The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting.
by Patrick Weiler
Steve asked for a mini-salon. I thought he meant it was for mini-rugs, so I sent him a picture of my mini-Kurdish chanteh!
It is a diminutive 9-1/2" x 9", not including the closure panels. It has a striking blue and red lattice with shrubs on a white ground, a green and red floral meander main border on a deep blue ground, and a proper geometric reciprocal red and black minor outer border to frame the curious goings-on in the field. It was woven "upside-down", with the pile pointing "up" towards the closure panels.
Even the shrubs appear to be upside down, with their cross-shaped trunks pointing upwards. Perhaps this is a hurricane chanteh, showing the aftermath of a tremendous storm. More likely, though, it was one half of a very small khorjin, with the other half having the pile pointing down, along with the shrubs growing in the proper direction. So, is this truly a mini-salon, or merely a plaintive plea to find the other half of the khorjin? If you have the other half, please contact me for my mailing address!
It is constructed of cotton warps and is single-wefted. Some of the cotton is dyed a very light blue. The lower half of the weaving has dark brown wool wefts and the upper part has red wool wefts. The change in weft color occurs at the same place as the change in the selvage overcasting, with the brown wefting corresponding to the brown overcasting and the red wefting in the same area as the red overcasting. Is this a common feature, or is it unusual to find the overcasting color changing with the weft color?
There are eight colors, including two reds and two blues. The outer border is a maroon-red and the rest of the bag has a lighter brick-red. The pile is symmetrically knotted, with 8 horizontal and 9 vertical knots per square inch. There are offset knots haphazardly scattered about the field.
The dark blue lattice with red highlights almost appears in areas to be a duck-like creature with glaring red eyes. The lattice is not symmetrically placed on the field, but offset, unbalanced and disjointed. Was the weaver working from memory? Faulty memory? Or was she attempting to imitate a grand, urban weaving or design? We might be able to answer this question if there were analogous weavings to compare with this one.
A cursory perusal of some reference resources has not revealed any smoking gun relatives to this curious design. James Burns, in his recent book Antique Rugs of Kurdistan, shows nary a chanteh. Obviously, a huge editorial oversight. The book ought to be reprinted with at least a few examples! He does show one rug with a glorious lattice and shrub field, plate 6, a single-wefted Koliya'I from the 18th century. And another, plate 54, from Zanjan. It is a mid-19th century rug with wool warps and a cotton weft. From this we can infer that our chanteh is late 18th century or so. More or less. Approximately. Maybe not.
He does say "There is no clear indication of where this design originated". I will give him the benefit of the doubt and not try to speculate that this chanteh is, in fact, the progenitor of the lattice and shrub design, especially since he says this design has appeared on Safavid and Mughal rugs from the 16th and 17th centuries. And we know that this one is only from the 18th century, pulease!
As you can see, one can certainly gain amazing insights from a mere slip-of-a-rug like my cute little chanteh here!