Home > BULLETIN >New Issue that rag hali #173
Fri, Jan 10th, 2014 12:12:31 AM
Topic: New Issue that rag hali #173

RK must say the newest issue of that rag hali #173 Autumn 2012 is the undeniably the best issue in a very long time.

This is undoubtedly due to several related factors, all of which center upon mr michael franses's buying the magazine and, as it seems to RK and from what rumors we have heard, running it.

We have known for some time now the former owner was sebastian ghandchi's boyfriend/"partner".

He and ghandchi purchased the magazine from the company who purchased it from the company that purchased hali from the original owners -- michael franses and robert pinner.

What is clear franses's was hands-on for this issue, and the best article, and one of the best that rag hali has ever published, was written by him. Or at least carries his name as the author. It is the cover article Forgotten carpets of the Forbidden City and RK urges our readers to find a copy and have a read.

Another sure thing is that few people still subscribe and franses will not be as successful as he was in finding the forgotten carpets of the forbidden city in trying to turn around that rag halis ever diminishing subscriber numbers.

The article is well written and perhaps the only thing RK can say is why did franses wait 12 years to release this information.

Well, thats really not a question as RK knows how greedy and petty mr michael franses is and we are sure even releasing this information now made him wince.

But larger issues, namely trying to turn the tide on the mediocre and listless articles which have been sandwiched between that rag halis glossy covers, surely prompted and were behind its appearance in issue #173.

As a short aside, franses is not exactly an educated man, having left formal education behind when he was 16 and began to run around the countryside with other members of the London carpet mafia.

RK met franses in 1974 or 75 on one of, if not his first, trips to America. RK has some good stories to tell about our interaction and you can be sure some of them will be in that promised autobiography we have hinted we will someday publish.

But back to that rag hali and the new broom franses is trying to wield.

More recently than his purchasing that rag hali, in fact just several weeks ago, RK has heard sebastian ghandchi was summarily and suddenly fired and asked to leave the office without any notice or formal discharge.

Couldnt happen to a nicer guy is all RK can say and maybe now ghandchi and his fat-wallet holding boyfriend can get into some other sticky wickets rather than those in rugDUMB.

It is truly unfortunate that rag hali, RugDUMB's most vocal and prominent mouth-piece, is so steeped in self-dealing, self-promotion, in-group advancement and other non-democratic journalistic endeavors.

The rug world is a small place, especially the old/antique/historic end, and that rag halis hidden agendas, and sometimes duplicitous reportage, are far greater a blight than rays of sunshine it might shine.

RK knows how well rugDUMB is mired in dark, under the table, excess and were the light of truth, honesty and straight dealing to illuminate those dark corridors we are sure good things would happen to the business.

But, alas, we sincerely doubt this will ever be the case, as the skeletons in both fransess and that rag halis closets are so numerous as to be, frankly speaking, neigh on impossible to eradicate and erase.

As for the future of that rag hali now that one of its founders is back in control?

And what will franses do for an encore now that his long-held quiet discovery of the forgotten carpets of the forbidden city has been published?

RK is looking forward and though predicting the future is a dicey game we will take the bet and state for the record we doubt franses has much else up his sleeve and the downward treadmill that rag hali has been huffing and puffing away on will continue.

After all how much can you write and rewrite about classical carpets? Lets all remember this is franses bailiwick and it is decades ago that franses gave up trying to figure out Turkmen and Anatolian Village weavings, which are now the hot-spot of oriental rug collecting.

These fields have moved on since then leaving franses and others like dr jon thompson in the dust.

Unlike thompson, who was and proved his expertise in understanding Turkmen weaving, franses was merely a salesman finding weavings for his clients.

The Turkmen Studies publication was franses best, and in fact only memorable effort. And while we are sure the pinners, robert and his wife Leslie, provided much of the expertise there is no doubt franses expended a good amount of energy behind the project.

But expertise and not energy is what was, and is still needed, in fields like Turkmen and Anatolian Village weaving research and you can bet your last dollar franses has no clue how or where to begin.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, he tries and well gladly offer a word or two of advice: Stick to classical rugs, mr franses, and leave the hard work of unraveling the intricacies to those who are far more dedicated and intellectually equipped.

So congratulations to mr franses and those at that rag hali for issue #173, and let RK be the first to publically state: Lets see what the future brings.

Author: Riad
email: [email protected]
Fri, Jan 10th, 2014 12:12:31 AM

RK Replies:???


Jeremy's blog on rubrics was my inodoructitn to the teaching blog and I will definitely come back for more. For me, the question remains can quality be measured? I don't think so. And I think I'll go back and read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again.

Author: jc
Wed, Jan 9th, 2013 12:30:47 AM

To finish off here are several additional (brief) comments.

The first concerns the editorial presumably written by that rag halis still low on the learning curve editor ben evans.

Stuck firmly therein mr evans tries his hand at reviewing the recently reopened Islamic galleries at the Louvre Museum in Paris where there is a mighty fine and choice collection of historic carpets.

In the good old days, and RK is talking here of mid-1970s, the carpet collection was kept in a mostly shuttered wing of the museum. Gaining entry was a real process but it could be accomplished with effort.

RK well remembers our half-dozen or so visits during those times when, mind you, purchasing a great rug was possible, particularly in Paris.

Apparently evans has not been around long enough to appreciate the new improved easy access to the carpets and does not mention it as one of the pluses of the renovation choosing instead to bemoan the lack of textiles installed in the new galleries.

A better moan would concern the exclusion of non-classical pile weavings from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts new Islamic galleries install.

Rest assured these omissions are not accidents, rather they send a message one does not need to be a genius to realize: Major museums like the Met and Louvre are just plain disinterested in historic carpets and related textiles.


Is more than a good hard look at the pathetic state of oriental rug studies and scholarship not enough?

So instead of squeeking at Louvre mr evans should have leveled one, if not both, barrels in his review of the Mets Islamic gallery renovations that appeared in a previous issue to question, and complain about, the lack of any non-classical historic carpet weavings on display.

Its an issue very well worth public airing, especially today with exceptional early 19th century and older examples woven in and around Anatolia and Turkmenistan being the most coveted and eagerly pursued by todays collectors.

But evans is too lightweight a rug connoisseur to have any meat in this BBQ, worse hes casper milqutoast when it comes to discussing anything considered politically incorrect.

And saying anything critical about the Met, or anything it does, falls into that category.

Our second comment concerns the full page, and quite loaded a page it is, review for the new Anatolian Kelim publication Die Farben Meiner Traum: Fruhe Kelims aus Anatolien".

The book is authored by harry koll and sabine steinbock, a couple who apparently have for a decade and a half or so been totally besotted with Anatolian flatweaves.

The review starts off by telling everyone this is the final part of a trilogy brewed over the last decadepublished to accompany the eponymous exhibition held at the Duisburg Kulture- und Stadt-historisches Museum from April to July 2011.

Calling that exhibition eponymous and lauding it to high Kelim heaven has far more to do with that rag halis self-interest, they are selling the book, rather than koll and steinbocks effort deserving such accolade.

Same goes for calling this group (of kelim) world-class.

They surely are not, well not to anyone who knows anything past Anatolian Kelim 101.

And guess what: the book contains 101 kelim. Coincidence or did they feel the need to go one past Yani Petsopolous 100 Kelims publication?

It is also too bad that group of kelim cognescanti appears not to include that rag halis reviewer Ali Riza Tuna, koll, steinbok or anyone else who approved this shill of a review.

RK has spent some time with the book, as well as the two others in the trilogy, and we can truthfully and righteously say there is nothing within them other than more pictures of what RK calls Traditional period Anatolian kelim.

There is not one example RK would place firmly in the earlier Classic period; forget about any from the first or earliest Archaic period.

Perhaps the authors know this and the little text they provide, which echoes the same in their former two efforts, the reason?

Maybe readers should be glad, as koll and steinbok clearly have nothing of note to say except generalities, platitudes and tres novice remarks.

And who at this point in time needs more say-nothings about Anatolian Kelims, rugDUMB already has enough, right?

Calling descriptions of the 101 kelim short that rag hali then goes on to tell us no ages are given and the text is easy to read.

Not very informative, but how about this ridiculous tripe which immediately follows:

The books important content will be appreciated by a wider audience than the first two publications in the series.

And why is that?

Go ask that rag hali as no explanation is offered or even intimated. They say so, and therefore it is RK calls this hali-speak.

Heres some more:

the book has been written from the viewpoint of the collector with the aim to encourage reflection and discussion regarding the appreciation of kilims as art and as the witness of vanishing nomadic cultures.

Yeah right, lets see that rag hali or koll and steinbock, lead the reflection and discussion, or even show real witness of vanishing nomadic cultures.

To say the review, and this kelim book, is all talk and no walk is not unkind, it is fact.

Sorry, but we do not have the patience to methodically dissect koll and steinbocks text and inability to add anything to Anatolian Kelim studies other than their desire to be recognized as experts.

And experts they surely aint.

In describing the 101 kelims they throw around nonsensical and meaningless terms like our appreciation of kilims continues to evolve, and human content.

RK can genuinely say they need a lot more, and glory be shouldnt they have evolved before publishing this trilogy.

We will end with this quote from the review:

It is however the next section that sets Die Farben meiner traume apart from any kilim books published so far. Called Saving what can be saved the conservation of textile fragments from the example of Anatolian kilims, it examines the delicate question of the preservation and display of these textiles once they enter private or institutional collections.

If old hat ideas like the authors view is that conservation that does not remove any of the original material should prevail over irreversible restoration. is noteworthy that rag hali and their reviewer, mr Tuna, are ignoring such ideas are already firmly fixed in rug collecting and studies.

Same for the rest of the now well-known, and now respected by just about everyone, prohibitions against kelim over-restoration koll and steinbock mention.

Such pretending only sets kelim studies and appreciation back several decades, a place where koll, steinbock and Tuna remain transfixed.

Add to that idea the supposed new format the book advances to catalog kelims is as worthy asTuna exclaims. Sadly it is not.

Yesshhh, is Tuna going on to try and tell us how great koll and steinbock are for brushing their teeth every morning.

And although making digital reconstructions of fragmented kelims, a pastime of koll and steinbok profiled in the book, might be a fun parlor-game does it really do anything to advance kelim studies?

Sorry it doesnt, and nether does a publication like the one koll and steinbock have parented.

As a telling aside we must mention when the first volume, titled "Kult Kelim", in koll and steinbocks trilogy appeared RK was moved to get their phone number and call them.

We spoke to koll and in that short conversation told him titling his book Kult Kelim was outrageous, as RK had already published our catalog of ancient slit-tapestries in the Cairo Museum with the same title, Cult Kelim, more than ten years previously.

It was almost comical to hear kool mutter a bunch of nonsense as to why he copied our title, but when he said Well, ours is spelled differently (Kult/Cult) RK had to end the conversation with such a pompous mini-mind.

If you cant be original, why copy what others have done? This something a mini-mind does, and for plagiarizing our title koll and steinbock are well worthy of such denigration.

Forget about the fact their books are a waste of paper and ink, something any honest review of their work would have had to conclude.

Author: jc
Mon, Dec 17th, 2012 09:03:08 AM

Notwithstanding our praise for the excellent article on the carpets of the forbidden city, RK feels it necessary to make several additional comments on issue#173, which are not as laudatory.

The first, and closest to our heart, concerns the short and stilted 'obituary' for our dear departed friend and Near East archaeology 'tutor' James Mellaart that appears on page 21.

Mellaart's name has appeared in that rag hali many times, the first being, we believe, in 1983 or 1984. This was for many the watershed coming out year for the Anatolian Kelim, and Mellaart's Catal Huyuk and Hacilar publications rode an ever expanding wave of popular interest.

RK was virtually single-handed responsible for this and while a general awareness of Mellaart and his archaeological discoveries was known to a tiny number in rugDUMB including franses, pinner and marcuson, who was occupying that rag hali's editor slot, the intricacies and their import for oriental carpet and kelim studies surely weren't.

Then, of course, few others even knew Mellaart's name let alone anything about his important digs and publications.

But as Mellaart's name and archaeological information seeped into rugDUMB, thanks to article and editorial in that rag hali, confusion, delusion, dis-information and absolute nonsense began to spread like wildfire.

And lost in the flames was any real appreciation or understanding of what Mellaart's discoveries were all about-- hence what became known as the "Catal Huyuk controversy", a misnomer if there ever was one coined by that rag hali's editor in chief alan marcuson.

Actually the only controversy was the inability of virtually anyone in rugDUMB to do the hard work necessary to familiarize themselves with those intricacies and instead burn a layer of comic book style pseudo-understanding in its place.

RK still cringes today when we reread what marcuson wrote, as well as what his successors have also scribbled.

Which bring us to that short stilted 'obituary' we believe ben evans, that rag hali's editor, published in #173.

Although only a short paragraph in length evans, who after now a decade or so as editor still possesses not even a journeyman's understanding of anything rug, managed to continue muddying the water, as well as perpetrate character assassination, on Mellaart.

Need anymore proof than his calling Mellaart's career "checkered"?

RK is the first to admit James Mellaart made two errors of personal judgment in his career, the first being his naively enthusiastic involvement in what is known as the "Dorak Affair", which incidentally caused him to lose government permission to continue to dig at Catal Huyuk and got him thrown out of Turkey.

The second was his, again, naively enthusiastic reinvention, for the 1990 "Goddess from Anatolia" publication, of certain unpublished "drawings" made during his four seasons of Catal Huyuk excavation in the 1960's.

These faux pas were serious and we are not trying to exonerate him for them, but when seen in the rich panorama of Mellaart's archaeological discoveries and voluminous publication bibliography only a wet behind the ears sophomoric scribe could use them as a basis to call James Mellaart's career checkered.

Then in the next sentence evan's triggers the other equally off target barrel of the "Catal Huyuk controversy" -- the "Mother Goddess theory".

This term, Mother Goddess Theory, was also coined in that rag hali under marcuson's editorship and it too ridiculously over-simplified a far more involved complex of ideas.

By the way Mellaart was not responsible for either of them. He was rather like a bystander on the curb watching a two car pile-up who ends up getting run over in the aftermath.

It is complete nonsense to state "his(Mellaart's) sketches of wall paintings at the site(Catal Huyuk), now lost, led directly to the popular and divisive 'Mother Goddess' theory of Anatolian kilim design..."

Obviously evans was not around at that time, in fact he probably was sitting in diapers on his mother's lap, and it remains clear his understanding of the situation is still equally as diapered.

James Mellaart was a great archaeologist and accomplished author in his field -- The Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of the Near East -- and discarding his contributions with such flippant chatter is shameful.

And, at the least that rag hali needs to rectify its past and continuing distorted and blatantly nonsensical portrayal of James Mellaart.

In closing we must mention their dopey last words which state this so-called "Mother Goddess theory", which they invented and to no end promoted, "...had an enormous and lasting impact on the appreciation of the art of the Anatolian kilim."

What a load of bull excrement, for in fact if anything the gross over-use and application of the "Mother Goddess theory" destroyed appreciation of the art of the Anatolian kelim, which now twenty years later has still not recovered.

At the height RugDumb's kelimji fanciers, and those like marcuson at that rag hali, were seeing "goddess" everywhere and this fiasco, not Mellaart, was the source of controversy and checkered.

To be continued, stay tuned...

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