Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-08-2004 02:20 PM:

Naughty knots

In this first picture you can see the light blue warp threads on the right, then some light brown - also cotton - and then a couple more blue warp threads. Is there a type of Kurdish rug that typically uses light blue cotton warp or weft?

In this second picture you can see a green offset knot helping to articulate the floral meander in the border:

In the final photo you can see the red knots are offset from the gold knots above. This feature does not appear to have any design necessity and the red knots are not offset all the way across the lower border, so the reason for them being in this section of the rug is not known.

Perhaps, as seems to be the case with chanteh, the weaver was using up left-over materials and had extra blue cotton to use for part of the warp. Perhaps this was woven by an apprentice and she was told to throw in some offset knots for practice.
Or it is a conspiracy.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 06-12-2004 05:56 PM:

Dear folks -

Pat Weiler's mention of blue warps and wefts raises a question that I've encountered before but don't think I've ever heard fully answered.

That is "Why do some weavers seem to dye the warps and wefts in their pieces?"

There seems no real aesthetic effect if one excludes those pieces (some Sennehs, I think) that have bands of warps of as many as five different colors, that show decoratively at the ends. And there is a cost of doing this.

But some groups persisted in dyeing warps and more frequently, wefts.

Many Kashans have light blue cotton wefts (indigo is expensive).

Eiland says that, excepting for some early pieces that have a wool foundation, Hammadan warps and wefts are "invariably white cotton." But Willborg reports Hammadan pieces with wefts that are red, light blue, black or yellow.

And I just looked at Jim Burn's book on Kurdish rugs and he reports (I have left out the browns, tans, ivories and red browns that could be natural) that some Kurdish rugs have "pink-red" warps and that Kurdish wefts can be red, yellow, purple, pink-red, blue-green, green, blue or black.

Yes, Pat, I don't know the tendencies, but weft color is used as an attribution indicator in Kurdish weavings. Michael Wendorf would know how wefts usually "play" in attributions of Kurdish rugs.

Dyeing warps and especially wefts, seems like a lot of trouble for little or no "effect."


R. John Howe

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 06-12-2004 09:29 PM:

Warp "Blush"?

Patrick, John, and All- Any possibility that this blue tint could be the result of some dye run, sometimes refered to as Blush, although originally a reference to slight red tinge of warps.

Notice the difference between the blue/green of the piece from the front,

compared to the same color as viewed from the back.

Could what appears to be a mottled appearence ,as seen from the front, be an indicator that this dye might be capable of running?

Now regarding this question of dying warp and weft materials, doesn't seem to make much sense. In antique furniture, one of those characteristics which the collector seeks as evidence of authenticity is that which is refered to as "economy of labor".
Back in the old days a carpenter didn't bother finishing wooden surfaces which were not exposed, they were just roughly shaped and left as such. Only exposed areas would be sanded smooth and polished.

I would suspect that with the exception of weaving such as the Senneh, where these colored warps were to an end, most carpets with colored warps/wefts are simply making use of excess dyed materials. Is there any corelation between age of carpets and tendency to use colored foundation materials? I would imagine proximity to commercial dying centers would prove a factor. - Dave

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-13-2004 02:27 AM:

Blush is a wine


No blush here. You may notice the single blue warp to the left of the close-up photo. If this is dye run, it is isolated to only one warp in that area.
The interesting thing is that the blue warps only extend part way into the bag. Some of them extend more than an inch, others only 1/4 of an inch. And not just in areas with blue wool nearby. It is as though someone dipped part of some of the wefts into a dye, but not the whole length of any of them. This would make one think that these were leftover materials.
From examining numerous chanteh, the kitchen sink method of construction seems to have been popular. There is a chanteh shown in Salon 84 with several different weft colors and two different warp colors. It is the third chanteh shown in that salon.
I suspect that some of these small weavings, sometimes called childrens bags, may have been made as practice weavings for larger bags. The weavers would use leftover materials and also practice construction techniques and designs.
Or else they did this just to confuse us.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 06-13-2004 05:36 AM:

Available Materials?

Patrick- Maybe these small bags are a way of using up leftover materials? Economy of materials?- Dave

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-13-2004 11:11 AM:

Finish that bag or we're leaving without you!


Another possibility is that the amount of time required to weave a small bag is considerably less than for a full size example. If a tribal encampment was soon moving, it would not be a good idea to start on a three month project!
The loom need not be as large, either. Perhaps these small bags were rainy-day rugs, woven at times that would not be suitable for a larger project or in surroundings not conducive to weaving bigger articles.
And if the weaver was in a real big hurry she may not pay as much attention to the task at hand, leading to less than perfect examples.
(not that any of us have ever experienced the need to hurry our family members along when they are dawdling and we have deadlines to meet)

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Chris Countryman on 06-14-2004 08:12 PM:

Dyed wefts

Hello Everyone,
While there are many reasons for dyed wefts, at least one of them may be quite ingenious. A few years ago in a presentation to the Rug and Textile Society of Indiana, Dennis Dodds displayed a beautiful Turkish prayer rug with a red field inside the mirab. He invited the attendees to look closer at the wear of the pile in the mirab and pointed out that the weaver had used a matching red warp to hide wear. This was only in the mirab and it definitely wasn't fabric paint.

This suggests that some weavers think way ahead about the life of their product and that the color of wefts is one consideration.

Chris Countryman

Chris Countryman

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 06-15-2004 06:50 AM:


I am amazed at the (seemingly) lack of fieldwork that has been done in terms of answering many of these questions that we ask.

I realise that the 20C has seen dramatic changes for nomadic communities.

I was wondering if ANYONE has actually been out into the field and asked questions such as;

Why are these wefts red?
Why blue here?
Why is this chanteh bag design so messy?
Is it more difficult to weave a chanteh?
Who do you think wove these chantehs?
Why does this piece have half wool wefts and half cotton wefts?
Why? Why? Why?

SURELY there must have been some research done in the past?

From an amateur ruggie perspective, it looks more like archaeological work and findings rather than anthropological.

Just wondering......


Richard Tomlinson

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-15-2004 08:22 AM:

Hi Richard,

I bet that we’ll find some answers to your questions when Josephine Powell’s material will be organized and published.
In the meantime don’t hold your breath…



Posted by Richard Farber on 06-15-2004 10:11 AM:

dear filiberto

thank you very much for the 'heads up' on the the josephine powell page or the m. mallet site. . . . wonderful work.


richard farber

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 06-15-2004 09:09 PM:

Utility as Mother of Invention?

All- Have I encountered in Morocco the ultimate fall from tribal/ethnographic grace? Yes, I have seen with my own two eyes, warps composed of ...Polyethylene? A cultural milestone of sorts, a sign of the times,or just recycled trash?

Having sampled the Calimari in one of those impromptu sidewalk cafe's in which the seating consists of mismatched plastic chairs obviously rescued from the oblivion of the dumpster, five gallon plastic buckets in the place of terracotta planters, and a perimiter wall constructed of mortar less concrete blocks commandeered from a demolition site, you can rest assured that in a country in which the average yearly income is somewhere around $1,200,
necessity and utility are the mothers of invention and innovation.

And the Calimari was good. Cheap, too!- Dave

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-16-2004 01:51 AM:

Calamari Chanteh?


So the border is not a floral meander, but a Calamari creeper.
This is the first known example of a squid carpet!

Patrick Weiler