Anatolian kelim half panel formerly exhibited by harry koll and sabine steinbock in Duisberg, Germany in 2011 and pictured in the catalog called Color of my Dreams
Very soon after RK raised our eyebrows and suspicions about this kelim the purported other half appeared on faRcebook.
The alleged other half
It was posted by a collector who said he had purchased it in 1993 from the Voloder Gallery, which at that time did business in Salzburg, Austria. The collector stated he was told about a supposed other half that was fragmented. He also added several years later he sold his half, having retained the posted pictures.
This collector claims his half was 100 percent genuine and old. More important to this tale he is as sure RK is wrong about about the other half, the one pictured at the top above which we have raised authenticity questions.
He initially said he actually saw and examined this half several years after he acquired and sold his half.
So in his mind and others it is now "Case closed". In fact, these are the very words he wrote -- case closed, both these kelim panels are genuine, old and were originally a pair.
At first, since we know this collector and have faith in his ability to tell the real thing from a fake, we admittedly thought we had jumped to an incorrect conclusion about the kelim in question.
However, almost immediately the collector's story began to change and unravel. First he publicly backtracked and said he is not really exactly sure where or when he saw the other half. He then said this might have been at another, earlier, koll/steinbock kelim exhibition that was held in Duisberg, Germany in 2011.
He also stated to us privately a major part of his belief these kelim are genuine and old is the fact these kelim cannot be fakes because in 1993 no one in Turkey was making fake kelims.
Immediately upon hearing these statements we decided our original suspicions and doubts were correct. And that's where we are at.
Here are our reasons why.
Number one while we recognize this collector is knowledgeable today we surely cannot and will not vouch for his expertise in 1993, 24 years ago.
Number two the fact he cannot remember where and when he saw the other half he did not own puts serious question marks on and around his blanket statement it is the mate to his, and they both are genuine.
Number three it is NOT a fact no one was making fake kelim in 1993. This was true in 1980 when RK went to Turkey but 13 years later the kelim market had matured enough to spawn a small but growing cottage industry reusing wool from damaged and discarded kelim to fashion new ones that both looked earlier and sometimes benefited by having been artifically aged.
Number four it seems more than circumstantial one of these two kelim panels, and the other one, below, in the latest koll and steinbock kelim show in northern Bavaria, Germany, both belonged to them.
Good, but not good enough fake Anatolian kelim half panel exhibited in the latest koll and steinbock show in northern Bavaria.
Number five the design of this kelim and the two halves shown above are all very atypical, in fact they are unknown in any other examples. This is reason enough to question them, as just about every kelim design type exists as more than one example. Most have a number of copies of various ages making it possible to construct art historical continuum that can be used to compare expression of their particular iconography as well as to assign relative dating.
Number six is the very unusual abraded surface the kelim in the latest koll/steinbock show, and to a lesser degree both halves of the other kelim, display. RK has handled and studied far more than a few hundred old Anatolian kelim and can confidently state this type of damage rarely if ever is seen in genuinely early Anatolian kelim and is far more associated with fakes and later kelim that are articically aged to increase their sales potential to nave and untrained, non-expert, buyers.
Number seven is the extreme design/pattern differences the two similar half kelim panels show when compared. Differences like the number of three fingered hands in each of the three colored sections. Notice there are six, then six, then five in the ex-koll/steinbock half; and five, then five, then four in the collectors ex-half. Also his half has a quite rich and excellent orange color in an area in the right most part, which is not repeated or echoed in the koll/steinbock half. These differences are, like the other six points we have already noted and other we will add, all circumstantial none being in itself a smoking gun of proof. However, taken together they point more than a sliver of doubt, actually we feel taken ensemble they are undeniable evidence all three of these kelim panels are recent fakes and reproduction artist creations.
Number seven when the collector described his purchase and his memory of the other half he told us they both had very fine weft and very fine weaving in many places. This very fine spinning, plying and structure is of course found in some early Anatolian kelim but it is also a dead give away for certain types of fakes where old wool has been taken from damaged and discarded kelims, as well as carpets, cut-up and then recarded and respun for use in fakes. The lack of the original long staple wool hindering spinning and forcing spinners to more tightly spin the reused raw wool to keep it from readily unraveling. Also the extremely obvious color abrash could be a feature of an early kelim but it likewise could be a sign of recent production, the many different shades of red the result of this wool processing and reuse. The red color being the predominate one used in most old kelim.
Number eight are the two large block areas of yellow color, something that is also virtually unknown in any genuinely early kelim. And while RK has not seen any of these three half kelim panels in person, and it is impossible to really judge colors from any type of photograph, digital, paper or printed, we can categorically state we have never seen any shade of yellow used in such large quantity in any kelim except the vulture kelim in the deYoung museum collection and the later copy of it formerly in the Vok collection.
Number nine all three of these kelim half panels have absolutely no ancillary motif/elements woven, loom embroidered or embroidered on them. This is another highly unusual, and virtually non-existent, piece of evidence that puts them into question when compared to hundred of known and published early examples. This empty early look they have also raises questions, even though at first glance it makes them appear early we know of no other early Anatolian kelim that are even similar, forget exactly like, them.
Number ten and last is the disparity between the early look of their open, very modern and contemporary field design and the far later look of the iconography in their elem end panels. Once again this is not bankable evidence but taken with the other nine points we raise can be considered as more than just coincidence or chance.
So, in fact, it is not case closed these three Anatolian kelim panels are genuine and old but rather RKs suspicions, and branding them as fakes, appears to be far more likely and probable.
We are 99.9 percent positive they are fakes and will be glad if one day we get the opportunity to examine them in person. And rest assured should and when that opportunity arises we will then be able to provide more concrete support for our position.
But for now we challenge any of the supporters these three keleim panels are genuine and old to first attempt to discount our points above and then provide their own to support their contra-position.
We will also be glad to wager no one will do anything of the sort, at best they will only continue to talk trash, and worse try to denegrate RK with slanderous remarks they hope will hide their inabilities to prove themselves able and expert enough to build a case to support their position.