Posted by R. John Howe on 09-14-2007 07:55 AM:

Asymmetric Afshar

Dear folks -

I also want to call attention to the very asymmetric field design of the Afshar that was brought in.

Jerry said that, for him, it was "off the chart" of what one expects in Afshar weaving.

Has anyone seen another Afshar piece remotely like it?

"Unique" is a dangerous word to say. You know the joke: If you say a piece is "unique," its pair will immediately appear on ebay.....without reserve.

But I don't remember anything close.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-14-2007 08:06 AM:

Hi John,

In a word, no. What strikes me, apart from the random craziness of it, is the fact that when you scrutinize the principal design components, they aren't really familiar by themselves, either. They are suggestive of the standard Afshar vocabulary, yet not quite what you've seen. Even the principal border is unfamiliar as I zero in on it.

On top of all that, it seems to be of excellent quality, wool, color and weave, to the extent one can tell on a screen. I'd be interested in people's comments as to how much they like it.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-14-2007 08:08 AM:

P. S.: Thanks once more for bringing us all out to the field on this stuff.

Now that the Fall nip is in the air, it is a good time to hit one or two flea markets, no....?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Marty Grove on 09-14-2007 08:17 AM:

To say the very ...!?

G'day John and all,

Hm, yes, one could say that which we may think - still, it certainly has some startling aspects; the white 'gul' almost seems superimposed above the field and the red one a little above and opposite bears no resemblance at all. The only item which appears to have some sort of half baked balance is the lower centre 'claymore'ish object on a birds foot.

Perhaps this little item was utilised as a test bed for a variety of iconography, a sort of wagirah for bags.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-14-2007 08:22 AM:

I was writing this but Marty preceded me.

I agree with Marty, it could be a khordjin wagireh like this one, posted in salon 115

(fromT. Sabahiís ďVAGHIREHĒ, Quashqai Khordjin).


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-14-2007 10:20 AM:

what kind of afshar is that!


Do you recall why this piece was called Afshar? The shape, a bit wider than tall, often is a distinguishing factor, but did you have a chance to look at the construction?
The sharp-pointed leaf-type border is quite unusual.
I have noticed this particular border only on Khamseh pieces.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Marty Grove on 09-14-2007 10:45 AM:

Cor, Blimey

G'day all,

That bag you show John, phew, just what was intended, even if there really was intent, is totally distracting - we cant tap into minds of the past (yet) to question the weavers, and even surmising opens up more possibilities, but in any event John obviously has thrown us another surprising query in the vein 'from the scrubs and alleys of providential America'


Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-14-2007 11:15 AM:

Hi all,

Good question by Patrick. Do we tend to attribute that particular structural situation on the closure system to the Afshar?

Rich Larkin

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-14-2007 01:08 PM:

Filiberto -

I bought, but apparently didn't read closely enough, that Sabahi volume on vagirehs. I didn't notice that he had a bag face example. Isn't that a bit strange? Why make a vagireh of a format that has the same size? Why not just make an example? Even more, few of the design elements seem recognizable. A vagireh is intended to facilitate communication (and the Sabahi example does that). This piece seems to project confusion.

But it is an interesting thought. Jerry Thompson will be very interested because, as you may recall, he has a rug vagireh that it took him a few years to recognize.

Pat -

The owners of this piece said that it had been sold to them as Afshar and I think they said they had other Afshar pieces.

I didn't look at the structure and don't think anyone in the room did particularly (although Jerry often calls attention to the importance of structure in attribution).

There were some other serious Afshar collectors in the room and no one questioned the Afshar attribution.

I don't know whether the closure system played heavily in the Afshar attribution or whether it is seen to occur only on them. Kamseh pieces do have chevroned flatweave opening treaments, but I've seen some Afshar pieces that do as well.

In his "South Persian" volume Opie provides a piece (p.193) that he calls Afshar that has a very similar border.

That's the only attribution indicator I can give at the moment.

I hadn't seen the owners before and don't know them so I can't question them.

R. John Howe

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-14-2007 01:46 PM:

Hi John,

I didn't notice that he had a bag face example. Isn't that a bit strange? Why make a vagireh of a format that has the same size? Why not just make an example? Even more, few of the design elements seem recognizable. A vagireh is intended to facilitate communication (and the Sabahi example does that). This piece seems to project confusion.
As I said , it was posted already inside the Salon on Wagireh... On Page 2, to be exact


Posted by Marty Grove on 09-14-2007 02:06 PM:

Bakhtiari bag

G'day John and all,

Although you havent singled this piece out John, the piece second last in the Salon opening, before the bird, thats a really interesting bag; this attracts me a lot and I really like the links of camels with their riders in the flat woven side, its very moving to me and draws me along.

We havent really seen many bags where one bag is piled and the other flatwoven entire. Or one where the style of flatweave has both kilim and soumac manner. This is quite unusual I think.

I like it anyway -


Posted by Marty Grove on 09-14-2007 02:08 PM:

Now why didnt I notice that!!


Posted by Marty Grove on 09-14-2007 02:21 PM:

For Filiberto,

Your reply to John ref the Wagirah; was it really shown before on Turkotek? I though I had just made a good guess - disappointed to know, no credit me when it may have been subliminal (from the deepest recesses for sure )

I bet you didnt remember it Filiberto either


Martin R. Grove

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-14-2007 04:54 PM:

Filiberto -

I've flunked two mental alertness tests. I didn't take in what it was in either my perusal of the book or as a result of your inclusion of it in the salon.

Still seems an odd thing to do. Have you ever seen other examples?


R. John Howe

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-14-2007 05:53 PM:

Hi Rich,

You asked whether we "liked" the "Afshar" piece. Personally, I don't find it all that compelling. It is sort of a mish-mash without any strong features to give it graphic appeal.

On the other hand, the colours and wool look good and it does seem to be a bit of an oddity so I can see why it might appeal to a lot of collectors.


Posted by R. John Howe on 09-14-2007 08:27 PM:

Rich, James et al -

It would be hard to call this piece a beautiful weaving, although the colors are good.

As James points out, some collectors would be attracted by how unusual it is.

But I suspect someone like Wendel Swan would call it an "oops piece," that is one full of poor drawing, and perhaps outright drawing mistakes.

There is, I think, one recognizable Afshar design usage. In many Afshars there are areas full of little flowers, white with a distinctive blue. The flowers are massed in rectangular areas.

That usage seems to me to be the most recognizable.

And as I was composing this post, I got an email from an experienced person in the rug world who offered this additional comment:

Experienced person:

The image isn't focussed and is dark, so it's hard to
be sure - an ongoing problem with trying to evaluate
weavings from jpegs - but the design looks like a
fairly common one for late Afshar weaving:
Gol-e-Frank, or European rose pattern, or bunch of
roses. It's pretty distorted, but the roses, as such,
are apparently there.

John, again:

I saw in Peter Stone's book on design that he lists what he calls the "Gul Farang" which is the same design this experienced commentator is pointing to.

Also called "cabbage" roses, these devices are seen as taken from Kerman usages under his "Afshar Medallions" section. The four examples he provides are pretty realistic.

If some of the devices on the field of this bag are intended as roses, as our experienced commentator says, one has to project pretty strongly through the distortion. But that some of them may be.

My thanks to our experienced person for his comments.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-15-2007 12:56 AM:


I thought the mass of red in the bag was trying to be the gol-i-frank pattern. The thing about this bag that baffles me is that it is so awkwardly done, albeit seeming to be good quality otherwise. The gol-i-frank isn't particularly well rendered (if that design can be well rendered). It and the other devices are jammed in there without much thought or art that I can discern. Even a wagireh usually tries for some semblance of organization and design structure. This thing seems to have come about by accident. No doubt, the artist had a vision I don't appreciate. The border is nice, though those saw teeth aren't the most skillful drawing in the show either.

As far as the border goes, good eye to spot the Opie example.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-15-2007 01:49 AM:

Hi John,

Still seems an odd thing to do. Have you ever seen other examples?

Thatís the only one of the book and, no, I havenít seen other examples.

Itís a nice and practical idea, though: a weaving that could be used as a wagireh and as a bag. Sort of killing two birds with one stone.


Posted by R. John Howe on 09-15-2007 08:09 AM:

Richard -

You notice that the border is drawn noticably better than the rest of the piece.

That sort of feature is used by some to suggest whether the weaver was working deliberately in the more chaotic areas or simply not able to draw well.

Michael Wendorf has a colorful Kurdish rug with great chaos in the field, but a border done very crisply all round. I think that border is the feature that convinced Michael that this was a rug worth owning. (I don't know whether he watches Turkotek, nowadays, but a photo of his piece would be revealing.)

The notion of examining the drawing in all the areas of a rug to gauge the weaver's actually likely skills and possible intent in more chaotic areas, is for me a useful one.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-15-2007 11:10 AM:

Hi John,

I think most weavers of this type of thing (in contrast, say, to those who use cartoons) have a repertoire of design elements they can reproduce, manipulate, etc. Perhaps the weaver of the wonky bag had that border well under control, but was into new territory with the stuff in the center. It's not a very satisfying explanation, though, because the problem is more than inept drawing. It's also the awkward crowding.

As far as the wagireh bag is concerned, two speculations:

-No doubt, most wagirehs are woven with a purpose of some level of commercial presentation. So this bag is a sort of briefcase for the weaver or salesperson to carry whatever they need to carry in that business.

-The weaver liked wagirehs. They are sort of fun.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-15-2007 12:51 PM:

Monkey Wrench In The Gears


Now you have forced me to hike over to my Museum Quality, Temperature and Humidity Controlled, Moth Proof, State Certified, Collector Edition, Textile and Rug Cold Storage Facility to rummage around for pieces with that border.
(Well, maybe not State Certified. Or Moth Proof. Actually, just a small shelf in the basement closet.)
And to add to the inconvenience, I have one piece with depressed warps and one with a flat back.
This piece, nearly square and probably from a khorjin, has almost fully depressed warps. The pinkish-red highlights on the front are a deeper hue on the back, indicating a synthetic or mixed dye. For instance, note the pink flower with a light blue outline in the middle of the lower border. The front is pink, the back is red. This piece is probably twice as old as I am (A convenient indicator of actual rug age, better than fiber-tensile testing).
Needless to say, the e-bay photos did not show this minor detail, but this dye feature could be an indicator of a later 19th century age.

To confuse the issue, here is a piece with a more Afshar-like rectangular shape, but with no warp depression:

You probably cannot tell from these photos, but the entire bottom red border has been rewoven, and the warps are all white, but at the top you may be able to see that the warps are a mix of brown and white.
Some of the knots were replaced in the field, too, with a light blue that does not quite match the variegated light blue-green in the original areas, such as the lower few knots in the bottom, central green boteh.

Probably just the cost of mailing a piece like this to Turkey and back would be more than the darned (I mean Re-Knotted) thing cost me. (Which somewhat explains one reason I do not prefer repairing a small piece to leaving it in "original" condition usually.)

Both pieces have symmetric knots, but the first one is 120 kpsi compared to 72 kpsi for the second piece.

The minor red border is identical in both pieces, too.
Two similar but different Afshars? One Khamseh, one Afshar?

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-15-2007 08:50 PM:

paint every other warp brown...

Hi Patrick,

Why do you think the top one is Khamseh? Is that a confident attribution?

And, did you have that border strip rewoven?

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-16-2007 03:03 AM:



I do not think my first piece is Khamseh, but is more likely Afshar. The second piece does not have an Afshar construction, so it could possibly be Khamseh instead of Afshar.
You can find a saddle cover attributed to the Afshar of Kerman on Barry O'Connell's web site with a similar field design and border as my first piece. But, I have also seen this border in an indisputably Qashqai bag and on another Afshar rug, too. It seems like it is a fairly uncommon border, but was used throughout the SW Persian area by a number of different tribes.
As for the border strip on the second piece, I did not have it rewoven. As a matter of fact, I wonder why someone did have it rewoven, because it is not valuable enough in an art-historic sense to be worth the trouble, and if it were why would the repairer use all white warps when it was obvious that the original warps were a mixture of brown and white?
Perhaps the former owner thought it was worth it to have it repaired. And the repairer was either not paid enough to do it properly, did not have the wool or ability to do so, or assumed the owner would not know the difference.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-16-2007 11:03 AM:

Hi Patrick,

Got it. I had your "tentative" attribution entries mixed up. In fact, I'd be going with Afshar for both of them pro tem. I consider the Afshars to be capable of just about anything structurally. If I'm seeing that pale reddish wrapping right on my screen, it is an Afshar indicator for me, all else being equal.

As far as the judgments made by the repairer are concerned, I'll just say that nothing would surprise me regarding repairs made in country.

In my opinion, you can't go wrong acquiring this kind of stuff. Especially (or perhaps necessarily) if the price is right. Incidentally, stay with the temperature controlled technology; however, it isn't for the textiles. They don't care what the temperature is. It's for the beer you're drinking while you're contemplating them, and dazzling your guests with extemporaneous disquisitions on structure, spin and ply.

(BTW, how do you get the guest through that security system?)

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-16-2007 04:16 PM:

Security, Shmecurity!


As soon as the burglars smell the rotting wool, they go next door. It is the moths that devour the value of the rugs.
And now that the value of those first two pieces has gone up exponentially with your determination of Afshar provenance, I can make the next payment on my Safe Deposit Vault at the local Swiss Bank franchise where I keep these next two pieces - because the attic is full. The "reciprocal camel" border is common to Khamseh weavings. The chevron design closure panels, pointed out as a probable Afshar feature on the piece John posted, are also common to other SW Iran weavings, too.

This is your typical Khamseh Gul Farang Khorjin. You can see the direct lineal descent from the Aubusson or Savonnerie originals, right? Well, maybe via a psychotropically induced delusional state. They say the Russians in charge of the Caucasus (and thereby by extension also in charge of the commercial weaving there) requested rugs to be woven "in the style" of the expensive French popular floor coverings. These mostly Karabagh versions somehow influenced the weavers in the SW of Persia to "improve" on the already "improved" version of this floral (how can you tell?) design.
Usually I would suggest a close-up view of a portion of the design might allow you to be able to compare this piece with the "identical" version that John showed from the Rug Morning piece. In this case, it just makes my eyes hurt. You be the judge.

If that piece doesn't strike a chord, how about this one? It was stored in the Swiss Vault UNDERNEATH the previous piece, so it is obviously older:

The first piece has a completely un-depressed warp (is that an oxymoron?) but this piece, very floppy handle, has a moderately depressed warp.

The sort-of vase border is often seen in Afshar and Khamseh weavings, another indicator of the proximity of these two weaving traditions.
So, if the piece John posted is Afshar, maybe they got the design from the Khamseh, who got it from the Karabagh who got it from the Russians who got it from the French. Proof that oriental rug designs originated in the West and moved East.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-16-2007 10:11 PM:

Hi Patrick,

If you find yourself forced to visit the underground vault, the former site of the anti-nuclear strike fortress, puhleez give some advance notice. I definitely don't want to miss it.

Awesome pair of gul-i-ferengi bagfaces. I don't really like that motif, but the confetti background of these two takes the bad off. Where do you come up with these (I mean before they got to the vault, etc.)?

BTW, speaking of wagirehs, that little extra border along the right side of the second bag is a piece of work.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-17-2007 01:18 AM:



The extra border on the right side of the second piece incorporates a number of common Khamseh motifs, including a "spanner" design, an "S" and a large-bodied chicken. The weaver had to do something with the extra space when she did not have enough room for another Gul Farangi rose, I suspect.

You also inquired:

"Where do you come up with these" weavings?

It has taken decades of practice at Top-Secret Obsessive/Compulsive training camps. It is a Martial Art taught in secret enclaves in the Orient.
Ooops, now they will have to eliminate me!!!!!

Patrick xxxxxxx, Federal Witness Protection Plan,

P.S. Filiberto, I am looking for a safe haven in Jordan!!!

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-17-2007 07:35 AM:

You can take my place, Pat.
We are moving out of Jordan next month.

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-17-2007 11:05 AM:

Structural equations...

Hi all,

I am still puzzled about attributing S. Persian (Fars area) weavings based on structure and materials. There do seem to be some conventions, but I am not sure how consistently they can be applied.

I have a small mat whose attribution has puzzled me since I bought it. I previously posted it on Turkotek but at that time the only feedback I got was a flat "South Persian", without further explanation. Perhaps this latest discussion about structure and attribution will stimulate some more thoughts.

The mat is only about 2 ft x 2.5 ft in size. The wool is soft and lustrous. The colours are about the most saturated I have encountered. There are a few scattered repilings, some with what look to be synthetic dyes. There is a deep aubergine that has substantial corrosion.

Structurally it is knotted symmetrically at about 13v x 8h = 104 kpsi. It has brown wool warps with minimal warp depression. It is predominantly double-wefted (some areas look to have 3 or 4 wefts) with light red wool wefts. The handle is very subtle.

It was sold to me as a "Turkish" piece. At least one previous Turkotekker labelled it "South Persian from the Fars area". I tend to agree with the second assessment, and I tend to think it is either Luri or Khamseh. Any further thoughts about this one?


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-17-2007 02:57 PM:

Baby Blanket


A local Seattle dealer from Shiraz kept a small piece about this size with the same lustrous dark colors and fine wool. I never got a photo and do not recall the design, but he said it was made for him when he was born. (He is in his 60's) I do not think it was ever a bag and your piece does not show any obvious closure devices.
Your piece may be the same type. Yours uses the "dice" border in a way that is familiar from Khamseh pieces.


Thanks for the offer, but you have no air conditioning and no high speed internet connection. Wars have been started for less. Besides, where would I keep all my bag faces?

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-17-2007 07:35 PM:

Hi James,

Why would you be inclined to offer Luri as an attribution for this one? I can go with the Khamseh. I think of Luri rugs as essentially heavier.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-17-2007 07:47 PM:



I tend to side with your non-Luri attribution, because the warps are all light wool. Some Luri pieces use red as a weft material, as does James piece, but more often varied shades of brown. The "dice" show up in Luri rugs, too, but this piece is rather well "drawn" for Luri work.
The main border has elements reminiscent of the stepped diamonds on a Luri piece on a different thread, perhaps a vestige of a flatweave tradition, but those white dots surrounding the diamonds are an interesting variation. I can't place the minor border vine-and-flower design, though.
All these little Luri-related design features have been pointed out by Opie as having origins in Luri traditions, but were adopted by their neighbors over time.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-17-2007 08:04 PM:

Hi Rich,

I think Luri is pretty tentative, and for most of the time I have had it I have been calling it my "star Khamseh". But here are some points I have pondered recently....

Assuming that it is from a weaving group in the Fars region:

1. It doesn't seem like Qashqa'i to me, especially considering that it is symmetrically knotted.

2. It has reddish wefts, and I usually think about brown wefts for Khamseh weavings.

3. It has a particular rich orange colour (on the outer border) that I for some reason associate more with Luri than Khamseh weavings.

4. It has brown wool warps (though this might not be clear in some of the pictures).

Still, I can go with Khamseh, or "undefined S. Persian". I don't know enough about Turkish rugs to consider that option, but I am reminded that the original owner said it was Turkish...

Whatever it is, it is often the first one that anyone notices when entering our living room, despite its diminuitive size. The colours tend to make even some of my other decent rugs pale in comparison. It really glows.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-17-2007 09:33 PM:

Hey boys,

I wasn't thinking about the symmetrical knotting. I don't approach these attribution puzzles with the necessary discipline and seriousness of purpose. The technical term is "slacker."

I think of Khamseh as asymmetrical. No doubt there are symmetrical knotters among those folks, but they're mavericks to me. I can't buy Turkish. The stained glass color on that transparent wool and the five spot border is definitely South Persian in my book. I'm not well versed in the Luri range of products, so I'll have to take somebody else on that.

Of course, there are many weaving groups around greater Shiraz. To insist on lumping them into Qashqai, Khamseh, and a couple of odd others is too limiting.

It's a nice little rug, whoever wove it.

Rich Larkin

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-17-2007 10:08 PM:

Hi Rich,

I know that there are symmetrical Khamseh rugs, but the ones I have seen have a different sort of character. Here is an example of a "bird" Khamseh that is symmetrically knotted. The wefts are brown (undyed) and the handle is much different than my small piece (being more stiff), although it also has minimal warp depression.


Posted by Steve Price on 09-18-2007 06:53 AM:

Hi James

That's an exceptional rug, aesthetics-wise. As you note, the character is very different than that of your bagface. I think it's interesting that the palettes of the two are rather similar, and the proportions in which each color appear are not terribly different. It's the color juxtapositions that make the rug so outstanding. The weaver was either extraordinarily lucky (which I doubt) or had a great understanding of how to use colors effectively.


Steve Price

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-18-2007 08:28 AM:

Thanks, Steve.

There are some similarities with respect to the palette, especially the blues.

I agree with your assessment that the second rug was made by an experienced weaver. The proportions and symmetry are quite precise, but it doesn't look to be derived from a cartoon. I can't take much credit for this one. It was one that my wife picked out and insisted upon, though she didn't have to twist my arm very much. I think it has very good proportions and a good colour balance, with a main border that really complements the field.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-19-2007 01:52 AM:



Opie's second book delves a bit into structural differences between some of the SW Persian weavers and this is what he says about Khamseh:
"Technical factors help us to distinguish Khamseh from Qashqa'i rugs. Brown warp threads, ...typify Khamseh pieces; Qashqa'i warps are ivory colored, as a rule. Khamseh pile weavings are less stifff in handle than most Qashqa'i pieces, except for Shekarlu/Qashqa'i rugs, which are floppy. Knot counts are often lower in Khamseh pieces. Both symmetrical... and asymmetrical...knots are found in Khamseh rugs. One technical detail that frequently differentiates Khamseh and Qashqa'i work is the factor of "depressed" versus regular knotting. As in urban rugs, Qashqa'i knots are usually depressed... A minor degree of depression is present in some Khamseh work. In many cases there is none."

In the Afshar chapter he notes that Afshar wefts are "commonly dyed red, sometimes with a decidedly orange tinge which distinguishes them from Khamseh work."

These details pretty much point to a more likely Khamseh origin for your first piece. The regularity of the drawing and sophistication of design also tend to lead me away from a Luri attribution.
Of course it could be Baluch.....

We don't have enough structural information on the original piece John posted to try and narrow down its origin, though.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-19-2007 08:34 AM:

Hi Patrick,

Interestingly enough I read that exact passage from Opie's book last evening too. Maybe I can go back to calling this Khamseh.


Posted by Gene Williams on 09-21-2007 07:27 PM:

Qashqai? Kamseh? or ??


This doesn't have much to do with the Afshar bag originally posted but does have something to do with the Kamseh rug you put up above. In 1977 I was given a wornout...virtually finished rug by a friend when I bought a Baluch main-carpet from him in Karachi. I always thought the wreck/ruin was Qashqai and never bothered to investigated it just sat in the bottom of a trunk (surrounded by mothballs) for 30 years.

Your border led me to pull what's left of it out. I'd appreciate an opinion on what it is. Thanks.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-21-2007 11:15 PM:

That's Easy


It's a wreck.

Khamseh, but a wreck. With a couple of patches. And notice the feather-dusters at the top and bottom of the field - to deter the moths. Opie thinks the length of the neck on the chickens is an indicator of age, the longer the older. Yours probably fits right around 1908. October. Cloudy, with a chance of precipitation. Looks like it may have spent a few decades in Peshawar and ended up with a family that owned a vacuum cleaner and they did not have a dog.

Patwreck Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-22-2007 01:33 AM:

Hi Gene,

I would definitely agree with Patwreck... it's a Khamseh. I also agree that it is an obvious 1908 vintage, though I would have guessed Spring, rather than October. Notice how frisky the murghs are.

Can you indicate if this one is symmetrically knotted?


P.S. I can't recall reading about long necks and longevity among Khamseh birds. Here is a close-up of one of my "bird" rugs. I gather that the lower bird is older than the upper one...

Posted by Gene Williams on 09-22-2007 04:40 AM:

Home on the Range

Thanks guys. 1908 makes it 100. good enough to claim a tax exemption when I donate it to the recyclers.

I assume those rug birds are chickens...historically known as "Persian Fowl" in pre-about 500BC literature (Greek)...I assume they were so-named because Persia was where they were first domesticated. Do you all think the increasingly short legged versions were because the chickens were no-longer "free range" and instead began to be crowded together in "chicken coops" to increase weight? (possibly because they were "bird brains"?)... Might this be what Opie was referring to in his thesis on length of neck and leg indication age??..He actually was talking about the commercialization not of rugs but of chicken farming! (hard to think of nomads herding vast flocks of chickens across a never-ending steppe-I guess they'd be carried in cages-coops on camels...not true nomads then..pasture changers)

James, since the inhabitants of my ruined carpet obviously were from a family subsistance-farm hen house, "butter-and-eggs" type of primitive mom-and-pop, authentic country life-style, free-range, stringingly-savory, meat-on-the-claw, drum-stick-bearers and as a result very clearly have longer legs than your pristine, proto-modern, agri-business, factory-raised, fat-breasted, cluckingly contented chicken coop fowl...might your rug be more modern and also become in the future subject to an animal rights protest??

(If so..the rug detective has another toy to play with....agricultural history!)


PS. There is evidence in the ruined carpet that a by-product was also produced from this agri-poultry business..i.e. "feather dusters" as Patrick pointed out I must agree with Patrick that there was an economic imperative for this motif..and that they were obviously used as moth-repellant totems. And Marty will also recognize that the dogs which guarded the agri-factory cooped-up chickens could also pee on carpets made in the vicinity which added aging to the dyes and helped keep the roos away.

James, re knotting..I'm travelling..I'll dive back in the trunks in 4 days..will let you know.

Patrick: actually there are no patches. Saifuddin had started to restore it and decided it wasn't worth the effort...the bright areas are repiled.

Posted by Steve Price on 09-22-2007 07:44 AM:


Some thoughts about the "long necks = older age" notion.

1. Is there anything to it? Jim Opie is a pretty knowledgeable guy and probably didn't just make the whole thing up, so my guess is that it has some basis. But it is unlikely to be anything more than one of many pieces of evidence on which to base an age attribution (which will finally have some level of uncertainty, of course).

2. If there is something to it, I wonder if it is based on an increased vertical knot density in later work. This happened between about 1850 and 1900 with Turkmen (especially Tekke) weaving, apparently in response to European market demand for finer, more detailled decoration.


Steve Price

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-22-2007 09:45 AM:

Hi all,

I have seen that a number of writers have suggested that these birds represent chickens, but I am not sure how they have come to that conclusion. If you look closely at the birds in my rug they all clearly have "crests". So either they represent a bird with crests (peacocks have crests), or they represent roosters and their combs, or they had some sort of crested chicken variety. Notice also how prominent the wings are on these birds. Wings are not the first feature one things of with chickens. Anyway, I always wondered about that.

Steve, I am not sure about the structure vs. neck length. Many of the necks are essentially horizontal on the rug, which would mean that a proportionately longer neck would have a higher vertical:horizontal knotting ratio.


Posted by Steve Price on 09-22-2007 10:30 AM:

Hi James

Thanks. If birds can be horizontal or vertical on these rugs (I assume, with comparable frequency), a decrease in neck length in later weavings must have some explanation other than increased vertical knot density.

It was the perfect hypothesis: simple, neat, and wrong.


Steve Price

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 09-22-2007 11:10 AM:

I'm Sticking My Neck Out Here


"Saifuddin had started to restore it" way back in 1977.

If you had left it with him, he may have been able to finish the job by now.

That middle chicken with the shorter neck maybe had a smaller coop to fit into. You can tell he is butting his head up against a tree. It could be a sighting of the rare "Hen-Pecker".

Opie preferred the term "bird" rugs rather than chicken rugs, precisely because the taxonomy of those fowl rugs was uncertain.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-22-2007 11:16 AM:

Hey Gene,

Let's not lose sight of the key consideration amidst all this silly agri-business talk:

That rug is a keeper. It's in way better shape than the Afshar on the floor of the storeroom in my cellar.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Marty Grove on 09-24-2007 08:56 AM:

G'day Gene and all,

I agree with Rich, that 'old thing' is a keeper to me also... Ive probably not got any as good even in this condition. One thing surprises me is that no one has mentioned the colour of it. James's obviously has magnificent colour but we cant see really the glory of yours Gene.

A close up would be nice, then we might be able to see the dogs guarding the chooks, or chewing on the peacocks for that matter, which is what I preferred mine (dogs) to do rather than chase and toughen the eating fowl.

There really is a family resemblence between Khamseh, Qashgai and even Afshar from where Im looking - I can see that one would need some structural detail like the weft colour to separate them at times. Also, the three types do seem to enjoy a plethora of chooks whatever, long necked or otherwise...