Wednesday 20 February 2013

An Exclusive Club

Due to the frequency with which some items are re-published,a distorted view of their actual rarity may arise.One such case is the East Turkestan carpet chosen by Hans König to illustrate a group of woolen carpets with textile design(Hali 175,page 50)

 1-Tabibnia-Intrecci Cinesi page 100

This carpet has been published at least eleven times,although only five examples of the group are known.(Writing in Hali 138,page 57,König refers to six pieces,but without listing them)

2-Tabibnia,Hali 174-50

3- Tabibnia,Hali 138-52,also Hali 102

Three of the five are so similar that in comparing the Tabibnia rug(Hali 174,page 50)to the piece published in König`s  2005 monograph on Gansu carpets,the editors mixed up the pictures-Issue 174`s piece was auctioned three times,having been previously in the possession of Barbara Sedlin and Maurizio Battilossi(1).The carpet in Hali 138-53(2) is another Tabibnia carpet once belonging to Jay Nazmiyal,and exhibited by him in Hali 102.

4- Christies 19 November 1985-Lot 18

The above is the first published example.

Another piece in the possession of Maurizio Battilossi was also the largest:a gigantic 523 x 358 metres,which understandably failed to sell against an estimate of $150-200,00 at Sothebys in 1994

5- Battilossi,Hali 74

An atypical piece was once owned by E.Herrmann and later went to the Textile Gallery

6- Hali 40,Herrmann 

The design itself is derived from 15th century Ming Lampas weaves,of a type published in Hali 103,page 152.


The similarities are so obvious that a further excursion into possible Safavid influence need not detain us here.

A silken mat bearing this design was first published in the Tiffany`s Studio catalogue of 1906 

8-Tiffany 1906-page 91

It is so close to a second example from the Wher collection that one must presume that they were once a pair.

9-Hali Annual 4 1997-page 99

A later silk example was also in the hands of Adil Besim

10- Besim 3-77

Of the five known woolen carpets technical information is available for four.They all have a 4-ply warp,and three shoots of weft,on either ivory or blue-dyed cotton.Only the Herrmann rug has a weft of two shoots,a looser general weave,some use of Turkish knotting and white cotton in the field.But do these mildly aberrant features justify opening up a new folder?

A number of silk rugs with the Octagon-Squares design are known.The most prominent is a piece from an Austrian Collection

11-Gewebt & Geknüpft 1-3-58

Note the way in which a different section of the design has been used in the silk example.

A “Kashgar” silk carpet with Khotan borders  is a simpler development

12-Sothebys 1 October 2002-Lot 302

A Chinese silk-metal carpet,as ever,bears the design

13-Christies 22 June 2005-Lot 214

The Chinese carpet mentioned in Hali 43-96 is a latecomer

14-Ineichen 6 June 1988-Lot 37

An early Chinese rug once with the Textile Gallery bears an elegant version of the design,closer in style to the textile blueprint

15-The Textile Gallery

The Octagon-Squares design is a pleasing one,none more so than in silk,from whence it presumably came.Various weaving sheds probably had a go at it,although three of the five woolen examples are surely from the same hands,i.e from the makers of-”Yarkand”The practice of ascribing carpets to definite areas on the grounds of technical  characteristics is questionable,as it may be that similar types of carpet,of differing structures, were made in the same area.The terms “Yarkand,Khotan,Kashgar” seem to have become synonyms for a stylistic expression,rather than geographical locations.History is rarely so accomodating.Rug circles are slowly recovering from the malaise of disinformation supplied by carpet dealers in the early 20th century,whose chief motivation was to disguise their acquisition points,whilst appearing knowledgeable.In business this is accepted practice;less so for historians.The unverifiable origin of carpets necessitates a reliance on taxonomy and structure. 

Octagon Squares Collation.

1) Christies 1988-Sothebys 1994-Sothebys 2002- Battilossi-Tabibnia

Warp Z4S White;Weft Z2-4 white,3 shoots;309 x 174 m.

Auction Results:Christies East 6.December 1988,Lot 56-$46,200; Sothebys 15 December 1994,Lot 128-$46,000; Sothebys NY 3 December 2002,Lot 102-$59,750.

2)Sothebys-Nazmiyal-Tabibnia:175 x 315  Sothebys 12.12.1997-51:Warp:Cotton Z5-6S,ivory;Weft:cotton Z3-4S,three shoots ivory;3.17 x 1.75 m. Auction Price:-$54,050

3)Christies 1985:no data available. 3.07 x 180 cms.

4)Sothebys 1994 + Battilossi Hali 74:Warp Cotton Z4S,ivory;Weft Z2 4 shoots;523 x 358;auction price:offered at Sothebys NY 15 December 1994 for estimate $150-200,000-unsold.

5)E.Herrmann,SOT 8-115:Warp:cotton light blue Z4S;Weft:cotton light blue Z2,2 shoots;152 x 357 cm;occasional use of Turkish knot;cotton in the pile;auction result:Sothebys NY 31 May 1986 Lot 69-$24,200;published in Hali 40,page 1;Hali 138,page 57,Textile Gallery.

6)Silk mat,published in Tiffanys catalogue 1906,page 91,circa 3 x 3 feet.

7)Silk mat,published Hali Annual 4 1997(Wher Collection),sold at Rippon Boswell 15 May 1999 for 12000 DM.Size 81 x 84 cms.

8)Silk Mat,Adil Besim,warp undyed cotton,not displaced;weft blue cotton, 2 shoots;size 86 x 83 cms.

9)Silk carpet,published in Gewebt & Geknüpft,I-III,page 58;and Volume IV,Nr.25;Warp Z4S cotton,ivory;Weft blue cotton, 2 shoots,Size 283 x 210 cms.The author confuses the two Tabibnia rugs here in his listing,Nr.3-

Hali APGs: Hali,31-87; 43-96; 79-148; 97-41; 128-129.

16-Tibetan silk-James Blackmon