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Virtual Show and Tell Just what the title says it is.

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Old August 27th, 2016, 01:09 AM   #1
Patrick Weiler
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Default Bag with replaced ends

On another thread there are pictures of a mish-mash-of-a-mushwani rug with the bottom, beginning end of the rug using a completely different design than the top 7/8ths of the rug. OK, maybe 9/10ths. A while ago I bought a bag face on ebay with a pleasant-appearing design and also with unusual ends. The design looks to be an infinite repeat of rows of large botehs, with the botehs in one row facing one way and in the next row the other way, then back the other way again. At the top it looks like the weaver didn't have enough room to complete the boteh tops, so she left them off. The botehs are not outlined, so the components of them float on the dark brown field - and the interiors of the botehs are the same color as the field, making them difficult to discern from the background.



Once the piece arrived, I noticed that the border is a column of single symmetric knots of blue and yellow, with a few red knots here and there. And the top and bottom border is a row of red and white knots. But something about those red and white knots looked a bit "off".



Because someone added about three rows of knots to either end, but with the warps going horizontal to the weaving instead of vertical. Two rows of dark wool with a single row of symmetric red and white knots between them.
I have seen a lot of bags and rugs with rewoven ends, and have heard of some with symmetric knots where the rest of the rug was asymmetric knots, but I had never come across this curious combination.
Does anyone have any idea as to who made this bag? It doesn't seem to fit into any of the "usual suspects" categories. Perhaps the vague Northwest Persian? It is 16"x14" (40cm x 35cm) with two dark gray-brown wefts and 5h x 10v symmetric knots for 50 kpsi. The selvedge is also anomalous. It has a dark wool overcasting, but it does not cover warps, it covers a column of red pile knots. It seems that this bag was both wider and longer originally. Usually it is condition issues that require repaired ends and selvedges, but the pile is practically unworn, with a plush and meaty handle. It is possible the repairer cut the outer borders off each side and reattached them at the top and bottom, though for what reason it is difficult to tell.

The colors all look natural, with no bleeding, fading or harshness. Any guesses?

Patrick Weiler
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Old August 27th, 2016, 03:50 PM   #2
Rich Larkin
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Hi Patrick,

Wow. Plenty to say/ask about this one.

1. I really like the look of it. If I'd seen it on ebay, you'd have had more competition.

2. Must put up these images for your comparison, though the similarity may be used up once you get past the chestnut brown and a few other colors. There is a little pale to mid green in there, not unlike yours, that doesn't appear very prominently in the images




I have the (partial) runner tagged as "Serab," though that's mostly a placeholder until I find out what it is (about 35-40 years and still loooking). The name works better for mine on account of the plain wide edges than it does for your piece. The design elements between yours and mine don't have too much in common.

3. I might speculate that your piece represents a "post-manufacture" manufactured khorjin, whereby some jobber takes a nice plush hunk out of a larger fragment, sews on some good-looking sides and ends, and pretends it's a bagface. I've seen many, probably you have too. However, the dual columns of blue/yellow dots/knots on either side make that explanation dubious. Certainly, those two lines defined the original edges, or close to them. Another sinister possibility would be that the blue/yellow columns represent later repiling for forgery purposes [e. g., you can see some goofy repiling in process in my runner, above], but that doesn't really hold up, either. Plus, the pile there doesn't look non-original to my eye. So, the original piece was not much wider than 16 inches.

4. I take it the end pieces, turned ninety degrees, have been attached by sewing to the body of the thing; and that what was originally dark brownish weft has been fringed out to look like warp ends. Can you tell what the actual warps look like? Also, can you tell whether the other ends of the (former) wefts in the little end strips, where they attach to the body of the piece, were cut? If your idea is accurate that the end strips were formerly the selvages, cut off for end duty, one might expect one side of the strip to show intact wefts making the turn at the edge.

5. BTW, if those end strips had formerly been selvages next to the blue/yellow stripes, would the original piece have looked weird with two of those dotted lines in different colors side by side? (Or with the two said lines flanking the single red stripe you say lies under the selvage wrapping?) Alternatively, maybe the end strips came from a companion bag, and the one was cannibalized to create this one...a veritable Frankenstein of khorjin faces! Maybe the camp dog ripped up the one, and what else could they do?

6. On a different tack, you noted how the boteh aren't clearly defined by a drawn line, but rather with larger components arranged to provide the shape of a boteh; and that the fact creates an interesting effect at the top where the tell-tale tilted tops (alliteration intended) of the boteh are missing. Right! I did a quick tour of Boteh Land and realized that the device in general can be viewed in a continuum from sharply defined to very lumpy. Interesting, and the best news about it is, I'm not going to get into it. But I'm sure somebody whose name begins with "J" can and will supply a few examples drawn like yours.

In sum, very interesting piece, and a real good looker, notwithstanding the sketchy approach to the ends. I certainly would call it "NW Persian, possibly Kurdish," speaking of usual suspects. My advice is, love it!

Any possibility of getting a look at the back?

Rich

Last edited by Rich Larkin; August 27th, 2016 at 04:08 PM.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 05:23 PM   #3
Joel Greifinger
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Hi Pat,

I love the floating, deconstructed botehs.

My guess is that it comes from the Land of Infinite Boteh Design, the Afshar. While I can't recall seeing any identical botehs, here is one that has very similar elements on an Afshar rug:



You mention the column of single symmetric knots. How is the rest of the piece knotted?

Joel
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Old August 27th, 2016, 05:40 PM   #4
Rich Larkin
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Hi Joel,

I knew you wouldn't disappoint. However, Patrick's piece doesn't strike me as Afshar, with all the variety that clan brings to the field. When I predicted that the mystery researcher, "J", might come up with examples, I was envisioning Afshars myself; but if they are the progenitors of this type of boteh, I would think it traveled (within that amazing melting pot of designs in NW Iran).

I hope Patrick posts a back shot.

Rich

P. S.: I realize my credentials are limping at the moment, but you can tell P's piece is SY all over from the principal image. Look at the green boteh caps, say, the two on the left: the pile shows as subtle blocks there. A sure sign of SY knotting.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 06:45 PM   #5
Joel Greifinger
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Hi Rich,

My preliminary Afshar guess isn't backed by much conviction. It could just as likely come from Persian Kurdistan, like this one:



Joel
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Old August 27th, 2016, 06:50 PM   #6
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There ya go! I would say, deep Persian Kurdistan. Another one of my theories is, the longer and thicker the pile, the farther into Kurdistan; and the higher up in the mountains, too.

Speaking of longer and thicker, I'll be out mowing the lawn.
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Old August 27th, 2016, 11:33 PM   #7
Chuck Wagner
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Hi Pat,

I have a couple pieces that can either aid your confidence in attribution, or, make things even more confusing. I think Afshar and Kurdish are both candidates, the latter mainly because of the more coarse rendering of the florals.

I have seen several Afshar bags with a dark field, and the palette of the florals is consistent with Afshar work (see below). I favor an Afshar attribution for your piece. The borders are odd for either group. As an aside, have you checked to see if side borders have been cut off ?

So, with that said, on to the bags faces. The first has dark brown wool warp and weft - like yours. And a symmetrical knot, open to the right with the nodes often tilting slightly to the left - something for Joel to mull over. Symmetrical knots can be made directional with a sideways tug on the knot, and thus have some slight offset viewed from the back. But the offset with asymmetric knots is usually more pronounced - I think enhanced by any warp depression.

What weaving group ? Often, the Kurdish moniker brings with it an expectation of a more coarse look and feel to a piece, especially tribal bags. Yet recall that many of the folks around Bijar are Kurds (there are Afshars as well), but the fine meandering vine borders typical of the region are anything but coarse. Still, this one is a long way from coarse.

I have always called this one an Afshar, because of the palette and the pattern :









The next I also consider Afshar, and has complete botehs. The rendering of the botehs is substantially more detailed, but the palette is consistent with yours (absent the dark field), I think (see second image):






Also, can we see the back of your piece ?

Regards
Chuck Wagner

Last edited by Chuck Wagner; August 27th, 2016 at 11:38 PM.
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Old August 28th, 2016, 12:58 AM   #8
Joel Greifinger
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Quote:
And a symmetrical knot, open to the right with the nodes often tilting slightly to the left - something for Joel to mull over.
Hi Chuck,

Now you have me thoroughly confused (and mulling). Luckily, it's a condition with which I am quite accustomed.

My understanding is that a symmetrical knot cannot be "open" to either right or left. It can, of course, be "pulled" right or left, depending upon the weaver's predilection. Am I misunderstanding something?

Joel
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Old August 28th, 2016, 01:45 AM   #9
Rich Larkin
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Hi Joel,

I believe you are right. All symmetrical knots are open to the sky!

Chuck,

Do you mean they are leaning to the right? That, of course, happens from pulls to one side.

Rich
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Old August 28th, 2016, 02:15 AM   #10
Chuck Wagner
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Joel,

You are the victim of me, typing one thing while thinking another.

I should have used "pulled", it is more accurate, although the following sentence explained what I meant.

Rich,

Lean, tilt, dip, list, slant, cant, partial offset, lopsided, inclined - choose your poison.

The fact is, that one side of the knot is higher than the other, on the back side.

Regards
Chuck
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Old August 31st, 2016, 04:05 AM   #11
Patrick Weiler
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Most of the piece has flat warps but there is some warp depression in other areas. The general impression is of undepressed warps as can readily be seen in the blue and yellow border in the close up below. The warps are completely covered by the knots so it is not possible to determine their properties without disassembling the piece.
It looks nothing like any Afshar, Khamseh, Qashqai, Luri or Baluch that I have ever handled. It is thick, "chunky", heavy, and "meaty beaty big and bouncy" as the album of that name by The Who was titled.
It may be another case of an urban rug weaver making a saddlebag, rather than a tribal bag. It has a thick, dense pile - like an unworn Heriz. As noted previously, the condition is practically perfect, which makes it all the more curious that a chunk of the sides was cut off and attached to the top and bottom. The blue/yellow border stripe eliminates the possibility that this was part of a larger rug, and it is way too narrow, even with a wide border, to have been a runner.

Patrick Weiler
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Old August 31st, 2016, 06:30 AM   #12
Chuck Wagner
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Hi Pat, et al.,

While mulling over my incomplete satisfaction with an Afshar attribution for Pat's bag, something came to mind, namely:

Rule #1 For Persian Bag Attribution

..which is..

If it has a dark palette and you don't know where it's from, it's from Varamin.

Varamin Kurd goods, and Bakhtiati-Lor goods both have symmetrical knots, and this particular brown is common in stuff from the Varamin area.

I don't find a good analog for the open botehs, but the rendering is consistent with the often rather simplistic rendereing of designs from Varamin as well.

I have Tanavoli's book on Varamin; I'll scan a couple representative images tomorrow.

Regards
Chuck
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Old August 31st, 2016, 12:28 PM   #13
Joel Greifinger
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Quote:
It is 16"x14" (40cm x 35cm) with two dark gray-brown wefts
Chuck,

Quote:
If it has a dark palette and you don't know where it's from, it's from Varamin.
Even if it's double-wefted?

Joel
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Old August 31st, 2016, 04:10 PM   #14
Chuck Wagner
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Joel,

I have two bags that I can confidently call Veramin; both are mixed pile and flatweave (weft substitution, extra weft wrapping, etc.) styles. The pile sections on both are double-wefted. I suspect that, particularly with Varamin Kurds and Bakhtiaris, double-wefted would be the rule rather than the exception.

Regards
Chuck
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Old September 1st, 2016, 01:03 AM   #15
Joel Greifinger
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Quote:
I suspect that, particularly with Varamin Kurds and Bakhtiaris, double-wefted would be the rule rather than the exception.
Chuck,

My assumption was based on Tanavoli's statement that the pile weavings of all the Varamin weaving groups were typically single-wefted. In addition to his own field work, I think that he might have based this on a survey of 113 Varamin weavings that Michael Craycraft had published in Oriental Rug Review in which 83% of the pile pieces were single-wefted. My own small sample of a few Varamin pieces are single-wefted, too.

Joel
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Old September 1st, 2016, 03:42 PM   #16
Chuck Wagner
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Hi Joel,

I saw that in his Varamin book. He does reference Craycraft in his comments about pile rugs. In the section on storage bags he explicitly notes Kurd bags as single wefted, a tradition brought in from the western Kurd construction (without an external reference, so presumably from personal observation).

This comment confused me. My comment was based mainly on my own experience; I have about a dozen Kurdish pieces, including the Varamin piece. All are double wefted. The two Bakhtiari-Lor Varamin bags aren't really comparable in my opinion, because the symmetrical knots at the bottom are tied into the plainweave base fabric. However, if Craycraft and Tanavoli included such examples in their statistics, that would explain a lot.

Here are a few of mine; note that the knots on the third example are barely packed together at all:














Regards
Chuck
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Old September 1st, 2016, 07:01 PM   #17
Joel Greifinger
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Quote:
In the section on storage bags he explicitly notes Kurd bags as single wefted, a tradition brought in from the western Kurd construction (without an external reference, so presumably from personal observation).

This comment confused me. My comment was based mainly on my own experience; I have about a dozen Kurdish pieces, including the Varamin piece. All are double wefted.
Hi Chuck,

When Tanavoli wrote, "Single-wefting was probably introduced to Varamin by the western Kurds", I interpreted it to refer specifically to its origin in Kurdish groups in the area near Kermanshah (Kolya'i and others) that typically weave single-wefted rugs. Two of the Kurdish clans in Varamin originated in Kermanshah.

Other than the single-wefted but also quite distinctive Senneh rugs, other Kurdish pile weaving tends to be double-wefted.

Joel

Last edited by Joel Greifinger; September 1st, 2016 at 07:20 PM.
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Old September 2nd, 2016, 02:33 AM   #18
Chuck Wagner
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Hi Joel,

OK, thank you for clarifying. I guess I haven't knowingly handled any pieces from that area. Sorry I cluttered up the thread. Please post am image or two if you have one handy.

Regards
Chuck
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Old September 3rd, 2016, 06:44 PM   #19
Patrick Weiler
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Default Kelardasht bag

Egbert,

You suggested Kelardasht as a possible source for the brown bag.
Here is a rug ascribed to Kelardasht, from Spongobongo:



Here is a complete storage/transport bag that most likely originated in the Kelardasht region of Mazandaran province, with the same gul motif, minor white-ground border and the same major border as the rug except minus the arrow motifs between the flowers:



Notice the "handles" sewn near the opening at the right.
Here is the inside of the bag, with more handles sewn on.



This tells me that the bag was "convertible" and could be used with the face out when stored in the tent, or turned inside-out when used to transport goods, so as not to damage the pile perhaps. Most of these Kelardasht bags have had the pile face cut out of the bag and the handles removed, to be sold as decorative mats. I think it is rather unusual to find one complete like this one.



This view of the weave, from the back, shows a dark weft and thick symmetric knots similar to the brown bag, but with a more depressed warp and distinctively ribbed appearance.
Granted, the brown bag is more "sophisticated", although the reason could be that it was more of a village piece and the Kelardasht bag here was more likely a rural or nomadic piece. Mazandaran Province is settled by Persians and not Kurds. I think placing the brown bag in Mazandaran Province would be a stretch, but I am still looking!

Patrick Weiler
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Old September 3rd, 2016, 11:52 PM   #20
Patrick Weiler
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Default Bagged it!

Chuck,

A little more digging turned up this little piece which, from the front, looks a lot more like your little bag. I located it in a drawer, in the drawering room.

The skeletal field motifs look as though they are almost a wagireh or sampler of tiny motifs found in various Kurdish weavings.



It is 10" x 10" (25cm x 25cm) with 9h x 10v symmetric knots for 90kpsi.
It also happens to be single wefted. Here is yours to compare:



And the back:



With some dark blue and some red, single wefts, compared to yours with dark, double wefts, they likely weren't made by the same tribal group, although both may be Kurdish. Neither seem closely related to the infamous Brown Bag. But hey, it's always nice to view some interesting, old tribal weavings and toss around questionable attributions, right?

Patrick Weiler

Last edited by Patrick Weiler; September 3rd, 2016 at 11:56 PM. Reason: Beer
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