Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Sign Up for The 14th International Conference on Oriental Carpets: Washington, D.C, June 7-10

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2018 by rjohn


The International Conference on Oriental Carpets will hold its 14th International Conference here in Washington on June 7 -10, centered at, and for the benefit of, The Textile Museum, with events on the campus of George Washington University.  The format will be familiar: a Carpet Fair, with 16 international dealers, from Thursday through Sunday, an exhibition of collectors’ rugs and textiles, at the Corcoran Museum, academic sessions on Friday and Saturday, and a show and tell, on Sunday, with various receptions throughout.

To register, go to the ICOC website and click where it says for further information, etc.  That will guide you into and through the registration on our conference planner’s website.

ICOC is seeking rugs and textiles for inclusion in the collectors’ exhibition at the Corcoran.  There is no particular theme, so high quality objects from any region will be considered, from small bags to textiles to large carpets.   There will be many pieces from Central Asia and Turkey and Northwest Persia.   Please submit an image and dimensions of what you would like to have included in this world class exhibition to Wendel Swan at for transmittal to the ICOC vetting committee.

ICOC is also seeking volunteers for several aspects of the conference, including help in installing the exhibition at the Corcoran, general help at the conference, help in advertising and promoting the conference and the Carpet Fair, especially through social media.  If you would like to volunteer for any of these tasks or would like to help with anything else, please contact Wendel Swan at or by phone at (703) 960-2021.

ICOC will soon receive copies of a fabulous new book from Hali Publications, entitled Stars of the Caucasus, which is about Caucasian embroideries, and an exhibition of some of them held last year in Baku, Azerbaijan. ICOC is offering the book to those who support The Textile Museum and ICOC at the very favorable rate of $49.  It will be considerably more expensive elsewhere.  If you are interested, please contact Wendel Swan.

Lighting Your Carpets by Michael Kaplan

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2017 by rjohn

On June 3, 2017 Michael Kaplan



gave a talk at The Textile Museum, here in Washington, D.C., providing practical suggestions for safely lighting your carpet collections in a manner that brings out the beauty of their colors.

Michael Kaplan is a recently retired veterinarian who loves carpets and the collection of the same. He joined IHBS and the Textile Museum to become more involved and knowledgeable about this field and to meet fellow collectors.

He was involved with lining up continuing education veterinary programs for the Greater Baltimore Veterinary Medical Association and served as the group’s vice president and president for the last 15 years before retiring.

Michael began:

(You get a larger version of any image below by clicking on it.)



I am a newbie to this level of collecting although I bought my first rug over 50 years ago. Aesthetics drove my purchases then as it does now. I want to love the rug. Natural dyes with saturated colors, excellent well thought out designs, lustrous wool and carpets in good to excellent condition are what drive my purchases.

Those criteria do not preclude new rugs. Actually it pushes me towards them since I do not have unlimited funds for antique rugs that meet those goals. Some new rugs can cost up to $300 a square foot but there are companies that come close for less than $100 a square foot. One line I favor is the James Opie Collection. I have nine of his rugs. Structural technical analysis interests me some but less so than many collectors. Unfortunately, one of my other interests is modern architecture and my home has much glass and thus light and thus fading.  I have lost many rugs due to this.

Most rugs show best with spot lighting and wall mounting.  The light frames the carpet and allows the reds and blues to “pop”.  I have found that Soraa MR16 LED bulbs in WAC track lighting fixtures work well and are cost effective.

After that quote we are still going to suggest rugs be wall mounted and spot lighted for preservation and to bring out the beauty of the carpets.*










LEDs are preferred over incandescents such as halogens and fluorescents for lighting textiles.











Most home users can afford a visible light meter but not a UV meter.





Many MR16 LEDs can be dimmed but watch for flicker. Read specs on bulb and wall switch. When halogens are dimmed the color temperature and CRI can change but not so with some high end MR16 LEDs. LEDs can be dimmed to 5% of their normal output without affecting the CT or CRI. 




Be very careful with warranties. Incandescent bulbs usually fail before their CT or CRI changes.  With LEDs their CT or CRI usually changes sooner than the actual bulb’s failing. Most manufacturers will warranty the bulb for luminance failure (the bulb blows) but not for changes in CT or CRI, although some warranty for both (or all three). 












The above 39″ distance will vary with the bulb specifications. See spec chart for each bulb on manufacturers web site.





In Harald Bohmer’s book “Koekboya” he lists different natural dyes and grades each dye on “lightfastness” from inadequate to very good so you can predict to some extent how they will do beforehand. *




Below  (bottom of the following paragraphs) is a You Tube video link that explains the SORAA Snap System.  

You can also access this video by going to Google. Then entering SORAA Snap System. Then click onto “videos” and finding the SORAA Snap System video.  

It is important that you watch the “snap” video. It’s about one minute long.   You may also want to watch a video clip entitled “SORAA LED MR16 Full Spectrum Light Bulb Overview & Comparison.”  This  video is a over five minutes long.  It is usually the third video down on the right side of the page.

There are additional videos listed which also may be of interest but most are advertisements for SORAA or other manufacturers. Thus you may want to exit after viewing the “SORAA LED MR16 Full Spectrum Light Bulb Overview & Comparison” video.

If you enter a loop which repeats the same video just click onto “cancel” and then click onto the video you want to watch. When you are finished watching the videos click onto the <  icon  which will send you “back to previous page”. Keep clicking onto the < until you reach the “lighting your carpets lecture” again and proceed through the slide show.







The monopoint is only one option. There are 2′, 4′ and 8′ tracks also available. 




I usually use a white fixture and not the aluminum.



Least expensive option is to order direct from Garvin although Amazon also offers. This ring allows one to change a 6″ recessed opening to a 4″ opening for a monopoint.



Works for 4′ x 6′ carpet.



Works for 3′ x 5′ carpet.



Changes color temperature. See manufacturers spec sheet for details.




PAR36 VNS (very narrow spot) are low voltage but higher wattage than MR16LEDs. May offer more “pop” than MR16. Are being discontinued.


Do not use Velcro with adhesive added. Order online as hard to find this version in local stores. Preferred to most other mounting methods and usually will not damage the textile. Never vacuum the fringe part of the rug. 









Will not fully block out visible light thus fading will still occur although to a lesser degree. See spec sheet.








Above shows skylight at the end of this room. Brightest source of light in this room. 



The edges of these vinyl album covers faded due to the exposure to light.




The red rear of carpet faded to brown on the front.




This carpet did not fade at all with extensive light exposure after 28 years. I suspect it has chromium synthetic dyes but could be natural dyes. The beige is just the original wool color.



The yellow and pink completely faded out with sunlight after a few years of exposure. Synthetic dyes.






Above has not faded after 37 years of exposure to light. 



Carpets framed with MR16 LEDs.





James Opie. New.






Above rug is on the floor and would benefit from spot LED lighting.  The colors are quite striking in the correct light.


This rug is rotated 90 degrees from it’s proper orientation. Antique. Natural dyes.




Excellent example of red dyes poping with spot lighting.




Four MR16 lighting the carpet. Rotating 90 degrees from proper orientation. 











Natural dyes antique rug. 





New James Opie design.









Orange is probably synthetic dye.




James Opie. Natural dyes. New. All James Opie rugs are natural dyes. 



Blue pops with spot lighting.





James Opie. New.







It has been a hard day. 



Some rugs are just too fragile to be vacuumed, but most benefit from a gentle weekly vacuuming. Never vacuum the fringe











Michael took questions and brought his talk to a close.



People crowded around and there was good and lingering conversation.







Michael had a handout that provided technical definitions and other information.


Lighting Your Carpets

Definition of Terms

Light: Light is the band of radiation that allows us to perceive color and is composed of many different wavelengths that correspond to specific colors. Light is best thought of as a spectrum consisting of ultraviolet (UV) at the short end, visible light in the center, and infrared (IR) wavelengths at the long end

 Ultraviolet (UV) is an electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. UV radiation constitutes about 10% of the total light output of the Sun, and is thus present in sunlight. Ultraviolet rays are invisible to most humans. UV is generally a minor factor in the fading of dyes except when daylight is involved

 Visible Light is defined as the wavelengths that are visible to most human eyes. •It is measured in lux (lumens per square meter) or foot-candles (fc). One foot-candle is slightly more than 10 lux.

IR Infrared Radiation: radiation produces radiant heat which can damage textiles.  It is invisible to humane eyes.

Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light and is stated in units of absolute temperature, known as Kelvin (K). Lower color temperatures (2700 K) are called “warm colors” (yellowish orange). Higher (3000K to 4000 K are whiter.

 Kelvin (abbreviation K), less commonly called the degree Kelvin (symbol, o K), is the Standard International (SI) unit of thermodynamic temperature.

 Lumen is a unit of measurement for the brightness of light. Think lumens not watts. For example 40W LED = 450 lumens.

 Lux (metric units) is a measure of the amount of light equivalent to 0.0929 foot-candle (English units) and equal to the illumination produced by luminous flux of one lumen falling perpendicularly on a surface one meter square.  For example the maximum intensity for sensitive items is 50 Lux.

The wattage of a piece of electrical equipment is the amount of electrical power that it produces or uses, expressed in watts.

light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it. LED have no UV and little heat.

 Halogen lamp is a gas-filled, high-intensity incandescent lamp having a tungsten filament and containing a small amount of a halogen, such as iodine.

An incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe is an electric light with a wire filament heated to such a high temperature that it glows with visible light (incandescence).

fluorescent lamp or a fluorescent tube is a low pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lamp that uses fluorescence to produce visible light.

 Line voltage is the standard voltage that’s found in outlets and junction boxes, which is 120 volts in Canada and the United States. Table lamps, and most ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, are line voltage.  The beam spread is easier to control with low voltage than line voltage.

Low voltage means there’s a transmitter, and the electricity is being transformed so the 120 volts is being brought down to 12 volts.

Transformers are devices used in lighting systems to help reduce or “step-down” high voltages to lower voltages. Commonly used in homes with track/monorail or landscape lighting systems, transformers convert the standard residential electric current (120 volts) to a lower voltage (12 volts or 24 volts) required by the lamp or lighting system.

There are two main types of low-voltage transformers: electronic and magnetic. The biggest positive benefit of electronic transformers is they tend to be very small and they tend to be less expensive. Magnetic transformers are known for their reliability. For our purposes I would avoid dimming if possible. Also for our purposes we shall keep the transformer with the bulb.

What are MR16 lamps? “MR” stands for multifaceted reflector, a pressed glass reflector with the inside (reflecting side) surface composed of facets and covered by a reflective coating. These facets provide optical control by gathering the light from the filament to create a concentrated beam of light.

CRI a color rendering index is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. For textiles, prefer LEDs with a high color rendering index (CRI), which is a measure of the color accuracy of the light. Some of the better LEDs have a CRI in the low- to mid-90s, which is good enough to see color nuance through the full visible spectrum (especially deep reds, important for textiles and deficient/inaccurate in many light sources). Cheaper general-purpose LEDs are usually around CRI 80, good enough for utility lighting but not for color sensitive applications. FWIW Compact florescents are often in the 70s and almost totally deficient in deep reds.

Fugitive dye. A dye that is unstable, that is, not fast.

IESNA: Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Standards

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America publishes standards for the lighting industry.

Damage Weighted Transmittance (Tdw-ISO), which many experts now use to more accurately assess the potential effects of various glazing materials on fading. This factor quantifies the ability of glass to reduce fading by measuring the effects of both transmitted UV and visible light.

PAR: Diameter of the face of the lamp expressed in 1/8ths of an inch.  Stands for parabolic aluminized reflector.

Suggested Lighting Equipment

 WAC LHT-817- WT lighting double droid Model 817 uses two 12V MR16 bulbs (not included). Finish in white, black or aluminum. Comes with electronic transformer built in. Compatible with L, H and J/J2 track systems.  I ordered LHT-817- WT. Do not buy LED model as comes with bulbs you do not want. LHT is Lightolier compatible. Dimmable although do not dim for out purposes. Source: Lighting Direct @ $108 originally $151.20. Can order from Amazon or most lighting retailers.

Lightolier shallow ring MR16 track light with electronic transformer built in.  Order in white. Lists for $108 but can find for $58. Poorly constructed and over priced at $108.  Other manufacturers make similar fixtures at $20 but be careful can use Soraa Snap on lens with and compatible with your track system. Check Amazon and other on-line sources.

Lightolier Basic White Monopoint. 6190WH  4.3 inches round. $21.50 Amazon

Soraa 00923.  MR16 bulbs for use with Snap System. – 7.5 Watt – LED – MR16 – 50 Watt Equal – 6000 Candlepower – 3000 Kelvin – 95 Color Rendering – 10 Deg. Narrow Spot.  Amazon $22.50

Soraa 00335 – Flat Top #116138D – Flat Top Lens Snap System – 25X25 Deg. Beam for Soraa LED MR16 – Self-Centered Magnet $6.60

 Soraa 00337– Flat Top Lens Snap System – 36X36 Deg. Beam for Soraa LED MR16 – Self-Centered Magnet $6.60

Soraa 00339 – Louv#116134C– Louver Lens Snap System – 40 Deg. Cutoff Beam for Soraa LED MR16 – Self-Centered Magnet $6.60

 VELCRO Brand – Sew On Fasteners – 15′ x 2″ Tape  $22.20

 3M Sun Control Window Film.  PR50, PR60 & PR70 UV rejected 99.9%. Plastic film applied to inside of existing glass to screen UV light and decrease heat transmission. Local contractor for Prestige Window Film: Professional Window Tinting, Inc.   $25 per window pane, $270 per French door with two single pieces of glass.

 Garvin Electrical Manufacturer Decorative Ceiling Trim Plate for securing 4.3” Lightolier Monopoint to 6” recessed ceiling fixture opening. Plate is 8” Diameter, 3.75” I.D. White, Steel. $14 per plate plus shipping.


James Henderson- manager of materials technology for General Electric.

Below articles by James Henderson and served as references for this presentation.

Oriental Rug Review. Volume XI, Number 5. Light Sources and Fading. P.26-29

Hali April 1991 Issue 56 p.137

Hali October 1991 Issue 59 p.80

Lighting Design & Application May 1991. Dye Fading p.16-25

Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies Volume IV 1993 Light Sources and Fading p.273-281

GE Lighting. Light Sources and Dye Fading June 2009 p.1-8.


MWNF Museum With No Frontiers Carpet Collection

1ST Dibs : click on carpets. Fun site for the 1%.

TurkoTek : a noncommercial site devoted to collectible weavings, where rug enthusiasts can connect.

Eccentric Wefts Textiles and Text : John Howe site

R John Howe: Textiles Rug Appreciation Mornings

Rug Kazbah: very opinionated site. Fun to read if you do not take it too seriously

RugRabbit: on line site to show and sell antique oriental rugs. Always ask what is the dealer’s return policy.

Brian MacDonald Antique Rugs

Paradise Oriental Rugs: California retail shop with many educational videos.

Nomad Rugs: California on line site for new rugs. Excellent photos and fair prices especially when 20% off sales.

Austria Auction Co.: well regarded auction house.


I want to thank Michael for creating and giving this talk and for his work with me to fashion this virtual version.

He has done a difficult and useful thing: treating a technical subject soundly, while making it accessible.

‘Til next time,

R, John Howe


Indonesian Textiles from the Collection of Roger Pratt

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2017 by rjohn

On October 16, 2016, Roger Pratt



gave a program to an International Hajji Baba Society audience on Indonesian textiles from his own collection.

In his talk, Roger considered design influences and historical context for the pieces presented.

Roger is a textile enthusiast, collector and traveler.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of The George Washington Museum/The Textile Museum and is the outgoing President of New York’s rug and textile club, The Hajji Baba Club.  Roger recently retired from a 32-year career at Presidential Real Estate Investors, where he was Senior Portfolio Manager for a series of large commercial real estate funds on behalf of pension funds.  He and his wife Claire now reside in Washington, D.C.

Roger said that he had brought quite a few items of material and would speak to them, dealing with design influences, geographic locations where they were produced, and the historical context of their production.

He began with a series of maps indicating Indonesia’s location. First a comprehensive map of Asia.  On this map Indonesia is in the lower right corner in purple (not all of it shows clearly).



The next map brings us a bit closer.  Here, Indonesia, again in purple, is at the bottom.



With a third map things become more intelligible.



As its name suggests, Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 10,000 islands off the subcontinent of India.   With 260 million people, it is the fourth most populous in the world and the largest Islamic nation.   The length of the archipelago exceeds the width of the continental United States.  The country’s culture, religion, and trade have been heavily influenced by India.  

Roger said that he would start with textiles woven in areas on the left (northwest) of the map above, the island of Sumatra (labeled more explicitly on the left side of the map below).



Sumatran textiles were particularly affected through trading relationships between Arab communities and western India which preceded the western explorers by hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  

The first section of Roger’s talk highlighted a few of the major design influences from these regions and how they affected textile design in Europe and the United States as well as in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

He moved to the first piece.




R1 is an 18th century fragment of an India made cotton chintz palampore ,with a fantastical flowering free design, which was exported from India to the Western European market.  Variations of these chintz textiles were also exported to Indonesia where they inspired indigenous local production, especially evident in batiks from Java.

Details of R1.






Roger took us to his next piece.




R2 is a jacquard loom made shawl, thought to be made in France in the mid 19th century that was inspired by Kashmir shawls woven in India.  Napoleon and Josephine ignited the European craze for these textiles beginning in the first decade of the 19th century.  

Kashmir shawl designs in terms of format, layout, and designs such the boteh, buta, or “Paisley pattern” also influenced Indonesian local textile production, particularly in the areas of the main Indian trading ports on the north coast of Sumatra.

Details of R2.




Roger  held up a piece related to R2.

Related to R2



Comment on piece related to R2:  This is a Kashmir shawl sash or girdle with a large boteh end panel from the first half of the 19th century with a red rectangular center field.  This is an Indian design that captured the imagination of both European and Indonesian textile producers in a variety of formats and sizes.

Here is another piece related to R2.



Comment on the second piece related to R2:  This is another European rendition of a Kashmir shawl adapted to the tastes of the European market.

Detail of second piece related to R2.


Roger’s next piece was a considerable contrast.




Detail of R3 below.  

India became the dominant player in the global textile trade when it developed a process where color fast textiles could be made with a consistently high grade of locally grown cotton.  These textiles were produced as daily wear for the slave market and the working class, as well as luxury goods for merchants and royal families.  

As noted India is particularly famous for its Kashmir shawls and elaborate chintz palampores, but they also produced simpler, more geometric designs for the mass market.  

R3 is a traditional headcloth, or keffiyeh, favored by the Arab market, which was also important to Indian traders.   India was also well known, then, for its plaid designs (most famously in the production center of Madras in southeast India), particularly in forming the border patterns of a cloth. 



Again, a move to a very different type, a seeming kerchief.




To complete the journey of a textile design from India to America, R4, pictured above, is a modern version of a red bandana with a paisley design, popularized by cowboys in the American west, as well as Harley Davidson riders.  

The name bandana derives from the Indian bandhani, which means tie and dye. The original bandanas, or kerchiefs or headcloths were exported from India to the United States, but subsequently were machine made in the US, and then in China, but still conforming to the original India design motifs, which hearken back to Kashmir.

Details of R4.




Again, we move to a quite different format.



R5 is a vintage folk embroidery door surround hanging from Gujurat in western India, with many of the most popular images in Indian textiles, including paired peacocks, parrots, lions, palm trees, and the popular Hindu elephant headed deity Ganesh, among others.  As we’ll see later, these motifs often also work their way into Indonesian textiles.

Details of R5.






Next was a hat-turban assembly, presented in two pieces.  R6a is the hat part.




And R6b is the accompanying turban.




Comment on 6a and 6b:  Hindu-Buddhist traditions likely arrived in Indonesia from India at the beginning of the Common era and have had a deep and profound impact on Indonesia culture and textile design.  

The first Islamic kingdom in Indonesia was established in the 13th century in Aceh at the tip of northwestern Sumatra through trade with Muslim merchants, which included both Arabs and Sufis from Gujurat, India.  This effectively grafted Islamic concepts onto the preexisting Indonesian Hindu-Buddhist belief system as well as native animistic tribal traditions.    Subsequent to the introduction of Islam, many Indonesians made the pilgrimage to Mecca.  

R6a and R6b, pictured above, are a pilgrim hat and accompanying turban, made near Mecca and acquired by an Indonesian in Sumatra in the 19th century.  It follows traditional geometric Arabic design. Whether it was through pilgrimages or trade, Sumatrans were exposed to a variety of Arabic textile designs most notably the cotton tabby with warp ikat lozenge, or rhomboid patterns often made in gold and blue, or red and blue, which were frequently inscribed with calligraphy.  

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in NYC, and the  GW/Textile Museum, have numerous examples of this type.   Below is an example of a Yemen ikat from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, dated to the 10th century.

Tiraz fragment from an ikat shawl

With R7, below, we move to textiles that a newcomer would say look like Indonesian textiles they have seen.




R7 is a Toba Batak “Ragidup”.  “Toba Batak” is a mountainous area proximate to the northwestern Sumatra port area of Aceh.  “Ragidup” means most well-known, raja, number one.  It represents totality and the concept of dualism.  

The white ends are joined into the field by a complicated technique called warp extension.  A continuous textile is achieved by introducing new warps from the end panels.  This is an ancient supplementary weft pattern reminiscent of stone work.  The end fields differ with one being male and the other female.  There are 23 stripes in the plum field and reflect the design impact of India trade cloth.

This piece dates to the early 20th century and was exported to a collector in Holland.  The Ragidup is often used as a ritual gift to women when pregnant with a first child; it can also be used to cover a coffin, or to recognize social achievement, or the parent of  the bridegroom.

Details of R7.









R8 is a Bingtang Maratur, also made by the Batak people.  Its 12 bands of ikat mean “ordered stars,” which is a reference to the regular arrangement of the body of the textile.  It indeed does look like a starry night. It has a predominantly blue coloring, with seven bands of refined supplementary weft end finishes.  

The format also reflects the Indian tradecloth with side and end borders accompanied by a multi section central field.  The central field ikat is likely an interpretation of the Yemen/Arabic lozenge design as mediated by local interpretations in the port of Acheh, where there was an Arab community.

Details of R8.












R9 is another Batak textile, entitled “Ragi Angkola,” made in the first quarter of the 20th century.  It has  34 stripes with three pronounced bands of diamond lattice ikat,  It has a distinctive beaded pattern on the ends which may have a colonial inspiration.

Details of R9.








(Numbers are not always sequential.)



R11  is a mid 19th century shimmering silk textile from Minangkabu, located to the south of the Batak area in western Sumatra.  

It has metallic thread overtones that display a prestige version of the plum diamond lattice design.  Sumatra is known as the Isle of Gold and is a major gold producer.  It is thought, however,  that the metallic thread used on these textiles was imported from China.

Details of R11.



(Color differences are due to lighting and camera processes.)







We now move to the Palembang coastal area of southern Sumatra which was a heavily traveled trade route by the Indian market.  

R12, above, was locally produced in the early 20th century as a version of a classic Indian tradecloth pattern that was revered in Indonesia.  The underlying cotton cloth was likely obtained commercially from India which was superior and more consistent than what could be made locally.    

It features triangle patterns on the border end panel (tumpal)  associated with the Islamic faith.  The design can have multiple meanings.  Its “filling” is often vegetal and is associated with the bamboo shoot or the cosmic tree, which is a sign of fertility and the life force.  It can also be considered to be the protective teeth of the deity Barong.  The central field is a regular arrangement of rosettes in a mosaic like pattern.

Details of R12.










R14 is a cotton India tradecloth from the 18th century of the type traded to Indonesia and subsequently imitated there, per the image shown above.  It can be considered a “proto” batik and is a combination of mordant block printing and pigment painting.  The image in this example appears on only one side of the cloth.

Details of R14.













R15 is a dramatic luxury tube skirt or tapis from Lampung an adjoining south coastal area to Palembang.  This piece features heavy elaborate gold embroidery work with fantastical elephants, roosters, peacocks, treasure chests etc. inspired by motifs favored by the princely families of India and emulated in Indonesia.

Details of R15.








R16 is a double ikat  (warp and weft) silk “patola” cloth from Patan in Gujarat, India.  This is a luxury prestige cloth which is done in a very technically precise manner in Gujurat which results in a sharp pattern design and jewel like colors in contrast to the typically “cloudy” images in most ikats done on cotton (or silk and cotton).  

This patola was made for the Islamic market (note the triangular tumpal on the border).  The patola, particularly a version with a eight pointed pattern known as “flowering  basket” was coveted and imitated in Indonesia.  Less than 10% of cloth exported to Indonesia was silk and the patola was a particularly valued textile that was considered to have  unrivaled power and meaning.    Patola has a similar format and pattern to the previously discussed Indian tradecloths.

Details of R16.











R17 is a late 19th century Kain Limar (shoulder cloth) that has design inspiration from the Patola cloth and is an expensive and prestigious production of Palembang.  It is silk plus weft ikat (limar) and supplementary weft gold metal thread brocade (sungkit).  

This is a classic example of the type.  The weft ikat design  in the center field appears in many Indonesian textiles as the garuda double-wing symbol.  The end panels feature flowering botehs derived from Kashmir shawls.   This type of end panel is typical of Kain Limar (in addition to the triangular tumpal).

Details of R17.





(Color differences are due to lighting and camera processes.)








R18 is a Sarat Nanas from the Lampung area of south Sumatra (late 19th to early 20th century).  It is a provincial version of the more formal Kain Limar discussed above.  It has silk and metallic thread as well as pineapple fiber.  The unevenly dyed muted colors and pineapple fiber create a beautiful textured abrash.   The central rosette lattice pattern is derivative from Patola and Indian tradecloth.  This piece, too, features the Kashmir boteh design in the end panels.

Details on R18.












R19 is an elaborate silk hat, believed to be from Gujuarat, featuring a  metallic thread Kashmiri boteh design.  This type of workmanship may have served as design inspiration for the Kain Limar and the Sarat Nanas shown above.

Details of R19.


(other side)






R20 is a silk and applied gold leaf headcloth, Prada Pudang,  from Palembang which is rather more elaborate than the Arab headcloth shown at the beginning of the program. The underlying form the  of the design is geometric with a rectangular border and diamond inset flanked by triangles.  

A tie and dye technique was used to create the rich purple center and red border, after which the gold leaf was applied in variety of rosettes and scrolling vine motifs using the goldleaf prada gluework technique, producing a sumptuous prestige garment.

Details of R20.









R21 is a Tatibin from the late 19th (ceremonial textile) which is a smaller version of the famed shipcloths from the Paminggir people of  Lampung (the coastal southern part of Sumatra) which relates to the journey of life.    

This piece is made of cotton with supplementary metallic and cotton weft decoration. This one features confronting lions with a decorated mast or tree between them, a design that goes back at least to the Sassanian empire in Iran and spread to India, East and Southeast Asia from there.  Two simplified ancestor figures stand above the lions.  

Details of R21.











R22 is a late 19th century tapis or ceremonial tube skirt (sarong) worn by women of Lampung, Sumatra.  They are warp faced but worn so that the stripes are read as horizontal bands.  This one is decorated with couched gold metallic threads and discs of mica, or little mirrors in a sun pattern, layered between archaic indigo bands of batlike forms that may relate to ancestor worship.  

Details of R22.










Back of R23



R23 is an elaborate jacket with silk, metallic thread, extra-weft weaving , shells and mirrorwork worn by women of the Kauer people of Lampung and would accompany variations of the tube skirt shown above.  The stripes of the jacket, in contrast to the skirts, would be read vertically.  The format of the jacket is derivative of Indian and Persian dress.  Local Indonesian costume would typically use a breastcloth rather than a jacket.  The jacket, particularly when accompanied by the nassa shell adornment would be heavy and warm and not practical for regular use.   

Details of R23.











Comment on R24.  

We now travel to the next island south and east of Sumatra, Java.  




Another map with clearer labels. (See Java. lower, left center)



Java has long been the seat of governmental power for Indonesia, and was the base of the Hindu/Bhuddist Mahapahit Empire from 1293 to 1527 when it was replaced by the Dewak Muslims.  

With the rise of the Muslims and the availability of commercially available high quality cotton material, the practice of batik flourished, particularly with the development of the Canting pen, which had a reservoir to hold the wax and which made the creation of sophisticated designs easier to execute, proving to be a technological advance over India’s block printing and pigment painting.  Designs of batik were influenced by Indian, Chinese, European, and local sources, so there is now quite a variety of production.  

This is an older  classic batik from the 19th century featuring the exaggerated Wayang shadow puppet motifs of the Indonesian version of the Indian Hindu Ramayana, an epic narrative of the life of Rama, which remained beloved in Indonesia and Java after the fall of the Mahapahit Empire.   This piece features the use of Soga, the brown dye typical for older batik production.

Details of R24.



(Differences in color are from lighting and camera processes.)









R25 is another classic batik design from Java from the early 20th century.  Stripes on batik are typically on an angle, which when worn provide a sense of movement and flow.  The stripes in this pattern include both the Parang rusak pattern (meaning broken knife) and the patchwork pattern.

In India, the Tambal patchwork of triangles and squares  is worn by monks and the poor. Here, it is incorporated into the batik stripes.  The broken knife or broken dagger pattern suggests supernatural power and is believed  to be enemy destroying.

Details of R25.











R26 is another classic batik design from the second half of the 19th century and relates to the India Chintz flowering tree design.  It has a version of the “Semen” pattern, meaning to sprout or grow.  It emphasizes fertility and belief in the cosmic order.  The head of the batik (kepala) is a particularly intricate patchwork triangle and diamond pattern.

Details of R26.












Comment on R27.

We now travel to the next island south of Java, Bali, which is where the Mahapahit escaped following the fall of Java in 1527.  



Bali is still more than 80% Hindu/Bhuddist.  Bali also revered the Indian double ikat patola as a powerful holy cloth and used them ritualistically during major transitions in life such as birth, marriage, and death and other significant occasions.  Symbolically they epitomize the struggle between good and evil as described in the drama of Barong and Rangda.  

The Cepuk is a locally made version of the Indian patola produced in South Bali using weft ikat.  The Cepuk follows a strict design discipline and always has a red background (varying shades, accompanied with a patterned frame of black, white, blue, and yellow lines).  The longitudinal border consists of white arrowheads, called the teeth of the Barong (the deity of goodness).  The weft ikat technique squeezes the roundels and other designs typical of the center field of patolas into more of an elongated egg shape. 

Details of R27.




(Color differences are due to lighting and camera processes)









R28 is a “Geringsing,” a  double ikat sarong made of cotton in Bali and also inspired by the double ikat patola and related designs in India tradecloth.  It has a floral lattice pattern and a rich brick red color made with morinda citrifolia, a member of the coffee tree family as well as indigo.  The production process is extremely exacting with the warp and weft overlapping perfectly.  

It is said that God taught the Bali villagers of Tangan the art of double ikat which was used in rites of passage and served as protection from danger.  This is considered the most powerful cloth of Bali because of its link to the past, the consistent design tradition, the muted color palette of brick and purple red, and the technical virtuosity and structure of the weaving. 

Details of R28.







Roger had a scarf-like textile with a very similar design and coloration.



And here is this scarf-like textile by itself.




R29 is an older, “gauzy” breast cloth double ikat Geringsing ,using the same design as the sarong, which demonstrates the staying power of the design. The pieces would have been worn together on special formal occasions.  Older pieces were considered more powerful than younger ones.

Details of R29.




We now move to the small island of Sumbawa, which is directly east of Bali. 



Look at the map above.  Find (lower center) the words “Bali” and “Flores.”  In between them are three small islands.  The middle one is Sumbawa.



R30 is the first textile from Sumbawa.




R30 is an uncommon men’s ceremonial shoulder cloth that is made of cotton and uses the tapestry-weave technique and supplementary weft brocade (silver metallic) on the border.  

This piece appears simple but is deceptively exacting in its weaving technique. The center field design and polychromatic colors create a serene statement of power, while the complex silver border on a red background provides a sharp contrast.  Note the tumpal teeth surrounding the center field.  This version of an elongated  oversized diamond is a variant of ones we’ve seen before in a smaller lattice format.

Details of R30.










CR31 is another dramatic Indonesian tie and dye textile made on silk, called a “Lawon ritual cloth” from Palambang, Sumatra made in the 19th century.   We have seen previously the appeal that the elongated diamond lozenge or rhomboid has in Indonesia in a variety of sizes.  Here, the large red diamond stands out against the beige field and the unusual purple scalloped border in a very graphic, “modernistic” manner.  

This piece derives its design from large scale Indian bandhani, a technique which lends itself to oversized  central patterns such as squares, rectangles, diamonds, and circles.  Many of the Lawon pieces have a rectangular center field set against a contrasting border design that collectors find reminiscent of paintings by Mark Rothko.

Details of R31.










R32 is a classic  Java batik breast cloth made in the early 20th century. The piece features another another take on the elongated lozenge design contrasting with the “Semen” flowering tree design of abundance that surrounds it. For some, this “empty” space in the center is like a beam of light, or an opening to pass through.

Details on R32.












R33  is a silk tie and dye Bandhani from Gujuarat which is an overscaled head cloth, odhani, used at wedding ceremonies and special occasions with metallic trim on the borders.  

This piece relies on rectangles and circles for its design, which when combined with brilliant contrasting colors makes a dramatic statement even when seen at a distance on a parched landscape.  This type of textile helped inspire the Lawon pieces shown above as well as other “empty” field textiles of Indonesia.

Details of R33.














R34 is a hat from Sindh Pakistan, which adjoins the Kutch area of Gujurat and shares its weaving tradition.  This is an example of fine mirrowork, which this region of India and Pakistan excels at and which migrated to parts of Indonesia.

Details of R34.






For the next piece we travel to the large north central Indonesian island of Borneo (upper left center in the map below). 



R35, below, is from Borneo.



It is a beaded cane baby carrier of the Kenyah Dayak People, from the mid 20th century, which I am showing in honor of our three grandsons, born in 2016.  

It is a typical design for baby carriers and has been in use for many generations.  The central beaded panel features the image of Aso, a demon dog deity that would serve as a protector guardian of the baby.  Images of Aso also frequently appear in the woven textiles of Borneo.

Details of R35.










R36 is a sun hat made of woven rattan and beadwork using a sun design also made by the Kenyah Dayak People in Borneo.  This would have been a harvest hat and is oversized to provide shade for the baby carrier.

Details of R36.









R37 is another similar  sun hat that includes a band of cloth with an attractive  floral design on a contrasting green background..

Details of R37.





Roger took questions,



and his wife, Claire, modeled one of the hats at the end.



I want to thank Roger for permitting the fashioning of this virtual version of his program and for his considerable help in both assembling and editing it.

I hope you have enjoyed this fluent presentation of some strong Indonesian textiles.

R. John Howe

Jerry Thompson, 1936-2016

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2016 by rjohn

Jerry Thompson, died on March 18, 2016. 


Jerry was an active and successful high-end dealer in oriental carpets in the Washington, D.C. area.  This was remarkable, in part, because he worked from his home in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, a hour and a half to the northwest.

Jerry was an important figure in the D.C. textile world.  We’ll do some of the usual “obit” things in this post, but want, mostly to give you a concrete sense of who Jerry was and how he served as a resource in the local textile community.

To attempt this we’re going to present a collage of internet clips reporting on Jerry in action.

(Note: We thank the owners and managers of for permission to use posts from their site.)

Here’s a beginning one in which Jerry sets the stage for a Textile Museum “potpourri rug morning.”  He had a definite, appealing “shtick.”

On September 8, 2007, Jerry Thompson hosted a “rug morning” at The Textile Museum here in Washington, D.C. on the subject of “Potpourri: Carpets from the Middle East.”.

Daniel Walker, the TM’s Director, introduced Jerry, noting that Jerry has been doing rug mornings for over 30 years. 

Jerry explained the “potpourri” approach to a rug morning.

He said that a good analogy is the event at a carnival or county fair where a person guesses you age and weight, within narrow limits, from your physical appearance.  In this “rug potpourri” Jerry said, it would be his task to make a first attempt at suggesting where a given piece was likely woven.  The audience was invited to disagree or supplement Jerry’s indications.

Jerry also invited questions.  His practice, he added, would be to answer those that he could, commenting, as he did so, on their sagacity, but to suggest that any that he could not answer were simply inappropriate.  🙂
You get a beginning flavor of how he operated. 
Jerry collected Turkmen rugs and two of his Turkman pieces appear in the classic Louise Mackie-Jon Thompson, 1980 catalog “Turkmen.”
The first of these is a Tekke chuval.
Jerry said to me once that he thinks that Thompson chose this piece, in part, because the use of animals was unusual in a Tekke chuval elem.
The second piece that Jerry owned that appeared in “Turkman” was the Yomut tent strut cover below.
Jerry said that it is dangerous to claim that a piece is unique, but that he knows of no other Yomut strut cover with this “bird-on-a-pole” field design.
Jerry also collected Persian city rugs.  Here is a tidbit from a TM program he did on them.
 On October 7, 2007, Jerry Thompson presented a Textile Museum rug morning program on Persian city rugs.


Jerry is a long-time collector-dealer in the Washington, DC area. He joked that he has been handling such rugs for over 30 years and is beginning to “catch on” a bit about them.

What we now describe as ‘Persian city rugs” are most usually rugs and carpets woven in the late 19th to the early twentieth centuries in such cities as Kerman, Kashan, the Sarouk area, Tabriz, Ishfahan, etc. Persian city rugs are usually curvilinear, woven following a set design of some sort, and are frankly commercial products, some woven under the auspices of western rug weaving operations (like Ziegler) in Iran.

Most Persian city rugs would not attract the attention of collectors much, but some instances of them rise above the ordinary and Jerry is a collector who does collect some city rugs. Wendel Swan is also, I believe, attracted to them, and I would expect that Harold Keshishian could produce more than a few if asked.

He began with a piece woven in Kerman.



He said that this is a good beginning example of a Persian city rug. It displays some of their frequent characteristics. First, it seems very likely to have been woven following a design (perhaps a graph paper cartoon) that indicated, knot for knot, what this design in what specific colors should look like.

The indicator for this is that the drawing on it is nearly perfect. That is, no irregularities are displayed. The design is one that could have been woven from a cartoon that contained only one quarter of this whole. The weavers could mentally reflect the cartoon to produce the full top half and then reflect that half on a horizontal axis to produce the lower half.

Another sign that this Kerman piece was woven from a precise, predetermined design, Jerry said, is that it has perfectly resolved corners on its borders.



That is, the borders approach each corner and then move around it smoothly with elements of the border drawn at a 45 degree angle in each corner. Such resolved corners are also sometimes described as mitered, a reference to the shape of some ecclesiastical hats.

Jerry said that this rug does not achieve the excellence of the old Kermans that so enthralled Edwards in his classic The Persian Carpet, but it does have (not counting shades) about 13 colors, about twice what one encounters in most rugs.

He estimated that this piece was likely woven about 1920. He said turn of the century Kermans would have been thinner than this one is and that, about World War II, Kermans took on washed-out colors and medallion designs with large areas of open field.

Note: Jerry did not broach the distinctive three weft structure of Kerman pile rugs.  Maybe he saw it as too technical for this RTAM audience (he certainly knew it).

A second city rug, below, is a Kashan, estimated to have been woven in the early 20th century.  Jerry said this rug is noticeably fine and thin.



He said (I not sure he was referencing this piece in doing so) that there were some identifiable workshops in such cities as Kashan and Tabriz and that some feel that they can identify rugs woven in them. Perhaps the most famous workshop in Kashan is described as Motasham.

There are questions about whether rugs woven in this precise workshop can be identified. Some say that more pieces are claimed to be Motasham than could conceivably have been woven in a single workshop,  from the later 19th century into the early years of the 20th, and that the term is now likely an article of dealer hype and to be avoided. But others (I have heard Harold Keshishian make this argument) say that Motasham pieces often have technical features that permit at least probable identification (one is that they are claimed usually to have pink silk selvedges).

Jerry said (and he may, now, have been referencing his rug above) that some claim to be able to recognize “son of Motasham” pieces.

As we were discussing the piece above, Richard Isaacson, asked from the audience, “How do you know that it is a Kashan?” This is a good question, since although Kashans have technical features (i.e., asymmetric open left knots and blue wefts) that clearly distinguish them from rugs woven in Tabriz (the latter have symmetric knots very uniform looking because they were woven with a hook), the former could be difficult to distinguish from some Sarouks that use the same knot and also have blue wefts.

Jerry’s response, I think, ultimately suggested that he personally uses a species of what Neff and Maggs call weave pattern, that is the overall appearance of the weave on the back. Neff and Maggs, in their description of Kashan vs “old” Sarouk weave patterns say that in Kashans the “weft is sometimes barely perceptible” while with Sarouks “each weft line is visible along its complete transverse and varies in thickness”. They also say that there is something distinctive about the shape of the knot nodes of both Kashans and Sarouks, but don’t describe these shapes concretely.

My guess is that having handled many Kashans and Sarouks over the years Jerry has developed an ability to “read” the differences in their respective weave patterns in a gestalt way that he does not necessarily fully articulate to himself. But the difference in weft appearance alone would seem to be a pretty reliable basis for making this distinction. Interesting stuff.

The rug below is the only Tabriz that Jerry showed.



He drew attention to its totally different palette (in truth Tabriz rugs are known for their wide variation in both design and coloration). Jerry said that this piece was made for market, but that he thought that it might be defensibly seen to have been woven by the Haji Jalili workshop in Tabriz.

He described it as “more subtle than dynamic,” and said that he loves the yellow. He said that the selvages are original and unusual in that they were two-cord rather than the expected single-cord. He said this rug hangs in his office.

Folks in the audience asked to see it reversed on the board.



Jerry said that folks usually talk about rugs having a lighter or darker look when reversed.  He joked that when he is showing such a rug to a customer he says that one side is “richer” and the other “subtle.”  🙂

Jerry liked samplers (vagirehs).



Here are two he owned.

The first is a subtle one.  He said that he owned this piece for several years before noticing that this is what it likely is.  Only the small strip of white-ground border at the edge of the field suggests that it a vagireh.  It is of the type sometimes called a “strike 0ff,” a smaller version of planned larger rug with all the colors and designs to be used.

Here are two views of the subtle piece. The first is head on and you can see the small white-ground stripe at the top edge of the field that triggered Jerry’s suspicion



The second side image below is to let you see the bottom end of this piece.



Jerry said “the blue field piece is a Hamadan woven with characteristic Sultanabad design elements.”

The visible question of this strike-off sampler is “Should we use this white-ground border or not?”

Jerry also sent along another vagireh he owns:



It is an unusual one.  It’s not clear that it is of the type intended to guide the weaving of a complete rug.  Jerry said “this predominantly green field piece is a Mahal.”

 Jerry was very attracted to Caucasian rugs and one of his last acts, as an active member of the Washington area textile community ,was to produce and curate an exhibition of them in 2006 at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland.  He drew on his own collection and those of two friends in his area.
Jerry wrote a catalog for this exhibition.  This catalog was an admirable and substantial piece of work and personal publishing.  It provided a map, a six-page initial discussion, and then full-color largish “finger-nail” images and gallery labels of all of the pieces in the exhibition.
 Done as a piece of personal publishing it’s something to be proud of.
Here are a few of Jerry’s Caucasian Rugs.

Jerry owns one of the most sumptuous “eagle Kazaks” of which I know.


Wendel Jerry Thompson RTAM June 2011 Eagle Kazak (002)*

It has a full, meaty pile, wonderful color and graphic punch,

Jerry often says that it has enough “Coke-bottle” green to slake the thirst of aficionados of that color.

Jerry liked Shirvans, but insisted that the side selvedges be absolutely correct.  With Schurmann he insisted that Shirvan selvedges must always be two-cord and white cotton.  And on his own rugs they had to be in perfect condition.  He would have them redone if they were not.  I used to kid him that he was fixated about this.

Here is a Shirvan rug (not Jerry’s) showing its white side selvedges.


And here is a closer corner to let you see them a little better.



Below is one of Jerry’s Shirvans shown in this exhibition.




He said that rugs from the eastern Caucasus display many, minute design elements.  The Shirvan rug, below, is an exceptional one because of the spaciousness of its design.




(The 2006 catalog uses the word “paucity,” but I prefer the more positive usage “spacious.”)


Jerry would buy outlandish pieces, if they took his fancy in some way.
This was his last piece in one TM “rug morning.”  He introduced  it by acknowledging that it is a rather dramatic departure from both his own, and more generally held, standards of what might be seen as “collectible.”  He said that he wanted a few minutes of explanation before the hooting began.  🙂


He said that it is Chinese, perhaps about 1920, with a garish palette of pretty obviously synthetic dyes, but that its graphics still have appeal for him. So much so that he has actually had a little restoration work done on it.

I asked to see the back and he was a good sport about that.


Very often there is good conversation after an RTAM.  Here’s Jerry with an audience member.
Wendel Swan sent me this remembrance:

“I don’t remember meeting Jerry Thompson for the first time, but it was probably in the late 1970’s at The Textile Museum.  He was from Waterloo, Iowa and I was from Rock Island, Illinois, about 140 miles distant.  Whenever or wherever we met, it immediately seemed as if we had always known one another.  “Jerry and Kaye lived in Shepherdstown, the oldest town in West Virginia but with a population of just over 2,000.  Their house was on a large lot in a newish subdivision outside the historic area and Jerry conducted his rug business from the lower level of the house, but it wasn’t retail.  He was good at his business because he was good with people.  Surprisingly, his most important customer was a large corporation in New York City.” Despite being at least an hour and a half from Washington, Jerry attended most meetings of the rug societies and events at The Textile Museum, including receptions, conferences and Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings.  Jerry was a frequent presenter at the RTAMs, usually bringing in and discussing pieces from his collection.“Jerry was naturally gregarious, had a wonderful laugh and sense of humor, never complained or criticized and his enthusiasm for rugs was contagious during his RTAM presentations.  It was that warm personality that caused Diane and me to meet or see Jerry and Kaye periodically outside the rug world – sometimes for dinner in Shepherdstown, sometimes here in Alexandria.  Our conversations were never dominated by rugs.“When Jeff Boucher became ill and unable to continue as president of the International Hajji Baba Society, Jerry persuaded me to take on the task, despite the fact that I felt I needed a break after just serving for several years as the president of the Washington Textile Group.  (The two groups merged within two years.)  Jerry was an eager member.  He especially enjoyed participating in the show and tell events, such as we traditionally had at the summer picnic.  Unfortunately, Jerry’s health was not good in his final decade.  He had trouble walking and moving.  When Diane and I visited them in Shepherdstown one Sunday, Kaye said that when he took me upstairs to look at his collection again, it was the first time in three weeks that he had managed the stairs.“In June of 2011, he had rebounded sufficiently to do an RTAM with two other collector friends from his area.  Although it was tiring, he enjoyed doing it one more time and the audience enjoyed him one more time.  I captured my last image of him showing his favorites: a Caucasian rug and a Persian rug (ed. both of which appear above).

“A friend, and one of the old guard, has left us.”


Let’s end with some “Jerry” stories.
Jerry story 1:
“Jerry was always on the lookout for a “bargain”.  In his eyes a “bargain” was a wonderful piece being sold by someone who had little or no idea of its real worth.  This got his juices flowing and was his idea of real fun.   A flea market or an antique mall would be the location .  In Jerry’s mind, it meant that he could take the rug home, wash it in the driveway and put it up for sale at its “real” retail value.  Jerry’s system for pricing rugs was based on “price per square foot”.  What this system did was eliminate or downplay any subjective factors.  So a 1950’s Hamadan in good shape with no “fire engine red” colors was worth so much a square foot.  He could spot a bargain from a mile away and would yell “teppich sighting” across the room.  Wherever we were on the floor, we’d run over to see what he’s uncovered.”
Jerry story 2:
Rug clubs are reflective of the prevailing social prejudices of any  age.  The New York City Hajji Baba Society initially barred women because, as one founder held,  they are not able to appreciate the finer qualities of them.  And the New York Hajjis were sundered, for a time, over a dispute about their restrictive membership policies.  The Washington, D.C. club, The International Hajji Baba Society was founded by members of the New York club and carried on some of these prejudices.  Jerry told of his discovery that this was the case.  He wanted to propose a new member for the DC Hajjis and took the application to the office of McCoy Jones, who was club president, for submission.  McCoy was out of the office and Jerry said to his secretary that he wanted to leave this application.  The secretary replied, matter-of-factually, “that’s fine, if they’re the right kind of person.”  Jerry asked “What is the right kind of person?”  The secretary said “no blacks and no Jews.”  Jerry said that he walked out of the office having discovered something he had not previously known.
Jerry story 3:


Jerry was never unkind to audience members.   But he could be acerbic if an audience member was unjustifiably proud of a piece brought in. For example, if someone brought in a visibly young rug and asked how old it was in a way that suggested he clearly expected an older estimate, Jerry would pause…and then look at his watch.
Jerry story 4:
 Jerry told the story of how he acquired his prized “Eagle Kazak.”

He said that he had a “picker” who lived a couple hours drive away from him out in the environs of West Virginia.  Jerry said that this picker did not know anything really about oriental rugs, but had a good eye for them.  One evening this picker called him and said he had a rug for Jerry to look at.  Jerry had had a long day, wrestling rugs in DC, as he showed them to customers and didn’t want to make the long drive.  He said he come first thing tomorrow morning.  The picker was doubtful and said “Well, I got some people coming to look at things, and it’s an awful pretty rug.”  Jerry made the drive next morning and sure enough, when he arrived there was a couple looking at what the picker had, and right in the center of things was this jewel of rug.  Jerry said he sweated blood until this couple made their purchases and left and this prize was his.



Jerry story 5:

Hobby clubs are prone to dispute and division.  This happened too for a time with the DC “Hajjis.”  A groups of “young Turks,” so to speak, left and formed The Washington Textile Group.  After a few years, the clubs decided to merge, again, and the question of what its name should be now arose.  Some felt that the “Hajji” name was ethnocentric (it was taken from James Moirer’s 1824 novel, which made what some thought was discriminatory fun of Persians).

Jerry, who was prominent in the club, then, was asked to do the research on the name, preparatory to a club vote.  Jerry did a yeoman’s piece of research [I was able to contribute by giving him a copy of a book on the history of the NY Hajji club ( ironically, given what I’ve reported above) written by a woman, Olive Olmsted Foster.]  Jerry’s report was submitted to club members and a vote was taken.  It was close, but the International Hajji Baba Society name was retained, to the embarrassment of some of us who still see it as clearly ethnocentric.


Jerry story 6:

Like all of us, Jerry sometimes made mistakes.  He once acquired an Ersari rug with which he was enthralled.  Sharply drawn “gul-i-guls” and lot of a wonderful clean green.  As you know, all of us are taken with good purples, strong yellows and greens since these are seen as more difficult to produce with natural dyes.  Jerry brought this rug to a TM program he was giving.  He treated it as his concluding piece and it was hanging on the front border as people moved to the front.  Someone, I think maybe Colin England, was looking closely at this piece and found that the green colored knots were white at their base.  Horrors!  The green areas has been painted.  I don’t have pictures of this piece and Jerry is glad.  He never wants to see it again.


Jerry story 7:

I think I only ever bought one piece from Jerry.  It was constructed.  He had a large, damaged, Afghan, “Ersari” main carpet.  It was a dark rose with Taghan guls and lots of borders.  He cut a strip out of it 8 feet long and a little more than 2 feet wide.  Made a runner.  He told me he also got several pillows out of it.



He bragged, as he was selling it to me, that he had this lady who had put nice, tight selvedges on its sides.  He wasn’t claiming that they were a traditional Ersari usage, but he was proud of these selvedges.  They were necessary, in this case, and were of the sort he liked.  His concern for the character and condition of selvedges was general.  This “runner” has been on the floor here in a high traffic hall for 20 years and these selvedges are in pretty good shape.  He would still be proud of them.



Jerry story 8:

Jerry Thompson came from Iowa and often visited there.  He scavenged for rugs DC, Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, and did very well, but he repeatedly complained that there were no oriental rugs in Iowa. 🙂



Gerald (Jerry) W. Thompson, of  Shepherdstown, W.Va.,  was the son of Henry and Grace Thompson of Waterloo, Ia.


After graduating from college, he was drafted in the Army. He spent two years in the Counter  Intelligence Corps in Washington, D.C


Following his military service, he earned a Masters degree from the former State College of Iowa, now University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.


Between 1962 to 1976 he taught high school in Illinois and held an administrative position in the Jefferson County School District.


He then established the Gerald W. Thompson Oriental Rugs business.


He joined the Textile Museum in 1973, where he was a frequent lecturer.  He also established a personal rug collection. He was an officer in the Washington, D.C. Rug Society, now the Hajji Baba Rug Society.


Survivors include a son, Steven Thompson of Manassas, Va., Kaye Pritchard of Buckingham, Ia., whom he married in 1986, three stepsons, Nathan, Seth and Kurt Jesse, and seven grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Sarah Thompson, a brother, Richard Thompson, and his parents.


Memorial donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center at


Services will be private.


Last thought:
Good work, Jerry.  It was good to know you.  A lot of us are going to miss you.
John Howe and Tom Leonhardt
 Textiles and Text



Cushion Covers at ICOC 13

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2015 by rjohn

One of the three exhibitions presented, in conjunction with ICOC 13, August 6-9, 2015, here, in Washington, DC, featured cushion covers

This exhibition may be the first devoted exclusively to this format.



Wendel Swan curated this exhibition.



Common Threads: Cushions from Central Asia to Sweden

In portions of the Near East and Central Asia, stuffed cushions have been used for hundreds or thousands of years in the tent of village home to rest or lean against while seated on the ground or floor.  Some cultures still follow this practice in the absence of Western-style furniture.

Early seaman and traders from present-day Sweden brought back from Islamic lands various kinds of rugs and textiles, often incorporating some of the patterns and designs into their own domestic weavings.  Influences from the Mediterranean and eastward can be seen in various Swedish textiles in the last 300 years.

In this exhibition you will see 18th and 19th Century examples of the tradition of cushion making between Central Asia and Sweden.

In Turkey, the name for a cushion is yastik.  Among Belouch groups in Eastern Persia and Afghanistan, the cushion term is balisht.  For whatever reason, a similar use of such cushions is largely unknown in Persia.  Cushions are woven in one long strip with half being the face and the other half becoming the back when folded.This distinguishes cushions from storage or transport bags, the faces of which are often of a very similar size.

In the Near East, wool was the single most important material for making all kinds of utilitarian objects.  In Sweden, however, the abundance of wood resulted in wooden houses and wooden furniture even though the houses consisted of only one room – rather like a wooden tent.

Cushions served different purposes in Sweden.  Agedyna is the term for the rectangular cushion that was used on carriages and sleighs, but primarily for special occasions.  A jynne is a square cushion used indoors for sitting on a chair or to kneel upon during weddings and other occasions.  In Sweden, rugs and textiles were not used on the floors.  Ryas, or pile rugs, were used as bedding.

Some of the Swedish cushions are in a remarkable state of preservation for their age because they were kept in wooden chests nearly all the time.  Note that some motifs in Swedish cushions go back to Roman mosaics, while others are traceable to Anatolian textiles.

Note: Most cushion covers were used with the long side on the horizontal.  And they were displayed that way in the exhibition.


Cushions exh cases 2 1200


I have, in most cases, reoriented them in this post so that the long side is vertical.  This lets me give you larger images of the pieces (you can also see larger images by clicking once or twice on a given one).

We will see the gallery labels (in italics) interspersed with the various pieces being described.

Here is the first one:


Probably a cushion face, this all wool pile weaving from Uzbekistan has 14 “Memling” guls.

Note at the bottom that the weaver experimented before deciding on a border design and the relative widths of border and field.

This, all wool, early 19th Century weaving is exceedingly rare.

Anonymous Uzbek cushion face



All wool yastik cushion face from the Karapinar area of East Central Anatolia is decorated with lappets

(in the 14th Century, these would have been loose flaps) on the ends.

Anonymous Karapinar yastik face 1200



All wool yastik cushion face from Eastern Anatolia, featuring three “Memling” guls and eight pointed stars,

both found throughout Anatolia and other Near Eastern weaving areas.

Likely Kurdish.

Mid-19th Century.

Anonymous Anatolian Kurd yastic face 1200



Belouch group pile balisht (cushion to lean against) face, with botehs filling the field.

All wool, with a field of camel.

Late 19th Century, North East Persia.

Anonymous Belouch boteh balisht face 1200



Finely woven pile Belouch group balisht (cushion to lean against) intact with original and beautiful back.

All wool with a camel field.

Field pattern is called the “tobacco” design because a rug with this design appears in a late 19th century photo of a tobacco strike leader in Iran.

Late 19th Century, North East Persia.

Anonymous Belouch balisht

Back of C5, above.

Anonymous Belouch balisht back



Yastik (cushion to lean against) Cover, Southwest Anatolia, Dazgir Region, 18th century

2.0 x 2.5

Collection of Dennis Dodds and Zinaida Vaganova

Dodds yastik 1 1200



Yastik (cushion to lean against) Cover, East Central Anatolia, Sivas Region, mid-19th Century.

Collection of Dennis Dodds and Zinaida Vaganova

Dodds yastik 2 1200



Agedyna (carriage cushion) from Sweden. 1800 – 1825. Intact with original back and goose down stuffing.

36″ x 18″

Wool rollakan (kilim style) weave with double interlock. Back woven separately in different technique.

Compare the general style of the 2-1-2-1-2 pattern to the following yastik (C9). This pattern can be found in Roman and Mediterranean tiles

21 stars agedyna WRS 1200



Yastik (cushion to lean against). Circa 1800 or earlier. Dazkiri area in Western Anatolia with Holbein-style 2-1-2-1-2 pattern used in many forms of Islamic art.


Pile; all wool. Portions of ends were re-woven about 100 years ago using synthetic dyes that have now faded.

Compare pattern to that of the previous agedyna (C8).

Dazkiri yastik WRS 1200



Agedyna (carriage cushion) front. 1800 – 1825.

36″ x 17″

Wool embroidery with long floats on a linen foundation. This very rare and supple structure is seldom encountered and would have been very delicate.

The checkerboard pattern is more complex than it may first seem.

Long stitch agedyna WRS 1200 vertical



Embroidered cushion for kneeling (possibly for the bride at the wedding) or sitting during festive occasions.

22″ x 22″

Southern Sweden. Dated 1797 and signed AND (not the same maker as the agedyna, also with the same initials). Original back.

Swedish Jynne 1200 (sitting cushion) dated 1797



Yastik (cushion to lean against) pile face. Circa 1850 or earlier. Oushak area in Western Anatolia. All wool.

36″ x 22″

The use of large medallions is typical of the room-size carpets of Oushak.

Oushak yastik WRS 1200



Yastik (cushion to lean against) Cover, Central Anatolia, Mudjur Region, Circa 1800 or earlier.

2.1 x 2.9

Collection of Dennis Dodds and Zinaida Vaganova

Dodds Central Anatolia Mujur 1800 50 1200



Agedyna (carriage cushion). 1800 – 1825. Southern Sweden. Intact with original red felted back.

41″ x 20″

All wool ascending floral pattern in trensaflossa (“half-pile”) technique on linen foundation.

Signed AND in the old tradition with the D standing for daughter (dottor in Swedish). Dowry weaving in same family until 1953.

Trensaflossa green red vase WRS 1200



Agedyna (carriage cushion) from Torna Bara area in Sweden. Circa 1800 -1825.

WS4 38″ x 21″

Wool on linen warps. “Flemish” (tapestry) weave in a pattern called “two urns, two pairs” showing bride in traditional costume.

Flemish weaves are considered the most desirable of all Swedish textiles.

Two urns pairs agedyna WRS 1200

Note: Image above turned to give you a larger image.

Two urns pairs agedyna WRS 1200 turned



Agedyna (carriage cushion) from Sweden. Circa 1800 -1825.

WS6 41″ x 19

Woven in wool on a linen foundation, embroidery is added to the trensaflossa (half-pile) technique with great precision and balance.

The pattern and the structure are both rare.

Trensaflossa and embroidery agedyna WRS 1200

Turned to give a larger image.

Trensaflossa and embroidery agedyna WRS 1200 turned



Agedyna (carriage cushion) face from Sweden. Circa 1800 -1825 in wool “twist stitch” embroidery on a linen foundation.

43″ x 19″

The cruciforms within a lattice pattern can be found in Persian, Caucasian and French rugs and textiles.

Agedyna blue ground floral cruciform WRS 1200

Turned to provide a larger image.

Agedyna blue ground floral cruciform WRS 1200 turned



Agedyna (carriage cushion). 1800 – 1825. Intact with original back.

38″ x 19″

Wool rollakan (kilim style) weave with double interlock. Back woven separately in different technique.

This star pattern can be found in Roman mosaics, but the marching geese in the border are distinctively Swedish.

Agedyna stars geese vertical 1200



Agedyna (carriage cushion) face from Southern Sweden. 1800 – 1825.

Wool rollakan (kilim style) weave with double interlock.

43″ x 22″

Octagons are common in Near Eastern rugs, but reindeer are important symbols in Swedish decorative arts.

Geese populate the border while other birds are scattered throughout.

Two reindeer WRS 1200

Turned for larger image.

Two reindeer WRS 1200 turned



Swedish cover of cushion for kneeling (possibly for use in church) or sitting.

Woven in Flemish tapestry technique, which was the most prized in Sweden.

Dated 1785 and probably woven by a member of the well-known family Rogberg-Oxelgren in Småland.

1785 crucifixion jynne WRS 1200



Swedish cushion for kneeling or sitting.

Made with hand-cut pieces of cloth attached to a linen foundation and with its original back.

Probably pre-1800.

Extremely rare example of a jynne created without a pattern or other object to follow.

Early and rare pieced jynne on black 1200

I want to thank Wendel Swan for this imaginative exhibition and for his considerable help in fashioning this virtual version of it.

I hope you have enjoyed this peek at the world of cushion covers.


R. John Howe

International Hajji Baba Society Exhibition in Conjunction with ICOC 13

Posted in Uncategorized on November 3, 2015 by rjohn

During ICOC XIII, in Washington, D.C., in early August, 2015, the local International Hajji Baba Society put together and presented an exhibition of about 70 rugs and textiles.

Austin Doyle led the curatorial group that fashioned this exhibition.


It was held in David Zahirpour’s shop.



David and his staff hung the pieces.


The exhibition drew on material owned by Hajji club members.  It centered on pile rugs, other pile formats, and a few flat-woven pieces.

An exceptional set of gallery labels was produced that provided more information than I think I have ever seen on another set.  They show careful design and good research (you will come to appreciate them as we go along).  The background information was a collaboration between Austin and Ken Kepchar, but Ken did the maps, the photography needed and the actual label production.

Here is an, out of sequence, example.


Although the gallery labels provide numbers, the exhibit was not hung according to them.  Moreover, I was not able to photograph the pieces in this exhibition in the sequence in which they occurred in the galleries.  So the sequence that follows is a bit serendipitous.

For each piece shown here, we will begin with the gallery label.  Next you will see an “all edges” comprehensive shot of the piece, followed by a number of detail images.  There will be no other comment on them.

Here we go.



Details of 06.







Details of 05.









Details of 37.







Eaglegroup Yomut

Details of 31.







Kurdish Rug 18th century

Details of 32.










Details of 26.








Details of 28.










Details of 30.







D4Details of 19.










Details of 65.









Details of 20.








Details of 16.










Details of 29.










Details of 71.








Details of 22.







Details of 72.








Details of 57.








Note: Colors of the piece on the label are not accurate due to camera and or light effects.  Lesser instances of this will occur occasionally.  There is also no number on this gallery label.



Details of the yastik above.





Details of 38.







Details of 39.








Details of 08.











Details of 07.









Detail of 74.





Details of 73.








Details of 11.