Penny and Tim Hays Open Their “Just in from the East” Gallery

Penny and Tim Hays,

have been serious collectors, primarily of Balkan textiles for a number of years.

Until recently, they were active members of the textile collector community here in the Washington, D.C. area.  They are serious collectors, traveling frequently to the Balkans, visiting museums, and researching the literature vigorously (including translating obscure texts).  One of their initial acts as collectors was to purchase an entire collection of Manastir kilims.  More recently, they have begun to consider Anatolian material.

In retirement, they have been lured to Florida.

They bought a home there and have added a gallery to display their collection.  They purchased this specific property because it had an 800 square foot space that could be converted to a display gallery.

Last month they put out a kind of invitation to the opening of this gallery to a selected audience.  It read like this:

“Tim Hays here. We have met and spoken on several occasions in DC, Stockholm, and Istanbul. We are the dotty collectors who specialize in Balkan kilims. We are as Christian Erber designated us, the Sarkoy people. Although our focus is and was on the elusive Manastir Kilim.

“We collect a bit more widely than that, including Anatolian and Syrian textiles. Our primary focus, however, remains Balkan folk and workshop weaving. We have pursued this subject for 12 years and since our recent retirement and move from DC to Florida we have been able to achieve our long term goal of creating a gallery to display more of our collection. In addition with help from fellow collectors and friends such as Davut Mizrahi, Erhard Stoebe (Vienna), Jaap van Beelen (Bulgaria), and Andy Dailey (late of Tirana and now residing in Cairo); I believe we have accumulated a much better understanding of the Balkan weaving traditions of the Ottoman Period to the present. Many dealers such as Omer Bozdag, Muhammet Solak, Seref Ozen, and Mehmet Cetinkaya provided their knowledge and experience.

“We will be having a small reception on 9 March here in Sarasota Florida to mark the opening of our 800 square foot display space, housed in a converted garage and workshop. We will have much more room to showcase our woven art and conduct our research.

“We plan to produce a catalog/monograph displaying some of our interesting pieces and documenting some of the historical and ethnographic data we have accumulated on this poorly understood and under documented group of weavings.

“Our renovation project also includes a small beer garden and kilim washing area. What could be more apropos?

“In any case, we want to share our pleasure at the completion of this goal.”

And they did.  They report that about a dozen friends and neighbors attended. They, also, separately hosted Roger and Claire Pratt, friends from their rug travels, and fellow collectors. 

This post is intended to let you experience aspects of this opening.

We’re approaching the house.

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There’s a drive way with the gallery at its end.  This the front of the gallery, formerly a garage and workshop. gallery.  Notice the appropriate Hapsburg yellow color of the building. Just right for a Balkan collection.

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There are grounds with a palm tree and the former caddy shack and bunk house of an adjoining golf course behind it.

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There is a privacy fence with a few textiles displayed on it.

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And a covered entrance area with what Tim calls his “beer garden.”

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Let’s go in.  We’re going to walk around inside without focusing on particular textiles, just to get a feel of the place.  We’ll look at and speak to individual pieces later.

Here we are going in the door.

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We look around.

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There have to be books and shelves for stacks of smaller pieces.

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Here are a few piece closer without singling anything out yet.

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These pieces, above and below are hanging on a Amish clothes drying rack, made locally.  They use this rack to display small Balkan, Central Asian, and African textiles.

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Above is an East Bulgarian Prayer Kilim, used by Sunni Muslims in the area of Shumen. These narrow kilims were used for individual prayer in one of the many mosques formerly active in the town of Shumen . Only the great Tulip Period Tombul  (plump) Mosque remained active in 2018. Although a new medresse is under construction in the grounds of the former Tombul complex. Built with donations from the Turkish Government and Bulgarian Muslim Council.

Below, left partial image is of a Greek pillow cover from the town of Florina in Thrace. Although this cover is clearly in the style of a Muslim yastik or posh, to the makers of this cover who are Greek Orthodox, the design symbolizes aspects of the Holy Trinity.

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Above are two small Shah Savan personal bags for precious items. Khorjin format from ca. 1900.

Below is a recently acquired East Bulgarian Manastir kiim with yellow field and pale rose ground. Rather late example with West Bulgarian motifs in the field (we’ll treat this again, later).

We are showing this atop a late 19th Century Konya kilim fragment. We are making good use of this work table to study and prepare pieces for the collection.

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Here are some individual pieces with descriptions.

PT1

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PT 1 is a very rare red field blue ground Manastir Kilim with pronounced West Anatolian design motifs and influences (including finger or comb motifs).

Most Manastir kilims have yellow or rose red fields. This one is one of four with a blue ground. One is in our collection and three are in an important Turkish collection. PT1 was published previously in Hali Magazine.

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PT2

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PT2 is a medium-size Avunya kilim from Western Anatolia. We acquired this example from an Israeli dealer because of the obvious affinities to Bulgarian Manastir kilims. Perhaps this is an example of Balkan Muhajir production in Anatolia. Muhajir began returning to Anatolia as early as 1855. 

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PT3

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PT3 is a one of a pair of Pirot West Bulgarian Group kilim draperies or possibly divan covers in the kostenice (lions paw) design with a single side border in the Queen’s Sleeve pattern. These designs were part of the regular repertoire of the Serbian weavers active in the workshops of Pirot and intended for the home or European Market after 1860.

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PT4

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PT4 is a Manastir kilim with yellow field and rose ground in a most striking design incorporating West Bulgarian motifs in a tradition East Bulgarian Prayer format.

We believe these pieces were produced by heterodox Bektashi or Alevi Muslins in Eastern Bulgaria. They are examples of idiosyncratic home weaving for personal use, probably as devotional wall hangings.

There are many Sufi tekkes (Prayer halls) scattered about the countryside in Eastern Bulgaria.

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PT5

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PT5 is a fragment of a Chiprovtsy kilim in the 18th Century Bakamsky Medallion pattern. NW Bulgaria.

Very old fragment of the oldest known type.

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PT6

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PT6 is a Pirot divan cover from the mid 19th Century.

A rare survival of a infrequently seen type. Nice saturated colors.

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PT7

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PT7 is a fragment of a Central Anatolian Kilim with camel hair and nicely saturated colors.

Sometimes fragments fit perfectly into those awkward blank spots in a display.

Probably mid-19th Century.

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PT8

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PT8 is a This is a South Bulgarian looped pile tulu Rug.

In Bulgaria, as elsewhere in the Balkans, local people make tulu, felt rugs, and semi-felted covers just as in Anatolia. This Bulgarian tulu is very similar to those produced in the Konya-Karapinar area.

Tim uses a small Vintage Turkish animal feeding or water trough, upholstered with a vintage kilim fragment, as a stool. 

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PT9

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PT9 is a large detail of a Syrian aba or robe with a Kufic inscription of the phrase Masallah (as God wills).

Silk from Damascus or Hama.

Early 20th Century.

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PT10

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PT10 is a fragmentary Mid-19th Century Aydin (West Anatolia) kilim.

Published in Faszination Kelim 2006 Awed Tomm Collection.

Again demonstrating how a work table facilitates textile display and study.

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PT11

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Above is a two-panel Balikesir kilim from NW Anatolia.

I was inclined to label this an example of Yuncu weaving, now I am not certain.

In any case, we find these open field kilims with classic blue and red colors to be very striking.

Similar to pieces in the Josephine Powell Collection.

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PT12

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You’ve seen PT12 above.  As we said, it’s a recently acquired East Bulgarian Manastir kiim with yellow field and pale rose ground.

Rather late example with West Bulgarian motifs in the field.  You can see those better in the details below.

Details of PT12.

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PT13

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Comment: A fragment from an 18th Century Cappadocian kilim. We had this piece conserved with some of the numerous holes and lacunae backed with appropriately colored linen. We think it provides a better overall impression of its striking colors. Some of my kilim friends do not agree.You can decide for yourself.

 

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PT14

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PT14 is a lovely Central Anatolian fragment of a double niche kilim with saturated colors. The color quality suggests this example is relatively early.

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PT15

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PT15 is a Syrian or Lebanese wall hanging or cover.  This may have been intended for use as a bochke or wrapper for personal items or gifts.  The colors displayed show how well silk can take dyes.

Early 20th Century or earlier.

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PT16

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PT16 is a South Toros Mountains area cuval cover with dazzle stripes and rows of Memling Guls. White may be cotton.

Early 20th Century??

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PT17

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Comment: Prayer Kilim from Razgrad in Eastern Bulgaria.

Such kilims and others like it from the town of Shumen, are confirmed to be products of the Sunni Muslim people of these two important former Ottoman garrison towns.

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PT18

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Comment:  Nearly complete camel cover kilim from Central Anatolia. Great border design and colors. Possibly from the area of Karapinar. These long kilims of with lengths, of 3.5 meters or more, were made as load covers used during migration.

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PT19

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PT 19 is a fragment of a Cappadocian Kilim with well saturated colors and a graphic design.

Mid-18th Century or earlier 

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PT20

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PT20 is a Manastir Rug 19th Century from Macedonia.

Manastir rugs are the only pile weavings we know to have been produced in the Ottoman Balkans prior to the end of the 19th Century.

See Sonny Berntsson’s article in Hali 112 for a definitive assessment.

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PT21

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PT21 is a Central Anatolian kilim Fragment (center) and Afshar pack or animal strap (far right).

One advantage to having lived in Europe is the opportunity it presents the collector to obtain attractive examples of textiles not seen in the US. 

Is the item below an instance of this?  Make explicit.

This pack strap was shown in an exhibition of Persian nomadic straps and bands at a small dealers shop in Berlin.

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PT22

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Comment:  This kilim is the piece that began our interest in and fascination with Balkan weaving.

This is a 3rd Quarter 19th Century Pirot prayer kilim. It’s the first Balkan piece we collected and was acquired at the 2007 Istanbul ICOC Dealers Fair.

Although we believe such kilims were intended for the Ottoman market, the weavers in the workshops of Pirot Serbia were Orthodox Christians.

The fine weaving, colors, and format are typical of the West Bulgarian weaving tradition.

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No one seems to know the significance of the confronting fish at the bottom of the kilim. We find this feature most striking.

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PT23

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PT23 is a another Cappadocian kilim fragment. 

Probably 18th Century.

The colors in this example are intense and give the piece great visual appeal. 

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PT24

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Comment:  Late 19th Century Konya kilim half.

Previously published in Faszination Kelim Arwed Tomm Collection 2012.

Graphic design but later color palette.

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PT25

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PT25 is an interesting and attractive suzani type embroidery.

Unfortunately we lost the tag which had been attached which indicted its provenance.

But we displayed along with other small textiles on a great standing display panel purchased for the gallery.

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PT26

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Comment:  Attractive Kurdish grain bag with good colors and a striking back side.

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Back of PT26.

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PT27

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Comment:  Kirgiz or Uzbek felt ok bosh (tent pole cover). With typical archaic decoration.

This is one remnant from our earlier collecting of Central Asian textiles. Complete with braided horse hair decoration.

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PT28

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PT28 is a Incredible detailed small Oltenian (SW Romanian)  kilim table cover or display piece.

The ultra fine weaving and the small size of this piece are hard to appreciate. The weave is like a man’s shirt and the piece is 72 X 50 cm. . A masterwork on small scale by a master weaver.

We have other Oltenian kilims in 2X2 Meter size with these same folk story images

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PT29

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Comments: Yomud Igdir Turkmen small bag with glowing colors and glossy wool.

Mid-19th Century.

 

PT30

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Comment:  This cushion cover, a large yastik size weaving is from Florina in Northern Greece (Thrace).

Although the textile’s form and design are very similar to those made by Muslim people in Macedonia, Bosnia, and Albania; the Greek weavers are Orthodox Christians. The Greek weavers attribute Christian religious meaning to this originally Islamic pattern. In fact, the design symbolizes the Holy Trinity in their belief system.

A good example of cultural borrowing in an ethnically mixed region.

This piece from the period 1920-1930 and the weaver chose synthetic versions of the original color scheme.

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PT31

 

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Above is an East Bulgarian Prayer Kilim, used by Sunni Muslims in the area of Shumen.

These narrow kilims were used for individual prayer in one of the many mosques formerly active in the town of Shumen .

Only the great Tulip Period Tombul  (plump) Mosque remained active in 2018. Although a new medresse is under construction in the grounds of the former Tombul complex. Built with donations from the Turkish Government and Bulgarian Muslim Council.

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PT32

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Above is a kilim weave banner for the accession of the first King of Yugoslavia in about 1920.

Adaption of the Royal Banner of the King of Serbia.

This is the banner if King Peter I. Used on balconies on public occasions or to decorate official spaces.

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PT31

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This is our favorite Manastir Kilim of the yellow field prayer kilim type.

Typical East Bulgarian colors including woad blue.

This piece is slightly larger than most we see add gives a rather more Anatolian impression than most. 19th Century East Bulgaria.

Very lovely central arch filled with protective amulets.

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So that’s the opening of this personal gallery.  An interesting idea.  Not many of us go this far.  I’m of the “pushpin” sort using the walls of our apartment.

I’m not sure that Penny and Tim

are great wine drinkers, but I’ll lift one here in honor of this occasion.

Tim and Penny say, “We have a standing invitation to all readers to come for a visit. We will be changing displays as the mood strikes us.  Our email address is: berlintimh@mac.com

Good work, folks,

R. John Howe

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