Sunday, November 27, 2016

Inscribed Bakhtiari Carpet

There is a significant group of large inscribed Bakhtiari carpets from the early twentieth century. These were made for the Bakhtiari Khans. This one is smaller than many in the group but the inscription indicates that it was made for Asadallah Khan Bakhtiyari.

A Bakhtiari Carpet
WEST PERSIA, DATED 1904-1905 AD/AH 1322
Price Realised
USD 11,250
Estimate USD 8,000 - USD 12,000
A Bakhtiari Carpet
West Persia, Dated 1904-1905 AD/AH 1322
Approximately 13 ft. 5 in. x 6 ft. 9 in. (409 cm. x 206 cm.)

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Lot essay
The inscription cartouche reads in Farsi, farmayesh-e jalalma'ab asad allah khan 'amal-e bakhtiyari sana 1322, which translates as 'Order of the one of glorious rank, Asadallah Khan, Bakhtiyari work, year 1322 (1904-5 AD)'

Inscription cartouches on Bakhtiari carpets are not common but all tend to have white writing on a red rectangular cartouche. For similar examples please see Christie's London, 25 October 2007, lot 90 and 10 October 2008, lot 232.
Cataloguing & details
Atwood Family Collection, Washington DC, by the 1920s.
Acquired from William Atwood, Los Angeles, c. 1983-84.

Pre-Lot Text

Atwood Family Collection, Washington DC, by the 1920s.
Acquired from William Atwood, Los Angeles, c. 1983-84.

Pre-Lot Text

Contact the department
Elizabeth Brauer
+1 212-974-4495

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cynthia M. Kosciuczyk, BS, MBA Senior fellow of the Academy of Oriental Rugs

Cynthia M. Kosciuczyk, BS, MBA Senior fellow of the Academy of Oriental Rugs
Alley Cat Rugs Owner 2016 consulting services specializing in Appraising and other rug services such as purchasing, cleaning and restoring, and insurance reporting.
Owner, Manager  and Director  2000 to 2015     
Designertastes( at the 4th Avenue Rug Gallery  San Diego, CA and Coronado, CA)                                                                                                                     
 Manage Persian and international rug business. Direct sales, supervise staff.  Increased sales each year and developed new products.                    
 Manage public relations with designers and wholesale customers, and trade and design shows Customer service, insurance claims.
Expand customer base and develop service business.  Develop website. Social media creator and blogger

Designer and Public Relations Manager    November 2006- May 2007   manage the handmade rug and textile collection, research new products and wholesale and retail leads, ran trade shows, sales and design of original furniture.
San Diego Rustic.Com
San Diego, CA 92121

Designer   at Gallery Scene   Sales, and created original designs for retail customers and designers
San Diego, CA

Classes: Principles of Color and Design: Museum of Fine Arts Worcester, MA
                BS: Biochemistry (Organic fibers and Dyes) Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA
                                                (Light and Vision and how we interpret color)\
  Waters Liquid Chromatography: chemical analysis by separation technology
                Mesa Community College: Interior Design (including drafting, furniture and materials)
                                                                Textiles (Project in the history of cotton)
 Color Theory in Rug Restoration: Chris Howell
Events:    Participant in Hartford Area design show
                 Del Mar Antiques Show exhibitor (rugs and furniture)
                San Diego Home and Garden Show (rugs and furniture) x 6
                Home Design Expo San Design
              ASID San Diego Home design tours x4
              South Bayfront Artists  April in Paris Show ( judge 5 years)
              High School Library of Congress Art Competition (judge 8 yrs.)( Congresswoman Susan Davis, Congressman Juan Vargas,      Congressmen Bob Filner)
              Career Day Palomar High Creative careers
              Art Around Adams event designer and fundraiser and Co Chair ( 10 yrs)
Project Coordinator 2007        Normal heights Cultural Council    including   Utility Box and Mile long Mural project
                                                            Exhibitor for Reception for Assembly Member Lori Saldanas’s office 2007
Designer of colors for Deer park Monastery registrar’s office, National City Recreation center
Utility Box painting Project/ Community Service Kensington in collaboration with the Planning Board for the centennial

Member Kensington Optimists: Community Outreach Officer 2007-2010

Monday, October 5, 2015

Lac Insect Dye in Oriental Rugs

First half 20th Century Mashhad Rug

I came across a recipe for using Lac as a dye in a book from 1907. It helps me to understand things I have observed about Lac without truly understanding. Let us look at the dye Lac as I understand it:

Lac is one of the oldest insect dyes used in Oriental rugs. Mark Whiting in Hali Magazine (Vol. 1. 1978) wrote that the insect dye lac was the principal red dye used in classical Persian carpets. Of 20th century production it is a defining feature of Mashhad rugs.
Lac traditionally was raised in Northern India and is a  resin secreted by the lac insect (Laccifer lacca) upon the smaller branches of trees, including the soapberry, acacia and the fig tree. Lac takes it's name from the word for 100,000 - lahk which refers to the huge number of insects who are needed to make marketable quantities of Lac. Stick lac is when the lac is still on the branch and grain lac is when it has been crushed and washed. 
Use of lac yields a "cool" bluish red rather than the brilliant insect reds in the blue tones that we associate with cochineal. I have had a distinct impression that Lac dyed wool is not as long wearing as madder dyed wool and more prone to breakage. Frankly I assumed that it was akin to the fragility of shellac 88 rpm records that I remembered from my childhood. If you remember if you dropped a vinyl LP it might scratch but it was unlikely to break. Shellac records on the other hand would shatter if dropped. So when I saw the propensity to wear more quickly I assumed it was an attribute of the shellac. But then I found this recipe from 1907:
Lac dyed Mughal Carpet

Lac Red for Wool.

For 40 pounds of goods make a tolerably thick paste of Lac dye and sulphuric acid and allow it to sit for a day. Then take tarter 4 pounds, tin liquor 2 pounds 8 ounces and 3 pounds of the paste. Make a hot bath with sufficient water and enter the goods for ¾ hours; afterwards carefully rinse and dry.
Henleys' Twentieth Century Book of Recipes, Formulas and Processes,  edited by Gardner Dexter Hiscox
The Book is also known as:
Henley's twentieth century formulas recipes and processes containing ten thousand selected household and workshop formulas recipes processes and money-saving methods for the practical use of manufacturers mechanics housekeepers and home workers. By Gardner Dexter Hiscox, editor. 

The use of Sulfuric Acid in the dye bath suggests to me that the shorter life of Lac dyed wool may have more to do with the Sulfuric Acid them with the Lac. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Scot Neal Rug Resolutions Raleigh NC

Scot Neal and his son Timmy are associates of the Academy of Oriental Rugs. Scot was chosen by the Senior Fellows of the Academy in recognition of superior skill and knowledge as well as the broad respect that he commands in the industry. Timmy Neal was recognized at the Academy because even at 6 years old he showed a better grasp of Oriental Rugs then many cleaners 30 or more years older.

Rug Resolutions Oriental Rug Cleaning
Scot Neal
Raleigh, NC

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hyungbae Korean Rank Badges

Paul Georg Baron von Möllendorff.

This image made me remember an insight into Harold Keshishian as expert and connoisseur.  Two Chinese Rank Badges came up for sale at Sloane’s auction in Bethesda Maryland. The badges had a high estimate well under $2,000 and surged to over $8,000 with Harold winning the lot over a phone bidder.
Everybody wanted to know why Harold would pay so much for the two Chinese Rank badges which delighted Harold to no end. Because as he told me they were not Chinese Rank badges but rather the far more rare Korean Rank badges.

These badges were worn fore and aft as we see in this image of Paul Georg Baron von Möllendorff.  Baron von Möllendorff was born February 17, 1847 in Zehdenick, Prussia and died April 20th, 1901 in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China. Baron von Möllendorff  adopted the Sino-Korean name Mok In-dok while he was deputy foreign minister of the kingdom of Korea. He also served as the president of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1896 and 1897.

Baron von Möllendorff was a very important person at the Joseon (Choseon) court. Besides the historical record we can tell by his badge. One crane was a junior official and two cranes signify a senior official. It is often assumed that the ornate and more luxurious badges are the more esteemed but not so. The badges started out simpler and became increasingly more ornate as time passed. So the simplest badges are also the oldest.
Hyungbae Korean Rank Badge

Hyungbae the rank badges are properly called were first used in Korea in the first year of the reign of King Dangjong in 1453. Rank Badges with one or two cranes among the clouds denoted a civilian governed official as opposed to a military rank badge. 

Military Hyungbae Korean Rank Badge
Hyungbae were first used in Korea in the first year of the reign of King Dangjong 1453. I see them as a copy of the Ming Badges but I think they were originally from the Yuan Mongol dynsaty

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Karlsruhe Safavid niche rug, Central Persia or Mashhad?

I was inspired to comment after seeing Francesca Fiorentino's blog

The Niche, the Rug and the Throne

The rug below was labeled "The Karlsruhe 'Salting' niche rug, Qazvin (?), 16th, second half (?)". I do not mean to disagree with her and certainly not to pick on her, I just thought it would be interesting to consider either "Kazvin" or the broader category "Central Persian" that Sotheby's used when this rug passed through their esteemed halls.

Sotheby's"Karlsruhe" Safavid niche rug, Central Persia,
Estimate   1,000,000 — 1,500,000  GBP
 LOT SOLD. 1,161,250 GBP 

Could this rug be from Kazvin or Central Persia?
I have some serious doubts about that possibility. Let us look at Qazvin which is the more common spelling for Kazvin, It is an area that does not produce any significant quantity of rugs and there is no evidence that it ever did. Even Kazvin rugs don't come from Qazvin. The Kazvin rugs that show up in the market were a line of double wefted rugs produced for OCM in Hamadan. Cecil Edwards picked Kazvin because calling them Hamadan would have been too confusing so he picked Kazvin as a trade name since it was not identified with a particular type of rug.
Kazvin creeps in now and then in Classical Rugs and Miniature Painting because Shah Tahmasp set up court there when the Turks dove him out of Tabriz once too often. Just because he was there does not mean that the Royal Workshops were and I will explore that path in with central Persia.4

As you examine the images ask your self if this was village workmanship or even the product of a minor backwater town. Could this rug have been the creation of a great artist who sent a design a great distance. I know today with automobiles and trains and planes it seems close but in 1550 Tabris was over two weeks from Tabriz by caravan and Tabriz to Kashan was over 3 weeks.

Years ago Jon Thompson put forth an idea in his book Carpet Magic which still resonates with me. This is that the resolution of the corners tells us if it was a workshop rug. Examine this image of the corner then ask yourself is it reasonable to suggest that this rug was created without the artists supervision.

Let me suggest something that seems so obvious to me but it seems to escape the experts on Oriental Rugs,
Great Art Comes From Great Artists

Let me also suggest that this quality of rug is produced under the supervision of an Ustad or weaving master and they would have been at the royal workshops where the painter and calligraphers lived and worked.
So how many royal workshops were there in Persia circa 1550? Only three, Tabriz, Shiraz, and the most important in those years the workshop at the court of the Soltan Ibrahim Mirza in Khorasan (Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi, Iran).
But what about the royal workshop at Kashan under Shah Abbas. Over the years I have heard the old chestnut of the Kashan royal workshop in discussions of 16th century Persian Rugs. I find this problematic since these rugs are mid 16th and the Kashan workshop which was for textiles was about 60 years later in the Early 17th Century
Why then would rug experts assign 16th century rugs to a workshop that was not established until 17th century?
I do not suggest that these experts were wicked or stupid. I believe that when people do not know much about the past they try to define the past by current realities. In the late 19th century when European scholars began to get interested in rugs among the very best rugs woven in Persia were those of Kashan. So then without a better idea the scholars began to mark things as Kashan (?) or Central Persia (?) and it continues now with Kazvin (?).  I certainly am not blaming Francesca Fiorentino since I am sure if we dig she is citing someone else. It could well be Jon Thompson or Michael Frances. They do great work but both at times seem at least to me to be adventurous in their attributions.

So I firmly believe that these rugs could only come from three places; Mashhad, Shiraz, or Tabriz in the mid-16th century. This design comes from the artists who designed the miniature paintings and none of those artists worked in Central Persia,
Please note in the image immediately above the intertwining of the branches in a manner not normally seen in nature. This is not common in Tabriz or Shiraz but was very common in mashhad in The Evil Years. It is distinctive to one region and one short period of time.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wendel Swan Chair, Executive Committee ICOC

One of the great collectors and experts is Wendel Swan of Alexandria Virginia. Wendel is ever his own man and that sets him apart. You can love him or not but only a fool would not respect him. I have mentioned him in other articles but it seems like it is time to revisit a man who is friend and teacher. We have not always agreed on many things but as I grow older I respect him all the more.

Michael Buddeberg, Alberto Boralevi, Wendel Swan, Dennis Dodds, Peter Bichler, Anette Granlund
Above we see Wendel with friends at the festivities leading up to the opening of the new Textile Museum in Washington DC. Wendel was part of the heat and soul of the Board of Trustees of the TM that saved the TM from ruin. At one point I believed that the glory days of the TM were long past. There were some very dark days for the Museum. Wendel with Bruce Baganz and others charted a bold course that looks to insure that the best days of the Textile Museum are still to come.

Here we see Wendel with his beautiful and charming wife Diane. The young fellow on the right is Robert Torchia had been a Curator at Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida who wrote some important work on Oriental Rugs.

This piece was a very memorable part of the Swan collection. In part because of its beauty and rarity and partially because it sold for multiples of its high estimate at auction. 

Another typical piece from the Swan collection is this bag, Typical in that many authorities consider it best of type. Wendel has great discernment and an eye for color.

Alberto Boralevi, Wendel Swan and Bruce Baganz
Wendel has been deeply involved in making things better in so many ways. As president of the International Hajji Baba Swan was able to heal the rift and reunite the Washington DC area rug clubs. Raising the club to new heights sadly for the club he stepped down to let the group fall into relative irrelevance. But he did so to give him time to rescue the TM and continue the important work of the ICOC.

Robert Pinner and Wendel Swan
Wendel was a great friend and worked for years with the late Robert Pinner on the ICOC the International Conference on Oriental Carpets. The ICOC is the closest thing the field of Oriental Rugs has to a scholarly assembly. It does much to raise he level of scholarship and discourse in the field of Oriental Rugs.

It as a sad day indeed when I received this message from Wendel:

Date:Sun, 21 Nov 2004 15:26:35 -0500
From:"Wendel and Diane Swan"
Subject:Robert Pinner
Dear Friends,

With a sense of deep personal loss, I must report that Robert Pinner 
passed away peacefully at his home in Twickenham last night.

As the founder of ICOC, the co-founder of Hali and as a tireless energy 
behind both until just recently, his influence on the world of carpets 
and textiles has been enormous. Those of us who worked with him became 
infected by his enthusiasm and benefited from his generosity. We also 
endured, from time to time, the wrath of his extraordinarily keen mind. 
 That was his nature. That is why we loved him. We have lost a dear 

Wendel Swan

One strong defender of Wendel Swan was his friend Harold Keshishian. I remember one time a mutual friend was unkind in a comment about Wendel and Harold firmly put him in his place. I also remember how concerned he was at one point about Wendel's health despite the fact that HK was himself dying.

If someone wanted to meet Wendel San there is no better place then to come to

Wendel R. Swan (USA) Chair, Executive Committee

All of this is my idea and done without Wendel's knowledge or permission. If he finds fault I will correct or delete. Some pictures I had and some borrowed from R. John Howe