Monday 16 October 2017

Rugs of the Golden Triangle

James Burns Collection

The swathe of land running from Sivas to Azerbaijan forms the subject of this entry.

Turkomans,Armenians,Azeris and Kurds comprise the largest ethnic groups.The rugs can be divided into the following categories:Golden Triangle(GT)-Turkish Zone(TZ)-Caucasian Zone(CZ) and Persian Zone(PZ).The hybrid GT items cannot be attributed to any particular area with certainty.The carpets have been classified by design,although many fragments are so damaged that a correct reconstruction is no longer possible.

001)Amongst the oldest of this group is the “Faces” carpet,whose stubborn iconography has to this day resisted encryption(TZ)


002)A small group of Animal carpets,possibly of great age,are said to have been sourced in Tibet,although they may have been removed from other places of worship.They are dealt with HERE: Animal carpets


003)A fragment published by Eskenazi and now in the Hecksher Collection seems to incorporate the style of the Faces carpet with its tall towers,and the early animal style.


004)An important group of Animal and Tree carpets have been clubbed together by Ian Bennett(Hali 73-91)He aptly described them as “An Amorphous Group”and ordered them into seven sub-groups,which however contain only a maximum of three pieces.They were clearly made over a wide area and at differing times,in styles ranging from the elegant to the rustic.Their inspiration has been drawn from Persian animal-combat carpets,such as the Berlin Sanguszko,shown here in Pope`s 1939 reproduction,and in its current parlous state.


005)A good starting point are the carpets once in the Quill-Jones Collection,and with Haim in Istanbul.A fragment from the Bernheimer Sale(118)is probably also part of this group.


006)Another group of three carpets,less skillfully drawn,were with McMullan,Tabibnia(late of Wher Collection,published by Martin as belonging to Durlaeher London)and a carpet which appeared at the same time as Bennett`s article(thus too late to be included)at Sothebys in 1994.


007)Three carpets featuring cypress trees.The Hackwood Park rug,once with Jekyll, was later with Aaron Nejad,but the Woworski carpet has gone missing.They were influenced by an animal carpet of a type now divided between the Ashmolean and the Montreal Museum of Art.(007a)



008)Stylistically close but geographically miles apart are the Schurmann and Keir Collection items,plus a carpet sold at Christies in 2015.The Schurmann and Christies examples both feature free-falling animal depictions,whereas the silk Keir Collection carpet has a more static arrangement featuring camels and a likely interpretation of the Layla and Majnun theme(or a marriage scene with Kedjebe litter)


009)A solitary survivor is the Kirchheim carpet,late of Bausback with rows of howling leopards.


010,011)Quite devoid of animals except for two addorsed peacocks is a carpet de-accessioned by the Baltimore Museum of Art.A similar example can be found at Sissinghurst Castle.A third rug combines the peacocks with animal combat and pursuit scenes,more reminiscent of Berlin´s Sanguszko.



012)A true representative of the Golden Triangle style is a fragment in Berlin,which Heinrich Jacoby once curiously described as “An Armenian Bastard Rug”It is related through its similar pendant(which however seems not to have crowned a central medallion) to a carpet now in the Hermitage(013)



014)Not included by Bennett is  a CZ fragmented carpet found at Erzerum,and listed by Yetkin(100)It employs a border perhaps derived from the Silk Keshan kilims,with cartouches and medallions filled with animals and falconers.


015)A fragment advertised by Gallery Arabesque in Hali 140(60)is reminiscent of 014


016,017)Connecting well with the Eskenazi fragment(003) is a real GT piece with two headed animals similar to the famous Berlin carpet.



018)A fragment published by Ulrike Montigel in Hali 93(136)has all the characteristics of a classic GT piece,replete with fizzy palmettes and medallions in the usual Animal-Arabesque style.


019,020)Ian Bennett connected a group of three Tree carpets to the previous animal group,and a fourth appeared at Christies in 2011.



021)Another cluster seems based upon a mix of the Trinitarias and Bardini Medallion carpets.


022)A carpet at Christies was Persian knotted,with the Trinitarias medallion border.


023)Another example was in the Art trade in the early 00`s. Trinitarias border.


024)A fragment at Christies was later with Ben Banayan.


025)A carpet of considerable age with curled-outline medallion and Avshan field.


026)A small but remarkable group of medallion rugs is exemplified by a carpet from the Keir collection.


027)All examples use a strapwork border:a rug with Eskenazi has a typical geometric arabesque field. Its description in Hali ushers in the term “Golden Triangle” (027a)



028)A very elegant carpet in Hamburg`s Kunst & Gewerbemuseum,formerly Ulrich Schurmann.


029)The patched remnants of another rug once at Helbing,Munich in 1910,from the Von Bürkel Collection.


030)The acme of Golden Triangle style was reached in the V&A`s fragmented medallion carpet with palmette and sickle-leaf field.


031)An elegant, racey mood was achieved in the McMullan example.The origin of this angular strapwork border would seem to be Khorasan,as exemplified by an example in the MAK(031a)



032)Palmettes in the field seem like floral Lesghi stars.From the people who brought you 030. Rupert Smith.


033)A puzzling large scale Safavid reprise was in the Ballard Collection,now MET,with its strange corner solutions(found on some Indian carpets and also as an architectural device)Long held to be an original,it was presumed to be Turkish knotted,but according to P.R.J Ford is in fact Persian knotted to the left,with a 4 ply woolen warp and 4 rows of pink weft. Further discussion :Ballard


034)At Christies in 2009.Sold for $206,500.


035)Two fragments from a carpet now with James Connell.


036)Another fragment with a cogwheel border,once at Netherhamptons.


037)A carpet offered at Christies in 2004,which later surfaced with its missing border rewoven.


038-041a)Five carpets from the Turkish Zone,syncretic enough to fit the GT schema.Two with  strapwork border,two with Tabriz medallion interpretation(038-041a)and one last item with cartouche medallion border.






042)An ancient fragment once at Sothebys in 1992 with animalised arabesque border and allover medallion design.


043)The Parsons-Todd Medallion Carpet  with four and one design featuring Khatam stars in the field borrowed from Chessboard carpets,and a Turkish-style meander border possibly adopted from a Lotto carpet as seen in (043a)Such meanders may have developed from the old Safavid type(044)in the Keir Collection in which a field design has been grafted onto a meander-vine.




045)Large Kelleh carpets from the Caucasian Zone are not uncommon,but the border and angular drawing place it within the GT orbit.


046)From the L.A Mayer Collection,at Christies in 2004.


047)A prayer carpet dominated by a gigantic medallion was sold twice at Sothebys in 2002 and 2008.Its spandrels are filled by  a design found on some Ersari Turkmen rugs.


048)Two rare carpets seem to be the forerunners of the Lori-Pambak medallion group.One found at the Aya Sophia in Istanbul and the other illustrated by Vincent Robinson as a “Mongolian” carpet.


049)With a similar layout to the Parsons Todd this carpet,described by some as “Kurdish”first appeared in a withered state in 2005 and was later resold at the same venue in 2010;again re-appearing in 2017.


050)A remarkable item now in the Jim Dixon Collection; sold at Skinners in 1994(see Hali 78-130)


051)Reminiscent of so many weaving areas,a fragment published in Hali 129 was later seen in various collections.


052,053)Three fragmented examples with typical white-outline medallions form a coherent group.The Keir fragment is closest to the Safavid original.The Orient Stars item was sold at Nagels in 1990 and subsequently “de-restored”,whereas the Budapest piece(053) bears an Ushak-type border  derived from Ottoman kilims.



054)Distantly related is the Bernheimer carpet in which a central Tabriz-style medallion overflows into the borders.


055)Both carpets appear to be from Ushak,and perhaps the Simon is;but the Hecksher fragment is Persian knotted.


056)Seen in the Cairo Museum of Islamic Art by George O`Bannon,this LPH Holbein is perhaps not quite what it seems with its strange interspersed palmettes and Animal Carpet-style nodes flanking the main border,itself a curiosity.


057) Two Turkish Zone carpets which are difficult to place:the Sothebys 1986 object is  a supplemented fragment,and of the Andre-Jacquemart there exist no decent photos,yet the two are related through an allover Rinceau field.


058) A cogwheel medallion carpet from the Burns Collection,assigned to the CZ in the Pacific Collections catalogue(Nr.220)


059)Offered at Nagels in 2007.


060)Two fragments clearly belonging together,a classic GT production in every way.The minor guards recall those of 059.


061)Said to have been with Simon Crosby.An indecipherable fragment with mock-classical cartouche border.


062)Refashioned into a saddle cover by some Tibetan nomads(?)this is presumably based on a Caucasian silk embroidery,with a simplified Trintarias border.


063)Another tantalising fragment which wets our appetite for more, in a typically bizarre congruence of styles.Perhaps one day more pieces of the puzzle will surface,till then it remains in abeyance.


064)Sold by Lefevre in 1977,this elicited a confused response from the author in his Caucasian Carpet volume.


065)This weaving on a grand scale was published in Hali 38 by Konzett and described as a “Tabriz”


066)A strange mixture of epic scale and childlike whimsy.Observe the human figures with camels and Kedjebe litter-Leyla and Majnun.067 is presumably another fragment from this carpet.



068)A disjointed  Harshang version with the Golden Triangle strapwork border.


069)Three more schematic interpretations of the above.The first was once with Wilhelm von Bode,and was later acquired by Erdmann for the Berlin Museum.J.P Willborg`s more abrupt rendition is from the Victorin Collection.A third fragment is in the Munich Museum of Five Continents.


070-071)With this we enter a different, more controlled arena of production.The”stiff-palmette”type Harshang typified by this Heinrich Jacoby carpet were covered HERE: Palmettes-318-320



072)This yellow ground magnificence from the McMullan collection was said to have been donated to the MET,but has since disappeared.The older Khorasan form,once with the Orient Stars Collection,is now in Berlin(072a).If it were not attributed to N.E Persia,one would have to say "Golden Triangle"



073)Two carpets displaying an influence from Khorasan.Thje small rug was sold at Christies in 1988 with a   confusing catalogue entry,as Northeast Persian,due to its Persian knotting-open right(although lacking jufti).There appear to be more Persian knotted open-right productions from North-West Persia,such as described HERE : NW Persia.The MAK`s hieratic example also appears to have forebears in Khorasan,such as the group of Sickle-Leaf designs,upon which light was also shed in the foregoing entry.


074)Another “Armenian Bastard”,illustrated by Bruno Eberl(plate 117)


075)A patchwork from the Dixon Collection with Turko-Iranian border design and a suggestion of Garden Carpet along the lateral.


076)From Rupert Smith;daring and clearly very old proto-Kazak.


077)An allover palmette design rug once with James Cohen and later at Christies in 2016.


078,079)One group of pseudo-Harshang designs is best exemplified by a carpet once with Bausback,and a second published in the ICOC “Sovrani” catalogue.079 was published in various quarters and is shown here in an attempted reconstruction.Dealt with more fully : Lineage V-415-419



080)Offered at Skinners in 2016.


081)A grand patchwork from Herrmann`s tenth book with typical GT border.


082)An unearthly fragment once with Eskenazi,published in “Sovrani”(Nr.79)


083)Published first by Neugebauer,appeared at the Bernheimer Sale in 1996(Lot 3,unsold)Possibly even Heriz area,turkish knotted.


084)3/4ths of a palmette carpet with unusual border in “Tibetan” condition.Cotton warp,red wefting.


085)Fragment of a once splendid carpet with miniature Trintarias border.


086)Clearly the same archaic forms as 085.Shown at the Milan Rug Fair,published in Ghereh 28(57)


087)Two fragments which once parted company but are now reunited.A similar border can be seen in 41a.See Hali 115,and Dixon Collection.


088)Published by Bertram Frauenknect,the filligraine outlining and overall layout recall soumac work of a later period.


089)A Cloudband-Palmette design derived from Isfahan Red Ground Floral carpets.Miniature Trinitarias border.James Connell Collection.


090,90a)Two fragments from possibly the same carpet in epic-whimsical style(see 066)



091)Cloudband and Palmette carpet from the Orient Stars Collection.The Large Medallion design crossed with Harshang.


092)Nowhere near as rivetting is the Bernheimer fragment,shown here in a photo from Serare Yetkin,before repair.It may well have been a Large Medallion carpet.


093)Two more simplified examples were published by Jacoby and Yetkin,the later found at Edirne.


094,095)Paving the way to the Chondzoresk carpets are two examples with cloudband medallions.094 is said to be kept in Ankara;the splendid 095 was at Sothebys in 2004.



096)At Sothebys in 2015; the medallion filled with animals.


097)A fascinating carpet from the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Istanbul.Published Hali 78(178)


098)A mechanical,repetitious carpet published by C.G Ellis in his monograph on Early Caucasian Rugs


098a)Perhaps Divrik should be taken as the western outpost of the Golden Triangle,the happy hunting grounds of the Mengujukids,where so many important carpets were found.This rare apparition is Persian knotted and has also been attributed to Damascus,but there seems no reason to doubt its inherently Turkish nature.


099)At the Jon Thompson Sale,and later with Herrmann,this Sickle-Leaf carpet has been attributed to both India and Kurdistan.Turkish knotted.


100)The Kelaty Trans-Caucasian is another mysterium.At Christies in 2013,unsold against an estimate of $190-270,000.


101)One of two NW Persian sickle leaf carpets with such a Fleurs-de-Lys border,which have been discussed HERE: A Caucasian Carpet? Persian knotted to the right.This fragment previously with Ross Winter and Michael Craycraft.


102)Some border fragments with GT cartouche design from the Jon Thompson sale.Later with Ben Banayan.


103)On a deep dark  brown ground,this fragment was on offer at Christies in 2003.Sold for $9180.See Hali 130(125)


104)Interesting Eastern Turkish fragments on sale at Rippon Boswell`s in 2000.Sold for 18,000 Deutschmark.


105)Phographed at the TIEM by Daniel Shaffer.Typical GT border.


106)A curious mixture of refined border and clumsy field drawing.Shown at the Istanbul ICOC.


107)An internet photo from Gallery Karma,with typical GT border.


108 & 108a)Another example of the epic-whimsical style,published by James Burns as “Azerbaijan”,and dated to 1482-1530(95%)What seems to be a fragment from the same carpet was on offer with both James Cohen and Bertram Frauenknecht.



109)With Frauenknecht on Rugrabbit.


110)Ditto;and one fragment  from Ali Aydin with “Eagle`s Beak” border.


111)Still searching for a home is this fragment from the V&A (T12-1969)


112)A lone survivor in the MET (1978.546.54-Abermayor Collection)-perhaps the origin of the “Eagle`s Beak” border.


113)A remarkable prayer rug features Caucasian and Turkish elements.Often described as Armenian.With Rasa,Ronnie Newman,and at Sothebys in 2009.


114)The Kirakos prayer rug was published by Riegl in 1895.It has been dated to 1202 A.D,although is presumably an 18th century production,and has been variously attributed to Turkey and the Caucasus.A second example(115) appeared at Christies in 1993.A third member of the group was published by Achdjian in 1949,and a  further fragment was advertised by James Blackmon in Hali 56.




Tuesday 29 August 2017

A Caucasian Carpet ?


A fragment which recently appeared in an obscure internet auction(001) was once part of  a larger patchwork ensemble sold at Sothebys,New York,in 1985(002)for $880.It belonged to the lower border area,which has actually been re-attached.The fragments were subsequently divided and dispersed;the top right hand section appeared in the Canadian Collections II Catalogue,as the property of Ross Winter(003).It was later advertised by Michael Craycraft.The lower right section was re-offered at Sothebys in 1995 at an estimate of $3-5000,fate unknown(004).A third portion,comprising the lower left field and border,was published in the 1999 ICOC Milan catalogue,Sovrani Tappeti(005).The upper left field is said to be in a Californian collection.The Italian example is of particular interest as it offers a technical analysis,which more or less corresponds to the border fragment(001),to whit:a bulky,short-fibre carded cotton warp ZS6(the border has ZS5),uncommon in older Persian carpets,which are invariably 4-ply,although cotton warp can be found in later Caucasian carpets with either Avshan or Harshang designs;a red weft varying from 2-5 shoots, and most importantly a Persian knot open to the right.This is unusual even in NW Persian weavings,and may indicate the participation of Turkmen weavers.





006-front and back,scans

The Trefoil border is not the usual type seen on Caucasian classical carpets,but may be presumed to derive from a spectacular Khorasan carpet,which also features the standard Trefoil border pattern(007 & 008)



A related carpet was auctioned at Bonhams in 2002(Sale price $ 75,040),and later surfaced with the Textile Gallery,London(see Hali 128,and the Hali Fair catalogue of 2003)By repute it hung in a Scottish hunting lodge for more than a century.It is narrower than the Sothebys carpet,lacking the inner guard stripe,but border and field design are very similar.Its structure is given as “wool pile on a wool foundation”.As there is no indication of Persian knotting,a Turkish knot with a woolen warp must be presumed and the carpet assigned to the classic Caucasian tradition.It seems altogether more lively with its lotus whirligigs (derived from the vase carpet repertoire) and fluid drawing.(009,010,011)




As indicated in the Textile gallery`s notes,the pattern is an adaptation of a Khorasan carpet,now in Berlin(012)The group has been discussed HERE.With their monumental draughtmanship they seem more like Durbar carpets,although an Indian origin can be ruled out.Reversing the telescope,their design origin can be found in Kirman,where large-scale Sickle Leaf carpets were a speciality,but this tradition does not run over 17th century Isfahan;thus we are missing a century of development(013)



Other 18th century carpets with a Sickle-leaf and Palmette arrangement as in the two pieces under discussion, did not fare so well.A Khorasan example from the Tom`s Collection(014,left),and a carpet with Voytech Blau(014,right) both imitate the central spinal design,but with the large leaves in a horizontal position.They seem quite negligent in their execution and choice of colour.


A last carpet,mentioned in the Textile Gallery`s description,features the same rare Trefoil border and was at the de Puy Sale held by the Andersen Galleries in 1925(015).Four classic Turkmen göls underline the possible involvement of Turkmen weavers in this enterprise.The carpet surfaced once more,in ghostly condition,at Sothebys in 2001.