Mary Jo Otsea on “Super Smalls” from Sotheby’s

Dear folks –

On May 8, 2010, Mary Jo Otsea

gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program, here at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. on the topic of “Super Smalls.”

Mary Jo is the international head of the rug department of Sotheby’s.  She is a long-time figure in the rug world and has given RTAM programs at the Museum here in the past.

As I said in the announcing email, Mary Jo’s intense work-world has prevented her from providing descriptions of most of the pieces shown in this session.  But I think it may be enjoyable, even useful, to see these pieces mostly on an “eye-candy” basis.

The “smalls” Mary Jo treated were pieces she has encountered in various rug auctions over the years.

She presented many of these pieces in side-by-side images on the screen.  Occasionally, I will  retain that orientation here, but more usually, I will show the pieces in vertical sequence because WordPress’ blog  software limits horizontal image size to 450 pixels. 

Image labels will include indications of where the image is on a given slide. 

Hope that is not confusing.

Mary Jo began with the piece below:

Slide 2a

Comment on Slide 2a:  This is an Ottoman Cairene carpet fragment that  is lot 37 in our June 2, 2010 auction.  It is three by a little less than four feet square.  There are cotton whites in it and it has a silk foundation.  Estimated to have been woven in the 16th century.

Slide 2b

Comment on Slide 2b:  This is an Ottoman Cairene carpet fragment in the collection of the Textile Museum.  This and the previous piece are most likely from the same large 16th century carpet.

Slide 3a


Comment on Slide 3a:  This Ottoman Cairene carpet border fragment was sold at Sotheby’s London in September 2006, and is probably from the same carpet as another piece in the Textile Museum.

Slide 3a detail

Comment on Slide 3a detail:  The detail shows the sophisticated, sinuous drawing of these finely worked, silk foundation Ottoman carpets.

Slide 3b

Comment on Slide 3b:  This is the border fragment in the Textile Museum.

Slide 3b detail


Slide 4a  A fragment from the border of one of the ‘Ardebil’ carpets, sold at Sotheby’s in December 2003.

No comment on Slide 4a:

Slide 4b


Mary Jo took us next to the piece below.

Slide 5a

No comment on Slide 5a:

Slide 5b

No comment on Slide 5b:

Slide 6

Comment on Slide 6:  Senna horse cover, northwest Persia

Mary Jo noted that this piece appeared in the seminal flat weave exhibition and catalog “Bosporus to Samarkand.”

Slide 6 with “Bosporus to Samarkand” catalog image

Comment on Slide 7 with catalog image:  This piece was once owned by Russell Pickering. who, with Tony Landreau curated this exhibition and authored this catalog .

Slide 7, catalog image

Comment on Slide 7, catalog image: Russell, who was in the audience, said that he should never have sold it.

Slide 8

No comment on Slide 8:

Slide 9 left.

No   comment on Slide 9, left.

Slide 9, left detail


Slide 9, right

No comment on Slide 9, right:

Slide 9, right detail a

(Ed: Not sharp but gives a better sense of the instrumentation of the “back” area.)

Slide 9, right detail b

(Ed: Again, not sharp, but gives detail on the single device on one “breast” tab)


Slide 10

No comment on Slide 10:

Slide 10, right detail


Slide 11 left

No comment on Slide 11 left:

Slide 11 right

No comment on Slide 11 right:

Slide 12, left

No comment on Slide 12, left:

Slide 12, right

No comment on Slide 12, right:

Slide 13, left

No comment on Slide 13, left:

Slide 13, right

No comment on Slide 13, right:

Slide 14, left

No comment on Slide 14, left:

Slide 14, left detail


Slide 14, right

No comment Slide 14, right:

Slide 14, right detail


Slide 15, left

No comment on Slide 15, left:

Slide 15, left detail


Slide 15, right


No comment on Slide 15, right:

Slide 15, right detail


Slide 16, upper

Comment on Slide 16, upper:  This is a Baku mat.  East Caucasus.

Slide 16, upper detail

Slide 16, lower

No comment on Slide 16, lower:

Slide 16, lower detail

Slide 17, upper left:

No comment on Slide 17, upper left:

Slide 17, upper right

No comment on Slide 17, upper right:

Slide 17, lower left

No comment on Slide 17, lower left:

Slide 17, lower right

No comment on Slide 17, lower right:


Slide 18, upper left

No comment on Slide 18, upper left:

Slide 18, upper center

No comment on Slide 18, upper center:

Slide 18, upper right

No comment on Slide 18, upper right:

Slide 18, lower horizontal

No comment on Slide 18, lower horizontal:

Slide 18 lower left detail of horizontal


Slide 18, lower vertical

No comment on Slide 18, lower vertical:

Slide 19, left

Comment on Slide 19, left:  Fachralo Kazak, southwest Caucasus

Slide 19, right

No comment on Slide 19, right:

Slide 20, left

No comment on Slide 20, left:

Slide 20, right

No comment on Slide 20, right:

Slide 21, left

No comment on Slide 21, left:

Slide 21, right

No comment on Slide 21, right:

Slide 22, left

No comment on Slide 22, left:

Slide 22, right

No comment on Slide 22, right:

Slide 23:


Comment on Slide 23:  Ersari torba

Slide 23, center detail

Comment on Slide 23, center detail:  Great wool

Slide 23, right detail

Comment on Slide 23, right detail:  Lots of color

Slide 24, left

Comments on Slide 24, left:  An Ersari prayer rug, south Turkestan.  Third quarter 19th century.

(Ed.: Most would now describe this unusual piece as “Middle Amu Dyra.”  Niche designs are not frequent among Turkmen weavings, unless one includes those that appear in some engsis.  The blank field, under a nearly full ikat-derived, gul niche are both rare usages.

Slide 24, upper right


No comment on Slide 24, upper right:

Slide 24, upper right, detail of right end


Slide 24, upper right, detail of left end


Slide 24, lower right

No comment on Slide 24, lower right:

Slide 24, lower right, detail of right side


Slide 25, upper

No comment on Slide 25, upper:

Slide 25, lower

No comment on Slide 25, lower:

Slide 25, lower detail of right side


Slide 26a

No comment on Slide 26a:

Slide 26a detail

Slide 26b

Comment on Slide 26 b:  A Qashqa’i kilim, southwest Persia, circa 1880.

Slide 26b calligraphy

Comment on Slide 26b calligraphy: “in memory of Samai.”

Slide 27a

No comment on Slide 27a:

Slide 27b

No comment on Slide 27b:

Slide 28a

No comment on Slide 28a:

Slide 28a detail


Slide 28b

Comment on Slide 28b:  A  Ninghsia rug, West China

Slide 28b detail

Comment on Slide 28b detail: Notice “bat” devices.
Slide 29a

No comment on Slide 29a:

Slide 29b and Slide 29c

No comment on Slide 29b and Slide 29c:

Slide 30a

No comment on Slide 30a:

Slide 30b

No comment on Slide 30b:

Slide 30c

No comment on Slide 30c:

Slide 31a

No comment on Slide 31a:

Slide 31b

No comment on Slide 31b:

Slide 31c

No comment on Slide 31c:

Slide 32a

No comment on Slide 32a:

Slide 32b

Comment on Slide 32b:  This is a Senna pictorial rug from NW Persia.  The inscription at the top reads: “by the order of Mirza Ebrahim Khan Khalaseh, work completed in 1307” (that’s 1889).

Mary Jo and Wendel examined this rug.


Slide 33

No comment on Slide 33:

Slide 34a

No comment on Slide 34a:

Slide 34b


No comment on Slide 34b:

Slide 35a

No comment on Slide 35a:

Slide 35b

No comment on Slide 35b:

Slide 36

Comment on Slide 36:  Central Anatolian prayer rug, last quarter 19th century.

Mary Jo noted that a very similar rug appear as a cover in Hali lot long ago.


Slide 37, comparing Slide 36 to Hali cover

Comment on above comparison:  Mary Jo put the two pieces up side-by-side for comparison.  The Hali rug was estimated to have been woven “before 1800.”

Slide 39a

No comment on Slide 39a:

Slide 39b

No comment on Slide 39b:

Slide 40a

No comment on Slide 40a:

Slide 40b

No comment on Slide 40b:

Slide 41

No comment on Slide 41:

Slide 42

No comment on Slide 42:

Slide 43a, detail of slide 42

Slide 43b, detail of Slide 42

Slide 43c, detail of Slide 42

Slide 44

No comment on Slide 44:

Slide 45, detail of Slide 44

Slide 46a

No comment on Slide 46a:

Slide 46b

No comment on Slide 46b:

Slide 47a

No comment on Slide 47a:

Slide 47b

No comment on Slide 47b:

Slide 48

No comment on Slide 48:

This was the end of Mary Jo’s “Super Small” program.

She took questions

and adjourned the session.

Folks moved to the front.

I want to thank Mary Jo for permitting  this very virtual version of her program.

Until next time,

R. John Howe


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