Turkotek Discussion Forums

Turkotek Discussion Forums (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/index.php)
-   Virtual Show and Tell (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/forumdisplay.php?f=3)
-   -   Estate find--Khorasan w/ Herati Boarder (?) (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=3846)

Nils Persson March 21st, 2017 07:45 PM

Estate find--Khorasan w/ Herati Boarder (?)
I've been trying to identify this rug for the past week; I'm still at a loss. Any help would be much appreciated.

n.b. I'm new to the rug-game--go easy on me.

(Deleted - Steve Price)

Egbert Vennema March 21st, 2017 10:02 PM

Virtual Show and Tell
Hi there npptz3, ( btw, got a name ? ) warp of cotton or wool ? best,Egbert.

Nils Persson March 21st, 2017 10:10 PM


The warp is cotton, methinks.


Steve Price March 21st, 2017 10:10 PM


Please note (paragraph atop this page) that we don't permit posting anonymously or under a pseudonym. If you'll send me (sprice@vcu.edu) your full name, I'll edit your user name to make it your full name.


Steve Price

Rich Larkin March 22nd, 2017 12:57 PM

Hi Nils,

Can you identify the knot type, symmetrical or asymmetrical?


Nils Persson March 23rd, 2017 01:59 AM


I believe they're asymmetrical knots.


Rich Larkin March 23rd, 2017 01:35 PM

Hi Nils,

Well, no one is stepping forward to ease your pain. It seems likely to be from an urban Persian venue, but no particular one of them stands out to me as the likely source. I make the knot count to be around 210-220 kpsi, which is fairly fine, but there are aspects of the rug that are less refined than many urban workshop types. There is also a slightly uneven quality to the weave for a rug of this type. There is considerable abrash, particularly in the blue, a feature I always love, but which many Persian connoisseurs deem a defect. (Don't get me wrong. I wish they would bring me all their old abrashed rugs. I would take good care of them.)

Then, there are the colors. At first look, one suspects the somewhat lavishly used orange, as we are trained to do that. But my guess is, it is a good color here. Look carefully at the visible areas of warp and weft from the back: do you see evidence of color having leaked from pile yarn into those areas? The red and orange would be the primary risk colors for that phenomenon.

The design is ambitious, and could have come from a number of areas. All in all, I canít resolve your quandary. Khorassan is as good a stab as any, though I wouldn't be making it my first choice. The best I can do is suggest that it is a type not so well-known in the market, and consequently, not readily identifiable. In that context, it could be a familiar name but of a somewhat different sort than what we have come to associate with that venue. For example, workshop rugs from Isfahan (Esfahan) from the early 20th century are somewhat different from the rugs produced after, say, 1950, which have become the recognizable standard. Another example would be Tabriz, which has been associated with a great many quality levels (high and low) over the past century and a half (though a Tabriz rug would likely be symmetrically knotted).

Interesting rug. You can't say it's been boring! :)


Nils Persson March 24th, 2017 02:39 AM

Thank you for the response, Rich--much appreciated.

Being that I'm new to this, could you expound on the "urban Persian workshop" distinction?

Isfahan, good. I had compiled a short list of structurally consistent rugs, and Isfahan was near the top.

I don't recall all of why I settled on Khorasan over Isfahan, but it was partly on grounds of composition, or rather--to be precise-- on the conjunction of certain stylistic elements; namely, the Herati pattern and the trellis of (forked-tendril) whiplash scrolls . The former element seems more prevalent among Khorasans, the latter element more prevalent in Isfahans, and a coincidence of the two seemingly more prevalent in Khorasan rugs.

Maybe a futile exercise in discrimination ,seeing that--as you've suggested--its origin is likely obscure.

"Then, there are the colors. At first look, one suspects the somewhat lavishly used orange, as we are trained to do that. But my guess is, it is a good color here. Look carefully at the visible areas of warp and weft from the back: do you see evidence of color having leaked from pile yarn into those areas?"

I couldn't agree more; and it's funny, indoors the red and orange are a good deal more modest, complementing the field perfectly. And to answer your question: no, I don't see any leaked color in those areas.


Rich Larkin March 24th, 2017 03:08 AM

Hi Nils,


...could you expound on the "urban Persian workshop" distinction?
Do you have a few decades to spare? :sherlock:

Not really. By "urban Persian workshop [work]," I am talking about rugs from such sources as Tabriz, Kashan, Kerman, Meshhed (a Khorassan type), Qum, Esfahan, Nain, others. Typically, they are relative fine of weave with warps fully depressed, or nearly so, and usually with cotton warps and wefts. (Some would use the term, "commercial," but I think it was the great Murray Eiland, Jr., M. D., who said, "All rugs are commercial.") They tend to employ classical design layouts or ones derived from classical models. Very often, they are woven from cartoons, i. e., graph paper with the principal design elements colored into the squares according to the proper sequence of the knots. The weavers follow the cartoons the way a musician follows a musical score. The result is often relatively precise execution of designs.

I hope that description is adequate in light of your present experience and knowledge. Contrasted with "urban Persian" might be more rural or rustic production from village venues, or among nomadic breeders of sheep and goats...the notion of "tribal" comes to mind. Such rugs often have a more casual approach to precision of execution and final design.

These are generalizations, of course.


Nils Persson March 24th, 2017 04:13 AM

Thanks again, Rich. Most helpful!


Steve Price March 24th, 2017 12:21 PM

Hi Nils

I'd add two distinguishing features of workshop rugs.
1. They're almost always symmetric in both directions. This comes from the fact that the cartoons from which they're woven are only of one quadrant, which is copied four times in different orientations.
2. The corners are resolved with the borders turning neatly rather than sort of butting against each other where their directions change.

Rugs woven freehand don't have these characteristics.


Steve Price

Nils Persson March 27th, 2017 10:00 PM

Thanks, Steve.

So, you don't think it's a workshop rug?


Steve Price March 27th, 2017 11:16 PM

Hi Nils

No, I do think it's a workshop rug. Although the corners aren't as cleanly resolved as they are on most workshop rugs, they appear to be identical in all four corners. The borders look to be mirror images of each other, and all look like they are symmetric in their respective long dimensions.

It would be nearly impossible to weave a piece that elaborate without it becoming wonky if it was woven freehand. It also looks to me like it's probably 8 or 9 feet wide, which would require two weavers sitting side by side. That's not likely to end up even approximately symmetrical if woven without a cartoon.


Steve Price

George Herteg March 28th, 2017 11:28 AM

Hi everyone,

Sorry to "barge" in as I'm just a novice, but I found the small border design familiar.. I must have seen it in a book plate somewhere while reading about bidjars and hamadan rugs. So after a few searches I found it - Plate F, Fig. 8, Page 159 from Oriental Rugs -Antique and Modern by Walter A. Hawley.

"A very common form of a vine with pendant is shown in Plate F, Fig. 8. This pattern is seen in a large number of Persian rugs, such as Mosuls, Bijars, Kurdistans, and Hamadans. Each flexure of the vine is enlarged to almost the form of a leaf, and between them is a branching pendant."

This is the link to the image:

I also think there are two things consistent with bidjar rugs, the warped weft lines at the back and the colors. If it is a bidjar, with cotton foundation, then it must be from 20th cent.

I'm sorry, I didn't want to disregard any previous, much more experienced, opinions in any way, just wanted to point out the border design similarity I noticed. Maybe it will help somehow with attribution.

Steve Price March 28th, 2017 11:44 AM

Hi George

The link puts up a message, not the image.


Syrve Price

Filiberto Boncompagni March 28th, 2017 12:11 PM

Never mind, there we go:


Rich Larkin March 28th, 2017 01:31 PM

Hi George,

I thought about Bijar as a site for Nils' rug for several reasons, but I have a hard time putting it there on account of the appearance of the weave. Also, it does not look to me like the kind of Bijar you might find from the period after they went to cotton foundations. I might think otherwise if I had it in hand. Close-up photos can be misleading, as they often give a different impression from the more global one you can get in person.

Nils, what can you say about the handling qualities of the rug? Stiff? Supple? Also, Steve suggested that it might be 8 or 9 feet wide. But it looks to me like it might be more like 4.5 feet X 6.5 feet (approx. 1.4 meters X 2.0 meters). Is that so?


George Herteg March 28th, 2017 01:32 PM

Hi Steve,

Sorry, I didn't verify the actual link accuracy.
Thank you Filiberto for the solution :)

George Herteg March 28th, 2017 01:44 PM

Hi Rich,

I was about to ask the same questions regarding the "feel" of the rug. I'm also a bit sceptical on the bidjar attribution because of the higher KPSI and fluid design.. but you never know. I was expecting a more garus type of design if it were a bidjar. The search continues :)

Nils Persson March 29th, 2017 09:38 PM

"(...) it looks to me like it might be more like 4.5 feet X 6.5 feet (approx. 1.4 meters X 2.0 meters)."

- Quite right-- exactly right, in fact.

"what can you say about the handling qualities of the rug?"

- Quite supple. Here, hopefully this helps:

(Deleted - Steve Price)

Rich Larkin March 29th, 2017 11:02 PM

Hi Nils,


- Quite supple. Here, hopefully this helps:
Thanks for saving me.:flush: I was about to announce, Bijar!

Back to the drawing board.:fez:


Alex Wolfson April 6th, 2017 01:26 AM

Dear Nils,
I was also going to say Bijar. Quite how supple is hard to tell from the pictures - normally they are rather stiff in construction. I wouldn't rule it out completely however.

Rich Larkin April 6th, 2017 02:46 AM

Hi Nils,

Without much confidence, I will suggest your rug is an Isfahan (Esfahan) of the type they produced in the early 20th Century before they went to the ultra-high knot count product of the second half of the 20th Century. The general appearance of the back is in line with that type (though I am having trouble getting the scale of the weave from the shot of the back). The somewhat baroque style of drawing also fits. I don't know that they employed that palette, but I don't know that they didn't, either.


Marvin Amstey April 6th, 2017 02:21 PM

'morning Rich,
I have spoken directly with Mr, Serafian, and knot counts in at least one of his grandfather's rugs from the early 20th c. which the Oriental Rug Mart (Victor, NY) had in stock had >500 kpsi. How do you define "ultra" high knot counts? We do have some Serafian rugs in inventory made about 30 years ago with knot counts of >900 kpsi.

Chuck Wagner April 6th, 2017 03:38 PM

Hi all,

Late to the party, I know, but...

I wouldn't discount Saruq or Teheran as an origin for this piece. The knot density (roughly 225 kpsi) is typical and similar motifs are seen on pieces from both areas.

The weft lines seem a bit wide for a normal Esfahan to me, and the knots are not pounded down very much at all, so I doubt this is a Bijar piece.

And, as an aside, we have an Esfahan rug that averages 528 kpsi. I have always wondered if Serafian marketed unsigned pieces; this one looks a lot like the work from that shop.

Chuck Wagner

Rich Larkin April 6th, 2017 09:43 PM

Hi Marvin and Chuck,

I was in Iran in 1967, and considered myself a minor expert, as I had a copy of the Preben Liebtrau booklet. :fez:

I was determined in particular to get a grip on the degree of fineness of Isfahan and Nain rugs, as I had encountered one of each in the suq in Riyadh. The finer grades of Isfahan were in the neighborhood of 600 kpsi, which I considered (and still do!) ultra high. That would seem to be in line with what you chaps are reporting.


(A) I agree the spacing between rows of knots along the wefts in Nils' rug is wider than I would expect to see in the older type of Isfahan. I also agree it doesn't look much like a Bijar on the back for the reason you stated, though I was thinking I might have a different view of the question if the thing were in hand.

(B) I considered Teheran, as the weave would be more in line with that type, and it (i. e., Teheran) is a prominent member of the Obscure Urban Persian Rug Club. However, my only experience with that group was on the aforementioned trip, and all of the Teherans I saw had a recognizable palette that was different from Nils' piece. A lot of beiges with many accent colors. Also, if memory serves, they didn't feature the degree of abrash (which Persian dealers did not admire, as I saw it) exhibited in Nils' rug. But I don't doubt you may be right. As a matter of fact, I was noting the repeating minor border on white in Nils' rug and trying to recall where I had seen the effect. "Teheran" came to mind, but I dismissed it for the palette reasons. Mostly, too much orange. But if I am wrong on that score, it might be the best guess.

(C) (I prefer Sultanabad to Saruq for the group, as the latter town is pretty small.) It is a usual suspect for any urban Persian work that doesn't fit easily into a niche one understands. In this case, it wouldn't be high on my list in that palette, but maybe I haven't been frequenting the right markets.


Nils Persson April 7th, 2017 12:05 AM

Thanks, everyone. I feel guilty that I'm unable to really contribute anything to the discussion...so I've uploaded a few more pictures that may help:

(Deleted - Steve Price)

thanks again,

Rich Larkin April 7th, 2017 12:53 AM

Hi Nils,

Thanks for the pics. Very helpful.

Greater Malayer area, which is close to the Sultanabad area, is a distinct possibility with that palette, specifically the orange and tomato red.


Nils Persson April 7th, 2017 06:22 AM

Yeah, I think you're right, Rich; it fits nicely into that group.


Rich Larkin April 7th, 2017 12:38 PM

Hi Nils,

On the other hand... :rolleyes: ...

Those two colors in Malayers often bleed. It doesn't seem that your rug has suffered that experience.


Rich Larkin April 7th, 2017 01:56 PM

Hi Nils,

Since we got into the subject, here are a few angles of my tapped-out old Isfahan (Esfahan), probably from the earlier part of the 20th century.




The product made there in the latter half of the 20th is a much more refined thing, as has been discussed. Chuck mentioned Serafian in that regard, a well-known producer and leader in the field from that city.

In addition, as Chuck also pointed out, the appearance of the weft lines on the back is different from your rug, with the knot rows pressed more closely together.

I acquired it in Riyadh about fifty years ago (for not much more than the comparative coin :money: ! ) from an elderly gentleman whose inventory was always compromised, but whose dignity and genial manner were always impeccable. :wizard:


Chuck Wagner April 8th, 2017 03:24 AM

Hi Nils, Rich,

Here is an image of the Saruq I had in mind when I made my comment; this is from Aschenbrenner's Oriental Rugs, Vol.2, on Persian rugs. His technical description fits with what we see on Nils' piece as well.

Certainly, these motifs can be found elsewhere, but I think we all agree that Nils' piece is not a Bijar so this is as good a guess as any. For what it's worth, Eric notes that the best Saruqs come from Arak.


We don't discuss city rugs here as often as we probably should, but I like them a lot (as does the wife), so I'm happy to share a view of our Esfahan. It's not as old a piece as Rich's; probably mid 20th century, I think. Nicely drawn, and finely knotted as described earlier:



Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner April 8th, 2017 03:09 PM

Hi again,

Another thing I failed to point out earlier, is that Nils' piece appears to be relatively thin and easy to fold. Bijar rugs are not thin, and they are very difficult to fold without breaking the foundation structure.

Here are a couple Bijar pieces, one probably from the early 1900's and the other later, maybe 1940-1950.

The earlier one is a more rustic piece:


Looking closely at the back, we can see a trademark Bijar characteristic; one wool weft (red arrow) and one thicker cotton weft (blue arrow), pounded down quite tightly. But in this case, inconsistently, so the wefts show in some places and not in others:


In the later piece, dye variability is much less pronounced, an indicator of commercial dyeing:


And the back shows the far more consistent and more significant knot compression; the heavy pounding of the knots leaves almost no weft exposed:


Both are tied with symetrical knots:


Chuck Wagner

Rich Larkin April 8th, 2017 05:15 PM

Hi Chuck,

Not the least impressive of your last couple of posts is the clarity of the photo of the knots in the last image! Bravo! (Them's tiny collars in there!) :bravo: :wizard:

There is a certain look Bijars give from the back, even allowing for the considerable variation they show over decades of changed weaving choices. It doesn't translate all that well to the screen, and in a couple of earlier posts, I mentioned that I didn't think Nils' piece looked 'Bijar' from the back, but that I might change my mind if I had it handy. Your Bijar examples illustrate the point well. The first one looks 'Bijar' from the front, with that chunky character and the somewhat distorted design (a feature I attribute in part to the very intense internal structure). It doesn't look so 'Bijar' from your detail of the back, but I suspect it does in the hand.

Your second example looks very different from the first one, both front and back, yet it also has that 'Bijar' look about it. I am sure that notion is enhanced when one is handling the rug. My whole point in this speech is to urge relatively inexperienced aficionados to handle in person as many different kinds of rugs as possible, however that can be managed (after several visits, most dealers become a tad impatient, unless a sale is involved :madgo: ).

Chuck, on another issue: You mentioned Teheran rugs earlier. Looking in A. Cecil Edwards (The Persian Carpet) (1953), I see that he said rug weaving in Teheran, which had never been especially prolific, had ceased about 1930. Do you know whether there was a later revival of the industry? As I mentioned, I saw a reasonable number of them during my visit in 1967, considering that I hadn't known there were any before my arrival.

BTW, Edwards also says the modern rug industry in Isfahan (which he spells 'Isfahan' :angelic: ...I knew I got it someplace!), i. e., post 1722, started in the early 1920s.


Patrick Weiler April 10th, 2017 04:45 AM

I will be little help with this rug, but one suggestion, Malayer, is probably not correct because Malayer rugs are single wefted.
Patrick Weiler

Rich Larkin April 10th, 2017 01:29 PM

Hi Patrick,


...Malayer, is probably not correct because Malayer rugs are single wefted.
Well, I disagree. Malayer lies in the buffer between the Hamadan weaving area (single wefts) and the Sultanabad weaving area (double wefts). Influence and weaving practices in Malayer reflect both traditions, including the occurrence of double wefted rugs. At least, that's so if the rugs I was taught to call Malayer actually came from there.

I do agree the single-wefted rugs are more common.

I see that Edwards mentions this dichotomy. Apparently, the town is divided into these two 'camps,' the northwesterly section looking to Hamadan (and marketing through there), and the southeasterly looking towards Sultanabad (Arak).


Chuck Wagner April 11th, 2017 01:07 AM

Hi Rich,

I don't have any firm information about the time frames associated with carpet weaving in Tehran, only a general sense from reading various materials in print and on the web. My resultant impression is that carpet weaving activities in Tehran took hold in the 19th century and flourished up until just before WWII - roughly corresponding to the Qadjar dynasty- with various disruptions affecting things from then on.

Certainly, historical court carpets of the Safavid dynasty were not coming out of Tehran in meaningful number. Tabriz, Kerman, and Kashan were the centers in that period - even after the establishment of the state supported ateliers.

I have one book on Persian rugs from that period, "Rugs Oriental and Occidental" by Rosa Bell Holt, published in 1937. She makes no mention of Tehran carpets. Still, reading the book, one senses that a bunch of well-to-do owners got together with her and contributed example pieces - so if they didn't have Tehran rugs, that may be a reason for their absence.

On the Bijars, seen more generally, the back looks like quite a few Bijars I've handled from the early 1900's (only one of which that I could afford); the radically pounded down knots are not an absolute characteristic.

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner April 13th, 2017 12:50 AM

This rug is currently offered for sale in the marketplace.

I suggest we refrain from any further discussion.

Steve Price April 13th, 2017 03:29 AM

Hi Chuck

Which rug is the one on the market? If you let me know the number of the post it's in I can delete the image.


Steve Price

Steve Price April 13th, 2017 12:25 PM

Hi All

I've deleted the links to the rug because it is currently for sale.

Nils - I'm sure your error was unintentional, but we don't discuss or present any pieces that are for sale. Please note the paragraph atop this page.


Steve Price

Nils Persson April 15th, 2017 12:46 PM


I apologize, I wasn't aware of the rule. I'll be sure to keep this in mind for future posts.

Thanks again,


Steve Price April 15th, 2017 01:11 PM

Hi Nils

No problem. It happens fairly often with newcomers and doesn't get anyone too agitated.

Steve Price

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 12:44 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.10
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.