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Rugs: old negative introduction

Note: I sometimes put up rugs for private sale at rugrabbit.

Why rugs?

This is an old intro to the rugs section – I have moved it to a separate page because it does not reflect my current feeling about rugs.

There must be an index page for rugs, because I cannot deny that rugs interest me, or rather, that the topic has infested my mind.

Being into rugs is a condition, and it can be quite serious. Collectors of all sorts of things like to joke about their obsession, justifying it that way. If I think soberly about it, there is little to justify here. In my case, "obsessing about the rugs" is mainly a pre-sales game: scanning ebay.de and ebay.com antique textiles sections ("newly listed", of course), returning to cloudband.com, to the rug sales section at jozan.com, to online catalogues of auction houses such as Rippon & Boswell, Bonhams, Christies or Sothebys, then; returning to various rug dealer sites. There are moments of desperation when a "price on request" notice triggers the mailing of a price request (sent out in the knowledge that the price quoted will most likely be far too high for me to afford); requesting close-up photos, asking about condition and materials; posting links to rugs on offer to a rug mailing list such as Yahoo groups:orientalrug to get an informed opinion; stirring up repair people with requests to get an estimate for the cost of restoration of a distressed but beautiful rug. This can go on and on for hours, accompanied by a feeling of numbness and disorientation, of lost purpose, and an aching back.

Rug collector/dealer Ronnie Newman
Rug collector / dealer Ronnie Newman
(Picture quotation from rugreview.com (site now apparently extinct)

The moment of acquisition (de-focused or ambiguous like an ill-constructed vanishing point in a painting) is habitually put off (because there is only so much to spend, and because there isn't really enough floor space for new acquisitions anyway, at least not in areas with little traffic.)

There was a good quote in Ron O'Callaghan's interview with Ronnie Newman Who's Afraid of Ronnie Newman? (Update: Unfortunately the site rugreview.com has disappeared):

"I guess that was part of the evolution of my taste: watching absolute treasures turn into god-awful horrors through some mysterious process."

This time-consuming stalking, gazing and drooling which I feel I should overcome must be put into relation to the moment when a rug that I have actually acquired in an auction (without ever touching it) arrives at the doorstep. I tear open the parcel, I am shocked by the contrast between my anticipation and the reality of the rug - even when the rug is fine. The truth of the rug needs time to sink in, and I feel dizzy, nauseous. The moment that should be fulfilment of the desire and the chase is actually hollow, stale, tainted by a nagging conscience that all this money was ill spent. Not because I might never be able to sell the rug without loss (which is probably true, at least in the short and medium term), but because there is so little actual use of the rug. Rather, I put it aside, neglect it as if it would reprimand me of the folly of buying it. One flatweave fragment wrapped tightly in a grey bin bag has been sitting on my shelf for several weeks before I got around opening it.

Image quotation: knackered Shirvan fragment offered by Michael Craycraft at Coudband.com

Knackered 18th century Shirvan fragment offered by Galerie Arabesque and Michael Craycraft at Coudband.com. I like the hand. They offer many pieces of outstanding beauty at what seem to me reasonable prices. Most items are in much better shape than the one shown above, which most people would probably consign without much further thought to the dustbin. (Picture quotation from cloudband.com)

The above shall serve as a note of caution and adequate introduction to the index of rugs.

Go to rugs index page


An obvious, if somewhat corny, title for a book on the madness of rug collecting would be "Confessions of a rug addict". The book would be written like a retrospective of a ruined life (in what way ruined is not so clear). Somehow the leading character would end up lonely, rejected by family and friends after squandering a large inheritance, living in squalid conditions. Most or all of the rugs would be gone - stolen, ruined by moths or a freak event or lost rather than sold. Perhaps the character would have retained one small tattered kurdish prayer rug on which he would also try to sleep.

Image quotation: hand of the ebay vendor at YAZDANPOUR PERSIAN CARPETS

Hand of the ebay vendor (possibly Roddy) touching the back of a 19th century Afshar rug (or rather, offering his hand as a scale) at YAZDANPOUR PERSIAN CARPETS. (Picture quotation from ebay / YAZDANPOUR PERSIAN CARPETS, ebay item number 7346436724, 28 Aug 2005)

Anatolian kurdish prayer rug, 19th century

My kids holding up an Anatolian Kurdish prayer rug to be photographed. It has quite obviously been used for a long time, so where the knees and feet go during prayer, there are bare spots (especially on the right side. I have no idea what might account for the asymmetrical wear). The intense colours and the soft wool are hard to describe. I especially like the way the square hooks adorning the white border that frames the mirhab are treated in the corners.

Written before 30 December 2013, moved to separate page on 22. Navoember 2018 | Impressum