Three soumak khorjin: Left ex-Eberhart Herrmann/rudnick sold at auction for $33,500; Middle: the purported other half scheduled to be sold this November at rippon-boswell lot 54; Right: a similar but decidedly inferior later copy alleged to have been sold in a San Francisco Bay Area shop for $37,500
Long ago, in fact on Nov. 30, 2002 RK profiled and discussed the soumak khorjin on the left in a post entitled Cute Animals Do Not a Great Soumak Make. Much of that commentary is shown below.
And several other times we have pictured and mentioned that khorjin so we do not feel it necessary to revist what has already been said. However, the scheduled auction of what is purported to be the other half next month prodded us into taking another brief swat or two at it.
When the late copy on the right appeared it, too, was the subject of an RK article.
That one published on May 22, 2017 and titled Soumak Khorjin sells for $37,500--allegedly... can be read in the Hot Button Issues Topic Area on our discussion board.
From the get-go, as you will read when RK first commented, we have not at all gone as ga-ga over these khorjin as many others apparently have.
Reading our comments below it becomes clear why.
All said and done, however, we are pretty sure the upcoming sale will produce another outstanding price. But if the green color of the khorjin's major border is as washed-out as it appears in the pictures we have seen, we then doubt it will sell for more than around 20,000usd, if that.
But all bets are off if in fact a late and rather boring khorjin, like the one on the right in the first picture comparsion above, did in fact sell for 37,500usd, as even with a washed out green major border the up and coming to auction rippon example is far surperior. And on that basis alone it could kited way upwards towards 40,000usd or more should the same or other equally hot to trot buyers make the scene on sale day.
We plan to comment again after the coming sale, so stay tuned
CUTE ANIMALS DONT A GREAT SOUMAK MAKE
first published Nov. 30 2002
Another comparison Alfred E. Wendorf, aka Mr Mambo, squeeked about was between a soumak bag in a Herrmann catalog
and one that is now on loan to the Weaving Art Museum and pictured in the soumak exhibition.
Weaving Art Museum
The Herrmann example was purchased about 15 years ago by an American wife/husband collector team, aka the 'rugniks', and presumably is still in their 'collection'.
For us it is 'sensational' but lacks real connection to the tradition.
It is a pastiche.
While the other bag is far more quiet and subdued, - it's design doesn't scream "look at me" but rather seduces the viewer's attention gradually. It is, in a manner of speaking the prototype of the herrmann piece.
After a few minutes of looking at it you've seen it all while the longer the Weaving Art Museum(WAMRI) example is studied, the more interesting and evocative it becomes.
Check this out for yourself.
Let's examine several details of these soumaks that prove my point but before doing this let me state the following as I have examined both bags :
They both have exceptional coloration - the broad green main border of the 'rugnik' bag is exceptional - but the WAMRI soumak has a broader range of colors - light blue, the same green, pumkin orange, crisp yellow - which are not apparent in the photos seen here.
Plus its color balance doesnt overpower the design, as is the case in the rugnik' piece, which by the way has a number of other deficiencies.
One place to look for clues to prove the 'rugnik' bag is a later copy and the WAMRI example was its prototype is in the medallions, which though they appear the 'same' actually aren't.
The WAMRI medallion is an eight pointed one, made by placing a square within a square at a 90 degree angle, with perfect proportions that are hypnotic.
While the 'rugnik' bag's simplified rectangular one barely hints at this feature and the loss of visual power is clearly the result..
Also the medallion's positioning also fails in comparison to the other bag's proportions, especially in regard to its medallion's position that has the effect of focusing the viewer's attention towards and into the medallion.
This again is lacking in the other piece
The borders that frame the medallions are different, the 'rugnik's a simple zig-zag compared to the more complex motif and wider border on the WAMRI piece. This feature again focuses attention into the center of the design.
Notice the elements inside the 'rugnik' medallion are all somewhat squashed they are not nearly as distinct and potent as those in the WAMRI piece.
But for me the differences in the 4 small medallions that surround the central one says it all. Those in the 'rugnik' bag are a pastiche of design that I personally find gross and out of place while the WAMRI ones are traditional, complex and definitely an integral part of the design.
Actually the others were assembled from the WAMRI ones.
I could go on but this is a boring exercise as the rugnik bag will, I am sure no matter what I demonstrate, appeal to most novices as the more interesting, ie. better, of the two. However anyone who is well versed in the traditional weaving cultures of the Caucasus will have little doubt the WAMRI bag is far superior.
Those cutesy animals in the border of the rugnik bag are flash and naively, aka amateurishly, rendered and the four small medallions above and below the central one are likewise amorphous, meaningless patterns devoid of iconography or history. This bag tries to hard but in the end says nothing.
On the other hand the WAMRI soumak epitomizes the art of soumak - it is perfect both in it conception, execution and most important, its connection to a viable historical continuum.
Just one last comment: the minor borders on the rugnik bag are a simple zig-zag but on the WAMRI example a unique and complex motif has been used. Remember complexity that is contrived is meaningless but when it is brilliant in its execution, like it is here, it adds another layer of dimension that can be appreciated even by those whose eyes are untrained but open.