A Collector’s Views on the Repair/Restoration/Conservation/Doing Nothing Continuum.

Mike Tschebull

Saturday, October 1, 2022

For a collector, there is a continuum from basic repair of a rug or textile, through restoration of some sort, to conservation of what one has—and finally, doing nothing at all. Bob Mann gave an excellent zoom talk for the Textile Museum on the subject from a restorer’s viewpoint, and it should be viewed as sort of a prerequisite for what I have to say. We of course have some overlap but imagine the difference from what I’ll say can be like looking into the same tunnel from opposite directions. A collector has to learn, pretty much on his or her own, often through trial and error, over a relatively long period of time, what to do and not do, along this continuum.

Using some of my own mostly Transcaucasian material as well as from other sources, I will illustrate some repair/restore/conservation successes and mistakes, will tell you that what were successes awhile ago are not always what was the right thing to do.

I will touch on the subject of when restoration is so good, it’s hard to tell that it’s not original. I will show good reproductions that are not meant to mislead.

I will be talking about my viewpoint on the subject, not saying others should do what I do.

Raoul (Mike) Tschebull has an extensive record of writing in the field of Eurasian rugs and textiles but is probably best known for the iconic Finch College Museum of Art exhibition catalogue Kazak (1971). His most recent published article is in the current Hali, number 212, “An anatomy of an object, A golden-ground Konaghend rug”. In 2019, he authored the book Qarajeh to Quba, released by Hali Publications, which focuses on Transcaucasian and East Azarbayjani rugs, plus related warp-faced and tapestry-woven textiles. Rug study has brought him into extensive contact with cultural anthropology through fieldwork, as well as a myriad of other disciplines, and has afforded him opportunities to speak on the subject of Eurasian weaving in diverse conferences and symposia from San Francisco to Tehran.

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