand your questioning the validity of the dating craycraft proposed for his rug.

Since we have not seen these new reproduction rugs you mention, or even bothered to really inspect the Baluch rugs which we often see (but as you and other readers know are not very interested in), we have no comment.

As to your question how someone can postulate the age of a rug that is less than, or the collorary we'd add more than, 150 years old?

This is something we can answer, and that answer centers on what is called art historical comparison, a process that is not perfect but is very indicative.

The fact there is a synthetic dye period, which is securely fixed in time as the various dyes have dates of origination, is a terminus quo value.

This along with the ongoing process of design degeneration gives much value to age guesstimates which have been proposed based on valid criteria of art historical comparison and what we like to call establishing design continuum.

We do heartily agree design comparison is a tricky wicket and one needs to have a broad knowledge of a design, how it is used, its proportional values both internally (within its perimeter) and externally (within the whole weaving), not to mention the importance of the dyes used for it and the rest of the piece.

Few rug commentators are able to muster real art historical comparison and, like craycraft, pontificate from a soap box filled with hot-air and few facts.

So your question is well put.

Why don't you email craycraft and see his response?

Author: Fahad
email: [email protected]
Tue, Nov 15th, 2011 09:01:15 AM

Hi Jack, I have been in Khorasan twice since 2005. I have met there a very friendly carpet dealer who has encouraged young (and very beautiful) Baluchi women in villages in the vicinity of Mashhad to weave rugs on demand. I had the opportunity and luck to visit them with his eldest son. Demands are coming mostly from Germany as I was told. THis dealer was very hesitant to mention names. Designs are provided by the customers. Wool is handspun, dyes are natural, provided by the dealer and his family in Mashhad (no names, they are friends of mine). The rug offered by Michael Craycraft reminds me heavily of some of his products. Question, How can anyone conclude about the age of a not more than 150 yr old rug? Interested.Best, Fahad

Author: jc
Mon, Nov 14th, 2011 03:42:17 AM

This morning RK received an email from a reader who informs us mr craycraft has deemed another of his balouch pieces to also be a "latent prayer rug".

Perhaps craycraft believes by repeating his foolish ideas they will become true?

Should this be the case RK would like to remind him making the same mistake twice does not ever make it right...

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