Review by the Preetorius Foundation from Munich, Germany

Kurt Munkacsi, David d’Heurle, Peter Saunders, Bigger is Better – Main Carpets of the Turkmen,
the Candy Jernigan Foundation of Arts Inc., New York 2003, CD-Rom with 68 pages, $30.- USD

Most participants at the 10th International Carpet Conference in Washington decided to join the post-conference tour to New York, and they were right to do so. Both days of the tour, which had been excellently organized by Marilyn Wolf, were a non-stop succession of high points: after an evening filled with culinary-textile hors d’oeuvres in Gail Martin’s gallery, the next day started with rarely shown classical Spanish carpets in the Hispanic Society Museum, followed by special exhibitions in the Brooklyn and the Metropolitan Museum. The tour culminated in a visit of the exhibit of Marylin and Marshall Wolf’s Susani Collection at Sotheby’s and a gala dinner at the National Art Club, surrounded by collector’s pieces of the Hajji Baba Club. The program ended with two gallery exhibitions: one with extraordinary Belutsch carpets in Conan Brooks Gallery Antiquarius, and one with Turkomen main carpets by Mark Shilen, which was truly the climax of the two-day visit. At the occasion of this event, collector Kurt Munkacsi published a CD-Rom catalogue, thus introducing the field of carpet literature to the digital era. Even though a silver disk and computer screen can hardly replace the sensory experience offered by a book, this new publishing echnology offers one tremendous advantage which cannot be ignored: the exper- ience of viewing details of any part of a carpet with the click of a mouse, only being limited by the resolution of the recording technology used. This experience is far superior to a conventional printed picture, no matter how good it is. The detailed photographs of the back of the carpet leave nothing to be desired. The brief introduction explains the slightly provocative title, which many Turkomen collectors will probably not readily support: it is based upon the thesis that the main carpets of the Turkomen are the only knotted carpets which really allowed the artist to demonstrate his or her individuality and personal stylistic expressiveness. Therefore, main carpets would not only represent the tribal identity, but especially the artistic signature of the weaver, as opposed to the smaller carpets, which only served a practical purpose. However that may be, Munkacsi’s CD-Rom documents the collection of main carpets of the Salor, Saryk and Tekke, the Chodors, Ersari and Yomud and almost all important pattern variants. It also includes some important and some real early (two have been C-14 examined) Turkmen main carpets, and also makes a whole series of exceptionally beautiful pieces all available to all carpet lovers.


Size Counts
(excerpts from HALI, © 2003 )
by Ben Evans, Deputy Editor
(Complete text appeared in HALI 129, pp 86-87)

Exhibition Venue:
Mark Shilen Gallery
457 Broome St.
New York, NY 10012
April, 2003

".....Items of such measured proportion, subtle elegance and material appeal demand space and time to appreciate their scale and beauty. Their impact was evident when the weariness of six days of rug encounters melted away as conferees immersed themselves in the final event of the ICOC marathon.......Not all thirty carpets in the catalogue [cd-rom] were in the gallery, but those that were offered the chance to compare carpets of the same tribe as well as different tribes. ... During the ICOC, Michael Franses had commented on the value of seeing, handling and comparing pieces in the flesh. I was reminded of this as I looked at these rugs. Here the technical and structural aspects of Turkmen carpets which can make the genre seem impenetrable were of secondary importance next to the clarion call of their visual and aeshetic impact. In such company the Salor main carpet, the jewel in the crown of many Turkmen collections, seemed more typiical and expected. This did not diminish its beauty, nor did the fact that with its large gols, square format, and paucity of silk, it ranks among the earliest of Salor carpets. The most interesting and telling comparison was in the shape of the early Saryk carpets. These are rare and their design repertoire wide, second only to Yomud family carpets. Of the four Saryk main carpet designs, th earliest is the golli-gol which appears in two forms - one similar to the Ersari golli-gol, the other akin to the Salor version. .... By comparing these carpets, I have realized there are numerous sub-groups which are identifiable by touch and feel - not scientific data. And finally, pace Munkacsi, never mind about bigger, can they get any better than this?"

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