Anatolian kelim panel, RK collection, USA; 372 x 74 cm, 125 x 2.5; published Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim; vol.2, Plate 5, 1989
The following is a pretentious and highly questionable document supposedly telling the story of the Anatolian kelim and its collecting history in the west. It was written by michael bischof and has been presented several times in various guises on the internet. After its most recent appearance RK decided it finally deserves our attention and comment.
We say pretentious because bischof presumes he is capable and knowledgeable enough to attempt such an exercise and highly questionable because what he presents can easily be proven false by facts beyond his grasp, as well as ones he continues to ignore even though advised more than once of those errors. We do this both to set the record straight and to counter accusations he makes about us, and our involvement with Anatolian kelim.
We offer his entire document with his initials (mb) before his statements and our initials (jc) before our comments that are also in bold typeface to facilitate reading.
Besides for numerous factual errors and false statements there are spelling and grammatical errors galore in what bishof wrote. We have not corrected them, nor have we even (sic) noted them. The document is untouched and exactly as he issued it, minus of course our added comments. The titles, now in italics, are also from his original document.
(mb): Kilim studies -how they started...
The following lines outline that part of this picture which I want to discuss on a public platform. There is another part of what I know - but there are many good reasons to communicate such things by peer-to-peer communication only.
(jc): His title is pretentious because it assumes at the least he is capable of presenting a story, when in fact he has no first hand contact with what happened and is only recanting what he has heard or read from others and other sources. Much of this source material can be and is shown to be factually untrue or containing half-truths and worse no truth at all. He admits he was only a beginner in 1981, a time when RK was at the center of what was happening with Anatolian kelim collecting and research. RKs comments reflect what we know and saw as a first-hand direct participant and proponent. They are far more accurate than the tainted, hand-me-down opinions and assertions bischof makes throughout this article. Plus his penchant for hiding behind information he cannot reveal publicly is another example of this bogus holier than thou stance bischof assumes. It is tiring and totally out of order to constantly hide facts but hint at them.
(mb): Kilims and village carpets were nothing new in the Europe of the 70s. Between 1870 and 1914 a lot of late kilims (made after 1870) came to Europe, a lot from Turkey. In Germany one used the term Karamaniye as many came, as gossip wanted to know, from the vicinity of Karaman in Southern Central Anatolia. Customers used them as home textiles. There was no such thing like collecting. The weaves were in perfect condition and floorable. To perceive them as textile art was no accepted task. Even classical carpets were discovered as objects of art as late as the end of the 19th century.
(jc): This is basically true and while bischof admits at this point in time, the end of the 19th century, Anatolian kelims were commercially produced he seems to forget this later on as he tries to describe another picture.
(mb): Then there was a break caused by the huge turmoils in Europe from 1914-1945. After World War I great amounts of carpets, village carpets, especially Caucasian ones, and as well (late) flatweaves went from Europe to the USA for very low prices - out of sight. The economic recovery in Europe created the room for new activities.
(jc): We must comment here that there obviously was some collecting of Anatolian kelim in the 19th century because the famous kelim Saf in the Berlin Islamic Museum was collected before 1900.
Archaic period Saf collection Islamische Museum, Berlin Germany; Inv. No.I 3088; 153 x 395cm, 50 x 141
(mb): The first kilim exhibition in this new era, starting with the 70s, was compiled by Alan Marcuson and Michael Franses:Kilims; the traditional tapestries of Turkey. Presented by The Iranian Arts Association of Ireland at The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (1979), but a London exhibition (and catalogue) got to be more prominent:The Undiscovered Kilim. David Black and Clive Loveless. London (1977)
(jc): This is incorrect. The exhibition that started interest in flatweaves, kelim and soumak, took place in 1969 at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC. Entitled From the Bosphorous to Samarkand this exhibition and the paperback catalog stimulated interest in these flatwoven rugs. RK for one was turned on by it and began our search and collection soon after reading it and gazing at the pictures. By todays standards this exhibition did not have great early pieces but considering it was the forerunner it must be given its due. The fact bischof omitted it says volumes about his ability to try and recount this story of kelim collecting.
(mb): It started with a grotesque Westerners ethnocentric statement in the title: The Undiscovered Kilim. Imagine that unnumberable people in the Near East and the Balcanies lived then with kilims as part of their usual set of home textiles and a lot of kilim were still woven at that time. As those people do not count the kilim was undiscovered. May be these were just practical needs of dealers who wanted to open a new field and catch the necessary attention for it.
(jc): As ever bischof bends and twists the facts and truth to fit into his fractured fairy tale purview. There is nothing grotesque about the title, as few people in the West knew about kelims and therefore Black and Lovelesss title was perfectly correct and warranted. Again this exhibition and catalog, like the Textile Museums Bosphorous to Sammakand, presented kelim that are very common in todays collections, but that was not the case back then. Still there is not really one early example, pre-1800, in either of them. More about this below.
(mb) In those years a lot of Western people started to travel on their own to Turkey. One may discern 2 groups:those interested in Turkey properpeople who started their trips to Afghanistan and India (cheap Cannabis, an important motivation then) in Istanbul and passed Turkey
At that time suitable asphalt streets were rare, most of the townships in Anatolia could be reached only by stabilized gravel roads, in Eastern Anatolia even the main roads were like that. Travelling by car, a must for those who wanted to come to remote places, was time consuming and uneasy (dust!!!).
This situation was reflected even in botany. The famous Flora of Turkey by Davis listed a lot of plants as endemics, restricted to very small areas. Later, with better roads, one could easily see that in fact they are wide spread, even ubiquitous. One example is Datisca cannabina, a dye plant for yellow, that Harald Bhmer mistook as an indicator of a small area in NW-Anatolia, based on this standard reference book. Later we, ****, found out that it is common in whole Turkey except Thracia and the far North-East. So this was not a mistake for which Harald Bhmer was responsible.
(jc): Sorry, but all this has nothing to due with the topic at hand, and is just one of many examples how bischof rambles on saying nothing but using lots of wordage to do it. His doing so fails to impress anyone with more than the most rudimentary knowledge of the topic.
(mb)Turkey has one huge advantage over other countries when it comes to learn about kilims and village rugs: it is relatively easy to access, even remote places. But only in case one speaks Turksih or travels with a translator, like Josephine Powell did.
(jc): This statement pussy foots around a central aspect, fieldwork and its value, real value, to early Anatolian kelim research. Considering interest in Anatolian kelim is and always has been centered around the earliest examples, which even by the most conservative estimates are pre-1800 what value does contemporary field work have in determining knowledge about them? I for one have say little to none, as the descendents of the weavers who produced these early kelim are almost entirely disconnected from them, both culturally and spiritually. Fieldwork is fine to learn certain facts, particularly about dyes and wool types, but it is surely not very relevant to the study of the earliest Anatolian weavings, be they carpet or kelim. They invariably exhibit completely different materials and dyes than ones even a generation or two later. Plus the minute you have a translator involved the veracity of any information learned can be questioned. And on top of this it is basically forbidden for a foreign man to question or even talk to a woman weaver in any village setting. So bischof who touts fieldwork and what he supposedly has learned is in fact a poor correspondent and much if not all of what he has learned is worthless for the study of the history of the Anatolian kelim.
(mb): When people started to be interested in kilims and village rugs they had these sources to get them:
Buy from established shops in the big cities - touristic centers did not exist in 1975, more or less, except in Istanbul.Buy from traditional furnituring shops allover the country: when a Turkish middle class or working class couple married one had to buy furniture and home textiles - each township had at least one such shop. Sometimes they have local antique pieces.
Buy from villagers or the rare nomadic groupsLater: buy from newcomers, young guys that spoke foreign languages, often students to studied just to relief the burden of joining the army (with a university degree one entered for only 3 months in the rank of an officer), and learned the talents to entertain tourists. These people had no textile background and often were forced to learn from their customers.
The latest development is that people that used their textile skills that they learnt in their own environment, mostly in Central Anatolia with a focus on Sultanhanı, or around Malatya, to repair carpets and kilms and started later to open own carpet shops, in Istanbul and at the touristic sites. Some people even in the USA.
In the first 3 cases to command Turkish is essential. In the fourth case it is adviseable to understand Turkish, but this ability should be hidden.
(jc): Again, what does this add to the discussion at hand. We have to say nothing as it is totally obvious and adds not one iota of fact to it.
(mb): After purchasing a kilim or a village rug people wanted to learn more about those items. People had objects from a virtually unknown culture and could not evaluate them with reason. The only available literature were Western carpet dealers catalogues with some text additions and legendary failures in geography. Sivas, South Anatolia for a soumak cuval from the vicinity of Silifke (at the mouth of the Gksu river into the Mediterranean seaI remember well. It continues until today. In addition they were overloaded with carpet dealers fairy tales.
(jc): The reality little factual information was available thirty years ago, and basically still is today, has nothing to do with the fact kelim studies needs only the objects. Art historical analysis can prove many interesting aspects and hopefully some day scientific analysis will use laboratory procedures like HPLC and AMS to study the physical materials. This is what is needed not a know little like bischof trying to recount a history he knows next to nothing about.
(mb): Like each girl had to weave her dowry textiles alone as a test for her ability and talents. Nonsense: she had to have a dowry. If her family was rich enough one bought the necessary set of yastiks from weaving centres. Or: all the big white ground kilims were made for the funeral and later given to the local mosque. To continue: village and nomadic women were masters of making natural dyes in the good old times. Not true. Sometimes, but as an exception, village women heated wool with alum and then is some plant decoctions. In very small amounts Indigo vatting with urine was applied in villages. Normally the persons who did the dyes were professionals: persons who earned their living from making the dyes, in most cases stationary, located in the townships or rarely in villages that were specialized on sheep breeding. In Anatolia Armenians were famous for making the dyes, Central Anatolia being no exemption.
(jc):More verbage with no relationship to the topic at hand. Plus even worse this discounts RK's idea, and one of the thesis for our research, there were two types of early Anatolian kelim. Ones that were secular and domestic and others that were non-secular, spiritual and part of cult ritual. This discussion is expanded in the Anatolian Opus
and we suggest interested readers who have not already read it do so now.
Plus the idea young girls made the earliest group of kelim known is ridiculous. These were made by the most highly skilled and experienced weavers and ones who were deeply connected to the historic weaving culture, which preserved an ancient iconography. Trying to explain these kelim without this frame of reference is pointless and worthless.
(mb): It is not the blame of the trade. It functioned in finding suitable pieces for the clients. To publish books with a scientific demand, but without any field research, about non-European weaving art was beyond its capability. So one has merely picture catalogues with some more or unless unrelated text stuff (Kilim as art, Neolithic pottery and its motives, etc.) or, even worse, just some romantic tapitological thoughts about those weaves.
(jc): It is comical bischof downs the old literature while at the same time committing the same say-nothing approach he presents here.
The empirical phase
(mb): Asking the friendly dealer the next time did not help. As those dealers of above given group 4 had erected a kind of rubber wall against any intruder in order to protect their sources. At about 1980 it was easily possible in Central Anatolia to purchase nice antique kilims from stocks in private houses and it would have been possible to notice even the quarter (mahalle) of a township where the source was. This is important as often tribal groups who settled in the 19th century there had the habit to stick together in such a mahalle. Fragments of kilims or village rugs one could not get from private people: they were ashamed of it. A fragment was for them a textile that cannot be used any longer, has no value then and it would have been a shame to charge money for it. So fragments were introduced into the foreigners market between 1980 and 1985, not earlier, and were significantly cheaper than complete pieces in the so called German condition.
The business in big scale was done with intermediate people, so called pickers. These men regularly checked the available pieces in their district and then moved the merchandize to selected dealers. The competition aimed for motivation of those pickers to come first to the own shop, where the whole bundle could be examined, the primary selection be made. And one could advice the picker to which dealers he might move with the rest of this bundle, and in which row. The art of this business is never ever to let the picker learn about the real value of certain pieces. So one always buys a mixed lot with a price for the total thing. In most cases late, complete, useable pieces where higher paid than important early fragment pieces. In any case it is the picker who definitely knows from which place a certain piece came from. Other sources than buying from private houses I will not discuss here on purpose. The only thing important to know is that these sources as well could theoretically keep the information about the original place where the textile was picked up.
In this situation people who were interested in obtaining a better understanding these textiles, with the hope one later day to establish a corpus of knowledge sufficient to sustain their perception as art, were forced to try this on their own.
(jc): RK was in Anatolia for two months in 1981 and traveled by car from Istanbul down the coast to Bursa and around to Antalya and Alanya then up to Konya and Cappodicia in central Anatolia and then out almost to Erzerum. We met many different types of people who were involved with the carpet and kelim trade and absolutely none of them had any knowledge, empirical or otherwise past the most rudimentary level. This is fact what bischof writes is after the fact arm-chair fiction.
Plus the field work he touts are empirical is far from scientific or even reliable. It is well known by ethnographers and sociologists (RK happens to have a BS degree in sociology with a minor in ethnograhy) villagers will tell a researcher what they want to hear, or worse just nonsense. Interviewing must be very carefully done and We cannot believe Belkis Balpinars comments about the myriad of problems she experienced, though being a woman and being Turkish, in trying to do field research were not encountered in spades by bischof in his supposed efforts. Let him continue to add to this charade.
(mb): My own decision was: in order to look behind this rubber wall it is necessary to be a part of this structure, an insider. So I continued to travel the whole country to collect informations. But anything related to purchase and sell items I did with a Turkish partner.
(jc): Clearly bischof never climbed high enough on the rubber wall to see anything past the end of his nose. Who cares that he bought and sold with a Turkish partner, like this will make him better than others who did it themselves? Fact his he knew little then and what he says today proves he has not progressed very far forward.
(mb): Other people did the same with another perspective, like the mentioned Josephine Powell, whome I visited several times in a year to exchange results. Harald Bhmer did the same, often together with Josephine. Belkis Acar (later Balpinar) and Udo Hirsch collected empirical evidence where they could.
(jc): The fact others listened to the stories villagers told them, made up or fairy tale quality, is meaningless. Villagers circa 1980-to-now have little to no knowledge of the earliest kelim. They have never even seen them. So bischof is spouting worthless nonsense. There is no empirical knowledge in any dealers shop any more than a mud floor village house.
(mb): As a result the Vakiflar Museums kilim and carpet catalogues arose. Both not just picture books: the location of pictured pieces was given and suggestions about the groups that might have created the piece were given. Important: this was in the empirical phase of their work.
(jc): While RK is not going to sully what Balpinar and Hirsch wrote in their catalogs we will say there is little concrete factual information there. The dating is all over the place and in our opinion quite unreliable. The most important fact, where the items were found, ie in what mosque, is interesting but has absolutely no bearing on where any of those weaving were definitely produced. Gifts were given to mosques both by inhabitants living nearby and by those who traveled days or weeks to visit. Again it is not really possible to know anything about an Anatolian kelim or rugs history. But it is possible to know about the physical materials and to art historically study, relate and compare their iconographies. This is the only way to study these weavings. There is nothing else that is as reliable and possible. And bischofs entire argument falls into dust because of this fact.
(mb): In Bergama there was a years long excavation program done with the help of German institutions. Two women who were engaged there who used their free time to travel to areas in NW-Anatolia, moved from village to village, photographed and recorded details they got to know from the villagers, focussing on different flatwoven textiles of formal tribal people there. The book was compiled with the help of Eberhart Ammermann ( 2017) , a great collector with many travels to Turkey.
Steiner, Elisabeth; Pinkwart, Doris; Ammermann, Eberhart (2014). Bergama Heybe ve Torba: Traditional bags of the Yrks in Northwest Anatolia, Observations from 1970 to 2007 / Traditionelle Taschen der Yrken Nordwest-Anatoliens. Beobachtungen in den Jahren zwischen 1970 bis 2007 (in German, English, and Turkish). ISBN 9783000446191.
It is for me one of the highlights of field research in Anatolia. In a short summary it is not possible to mention all names involved in this type of research at the spot, focussing on empirical evidence. Such studies go on until today.
(jc): Again more of the same that has no proof for trying to know a kelim or rugs history. That history will remain untold until some pre-1800 travelogue with drawings of weavings written by someone who knew about them surfaces. Until then field work is guess work when it comes to understanding the earliest weavings.
(mb): The status at about 1990 can be summarized like this:
Kilim weaving is not uniquely distributed in Anatolia. There are gravity centers. At those areas Turcoman tribes have been settled in the 18th and 19th century or in different waves before. With the sedentarization the textiles changed. Where people are settled more than ca. 150 years the kilims were adapted for use in a house rather than in a tent. Where this sedentarization happened early, end of 16th century (Yukari Sakarya Yayla, along the Kızılirmak, for example) one can find very early big and heavy kilims to be used in a house. - So all research points to those people that were closest to the sheep and the ones who handled first their products.
And this means for pursueing kilim and village rug studies:
1. Find those groups
2. Research their movements in history
3. Study their material culture and their socio-cultural environment
4. Research the technical elements of weaves: yarn making, dyeing, weaving technques and structures
5. Find out for what purpose the weaves in question were made for
6. Study and compare the distribution of their imagery (motives and their treatment)
- and then finally discuss critically whether these weaves are art and what measures might be applied for grading them according to their artistical merits.
(jc): This all sounds great for a graduate student to pursue a master or doctorate but in real life it is worthless. There is no factual knowledge empirical or otherwise anywhere in Anatolia to shed light on the earliest kelim weavers and their weavings. Because bischof has no collection, and never will be able to make one of the earliest kelim, he is constantly trying to prove points that are unprovable. They were unprovable yesterday, they are today, and will be tomorrow unless that travelogue or some long lost manuscript with drawings of kelim and carpets ever appears.
(mb):The proposed approach tries to understand kilims and village rugs from the process of its creation and focusses on the people who created them. Opposite to the demand to instantly interprete the left-over residues from some general arts point of view.
(jc): This is laughable, if anything bischofs field work is left over residue but proper historical analysis and the application of scientific lab sciences are the key to knowledge. Going on about art point of view is nonsense as bischof himself is guilty of doing this as well, only poorly and from a semi-ignorant point of view.
(mb): Example given (whether it is invented or real is not topic of this essay)
In the wider Konya plain different Turcoman nomadic groups settled from 1820 - 1880. One particular village was founded in 1865. Of course people built a mosque and donated suitable textiles at various events to it. Now, in 2017, the community decides to sell all old items in order to repair the building and buy newer cheap ready fabrics to substitute them. - One has the chance to document the whole inventory, the majority kilims, followed by some zilis, few carpets. The oldest pieces are about 2 generations older than the foundation date of the mosque. The life span of such textiles used in a nomadic environment is not longer. Scholars may do ethnographic research, find out which groups founded this village, look in old Ottoman archives, study which skills are left... in this case a cerain kilim, as it is, not washed, may be called a A piece according to the integrity of its know fate. If a piece from this convolut is sold into the trade, some cheap uneducated personnel in a wash house damaged it but still its origin is known we may call it a B piece. If it did not sell quick, the knowledge of its origin is lost, the piece is now called Karapınar as this is a better trade mark, after it was moved a lot in the maelstrom of the trade and finally 2-3 late colours were exchanged with yarn from kilim residues (sknt) - then we call it a C piece. If some dealer cry we just learn to know their voice.
(jc): This is gibberish because bischof makes primary assumptions as if they are facts The oldest pieces are about 2 generations older than the foundation date of the mosque. The life span of such textiles used in a nomadic environment is not longer. Both are nonsense and using them as a base bischof destroys any point he might score. He gets a zero for this attempt.
Unhappy intermediate status
(mb): In the beginning of the 80 s there was strong demand for great kilims and heavy competition between advanced collectors. It started to be possible to sell even fragments. The drive was towards the earlier the better. The prices sky-rocketed. But the dream objects were still not sufficiently studied. It was a period of primary accumulation and the prevalent mood was that of gold prospecting. The phrase of the period was most likely top piece. But how to select the top piece amongst others if there are no criteria, as there is no valid corpus of research results and no settled status in the art sciences?
(jc): This happened but not at the beginning of the 80s but rather in the post 1986/7- 1992 time period. Regardless of the fact the best, earliest tiny group of kelim appeared circa 1979 and 1980 and then dried up completely, never to appear again.
(mb): As kilims were fashionable a growing amount of dealers entered the field. The pioneering dealer figures (David Black, Clive Loveless, Michael Franses, Alan Marcuson, Jack Cassin, Bertram Frauenknecht, Klaus Frantz, Gery Muse) got companionship. There was heavy traffic to Turkey from dealers and also from leading collectors, both dreaming of buying from the source, mostly to some shops in Istanbul and Konya.
(jc): Including RK in this list of pioneering dealers is nonsense. RK never sold a kelim or carpet that was sourced in Anatolia or Turkey. Not one.
So, yes, RK was a pioneer collector not as a dealer, something bischof continue to incorrectly and falsely state. Plus he omitted one person who was quite active and instrumental as a dealer Yanni Petsopolous. Again bischofs knowledge of what happened is based on faulty second and third hand information and worse, nonsense gossip.
(mb): Nothing could be more wrong than calling this buying from the source. The amount of materials that local dealers could get by collecting them in villages at the spot was limited, especially for Istanbul based dealers. The whole system depended on pickers who travelled those areas and offered their findings then in a certain row to those dealers. Where a certain textile faced the surface was therefore known in each case, especially with the more important findings. In few cases leading collectors were admitted to visit the real sources.
But the guys in between had to be motived by the perspective to earn good money with early, often battered kilims, especially with fragments. The first guy to kick off an avalanche by buying totally battered fragments was Herwig Bartels, quite well before 1980.
(jc): This is nothing but more bischof myth spinning. Bartels was on the scene but there were others, RK for one, Muse for another. Plus the collection Herwig Bartel amassed was good but surely not great. Bartels missed getting the earliest and best pieces, those got picked up by the American Garry Muse and then RK. The Muse story is a long one and RK was intimately involved with Muse. Enough said for this critique but Bartels was not by any means the collector supremo bischof claims, far from it.
(mb): To him all the mentioned pioneering dealers owe gratefulness. Without his impact they would not have got later early pieces, plus, important to mention that: a big lot of pieces that were not early but just looked so. As a prominent collector later put it: hippie dealers with 5 minutes knowledge advance over their customers. No wonder: if one does not know the country, the background, the basics of making weaves and even the language to communicate at the spot there are no standards to evaluate what has been found, except the happenstance impression of somehow early, which rules the market until today. 
(jc): No one owes anything to Bartels in fact Bartels owes to others, RK included. RK was quite friendly with Bartels and shared much of the information with him, and others. RK visited his place in Bonn and saw his collection several times. We were not impressed, but he was impressed with ours. In fact, when he finally realized RKs kelim would never be for sale our relationship deteriorated and quickly ended unpleasantly when Bartels presented information he got from RK as his own without ever crediting our input. So much for the great collector Herwig Bartels.
This is the best kelim Bartels managed to acquire; Classic period; published 100 Kilims; Plate 42
This kelim and a Yuncu were the two best Anatolian kelim in the Bartels collection. This one is now owned by a collector in Germany and the Yuncu is hanging in Bartels riad, that is now a hotel, in Marrakesh, Morocco.
(mb): As a result there many people who frequently travelled to Turkey but never had the opportunity to explore the country, not to mention doing field research. The knowledge was limited to some shops. Though nearly everybody in the trade romanticzed nomads only Josephine Powell and Harald Bhmer tried serious field work at the spot.
(jc): To not include Belkis Balpinar and udo hirsch here is absurd. Again bischofs personal animosities color his reportage. And just a sentence about Josephine Powell. RK had the opportunity to speak with her at length several times for several hours each time and while she was a character and passionate about Anatolia and her life there as a photographer, personality and kelim collector frankly she knew little about early Anatolian kelim. Her collection proves it. Nice pieces but not one early great one.
(mb): While the hunt for the hardware was hefty there was a serious lack of software for interpreting and grading the items found. A kind of unhealthy tension between both could be sensed. The need for some new ideas was kind of in the air. One should understand in addition that there was a smooth transition between scholars and dealers in this moment.
There was a demand for some fresh ideas that would fit to the real knowledge status of mentioned groups and required not more than studying the found artifacts as they were plus read some books. No field work, no learning of the basics (wool, yarn making, dye making, historical geography, ethnography). Exciting, but vague. Sounding scientifical, but communicable to the customers.
(jc): Here is bischof donning his salesman cap. Lets all remember he once circa 1984/5 had a gallery selling Anatolian kelim and rugs that soon failed miserably and went out of business. It was reviewed nicely by Bartels in that rag hali issue 25, 1985. Any wonder bischof worships Bartels? Lets all also remember bischof was trying to sell, and still is, his services as a consultant to important collectors of Anatolian weavings. And bischofs offering to provide certificates to bona fida pieces with criteria only he knows and will not communicate to others. Of course there is a charge for those certificates. So any wonder he writes the above as a come-on and lead-in to his becoming a consultant?
The era of bold theories
(mb): In this situaton some publications got a lot of international attention.
James Mellaart, Udo Hirsch, Belkis Balpinar: The goddess from Anatolia. Milano 1989, Eskenazi,. Vol. 1-4
- A critique by Martha Mallett - this refers mainly to the problem whether the cited artefacts are genuine. It is no intellectual dissection of the underlying concept.
The basic claim is: these kilims are of Anatolian neolithic origin.
(jc): To state this is the basic claim of the Goddess from Anatolia shows bischof never bothered to crack the covers, nor does he even probably own a copy himself. The thesis of this book is that there are Anatolian kelim with certain designs, which are 9,000 and more years old. It is a book about continuity, not Goddesses and kelim as Bischof and others equally as ignorant keep misrepresenting. There is nothing specious about this, nor is it refutable. Yes, Mellaarts newly reconstructed drawings are most probably bogus but that does not blemish the rest of the book. Both Balpinar and hirschs sections stand alone without Mellaarts drawings. RK should know, we were the instigator of this project and the original publisher. RK has in great detail explained what happened and why we ended up not publishing it and instead wrote and published IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: Ancient Anatolian Kelim in 1989. More below
(mb): This particular tradition survived in remote areas of Anatolia some thousands of years and was at the end copied by later arrivals in Turkey. The real artists are the yerli, the settled part of the population, the Turcoman nomadic people have just an epigonic relation to this ons old magical textile art.
To shorten a long journey: the authors and their fanboys were never able to present factual evidence for this theory. Some convincing similarities do not help at all. For an evolution type of hypothesis one has to prove an uninterrupted chain of pieces of evidence. It contradicts the above shown geographical and ethnical distribution of weaving in Turkey. Udo Hirsch and Belkis Balpinar know it. This mother goddess hypothesis is a 180 turn to their own previous field work. Therefore Josephine Powell, among many authors, rejected it as being a construct invented for heating kilim sales.
(jc): The fact bischof sees bogeymen who are only interested in sales behind the problematic nature of the Goddess from Anatolia is ridiculous. Mellaarts mistakes are a glaring problem but the fact there is a relationship of Neolithic imagery and that found on Anatolian kelim, which were woven in the same approximate area where those Neolithic artefacts were discovered, is undeniable and very interesting. The goddess theory many Anatolian kelim collectors were fed by certain dealers is another story but that was the commercial side of something bischof is trying to approach from the academic, intellectual side. Some of his reasoning might be correct but it still does not nullify the basic premise of the Goddess from Anatolia. And it surely does not do that to Image Idol Symbol where no questionable reconstructions appear and the only objects illustrated and published have positive archaeological history and facts behind them.
Our contribution to this debate:
(mb):At about 1990, in the middle of this heated debate, we arrange a workshop event in the house of Anette Rautenstengel, arranged by the Teppichfreunde Nordrhein-Westfalen, Chairman Dietmar Pelz, to present our view. Our means: 2 students, one of Turkology and Ethnography, one of Geography, speaking Turkish, with several longer experiences in Anatolia including lengthy contacts to village women, who could comb and spin the wool, and me. Jasmin Hofmacher, Michaela Khnert and I have developed a total different hypothesis about the origin of those motives, but this will not be illustrated here: these motives are ideograms stemming from the neolithic introduction of agriculture and are nearly worldwide distributed. My contribution was analysis of designs including some ad-hoc-demonstations plus. The audience got suprised when I stated that and why results of the upcoming neurobiological explanations for recognizing patterns would be unavoidable in textile art research. That was 1990. Sometimes one has to wait quite long till prophecies come true, so to say, but as of 13.6.2017 one may have a look here:http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(17)30538-X - to see the latest progress in that area.
(jc) RK has no comment other than this sounds like another oujji board parlor game. Neurobiology is not exactly a science and in the hands of a poseur and hypester like bischof we doubt it will achieve any traction or notoriety as anything but a parlor game.
(mb): Cassin, Jack: Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kilims. New York: Jack Cassin, 1989.
A very nicely produced opus in 2 volumes about 9 kilims, of which 5 or 6 are indeed early kilims. It was impossible for me to review it as at no single spot there is a statement that is definite and nails down the authors opinion. It is a kind of parody of art dealers argot: ...if one sees this motive .... and compares it with this... then one might feel tempted to compare it with..., this type of bla bla. More or less the authors mind flies in the direction of Mellaart/Hirsch/Balpinar. The pestiferous use of the term iconographic without a single proof makes the handsome booklet difficult to digest and enjoy.
(jc): RK seriously doubt if bischof has ever read our book. Had he the comments he makes would then be total lies, as there are a number of solid proofs for the thesis certain Anatolian kelims have icon which can be traced directly back to their appearances in Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeological objects. Lumping my book in with the Goddess from Anatolia, and misrepresenting it as well, is also completely incorrect. There are only verified archaeological objects pictured and referenced in the text. It is beyond a doubt bischof is a proven liar and distorter of facts, and his comments about RKs Anatolian kelim publication, our collection and ongoing research are nothing but more innuendo and factless assertion.
(mb): The author Jack Cassin now, in private mails to this author from 20.6.2017, puts the following claims:
About Herwig Bartels: He used my information and presented it publicly without even mentioning he got it from me. Information means in this context the idea that the motives of kilims were developed within Anatolia proper.
Bertram Frauenknecht was his student and he, Cassin, introduced him to Mellaart. He was also the person who selected the best pieces in the Frauenknecht book of that time.
My book IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL was published many months before the GODDESS FROM ANATOLIA, and I was the person who organized and started Mellaart, Balpinar and Hirsch to write that book.
(jc) Yes, all of this is true but even though RK sent bischof a copy of frauenknechts Anatolian Kelim book where he signed it To Jack Cassin friend and teacher bischof refuses to accept this as fact. He claims frauenknecht was scoffing and did not mean what he wrote. What asinine BS.
Title page of "Anatolische Kelim" inscribed by author Bertram frauenknecht to RK friend and teacher
(mb); The second part I do not buy. That in 1981, when Jack Cassin went first to Turkey, Bertram Frauenknecht could have been his student is a ridiculous megalomaniac claim to me.
(jc) Again this is bischof talking from no direct knowledge and only hearsay gossip that is worthless and totally incorrect. In 1981 frauenknecht knew little to nothing about early Anatolian kelim or village rugs and he was totally interested in being with RK to learn whatever he could. And RK already owned the 9 early kelim in our book. This is why frauenknecht went to Istanbul with RK because he knew we knew far more than he.. The story is already published and bischofs refusal to believe it is but another example of his lack of knowledge and honesty. (http://rugkazbah.com/boards/records.php?refnum=1926&id=1926 ).
(mb): Though both persons most likely have been at the begin of their learning curve concerning Anatolian kilims then.
(jc): But this statement takes the cake for idiocy, as in 1981 RK already owned the 9 kelim in the Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian kelim publication and were RK or anyone at the beginning of any learning curve owning such a collection completely and instantly demolishes that idea. It is true, however, about frauenknecht -- bischof is correct there.
(mb): Frauenknecht most likely being slightly ahead, as he had published Anatolian Prayer Kilims in 1978.
(jc): The collection of prayer kelim in that book first of all belonged to someone else, not frauenknecht. But more significantly for this discussion not one of those kelim was early or anything better than what was available elsewhere. Plus there is no text or any ideas presented. Its a picture book of good but not outstanding prayer kelim, none of which is remarkable in any degree. But for bischof to state publishing that book put frauenknecht ahead of RK is just more RK hating like the rest of the complete garbage about RK that litters bischofs attempts to prove himself a kelim pundit, forget the expert word.
(mb): As I was a beginner in 1981, by the way. - The other claims I will not comment. This whole bulk of theories claiming an uninterrupted descent of the basic kilim motives within Anatolia from the Anatolian Neolithic is at no point (as of today) substantiated and restricted to compare similiarities which is outright childish. Example: I leave the house in Augsburg in Southern Germany on clear weather and see the Alpine mountains. Most of them appear as a triangle. So the proof is there that the people who erected the pyramides were from Augsburg? Therefore I find it absolutely unimportant who once got the first (nonsense) thought of it? Cassin? Bartels? Mellaart? Hirsch? Rageth?
(jc): Admitting he was a beginner in 1981 is one of the few truthful and irrefutable statements bischof makes. However, he cut it short, he still is a beginner, whose progress has been marred and prevented by his refusal to see the truth and quit believing the fairy tales he consistently mouths ad infinitum.
(mb): The inherent trouble with such a scheme is not even mentioned. 
The proposed schema of periodication (archetype, classic period, commercial period etc.) is an aspect that got a warm welcome from dealers. Understandably! The antique dealers desperatedly need a scientifically sounding serious statement that all really good weaves stopped to occur after a certain date so excellence can be found only - with them. Uninformed themselves nobody cried alarm when in the discussion of nomadic flatweaves the term commercial period was proposed. Which is utter nonsense: most likely many member of such communities worked sometime in the frame of producing commercial (made for sale) rugs as yarn makers or weavers but these collectible kilims, zilis, cuvals etc. were simply made for their own material culture and used within that, never ever made for to be sold.
The whole thing with these publications boiled down to a kind of advanced marketing effort to sell those textiles: the books, the (Internet only!) artificial Weaving Art Museum, not for sale but offered several times in reality, the same schmock that most collectors know from some dealers. Not for sale - my private collection type of entertainment.
(jc): Even after being sent proof the Weaving Art Museum is not anything artificial and is a government recognized public charity bischof continues to refuse to accept the truth. This is not his only problem and RK is tired of proving his statements, like those just above, are anything but trash talking bullshit.
(mb): As these bold theories could never find further substantiation, we all just learnt that making weaves is much older than previously thought, they had no lasting effect on kilim studies after a lot of hot initial debates.
(jc): There is no serious or real Anatolian kelim studies other than what RK believe we have done alone, and on our own. The jurg rageth c14 debacle, of which bischof is a proponent (that figures), accomplished nothing. The deYoung Museum has done absolutely nothing to further knowledge of their great collection. So if mr michael bischof believes there are kelim studies his work surely could never be conceived as part of any such effort.
(mb): The stimulus had no happy end, the discussion never had a result on which all sides agreed, it just rot off. Some of those pieces are not yet sold.
As the necessary basic skills for such weaves are still available in Anatolia the proof of the pudding (of the concept that I favour) would be to create some replicas sensu strictu, so good that people would accept that the process of creating is sufficiently understood.
(jc): There already are unscrupulous dealers in Anatolia making fakes but so far their production efforts fall far short of anything that even resembles an early great example. Plus bischof is an idiot to suggest such a thing could be faked. This shows he does not have a clue about what an early Anatolian kelim is really all about.
(mb):Whether it is art or not remains an eternal question. As art should always have some secret or magic.
(jc): The Art of the Anatolian Kelim is one book michael bischof could never and will never write. Nor would he even understand it if someone did write it and put it in his lap.
(mb):  In order to set up a meaningful periodization scheme one first has to sort known kilims according to their age, as it was determined by scientifical means (C14 dating, indicator dyes) and add all auxilliary information about them (where was it found? Which groups inhabited that place at what time?) into it. In other terms: a calibration tool. All further interpretations depend totally on the reliability of this time scale.
After this is done one can start to analyse the historical evolution of single motives and try to build up universally valid conclusions, for underlying patterns in the use of colours etc. , always in accordance with this calibration tool.
By the way: no one knows today how old weft-faced flatweaves are, whether they started at a certain area or whether they were invented anew, independant from each other, in different regions. With confidence one can say in 2017 that those Anatolian kilims (and similar weaves) of nomadic origin represent only a small section of woollen flatweaves. Their historical origin is still unknown. After getting settled this traditon weakened and stopped completely with the mechanization of agriculture in Turkey, 1970 ff.
(jc): More wind from windbag bischof. And when you hear or read anyone heralding c14 as reliable method for dating Anatolian kelim and village rugs smile and make tracks in the opposite direction. C14 is useless for dating them thanks to the hundreds of years of contamination they have experienced and the lack of any standardized protocol to remove it. This is the problem and why the procedure is worthless for early kelim and pile carpets. The rest of his suggestions boil down to opinionated pseudo-proofs that have no basis in science, and are even less definable and reliable than comparative art historic analysis.
(mb):  The capital punishment in many case is to cite somebody without any alteration so he would have to admit: this is me in my own language. Jack Cassin has today written 2 private mails to claim corrections to the above written text - and he has given to me the permission to publish them. I will not further comment it
Michael: you seem to have a serious problem with telling the truth, and double that for anything about me:
1. you did not include me in the 'pioneering figures you list which is ridiculous, as i started GARRY Muse off in dealing REAL GENUINE early kelims. He learned from me so at least get it straight. Plus I was instrumental in marcuson's knowledge and introduced him to Muse and they then became partners.
2. I met frauenknecht in 1980 in the textile museum ICOC in Washington and he slept on the couch in my suite at the hotel so he could hang out with me and learn about kelim and early rugs. The collection he published in the prayer kelim book belonged to stolp fraser but so what there is not one early piece in there. So frauenknecht, like muse, owe their beginning in the Anatolian kelim game to me. I sent you the signed frauenknecht black book title page where he wrote "TO JACK CASSIN FRIEND AND TEACHER" so quit your nonsense and tell the truth if you are going to bother to tell it at all. I do not need you to sing my praises but if you are going to mention me do it honestly and truthfully. I am resending the frauenknecht book page jpg.
3. IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: it is NOT about 9 kelim it is 9 kelims, why write "about"?4. And what do not you buy? i sent you, and am resending, the autographed front page of the Goddess from Anatolia where Mellaart wrote "TO JACK CASSIN WHO STARTED IT ALL" i was the publisher and organized the project. I already wrote you what I decdied to do and why, so quit the bullshit, bischof, and tell the truth, not some fractured fairy tale or backhanded bullshit like you did now and continue to do.
5. Need more proof? go call frauenknecht and ask him whose idea that little back book was, and who picked the best pieces. And why he wrote I was his teacher?
you always act poorly, so is it any surprise why i do not treat you well?
go change what you again falsify...you constantly accuse me of lying and never prove it but YOU are lying all the time and I prove it to you...
straighten up, pup, for the last time"
Michael: bartels had no early kelim before 1980
my collection was already in my hands and finished
you are full of shit bitchoff, you are jackhater and a moronyou lie about me every opportunity you get
fuck you , your mother and your sisters
you are a dumb bastard and when i am thru with you no one will even bother to read your shit, even the few idiots who do now
got that, douchebag
(jc): To those strong words let me add RK is willing to have a head to head discussion with bischof about his ideas and ours on rugkazbah.com but bischof claims he tried and his words were edited and changed. This is nonsense as everything he ever posted is still there. In the first several weeks there was a server glitch and some posts and thread were lost and never recovered. But that never happened again and bischof is just afraid to go one on one with us as we will destroy his foolish ideas and prove how little he knows about these weavings.