Three Anatolian kelim sold at the Vok sale part II rippon-boswell March 2016. Left to right lots 119, 165 and 144
Unbeknownst to a number of pundits, not the least the somebody who wrote the auction report for the summer 2016 issue of that rag hali, there is, nor has been, any so-called Anatolian Kelim collecting revival.
This is not to say there needs to be, as interest in these weavings at least those that genuinely are historic masterpieces of the highest order and not just look like they might be, has never waned or diminished.
What has waned, diminished and basically dried up are the illusions many nave, ill-informed and all too trusting mid-80s to early 1990s collectors held concerning the at best good, circa 1750-1850, Anatolian Kelim they purchased.
Believing these kelim were earlier and far more important than these collectors now know them to be has been a major let-down. On a larger scale this reassessment crushed any market for profitable resale, or even just any increased level of appreciation and interest in the importance of weavings like them.
When this became general knowledge, which first began to happen circa 1995 and because there never were more than a very tiny number of 17th century and earlier examples (these were long spoken for), the former fervent interest in all look like that are real old but theyre not Anatolian Kelim went the way of the horse buggy and ice-man.
It could be said it died a rather ignominious death.
Most of these former collectors gave up, licked their wounds, bundled up their kelim in the bottom of their closets and to this day regret ever listening to the Anatolian kelim peddling, nincompoop Neolithic-goddess-preaching barkers, who had conned them into believing their hole-y Anatolian kelim were holy relics rather than the often quite damaged, somewhat common weavings produced by a village weaving system that at least since 1750 had been working on over-drive to produce a huge number of decidedly degenerate weavings compared to far earlier, incredibly rarer, archetypal masterpieces.
Its now been two decades and there is a big supply of these old Anatolian kelims lying around in European and American collections, and in a few dealers stocks. Most were purchased at prices that even with inflation will probably never be seen again, nor should they. But more on this in a minute or two.
The recent part I and II sales of the Vok collection have surely not jump-started a new market, or validated the old one. But they have it seems sucked in a few new punters who are not looking for good condition later kelims to be used as floor covering or decorative accessory. One might say they are new recruits for the old patter that enthralled that former generation of Anatoliam Kelimji.
These new buyers have pretty much exclusively been active at the Vok sales, where they are buying his best and earliest pieces for half or less than what Vok paid decades ago.
This is not a bad idea, and RK is not trying to diss the logic of purchasing pieces like the three illustrated above. However, we are interested in disarming anyone of the notion they are buying the real thing, ie pre-18th century archaic masterpieces.
Kelim like these Vok pieces are not, in the scheme of things, really rare. There are a number of similar examples in some dealer inventories, in private collections and, yes, some at the bottom of those bundles in certain ex-collectors closets.
Now then dont get the wrong idea. The best of these, what we call early Traditional and late Classic Period, are excellent weavings well worth the prices they are bringing, and interest they have awakened.
They are just not the best, and there is no comparison when they are compared.
In our Anatolian Kelim Opus Parts I-XIX, http://rugkazbah.com/boards/records.php?id=1926&refnum=1926, RK set-out the thesis there are 11 archetypal Anatolian Kelim which are the models for all other types.
We also set-up a relative dating system, based on art historical comparison, of four major periods of Anatolian Kelim production. Each one then divided in early, middle and late, making a total of 12 periods.
We highly suggest motivated readers to, if they have not already, read this long and comprehensive work.
But back to the Vok II kelim shown above and the misleading, atavistic descriptions that rag hali has offered up in the face of the more than two decade's old failure for this type of meaningless sales patter to be seen as anything beside nonsense.
The first, lot 119, described as this powerful kilim is as much about colour as it is about design. The abstract effect of the layers of shading in the field creates a striking contract with the archaic splendour of the border..
The only striking contrast RK can see is this totally hyperbolic interpretation compared with reality.
To call this Anatolian kelim ugly might be a smidgen cruel, however, no one with any aesthetic judgment, forget connoisseurship, could possibly call it beautiful, pretty or even pleasing.
The only thing this kelim reminds one of is the excruciatingly painful experience of viewing a Francis Bacon painting.
Using the word powerful in connection to Anatolian Kelim has become so over-used and trite we cannot believe even the half-wits who write these auction reports have not eliminated it from their meager rug description vocabulary. There is nothing powerful about this weaving, other than a fools gold illusion.
Its plain, boring and derivative.
And its most redeeming feature, thepalisade of giant reciprocal hooks regardless of the fact it also occurs in a kelim owned by a second tier kelim collector from Munich, johannes wolff-diepenbrock, doesnt make it, or his, any less derivative.
Here is the prototype.
Detail early Classic Period Anatolian Kelim; Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim; plate 9, RK Collection
This exhibits weaving excellence worthy of the words that rag hali has used to try and baptize lot 119.
This detail shows how a master weaver created through abstract geometry and technicolor what the weaver of lot 119, and wolff-diepenbrocks, copied in black and white without being able to maifest its salubrious, like water flowing over rocks, cascade.
And attempting to minimize lot 119s garish, and actually insipid to our refined eye, abrashed pinky red field by calling it layers of shading is as ridiculous as referring to the rote scattering of tiny, and actually not so tiny, as contrasting brocaded details (that) light up the field, like scattered flowers surviving against all odds in a barren desert of red sand. The only truly applicable descriptor here is barren desert, perhaps the only one linking fact not fiction to reality.
Lastly, calling those intertwined hooks relatives of the Turkmen kotchak is nothing but another demonstration of that rag halis inability to both understand what they are looking at, and worse, trying to use to educate their readership.
This kelim sold for $35, 365 (31,720 euro) which gives cause to imagine what a really great example might bring were it to come to auction.
The next, lot 165, is dated 18th century in that rag halis auction report compared to the circa 1800 lot 119 carries. Frankly, we seriously wonder if lot 119 is even that old and would not be surprised to learn there is a synthetic red behind some of the gross fading and color loss in the field.
But there are no such color problems here. Lot 165 has the mellowed, saturated, color palette of what RK calls the late Classic to early Traditional Period.
On all accounts lot 165 is far better a weaving than lot 119 but you would not know that from the price realized -- $10,200, 9,150 euro.
Clearly condition played a role here, but since no one is going to walk on either of these two weavings, and they are going to spend the rest of their lives hanging on the wall, the price difference based on this criteria is myopic to say the least. Its a far better, more beautiful, earlier example. Period, end of discussion.
We can only once again point out this proves there is no real connoisseurship behind the present market for Anatolian kelim. Same for that rag halis feeble attempts to display their chops, as this muttering well proves A c14 test points to a time before kilim designs became more stereotyped.
Fact is this kelims design is both stereotyped, and worse its degenerate.
RK has discussed and proven this in our Anatolian Opus Part XVIII -- http://rugkazbah.com/boards/records.php?id=2674&refnum=2674 --
from which we extensively quote the following:
Here is the early Classic period kelim, which is main source of the hooked-medallion.
early Classic period; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 7
Here is the next iteration of the type.
Early traditional period; Anatolian Kilim deYoung Museum; Plate 52
Thelate version of the top border reminiscent of Plate 1 Image Idol Symbol, further cements our belief the hooked-medallion is a pastiche developed from, and out of, the archetype Plates 1 & 2.
A step-down on the continuum for this type would be this kelim.
Traditional period; Undiscovered Kilim; Plate 16
The formerly wild and untamed design seen in Plate 7 Image Idol Symbol has now been codified, reduced from a potent emblem/amulet to a motif.
now lets examinewhere and how the hexagons (with arms and hooked-extensions like lot 165) have entered the scene.
With Plates 1&2 Image Idol Symbol in your minds eye realize how this kelim, a pastiche of their icons, came into existence.
early Traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & RadioCarbon Dating; Plate 27
Like the kelim at the beginning this, Part XVIII, here we have another virtual smorgasbord of Archaic period iconography.
Here are a few clues to help you decipher its sources rhomb from Plates 1&2 Image idol Symbol; the skeletal stalk between the half-medallions from Plate 2 Image Idol Symbol; the large kotchak, or double hook, atop each half medallion from Plate 4 Image Idol Symbol; and the two identical side border from Plate 4 Image Idol Symbol.
This kelim is the prototype for the large arms atop each of the half-medallion, as well as the general form each exhibits.
early Classic period; Image Idol Symbol; Plate 8
While this kelim is, in itself, a pastiche of Plate 1&2, it is nonetheless a prototype, and the source of Plate 27 and the group to which it belongs.
Here is a later rendition of Plate 27.
early traditional period; Anatolian Kilims & RadioCrabon Dating; Plate 26
The most outstanding element it possesses are the wonderful rhomb in the center of each medallion, but the rest of this kelim leaves much to be desired compared with Plate 8 its prototype.
With a pair of scissor and print-outs of these kelim we believe any reader can now demonstrate how the hooked-medallions and hexagons on the wolf kelim(this is not the same wolff kelim mentioned above) came into beingThis analysis is one of many we can prove, remember pre-traditional period Anatolian kelim weaving was proscribed, the weaver bound by many convention, the most significant cultural debt and duty.
Each weaver was a cog in the wheel imbued with responsibility to faithfully reproduce what she had been taught.
Of course the weavers we are talking about were not producing domestic goods, whether for dowry or any other worldly purpose.
These weavers were doing Gods work in creating these spiritual kelim.
The heavily, should we say heavenly, icon laden slit-tapestry they produced were societal creation, not individual.
This is a central concept that must be understood, missing it or denying it can only lead to misinterpretation and confusion.
End of Part XVIII
Continuing their absurd attempts to discuss Lot 165 that rag hali offers up this quote that might be far more suitable for a homoerotic periodical The field is dominated by two medallions with writhing muscular tentacles bearing several pairs of tensely coiled rams horns, symbols of male fertility courage and power
This is pure poppycock (no pun intended), and the first time RK can remember rams horns, aka kotchak, being related to male and not female fertility. Guess the rewiewer got carried away with his NAMBLA fantasies.
Another stab in the dark reference is this The occurance of so many fertility symbols suggests that this could well be a dowry piece, made by a bride for her wedding.
This type of undocumented and unsupported interpretative gibberish might read well to the gullible and nave but isnt it way past time for this type of reportage to have been replaced by more scholarly and erudite musings?
Better would have been to offer the far more likely possibility this 12 foot long kelim with such an explicit iconography was created for some type of funerary ceremony and then mosque donation, as has been recorded by Belkis Balpinar during her extensive ethnological researches traveling through the Anatolian Plateau.
The historic Anatolian kelim tradition is believed to focus on female, not male, fertility. To suggest different, with nothing as evidence, this kelims major icon refers to the latter and not the former is highly questionable, and in our opinion specious.
The third, lot 144, is dated 17th/18th century the earliest of the three and in our judgment another mistake.
It is nothing but a circa 1800 at best weaving, its colors belie it could be any earlier. Lot 165 has 18th century colors, the lovely apricot field as well as the green flecked with yellow are both colors not seen in 19th century Anatolian Kelim. While the rather plain-jane salmon red, bluish green, non-luminous mid-blue are not colors seen in 18th century, forget 17th.
But facts like this are lost on the dullard reviewer who authored that rag halis kelim review.
The chevrons in the end panels of this archaic kelim dominate and contrast with the blocks in the field, which have comb-like sides that in an earlier form may have been continuous horizontal stripes with tooth-vertical links, alternating with the white stripes.This is nothing but more nonsense guess work, as the toothed blocks are degenerated reference to the vulture icon found in two types of Archaic Period kelim.
Plate 58; Anatolian Kilims; Fine Art Museums of San Francisco; 1990
Plate 4; Image Idol Symbol:Ancient Anatolian Kelim; vol.2, 1989
It should be easy to visualize how the toothed blocks are degenerated interpretations of the vulture icon introduced by these two archetypal Anatolian Kelim.
The major attraction of lot 144 is without a doubt the large elebelinde, goddess with hands on hips, figures in the upper and lower elem panels.
And while it is perfectly correct to call this interpretation contentious it is even more pointful to note this design does not appear on any Archaic or Classic Period kelim.
RK has only seen it on examples like this, ones we date circa 1800.
And while it is possible, after all anything is possible, an earlier kelim from either of those two periods will turn up we sincerely doubt it, as it is far more probable it already would have thanks to the hundreds of circa 1800 and earlier examples now known and published.
RK envisions the elebelinde motif has its roots in the ancient reciprocal trefoil border that much later in its life received embellishment with a plethora of hooks on its perimeter to become this design.
But no matter how, by who, or where this originated, the reality there is no kelim earlier than circa 1800 with it destroys Vok, rippon-boswell or that rag halis unsupportable attempt to call lot 144 17th/18th century.
Selling for $34,005, 30,500 euro, slightly less than lot 199, again raises the question what would a real 17th century or earlier Anatolian Kelim bring?