Home > Rug, Kelim, Soumak, Textile Post Archive >Stumbling over the Seljuks
Part 2, RK replies
Fri, May 18th, 2012 11:40:29 PM
Topic: Stumbling over the Seljuks
Part 2, RK replies

Before we wade into what we have called taylors seriously flawed attempts to draw parallels between the various Seljuk carpets and other mostly later weavings we would like to briefly mention our former relationship with him.

We first met taylor in the mid-1980s when he was employed as a repairman by bertram frauenknechkt.

We immediately recognized taylor was a very talented carpet repairman, as well as intelligent and personable.

We became friendly and remained in contact over the ensuing years after he left frauenknecht and struck out on his own operating a carpet repair studio from his home not far from Nurnberg, Germany.

In 2004 we asked taylor, who is interested in classical carpets, if he would like to do an exhibition for the Weaving Art Museum website. He agreed, and the The Wealth of Kings: Masterpiece Persian Carpets is the result.

It can be viewed at this URL:


While RK cannot say we co-authored it, we can say we worked very closely with him, gave much advice, edited the text taylor provided and designed the layout and other visuals its pages exhibit.

We believe it is an excellent work, taylors best effort, am proud to have been involved and to have published it on the WAMRI website.

We respect taylors knowledge of classical carpets but, that said, we do not believe his knowledge of non-classical carpets is nearly as broad or encompassing as he, apparently, seems to now believe.

In 2006, to make a long story short, we visited taylor and, not to spill the beans here and now, vowed never again to do so or to have any future contact with him.

We did, however, in 2010, relent on our vow and emailed him, mostly for old times sake, but taylor spurned our overture.

Quite frankly we were not surprised, as his actions in 2006 were completely ridiculous and stupid, clearly he is still suffering the same.

He is a very minor character in both our life and rugDUMB, therefore, we do not feel breaching what happened in 2006 is important enough for that promised rug autobiography we have mentioned.

So, sorry RK fans, the story will probably never become public.

Lucky for taylor, nuff said.

As we have already written taylor has done an admirable job of publishing excellent scans of the Seljuk rugs, recounting the various stories about their discovery and those involved.

But when he tries to write something original about the Seljuk rugs he falls off his chair and lands flat on his face, a position we have seen him assume, round midnight, several times before.

Konya 1
The Cheops Pyramid of carpets, at around 15 square metres this is a very difficult object to overlook.

It has the classic "Seljuk"design schema: a wide monumental border paired with a small and delicate repeating pattern.

Actually quite similar to the boxed motifs on Arabatchi weavings, the field mirrors the border concept of opposed animal heads.
It appears in a revised version on the Schemle pattern of Salor and Saryk trappings.

The boxstar minor borders can also be found on Arabatchi, Ersari and Salor weavings.

The main border has a"Kufesque" border in Ming blues and greens. At the top and bottom the design units have been separated, like a turreted fortress standing guard. It bears a curious resemblance to the Turkmen Kedjebe design.

First off taylors characterizing a supposed classic Seljuk design schema as being a wide monumental border paired with a small and delicate repeating pattern might be true for a couple of the known Seljuk carpets, but surely it aint one size fits all.

This is fact, as anyone with even one functioning ocular apparatus can easily surmise.

Just look at number two, the white field Turkmen style gol carpet with its large octagon covered field and thin, finely delineated border.

And who could possibly see the field design of Number 5, or the David Collection example, as small field patterns.

His then stating Actually the field mirrors the border concept of opposed animal heads. is equally questionable, for interpreting the border of Konya 1 as showing opposed animal heads might be done by someone who is fishing for animal imagery but no fishing pole could ever hook any opposed animal heads in that field pattern.

Well, none in the hands of anyone other than one who is permanently inebriated.

The hooks in that repeating pattern are not at all similar to the ones which, in certain Turkmen rugs like those taylor mentions, do emulate animal heads.

And while there might be some vague similarity with the mysterious Turkmen kejebe icon, trying to draw a parallel is a far-fetched non sequitur.

As perplexingly obtuse is taylors idea gol in the field of Konya 2 are a design that survives into the 19th century on Ersari engsis.

Why not just relate the Seljuk carpets gol to the ubiquitous octagonal gulli-gol found on so many more Ersari main carpets(MC), as well as some others decidedly older than the 19th century.

As myopic is seeing the field design of Konya 3 and Beyshehir 11 as similar. These are hardly relatable, let alone similar, and wed suggest taylor get some new glasses.

Actually Beyshehir 11 is, in our opinion, one of the earliest example of Seljuk rug.

Konya 3 is generations later, and taylors inability to fathom this bodes poorly for his abilities to interpret what Seljuk rugs and their iconography might be all about.

And taylors idea The main border (of Konya 3) anticipates the field of the Dusseldorf chessboard rug, and even the "crab-flower" borders of 19th century Kazak rugs, which have curiously become more floral with time. also misses the boat.

Relating it to the frequently seen double kotchak Tekke torba border would have been so much easier, and far more insightful.
Left: Border detail Seljuk rug; Right: Border detail very early Tekke torba

And seeing any relationship with the Kazak crab-flower, more properly called rosette and double vine, border is but a shot in the dark at a non-existent target.

Discussing Konya rug 4, of which three fragments exist, taylor falls into the group of pundits who believe they are from two different carpets.

RK does not agree, we believe the three are all from the same large carpet.

The size difference is mentioned by those like taylor who think these pieces are from two different carpets but, since no one really knows where these carpets were originally destined to be placed, it is possible, and this is our position, the carpet was originally trapezoidal, ie funnel-shaped in taylors words, thus made to fit into some presently unknown decorative scheme.

This might appear an outlandish premise but since pairs of carpets are always the same width, and length, there seems to be no other explanation.

And, on top, since the Seljuk rugs are such enigma anyway, why couldn't a trapezoidal shaped example have been produced?

We also do not buy taylor describing the field icon as elibinde because it surely does not look anything like any elibinde we have ever seen.

More probably it is the archetype of the far more simplified and non-descript field pattern gracing Konya 1.

And the fact that carpets border is not as complex goes some distance in supporting our contention Konya 4 is the earlier edition and Konya 1 the later copy.

The fact is clear: The Seljuk rugs are not all of the same vintage, and taylors glossing over this once again bodes poorly for believing his take on these rugs is anything but fanciful.

Citing Agnes Geijers postulation Konya 5 has a field design taken from a Yuan silk brocade, without trying to be funny, strikes us as about as foolish an idea as any taylor has thus far advanced.

And looking to dr jon thompson, who also believes it, is even more so, as thompsons glaring errors of rug scholarship have destroyed his reputation beyond redemption.

Well at least for anyone who is not goo-goo dusted with the fairy-tale idea prevalent in rugDUMB that jonny-boy is a carpet-God.

The Seljuk rugs are, perhaps, most interesting because they are obviously pre-16th century and do not fall comfortably into court production, nor village.

Yes, they are large size and as such demanded a somewhat technologically sophisticated production environment.

But a large wooden loom and building to house it were not really great obstacles to overcome and these rugs, or at least some of them, could very well have been woven far from any court patronage.

We just dont know anything about them; however, we do know contact between deep, dark Anatolia and China does not appear to have been in the cards, and therefore guessing a Yuan silk is the archetype for a rug like Konya 5 is almost absurd.

And taylor should know better, forget about Geijer and the good dr thompson.

Furthermore, lumping in the similarity Konya 5s border has with the Marby rug, whose age and provenance is surrounded by many questions, does little to clarify muddy waters.

And speaking of muddy water, taylors mention the inner guard border of Konya 6 was later used in 19th century Baluchi carpets is the biggest so-what splash of it in his piece.

That rug, Konya 6, is clearly a descendant of the earlier Seljuk rugs, its field and border demonstrating this beyond a shadow of doubt.

And, again, we see no animal heads in the border, regardless of taylors telling his readers they are there.

Konya 7, taylor says, was the last Seljuk rug to be discovered.

Too bad he also doesnt inform readers its border and field designs are degenerate copies of the earlier archetypes exhibited in examples like Beyshehir 10 and 11.

No matter which way you twist and turn them, as taylor tried to imply, the David and Kier collection fragments, when viewed as in the direction of Hali 31 and 61 do not starts to resemble Konya 5.

Both of these fragments are undoubtedly from the same carpet, are early examples, and RK sees absolutely no relationship with Konya 5.

We do agree they have quite complex iconography but we do not agree with taylor calling them the most complex of the Seljuk group.

That distinction belongs, in our opinion, to Beyshehir 11, which might seem on the surface to be less intricate, but when carefully analyzed disproves such an idea.

Its field iconography is amazingly sophisticated, we see it as the grand-daddy of almost all the other so-called Seljuk rugs.

The borders broad and clear rendition of the same iconography found in the ubiquitous Tekke torba one we illustrate above provides the archetype, and the simple but highly complex juxtaposition of the elements in the field are equally archetypal and astounding.

This fragment is the one RK would take home over any other, were the opportunity to arise!

Carpet fragment from the Lamm Collection displaying what RK believes the pre-Seljuk archetype of the, so-called by taylor, reversed arrow border

Regrettably, while mentioning Carl Johan Lamms name, taylor does not illustrate, nor draw attention, to the intriguing similarities some of the carpet fragments in his collection, which are now in Swedish museums, maintain with the Seljuk carpets.

RK has examined Lamms fragments and published them, with our commentary, in the Weaving Art Museum exhibition A New Look at some Ancient Carpet Fragments.

That exhibition can be seen here:


Of course the similarity the extant border (is it the minor border?) on the Lamm fragment illustrated above has with the minor border of Beyshehir 12 is unmistakable, and taylors failure to cite it nothing but unforgivable.

But, as we already have stated and shown, taylors abilities as a commentator are severely limited, and often flawed.

Beyshehir 12, like Konya 2, has gol-centric field iconography pointing any clever researcher to the mythic Timurid carpet, and its relationship to both archetypal Turkmen and Anatolian weaving.

What might be called the Timurid Question is one that has occupied RK for many years, and one day we hope to be able to present some answers.

For now we can only muse over exactly what carpets like Beyshehir 12, Konya 2, some of the Lamm fragments and a scarce few ancient Turkmen and Anatolian weavings are all about.

Unfortunately, a pundit like taylor has not yet developed the intellectual curiosity, fueled by carpet expertise, to be so inclined.

RK does not blame him, but we do believe his off-base ideas, nave assumptions and willingness to credence premise like that advanced by a Giejer, and echoed by thompson, do more harm than good.

Hard questions, like the Timurid one, are avoided like the plague by rugDUMBs past and present writers who prefer, like taylor, to mouth easily conceived, outdated and flawed theories.

While we could continue to hold taylors feet to the fire of reality we will end with this unbelievably nave and ridiculous quote from his keyboard.

Where and why could anyone possibly state the following without sarcasm is unfathomable:

A workshop capable of producing very large rugs on sedentary looms, acquainted with local pastoral weaving and the Turkmen vocabulary, but with access to Chinese and Byzantine textiles, must surely have existed for many decades, perhaps even initially weaving textiles.

Oh yeah, mr. taylor? This is even more outlandish, and laughable, than Geijer trying to provenance Beyshehir 5 to a Chinese Yuan silk.

Ever more so because the weaving apparatus necessary to produce fine and complex patterned textiles, like those called Byzantine and Chinese, were way beyond the reach of those group lacking court connections.

This is much more lamentable a conclusion as taylor is a restorer and, in theory, should be familiar with the intricacies of weaving technologies.

We can only guess he, like many other writers, feels wont to disregard the obvious in favor of bending fact to fit unsupportable, far out theories.

RugKazbah is an open platform, and we hope taylor will, and we are pretty sure he will, see what we have written here.

We welcome his reply.

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