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Introduction

Welcome to my Turkoman catalogue and also to the show at ICOC in Stockholm, 2011, where all thirty pieces are on display and for sale. It gives me great pleasure to be a part of this event and I hope you will be able to share my enjoyment.

Few people know that I have developed a passion for Turkmen and it seemed like a good way to publicise it in the form of an exhibition and an accompagning catalogue. The idea began about two years ago when I was offered a small group of weavings from a very good collection that I thought were worthy of some exposure but I needed more of them so since then I have been putting aside the best Turkoman pieces I could find, travelling the world and visiting private collectors in order to do so.

Turkoman weavings have sometimes been described as the ‘intellectual’ or ‘the thinking rug collectors rug’ because of the amount of research that goes into structural analysis and the importance attached. I have often been slightly intimidated by hearing collectors talking in hushed tones about asymmetrically knotted Yomud this or two ply mixed cotton wefted that and how it makes such a huge difference to the geographical origin of the piece in question. This is all very good and true but for me, the beauty comes from the surface, regardless of how they were woven and an ugly rug is still just that, no matter how it is made.Accordinly, I have chosen each piece in this exhibition according to my aesthetic sensitivites.

The Turkoman, with their relatively limited pallete, can nonetheless produce a range of astonishingly rich reds, blues and greens, with wool pile that is the equal in shine and glow, to the best of any other weaving group.

Some of my favourite pieces are the green ground Okbash fragment used on the cover,now re-cycled into a smaller bag, the rather naïve Beshir Torba with the Ikat design, the Tekke six gul with the orangey red ground, the Asmalyk with the tiny figure and, of course, the stunningly rare Salor Kapunuk in outstanding condition. These are just a few of the group of weavings that I have had great pleasure in accumulating and I hope you will find something that speaks to you, as much as they have spoken to me.

James Cohen
May 2011