Monday 21 March 2022

Salor Nine-Medallion Chovals


Rugtracker’s archaeological programme consists of excavating shards from a large site of  literature and assembling them into a whole. Sometimes later things can provide a spark for an in-depth study. What is late for us will not be thus viewed in fifty or a hundred years from now, although who knows in what form rug studies might then materialise?

A case in point is the occasional appearance of worthy atavisms on the internet.These are throwbacks which rarely make it into the press or the standard works.They also help us view the past through the eyes of carpet weavers for whom the tradition was still fresh.

Under consideration are the rare group of Salor 9 medallion bag faces, which may not have been made by a tribal group known as the Salor, and which may also never have been bags, as no example is known with a back. However, backs were(and are still) removed in order to simulate age, and for the feet of philistines. The 9-medallion group are considerably scarcer than the 16-medallion variety, of which 29 examples have been recorded. They mostly employed the quartered medallion form, with a few rare and immaculate pieces featuring the arabesque-cross centre.This device is used as the secondary on trappings where the arrangement has been reversed-i.e it functions as the secondary motif, and the secondary of the chovals is used as a primary. It features on the Kedjebe trappings and also on the Memling-göl  torbas. The Salor used a limited repertoire of designs which combined well with each other and simplified their difficult work.

Of the type with an arabesque-cross centre 8 examples are known, including three probable pairs (Group A)

Of the type with a quartered centre 6 potential examples are known, with no likely pairs (Group B)

Group A.


1) Two pieces which were sold at Rippon Boswell in 2007 (Left) and 2017 (Right) Superficially close but the right-hand example is a much later contrivance-its mechanical elem in the Saryk style betrays it.The 2007 rug is a rough-hewn monster which sold for 30,000 euro;the 2017 rug sold for 3000 euro. The cheaper of the two is so perfect that it seems to have stopped breathing, whereas the 2007 piece has constantly varying göl shapes-the description of a struggle.


2) Four post-classic phase items:the above mentioned item at Rippon Boswell in 2017;a piece at the Dorotheum in 2019 and later at the AAC in 2020 and 2022;a carpet with Ben Banayan on rugrabbit in 2022;and a piece with the Dutch ebay dealer Floris van der Berg in July 2006. In spite of obvious simplifications and their machine-gun elems,such rugs have genuine charm-if one can see beyond the snobbery.


3) Four classic-phase examples,clockwise: RB 2007-Royal Museum Ontario,published in Turkmen,Thompson/Mackie Nr.6-A fragment in Moscow-and the pair published in Azadi/Andrews,Wie Blumen in der Wüste,Nrs. 100 and 101.The Ontario rug is seriously compromised by smoked colour,and an alternative reproduction would be interesting to see.However, it is one of the most elegant.Little is known of the Moscow fragment: one cannot even be sure if it is a nine or 16 göl example.The tree elem is rare in this group but common on the standard Salor choval panels.The BitW pair are an immaculate quality of a different type to the rustic style as typified by Dr.Baumann`s couple-

4-left:BitW; right:Baumann Collection Austria.

4) The two pairs are shown as they may have lain on the loom.All nine-medallion examples with the arabesque-cross have a cut secondary on the lateral sides with the exception of the BitW pieces, which show a complete secondary göl,as in two Tekke examples with the same design-


5) Despite an odd APG in Hali 124-139, the Rippon Boswell-Ronnie Newman rug has been clearly identified as Tekke work, presumably on the basis of a right-hand open knot, and the analysis of Jurg Rageth revealed the same technique in the Munkasci piece.The pair from Peter Baumann have been twice described as Persian-knotted open to the right, as are a number of otherwise cast-iron Salors.

6) The most formidable of all such chovals divide their time between Saint Petersburg and the Italian dealer Albert Levi-


The killer-application here being of course the secondary motif, no doubt derived from some ancient Sogdian textile,such as an example in the Stiftung Abegg-


Group B.

With the exception of one lone piece, the Group B pieces are a sorry lot, full of impostors and wannabes.One example (7) at least has the courage of its convictions and is unashamedly late-the piece of ebay maestro Robert "Bob" Emry,which was later seen at the AAC on 27 July 2016(35) This even manages an archaic touch with its disected lateral göls.From the same dealer(but via the ebay Kontor zamin-i-zamini), and later at Rippon Boswell on 25 May 2013(48) was a Persian Knotted-open right 9-göller which performed quite well at 4,392 euro.Such pieces are collectable and hard to find.

7-Bob Emry-RB-AAC

8) A piece at the Pinner sale,nr. 81 is a further Salor copy which appears quite superior to the few surviving examples.Everything about it is pleasant and well-formed.Two unattributable chovals(right,above and below) would seem to have issued from the same hand-both bear small white weavers marks in the field, a novum in "Salor" work.A last frigid effort(lower left) was at Christies in 1995.


9) Two further mutations appear to have been produced by a Yomut weaver-perhaps more piracy.The rug from Kurt Munkasci has a charming elem probably derived from a Tekke chirpy.A piece at Rippon Boswell in 2016 went unsold, perhaps due to its 11,000 euro estimate.It had the correct left-open structure with depressed warp though.


10) The only convincing Salor work in the group is an item which appeared on Facebook in 2014.It belonged to a young collector named Kevin Yew(or Yuew) who appeared to not know what he had.Its tortured condition only serves to increase its aesthetic appeal.Good photos are lacking.And like a magnificent horse seen on a far-away hill, it soon fled and has not been seen since.Hopefully Mr Yew still has it.

10-Kevin Yuew

The Salor are also gone,but the slim volume of work they left us has taken its place in the vanguard of visionary art.

Del Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida

For Peter Hoffmeister