Posted by Richard_Farber on 05-15-2005 09:03 AM:

Harold Keshishian on Safs: Textile Safs

The saf form also exists in embroidery, and in velvet.

I have seen many embroidery tent panels in the "saf" form.

Included here is an image of a two position saf which I believe may be from an area somewhat east of Uzbekistan, perhaps in what is today is china--Xinjiang China.

The piece, from the information that I have, was made by the Uighur (or Uyghur, or Uygur) people, but I am not sure of this attribution.


Richard Farber

Posted by Tim Adam on 05-17-2005 09:27 PM:

Dear Richard,

Thanks for presenting an interesting piece. Not all rugs that have a gable are necessarily prayer rugs, and this suzanni falls into that category IMHO.

However, I am curious about these gabled suzannis. I have seen some that have no inside, and thus could be used to frame a doorway, and others that are filled in, like the one presented here, which could not be used to decorate a doorway. Does anyone have a picture of a gabled suzanni in action, or know how these suzannis were used?

Best regards,


Posted by Richard Farber on 05-21-2005 04:12 PM:

dear mr adams,

the size of these niche form susanis is a direct indication of catagorization.

the larger pieces with no embroidery under the arche are called ruidsho or rudshoi and they were used as a bed sheet for the wedding night . . . this is the conventional story. these pieces were very aprox. two meters by 140cm.
the smaller pieces typically one meter by 150cm are called djoi namaz or "prayer rugs" although there are considerable questions as to there use.

some quilted ones were probobly used as baby blankets, others were used to indicate the dirction of mecca in the home . . . i hosted a salon on the subject [nr. 52 i believe]


richard farber

as to the use of the larger scale embroideries as door frames -- when the central area was stained [think of its use] it was often cut away and the remainder sold to the unsuspecting as door frames. . . please do not believe the door frame myth. i have yet to see a period photograph showing one in such use. the wedding night usage is - i believe - well documented.

Posted by Richard_Farber on 05-30-2005 03:30 PM:

A miniature Persian saf

dear turkotekees,

i am being -- what is a good word in english -- cynical is not quite it -- tongue in cheek.

this piece is of course not a saf in the sense used in this series. but since a textile with multiple niches is not all that common i thought that i would show this one which is new to my collection.

H 31cm W 47cm [without the selvedges]

i would guess that it was made to be sewn into a bag to hold some valued object. if the maker were jewish [which is possible] then perhaps to hold phylactery. if islamic than perhaps a small koran. . . i said the maker and not he or she because it is not clear whether this type of metal embroidery was definitely made by men in professional workshops or was also made in the home by women.

in any case the piece was left as is and not made into a bag, hence the 'saf' form.

as to the area - my old persian informant is definite that the piece was made in the isfahan area, i am not so sure and would be happy to hear other informed opinions.

as to the age of the piece there are a number of indications.

1] the backing is chintz probably russian and most probably before the age of synthetic dyes. the embroidery is through the velvet and the backing cloth !

2] the cloth is velvet made of cotton. according to informant knowledgable in this area the cloth is probably german of a type made as early as two hundred or moreyears ago. note that the width of the cloth is less then 50cm !!! the quality of the color is really very very good - i would guess pre-synthetic dye. perhaps vincent would voice an opinion.

the little colored decorations could well have been added later -- but there are all soft metal and not plastic. i am sure that there must be an expert of these little colored discs and other decorations out there. i don't know when they were made.

the quality of the metal thread is very good and there is no green showing from a too high copper content. this is NOT a definate indication of age.

the embroidery is very fine - but again that is not in the case of metal embroidery an aid in dating because metal thread embroidery was often workshop produced and even pieces made today can be finely embroidered with high gold or silver content.

the embroidery still of this piece is called in persian the equivalent to gold and silver embroidery.


richard farber

Posted by Richard_Farber on 05-31-2005 12:51 PM:

dear turkotekees,

here is a better close up of the textile where you can see the two colors of metal thread, the different embroidery techniques and the little colored metal discs (sequins) and a green leaf ornament also made of metal.

please also note the green silk wound with metal which frames the arch. the green silk is left exposed regularly every few millimeters to create a design.


richard farber