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-   -   Flat weave bags (http://www.turkotek.com/VB37/showthread.php?t=3904)

Gerry Gorman June 4th, 2017 09:58 AM

Flat weave bags
Hi all, an old antique dealer friend of mine had these pair of flat weave bags ( I think for clothes) stored (not very well) away for quite some time and I spotted them and thought the vibrancy of colour and tightness of weave made them attractive. He pretty much gave them to me and now I'd be interested in finding out a little more about them if possible and hopefully allow me to decide if it might be worth spending a little time and money to have them repaired and cleaned. My knowledge of Kilims and flat weaves is very limited, more limited than my knowledge of pile rugs, if that is possible. With a small bit of research, some pointers lead towards Anatolian but then I noticed they might be more Shahsavan in motif and with that dark olive green which is lovely. Approximate dimensions are 90 cms in length by 58 in height. Any idea of age would also be great to know.








I look forward to your comments and opinions.


Chuck Wagner June 4th, 2017 12:32 PM


I am a little confused by the images, and can't tell whether the striped pieces are a separate bag, or if one of them is the back of the piece shown in the first image.

Regardless, I think the first bag with the red and white diamond/cross motifs at center, is a Bakhtiari piece. The size is typical of grain sacks but I don't see any closure methods and it makes me wonder if this has been cut down from a larger piece. The weaving style is one more often used on larger pieces intended for use as rugs.

Chuck Wagner

Joel Greifinger June 4th, 2017 03:20 PM

Hi Gerry,

I think that the fronts were woven as the side panels of a Shahsavan mafrash and the plainweave backs were sewn on later. Here is a complete mafrash with a similar design:


Joel Greifinger

Gerry Gorman June 4th, 2017 04:01 PM

Thanks Joel and Chuck, I had thought of Mafrash as a use but I felt the dimensions were not right and more for a sack or Yasik. Chuck the second image is a picture of the first image's reverse and the following three images are close ups of teh first image and the last two are front and back of the second bag. I hope this makes sense. Any idea on age? Gerry

Marla Mallett June 4th, 2017 05:14 PM

The interlocked tapestry technique seen here has only been used in South Persia. The pieces look like mafrash side panels to me.


Joel Greifinger June 4th, 2017 07:19 PM


The interlocked tapestry technique seen here has only been used in South Persia.
Hi Marla,

I couldn't make out that the tapestry was interlocked. Thanks for getting me to use the magnifying glass on my monitor. :D

Could another possibility be Varamin? Both dovetailed and interlocked tapestry weaves show up from groups, including Shahsavan, from that area on occasion, no?


Rich Larkin June 4th, 2017 09:10 PM

Hi Gerry,

Here is a piece that seems to be a cousin to your bags. The palettes are very similar. Mine includes a dark green that isn't especially obvious in the image.


What is left of the back is original (i. e., not attached from another venue), and it makes the possibility of your backs being original more plausible (though that would seem to make the mafrash attribution problematical...see comment below). If your backs were stitched on, you should be able to detect that, either by eye or by feel. The joint would feel thickened relative to the rest of the piece.

I noted that the palettes on the fronts and backs of yours, respectively, didn't seem closely related; but one might say the same of my piece. You may agree that on mine, the red stripes on the back look more the shade of wine than the red on the front side. In fact, looking at mine closely, there is a very subtle change in the color of the yarn that begins just to the left of the black (brown?)/white beaded line. The color difference is consistent on either side of that line of demarcation. Whether it was intentional, or coincidental that a different skein of wool was utilized at that juncture, I can't say.

I imagine my item could be a remnant part of a mafrash. If so, what remains would be an end piece, and the striped kilim part would originally have been longer, serving as the bottom and having the same length as the sides. On that other hand, if your pair were formerly mafrash parts, the backs seem problematical. The orientation of the warps on the striped backs of your bags is ninety degrees different from the orientation of mine. I don't know whether warps along the bottom of a mafrash are supposed to run the length of the "box," or from side to side (as would be the case with yours), or either way. Maybe somebody knows.

As to age, I would think both pieces were from sometime in the mid-20th century. Can't be more definite than that.


P. S.: Marla, it is very useful to have the information that the interlocked weft technique is typically found in South Persian work. I had been calling my fragment "Kurdish," which I guess is my default position for something funkily tribal without an obvious (to me!) identity.

Jim Miller June 4th, 2017 09:35 PM

Rich, your bag looks like an Uzbek piece. They use double interlock weave, which I think is characteristic of that area.

In my simple minded view - and Marle, please correct me if I botched it up - the single interlock weave, that Marla pointed out in Gerry's mafrash panel, single wefts interlock at the junctions of two colors. So there is no slit opening.

In the double interlock weave each weft interlock with two wefts of opposing colors. This leaves a distinct ridge on the back where the colors meet, whereas single interlock weave is smooth on both the front and back.

Joel Greifinger June 4th, 2017 09:45 PM

Hi Rich,

I think that Jim is correct that your bag is Uzbek Tatari probably from northern Afghanistan woven in their characteristic double interlocked tapestry weave. Here's another of the type:



Here's a 'single' khorjin:


I think Gerry's mafrash panels are from elsewhere.


Marla Mallett June 4th, 2017 10:17 PM

Hi Joel, Rich, and all,

Single-interlocked tapestry is such a disagreeable technique that very few weavers around the world have used it regularly. Double-interlocked tapestry, as in distinctive Bakhtiari kilims, has popped up in many, many places (including Central Asia), as have several kinds of dovetailing. But I can't imagine that any weaver who once gave single-interlocking a try would voluntarily use it when there are so many other options. The only examples I have encountered have been South Persian kilims--supposedly Afshar, but I wouldn’t guarantee that specific provenance. They have been VERY few.


Rich Larkin June 5th, 2017 01:35 AM

Hi Joel,


I think that Jim is correct that your bag is Uzbek Tatari probably from northern Afghanistan woven in their characteristic double interlocked tapestry weave.

I think Gerry's mafrash panels are from elsewhere.
I daresay I think you are right, and your comment and Jim Miller's prompts me to recall (dimly) past discussion in the same vein. Still, the apparently superficial resemblance between my fragment and Gerry's pair seems almost uncanny.

BTW, my piece does have the double-interlock technique.


Gerry Gorman June 5th, 2017 11:32 AM

Hi All,

I've a few more images on the way which should confirm Rich's assertion that the backing is part of the original weave which might exclude them from being Mafrash. Hopefully when I post them, it should help identify their original function. Gerry

Joel Greifinger June 5th, 2017 01:55 PM


the backing is part of the original weave which might exclude them from being Mafrash.
Hi Gerry,

For reference in the discussion, here (from Marla's website) is what the side panels and bottom of a mafrash look like when they come off the loom. The striped plainweave bottom is integral with the decorated panels in a single piece.



Rich Larkin June 5th, 2017 02:15 PM


The striped plainweave bottom is integral with the decorated panels in a single piece.
Yes, that is the key. Is that practice always observed in mafrash weaving (as contrasted with the bottom being integrally woven with the end pieces)? It would seem so. (I have somehow come this far without having become a mafrash owner, so have nothing to compare.)

Another question: is the precise range of mafrash weaving well understood? I. e., who wove them, and who didn't? Still another question is, was there a tradition of weaving them in pairs, like many other types of storage bags? If Gerry's pieces started life as parts of mafrashes, there were two of them.


Chuck Wagner June 5th, 2017 03:18 PM


Well, while we're on the topic, let's get this one settled. I have always considered this to be a Bakhtiari piece, but some other TTek non-believers have been skeptical.

Here's a good closeup, awaiting the All Seeing Eye of Marla.

Chuck Wagner


Joel Greifinger June 5th, 2017 03:39 PM

Hi Rich,

My understanding is that mafrash were often made in pairs in order to balance them over the backs of pack animals.

While most were woven in NW Iran and the Caucasus, some also came from eastern Turkey and southern Iran. Of the latter, while I have seen flat woven Qashqai mafrash, they are generally completely patterned in complementary-weft weaves. All of the Afshar mafrash panels that I have seen are pile.

Hi Chuck,

Is your kilim dovetail or double-interlock (ribbed on the back)?


Rich Larkin June 5th, 2017 05:05 PM

Hi Joel,


All of the Afshar mafrash panels that I have seen are pile.
Really!?! Have you seen a complete, reasonably intact one in pile? I don't think I have.

I assume they are in approximately the usual dimensions, e. g., the Shahsavan version you posted lately. We used to call them "box bags," thinking we were ahead of the pack that wanted them to be cradles.


Joel Greifinger June 5th, 2017 06:23 PM


Have you seen a complete, reasonably intact one in pile?
Hi Rich,

In his 2010 monograph on Afshar weaving, Tanavoli wrote that after forty years of looking, he had only come across two intact Afshar mafrashes, but hundreds of Afshar mafrash panels. All were woven in pile.

This one from the book is the only complete one I can remember seeing:



Marla Mallett June 5th, 2017 08:18 PM

Chuck and Joel,

The “All-Seeing-Eye” suggests that the piece in the #15 post is SINGLE INTERLOCKED TAPESTRY, thus NOT Bakhtiari. Nor is it dovetailed. The Bakhtiari pieces use standard DOUBLE INTERLOCKED TAPESTRY. Though we can’t see the back side of this one, with the prominent ridges formed by double interlocking, I feel pretty confident from seeing just the front side that this is single interlocking. These details are nearly always pretty messy, as it is quite difficult to make all the weft interlocks sit squarely and consistently BETWEEN two warps. This difficulty is why single interlocking is used so infrequently. It's a pain in the neck to weave.


Yes, on the hundreds of mafrash I have seen, the bottom of the bag is always integral with the two long side panels...The bottom is NEVER woven attached to the end panels. The two end panels are traditionally woven separately, side-by-side on the loom. it's a quite convenient and practical set-up. To do otherwise would demand separate warps of two different widths.


Joel Greifinger June 5th, 2017 09:16 PM

Hi Marla,

Are you saying that the weaving on both Chuck's kilim and Gerry's (putative) mafrash side panels are both single interlocked tapestry? Some years back you mentioned having to search rather exhaustively in order to find a single example to photograph for Woven Structures. In Persian Flatweaves, Tanavoli says it is "sometimes used in Lori weaves" but is quite uncommon. Have we struck the single interlock tapestry mother lode? :money:


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