Home > Flatweaves >Sumak Khorjin Comparison Gets Harder
Sun, Apr 14th, 2013 07:51:23 AM
Topic: Sumak Khorjin Comparison Gets Harder

A number of years ago RK posted the two pictures below as an experiment.

The experiment, like many, did not turn out as expected. But the results were interesting.

It proved to RK most people know little about a weaving from a picture, they need to see it in the flesh.

Regrettably, even then many so-called collectors and experts are lost.

So instead of posting them again and retrying the experiment we will just post them here under the following premise.

One is a prototype and the other a later copy.

Can you tell which is which?

Or do you believe they both are the "same", and the only difference is "condition".

We ask the questions rhetorically, but any reader with an opinion is more than welcome to express it here.

However, please limit your comments to the two khorjin and not any nonsense about this or that you might wish to express to forward an unrelated agenda.

Remember, RugKazbah.com is an open and free environment, but we do not appreciate those who misuse the privilege to spin nonsense and absurd accusations.

#1. published plate 131 in Soumak Bags, weretime,1998

#2. published plate 132 in Soumak Bags, weretime, 1998

Author: nezuz
email: [email protected]
Sat, Apr 13th, 2013 06:43:09 PM

RK Replies:

Hey there, Nezuz:

You are right again, congrats. You might be a small-time collector but you apparently have a big-time ability to discern the great from the good.

This is a talent very few ruggies have. You should be proud of yourmastery.

RK will be glad to add a few comments to yours. Our's will be in a bold typeface.


Yes Jack, this is a slightly harder comparison.

I noticed #5 on RR, and for a moment - from the detail posted - I thought it was #3.

Then, coming back to this page I realized it was not.

Now that you posted them side by side, I definitely think #3 is the real thing, for two main reasons:

RK should have been more clear when we posted this comparison of #3 and #5: We said which is the better but we should have said which is the prototype and which is the copy as we did before.

This is far more exact, after all "better" is often opinion, while prototype transcends opinion and verges on, if not is, "fact"

So we will assume when you chose #3, you would agree it and not #5 is the prototype?

REASON 1) the medallion design in #3 has a subtle structure: from the inside out, I see the blue hexagon within a stepped octagon within a "virtual square" (very nearly a square) within the outer octagon.

Actually the octagon is green and not blue but the photo does not show it well enough.

#5 is similar, but many elements are out of proportion, and the blue hexagon gets squeezed down. While in #3 the blue Hexagon is a focus point (with the two well detailed red and white diamonds in it), in #5 it almost becomes irrelevant and the eye is drawn more to the dominant red sovrastructure around it.

What might we ask is a sovrastructure?

Another detail that to me says "good age" in #3 is the outlining of the blue medallion in three progressive layers of white, orange, and red. The use of white perfectly blends the two white "pillars" in the design. It is unbelievable how such a small detail can make a difference (the red-green-red combination in #5 does not work nearly as well ... and makes the two white bars a foreign element in the blue medallion)

REASON 2) The main border: while #5 has a well executed border, #3's border is much more dynamic. I don't know how to explain it, but if I look at it moving from one figure to the next, I almost see a sequence of snapshots of a person doing somersaults: springing up in the air, landing on the hands, springing back up and so on. I don't get that "springing" feeling from #5 ... granted, nicely executed, but lacking a bit in personality.


One question about the white: I am pretty sure in #5 cotton was used (the weave looks "compacted"). In #3, the white seems to have the weave that wool usually shows, suppler and a bit looser .. so, is it wool? Does the use of cotton white tell us anything about age?

All the white in #3 is wool. As for #5 we don't really know but would assume it too is wool. You might email the seller and ask him and report back here if you like.

Sorry, it became a longer answer than I wanted too ... look forward to your comments.


We see many other differences, the most important and obvious is the elongation of the design #5 suffers. This is a typical feature of copies, not only of sumak khorjin, where for some reason the weaver was not able to articulate the perfect proportions of an original and instead proceeded to squash the design vertically.

The more squashed, the later the copy.

So here the squashing is not terribly pronounced but it is quite visible when it is pointed out, as we hope you and other readers will now see.

Another aspect we should point out is the way the weaver of #5 put some of the bird-heads on box-bases, while #3's creator apparently did not know about such an accretion to the design.

Left: bird on box base #5: Right: bird without base #3

The source for the large animal repeated in each quadrant of the sumak khorjin medallion is undoubtedly related to the earliest "animal" rugs from Anatolia.

To our knowledge these super rare pile woven carpets do not ever have animals, or their heads, represented as sitting on a box.

Clearly this is something the weaver of #5 was not privy to, while #3's knew the archaic form and reproduced it without addition.

Here's the last "difference", another subtle one, we wish to mention now though there are a number of others: The propensity for the weaver of #5 to 'attach' various elements of the design to the 'walls' of others next to them.

Perhaps the easiest place to see this is here:

Left: Detail #5 showing medallion attached to surrounding 'wall'; Right: Detail #3 showing medallion floating above surrounding 'wall'

As a general rule when there is no separation between iconographic elements of a weaving's design it invariably denotes later work.

When each element has its space, this first maintains design integrity and second it creates an illusion of deeper perspective and movement.

Here attaching the medallion of #5 to the outer-wall surrounding it defeats any attempt to create the perspective that #3 achieves.

This might be somewhat hard to see in these small digital scans but in the flesh this difference truly does allow #3's medallion to float within the field.

This, plus the elongation of every part of its design, are both important visual clues to support the reality it is a copy and not a prototype.

Author: jc
Sat, Apr 13th, 2013 12:12:28 AM

Greetings nezuz:

Congratulations for being brave enough to write in, and more so for having the correct answer.

Your analysis is right on.

Keep up the good work, and by the way recently there was a khorjin of this type advertised for sale on the internet.

Did you see it?

If not here it is


The seller says it is "silk wefted".

So we wil again pose the question to you or any other reader: Which sumak khorjin do you think is the better one and why?

By the way, this time the question is far more difficult.

Here is number three again, and below it we have placed them side-by-side for ease of comparison.


Left: #5; Right: #3

And here are details of the medallions.

Left: #5; Right: #3

Try to avoid too much judging based on color, as both khorjin have suffered the fate of being photographed and then digitally reproduced for viewing online.

There are enough subtle, and some very subtle but still visible, design differences and iconographic ones as well on which to base an opinion.

And it is these criteria and not only "color" which should be used.

NOTE: All these photos can be enlarged by using the zoom feature on your internet browser. Usually that feature is located in the "view" tab.

Author: nezuz
email: [email protected]
Wed, Apr 10th, 2013 08:02:38 PM

Hello Jack.

This is my first post ever here. I am a small-time kilim (and miscellaneous stuff) collector, mostly hindered by budget restrictions.

I find your technical discussions very educational, and thank you for posting them. Always a good read.

Nobody has answered riddle #2, so I'll try my hand.

In my view, khorjin #3 is vastly superior to #4, so it's the older of the two.

Much finer and loftier design. This is very evident in the medallion, but also in the execution and proportions of the multiple borders.

#4 looks like what I could come up with when trying to replicate the design of #3, and I am not much of an artist ...

Colors also look truer in #3.


Author: jc
Thu, Mar 14th, 2013 06:06:03 PM

Robert was correct in his choice for the first pair.

Anyone else want to try and pin the tail on the earlier prototype in the second?

Author: jc
Tue, Mar 12th, 2013 04:05:47 PM

Let's add another comparison, two more "similar" soumak khorjin.

Below are details of each medallion to help readers make their judgment.

Soumak khorjin 3

Soumak khorjin 4

Detail medallion Soumak khorjin 3

Detail Soumak khorjin 4

Author: Robert
Tue, Mar 12th, 2013 01:41:24 PM

RK Replies:

Greetings Robert:

Thanks for your reply and opinion.

Since we have added a second pair of Soumak khorjin for comparison we placed some text in your reply to make clear your reply is about the first.

Care to offer another attempt at the second two khorjin we just posted?

And before we give our opinion, let's allow a day or two more for some other readers to perhaps weigh in with theirs?


The colors, drawing and spacing, by themselves, suggest that the second bag face (ed.in the first comparison) is significantly older than the first.

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