Patina meets fashion: on the evaluation and devaluation of oriental carpets
Csaba, F. F.
Exploring Creativity: Evaluative Practices in Innovation, Design, and the Arts
Cambridge University Press
260 - 277
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This chapter examines how different actors account for the quality and value of oriental carpets. It introduces the subject matter through three case examples: how an auction house expert approaches establishing the market value of carpets; how a dedicated rug collector accounts for his tastes and tactics; and how a quality controller goes about rating the season’s work of a village weaving cooperative dedicated to the revival of craft traditions. The evaluative practices of the actors reflect a field that values age and tradition, rather than novelty and creativity, but also a field in decline. In this sense ours is a special case of the evaluation of creativity. The chapter reconsiders and applies Grant McCracken’s (1988) concept of patina in the analysis of how, why, and the ways in which signs of age are valued in oriental carpets. We examine closely how the material properties, processes, and affordances of oriental carpets lend themselves to symbolic uses and judgments of value. Acknowledging that material properties reflecting wear, tear, and care are judged differently, we present a matrix that discerns four approaches to the perception and appreciation of oriental carpets. While sharing some common ground, each approach appraises carpets according to a particular set of criteria and techniques, and privileges certain names, categories, or genres of oriental textiles, while devaluing others. Actors apply such schemes in identifying, appreciating, and evaluating the combinations of the physical properties – patina and others – of carpets. © Cambridge University Press 2013.