Posted by R. John Howe on 02-15-2006 05:45 AM:

Varieties of Kufesque Borders

Dear folks -

One of the rugs that Jerry Thompson's eye went to quickly as he and I tried to select a few from his exhibition of particular interest was the Perepedil.

This piece has better color up close than the image above indicates but the feature that Jerry thought might be of particular interest was its Kufesque border.

Here's a corner.

Now I don't want to be accused of suggesting that I am providing anything like a complete account of the possible development of kufesque borders over time, but I have sketched some varieties below for your possible interest.

I started with Peter Stone's convenient treatment in his recent book on rug design.

Stone's example of a typical Caucasian kufesque usage is this one:

Stone says that such borders are thought to be based on "a particular Arabic script termed "Kufic." He provides an example.

And it seems to be true that instances of such script were transferred to textiles. Although Patricia Baker does not include the term "Kufic" in the index of her widely admired "Islamic Textiles" she does provide an example of such tranfer and usage.

The textile above is a "Detail of the 'Shroud of St. Jesse', mid-10th century, eastern Iran." Note the Kufic script is upside down in this detail. Probably one side of a surrounding border.

Daniel Deschuyteneer once provided some additional examples of older Kufesque usage in a salon here.

Next Stone provides a version that I think he is saying is "an early form of Kufic border (ed. that) appears on 13th century Seljuk carpet fragments."

He goes on to say that Kufesque borders are frequent on Anatolian rugs of the "Lotto" and "Holbein" varieties. Wendel Swan once treated some National Gallery pieces of this sort here.

And Kufesque borders are frequent on Caucasian Shirvan rugs and other Caucasian varieties.

Here are some examples of the latter.

The piece above (I just noticed also treated by Daniel in his salon) is a long rug from Schurmann. He describes it as "Kuba - North Shirvan."

I selected it for the seeming complexity of the connecting sections between its small "medallion" shapes, but in fact it is very much like the first Stone example above.

The rug above is a similar, smaller example provided by Eiland and Eiland.

They describe it as "Shirvan."

That should provide you with some varieties of the Kufesque border that suggested to Jerry that this was a rug we should share with you.


R. John Howe

Posted by Tim Adam on 02-15-2006 07:32 AM:

Hello John and Jerry,

I am not getting it. What is so special about this rug's Kufic border? I don't even understand why a rug like this is in a museum collection. It looks quite ordinary.


Posted by Steve Price on 02-15-2006 08:23 AM:

Hi Tim

Which rug are you referring to? There are several in the thread. The one from Schurmann is very beautiful, I think. The Perepedil in Thompson's exhibition does nothing for me, but very few Perepedils do. The one from Eiland and Eiland is awful.


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 02-15-2006 08:53 AM:

Tim -

I think Jerry thought the border on the Perepedil is of an "older" kufesque variety. I'm sure he's using "older" here in comparison to the kufesque borders to be seen in the Caucasian pieces we tend to run into nowadays (I saw one two weeks ago at the local flea market).

I think that more modest assessment may be right, but as I also tried to show, kufesque type borders have pretty deep demonstrable roots and if we went very far back (say to those on the Lottos) we'd see lots more complex versions.

In that sense, the border on this Perepedil is quite conventionalized and rather ordinary.

By the way, this is not a "museum collection." This is an exhibition drawing on the contents of the personal collections of three collectors, including Jerry Thompson, in the Hagerstown area.


R. John Howe

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-15-2006 09:37 AM:

Hi all,

Here is an example of a newer Perepedil. A fellow in Pakistan was trying to sell it to me (on commission for a private individual) for 2-3 years. It has since been sold and is no longer on the market.

To be honest, the Perepedil design doesn't really enthuse me, though this one had a bit of sparkle. I think you can see that the border on this one is even a bit more "conventionalized" than the Jerry Thompson version...