Posted by R. John Howe on 09-11-2006 03:52 PM:

Show and Tell at Local Rug Club Picnic

Dear folks -

The rug club here in DC is The International Hajji Baba Society.

It is a fairly vigorous club, with a number of experienced members. But it is also welcoming. One of its more welcoming events is the summer picnic, which was held yesterday.

Harold and Melissa Keshishian were our generous hosts to a potluck at their Maryland farm.

I took my camera and, working with Jeff Krauss, our club webmaster, we have put up a number of images of pieces shown at the club picnic.

This might, strictly speaking, be seen as an "announcement" post but it's really of a show and tell event, so I'm putting it up here.

In the interest of speed, no text is provided. But the images are thumbnails and larger ones can be obtained by clicking on them.

I think this is the first show and tell I have seen conducted on a hay wagon.

Hope you see something interesting.

Here is the link:


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-11-2006 04:55 PM:

Thanks, John. That was great. The only drawback was that when I saw the picture of the lady at the center top of the images, I thought she was inspecting a small but exquisite Baluch bagface. You can imagine my disappiontment when, upon enlargement, it turned out to be a tray of Buffalo Chicken. Other than that, though, wonderful. Thanks once again for your faithful efforts.

Rich Larkin

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-11-2006 05:08 PM:

Hi Rich -

If this is the lady you're talking about,

that's Melissa Keshishian herself.

She's an expert rug and textile restorer and conservator and unlikely to mistake the (actually) small hamburgers for a misplaced Balouch.

Glad you enjoyed the pieces.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-11-2006 05:26 PM:

Dear folks -

There are a couple of pictures and pieces about which I should give you at least a few words just for context.

The picnic was held on the lawn near a large shade-providing tree and the hay wagon on which the show and tell pieces were placed and shown.

After the show and tell, Harold invited everyone to come back to one of the other buildings: one that serves as a kind of gallery and may sometimes be Melissa's work area.

Coming in the door, the main room of this building looks like this.

You can see that its back wall is taken up by three large pieces especially a huge and very old saf on the left that Harold bought a few years ago.

Although worn, it is a very striking thing to stand in front of.

The people walking in front of it give you some sense of its size.

Now since you're oriented you can look at the larger images of the two pieces to the right of this saf.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-11-2006 10:48 PM:

Dear folks -

There is one other piece in our rug club picnic show that may need explanatory comment.

This is the front of a pile bag:

And this is the back of the same bag.

Just to be clear.


R. John Howe

Posted by Wendel Swan on 09-11-2006 10:48 PM:

Hi John,

What is the second piece in the third row of the images? At first glance it looked vaguely Yomudish, but now I see it as a South American band (perhaps even pre-Columbian), mounted so as to resemble a kilim. What can you say about it?


Posted by R. John Howe on 09-12-2006 03:32 AM:

Wendel -

Your assessment is correct.

Here is the piece you refer to:

It is a pre-Columbian band mounted in a back and forth mode to produce the massed effect you note.

There has been some question about how clearly we should identify owners, but I think I can indicate that it belongs to Michael and Linda.

I can't personally say more about it, since I don't have a set of notes indicating what was said about the pieces. Jeff and I worked pretty quickly to cull the 120 or so photos I took and to get the ones up we felt folks might be most interested in. That led to the decision not to attempt a text.


R. John Howe

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-12-2006 04:05 AM:

Hi John,

Thanks for your photo-reportage.
I love this Jaff bag face:

What is this one? A modern or semi-antique reproduction of a Caucasian dragon carpet?



Posted by R. John Howe on 09-12-2006 04:23 AM:

Hi Filiberto -

Yes, the Jaff Kurd shows that these pieces can sometimes reach a little above their usual selves. The owner said he is really taken with the border treatment on this one.

And, yes, the more modern rug was said by its owner to have been woven at Shusha and does echo the usages in the classical "dragon" carpets that feature heavy lattices.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-13-2006 08:39 AM:

Yomut Salanchak

Dear folks -

Another of the pieces shown at this picnic that perhaps deserves special attention is an inscribed Yomut salanchak (spellings vary) owned by Bob Emry.

Bob has given me some additional comment and images and I quote him below:

"...regarding the "salanchak":

I can't read the inscription beyond the first three characters, which seem clearly to be 122.... The person I got it from said that the first four characters had been interpreted for him as 1228, although the fourth character doesn't look like 8 to me. If this is an islamic date, it translates to about 1815. This seems too early as a date for the weaving, although I can't say how old the rug might be. It is in great condition, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is late. The wool quality is very good--even the warps are of lustrous white wool---nicer than is usual in Yomut pieces. It is very well woven with edges beautifully finished. Knotting is symmetrical, about 9.5 to 10 knots/inch horizontal and 17-18/inch vertical. Colors are great and all from good dyes--no synthetics. Most rugs of this genre (although not a lot are known) are considered late 19th or early 20th century, and I think many, maybe most, have a synthetic dye in them.

The links just above will get you some pictures of the salanchak. You are welcome to use any of them or none of them, as you wish, on Turkotek. One picture shows the inscription from the front, and another (last picture I think) shows it from the back (flipped so it reads the same as on the front---ain't Photoshop great?). Perhaps some Turkotek reader will be able to read the inscription. I haven't been able to glean much information from the rather limited literature on this genre of rug. The term salanchak is apparently the word Turkmen use for cradle, and this has led some to call these rugs baby cradles. But the term salanchak apparently more literally means something like swing or sling. Elena Tsareva suggests that rugs of this format are mislabeled salanchak and should be called "ayatlyk" --the term for a rug on which the deceased were carried to burial. Another reference I saw recently (can't cite it at the moment) said that ayatlyks were left on the grave for a while and then taken to mosques and used as prayer rugs. As I'm sure you know, inscriptions and dates are rare on any Turkmen rugs, so the fact that several of the known "salatchaks" (a rare subset of Turkmen rugs) have inscriptions might suggest that they were made for some special commemorative reason. A 122-something date might make sense at the birthdate of someone whose funeral this was made for. I find all of this very intriguing, but not very satisfying intellectually--not sure I can yet separate ethnographic information from rug lore.

I'll try to keep track of any discussion on Turkotek and reply there if anyone has questions or needs other information.

More later,
Bob Emry

One of the earliest salons here on Turkotek resulted from Wendel Swan's encounter with a salanchak. The original salon essay has since been a casualty of the vaguaries of cyber-space, but some of the discussion remains.

Here's the link to that:

Bob Emry's piece is larger than others of this format that I have seen, and for this reason seems a plausible candidate for a funeral rug usage.

Also interesting to me is Bob's indication from the literature that salanchaks might have been left on the grave for a time after burial. This has its parallel in the funeral usage of Chilkat dancing blankets by Alaskan Indian tribes (see archived salon). They are reputed, not only to have placed these wonderful textiles on the grave after burial, but to have left them there permanently, where they are eventually destroyed by the elements.

Note that Bob is interested, not only in additional comment, but in translating the inscription.


R. John Howe

Posted by Jack Williams on 09-13-2006 09:06 AM:

grump grump grump

What a beautiful day that must have been. And there I was that Sunday, sitting in my brother's house in McLean, twiddling my fingers, controversial Juwal and favorite cruciform rug lugged up from New Orleans spread on a table.

Oh, it was fun, going through SOME of Gene's trunks, seeing what he stored away in the 1970s. But... Gene told me he was a member of Haji Baba back in the late 70s, early 80s. Too bad he didn't stay in touch. That collection (and the people) would have been nice to see.

Guess I will have to be nicer to everyone to get invited. What a beautiful collection of things.

Regards, Jack Williams

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-13-2006 09:23 AM:

Hi Jack -

I had no idea that you were that close and in town. We would have definitely invited you, even conspired to get you a ride, if needed.

Do try to come to some rug mornings at the TM. And to some rug club meetings.

Next Sat. the TM schedule says Austin Doyle will talk about Caucasians but in fact Daniel Walker, the TM's director, will do a walk-through of his exhibition of 16th and 17th century classical Persian fragments (Austin will appear on a later date). Some really beautiful, if worn, things. The 11am session is most accessible but come early.

And there are other rug mornings this month. Here's the TM link on their program schedule for the next few months.

And the rug club invites new members. The application form and info are on site.

So don't sit about on the wrong side of the river. Get out and see some rugs!

We could even arrange "tea" here at the apartment some time if you want. I'm retired again.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-13-2006 01:00 PM:

Dear folks -

Harold gave Bob Emry credit for having a keen eye with regard to another textile Bob had brought to the picnic.

It's hard to photagraph to advantage. Here, again, are the images I could manage at the picnic.

That's Bob Emry (pink shirt) holding his piece on the right.

Here's Bob's remembrance of what Harold said about this piece.

"The embroidery is Indian.-- I don't remember the geographic details that Harold mentioned, except I believe northern part of India. He said the embroidery technique is called "thatching" and that with this technique they managed to get about 95% of the silk showing on the front with only about 5% showing on the back. Harold said it he thought it was at least 125-150 years old, and perhaps much older---he thought it might be the oldest piece like this he had seen."

I stopped by Harold's shop at the end of my walk this morning and he said this is accurate. He also said that there is another term sometimes used to describe this kind of embroidery: couching.

Here's Bob Emry's note with the additional photos he could manage this morning.


I was hoping the sun would be shining this morning, because I think pictures of the Indian embroidery would show better in natural light. But such is not the case, so some flash pictures will have to suffice for now.

Overall the piece is about 3 by 6 feet. Notice that it made in 3 strips--seams show in some of the pictures. Use any or all, as you wish.

More later,
Bob Emry

Harold's mention of the term "couching" is one I first heard from Melissa as we were discussing the conservation of a piece I own.

In Bob's piece the couching/thatching is done so that nearly all of the embroidery thread appears on the side to be seen. In a conservation use of couching the reverse is the case.

Here is a piece that I had at the picnic that is an instance of the application of this latter kind of couching.

This approximately 4.5 by 7 feet non-Turkmen Central Asian fragment is something you have seen before Melissa Keshishian conserved it for me. She did so by couching the piece onto a cotton backing material with a color close the the ground color of the piece. In this application of couching the objective is not to have the embroidering thread show at all. So the length of the pile-side stitches is very short (they disappear into the pile) and that of the back-side stitches is much longer.

The African skirt that I also had at the picnic is mounted on its black backing material using this same kind of couching.

By the way, Bob said he found his piece of Indian embroidery at the flea market.


R. John Howe

Posted by Michael_Wendorf on 09-13-2006 01:40 PM:

Hans Memling and a tale of two traditions


The non-Turkmen Central Asian fragment has some of the most saturated color I have seen on such pieces. The use of the two forms of memling guls as major and minor design elements is also quite wonderful. Readers may wish to compare these memling gul devices with those found on the border of the large Jaff bagface. Memling guls are a simple stepped polygon form seen in many weaving areas, but here are two pieces that illustrate the use of such device to very good effect within two distinct weaving traditions.

Thanks, michael

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-13-2006 02:38 PM:

It’s nice to see it again… It looks good.

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 09-13-2006 08:43 PM:

Hi John

One of the most enjoyable afternoons I have had in quite a while. I spent some time hovering around that hay wagon, as if a moth to a, well maybe a poor choice of words . The "Tobacco" Balouch balisht was striking, and in such good condition. As I have come to find, it is difficult to get good photos under such uncontrolled conditions, but a few came out rather well.

Yes, the saf was much the suprise, and stunningly beautiful.
I look forward to next time


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-14-2006 01:29 AM:

Thank you for the close-up, Dave. You mean Jaf not saf, I guess

Any new ideas about your non-Turkmen Central Asian fragment from the luminaries of the rugdom?


Posted by James Blanchard on 09-14-2006 01:44 AM:

Hi Jack,

I seem to recall that there was a plan to get together with some other Turkotekkers to have a "live" look at your Turkmen chuval. Has that happened yet? If so, any new opinions that can be shared?


Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 09-14-2006 05:44 AM:

Hi Filiberto

No, just being my usual confusing self The Jaff was delightful, with it's texture contributing much to the overall effect of the composition,and the confetti like white ground border was most effective. The saf was stunningly beautiful.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-14-2006 05:48 AM:

Sorry, my misunderstanding.

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-14-2006 08:26 AM:

Filiberto -

There were a couple of folks who study and collect non-Turkmen Central Asian pieces at the picnic and the consensus seems to be that this piece is likely Uzbek.

Not to go on about it unduly, but one thing that has always struck me about it is the rather large scale of both the field devises and of the Caucasian-like border. I'm not sure that scale is a reliable indicator of age, but I notice that many Central Asian (I include Turkmen in this comment) pieces estimated to be older do have larger scale devices on them.


R. John Howe

Posted by James Blanchard on 09-14-2006 08:41 AM:

Hi John,

I'm sure you've look into this more than I, but here are a few Uzbek? examples from Barry O'Connell's site ( They appear related to yours. It seems that Uzbek used those types of guls a lot on their small Napramach, where they did have a "large scale" effect". I wonder if this rug is an extension of that aesthetic approach to a larger weaving.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-14-2006 11:25 AM:

red Jaf bagface

Hi John,

The returns seem to be foursquare behind the Jaf Kurd bagface exhibited at the picnic, and being a big fan of that genre, I wouldn't want to buck the tide. I thought the red looked quite bright in the image on my screen. I've noted in other examples that if they do offend (using the word advisedly, admitting to some color snobbery), an overbright red is often the culprit. Did you like the color in person?

Rich Larkin

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-14-2006 08:36 PM:

James -

As Michael Wendorf pointed out the guls on my piece and on the border of the Jaff bag at the picnic are of the Memling variety.

Two of the additional guls you offer are of this sort (the first and the third in the top row), but the others are different. Perhaps you are only offering Uzbek pieces with larger guls.

I don't know whether the scale I think I see in the devices in my fragment is a function of the larger size of this piece or not.

I am also no longer sure how those who study non-Turkmen Central Asian rugs are distinguishing Uzbek from Kyrgyz pieces. I used to think I knew, way back when we suspected that perhaps most Kyrgyz are single-wefted but it hasn't turned out that neatly. I begin to think that they are mostly drawing on designs (something that always makes me uneasy).

Rich -

I had no suspicions about any of the dyes in the Jaff bag. Of course, that doesn't mean that they're natural. But I would guess so.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-14-2006 09:36 PM:

Thanks, John. I only just grasped the point that the Memling gul Central Asian piece was yours. Quite impressive. Congrats!

Rich Larkin

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 09-14-2006 09:50 PM:

Hi Richard

It is my understanding that most cameras will intensify colors somewhat, but the colors in my photo are a pretty accurate representation of the bagface. The concensus at the picknick (or at least among those with whom I spoke) was that the colors were good - and beautiful.


Posted by James Blanchard on 09-14-2006 10:31 PM:

Hi John,

The closest analogy of the examples I offered was clearly the 3rd one in the top row. There are a lot of "Uzbek" napramach with that sort of gul design. Moreover, the Memling gul outline seems not uncommon in Uzbek weavings. But I was referring to the general layout that one sees if you look to the devices inside your Memling gul outline. That is a general design layout that seems favoured in Uzbek weavings. It includes a central diamond with a "cross design", often with "ram's horns" at the end of the crosses. The shape of the space in the four quadrants formed by the cross is similar across renditions, thourh sometimes explicitly "positive" and elsewhere implied as "negative" space. Previously I had suggested that it could also be seen in some embroideries (including felts) from that area. Here are a couple of basic examples of that layout that I found (again on Barry O'Connell's site), juxtaposed with yours and a couple of others. Now, this might be just a figment of an overactive imagination, but I do see a pattern here in this group of weavings. Do others see this?


Posted by louis_dubreuil on 09-15-2006 04:07 AM:


Bonjour James

When the John's central asia non turkmen rug was disscussed here some times ago (MYSTERY SMALL RUG, by Filiberto), we have seen the connexion between the central devices of the guls with the kaikalak motif (see also the archived discussion about Uzbek ensis). This motif is used by a wide range of weaving groups from caucasus to central asia. Differences are seen in the style of drawing (square or curvilinear, negatif/positif) but basically this is always the same thing : horns, cross shape obtained by double symetry. Some scholars see in this recurrent motif something like "birth symbol" that seem quite universal and uncountered in distant civilisation (that can militate for a very ancient origin).

This mystery rug seems not to be related to Turkmens, but I am not convinced that it could be really Uzbek as the colour palette doesn't match very well (where is the Uzbek yellow ?). Uzbek mats are also made with a higher pile and seem coarser than the mystery rug (even if this latter is old and worn), from pictures it seems to have a handle nearer to the old ersaris' one.

We have also noticed in this post that this general architecture of the memling devices with the negatif game used in the the intergul space is well known in caucasian rugs as Genje. But is seems unlikly that this rug could be caucasian. We have to notice also that the orientation of the memling hooks are not the same in the Uzbek weavings than in the classical shape that is used in the John's mystery rug.

As often in rug attribution, I think the solution can be found in the border that has a very original design and proportions and can certainly seen as a special weaving group's signature.



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-15-2006 04:16 AM:

Hi Louis,

But is seems unlikly that this rug could be caucasian
Indeed: it has asymmetric knots, open to the left.

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-15-2006 08:12 AM:

Louis -

I'm not sure that there is enough to satisfy your requirement, but there is a little yellow in this piece. Most of the diagonals in the white-ground border are orange, but across the top several of them are yellow.

And I'm not sure, but the piece seems to have a three-cord side selvege and there are traces suggesting that the selveges were this same yellow.

Don't know what that means; just reporting what I see.


R. John Howe

Posted by Horst Nitz on 09-15-2006 04:08 PM:

Hi John,

thank you ever so much for keeping us up-to-date with such society events, however far away from here. It looks as if it was a jolly good party. Although I could not share in the event, I did share the sunshine. We have been having a nice Indian summer here in Germany for the last ten days.

Congratulations to that splendid Memling göl rug and the way it has been done up. Would it be frivolous if I said it reminds me of Kirghisian reed screens?



Posted by R. John Howe on 09-15-2006 06:21 PM:

Horst -

No, as I said, I'm unsure how the Uzbek vs Kyrghyz distinction is currently being made. It is not single-wefted. The alternate warps are slightly depressed.

And I should say out loud that if there is credit to be awarded for collecting this piece it goes primarily to Filiberto, who found it in a flea market in Jordan.

It wasn't quite Caucasian enough for him and I suggested that we should capture it. He did and made it possible for it to join me here in the U.S.

I'm probably famous, in a less than desirable way for putting up, even buying, flea market rugs, but this is the first rug I have acquired in a flea market in Jordan.

It demonstrates how wonderfully broad our range of vision is nowadays, even at the flea market level.

Thanks again, Filiberto,

R. John Howe

Posted by Horst Nitz on 09-15-2006 08:04 PM:


the content of those memling göls echoes the earliest known forms on rugs like A 305 in the Vakiflar in Istanbul and Mevlana 859 in Konya. I am sure, Volkmar Gantzhorn would have a word or two to comment about it.

Regards, Horst

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-16-2006 06:31 AM:

"Tobacco" Balouch

Dear folks -

There were a couple of Balouch pieces at the picnic. I fear that my photos do not do credit to either of them. But here is the one for which I have sharper images.

A little closer partial image.

This is a Balouch rug of a famous type. Steve Price talked about it once in a salon. Here is that link:

This is a thread worth reading through since it includes some general things Michael Craycraft said.

And here is the old photograph from Hali in which this oldest known Balouch appeared.

The photo is black and white but you can make out the rug pretty clearly at the bottom center of the photo.

Here, for close comparison, is the Hali image from the link above.


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 09-16-2006 06:44 AM:

Hi John

Just one point: the "tobacco rug" designation doesn't imply that the plant on the rug is tobacco. Around 1890 (I don't recall the year, but I think that's close) the Iranian ruler awarded a contract to a British company to be the sole supplier of tobacco to the country. This resulted in a sharp increase in tobacco prices, which sparked protests (known as the tobacco rebellion) that ended with the overthrow of that shah. The black and white photo is of a mullah addressing a crowd during the tobacco rebellion. Robert Pittenger named this prayer rug design the "tobacco design", and it has stuck.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-16-2006 08:34 AM:

Hi John,

You are welcome,

It wasn't quite Caucasian enough for him
No, it wasn’t that: the rug was in too bad condition to be restored without having a 1/3 fake rug as a result.
The other option is what you did (conservation and couching) and in fact it’s exactly what I thought it should have done… But I doubt that She Who Must Obeyed would have liked something like that on a wall in our house.
On the other hand it was too interesting to let it go.

Eventually it found the right end: I’m glad that this old and nice rug has an honorable retirement in a place where it can be appreciated by knowledgeable people. And I had my material reward too, thanks John.


(I'm also glad that my internet connection is working properly again)

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-16-2006 10:59 AM:



How is the rug hunting in Jordan? What part are you in?

Kind regards!

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-16-2006 11:09 AM:

Hi Rich,

You can have an idea reading here



Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-16-2006 12:33 PM:


Thanks. Great stuff I'll enjoy perusing. It'll be like being back in Riyadh.

Louis mentioned a discussion you sponsored awhile back, MYSTERY SMALL RUG, which I assume to be about John's central Asian fragment. I haven't tracked it down. Can you help?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-16-2006 12:50 PM:

Richard, the discussion was deleted. If you want I can e-mail it to you in a zip file.

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-16-2006 06:55 PM:

Dear folks -

Another striking piece at the picnic was this sizable Uzbek rug.

Good drawing and a wide range of colors. Good pile.

Richard Isaacson, who studies non-Turkmen weaving in a scholarly way, explained that this weaver changed her mind several times as she began to weave this rug.


R. John Howe

Posted by Tim Adam on 09-16-2006 07:31 PM:

Hi John,

What I find interesting about those changes is that they suggest that the weavers had similar asthetic values to the ones we have today (at least along some dimensions). The white ground border, for example, provides a much more satisfying contrast than the border the weaver started with.

Another dimension is proportions (not for this piece though). Sometimes weavers change the width of the border, etc. I'd say these changes are typically for the better, from a western point of view, which suggests that the weavers themselves thought about these issues in similar ways.



Posted by R. John Howe on 09-16-2006 09:47 PM:

Tim -

Interesting comment. I hadn't noticed that there might be indicators of that possibility in view here.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-17-2006 07:16 AM:

Dear folks -

This Kugrat "mirror bag" rises a bit above what we often see in Kurgrat pieces.

A carefully composed compartmented design (notice how effective the minor border is), with a good range of colors and a subtle diagonal use of a striking blue and milder green.


R. John Howe

Posted by Steve Price on 09-17-2006 09:26 AM:

Hi All

The subject of tobacco rugs reminded me of one that hangs in my home. Finally found a few minutes to photograph it.

It has terrific wool, and some of the small details have a luster that made me wonder whether they might be silk highlights.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 09-17-2006 11:19 AM:

No smoking on TurkoTek

Hey Steve,


Rich Larkin

Posted by David R.E. Hunt on 09-17-2006 11:37 AM:

Hi Steve, John

Yes, it is sometimes difficult to tell silk from wool. I found a new color of silk in my prayer rug while looking it over the other day, pile which I had previously thought to be wool. I suspect that a thorough study of colors and structure of a rug are rather more complicated than many realize. I takes time, paitence and considerable knowledge of structure and materials to adequately interpret a rug.

Follow this link to some larger, detailed images of the above "Balouch" balisht, the Tiemuri bagface (?) to the immediate right, and an interesting detail image of the tassels on a certain raffia skirt.

With the exception of the Tiemuri bagface, which was so reflective of light that the colors and details were rendered almost incomprehensible to the naked eye let alone the photographic lens, all of the photos are as taken and unaltered in any way. The Tiemure images were treated to a Gamma correction using the Irfanview photo editing program.

I enjoyed making the acquaintance of several local collectors at this IHBS Picnic and discussing our mutual interests in this regard. Anyone interested in further pursuing these discussions please feel free to e-mail me at


Posted by Steve Price on 09-17-2006 11:38 AM:

Hi Rich

Thanks. It's a very handsome little rug; color on my monitor looks too red, it's more in the direction of rust. And who could live in Richmond without at least one tobacco rug?


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-17-2006 02:14 PM:

Dear folks -

I didn't do the color usage in the Kungrat mirror bag above full justice. In fact the diagonal use of color operates in two directions with different colors. A nice complexity likely experienced visually as richness.

Pile khorjin (saddle bag) pieces are infrequent among the Turkmen formats most usually encountered. Complete Turkmen khorjin sets seems likely to verge onto rarity. But someone at the picnic had one.

A little closer look at one side of it.

In a cursory survey of some of the Turkmen books within reach, I was able to identify about six other published complete Turkmen khorjin sets. Two were Tekke, one Saryk, one Yomut and a couple Ersari but with different designs. (And a single Ersari khorjin face hangs on the wall to my right as I type.)

So complete Turkmen khorjin sets are perhaps not quite rare, but are noteworthy when they are encountered.

Some very attractive use of two blues in this piece.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-17-2006 02:37 PM:

Dear folks -

I posted the piece below way up front in this series, but just to make sure that you knew what its back looks like.

But it likely deserves a little more comment, since it has some interesting features.

Bob Emry and I talked about it today at the flea market with a copy of the front and back in hand.

Bob thinks it is pretty definitely south Persian, likely Qashqua'i. He did not think, as I did, that the back is particularly unusual, saying that this kind of brocading is fairly frequent in south Persian pieces.

I looked about a bit but haven't yet found anything in my south Persian references with something like this front or back.

Bob noticed one other thing about the design on the pile front of this piece that I should have, but hadn't, noticed immediately. This is a directional design with pretty clear plant forms. For some reason the weaver has presented this design rotated 90 degrees to the left of what would be its expected orientation. That move does affect the aesthetic effectiveness of this bag for me.

Maybe others will have additional and different thoughts.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-17-2006 05:39 PM:

Dear folks -

The piece below is Caucasian flatweave. Silk, as I recall.

Harold placed it east on the basis of its border.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-18-2006 07:12 AM:

Dear folks -

A little more on the south Persian bag above with the fancy back.

Bob Emry said at the flea market yesterday that he had seen similar backs on south Persian (Qashqa'i in particular) pieces.

By day's end he sent me this image:

Here is his associated comment:


I dug up one of my S.W. Persian bags (Qashqai I presume) that has its back, with elaborate design---reminiscent of the back of the bag at the picnic.? I'm attaching a picture here.

You're welcome to use it as you wish.

Bob Emry"

Thanks, Bob.

I have a Bakhtiari salt bag with a similar, but unbanded, lattice back that I hadn't associated with the one on the picnic bag.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-18-2006 07:26 AM:

Uzbek "Chinakap"

Dear folks -

Another interesting piece shown at the picnic is this one:

This piece is single-wefted and full pile on both sides with the same design. Its shape is like the "okbash" or tent pole covers and its mouth is large enough to accept a bundled half of tent poles for a trellis tent.

Nevertheless, Elena Tzareva has suggested that these bags were used to carry china tea cups. She calls them "chinakaps."

I own a quite similar piece with color that is perhaps not quite as good (although the photos below were taken indoors at night with a flash).

A little closer look.

One attractive feature is the dramatic horse hair tassles.

The fact that these two pieces, despite being single-wefted, are seen to be Uzbek, is the sort of finding that has complicated attribution of non-Turkmen Central Asian weaving.

My piece has been published three times, usually without attribution, and never before with the indication that I own it.


R. John Howe

Posted by Frank Martin Diehr on 09-18-2006 12:19 PM:

"tobacco" balisht

Hi folks

this is my first official post as a registeresd user, and funny how so many threads veer towards the Baluch pieces ...

I actually published Dave's tobacco patterned balisht in my first book as plate 96. It then belonged to James A. Bennet, a household name in rugdom, he stated that it contains some silk. I have always liked that piece, and that pattern. The excellent blue ground tobacco prayer rug also further up in this thread and often published, also made its way from England to north America, and was last seen in a Canadian Baluch collection.


Posted by Steve Price on 09-18-2006 12:33 PM:

Hi Folks

I have this uneasy feeling that we're on the verge of adopting "tobacco pattern" as a descriptor of a particular field design on Belouch group rugs. I don't think it's what Bob Pittenger had in mind when he coined the term, and my inclination is to respect his use of it.

As a reminder, here's the photo from which the description originates:

You'll notice that the field design is not visible in the photo; just that it's a dark prayer rug with a fairly characteristic border. HALI selected this Belouch group prayer rug to illustrate on the same page, and more likely than not, the field design is the same as the one in the black and white photo. But the one on which the mullah is kneeling is definitely a prayer design, but only maybe this field design.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-19-2006 01:49 AM:

Welcome aboard, Frank.

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-19-2006 04:45 AM:

Dear folks -

The piece below is an Ersari torba with an ikat-influenced design.

It has a darker palette than is usual and striking graphics.

The owner, asked to comment on it, said simply that she buys primarily on the basis of colors and designs that appeal to her and that she really likes this piece.

Case closed.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-19-2006 04:54 AM:

Dear folks -

The piece below is a Turkmen "kalyk."

Although, not rare, pieces in this format are not frequently encountered.

They are usually, nowadays, seen to have been used on bridal camels, either on the chest of the camel (asmalyks would be placed on the camel's sides) or on the front top of the bride's litter. But there is some continuing debate about whether we've got such usage completely right.

I think this one was attributed to the Yomut.

It has an unusual feature in that the drawing often seems to omit outlining at the edges of some of the field devices. This "ton-sur-ton" usage goes back to Mughul weaving.

A sober, subtle treatment.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-19-2006 05:00 AM:

Dear folks -

And while we're commenting on Turkmen pieces, here, again, is a chuval of David Hunt's that we have discussed on Turkotek.

The sun brought out its nice "robbin's-egg" blue to good advantage. The "punch" of the four large elem devices drew comment.


R. John Howe

Posted by R. John Howe on 09-24-2006 04:33 PM:

Dear folks -

Jeff Krauss, a collector of Japanese textiles, brought two to our local rug club picnic. As you may have noticed on the travel board, he has been traveling in Europe and has just been able to get me some description of them.

Here is the first one:

And a back view.

Here's Jeff's description of it:

"The garment is a yukata, a cotton cousin of the silk kimono garment. It is used as an informal garment around the house, like a bathrobe. Hotels in Japan today provide yukatas for their guests. The unique feature of the piece I was wearing is the dye technique. It is shibori, a type of resist dyeing. Specifically the pattern is called yanagi, which means willow tree. It is done by pleating the fabric irregularly with the fingers, wrapping it around a thick rope or pipe, and then wrapping thread around the rope or pipe to hold it all in place. Only the parts of the fabric on the outside receive the dye, the parts inside the pleats and touching the rope or pipe do not. This yukata is pre-WW2, probably from the 1920s or 1930s."

Jeff's second Japanese textile looked like this:

Jeff described this second piece as follows:

"The large blue patchwork piece is made up of remnants of a variety of indigo-dyed cotton fabrics. Many of them are stripes and many have ikat-dyed sections, although from a distance you can't see the detail...(ed. Jeff has provided a close-up)

"This piece probably started as a futon cover, but whether it continued to be used that way after the patches were added is hard to tell."

My thanks to Jeff for these comments.


R. John Howe