On Saturday I went down to the Sotheby's sale preview for the Auction coming up this week on Wednesday June 10, 2009. The selection of rugs was excellent, absolutely a worthwhile time to spend perusing the gallery. Although some images come out decent on the blog here, we highly recommend anyone with the slightest bit of interest in oriental rugs to actually go to the exhibit and experience them in person. They look 100 times better in person, and it's always fun to chat a bit with some of the others enjoying the preview.
One of the first rugs to come across was lot 52. The spirit of the rug has the older 'fantasy' motif, with mythological characters/animals. The rug had very good pile throughout although there were signs of moderate water damage at both top and bottom of the piece. A rug such as this, silk on silk and of the age it is, we would not recommend for use anyway. None of the damage showed through to the front with exceptions to some small splits which could easily be cosmetically remedied by mounting.
The rug below is actually a Turkish Hereke lot number 55. If the rug did not have bright pink and slightly looser handle, I would have easily mistaken it for a Silk Heriz with heavy European influence, although there was an inscription in the upper right corner. A very interesting example. A few pieces pop up here and there which are very difficult to distinguish between Turkish and Persian weavings such as the one below. Using other factors you can usually pull together a good idea as to what it may be although structure is often one of the better indicators.
Below was my personal favorites, that's lot 181, a Mohtashem kashan. We caught one not too long ago at the March 2009 Sale, however, the example below was really in superb condition. Measuring in at just around 8'8" x 11'2". it's a fantastic size, excellent colors (unfortunately our camera does not do the rug justice) and very healthy condition from what we could see.
Below, the medallion of lot 181. Excellent design execution. Auction estimate is between $70,000 - $100,000.
Below is closer detail of the selvedges of a typical 'Mohtashem' Kashan. If original, or restored in the spirit of the original rug, these selveges are often purple and silk, and very, very finely wrapped.
The carpet below (medallion photo) I had a bit of trouble finding in the catalog. I forgot how difficult it can sometimes be to determine designs from a thumbnail. It's probably a tabriz carpet, certainly from 1900 or before. It's a somewhat more unusual medallion design, which I'm usually not particularly fond of. However, there's something about the contrast and tone on tone which really appealed to me. I see the traditional boteh's overlapped with some light patterning within the outlines. Re-evaluating the arrangment I could see how some would interpret it as other. It reminds me of when I was working retail several years back: A customer narrowed down her decision down to a few rugs. Although it would have been her top choice, she kept associating one of the design elements in one of the rugs as looking like a heart, for which she was adamant their rug not contain. Again, the rug below, not my favorite medallion, but it's a rug that you can appreciate with time.
There are many things I love about taking photographs such as expressing an idea, thought or example... But it gets very frustrating when the camera or lighting cannot accomodate to interpret what it is you're attempting to convey. So, I highly recommend everyone take a look at the Sotheby's Previews in person when they have an opportunity. Here's the reason why: The rug below had very beautiful balance of colors. It did have moderate abrash throughout the field, but there are few times I've seen it work in such a harmonious way. Overall, just an impressive piece to my eye. Unfortunately, the photograph we took below, as often the case, does not do the rug justice. Almost a heavy overtone of red, with little clarity to the design. A Kirman Garden Carpet with an estimate of $15,000 - $20,000 Lot 211.