Posted by Michael_Wendorf on 10-11-2006 03:17 PM:

Kurdish Counterparts?


I do not know whether Persian City Rugs and Kurdish Counterparts is your title or that of Jerry Thompson. Either way it's another step backward.

What exactly is meant by Kurdish Counterparts? I see images of Kermans, various Kashans, a Tabriz and assorted Sarouks - none of these rugs are given an ethnic tag, they are referred to by city or geographic area. Then rugs apparently from the Bijar area and Sehna are provided; presumably the Kurdish Counterparts?

As I and many numerous others have pointed out before, it is not at all clear that Kurds are responsible for all or even a majority of Bijar carpets. Cecil Edwards, who Jerry Thompson appears to rely on, himself acknowledged that the "impetus for the development of this unique fabric could have come from a chief of the Afshar family which still owns villages north of Bijar." In addition, citing P.R.J. Ford that the finest Bijars ... re woven not by Kurds but by a small clan of Afshars who live to the north of Bijar around Tekab and Tekkanteppe. Moreover, even if Kurds had woven all or a majority of Bijars, this "unique fabric" or structure is not typically Kurdish and represents a workshop or commercial weave that, however beautiful, is not traditionally "Kurdish." Much the same could be written about Sehnas. The structure of such rugs is not Kurdish.

And did I remember to add that many of the dyes used in these rugs were the product of specialied dyers who almost certainly were not Kurdish? Annette Ittig and others have documented this fact.

If names like Kashan and Tabriz and Sarouk are covenient enough to label those rugs then Bijar, Garrus or Sehna are convenient enough to label the others as well without perpetuating a false or misleading myth of their being Kurdish or representative of a Kurdish weaving tradition.

Now you know how I really feel, again. Thanks for the Salon, Michael

Posted by R. John Howe on 10-11-2006 08:56 PM:

Hi Michael -

The title is Jerry's and in fact he specifically asked, as we showed him a draft, that we include his tag reference to "Kurdish counterparts."

I expect, though that he wouldn't disagree with your indication that there were likely folks besides Kurds who wove Sennehs and Bijars. I think he was looking for an easy collective to permit him to include some additional material he had,while avoiding a title with an ungainly length. Perhaps "Bijar and Senneh counterparts" would not have been unduly longer.

If my energy permits I will ultimately deal a bit with both Bijar and Senneh pieces, so do speak up again then at least.

But this is to agree that the "Kurdish counterparts" usage is not ideal.

I do think it may be a bit unfair to tax Jerry for not honoring your own view of the universe within which rugs, properly called "Kurdish," were made. It would seem that even you and Jim Burns have somewhat distinctive views about that.


R. John Howe