Archive for December, 2012

Ali Aydin, On Restoration and Conservation of Rugs and Other Textiles

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2012 by rjohn

On November 17, 2012, Ali Aydin,


conducted a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program, here at The Textile Museum, in Washington, D.C. in which he discussed “appropriate measures to take in conserving, protecting and repairing rugs and textiles.”  He also talked about some of the things to consider when choosing among the various repair/conservation alternatives.

Ali is a long-time restorer of, and dealer in, rugs and other textiles.  He is associated with Mark Keshishian and Sons, but also deals and repairs, independently.  He is active at collector shows, visible in Hali, and was one of only two U.S. dealers to exhibit at ICOC XII in Stockholm.

He said that if one has a damaged textile one was considering, a first question is whether it would be best only to conserve it rather than repair it.

During his talk he treated a number of things that affect repair/conservation consideration:

o  The seeming value of the piece.

o   How unusual it is.

o   The degree and character of the damage.

o   What can reasonably be accomplished.

o  Whether a restoration should be when completed “invisible” to those other than experienced experts.

o   How much one is prepared to invest in the conservation or restoration.

o  How the owner plans to display or use it.

This listing is not exhaustive, but does provide a good introduction to some of the issues involved.  It should also make clear, that, and why, sometimes, it is better to conserve than to restore.

Ali had brought a number of examples to illustrate such considerations.

The first piece he treated was the one below.



This was Ali’s example of an older, flat-woven, bag face in excellent condition.  Its edges are all there and in good shape, and there is no visible damage to the interior areas of the piece.

Here are some closer details of A1.



A second piece was the one below.



This is another, older,  flat-woven bag face, but one that is not in as good condition.  Even in the comprehensive image above, one can see damage on the lower left edge and to the multi-colored slit panels at the bottom.

Here are some closer details of A2.




There may be minor damage in the brown part of the center of the gul-form above.


There is also some damage along the top edge of this piece, but it is older, has good color and graphics and its interior areas seem mostly sound.  Ali said that, in his judgement, this is a piece to invest in restoring.

The next piece was a Caucasian pile rug with Lesghi guls in its field.



At first glance, this rug seems to be in pretty fair shape.  All its edges seem undamaged and there are no readily detected difficulties with its field.

But this is an example of a rug that has been badly repaired.

Here are some closer details of A3.




Those of its back make clear that has been repaired at a low level of quality.


This rug has apparently been repaired using what is called “Kashmiring.”  Kashmiring is a method of simulating pile knots on the front by using a “wrapping” approach (much like that used in weaving in sumak).  No effort is made to tied individual knots on the warps in the areas being repaired.  Instead, the warps in such areas are wrapped with pile yarn of the same color as that used in the knots in sound pile areas.  The result can look quite good on the front side.  But Kashmiring is always readily detectable on the back of a rug on which it has been used.


Kashmiring is not always an inappropriate repair technique for damaged pile rugs.  If a rug is worthy of repair on other grounds, but has pile worn down so that only the “collars” of the knots are visible any longer, Kashmiring may be the only way to produce a repair that looks like the surrounding areas.  Tied knots can, sometimes, not be clipped closely enough to make their “brushy” ends essentially disappear.

But Kashmiring can be done faster and less expensively than can a pile repair in which knots are tied on the warps.  So one needs to be alert, when one encounters it (or has it proposed) to whether it is being selected for sound reasons. 

The use of Kashmiring in this particular repair is seen to be inappropriate because the pile of this rug is not worn enough to make it necessary.  The repair person who used it here was likely “cutting corners.”

The next rug was Chinese.



Ali said that this is a younger rug with “old” repairs. 


Chinese wool and been used but the original colors have been changed in the repairs.


Here are some additional detail images of A4.



The next piece was half of an Anatoian kilim.



Let me rotate this image 45 degrees so you can see it a little closer but comprehensively.


It has good colors and some unusual design features.

Here are some closer details of A5.





There is some work to be done here on ends and edges, but Ali said that he would recommend repair of this kilim.

This is a good place to talk about one of the most difficult aspects of sound repair; obtaining and using the right repair material.

If one wants a repair that is largely undetectable, one needs to find old wool with the colors one needs.  The colors of new wool will shift differently than those of old wool and repairs made with it may become visible after a few years. 

Old kilim fragments are a frequent source of such old wool.  The kilims are unraveled to permit this wool to be used in high quality repairs.  You can see with the kilim above that a wide variety of shades can be harvested.

The next piece was a Tekke engsi with good age.



Notice in the upper right of the image below that a patch from and entirely different rug has been used to fill in a missing corner.


Here are some additional details of A6.







Ali said that he would fix only the edges and ends on this engsi.

Many Turkmen pieces present a special challenge, on the “old wool” dimension, because the materials from which they were woven are often so fine.  That difficulty might be a strong reason for resorting, on more a few occasions, to conservation rather than to repair of a weaving for which more repair material is be needed.

Someone from the audience asked whether restoration adds value to a piece.


Ali said that this is a good question, but in his experience the answer is, usually, “no.”  Restoring a piece (even some instances of conserving one) will, mainly, usually, allow its owner to enjoy it in a condition closer to that it had when it came off the loom.

The next piece was another Chinese one.



Again, let me turn it so you have a larger comprehensive image of it.


We can see in the comprehensive images that this rug is missing some from both ends.

Let’s look more closely at some details of it.


Here we can see that it’s missing some pile in the left side of the image above.


This detail suggests that the sides are intact.  There is a transfer of red in one area, but that is likely from another rug since there are no reds in this one.


The detail above confirms that the sides (this detail is with the warps horizontal) and the ends “bobtailed.”




There is, in the detail above an instance of loss of pile.

The piece is nice, but not really unusual.  Fixing the ends is going to require the extension of two sets of warps across the entire width of this piece and then the reweaving of approximately this much of both ends (acknowledging that this is a detail of a side and selvedge).


I’m not sure that Ali said this, explicitly, but the quality of the rug seems not to merit what would be required for restoration of it.  Instead, it might be best to secure both ends (my notes say “binding the with cloth” an inexpensive procedure) and consider whether any repiling at all should be undertaken (probably not).

We took a little side trip at this point to deal with an example of conservation.



The piece used for illustration is one of my own, so we can talk frankly about it.  This is a piece I bought long-distance out of a Jordanian flea market.

It is, it may not be too redundant to say, fragmented, worn in places and features holes.



It is no surprise that is was, from the beginning, a candidate for conservation only.  The conservation needed was of two sorts: 1) to secure all it edges (including some interior ones) so that no more of it is lost, and 2) to minimize the holes in it.

The conservator chose a backing cloth close in color to the red ground of the piece.  Here is the comprehensive shot again.  Check your sense of whether the “minimizing holes” objective has been achieved.


The couching of the piece onto the backing achieved the second “securing” objective.

I recently had it up on a wall, and a visitor noted that it seemed to sag a bit, and it would have been better to use a “stiffer” backing cloth. 

I think this observation is correct, but it draws attention to the fact that,  often, a number of variables would, ideally, be simultaneously addressed in either conserving or repairing a piece, and it is frequently impractical to do so.

I give this conservator high marks for choosing a ground cloth the color of which minimizes the holes in this fragment.  It seems unreasonable to me to ask that she also take on the task of finding a backing cloth of an ideal stiffness.  In fact, if I had to choose between a good color selection and “stiffnes,” I have no problem choosing the color match first.

This not to argue against the likely correctness of the suggestion that a little stiffer backing cloth would likely present this piece a little more crisply.  It merely acknowledges the complexity of the decision-making entailed in repair and conservation undertaking and the fact that compromises with the ideal almost always have to be made.

The next piece was a Caucasion pile rug from Shirvan with a niche design.



The comprehensive image above suggest that this rug is in good condition. Let’s look at some closer details of it.


The color is quite gorgeous.



The cotton selvedges are classic, but look chalky white.   Restored?




Don’t see any obvious problems. 

Ali said that this is an  example of a good repair.  The lower end had been restored and some edge work had been done to it.

The next piece was another Caucasian with “Memling” guls in its field.



Nice size, good color.  Some damage visible on the right side in the image above.


The damage on the right side seems restricted to the selvedge.


Ali looks at the back in this area.

Some details of aspects of this piece.



Ali points to something wrong on the right side of one gul.  Looks almost like a patch.


But there is rather little serious damage.  This rug is a candidate for repair.

The next piece was another Tekke engsi.




It appears to have a complete outside parameter, but the field is very worn.



A look at its back reveals a backing apparently needed to reinforce this worn center.



Estimates in the room suggested that this piece is younger than the earlier one.  Tekke weaving is pretty fine.  Damage is extensive.  Would be very expensive to repair and it’s not that unusual.  Probably best kept as a “study” piece.  No repair or conservation recommended.

The next piece was yet another Turkmen engsi, this time a Yomut, with a design sometimes associated with age.



Here are some closer details of A11.


Minor damage on the right side of the image above.  Looks to be mostly selvedge.



A restricted look at its left side seems OK.  Color in this piece seems very good.

Let’s look more closely at its back.


More damage, old repairs visible here.


More of the same.  This piece not in the condition the first images suggested.


Problem is general: little bare spots all over and lots of old repairs.

This piece could be repaired, but the extent of the damage to it, and the fact that repairing it might not raise its value, makes it one difficult to decide about.  If retained no real conservation work is needed.

The next piece was a Yomut Turkmen asmalyk.



Ali puts his finger on a problem area.



Some repairs in several color areas visible here.


Outside perimeter seems sound here but a few more repairs visible.  Note that weaver changed the white-ground border as she moved up.

A13dThis part of the bottom edge seems OK.


Possible repair on the left side of the central blue diamond.  Possible bare spot on the lower right narrow, diagonal, “barber pole” stripe.

This is an attractive asmalyk.  Repair might not be extensive.  Consider for repair.

The next piece was Anatolian with a Melas niche design.



Its outside perimeter seems OK at this distance.  There is a color change under the niche that seems too irregular to be abrash.  Also a brighter yellow area in the left border.

Here are some closer detail images of A12.




A large bare area.  Structural level seems pretty good.  Mostly repiling work.




Ali puts his finger on a bad repair.

There is quite a bit of work to do on this piece, but it is an old type and the work is mostly repiling.  Consider for repair.

The next piece was half of a sumac khorjin.




Very good color.  It has damage on it sides.  But not a lot of work.


Some repair of sumac in the field visible in the image below.


Repair this piece.

The next piece was a classic six-gul Tekke Turkman torba.



Initial impression at this distance is quite good.

Here are some closer details of A14.


Ends a little irregular and ends show slight damage.


Something suspicious in the lower left part of the upper gul in the image above.


Yes, some damage here.  Closer image also shows that there is some additional moth damage.

A16cMore moth damage visible in the image above.

This is a well-drawn classic type with good articulation of the interior of its major guls.  Robert Pinner once told me that he considered the apricot orange this piece has to be an indicator that it was woven before 1850.

Ali said that he would fix the ends and edges and leave the holes and the moth damage.

The next piece took us back to China.



This little mat is in pretty bad shape with both edge and field problems.

Here are some closer looks at parts of it.




This is a piece to conserve, not to repair.  Ali said that he would all of its edges with cloth.

Ali held up the next piece, small and in pile..



Although it may not be apparent, initially, this is the front of a large-ish Anatolian yastik.


This piece is unusual in several respects. 

It is yastik size, but lacks the top and bottom lappets that many yastiks have (although quite a number do not). 

Its field devices are a version of the so-called “baklava” design, although the diagonal use of color with the baklava devices is very unusual.  Morehouse provides several examples that use this device, but all of them turn it 45 degrees from their orientation in the image above.

Its simple, compartmented border is similar to usages in several Eastern Anatolian yastiks and all of Morehouse’s “baklava” examples are in his eastern Anatolian section (although he admits the this device was widely used).  The yellow ground and its reddish wefts may press its attribution back towards central Anatolia.

Here are some closer details of A16.


Notice that the reddish areas are not color runs, but rather the reddish wefts of this piece visible where pile is missing.  It seems to invite repiling.


The question of whether not to restore this piece likely bears, in part, on how old we estimate it to be.  It has a bright orange that some would see as a likely synthetic, but there are 13th century Anatolian rugs with oranges that are (still) equally bright, so we might be justified in giving it an earlier date.

There’s a lot of repiling here, but it might be justified, if the piece is seen to be older, as well as very unusual for a yastik. 

Ali said that he and the owner have agreed that this large yastik, which is almost a fragment, would be too expensive to repair, so they are mounting it on a cotton fabric for wall display.

The next piece was this nine-gul Turkman torba.



Here are some closer details of A17.




This piece, Ali said, is an example of a pretty well-done repair, mostly for moth damage.

He said that older pile rugs with long, thick pile are another potential source of old wool for such repair jobs.  You can remove such pile, thread by thread, and use it to fix small areas of missing pile, such as those that limited moth damage can present.

He did note one poor color match in one border.


Here are two more close details of A17.



The next piece was an Anatolian nich design with detailed, delicate design elements.








Ali looked at one area of its edge from the back.  Selvedge damage is visible.


A check of the ends from the back shows that they have been secured using a species of “whip stitching.”


If the side selvedge repair is all that is needed, this piece is a definite candidate for repair.

The next piece was a large square-ish, pictorial kilm woven in Romania or Serbia.



Ali and a member of the audience  considered it.


Let’s look at some closer details of it ourselves.



There is lots of damage to the kilim structure.



And there are some color runs.



Ali said there is too much repair work here to undertake.  He would do “minor things” and back it with cloth.

The next piece was the fragment of a rug attributed to east Anatolia.



This piece has lost edges all around, has holes and was one medallion longer at its lower end.

Here are some detail images of A20.





It is a clear candidate for conservation on a backing.

The next piece was Caucasian with unusual large medallions.



Here are some details of A21.





Interesting designs but another candidate for a backing conservation.

The next piece was small.



Unusual and attractive design and color use.  Its owner thinks it is Kurdish.

Here are some closer details of A22.




This lovely little piece might be worthy of nearly complete restoration, but it would be expensive.  An alternative would be to repair the sides and make sure that the top and bottom are secure.

The next piece curved a bit on the front board.



It was attributed to east Anatolia in the late 19th century.

Unusual border.  Also a lot of damage.


Here are some more details of A23.




A27fAli said that the condition of this piece is too poor to restore.  He would fix the ends and put it on a backing.

The next piece was very colorful.



Ali said that it is Caucasian, but he is not sure of what part.  It projects very good condition.  Someone in the room wondered whether it might not be a reproduction.  Ali said subsequently, that he knows its provenance and that it is late 19th century.

I took more than a few images of it.


Top and bottom borders are different from the design used on the side borders.





Some signs of wear and of small repairs? 





Not much repair need or work here.  Remarkable condition for an old piece.

The next piece was a Borchalu Kazak.



Looks to be in pretty good condition.

Here are some details of A25.






Ali looked at its back.

An example of a rug skillfully repaired.

The next piece was another Tekke Turkmen engsi with an older look.


Large scale “candelabra” devices at the sides are unusual.



Ali took a look.



A little damage on the left here.



This is a rug with relatively little damage, it may have some age and is worthy of the repair needed.

The next piece was Baluch.



Some damage visible right away.  Looks like moth.

Camel field are frequent in Baluch piece but the borders in this one are unusual.


Borders, especially the one based on the “mina khani” motif, are interesting, but moth damage is extensive.

Here are some more details of A26.





A look at a back edge.


This piece is an interesting rug but not a candidate for repair.  Damage is too extensive.

About 15 years ago I bought a fragmented Kazak, thinking that I might experiment on it by attempting some repairs.  Time passed and no experimentation had occurred and so I sent it off to Turkey and had it restored.

I brought it to this session and asked Ali to assess its repair in unvarnished terms.

He was good.  He started by saying that the repair job was “not too terrible.”  🙂


Then he was specific about what he meant.  He looked at the top edge and said that the repaired area was clearly noticeable, in part, because new wool had been used.


You can see in the image above that in the rewoven areas, the “new” knots cover the under-lying structure more completely.



And, of course, warps have been extended at both ends and added at the sides.


The repairer told me when he returned it that he “hadn’t made any money” on it.  Perhaps, he had to “cut corners” somewhat.

Readers of these posts will remember that I have said from time to time that I collect on a budget and as a result look in places and buy things that most collectors, who see themselves as serious at all, would not considered.  So I’m positioned well for participating in a session such as Ali’s here, especially with regard to conservations.

The next piece is one of mine that presses the question of “when should you conserve” a piece?



This piece is in a state of pretty advanced decay.  And it came to me without a backing.  BUT it has great color, so I invested in one.

Let me turn it so you can see it a bit closer but still comprehensively.


The conservator and I agreed on a blue similar to the top stripe of this piece (it would also, we thought, “pull out” the lighter analgous blue in the middle.

Earlier in Ali’s session the question came up of when to stop repairing a weaving.  Here, having decided to start conserving, the question became when to stop putting in additional “couching” stitches?  The conservator said to me, “Frankly, this is a piece where you could continue that almost indefinitely.”  She smiled.

Here are some closer details of A27.



This kilim is Anatolian and I asked Marla Mallett where in Turkey she thought it might have been woven.  She said that, these kinds of kilims were what were used to cover floors in Turkish homes and that they were woven everywhere.  She added that the strong yellow did suggest that it was not woven in western Anatolia.

The next piece is also mine and in very bad condition of another sort.



This, most will recognize is an Anatolian yastik face that has retained much of its basic perimeter but lost most of its pile.  It was likely woven in central Anatolia and, I think, it has some age.

Here are some details of A28.



Now the truth is that this piece could be entirely restored, and if I didn’t have limited disposable income, I might have it done.  I would enjoy seeing it more like it looked before it became largely bald.

But it would be very expensive, and most would say, instantly, that it’s too far gone to repair.  Reluctantly, I agree.

The next piece was a kind of curiosity: a scarf made in the structure and known design of a U.S. coverlet.



Coverlets are frequent, even quite good ones.  But I’ve never before seen a scarf in a coverlet structure and design.

There are two problems with this scarf.

First is has a stain in one area.


And it has some damage on one edge.


I’m talking to a museum quality conservationist about this scarf (she’s not seen it yet).  It is not an expensive item, so I think I will ask her to try to get the stain out and to stabilize the area of edge damage, unless it can be repaired very inexpensively.

My last piece, and it was the last of the day, is a kind of “hair shirt” of mine.

It is a rug likely woven in the Middle Amu Darya (we used to say “Ersari,” or if something looked more urban, “Beshiri”) with a field that features a “mina khani” design.


Ali looked at its, less than appropriate, selvedges.


I quite like the rendition of the “mina khani” and the devices on its elems suggest age to me.

But you can see that it has a lot of damage, and things get much worse when you look at its back, because there is a wide area of glue that continues across its entire width (the white spots are glued on fragments of newspaper).

Now some say the presence of glue means the rug is entirely ruined, but others say it can be removed (there is something called “Zip Strip,” a paint remover, that some have employed with some success to remove glue).  But the general condition of this piece has immobilized me and it has sat in my stack for a number of years.

I had about decided to cut up its “good” parts for pillows, when Elena Tsareva’s new book on the Hoffmeister collection came in the mail and, there, in it, was the piece below.

Now there is a great temptation to associate something one owns with published, perhaps remarkable material (Elena estimates the Hoffmeister rug as 18th century).  Mine is much younger (lots more borders); BUT the elems are nearly the same.  And the visual “feel” of the two pieces seems similar to me.

I’m not ready to restore my rug, but maybe I should consider trying to get the glue off its back.

Ali took questions,


and brought his session to a close.

Conversations and the surge to “pet” the rugs began.

I want to thank Ali for permitting this virtual version of his interesting session to be produced, and for his editing of my draft.

Thanks are due as well, to Ruth McDiarmid who took a useful set of notes for me.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief consideration, with the help of a professional, of some of the issues and decisions one often confronts when thinking about either repairing or conserving a weaving one owns.

Have fine holidays,

R. John Howe

“Potpourri” with Mark Keshishian

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7, 2012 by rjohn

On November 3, 2012, Mark Keshishian

gave a “potpourri” session at The Textile Museum, here in Washington, D. C.

Mark is active in the family rug business, is a accredited appraiser, and used to be successfully active in competitive  “strong man” events.

He had brought several pieces, some from his family’s collection, and he started with these.


Mark said that this is a fragment of a Caucasian rug woven in Karabagh in the late 17th century.  It is from a rug of the “dragon” type that is long and relatively narrow.  He said that there are a number of such fragments in the family collection.

Here are some detail images of P1.

Mark’s second piece was this one.


This rug has a field dominated by Lesghi stars.  It was published in Harold Keshishian’s (Mark’s uncle) book.  It is attributed to Armenia in 1903.

Here are some detail images of P2.

The next piece was the one below.


Here is the most comprehensive image I can manage.

This is, of course, what is popularly known as a “cloud band” or  “Khondzoresk” Kazak.  Mark said that “Khondzoresk” translates to the worm in the apple.”

As the detail below shows, this rug has some anatomically correct human figures in its designs and is dated 1833.  It is thought to have been woven in Armenia and was likely published, Mark thought, in his father’s book on Armenian rugs.

Here are close-ups of two of its medallions.

The next piece was the one below.


This piece is a contemporary rendition of a familiar Kazak type (Fachralo Kazak design), woven in Turkey by Woven Legends.  Its dyes are alleged to be from natural sources.  Mark said this piece just needs to get “a little dirty” to look better.

Some detail images of P4.

Mark’s fifth piece was another contemporary one, this time a Bijar replica also by Woven Legends


Details of P5.

With the next rug, below, Mark went back to older material.


This mat is a “Manchester” Kashan, with a design seen with fair frequency here in the U.S. for obvious reasons.  A finely woven rug with a good range of color and precise drawing.  The pinkish ground of its field is somewhat unusual.

Mark said this is one of his favorite rugs.

Details of P6.

The next piece was another Manchester Kashan, this time with a niche and “tree of life” design.


It has a wider color palette than an initial look at it suggests.

Here are some closer detail images of P7.

Mark drew attention to the back of this piece, noting its lighter colors. 

He said that more definite reds, especially wine-reds, were preferred, in the U.S., to these light shades, and so the market arranged for such rugs to be “painted” in more desirable ones.

Mark said that such painting started in the early 1920s and ended by the mid 1930s.

The next piece was this one.


My notes indicate that this is an Indian rug done with “Manchester” type wool.  Mark said  that the front of  this piece looks different from a typical Manchester Kashan, but that the wool feels better than the Persian one.

Details of P8.

Here is a closer detail of the back of P8.

The next piece was a Ferahan Sarouk.


Some details of P9.

The next piece was another Ferahan Sarouk.


There was talk in the room about,  since the warps of this piece are parallel to its short side, whether it could have been the face of a chuval.  The consensus was that while there are, on rare occasion, pile chuvals in NW Persia (some Bijar instances were remembered) no one knew of a Ferahan Sarouk example. These pieces tended to be seen in pairs, with the pair to this piece actually now owned by a member in the audience.

Some details of P10.

The next rug had a very different look.


Mark said that this rug is a contemporary piece, woven in Turkey with Ushak designs.

Wool quality is great.

Here are some closer detail images of P11.

The next rug was the one below.


This is a silk Kashan, woven, just before or after WWI.

Mark used this rug to talk about some distinctive characteristics of silk, particularly with regard to washing it. 

He said that silk doesn’t have a “memory,” like wool does, that lets its individual fibers return, after washing, to their previous, “separated” posture.  That is, when washed, silk’s fibers often tend to stick together. 

He said, that ideally one should avoid washing a silk rug, but that there are some solutions (not available at the retail level) that can help prevent this “sticking together” tendency.  It is also necessary to comb a washed silk rug frequently until it is dry.

Here are some closer detail images of P12.

The next piece was the small, Tabriz mat below.


Here are some details of P13.

The next piece was Caucasian


This ivory-ground rug is a small Kazak.  Its design is described by Bennett as a hooked polygon.  He groups it with some “miscellaneous” Kazaks of no great age.  Its ivory ground is attractive and its restricted color palette is graphically effective.

Here are some detail images of P14.

Mark called attention to the nice, enriching, touch of “barber pole” centers of the “leaf” forms.

The next piece was another silk rug.  Its owner has given me a detailed description of it after the fact. 

Modern Qum.  Silk pile on silk warp and weft.  Knot is asymmetric open on the right.  Relatively finely woven (600+ kpi).  Signed top and bottom.  Lobed medallion with center flower, surrounded by red carnations, on bed of leaves, with outer row of flowers.  More flowers in lobes, with leaves in field.  Flowers surrounding center field. Asymmetric borders, with flowers in cartouches in main border.  (There are good detail images on all of this below.)


Mark said that such Persian silk rugs are “drying up” in the market, due to the U.S. trade sanctions aimed at Iran. 

He estimated that it could be as much as 25 years old.  Its owner volunteered from the audience that it was woven quite recently.

Here are some detail images of P15.

Mark attributed the next rug, another “tree of life” design, to Kerman.


Asked whether this rug has the distinctive, three-weft between rows of knots, Kerman structure, Mark said that he bases his attributions mostly on such things as design, color palette and character of the wool, and doesn’t usually delve deeply into structure.

He said this size is called a “meditation” carpet.

Mark said that he wondered whether this piece might not have been painted.

I do not have a comprehensive, unobstructed shot, but here are some details of P15.

The next rug was Caucasian.


Its central medallion could be an abstracted version of some seen in rugs woven in Karabagh. 

Its owner said that it was purchased in Baku.  He said that this is an old rug, and was woven in the 1880’s.

Its border was seen to be unusual.

Its owner said that this piece had at one time been cut up into four quarters, but was subsequently restored in Istanbul.  Mark, examined it, more closely and noted that the ends were too perfect for the wear this rug would have had had it been used on the floor.

The next rug was this one.


Its colors were said to suggest that it is an Azeri weaving.  Its owner said that it was purchased in Istanbul.

Here are some details of P17.

Design devices like the one below, are of the sort that invite fanciful names, like “space-shuttle.”

The are six such devices in the rug.  The four like this one are oriented at the side.  I have turned it 45 degrees here, just to cause trouble.

The next rug has the look of a classic “Seichur.”


As you can see, it features a great green an unusual coloration for this type.

This rug has the classic “Seichur” running dog border, but its owner also drew attention to its inner “cabbage” border which he said is a Kuba usage.

The field of this rug features three so-called “St. Andrew’s cross” devices.

Its owner estimated its age as 1880-90’s.  Nice corrosion.

Here are some additional detail images of P17.

Its owner said that its structure is closer to other Kuba pieces, since its alternate warps are depressed.  Shirvans usually have warps on a single level.

The next piece was another Caucasian, this time with a white ground and monumental-sized field devices.



The owner of this rug, collects mostly eastern Caucasian rugs and so this piece seems likely to be from that area. 

The borders and collect seem similar to Shirvan usages, but the white ground of the field and the large scale of the devices in it, are unusual.

Here are some detail images of P19.

The next rug was Anatolian.


This rug has good color and a nice complexity of design.  It is estimated to have been woven about 1875.

Its owner said that when we think of Anatolian rugs woven in Milas, we tend to think of “niche” designs, but this Milas is not of that sort.

Here are some details of this piece.

This rug has a good purple.

The next rug was another woven with silk.


Its owner said this it was woven in the Kayseri area of Anatolia.  He said that it was woven properly for a silk rug, that is, with the pile pointing toward the niche-end, but that this makes it “upside-down” when hung as most prefer the the pile pointing down.

This rug has cross-panels, a design usage rare in Persian rugs, but that we see in Turkmen ensis and a few varieties of Anatolian rugs.  They occur with some frequency in the once, very desirable, but now largely neglected, Ghiodes rugs.

Here are some details of P21.

The next piece was a compartmented design.


It owner said that the dealer called it “Baluch,” but that others have said it’s “Middle Amu Dyra.” 

Mark said that is an unusual and interesting piece.

It has a wider range of color in the lower parts of its field, as if the weaver had run out of some colors.

Here are some closer details of P22.

Here is a look at the back of this piece.

The next piece was this bag, attributed to the Luri-Bakhtiari .


This khojin half has some interesting features that are worthy of closer examination.

The motif on the front face of the bag clearly comes down from the device that appears on the famous Berlin phoenix-dragon rug.


Courtesy Peter Stone

This motif appears in both Persian and Anatolian weaving.  There is a comment on it on p.75 of John Wertime’s sumak bag book. 

One question that remains is whether the motif on this bag (below) is the dragon or the phoenix?  To me, the top horizontal strip of the Berlin device is the more plausible candidate for the halves from which the “gul-like” device,” below, is formed.  Maybe it’s the phoenix being used.

As a former Turkmen collector, my initial reaction was less elevated, and based on what I “see.”  The field of this piece contains six devices that seem like “fractured” guls.

Their horizontal division, is “clean” enough, although the shapes of the top and bottom halves are such a half rotated 180 degrees.  The result is that the outside perimeter outline of the comprehensive “gul” form seems slightly askew. 

This “broken” character is strongly reinforced by jagged vertical division of the two halves. 

This drawing (and a rich use of attractive colors) heightens the aesthetic interest this piece projects.  If, as seems to be the case, these field devices are not gul forms at all, but rather come down from the “dragon and phoenix” rug in Berlin, so much the better.

There are also quadruped devices in the field of this bag’s front,

and in one stripe on its back there are camels.

Here are a couple more details of this interesting piece.

An attractive yellow-ground pile panel at the lower edge of the bag’s front, a frequent Bakhtiari usage.

The next piece was Baluch.  An unusual camel-ground design.


Its owner said that it contains lots of actual camel hair.

Some additional detail images of P24.

Mark looked at its back.

A little closer look for you, too.

Aha! Quadrupeds in this one, too.

The next piece seemed a “face” of some sort.


Mark said that it looked to him like something is missing.  He praised its colors, especially its good green.

I wondered if this could be a fragment of an Anatolian yastik. Yastiks are almost always rectangular and would be taller in this orientation.  If this is a yastik fragment , what might be missing are lappets on both ends.

Morehouse shows at least six Central Anatolian yastiks with a center medallion surrounded by four “armature” forms.  Oddly, the one  with the most similar field design to this one has cross-panels at its ends, but no lappets.

As luck would have it, I’ve been working on a couple of posts, going back and forth and by chance found an instance that will let us test our suspicion that P25,  above, could be a yastik fragment.

This is an older yastik in very poor condition, but with a very similar field.

If the lappets at the ends of the piece above were removed it would look like the truncated image of it below right.



P25 looks very much like a former yastik that has lost its lappets.

Here are some closer detail images of P25.

The next rug was a long, classical Talish.


This rug has great color and the classic Talish, main border.

Talish rugs, its owner said, are woven in the Southeast Azerbaijan part of the Caucasus.

Fields in such Talish long rugs are often plain.  This one has an attractive, colorful drawing of a lattice design, with stars in compartments.

Some Talish rugs have blue wefts, visible on their backs, moving in occasionally from the side selveges.  Some claim that this feature is definitive for Talish pieces.  Below is a look at the back of this piece.  It has these interpenetrating blue wefts.

The next piece was a flat weave in slit tapestry.


It was attributed by its owner to Karabaugh.  He said that it had been cut in half and has now been sewn back together.

Here are details of P27.

The next textile was another Caucasian flat weave: this time a Shirvan kilim.


Mark said that this piece has great color, great wool and a nice, tight weave.  He said that late 19th century would be a safe age estimate.

Here are some closer details of P228.

The next piece was an “envelope” bag of some sort, complete with a seeming triangular flap.


My notes say only that this is an “end panel” from a Bakhtiari piece, presumably a cargo-bag type mafrash.

Here are some closer details of P29.

The next piece was this pile panel with good graphic punch.


This is one front panel from an Anatolian saddle bag set, Mark said, from the Bergama area.  They are called “heybes.”

 This seems a frequent heybe face design.  I found one in a local flea market.  But it may, also, be a quite old design.  This is what the front of a complete heybe with this field design, likely looked like, if it was reinforced with leather (some were).

Because the back of this analogous piece was likely covered with leather, we do not have an image of it.

But perusal of the only book on heybes (by Bieber, Pinkwart and Steiner) allows the conjecture that its back might look like this.

The striped backs of heybes vary widely, and to some extent, systematically.  They are, more than the fronts, used for determining attribution.

Here are two details of P30.

The next piece was a small Turkman rug.


This piece is the size often called “wedding rugs,” although this one features “chuval” guls, rather than the more frequent small version of the main carpet gul.

The owner called attention to the variation in the size of the guls.  This is something seen in more than a few Turkmen pieces.  It has led to the fanciful suggestion that such size differences are often deliberate and meant to represent birds in swooping flight.

Its owner said that this rug is Tekke.  I didn’t look at it closely, but the main border made me wonder whether it might not be Yomut.

Its owner said that its “chalky” white is from the use of cotton as pile.

Here are some more detail images of P31.

The next piece was a small Anatolian kilim.


It is in slit tapestry and was attributed to the Konya area.

Its green was admired.

Here are some additional details of P32.

The next piece was one I had brought.  It is an Uzbek needlepoint in silk


Mark as whether I knew how old it is and I jokingly said that I thought you “could look at your watch,” that such things are still being made.

Seemingly a little suspicious of my joke, Mark looked around on this piece a bit, and found that it is dated, something I had not noticed at all.

So it’s a little less “fresh” than I would have guessed.

Here are two more details of it.

Although is just a function of the fine silk and the digital needlepoint technique, I like the crispness of the drawing, especially of the Memling guls.

The next piece was a “double-niche” Turkish rug in silk.


Notice the architectural features on the sides of the niches that become floral at the top.  The details of the lamp designs are articulated, made possible by the fineness of the silk.

Here are some additional detail images of P34.

The next rug was a small Malayer.

Mark said that it has a really soft handle for a Malayer.

He noted that it is single-wefted.  There is just one pick of weft between rows of knots (warps are visible whenever the weft passes beneath them) and the wefts are “fat,” and make the warps seem to “undulate.”

Here are a couple more detail images of P35.

The next rug was a fairly large Kazak with three over-sized “Lesghi guls” dominating its field.


Mark noted that there is an orange used, and said that this is unusual for a Kazak.

He admired the greens.

He said that the weft is medium brown and could suggest that it is Karabagh (ed.:although Tschebull found tans, and even dark brown warps in some of the pieces in his catalog “Kazak”).

Here are a couple of additional details of P36.

The next rug was Chinese.


Mark placed it just after WWI.

My notes include an indication that some thought this rug was likely woven by non-Hans in China.  They said something about “Persian” women weaving in the north of China, where the Great Wall meets Mongolia.

Here are some details of P37.

The next piece was the kilim below.


It owners said this piece was woven in either northwest Bulgaria (Chiprovtsy) or southeast Serbia (Pirot).

It has eccentric wefts that follow the curves of it designs.  In the market, these are all called Sarkoy kilims.

Has a border executed in the Serbian style.. 

Recently purchased in Istanbul.

The field is primarily very dark blue green with some small areas of blue. The purple red in this example is particularly nice and may be cochineal or Balkan kermes.

Mid-to late 19th Century. Owner: “We aren’t certain of the origin of the motifs covering the field-perhaps they are a local version of Ottoman floral style.

“Depending on its age, the kilim may have been woven by Orthodox Christian folk or by Orthodox Christians and Muslims living and working side-by-side.  

“Everything changed in this region after about 1868.

Here are two more details of P38.

The next piece was is a Manastir prayer-format kilim from northeast Bulgaria, likely from the Delioman region.


Its owner said that the ivory ground is unusual.

End borders are typical for a particular sub-group of Manastir kilims. 

Attention was also called to the pronounced use of outlining on the sides.  The width of the outlining is varied to produce a three-dimensional effect.

Third quarter, 19th century.

Its owner said Manastir kilims were frequently woven by the women of heterodox (Alevi or Bektashi) Muslim families in Bulgaria for domestic religious use, to provide a protective function against bad luck,  and to serve a devotional function.

There is some debate as to how many of these textiles were actually used for prayer.  However, Ottoman records for the 19th Century in Bulgaria document the practice of requiring Muslim conscripts to the Turkish Army to bring their own “prayer” kilim.  Some Manastir kilims have features that document this practice.

Here are some details of P39.

The next piece was large and delicate.


Its owner said that this piece was woven in Syria in or near the city of Aleppo. 

It may have originally been a wall, window or door hanging (a portiere) which was subsequently been repurposed as a bed or table cover.

The piece consists of two panels sewn together longitudinally. 

Although the piece is relatively delicate, it is also quite heavy due to the use of a large amount of metallic wrapped thread.

This cover dates before 1910 and was reported to have been collected in Adana, Turkey.

Its design reflect a typically Syrian interpretation of the ottoman floral style with lavish use of metallic thread: fine metal wire wrapped around the yellow silk fibers.  This technique results in the textile having a shimmering gold tone and texture

Here are some closer details of P40 and its decorations.

I have rotated the devices below to give you larger close-ups.

The next piece was the one below.


This piece is fragmented in the sense that all of its edges have been bound.

It owner said that it was woven by her grandmother in an Armenian area of Anatolia.  The grandmother wove three of these.  The was a suggestion that it could have been a yastik (it is yastik-size).

Here are two details of P41.

The next piece was a framed Chinese textile.


This is embroidery on silk.

Metallic thread used.

Needle embroidery rather than brocade.

Here are some closer details of P42.

Made in two panels, then sewn together.

The next piece was a familiar type Yomut Turkmen flat woven bag.


I own one that it nearly identical and have a story to tell about mine. 

I bought it from a Selcuk dealer in 2007, in partial recognition of an exception job of hosting he did for us during a several day stay in his town. 

But the interesting thing is that he claimed it was a specialized type of bag and was used to hold seed as planting occurred.  I was skeptical, but he persisted, saying that he had seen a photograph of a Turkman farmer using this kind of bag in this way.

I didn’t debate, but Turkmen were very practical folks, and many bags could be, and likely were, used for a variety of purposes.  This bag is of a size that would suggest that it was not strictly reserved for use in planting.

Here is one more detailsof P43.

The bands with designs on this piece are woven in sumac.  Turkmen uses of sumac are relatively rare, and so noteworthy.

The next piece was a small Anatolian bag in species of brocade.


A relatively coarse, but attractive piece. 

Here are two closer details of it. 

I did not manage a photo of its back.

A potpourri RTAM will always attract at least one recent Turkman piece, and this was the one for today.


Mark said that this is Tekke Turkmen Soviet era production.

I have heard that the white ground stripes at the ends of this piece are nearly a signature indicator of Soviet production.

The last piece of the day’s session was was large and heavy.


It is Qashqa’i.  Southwest Persia.

Here are some detail images of P46.

Odd, “chickens” in the center of the field.

Dark warps.

Here is its back.

Wefts seem less dark than the warps.

Mark took questions,

and adjourned the session.

After-session conversations and explorations started up.

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual version of an, admittedly, long, “potpourri” RTAM.

My thanks to Mark for permitting this virtual version to be produced, and for his editorial work on my draft.

‘Til next time,

R. John Howe