Home > Flatweaves >Anatolian Kelim once again in the spotlight
Thu, Mar 8th, 2018 08:53:56 AM
Topic: Anatolian Kelim once again in the spotlight

After almost a two decade long hiatus the Anatolian kelim seems to be returning to the spotlight.

The varied reasons for the steep decline are many, but there were two primary ones.

The first was the explosive reality many proponents, led by a small contingent of rug dealers, were forced to accept when the completely overblown misinterpretations of the "Goddess" theories crashed to earth with a loud thud heard round the rug world.

It wasn't that the basis of the theory -- that certain icons seen on Anatolian Kelim had their roots firmly planted in the archaeological record and history of Anatolia -- it was the rampant ignorant rush to apply this to kelim studies by those who had done no research or had no real understanding of this information.

Goddesses were seen everywhere and numerous later and far from historic or important kelim were sold for high prices to collectors who had high hopes they were buying early and valuable examples.

It did not take long for them to realize they had overpaid but worse they had put their faith behind an illusion that was disappearing right before their eyes.

The second was blaming James Mellaart.

While Mellaart's rug world related publications -- the first a brief two page or so mention in a catalog of mostly mediocre early 19th century kelim published by bertram frauenknecht and the second a far more extensive chapter in the "Goddess From Anatolia" with co-authors udo hirsch and Belkis Balpinar -- were faulty and packed full of fantasy references, Mellaart's earlier publications (for instance "Hacilar", "Catal Huyuk: a Neolithic Town in Anatolia", the original excavation reports in Anatolian Studies, and "The Neolithic of the Near East") contained unassailable and accurate information, which although not as sensational nevertheless provided ample proof the "Goddess" theory and the roots of Anatolian Kelim iconography lay firmly in pre-history.

But rugDUMB took the sensational Mellaart bait hook, line and sinker; and when the truth came out was absolutely unable to admit the mistakes so, as the old saying goes, the baby was thrown out with the bath-water.

RK was at the center of all this brouhaha and because early on we recognized the lack of verity in our dear friend James Mellaart's rug world writing we decided not to publish the book that became the "Goddess from Anatolia". This was a difficult decision as we had organized Mellaart, Balpinar and hirsch's participation and worked with them on the project for three years but the overwhelming realization Mellaart's work was inaccurate and unreliable forced us to retired from the project, sell it to John Eskenazi, and make our own book using the text we had written for our proposed chapter in the Goddess from Anatolia.

We also added a considerable amount more of our research and investigations into Anatolian and Near Eastern Neolithic and EBA(early bronze age) archaeology in our book published in 1989 under the title IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim".

Our text contains no Mellaart reconstructions, no fanatasy interpretations or outright bogus references that plagued the Goddess from Anatolia publication, which was almost immediately on publication in 1990 trashed by the archaeological community and some rug world authors.

This turn of events poured an ice-bucket of water on the rugworlds Goddess fever along with all the former widespread and passionate interest in Anatolian Kelim.

However, two decades on the dust has settled and RK is sure both our IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL book, which was republished on the Weaving Art Museum website in 1997 (http://www.weavingartmuseum.org/ex1_main.htm), and our Anatolian Opus published here on RugKazbah.com in 2009 have done much to cause many to reappraise the Anatolian Kelim and its iconographic archaeological roots.

There are of course other factors which all have now combined to shine a spotlight on these weavings.

We have proof of this renaissance in the statistics for the Anatolian Opus, which just today passed the 8,000th visitor/reader number.

This is a fairly remarkable number, with 1,000 reads accrued in the two months since July 2014 when we reported its 7,000th.

Author: jc
Thu, Mar 8th, 2018 08:53:56 AM

After the success of making himself good comissions on the Anatolian and other kelim in the Vok sale, detlef, mr rippon-boswell, maltzahn now has the 'Poppmeier' collection slated to go on the block this coming weekend. He will do well, Poppmeier will not.

Herr Poppmeier's a rich dude, much richer than Vok. He can afford the loss. Like Vok, Poppmeier fell deep and hard, with great passion and a wide open checkbook, for Anatolian kelim.

Like Vok he was on the right track, Anatolian kelim are great art and an important part of indigenous Anatolian ethnographic history. The only problem they, and just about every other collector, faced is they bought the wrong ones. If they did not know this before recently trying to sell them, they surely know it now.

But buying the right, ie the best, ones was just about impossible. This did not stop the Voks and Poppmeiers, who thought and really believed listening to their trusted and heralded as expert advisors -- the rageths, the udo hirsches, the Konzetts, the frauenknechts, the Eskenazis, etc-- would get them 'important' kelim.

Man were they wrong.

Compared to Vok's kelim Poppmeiers are better, and they should/will do better at the sale. We know there is a ready audience to buy the best of the Poppmeier collection kelim at the steep discount even at multiples of the estimates bring. We'd guess the estimates are about 20-30 percent of what he paid.

Most of his kelim, however, will preform poorly just like Vok's.

Look, there was nothing wrong with Vok's kelim, and surely nothing wrong with Poppmeier's. The problem is they are not good enough.

Were there a kelim RK calls an archetype, or even an early Classic period one, in Poppmeier's collection, it would we are again sure set a record price. An archetype could and will sell far north of 100,000 euro.

Regrettably for Poppmeier none of his come even close.

So readers enjoy the sale, and for those of you who are buyers choose carefully. There will be a few bargains, but those will be hotly contested and perhaps when the hammer comes down not immediately seem like bargains.

Trust us, that perception will fade; for the very few that are his best, it will change as time goes on.

Because even the best of the Poppmeier kelims do not come to the market very often, or at all.

Author: jc
Sun, Jan 14th, 2018 12:55:07 PM

About three years ago RK published this thread to commemorate what we saw as a resurgence of interest in kelim, particularly Anatolian ones.

The coming Vok collection dispersal sale was on the horizon and even though it contained no masterpiece --- ie Archaic period --- examples, there were some excellent later ones.

We also noticed renewed interest elsewhere among collectors, dealers and investors. This trend continues today but regrettably there is hardly any discussion public or otherwise, besides what passes for it on several faRcebook groups, one in particular called 'kilim'.

RK has already spilled some words describing our 'adventures' in the faRcebook jungle of warped wefters and weftkickers. No need to visit again.

But several months ago this kelim, from the deYoung Museum collection as well as one of ours, was posted on the kilim group webpage and a healthy amount of commentary was quickly elicited.

Anatolian kelim panel; deYoung Museum McCoy (ex muse) collection; dated on the museum's website 17th century; assession number 1987.38.9

RK knows this kelim well. We had the opportunity to closely examine it several times when it was still in muse's hands, and have handled it and seen it again several times since at the museum.

It's one of the dozen earliest and best in the museums large, but of varying quality collection. However it is not as early, historically important, or iconographiclly sgnificant as the one below that is unfortunately a much smaller fragment, probably only about half from a similar but smaller size panel.

RK collection; published IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim, Plate 7; 1989

We also own another related fragment that was published along side it (below) which is even smaller and somewhat later, though still earlier than the deYoung panel.

We believe this fragment was originally part of the other panel belonging to a kelim published in the Goddess from Anatolia Plate IX no. 6.

Complete panel of very similar design; published in Goddess from Anatolia; Plate IX no.6

Based on this trilogy of kelim, it can be almost sure our earlier fragment likewise once had four large hooked icon in its field.

While it might be difficult to determine relative age based solely on comparing these icon, when the elem panels are also compared there is little doubt the Goddess from Anatolia example, and to an even greater degree the deYoung kelim, are later renditions.

Also the absence of the plethora -- but a deliberate and highly organized complex one -- of hooks attached to the radial arms and lower niche outline on the deYoung panel has to be seen as another reason to date it later than the others.

The figure and ground drawing these hooks create adds an important dimension, one that in different places can be interpreted as totemic in both an anthropomorphic and an animistic sense.

This raises a number of questions. Perhaps the most obvious: Did the weaver of RKs kelim, and to a lesser degree the Goddess from Anatolia one, know about this potent readable reciprocal iconography? And conversely did the weaver of the deYoung kelim not know, or knew but for some personal reason chose to exclude it from her weaving?

Of course this is as unanswerable as it is moot. But there is a proof in this pudding, and that is the undeniable fact this reciprocal imagery exists and therefore its inclusion, whether or not understood by the weaver, could only have existed as part of the historic weaving that instructed and guided her work.

It is equally plausible its omission shows the weaver of the deYoung kelim was not as connected.

Another factor is the loss of a small but perceptable degree of design articulation and proportion in the elem panels. This is yet another indication of this disconnect.

Subtle differences are everything when attempting to build art historical continuums to relatively date weavings like these.

Opinions based on nothing but punditary hot air carry no weight and RK is positive many on farcebook will continue to think the deYoung panel is the earlier, as it is less visually busy.

This is a nothing but a fallacy as the busy llook is not without rhyme and reason. For without those busy hooks a very deep and potent part of this type of kelims iconography is completely lost.

In our Anatolian Opus RK has discussed at some length how these large hooked icon were developed from a combination of Archaic period design iconography. Interested readers can find that here:

Author: jc
Sat, Nov 1st, 2014 05:58:35 AM

A new exhibition of kelim will open later this week in Europe at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle, Germany.

Property of the ex-Berlin rug dealer Hamid Sadighi Neiriz, the exhibition will be yet another display of mostly 19th century kelims from Turkey, Persia and the Caucasus.

On several of our visits to Berlin we visited his now shuttered gallery -- Gallery Neiriz -- and saw a number of the pieces which we are sure will be in the exhibition.

Frankly, while RK appreciates any attention oriental rugs, particularly flat-weaves, receive from museums we hesitate to endorse the idea such examples as those in this show are "art" worthy of deep respect and homage.

Neiriz's collection, like that of Dr norber prammer which garnered two museum shows or Ignatius Vok's which will be offered for sale at rippon-boswell after having had several private exhibitions at Vok's estate in Italy, has nothing historically important to add to the large corpus of literature and examples that now exists.

Nor is the "art" level worthy of anyone's serious attention.

His collection, like prammer's, Vok's and others we could cite, is basically pedestrian. One might make the case for his kelims being "folk-art" but for us we can't see anything besides weavings worthy of floor use, surely not 'art' of the level the exhibition's publicity tries to establish.

OK, RK is definitely a kelim snob. We only appreciate early historic examples and anything less is way below our sights.

In the museum's publicity it forwards the goal of the exhibition to bring in a new, younger, audience. And it quotes Neiriz as saying "young people's eyes are unused".

This is true but RK would like to see such eyes used to view masterpieces, not later copies.

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