Horse saddle cover - Baluch style
Thanks for the exposition on the saddle covers. I recently saw a magnificant, large Yomut example that is designed to go around the front of the horse's neck. I was a bit rueful about leaving it, but the rest of my family wasn't as impressed as I.
My younger daughter is a horse rider and enthusiast and she fell in love with this Baluch horse saddle cover. She is now the proud owner. The colours are lovely, especially the "macro abrash" effect of the two blues. The design is simple but somehow very appealing. I was a bit surprised at how soft the wool was, considering that it was made to sit on! Obviously, it was not made for everyday usage.
I have seen one or two other examples of Baluch saddle covers, but none with this type of design. I would be interested to know if others have any information to share about this piece.
It's a handsome piece. I especially like the larger scale of the field devices.
I have three "Turkmen" saddle covers of this sort. I mean the type meant to go on top of the saddle. One of the Istanbul dealer from whom I bought one of them said that as far as he can tell they are "gone." That is, the pickers are no longer finding them in the field much.
Congratulations to your daughter on her nice purchase.
R. John Howe
Saddle cover reference
Hi folks, I just stumbled across James' saddle cover - for reference, have
a look at my first book, there is (can't recall which plate) a very similar
one indeed. In mine, the red is an early synthetic, the blue seem indigo, and
the wool is also quite good.
I occasionally look at Turkotek and follow your discussions, and always think I should register and become active, but never got round so far.
Thanks so much for the reference. Unfortunately, I don't have access to your book and doubt that I could get it soon since I am living in India. I would appreciate it if you or someone else could post a scanned picture of the example from your book.
I am no expert but I think that all of the dyes in my daughter's piece are natural. You can see that about 3 shades of red-rose are used, creating a nice abrash. There are also obviously two blues, and not so obviously, a deep brown-aubergine outlining the blue design and providing a few "highlights".
I've scanned the saddle cover in question from page 95 of "Treasured Baluch
Pieces" and sent the image to Steve. Since Baluch literature is scarce, I would
recommend that anyone interested in "Baluch Group" weaving pick up copies of
"Treasured Baluch Pieces" and "Three Dusty Dozen" while the books are still
readily available and inexpensive. And no, I don't have any association with
Here's the image. Thank you, Bob.
Thanks for providing the scanned image, Bob. My daughter's is also a "treasured
Baluch piece" now. As Frank said, there is certainly a strong resemblance between
the two, with an inversion of the red and blue main colours. The red also looks
familiar, so I suppose that the one on my daughter's piece could also be synthetic.
I am not experienced enough to judge.
Here are images both of the front and back of a Baluch saddle cover I picked up in Afghanistan in 1972. Your mention of natural dyes versus synthetics made me wonder about the colors on this piece. I had just assumed that the dyes here were low contrasting (though intense) synthetic colors including, from my point of view, those nice orange highlights. The central design, hard to see because of the low-contrasting colors, is almost the same as yours except for the very central red figure, and the back has about the same color intensity as the front with hardly any fading. This apparent lack of fading is a feature that I like about this piece.
I should add that your piece looks fantastic – lucky daughter!
Thanks for showing your Baluch saddle rug. Interesting how the weaver used such low contrast for the main design, and then sprinkled it with high contrast highlights. A similar design as the one I posted, but a very different aesthetic.
Not exactly Baluchi
Although I'm now straying from the Baluchi theme, this is consistent with Jim Burns' ACOR presentation: Persian saddle covers. This is a Kirman piece that we found quite recently, roughly 4 ft x 4 ft in dimension. It was represented as early 20th century, and I see no reason to doubt that.
The design is not nearly as complex or detailed as some of the finer early pieces, and I suspect that is probably consistent with the date attribution. Regardless, one doesn't find such things in the market very often and we're quite happy we were able to get it. So, here it is. Enjoy:
Structural note for the Persian horse cover above:
Knots : 11 horizontal x 13 vertical, Asym Left
Warp : Cotton. Severe warp depression.
Wefts : 3 wefts, one definitely cotton yarn, the other two thinner and possibly wool
Selvage : Red and blue wool
Thanks for sharing the picture of your Persian saddle cover. As John mentioned there certainly don't seem to be that many still on the market, and the dealer who sold us the Baluch seemed genuinely a bit rueful about parting with it.
I don't think you straying that far afield from the original post... I think my daughter's saddle cover might also be Persian, though from a different weaving group.