Tuesday 11 February 2014

A Star-Kazak Atlas

The Star Kazaks were first isolated and defined as a group by the Editorial team of Hali 3,Nr 1, 1980.Their division into four groups is still accurate,although a number of carpets could be placed simultaneously into different categories.More examples have surfaced in the last  30 years,no doubt enticed out of hiding by the consistently high prices reached by this group at auction.To the four groups a fifth has been added here,encompassing mostly later examples.Within each category the differences are mainly in the choice of border.
It is not inconceivable that different types of Star Kazak were woven by the same weaving-clans.But to determine this a great deal of technical information would have to be collated.The division into four groups is not meant to be qualitative,but serves to enable an efficient search and placement for any given type of item.The taxonomy is self-ordering.

1-Star Kazak types  A (left) and B (right)

2-Star Kazak types C(left) and D (right)

The origins of the design are difficult to fathom.In an essay from 1985,Eberhart Herrmann traced the origins to the “Crevelli”type medallion,as seen on a fragment in the Hungarian National Museum.The similarities are clear,as is the compound of Animal style and floral Lotus palmettes within the medallions.

3-Budapest Museum of Applied Arts(fotomontage)

4-Red Octagonals,ex-Orient Stars  

However the Crevelli fragment has a static design,whereas that of the Star Kazaks is  a repeat.This idea occurs in the Small Pattern Holbein carpets,which interface two surface elements flowing on beneath the borders.The corners of the red octagonals derive from a blueprint seen on a famous yellow-ground carpet in  Berlin.The corner “knots”have been exaggerated to fill out the white ground,and the blue stars of the Caucasian rugs have been formed out of the inner star forms of the Berlin”Göl”.



A further connection to very old Turkish carpets can be found in the borders of the “A” Group,presumably the progenitor of the others.This border appears on a Lotto carpet,once with the Textile Gallery.

7-Textile Gallery,Hali 61(125)

8-Halevim,Hali 115(139)

It can also be seen on a group of rugs with the “Ghirlandaio”pattern,which can be located to West Anatolia.In this later group the border appears as a mirrored Fleurs-de-Lys

9-Spuhler,al Sabah Collection(12)

10-Sothebys 10.6.2009(18)

A carpet from India now in the MET has also been touted as a possible forebear,but this seems unlikely.

11-Ballard Collection,MET 22.100

Another entry point for the red octagon design may well have been in the form of an embroidery.There are no Caucasian silk embroideries with a Star Kazak design,but one group does employ the "Fachralo" (or red octagon)medallion

12-Sothebys 7 June 1995(16)-The Toms Collection

This went on to influence another little-known group of knotted rugs

13-E.Herrmann SOT X-28

The above shares the star guard seen on a sub-group of D-type Star Kazaks. Dated 132? 

A group of Soumaks also feature this design

14-Pacific Collections 211,Burns Collection

Star Kazaks,Group A.

Published by Peter Bausback in 1971,the following had been sold at the Dole Collection sale on 19 August 1971(22)

15-Bausback 1971(37)

Chosen as a classic example in Hali`s rundown,the Mark Whiting carpet,purchased at Lefevre on 3 March 1972, later surfaced with Eberhart Herrmann

16-E.Herrmann,SOT IV(45)

A year before, Herrmann had published a further piece

17-E.Herrmann,SOT III(19)

When another superb example appeared at Skinners on 5 June 1988,Mr Herrmann was quick to snap it up

18-E.Herrmann,ATT 5(47)

The above selling for $154,000(see Hali 40-78)

The most iconic of all such pieces is the Abajian carpet,which had been previously held by Peter Bausback in 1978,and which was the subject of an amusing article by Herrmann in Hali 49.He did of course purchase it,for $286,000,at Sothebys New York on 20 January 1990.It spent some time with Joseph Rittman.Now Shein Collection USA(see Hali 176)

19-E.Herrmann,ATT 2(23)

Like two Generals,Bausback and Herrmann duelled their way through the `80`s-it was Star Kazaks at dawn.Not to be outdone,Peter Bausback was the conveyor for Heinrich Kirchheim`s group A piece

20-Kirchheim,Orient Stars  1

The above had surfaced at Nagels in 1976,was published by Bausback in his 1978 catalogue,resold at Rippon Boswell`s on 2 October 1999(1)for 290,000 DM.Last seen with Tabibnia in Hali 121.See Hali APG,Hali 108(124)

Bausback published two further Group A examples:

21-Bausback,Hali 1-4-373

22-Bausback,Hali 5-3-1

Appearing at Edelmann`s New York in 1981,the following later entered the Ralph Kaffel Collection

23-ICOC Catalogue Pacific Collections 210

A further piece appeared at Christies on 25 October 1984(53)

24-Christies 1984

In 1991 a rug sold at Sothebys for $ 92,400 to the Singapore Collector Ben Torres was savaged by Hali`s editorial staff,but to no avail.Re-auctioned at the Halevim Sale on 14 February 2001(85),it sold for $284,560(see Hali APGs,Hali 60-150 and Hali 116-157)

25-Sothebys 9 October 1991(60)-Halevim Sale Christies 14 February 2001(85)

The following was also criticised by Hali(40-79),who doubted its authenticity.It still managed a healthy $38,447 at Nagels on 9 June 1988(4175)

26-Nagels 1988

A newcomer is the carpet now in the Zaleski Collection,which was acquired at a Stockholm Auction 

27-Zaleski- Collection-Hali online 2.5.13

Star Kazaks,Group B.

The group B Star Kazaks share the same basic layout as those of group A,but the shapes and size differ.The Group B carpets are narrower and often longer,which leads to curious lateral solutions in the field.The overall look is less ornamented and more streamlined.There are two basic border types and a third subgroup with diverse borders.

The "Bead" Border.This is a necklace type minor guard used as a main border.

On its first appearance at Sothebys on May 19 1984(149)the following went unsold.It was slighted in Oriental Rug Review(IV-3-133)for its poor wool and dull appearance.No matter,for it then surfaced in Hali 26(32) as an ad for "Oriental Rugs Ltd". Later published by Battilossi in his third catalogue(13)


The legendary Jean Lefevre began his stint at Phillips on May 15 1986,but even he could not move the B-Type estimated at 20-25000 pounds, and the piece was bought in

29-Phillips 15 May 1986(22)

Similar to the Phillips rug was an example sold at Nagels on 10 May 1996(35)which realised DM 69,030

30-Nagels 1996

Perhaps too hot to handle,it was subsequently offered again at Sothebys New York on 10 April 1997(96)for an estimated $40-50,000.In the same year,but more cautiously,Christies offered another bead-border piece for an estimate of $15-20,000

31-Christies 1997

A further example at Christies on 14 October 1999(200)fetched 20,700 pounds

32-Christies 1999

Deemed worthy of a cover appearance,the following went unsold at Sothebys on 2 June 2010(31),with an estimate of $60-80.000.It is notable for its red ground border.

33-Sothebys 2010

A second piece with red ground border is now in the Nickle Galleries,Erikson Collection

34-Nickle Galleries,Calgary, Alberta

And the most recent appearance at auction was the carpet with an unusual top border sold at Sothebys on 31 January 2014(21) for $81,250

35-Sothebys 2014

Another group of B-types,four in all, employ a simple zig-zag outer border.

A carpet which emerged at Lefevre`s on 9 July 1976 sold for 9,900 pounds,and was also featured in Hali`s 1980 rundown as an iconic example

36-Lefevre 1976

Sold at Phillips New York on 28 October 1981 for $6,050,the following appeared in Peter Bausback`s catalogue of the same year.It re-appeared at Rippon Boswells on 17 November 2001(54),bringing DM 40,000

37-RB 57

First published by Herrmann in his 1980 catalogue(Von Konya bis Kokand,nr.32)the next rug subsequently went unsold at Lefevre`s on 21 October 1983. But three years later on 16 April 1986 the hammer came down at 10,450 pounds.The bidders arm was said to have been held high by a compatriot!


A last piece in this group was sold at Sothebys Islamic Sale on 20th April 1983(47)for 7700 pounds and is now in the Al-Sabah Museum in Kuwait

39-Spuhler,Carpets from Islamic lands(33)

A further 5 pieces from the B group have atypical borders.

A carpet published by Schürmann was placed in the C group by Hali`s editors,but the author prefers a B-Group allocation

40-Schürmann,Caucasian Rugs(5)

Published by E.Herrmann in his first Catalogue,the next rug later entered the Kirchheim Collection(Orient Stars 2)and then passed  to John Eskenazi(Hali 72-page 53)

41-Orient Stars

Once a wreck,Sotheby`s offer of 15 April 1993(132)was sold after restoration for a buoyant $68,500.Hali did not think much of it at the time,but opinions changed and it was later featured in the Hali Annual of 1994(page 208)Employs an interesting amalgam of C and D type borders,proving that the B-Type makers were aware the C and D Groups


43-Sothebys 1993

Published in ATT 1(13)by Herrmann,and later sold to Joseph Rittman,who offloaded it at Sothebys London on 18 October 1995(48) for $88,705

44-Herrmann ATT 1(13)

A similar,more mis-shapen rug was on offer at Sothebys on 16 October 1998(64)where it brought $56,250

45-Sothebys 1998

A B-Group by name only had brown warps and a Genjesque feel.It sold on 21 April 1999 at Sothebys London,for $42,585

46-Sothebys 1999

Just in time for this report is a B Type on offer at Leclere on 15 March 2014

47-LeClere 2014

Star Kazaks,C-group.Numerically the strongest.These feature three types of border,the most common of which is combination of swastika S forms and running dog.The blue on black colouring is an old Turkish device.

The National Gallery in Prague made a wise decision in 1971


A classic from Peter Bausback appeared in his 1976 catalogue,and was also featured in the Hali round-up

49-Bausback 1976

A sterling example was published by Margarete Herrmann in Weltkunst,c.1978

50-M.Herrmann Weltkunst Heft 23

On its first showing at LeFevre´s on 20th May 1977(11)the next example made 4,600 pounds;its second coming at Sothebys New York on 1 December 1984(100) realised $8,800,and at the Herrmann VII show on 2 November 1985 it was offered for DM 72,500

51-Herrmann,SOT VII(27)

Sold for 8800 pounds at Sothebys London on 29 March 1978,and featured by Fred Moheban in Hali II-2(1979),the next piece was also highlighted in Hali`s roundup(Hali 3-1-21)

52-Sothebys 1978

Appearing first at the Berdj Abadjian-William Doyle rug sale Nr.2 on 4 February 1973,the following was sold at SPB on 19 March 1980(250)for $15,950.It subsequently sojourned at Peter Bausback`s (catalogue 1980-221),and was then re-offered at Nagels on 16 May 1981(201) for DM 38,000

53-Bausback 1980

Unsold at lefevere`s on 25 November 1983(8)the next rug appeared twice as an advertisement in Hali for Joseph Lavian(Hali VI-2-1984,page 14,and Hali 30 page 99)before being offered at Nagels Stuttgart on 27 September 1986(varia sale,back page)Last seen with Brian McDonald


Achieving a then world record price for a 19th century Caucasian rug at auction,the following was said to contain traces of Fuchsine,but perhaps a dye analysis might reveal Logwood?DM 150,00($58,000)at Rippon Boswell`s on 16 November 1985(102)

55-RB 1985

From Maurizio Battilossi`s 2nd Catalogue


Offered at Christies London on 26 April 1990(90)for 60-80,000 pounds,the next example subsequently passed to David Sorgato

57-Sorgato-Hali 167

A particular favourite of the Hali team,the next item has been reviewed by them three times:in editions 60,99,and 161.Its track record is as follows:DM 27,600(Nagels 14 October 1991,lot 1112);$23,000(Sothebys New York 15 April 1986,lot 96);and $17,500 at Sothebys New York on 10 June 2009,lot 44.It apparently brought more in an unrestored state

58-Nagels 1991

Eberhart Herrmann`s offering in his beautiful Caucasians-only catalogue from 1993 was dated 1879,a fact dismissed by its owner

59-Herrmann 1993(42)

Bonhams carpet sold well on 18 January 1995 for 9,775 pounds against an estimate of 4-6000

60-Bonhams 1995

Even fragmented examples have been offered at auction,such as the item sold at Van Hamm`s on 2 December 1994 for DM 10,000

61-Van Hamm 1994

Or the strange thing at Christies on 15 October 1998(273)

62-Christies 1998,estimate $7,400-8,900

Sold at Christies on 20 September 1979(2043)the following item was advertised by Peter Bausback in Hali 119(71)and again in his 2001 brochure


The German dealer Hans Eitzenberger advertised the following in Heimtex 2007,notable for its dramatic border abrash


Unrestored seems to be the way to go these days,as Rippon Boswells exciting rug proved on 24 May 2008(79),bringing $72,050 despite tatty condition

65-Add caption

A last member of this group was once with the English dealer Arditti,whence it passed to the enterprising Haliden Company in Bath


Star Kazaks C-Group,yellow border.

Four pieces have a distinct yellow border on a brown ground,again a "running-dog" variant.

The first Star Kazak to have been published,by Grote-Hasenbalg in 1922,also sports such a border


It has been the subject of a number of European copies,one of which appeared at Sothebys on 25 July 1990(55)

68-Sothebys 1990

First published as an illustration in a Russian book(Kovr`Armenskii S.S.R,Moscow 1952)the following later surfaced at Van Hamm`s Auction House on 28.10.06(37)where it has lost none of its painterly attributes,and finally passed to the Internet dealer Equito,said to be Herr Tehrani from Hamburg

69-Hali 3-1-23-13-a painting

70-Van Ham 2006-a photo

An exuberant piece from Rippon Boswells on 16 November 1991(116)rounds off this section;it was missing its lower border but still sold for $83,910

71-Rippon Boswell 1991

A further two pieces feature the leaf-and-calyx border design

72-Mirzakhanian,Hali 54-41

The second example was offered at Sothebys NY on 13 April 1995(126) for $15-20,000

73-Sothebys 1995

Four other C Group pieces are known with deviant borders.

Published in 1937 by Bruno Eberl,the following looks like a European housewive`s attempt at the Grote-Hasenbalg,but may just be poor reproduction

74-Bruno Eberl,plate 2

Sold at Skinners on May 31 1987(95)for $19,800,the next rug spent time with Jim Blackmon before being offered unsuccessfully for 25-30,000 pounds on 12 April 2000(48)at Sothebys London


The Austrian Textile and Rug Association had not been idle either and published an explosive item with charming minor guards in their catalogue TextileKunstFeuer(TKF)from 2002

76-TKF 50

A carpet offered at Sothebys London on 11 October 2004 failed to sell(again)at 8-12,000 pounds estimate.This corner of the market had ground to a halt.

77-Sothebys 2004

D-Group Star Kazaks.

These all have a "crab" design border on yellow ground;one cluster has an added star design inner guard.

A year after Werner Grote-Hasenbalg first published a Star Kazak,the Ballard piece,a supreme example, was published in 1923`s Breck-Morris catalogue of a touring Ballard show

78-Ballard Collection MET-Tschebull,Kazak,cover

Dr.Schürmann`s example from 1976 was later published by John Eskenazi

79-Il Tappeto Orientale-68

The English dealer Alex Juran once owned an unusual example with a partial white cotton field,now in an English Collection

80-Juran-Hali 3--1-1980-21

The Italian dealer Paolo Bindi exhibited a rug with deviant border in 1981

81-Hali 3-3-221

No Bausback catalogue would be complete without its "Star",the following is from the 1987 catalogue

82-Bausback 1987-45

The Swiss dealer Werner Weber organised a number of auctions with Ineichen.The next piece sold for a whopping $164,708 on 20 October 1990(135)in Zurich

83-Weber 1990

On its first unrestored appearance at Nagels in 1999(11 May,lot 94)the next rug made $7070

84-Nagels 1999

reappearing at Christies on the 8 October 2013(138) it reached 50,000 pounds

85-Christies 2013

A carpet recently sold at Sothebys ends this section.Lot 167 on 31 January 2014 brought $23,750

86-Sothebys 2014

Star Kazaks,D-Type,with inner Star guard.

Dated 1821,the following appeared at Nagels on 18 November 1978(325)where it was offered for 14,000 DM,and was published a year later by Peter Bausback in his 1979 catalogue(17)

87-Bausback 1979

Dated 1834,a next piece was offered at Spiks in Berlin on June 28 1986(1845)and sold for $15,882

88-Hali 32-83

The Seattle Collector Jim Burns published an unusual example in his 1987 book of Caucasian Carpets

89-Traditions in Weaving,Burns,31

From the magnificent "Trefoil" Exhibition organised in San Francisco

90-Trefoil,1989,plate XIV

Another US exhibition entitled "The Treasure of the Caucasus" organised in 1993 featured an example from the Collection of Lawrence Southworth

91-Treasure of the Caucasus-6

First offered at Christies on 17 December 1996(7)this carpet was eventually sold at the same Auction rooms for $21,850 on 2 April 1998(6)

92-Christies 1996+1998

The Italian dealer Mohtashem offered the same piece restored in Hali 105.Note the star borders on the field-sides only

93-Mohtashem-Hali 105

Rippon Boswell held an auction on 20 March 1999,albeit without printed catalogue,where a type D sold at $25,065

94-Hali 104(118)

Sold for 20,900 pounds at Christies London on 10 April 2008(17)

95-Christies 2008

A last piece was published by Jack Cassin,defender of the D-Types


Star Kazaks,Group E.

Both Herrmann,Kirchheim and Hali have proposed a fifth category of Star Kazaks.Kirchheim`s choice was for a group to have included his Orient Stars Nr.3,which is indeed an heir to the starry throne,however outside the scope of this entry.

97-Orient Stars 3

The problem is that the Group E is already occupied,chiefly by a party of late, ugly and in some cases probably fake rugs.All of these pieces show what Hali once called"early stages of design infestation with crawling things"(Hali 90(123)

The Group E pieces develope out of the Group A.

The first example was published by Murray Eilland III in the 1973 edition of his standard work,Oriental Rugs.

98-Eiland 1973-168

The next example was published in 1983,in the third Volume of Kerimov`s Azerbaijan Carpet,dated 18th Century,and is said to be from the Imperial Sanatorium in Carlsbad,Czech Republic

99-Kerimov 3-129

The duplex forms between Star and Octagon have been separated to form a design not unlike the running dog found on the yellow ground borders of the C-Group.

A carpet with separated duplex forms sold at Kollers Zurich on September 13 1986(1609) sold for $8,952

100-Hali 33(85)

By 1991 Hali had got wise to this category when describing the piece at the Lowie Museum in Berkeley as "replete with synthetic orange"-a characteristic of the group as a whole

101-Hali 56-88

The carpet at Sothebys on 15 December 1994(156) brought its owner $ 17,250

102-Sothebys 1994

A piece sold at Sothebys on 26 April 1995(51)elicited a subdued response(see Hali 81-118)but nevertheless sold for $25,825

103-Sothebys 1995

18 months later at Nagels a very similar item was sold to the book without another bid for $17,575.As with the above,the duplex forms have mutated into a Karachov-type field device

104-Nagels 1995-1

Somewhat wooden, but approved by Ian Bennett in his description to Plate 1 of "Rugs of the Caucasus,from three private Lebanese Collections"(a show at the Sursock Museum in Beirut)the narrow border lacks the hooks seen on the oldest Group A pieces

105-Bennett Bassoul 2003

Sold at Sothebys for $ 15,000 on 16 December 2005(70)the next example appeared three months later at the Second part of the Bonhams Moheban Sale on 14 March 2006(6106)where it went for $17,925.It is almost an acceptable A-Type(see Hali 146-127)Later with Robert Abed(dehati.1 on ebay)

106-Sothebys 2005

Sold on ebay on 29 July 2006

107-ebay 2006

And a last example from this sordid chapter was offered at Kaminskis on October 24 2009(163)and sold for $3000

108-Hali 161-12

Two pieces are known with a Parallel design.The better known was at Lefevre`s on 1 December 1978(7)and sold for 6,500 pounds.It has since been sighted in America.

109-Lefevre 1978

A second later piece appeared in an internet auction

110-Prince Sirius July 2008

The following three carpets are difficult to place

111-Edelman 24 October 1981(515)

Yet they are a clear indication that the star kazaks were valued and thought worthy of copying within the Caucasian sphere

112-Skinners 11 September 1993(98)

A third dated item showed up restored at the Sartirana Fair


A number of runners are known.

Kerimov`s item has a renegade D Border

114-Kerimov 1983-3-128

A frequently published rug from Bausback(Nagels 4.6.1987-3511;Nagels 7.9.2010-105;Nagels 13.9.11-96;Nagels 11.9.2012-50) may well be East Anatolian or even NW Persian

115-Bausback 1991

A similar rug was offered on the Internet by Carpet Diem

116-Carpet Diem

A third piece was advertised by the Farmand Gallery

117-Hali 167

A fragment from Zia Bozoglu contained all necessary information

118-Zia Bozoglu

Despite the strictures of the runner format Skinner`s piece on 12 October 2012(117) had all the right stuff

119-Skinners 2012

The Star Kazaks depart,not with a bang but a whimper.Yet even the most prosaic examples draw blood at auction.The swagger of the best pieces later gives way to a vacant braggadocio.Fakes,whilst not abundant,are present in even some notable collections.The hype engendered by the epoch-making Hali Editorial of 1980 has not yet come to an end.