Archive for August, 2019

Celebration of the Documenting and Archiving of Many of The Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning Programs, Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2019 by rjohn

Dear folks –

On July 13,2019, the Textile Museum held a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program that was a real “potpourri” type RTAM but one that also celebrated the documenting of many of these programs on my Textiles and Text and Eccentric weft sites, and the, just completed archiving of them, as TM Library resources. 

This latter included putting up an edited, electronic version of these posts and the creating of a set of paper-based pdf volumes of them. 

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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This archiving has entailed a considerable expenditure of Textile Museum resources.

So this post has two parts.  Part 1, which is this one, is given over to the celebration.  It is awkward for me to fashion this virtual version of it since it includes a lot of nice words said about my documenting work.

John Wetenhall, The Textile Museum Director,

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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gave these welcoming remarks:

  • Good morning, I’m John Wetenhall, … I want to welcome you to this special Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning honoring the diligent work of museum member and Rug Morning fixture John Howe.
  • John Howe has been carefully photographing and chronicling these sessions since 2007 on his blog Textiles and Text.
  • For over a decade, John has covered the majority of these unique lectures and worked with the guest speakers to produce a lasting record of these programs.
  • Today, we honor his passion for this program and for capturing so many rare collections and scholars who have enriched our understanding of textiles.
  • And now I would like to turn the podium over to Melissa Keshishian, whose late Husband Harold was one of the founders of the program back in the early 1970s. Melissa…

Melissa continued:

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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  • As many of you know, since his passing in 2010, these Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings have been held in memory of my late husband Harold Keshishian, who helped begin these Saturday rug events at the old location on S Street.
  • Harold was President of Mark Keshishian & Sons Oriental Rugs, founded by his father and uncle in 1907. He served Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton on the United States Cultural Properties Advisory Committee.
  • In 1988, he received the Joseph V. McMullan Award for Stewardship and Scholarship in Islamic Rugs and Textiles, and in 2008 he was an inaugural recipient of The Textile Museum Award of Distinction, which recognizes outstanding service in fulfillment of the Museum’s mission.
  • Harold had a lifelong love of The Textile Museum and contributed to this institution in so many ways: as Trustee Emeritus, donor, program presenter, and friend.
  • A collector of antiquities, such as Oriental rugs and Pre-Columbian art, Harold helped found this very series in the 1970s. This program continues to provide visitors an informal forum for the exchange of ideas, and has been a beloved foundation of our educational programs for the past four decades.
  • Of course there were others that helped form the nucleus of what we now know as Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings as well.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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  • Today we have singled out John Howe, who has worked tirelessly to keep us engaged in and fascinated with textiles, with his help in enlisting speakers and collectors for the program, but most importantly, through his chronicling the series for more than ten years through his blog, Textiles and Text.
  • As these pieces of our museum’s history become part of our permanent library holdings, they will remain a valuable resource for those next generations who appreciate and understand the value of the world’s textiles as art and as expressions of culture.

Thank you John!

Tracy Meserve, the Textile Museum Librarian, who shepherded the archiving work spoke next.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Tracy said after: “

I talked about how some of the blog entries from 2007-2009 were no longer readable on the blog. In order to save these entries from being lost to future generations, a work study student, Grace Krikie, was hired to archive all of the existing blog entries. All of this work resulted in both a digital pdf version of the blog that will have a permanent location on the museum website, and a physical copy that will be on display in the museum library that is over 1000 pages long!”

She was followed by Grace Krikie, who did the “heavy lifting” required to produce the pdf paper volumes.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Grace talked about her process of retrieving the “lost” blog entries from a website called the Way Back Machine and then re-formatting these entries so they were in a readable form. She mentioned that the blog before re-formatting was thousands of pages long, so its current form of around 1000 pages is the condensed version.  She also talked about how working on this project increased her appreciation for rugs and textiles.

John: Both Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts have some search capabilities, but they are modest.  You can search for any word in the title of a given RTAM.  For example, you can search “Jerry Thompson” usefully.  If the type of textile treated is in the title you can find such posts.  Search for “Anatolian,” or “Central Asian” or “Turkman,” and the like.  You can also look through the posts under a given month and date, but that will be more arduous, since, often, more than one RTAM will be under a given month and date.

I had asked to say a few things and this was my turn.  I apologize, if I go on a bit, but there are some things I felt I had to say.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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First, I want to thank all the speakers at Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Mornings, both for giving these programs, and for working with me, sometimes at considerable length, to fashion the virtual versions that have been published on Textiles and Text and that are now being archived by the Museum.

Next, I want to thank John Wetenhall, and Tom Goehner, and many other members of the Textile Museum staff, who have contributed to this archiving effort and have pressed it to completion.  Special thanks to the current TM Librarian, Tracy Meserve, and to Grace Kirkie, whom Tom reports, did the “heavy lifting” in the preparation of the pdf. booklets.  Lynora Williams, the former TM Librarian, worked hard in our early efforts to investigate archiving possibilities. 

I want, particularly, to thank Jim and Connie Henderson, who, speaking for many in the rug and textile community, pressed strongly for this archiving, and created the closest thing we have, so far, to a table of contents. 

I need also to thank by name, Peggy Jones, who has taken innumerable sets of RTAM notes for me and who wrote me, this week, saying that serious health problems prevent her from being here today.  Amy Rispin also took a lot of notes and worked with me, after, on some posts, most recently, on the two on the Opie session.

Third, I want to thank all the readers of Textiles and Text who constantly write me thanking me for these posts.  I am always a little surprised that they find them as useful as they say they do: I’m mostly just reporting and, although I try to get things right, I make no claims to authority.  The odd thing is that I like doing them so much that I would do them even if no one ever said “thank you.”

But what I mostly want to talk about is how great a role chance played in my coming to do this documenting at all.

Wendel and I knew Tom Stacy, whose wife, I think, created Turkotek.com,

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 TURKOTEK  

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an internet rug and textile discussion site.  And we were both members of a kind of founding Turkotek board, headed by Steve Price, when Tom passed the torch.

Wendel and I were early and frequent contributors to Turkotek.com, which goes on vigorously.

My first internet posts of TM Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs were made on Turkotek.com, where you can still find them.   

The first accidental aspect of my documenting RTAMs is that I began to do them without really thinking of what they might be.  

As an instructional designer, I was far more interested in designing Turkotek salons that focused on interesting textile questions and issues, and that structured and fostered useful conversation about them.  My first salon on Turkotek explored what sorts of irregularity in rugs and textiles were seen to enhance their aesthetic quality, and what sorts were simply weaving mistakes. 

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The “Oops” Thesis

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And I once built and conducted a Turkotek salon that attempted to determine whether the aesthetic theory portrayed in Christopher Alexander’s difficult book on his early Turkish carpets, “A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art,” could be given empirical test.

“Beauty” Determined: A Look at
Christopher Alexander’s Rug Aesthetics
by
Dr. Nikos A. Salingaros and R. John Howe

There was homework and a worksheet:

Rule Statement

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1. Does the carpet use a one-knot detail? If not, then it might work on some larger scale, but the smallest scale is being wasted.
2. Are the individual colors interesting in themselves, and are they juxtaposed so as to enhance each other?
3. Are the smallest elements defined sharply by using contrast in both color hue and gray scale value?
4. Are the smallest elements simple and symmetric in shape? (triangles, squares, and diamonds – no blobs)
5. Is every element coupled to a contrasting element of the same size that has complimentary qualities?
6. Do intermediate and larger elements show the maximum number of internal sub symmetries?
7. Is every internally complex element balanced by a plainer surrounding shape that has a coherent shape?
8. Is a random spacing of similar elements balanced by a regular, highly structured region of about the same size?
9. Do elements and interposed spaces of all sizes link to each other through similarity, symmetry and scaling?
10. Do different elements have sizes that define a discrete hierarchy with ratios approximately 2.7 between consecutive levels?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

One of the earliest RTAMs I can find on Turkotek is a “potpourri” program that Wendel gave August 19, 2000 (as you can see, below, he was young and handsome, then, and not just dignified and distinguished). 

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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But there are other reports of RTAMs in Turkotek.com’s archives.  There is one on Turkmen Rugs by Dennis Dodds on November 3, 2001.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00083/salon.html

I don’t have a date but Fred Zimmerman and Michael Seidman gave an RTAM on “Other Ottomans,” a reference to another exhibition being held locally.  This RTAM drew on Textile Museum collection material (something we used to be able to do in some RTAMs).  It echoed an exhibition being given, then, at the Corcoran, across town.

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There was a subsequent RTAM given by Fred Zimmerman and Michael Seidman on December 7, 2001 on material from their own collections (as you have just seen, they had previously given annual RTAMs on material from the Textile Museum Collection).  

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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There is a “New Collectors” RTAM by Saul Barodofsky on June 15, 2002. 

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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Also in 2005, Joe Fell came from Chicago to share things from his “trunk.”  Here he’s talking with Harold Keshishian.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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In 2005, I put up on Turkotek an RTAM that Harold gave on safs.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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I don’t have a date, but once put up an RTAM on color given by Tom Xenakis, a serious painter, who also collects textiles.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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 I put up on Turkotek an RTAM that Harold Keshishian gave on Islamic Textiles, on April 15, 2006.  

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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In June, 2006 I put up an RTAM that David Zahirpour gave on Southwest Persian weavings.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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I gave an RTAM myself on Red in Rugs and Other Textiles, in March, 2007, that I also put up as a virtual version on Turkotek.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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And there is an RTAM given by Jerry Thompson, on September 8, 2007, a potpourri session on “Carpets from the Middle East.”

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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The last RTAM I put up on Turkotek was also in September, 2007 a program given by John Wertime on sumak bags.

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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There is even a TM-related but non-RTAM post on a Turkotek program.  Sara Wolf, who then held the Margaret Wing Dodge Chair in Conservation, here at the Textile Museum, gave on the perennial question of “Why Don’t Museums Provide Better Lighting?” 

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Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and eyeglasses

A 2016 photo from the internet.

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I don’t have a precise date, but it’s early 2000, and Sara was brave to come and take what was certain to be a lot of abuse.

And there is another TM-related, non-RTAM post from the Textile Museum Rug Convention (October 12-14, 2001).  Jim Blackmon gave a program on “Those Other Central Asian Tribal Rugs: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Kyrgyz and Arab.”

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Courtesy Turkotek.com

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An early internet treatment, I think, of these non-Turkman Central Asian rugs and textiles.

So, I had a lot practice building RTAM posts, and things like them, during the years I was active on Turkotek.com.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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But then chance intervened.   I was an instructional designer for 40 years, and one of my instructional design colleagues, David Ferguson,

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who is computer-smart, said to me that I could have my own textile web site without much effort and, in 15 minutes, showed me how to use WordPress.com to do it.  This was perhaps the greatest accidental step.

WordPress.com is easy, and intuitive, and its technical, support staff describe themselves as “happiness engineers” for a reason.  And so, I began to make my own posts on Textiles and Text. 

Although discussion, with instant around-the-world comparisons, using images, can be wonderful, I saw, in Turkotek, that the monitoring task, if one allowed responses, was formidable.  A single person with a computer could destroy useful conversation, and the effort to prevent that, in some way, was not how I wanted to spend my time. 

So, I opted for a one-way conversation.  I gave an email address to which readers could write, if they thought they had something important to consider, but I retained, for myself, whether and how, I would use such responses.

My first post on Textiles and Text was of an RTAM that Dennis Dodds gave on December 13, 2007 on Anatolian yastiks.  

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I always have more than 20 posts in various stages of development, (I took a look and there are, currently 46) and some will, likely, never be published. 

But I don’t give up easily.  I have published a post, usefully, I think, six years after the session itself. 

I have published 135 posts to date (more, if you count the posts on my Eccentric Wefts site). 

I have over 500 subscribers and send post announcements to an international email list of over 400 addresses.  Some these addresses are for clubs who can pass on my posts to their members.  So there is, sometimes, a cascade effect.

And it has been, and is, a joy. 

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I decided, early, that there would be no deadlines.  I’m retired, and most speakers have jobs and lives.  I try to make everything as easy as I can for speakers, and thank them, lavishly, and appropriately, for helping me fashion Textile and Text posts.  And they have been generous.

And so, now, there is this unexpected recognition.  It has happened before.  The late Russell Pickering was a great admirer of my two textile-related sites and engineered for me, shortly before his death, a McMullan Award.

As I said to him, as he presented it to me, “I’m really appreciative, but I think you’ve made a mistake.”  I feel that same way, here, today.

Thank you.

Two last things. 

First, the Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs have been going on for many years.  And this series is frequently described as a “core” TM program.  When Virginia Delfico

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Virginia Delfico and Harold Keshishian

Photo Courtesy of Barry O’Connell

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was, what was then called the Education Director, she said that she was told, coming into that job, that the “rug mornings” were sacred, and the presumption was that there would be one on most Saturdays. 

Some of us, who know what the work of producing RTAMs is like, are in awe of Virginia’s performance.  For 11 years, she would often have five RTAMs in a month with five Saturdays, and it was rare for her to have only three in a given month. 

But the local cadre of RTAMs speakers has thinned out and it’s now difficult to put on two a month, steadily. 

Part of that problem is that we have no predictable budget to draw on to pay for speaker travel expenses.  We are usually able to put up visiting speakers in interesting, even sumptuous textile collector homes, but it is a predictable travel expense fund that we lack. 

So, without wanting to seem ungrateful for the investment that has been made to archive my Textile and Text posts, I want to plead that we conspire anew to arrange a modest travel budget ($6K-$8K) annually to make it more likely that quality RTAMs will continue to be produced.

A second last thing is whether and how the TM wants this documenting of RTAMs to go on.  I plan to do what I’ve done for as long as I can.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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I turned 83 this week, published two posts on July 4, and Wendel and I are near completion on another on Swedish textiles, but the question of institutionalizing the documentation of RTAMs is an increasingly real one. 

Years ago, Dan Walker and I talked about whether this documentation could be taken into the TM staff.  Dan said that there were advantages associated with doing that, but that he thought it was best done by an interested volunteer.  But if, this documenting is to go on, some arrangement needs to be made. 

There are some modest skills required, but they are within the reach of most of us. And I am willing to train someone. 

Perhaps the most difficult thing to find is someone who has the time and interest to do it.  I don’t have a solution, but something needs to be done, and the time available for doing it is getting shorter.

Thank you, again, for this very nice gesture,

John

Now, as I said, at the beginning, this was a real “potpourri-type” RTAM and a lot of material was brought in.  To see that you need to use this link:

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2019/08/21/celebration-of-the-documenting-and-archiving-of-many-of-the-rug-and-textile-appreciation-morning-programs-part-2/

There are some addenda to Part 1 below.

Addendum 1

Readers and, especially researchers need to be aware of some distinctions that are created by this Textile Museum archiving my Textile and Text posts. 

First, these posts were first documented on my wordpress.com site Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts.  They are still there and you can reach them directly.

Textiles and Text

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/

Eccentric Wefts

https://raymondj.wordpress.com/

The TM archived version of those posts are an edited version. 

The TM began this archiving by creating an edited electronic and also paper-based pdf of what was on my two sites. 

The archived version so far includes all of the posts made on both Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts from their inception in 2007 to a post on a session given by David Zahirpour in January, 2019. This archived pdf version is available in paper-based copy in the TM Library.

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Important: This archiving was the first of several that the TM has undertaken.  They will now move to these other archiving tasks and will not be archiving any further Textiles and Text post for perhaps two years.  This is important because there have already been noteworthy posts since January, 2019 on both Textiles and Text and Eccentric Wefts and these posts can ONLY but accessed with the two links above.

It is also useful to note that it is the edited, archived version that is linked to the TM’s web site.

https://museum.gwu.edu/rug-mornings

Tracy said the following about editing:

“Very little editing was done other than formatting changes and images being resized. I think a few pictures were omitted if there were multiple images of the same item. The text was completely unchanged.”

John: It appears that the archived version does not include the black ground white type format of the sites but if you click on a given image you will be taken to it and seem also to have access to larger images (again by clicking on them).  When editing puts images side-by-side the width of the initial image is reduced to 250 pixels.  Larger versions may be available on the original wordpress.com posts.

 

Addendum 2

The Origins of the Rug and Textile Appreciation Mornings (RTAMs) Are Uncertain

Harold Keshishian,

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is widely seen to have been an originator of the RTAMs and a central force in their continuation and success.  The Textile Museum has recognized Harold’s predominance over the years by naming this series for him.

But I spent a lot of time, during his last years, with Harold’s friend, Russ Pickering

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who said that things were not that simple: that others were involved.

And at a fairly recent RTAM, looking back on this series, a different remembrance and account surfaced.

Wendel Swan was facilitating, and noted that the exact beginnings of the RTAM programs are a bit obscure, even sometimes debated, but that we had one resource in the room, who actually attended the first RTAM (then called the “rug morning” program).  He asked Phyllis Kane, who had attended the first “rug morning” session,

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PhyllisKane

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to talk a bit about her experience

Phyllis agreed that the origins of the RTAM programs are uncertain, but said that her remembrance was that, while Harold Keshishian

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HaroldandMelissa(Harold and his wife Melissa)

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was, from the first, a big supporter, she thought that Louise Mackie,  now for years at the Cleveland Art Museum, but then a TM curator, was likely the real mind behind it. 

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She said that Mackie got the docent group started, and it was as a docent, in those days, that Phyllis attended the first RTAM in the Spring of 1973.

Phyllis remembered that the advertising of this first session was informal, and that they wondered who would learn about it and come.  They were gratified that 11 people came to the first session, and that there were 13 (sessions were initially programmed monthly) in the next one. 

Phyllis subsequently lived abroad for a time.  She said she was gone for a couple of years and when she returned she found that RTAM sessions were drawing a crowd. 

Then, she was away again, and returned to find chairs being brought in to accommodate standees.  It was clear that the RTAM programs were a success.

So, as you can see, history is very shallow and memories vary.  However they started, the RTAM programs have gone on for a long time and have, I think, have been in important TM outreach effort, initially, mostly to the DC area, but now with the use of the internet, internationally.

 

Addendum 3

(The links below may or may not be “live.”  If they are not, you need to copy them and paste them into your browser.)

Links to RTAMs Put Up on Turkotek.com

John Wertime on Sumak Bags

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00018/salon.html

Jerry Thompson “Potpourri on Carpets from the Middle East”

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00017/salon.html

Ed Zimmerman and Michael Seidman on “Other Ottomans,: using TM Collection material.

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00044/salon.html

Wendel Swan gave a “Potpourri” RTAM

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00050/salon.html

Dennis Dodds on “Turkmen Rugs”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00083/salon.html

Saul Barodofsky on “Younger Textiles Can Be Good”

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00003/discussion.htm/

Ed Zimmerman and Michael Seidman on Pieces from Their Own Collections

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00008/discussion.html

Joe Fell on “Some of My Favorite Things from My Trunk

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00094/salon.html

Harold Keshishian on “Safs”

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00027/content.html

Tom Xenakis, a painter and textile collector on “A Painter Looks at Color in Oriental Rugs and Textiles.”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00112/salon.html

Harold Keshishian on “Islamic Textiles”

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00012/salon.html

David Zahirpour on Southwest Persian Textiles

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00048/zahirpour.htm

John Howe on “Red in Rugs and Other Textiles”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00118/salon.html

Jerry Thompson: “Potpourri on Carpets from the Middle East”

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00017/salon.html

John Wertime on Sumak Bags

http://www.turkotek.com/mini_salon_00018/salon.html

Links to Non-RTAM But TM-Related Posts Put Up on Turkotek.com

Sara Wolf on “Why Don’t Museums Provide Better Lighting?”

http://www.turkotek.com/salon_00058/salon.html

Jim Blackmon on “Those Other Central Asian Rugs: Uzbek, Karakalpak, Khirghiz and Arab”

http://turkotek.com/salon_00078/salon.html

TM Exhibition: Navajo Blankets from the 19th Century

http://www.turkotek.com/misc_00014/navajo_blankets.htm

TM Exhibition of 16th-17th Century Persian Fragments

http://turkotek.com/misc_00058/fragments.htm

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Celebration of the Documenting and Archiving of Many of The Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning Programs, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2019 by rjohn

This is Part 2 of an RTAM held on July 13, 2019 celebrating the documenting and archiving of this Textile Museum continuing series.

If you read Part 1 you know what the speechifying part was like.  If not, you can see it using this link:

https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2019/08/21/celebration-of-the-documenting-and-archiving-of-many-of-the-rug-and-textile-appreciation-morning-programs-part-1/

But this was also a real RTAM and people were invited to bring pieces that had been shown on Textiles and Text but that was not a requirement.

Michael Siedman facilitated, 

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starting with the more fragile material.

(You can click on most of the following images in this post to get a somewhat larger one.)

Roger Pratt has an extensive collection,

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but no one I know has done as much as he has with hats.  He said that his preferences in textiles start with color, but that he is also interested in unusual structures and he confesses that sometimes the stories one encounters, when one begins to investigate a purchase provide real enjoyments.

He started with this hat.  It has a “basketry” weave overlaid with silk patterning.

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There is a seeming inscription, that is thought to be “Allah is Great.”

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Roger said that he collected it in Sumatra. His questions were “Where was it made?” and “Why was it made? (what was its purpose?).  It came with a turban wrapped around it.

He said that the British Museum said that this is an “Indonesian ‘pilgrim’ hat.”  And it was meant to be worn with the turban over and covering it.  Indonesians were allied with the Ottoman Empire, where turbans were worn.  Perhaps a souvenir of a “hajji” trip.

Roger’s second hat was the one below.  Roger said that he bought it in Istanbul and the dealer said that it was Kurdish.  Intense cochineal but a different treatment of the top that that used in the first hat above. No calligraphy.

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Below is the top, a little out of focus.

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Roger’s third hat is the one below.  He bought it in a “Silk Road” shop.  It is a Tekke baby hat, bedecked with charms and jewels of the sort passed from one generation to the next, perhaps with things added.  Rooster feathers symbolize a “new day” or “new dawn.”

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A second view.

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Roger’s fourth hat was very like the one one that appears in the current (200th) issue of Hali.  It is described there as one worn by Yomut girls before marriage.

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Below is Roger’s hat.

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He said that he has added his own feathers.

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This must be so because he advanced on me, pulled out a feather and gave it to me, saying that there was also an American tradition of the “Yankee Doodle Dandy” who “had a feather in his cap.”

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Colin England insisted on putting it into my hat.

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But I worried that it might not last long, exposed like that, and so have had it framed.

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Louise Shelly had brought two pieces.

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She said that she had brought this contemporary garment because it appeared on one of my blogs.

Below, is it being held by Karthika Audinet, who had it made from cottons, hand-woven in India.  Karthika, many will know, is a weaver, textile designer and a serious student of textiles.  One of her interests is the wonderful old cottons that were produced in India.  She has also, sometimes, been an entrepreneur and this garment was from one such effort.

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The second textile Louise brought was the one below.  I think she said it came from the Val Arbab collection.

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The back it also very elaborately decorated with a separate cloth (I was only able to take the small glimpse you see in the image below).

Afterwards, Louise sent me this additional information about it:

The piece that I brought is probably 19th century Qajar piece from Iran.  It is done with painting on cotton.

A photograph from the Newark Museum of a similar piece is here: https://newarkmuseum.wordpress.com/2016/02/09/curators-choice-prayer-cloths/

Here is a similar piece from the Widener Library at Harvard.  s://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/ids:42570491

It is referred to as Qalamkari.  There is an inscription at the top of the piece that I need to get deciphered.  

The Qajar pieces fill the whole textiile with animals and plants.  There is a similar tradition in India as the Newark Museum points out but there are less filled textiles.

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Marsha Swiss brought one of the nice small bags that she and her husband, Ron Costell, collect.

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Ron Costell, John Wertime and Marsha Swiss in another RTAM

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Here is a closer look and description of it from another Textiles and Text post in which it appeared.

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8 x 9 inches (20 x 22 cm)

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21 (back of 20)

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Comments on 20 and 21: 

TINY MULTIPURPOSE SINGLE BAG; QASHQA’I; PLAIN WEAVE GROUND WITH PATTERNING IN SUMAK (EXTRA WEFT WRAPPING) ON FRONT & BACK; A CHARMING RENDITION OF A COMMONLY SEEN ANIMAL MOTIF ON A COTTON GROUND WITH A SKILLFULLY DESIGNED BACK MAKES THIS A RARE PIECE.

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Wendel Swan had brought four pieces.  He started with his latest purchase.

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Wendel said: “This may be one of the last things that I ever collect because I have begun to dispose of my lifelong collection. It is one half of the front of a tunic from the Chimu culture in Peru, probably 15th Century or earlier.

Although it is only part of the tunic, it is a complete and intact weaving in itself and would have been sewn to the others.

Each of the figures (the gods and the cats) have distinct color palettes, with no combination of the colors being repeated. This effort can be found in distinguished weavings from around the world, including some from the Caucasus, where great care was taken to achieve this effect.

Shortly we’ll see a  Caucasian rug, which also does not repeat the color palette of any element.

Wendel also brought two Swedish agedyna (carriage cushion) covers.  

(Remember to click on images to get larger versions of them.)

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These Swedish carriage cushion covers (agedyna) are dated 1798 for the trensaflossa (below) and 1822 for the red ground embroidery (above).

Wendel said: “I began collecting Swedish folk weavings in 2006, about the time when I became less involved in Turkotek and when John began his blog.

“I have since sold nearly all of my Shahsavan collection and have added Swedish textiles. These two will be shown in a forthcoming posting by John. There are very few in the US who collect Swedish textiles, but the RTAMs and John’s blog have been responsible for letting the collecting world know about their existence.”

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Melissa Keshishian brought some fragments.

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The first one was a portion of a Greek bed hanging. Strong graphics.

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I’m copying treatment of the other two fragments Melissa brought since that let’s Harold describe them from an earlier post.

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Harold said this piece is a fragment of a bed curtain or cover.

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*The original was likely about 8 feet long. He indicated that it is most likely from Cyprus or perhaps Crete and has a Venetian double-headed design.

Harold said that piece below is a lovely, graphic item of embroidery from Eperus. It is a lady’s undergarment trouser. He said that it is one of the pieces he has collected that he likes most.

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Someone ask from the audience whether it was an item that would be seen. Harold smiled and said “Not usually, but perhaps on an appropriate occasion.”

Jim Henderson brought three pieces. 

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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He said that he wanted in part to ask for something RTAMs can sometimes do for collectors: help them understand a bit better what they have.

He started with two smaller south Persian pile bag faces with bird arranged around a central diamonds with arms.  He said they were confident that these were Khamseh.

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But he invited comparison between features of these two bag faces and the large asymmetrically knotted rug below.  Could it be Afshar?

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Here are some closer details of the rug above.

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Michael Siedman said that colors and patterns in this rug are related to Khamseh usages but that the diagonal border feature is Afshar. 

Austen Doyle added that it may have been woven in the Kerman area but looks Afshar. 

I don’t think the rug’s square shape played in this attribution effort.

 

Ann Marie Moeller brought a Japanese futon cover from a town that is famous for double ikat.

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This piece is later than 1905 and the calligraphy says “Fuji, Victory of the World.”  It commemorates the Japanese victory over Russia at that time.  It has a battleship motif.  Japan took out two of Russia’s three fleets.  Significant in modern warfare technology.  

Woven in four parts.  Woven in one long piece of fabric and requires consistent warp tension

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Mount Fuji represents Japan – says “Japan the best in the world.”

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Richard Isaacson

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brought a long Uzbek sleeping rug, woven in northern Afghanistan.

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It is very coarse but not woven, as some such rugs are, on alternate raised warps.  With weaving on alternate raised warps the front designs do not show on the back and, as you can see in the two following images, this is not the case for Richard’s rug.

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More details of the front of this rug.

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Amy Rispin brought a complete bag, opened up.

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Amy described her piece as a finely woven qashqai bag with a decorative flatwoven back with typical south Persian pattern.

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The back on Amy’s khorgin set is very similar to the designs on Wendel Swan’s following piece that is attributed to Luri weavers.

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Wendel Swan also brought a large Luri flatweave.

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My camera


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Wendel’s Camera

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Wendel Swan brought this Luri kilim, primarily because it was shown at Jim Opie’s April 28 presentation of South Persian rugs at the TM, for which there is a post.   Wendel had just received the kilim just two days before Opie’s presentation.

Part of the brief discussion was about the mysterious red square that seems unknown on other weavings.  On this occasion, however, Wendel said that the prior owner believed the red square to represent the Kaaba black stone and hung the kilim with Velcro so that the red square was at the top, i.e., in a position of prominence.  Jim Opie questioned this attribution and Wendel subsequently engaged in some chats on the internet, but no one could say that they had ever seen such an element and could not say one way or another what it was or might represent.

After studying the composition of the kilim, Wendel realized that it is a geometricized tree of life, with the red square being the vase from which the tree and branches emanate. 

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Wendel’s Camera

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The tree of life pattern is found throughout South Persia and he provided an image of a Kerman tree of life rug to illustrate how the simple forms in the kilim correspond to the major design elements in the Kerman.

Wendel went on to say that he knows, perhaps better than anyone else, how much effort goes into these posts – far more that most people could ever realize.  He said it was gratifying to be able to follow up on the earlier discussion and to provide an answer to an interesting question.

Colin England

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Colin1

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brought two silk rugs with similar designs.  Both Hereke.

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Hung over the top of the board

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After Colin gave me this description:

“Two rugs, both containing the signature of of Sharinian, one of the most famous of the weavers of silk Hereke rugs. 

Both are primarily silk pile with silk foundations.

The first rug was woven before 1970 (it was purchased in 1970), and is in the style of the Kum Kapi master weavers, as the Shirinians bought the designs of Zareh Penyamin from his widow around 1960. 

The knot count is about 625 and the rug includes extensive brocade, including silver wrapped brocade, as was common among the Kum Kapi weavings.  It is also woven upside down, with the niche being at the bottom of the rug, rather than the top, which was also characteristic of Kum Kapi weavings. 

The second rug was woven by 2000, and has been identified by the weaver as one of his.  The rug includes no brocade, includes about 2,000 knots per square inch, and is woven right-side up (i.e., the niche is at the top of the rug.) 

Both include Persian poetry, even though woven by Turkish weavers, as the designs are derived from 16th and 17th century Persian weavings from the Top Kapi colletion.”

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In the session, Colin said that these two rugs show how Hereke weaving has changed.

Austin Doyle

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brought a Shirvan rug with an unusual design.

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The field devices are probably flowers.  Each field device is a little different, something we saw in Wendel’s Chimu tunic, repeated here below.

Austin said that his Shirvan rug is probably from the Marasali area.

He also said that, “as you go up the rug, each row of flowers is a bit smaller than the row below.  This gives a sense of the flowers receding into the background and may have been done intentionally.  While this could have been the weaver reacting to a limitation of warp thread, the fact that it happens between the first and second row of flowers makes me think that it was done deliberately for a design purpose. ”   


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Details on Austin’s Shirvan rug.*

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William and Martha Bateson brought a piece and I asked them for a photo to make their participation concrete.

They wanted to be creative and sent me the shot below.(Thang Tibet, 1990s).

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We failed with a Photoshop repair and have had to retreat to the photo below, which is not bad.

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William and Martha brought in the Tibetan pile weaving below. 

He said “I have always believed this to be a piece of Tibetan horse/mule tack; likely part of a crupper.”

A “crupper” is a piece of tack used on horses and other equids to keep a saddle, harness or other equipment from sliding forward.  The piece below was, likely, placed behind the saddle as part of a crupper assembly, but the assembly is not complete. 

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I sent the image above to Nick Wright, the Tibetan expert, and he said: “It is a Tibetan crupper, part of a rider’s tack to protect the horse’s skin from the strap

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that connects to the rear of the saddle and goes, along the back and around the base of the animal’s tail.” 

So this textile would attach to the back of the saddle but go under this harness.  It is not just decorative; it’s functional, preventing the harness from irritating the horse’s back.

William said he brought it in because he knows that I like it, and he is right.  It is not only very attractive, it is unusual.  I’ve only seen a couple of other examples, that Nick Wright brought once.

I brought three pieces to this session.

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The first, is the one in the center above.  I bought it blind in Bergama in 2007

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and traveled all around western and central Turkey and showed it to a lot of knowledgeable people, without finding anyone who could tell me what it was.

It took me a year to find out: William and Sondra Bechhoefer told me that it was a communal napkin.  They also helped me put it in the hands of Nurhan Atasoy, the noted Turkish art historian, who confirmed their attribution

Here it is opened up and pinned to a wall.

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It is 17 inches wide and 190 inches long.  

It has simple, linear designs brocaded down the length of its field,

but both of its ends are more densely decorated with slit tapestry.  

The ground fabric is a mixture of linen and cotton.  Although the handle is a little stiff, the balanced plain weave is loose and gauzy in close-up.

An Anatolian dealer subsequently told me that this fabric is very like what the Egyptians used to bind their mummies.

The Bechhoefers also provided me with an image of an engraving of a communal napkin in use.

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Image courtesy of Phyllis Kane

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I’ve looked around the internet a little and there are indications that the communal napkin format arose about the 14th century, perhaps in Europe.  Place indications include England, Turkey and, even, Finland.  I found a 15th century Flemish painting by Dieric Bouts, of The Last Supper, that also shows a communal napkin in use.

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I’m very taken with this humble textile, so much so that I use it on my personal card.  Here’s the front:

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And here’s the back:

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We hear the “color, color, color” mantra a lot and, although, I collect on a budget, I found an instance in which I could indulge. 

I found the piece below in the bottom of a jewelry case in an antique store in southern Pennsylvania.

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Closer details.

Click on the next two images to get larger versions

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You can see that this is just barely a weaving, with occasional rows of weft to hold things together and in place.

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I asked whether it was for sale and they said they’d have to call the dealer and did.  The dealer said that it was for sale and I asked the price.  They said six dollars and I allowed as how I could indulge my admiration of color at that level.

After this session, Amy Rispin pointed out that there was St. Joseph’s Coat quilt pattern that featured vertical stripes like this and that I had one.

I looked around the web and quickly encountered this example.

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This quilt above was made in Pennsylvania in about 1950.

My own Joseph’s quilt was more subdued.  Not antique, but likely vintage.

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Amy Rispin said that she thinks it was made by the Amish.   I bought it in southwest Ohio, near some Amish communities.

The quilting pattern used is not elaborate but is typical of Joseph’s coat quilts.

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We ended speculating that my humble piece above may have been made by someone familiar with the Joseph’s Coat pattern.

My third piece was an African, Dida tie-dyed raffia skirt from the Ivory Coast.  I bought it, years ago, from Marla Mallett.  It is one of my responses to the color, color, color mantra, showing that texture can also be very important.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Here is Marla’s description of it.

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Click on the description below to get a larger version.

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After the session, Julie Geschwind, who knows such textiles, said that she has an example of this African “skirt” (with an accompanying hat).  She knows a great deal about it.  I was only able to get a few snippets.

First, she said that the the plaiter’s big toe is crucial to the plaiting process. 

She also said that while this was made as a tube garment open at the bottom, it was not worn in that way.  Instead, the cords at the bottom (front and back) were gathered, maybe twisted together, and then passed front to back, between the legs, and tucked into the waist in back.  This converts the “skirt” into a pantaloon.  This garment was worn by both sexes. 

I wish that I had talked to her more and will try to do so.  This is another of these instances that Jim Henderson talked about in which the RTAMs function to let us learn more about textiles we have owned, sometimes for years.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Bob Emry,

brought five Turkman bag faces from his extensive collection.

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E1

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Bob: The first is this one—a Yomut torba that has always been one of my favorites. It was actually exhibited in 2001 in  “From the Amu Darya to the Potomac” show curated by Richard Isaacson.  In the exhibit label Richard called it a mafrash—it 32 inches by 16 inches—smaller than most torbas but bigger than many mafrashes. 

Detail of E1.

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E2

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Bob: Yomut Turkmen.  This one might be more appropriately called a mafrash—it is 26 inches by 14 inches.  Excellent condition.

Details of E2.

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Its minor guls incorporate two “C” gul, back to back ( in as “C” motifs seen in “C” gul carpets).

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E3

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Bob: I have called it a torba, but some might call it a mafrash (of maybe a mafrash is just a small torba). —it is 31 inches by 15 inches.  

It features a good, white-ground, framing border and, in its field, the “kepse” gul about which Bob has offered a close analysis of design progression at the end of an earlier RTAM, he and I gave on Turkman weaving.  https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2017/11/22/turkman-now-part-1-the-lecture/  

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Notable for its very nice green, and the fact that the weaver was apparently unable to make up her mind about borders—or maybe she was just practicing different border elements.  

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E4

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This may be an important piece to notice. One reason for this is that it is entirely flat-woven and Elena Tsareva says, flatly, that Turkman flat-weaves have not be analysed.

Bob makes an argument: “I’ve called this a Tekke flatweave for two reasons—first, the weave is finer than what you typically see in Yomut weavings.  Second, it has rather substantial flatweave elems, at either end, and each is decorated with three sets of blue stripes, each set having three narrow blue stripes—this is typical of Tekke carpets.  A similar elem design is seen in some Ersari rugs, but I wouldn’t expect Ersari to be this finely woven.”

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Bob: “Some might say that the aesthetics of this piece don’t dazzle — if viewed from across the room, but, up close, I think it is quite marvelous.”  John: “This piece, except for the tapestry elem areas, is done entirely in brocade.”

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E5

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Bob: Nothing special about this torba, but the 12-gul ones are less common than are the 9-gul or the 6-gul versions.

This one is typical in being very fine, very short pile, very soft handle, masterfully woven.

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(click on the image below)

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Aija Blitte

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brought two Turkmen pieces.  Both “Middle Amu Darya.”

The first one was the piece below.  It is a long, torba-shaped pile bag face, but without a back.  It is so long that it calls into question the “torba” description.

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(Click on this image to get a larger version.)

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It has good color and strong graphics.  Here is a detail of it

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Aija’s second piece was the one below.

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Again, good color, good graphics. Also a nice, complete, balanced drawing of this design.

Here is a detail of it.

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I apologize to the owner of the next two pieces brought in, but I do not have his/her coments.  But they were two, attractive, sumak textiles.

The first was the very nice panel of a Shahsavan sumak piece below.  I don’t know who brought these two pieces in, but an experienced person described them for me after.

The first is the decorated side panel of a mafrash (rectangular bedding bag) from the Khamseh Province of Persia, probably late 19th or very early 20th Century. 

(Image below a little washed out, see details further down)

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Typically, in the Khamseh Province, the backs of the khorjin (saddlebags) were done not decorated, but usually just had plain red wefts on paired warps so that the backs looked much coarser than the front. 

The same was true for many of the mafrash. 

The other three sides of the mafrash, from which this side panel comes, likely would not have been decorated, further evidenced by the fact that this side panel has a circumferential border.  

Other Northwest Persian and Southern Caucasian mafrash have patterns that wrap around without side borders that are present here. Collectors see mafrash panels with borders all round as preferable.

This is work of the Shahsavan.

Here are some details of the above piece.

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The second sumak piece (below) this time a complete cargo-type mafrash.

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This complete mafrash is from Qarabagh in the Caucasus and is not necessarily Shahsavan.

The pattern wrapped around the mafrash continuously without side borders.

Mafrash were always woven in pairs, one for each side of the pack animal. Like the side panel, this was probably also woven in the late 19th or early 20th Century.

Detail of the piece above.

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Michael Seidman had brought two pieces.  The first was the Afshar sumak and brocade piece below. A wide palette (12 colors), excellent drawing and in very good condition.

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Michael said that on Turkotek, years ago, someone suggested that it is new piece (a real kiss of death).  In fact, he said, it came from the Ralph Yohe collection, who sold it to Ed Zimmerman. 

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It appeared in Dan Walker’s “Rugs of the Hajji Baba’s” in 1982, when he was in Cincinnati.  Although no age estimate is given, the Walker volume does say that this piece was purchased in “the New York trade around 1970.” So much for brand new.

Details of this nice piece.

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Michael said that there IS contemporary material worthy of collection and that he and his wife have collected some. 

His second piece was a contemporary table cloth, block printed in India. 

The detail in the block printing (I’m not sure that my details, below, convey it adequately) is incredible. 

Michael sometimes says that some contemporary textile work is better than that done in the 18th century.  I think he is right.

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Details.

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The “show and tell” part of this event ended and we adjourned to lunch in the Myers Room.

The GWU photographer, Harrison Jones, took a number of documenting and atmospheric photos of this event.  

Here are a few.

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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Photo: Harrison Jones / The George Washington University

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One important person has been left out here.  Tom Goehner, 

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the Textile Museum Education Curator, has long noticed that I am a champion of the Saturday, Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs.  He is likely the person who mostly planned and engineered this nice celebration.

He doesn’t appear in the documenting pictures because he was making sure that things went off as planned.  And they did.  It was very nicely done all round.

Tom, I still think it was unnecessary, but thank you for a very nice gesture and event.

I hope readers will have seen some good material and had some useful explanations.  I am sorry not to be able to share, also, a little of the nice white wine.

‘Til next time,

R. John Howe