A Long, Long Way Down
very early Classic Period Anatolian kelim panel from the Murad Mengalli collection gifted to textile museum, Washington, D.C. It's the best, the earliest, most beautiful and most important in Mengalli's collection, at least the part he gave to the textile museum. The other half of his stash was gifted to the museum in Istanbul and is as yet unpublished.
The current issue #199 of that rag hali is out and all RK can say is its a long way down, with apparently more to go.
We are not going to waste precious time debunking, rebuking or ridiculing every statement we found worthy of such condemnation. We will, however, mention a few of more objectionable.
Over the past few decades this magazine, which in its founding days and several decades later used to be a journal of antique carpets However, for quite some time it has has morphed, or should we say disfigured itself, into what it self-describes as one of antique carpets, textiles and Islamic art.
Thats a broad purview, one that has been necessitated not by any editorial choice but economic ones. There just aint enough carpet collectors to justify printing this rag. So the myopic and proven piss-poor business sense of the owner,michael franses, believes better try to appeal to a wider audience than face the fact this magazine is a nothing but a rotting dead carcass.
So much for its phony ethos, which is made unmistakeningly apparent by devoting this issues cover to a Japanese textile (what does this have to do with Islamic art) and a number of articles which have nothing to do with that published rubric.
But lets dig deeper into what appears between this issues glossy covers.
The editor, ben evans, after almost three decades working in this field still cannot say anything original, innovative or even interesting. His editorial recounts how he first became interested in rugs and textiles.
Were his journey insightful or captivating readers might be engaged. But who could give a damn as his route to the carpet and textile world, and employment therein, is about as enlightening as listening to your neighbors trip to the garbage dump, and about as meaningful.
Evans is a serious dolt, and he proves it everytime his name appears in print. Lord knows what he says in private, as RK would rather hit our thumb with a hammer than be privy to bens mutterings about any subject, particularly carpets.
Enough of evans, onward and downward
Since Anatolian slittapestry, aka kelim, are a major interest, RK could not possibly pass up the opportunity to demonstrate how pathetic and deficient the author of a featured article Primarily a nomads art, ali reza tuna, shows himself to be. Include here editor evans, and his boss michael franses, who OKed this lopsided mess for publication.
The article critiques a recent review, which appeared in the last issue, of an Anatolian kelim exhibition and accompanying catalog of the Murad Megalli collection at the textile museum in Washington D.C.
The catalog tries to advance the notion most if not all of these tapestries, not only ones in the exhibit, are Turkmen weavings.
This idea is absurd beyond belief and while the review in the last issue clearly states this, and some reasons to refute it, dumbell ali reza tuna, like the catalogs author, tries unsuccessfully to revive and breathe life into its corpse.
This misguided interpretation is nothing new. In the middle 1980s proponents, particularly Josephine Powell who ammassed a collection of mediocre Anatolian kelim, also tried to use it to white-wash and eridcate any ideas an indigenous, long pre-existing Anatolian civilization, and not migrant Turkmen tribes, was responsible.
Mr tuna foolishly states arguments against the catalogue authors(sic) perception of the Anatolian kilim as a nomadic art are mostly based on Mellaart, Hirsch and Balpınars The Goddess from Anatolia (1989), which has been largely discredited for its reliance on James Mellaarts strongly disputed drawings of supposed Neolithic wallpaintings at Catal Hyk in order to prove his fanciful myth of the origin of Anatolian kilim iconography.
To call this dumber than dumb gives reza tuna too much credit. Where has this Anatolian kelim moron been living? In a cave with Osama? Yessshhh, what a dope.
Sure James Mellaarts fabrications are a huge part of the Goddess from Anatolia. We, more than anyone else, know this since we were the original organizer of the project and the person who brought it into being.
However, we did bail out before publication on account of Mellaarts folly.
We do agree with reza tuna Belkis Balpinars text is the only worthwhile part. But the issue of the origins of the Anatolian kelim oeuvre is far larger than anything framed by the Goddess of Anatolia.
After we bailed out we published our text, which was originally to appear therein, as a stand alone work Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kelim. It has absolutely nothing to do with suspect and fraudulent Mellaart drawings or conclusions.
Our text makes abundantly clear there was an ancient Anatolian culture that existed long before any Turkmen walked or rode into Anatolia. And this culture is responsible for the historic weaving culture that taught and enculturated countless generations of Anatolian kelim weavers.
Its these weavers, both nomadic and settled, who are responsible for the earliest masterpieces of Anatolian kelim art and directly and indirectly equally responsible for the hundreds and thousands of subsequently later examples.
Calling reza tuna a luddite turko-moron for his inability to acknowledge this fact is absolutely warranted.
There is no doubt many later Anatolian kelim were woven by Turkmen groups, as recent field work demonstrates. But this does not change the absolute fact there was an indigenous, far more ancient, Anatolian kelim weaving culture that taught them, and not the other way around.
We proved this in our Anatolian Opus, which can be found here:
There is, however, another smoking gun reza tuna and other supporters of the Turkmen are responsible for most Anatolian kelim hypothesis refuse to acknowledge. There are no Turkmen slit-tapestry, ie kelim, weavings that could possibly have been the impetus and origin of their supposed kelim productions. In fact there are no even later ones, not one. Turkmen did not use slit-tapestry technique, so where and how, pray tell, did they suddenly become the source and origin of the Anatolian kelim?
Of course they could not have, and did not. Dopes like reza tuna are trying to spin a myth that has about as much substance as Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster.
RK has had some contact with reza tuna and that is how we learned he is intending to publish a book of his kelim collection and research. We truly look forward to cutting his half-baked ideas to shreds.
Moving right along we also need to mention the happy-face review of the Poppmeier auction written by Birgit Vo, whoever she is.
According to that rag hali it was a success Both the collector and auctioneer were satisfied, with over 83% of the lots sold,
Fact is we will bet every lot was sold for less, many far less, than Poppmeier paid, and lets remember he bought these around 30 years ago.
Sorry but this does not equate to anything any collector would be satisfied with unless like Poppmeier the money that was lost was completely meaningless. Nor anything that resembles success on any account..
But no such loss was part of rippon-boswells 30 plus% cut. That was all profit for them regardless how much the collector lost.
The article pictures the highest grossing lot, #35, and echoes the catalogs 18th century date. We discussed it here:
and we seriously doubt it is any earlier than early 19th century based on an earlier, related, real masterpiece Anatolian saf kelim we once owned.
Central Anatolian saf kelim, mid-18th century, ex-RK collection; unpublished
As you can see this is a scan of a polarid but even in such low resolution its features are clear enough to support our dating.
There are a number of clues to support it, perhaps a comparison of the major borders is the easiest and most readily apparent.
Paddle wavers and successful bidders at both Poppmeier sales, and those a Voks, got some good kelim but no great ones. Forget any masterpieces or archetype.
In our opinion these sales were no coups for anyone involved, regardless of the glowing praises that rag halis numberous articles have touted.
Moving right along, we cannot avoid mentioning the annoncement of a coming, supposedly real icoc event planned take place in Amsterdam, Netherlands in August 2020. Likewise, we cannot avoid to decry the theme and major exhibition will be carpets in paintings a subject so well rehearsed it makes professional WWE wrestling appear to be Stanislavskis method acting.
Sweet Jesus in heaven cant the icoc grand pooh-bahs and their leader michael franses do anything more original and innovative?
Carpets in paintings might have been cutting-edge scholarship in rugDUMB in 1910 but in 2020 it is nothing but old, moth-bitten, boring and droll.
Doubtless rugDUMBs total failure to attract a new generation of aficionados, and the huge slump in prices for all but the cheapest or the most expensive examples, can be laid dirrectly in the lap of the cretins, like franses, dodds, borelevi, denny, swan, etc
These and all the other stupid, self-serving icoc head honchos deserve, in our opinion, to be burned at the stake for their ineptitude, feckless incompetence and gross deriliction of intellect.
Heres the annoncement which appears in this issue:
ICOC XIV Amsterdam 2020 The Local Organising Committee for the next International Conference on Oriental Carpets (ICOC XV) has announced that the event is now scheduled for Amsterdam in summer 2020 (5-11 August). The primary venue for the conference, which will have a special focus on Carpets in Paintings, will be the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) on Mauritskade, while the venue for a major carpet exhibition and a carpet fair will be the Jewish Historical Museum (JHM) on Nieuwe Amstelstraat.
Quick bit of advice for any prospective dealers who are thinking about participating in the proposed fair. Dont. You will waste time, energy, and money. Better to consign to a good auction than try to peddle you weavings to the (guaranteed) small crowd of attendees, who will be harried and distracted by events and far from the mood to open their wallets.
The last item we will mention, but Lord knows there are others, is the auction price guide comments concerning lot 71 in the second dispersal sale of the ronnie newman inventory.
lot 71 skinner auction: December 9th 2018, ronnie newman inventory sold for 14,000 usd
We have already devoted some energy discussing this fragment and for readers who have not seen our thoughts they can be found here;
According to RK this is a Baluch weaving. It is not Anatolian, and absolutely none of the supposed arguments it is make any sense. Below is the latest attempt from this issue. Our comments in bold type where pertinent.
This spectacular Anatolian fragment demonstrates the conviction with which idiosyncratic New Jersey collector/dealer Ronnie Newman engaged the market when he believed in a piece.
Conviction? Believed in a piece? Please now you white-washing clowns. He paid more than twice as much for it in 2001 than it sold for 17 years later.
And lets all remember todays market for fragments has catapulted prices many times what they were back then.
These facts prove newmans beliefs and convictions were decidedly wrong, and while the fragment is an interesting, good-looking and rare one his convictions were not as laudable as this flattering review tries to forward.
It caused a furore when it first appeared at Sothebys, New York on 14 December 2001, lot 26.
RK was there and we can promise whoever wrote this, and who approved it for publication, there was no furore, only newman furiously bidding against someone as lost as he was.
Again, lot 71 is a good weaving but it is not any holy grail this review intimates.
Despite an improbable estimate of only $1,500-2,000, Sothebys devoted two full pages to an enlarged detail, and Newman bought it against strong competition for $26,250 (HALI 121, p.137).
Improbable estimate? This is more hogwash, as calling the estimate anything but foolish is stupid. Anyone with half a brain and one good eye could see it would sell for 10 times or more.
Sothebys cited four rugs as comparable, of which the Orient Stars piece (1993, pl.214,) previously with Sailer in Salzburg (HALI 51, 1990. pp.76-77), was deemed closest in terms of colour and design.
Sarkisla rug, ex- Kirchheim collection, published Orient Stars
However, all four featured boxy hexagonal motifs which lacked the sinuous quality of this fragment.
While anyone would have to agree there is a similarity of color, actually we seriously doubt the dyestuff and their mordants are the same. The fragment's blazing color a major contribution to this idea.
Also as we remember from attending the sotheby sale the fragment has a finer weave than any of the comparables they mention.
Plus the wool quality is also in our memory different, the fragments much silkier and smoother, thanks to its pile wool being more tightly spun.
In fact, the closest comparable rug with this pattern and palette, from the Ulu Mosque in Divriği, near Sivas, is published in Vakıflar Carpets, 1988, pl.68, where Balpınar described it as southeastern Anatolia, difficult to date and in the notes on p.136 states ... it is possible to say that it is indeed a Kurdish tribal carpet from southeastern Anatolia. In our review of the 2001 sale, we wondered what its retail price might be. Whatever it was, it was more than the market would bear, for Newman was unable to resell the piece during the 17 years that he owned it.
Trying to make newmans error in paying a pant-full of dough for this fragment is a pointless zero sum game. Not only was he unable to sell it, when it did it sold for half of what he paid.
Thats a typical outcome for many of the weavings newman tried to peddle and then had to sell for a fraction of his often absurdly enormous asking prices.
In reality newman was a know-little and now that he is out of commission the dispersal sales show his collection was nothing but a mass of mediocre examples and unsold inventory punctuated by the occassional rarity, like lot 74, that sold for peanuts compared to what he had paid or was asking.
Regardless, our point is not calling a spade a spade and in trying to make newman out as anything but the carpet-bagger, sleaze ball, bedroom dealer he was that rag hali continues its glorification of what it should be criticizing.
For decades RK watched newman from afar and we know lots about him. Frankly, none of it speaks of anything that is complimentary. He was a small time, greedy chisler who prospered in rugDUMB while anywhere else he would have been summarily kicked in the butt and quickly shown the door.
Its now way past high time for that rag hali to straighten up or for rugDUMB to do the same to it.
PS: If anyone ever tries to tell you the rug collecting game has been helped by that rag hali, or that bunch of fat-ass icoc honcho self-serving slobs, tell them to wake the fuck up.
This magazine, and its icoc cohorts, has sucked rugDUMB dry and this is the real reason for the dearth of interest in this subject, the dearth of new collectors, and the dearth of musuem and institutional support.
Think RK is wrong? If so, you are not paying attention.