Posted by Beryl Macner Licht on 08-28-2004 12:45 PM:

Two All Over Design BaluchPrayer Rugs


1. “Bow-tie” Prayer Rug

This prayer rug, which we immediately named “our bow-tie” rug due to its distinctive design, is my personal favorite. It is also one of the first Beluchis we acquired. Although we were novice collectors at the time and didn’t know exactly what we were looking at, we were immediately drawn to this rug by its harmonious proportions and the near-perfect balance it has between the field, the borders and the hand panels. But the special beauty of this piece, in my opinion, is that it has several dimensions, so that the more you look at it the more you discover. For example: take a careful look at the diagonally placed orange and brown bow-ties, which can also be viewed as “frog-feet” impressions. Then take a step back and with a slight adjustment of your eyes focus on the vertical blue columns that twist like three-dimensional ribbons all over the field. Then notice how this motif is repeated in the center column and on the kilim ends in a different design. – The whole rug is like a dialogue between reciprocal and repeated motifs, while using basically only three major colors- blue, orange and brown, with just a touch of white in the kilim ends and a few very cleverly placed light-blue dots here and there, as a special surprise!

I think of this rug as the artistic expression of a master weaver, a woman who had a great sense of aesthetic design and superior skills on how to visually convey her concept of complex relationships. I never tire looking at it!

2. Square Beluch Prayer Rug

We got this rug shortly after acquiring the bow-tie rug and think of it as belonging to the same “family” of rugs. What first attracted me to this “Dokthar-I-Ghazi”- like rug wasn’t so much the design but its unusual square shape and the beautifully executed Sumak kilim skirt. I also remember very well how the person who showed us this piece insisted on taking us outside to see it in the sunlight and how its brilliant blues dazzled me! – Although I greatly ‘respect’ this rug and think the weaver did a great job in every aspect of design and execution, somehow it doesn’t quite ‘grab’ me the way the bow-tie does. I think the reason is that it lacks the depth, the three-dimensionality of the first rug.

Beryl Macner-Licht

Posted by Tim Adam on 08-28-2004 10:10 PM:

Hi Beryl,

Interesting, I have exactly the opposite sentiment. I like your second rug a lot better than the first. Overall the colors look better (more livelier). I also feel the second one has more depth, because of the different shades of blue. Just take a look at the top left and top right corners. The blue background make these 'bug antennas' come out really great. That's true for the main field also. I also think the proportions of the second rug are much better than the ones of the first piece. It's a fabulous piece in my oppinion.


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 09-04-2004 08:59 AM:

A different perspective

Hello Beryl and All- Does this look familiar?

This is Plate #1 from Belouch Prayer rugs, for those unfamiliar, and described as first half of the 19th cent,from the Farah region.A striking rug,yet for me presents a different impression, as depicted in your photograph instead of this book plate.

The colors are bright and deep,the design ingenious, and a beautiful weaving, but somehow it doesn't strike me as being so old. This is not to say that it isn't old, but if I were to find it in a plie of Balouch at the local dealer I would think it of recent vintage,the design at least, corrosive portions and dyes aside.
But then maybe my ignorance is showing

It is my impression that these Balouch in the seeming flourescent colors are of a minority, those with these graphic,near "pop art" designs even more so. Do these tend to be attribuited to any given geographic area, weaving group, or age period? And how rare are these categories, moderate or extreme?

I would have to agree with Tim, I do find the second rug most interesting, but this is not to say the first is lesser,they strike as being of rather different aesthetic -Dave

Posted by Beryl Macner Licht on 09-04-2004 10:02 AM:

Bow-tie Beluch

David & Tim -
Some clarifications about this rug: about its age - Michael Craycraft dated it to the first half of the 19th century, which is not 'young' for Beluchis. The colors in the photo I supplied look different than on the one you saw in "Belouch Prayer Rugs, Plate #1", because it was taken in sunlight outdoors. As to its superiority over the secong rug: it is difficult to truly appreciate this rug by only looking at its picture, as this is always a two-dimensional media. You have to "meet" this rug in person in order to perceive what I mean by its intricate complexity and artistic merit.

About the second, square (we believe a 'Timuri') rug: I'm happy that you and Tim like it even more than the bow-tie. I think you are having the same response to it I had when I first saw it in the sunlight. Indoors, however, it tends to be a bit dark and blurry, and requires special lighting for its details to show up.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-04-2004 11:56 AM:

Dear Beryl,

An umpteenth confirmation of how photos can lie!
Having seen the two versions of the first rug I still prefer (like Tim and David) the "Timuri".
But, again, one should meet them in person to decide.

Er… Is that a repaired cut in the center of the "Bow-tie" prayer rug?