Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-14-2007 08:35 AM:

Aimaq Balouch?

Hello all.

I bought this bag this weekend on a Netherland auction.

Now i saw in one of Turkotek discussion a thread about Aimaq carpets. This bag is 108/60 cm. What do you mean about the orign?


Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-14-2007 09:39 AM:

...or Mushwani...

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-14-2007 10:17 AM:

Hi Kirsten,

... or Timuri, maybe?
While our Balouch-o-philes make up their minds, you can read this thread, it could be of some help:
Or perhaps not.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-14-2007 12:25 PM:

Hi Kirsten.

OOOOHH!! I like, I like. It looks as though it needs a bath. It has a great job of drawing that positive/negative design. Hard to make out what is going on with those colors. The image is a bit dark on the monitor I am looking at. The home monitor usually shows the rugs to better advantage, and I look forward to seeing it there.

It looks like the back is intact. Is that side worth looking at?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-14-2007 01:41 PM:

Filiberto's link

Hey folks,

Everybody knows that the worst sin you can commit on Turkotek (even worse than posting bad orange) is to dredge up the old controversy for another go-round. So why would anyone do it? (Ask Adam and Eve.)

Anyway, I was looking at the link Filiberto put up for Kirsten's bag. There was a spirited discussion of a Baluch type pile rug George Potter had posted that was in two pieces and sewn up the middle to make a single rug. The discussion was to the point whether that was the original purpose of the weaver, or an attempt to cut out a bad place in the original rug. It started out that people thought the intentional weaving in two pieces unlikely; but gradually, comments came in that the phenomenon was not uncommon among Afghanistan products in the 70's. For what it's worth, I used to see quite a few of them in the hands of a dealer near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The guy was Afghani himself and got them from that country. I never saw one that seemed very old, although some of the examples in the link look old.

Getting to Kirsten's example, the link doesn't seem to provide much of an answer as to source, except to put the same names out that Kirsten suggested. A very confusing subject IMHO. It's so much easier to say "Baluch." It covers a multitude of sins. Who needs accuracy?

I think the design works very well in her bag.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Steve Price on 03-14-2007 01:53 PM:

Hi Rich

I prefer "Belouch group", which is sufficiently vague to avoid offending the purists.


Steve Price

Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-14-2007 03:03 PM:

OOOH Rich.

You are the kind of very charming guy

I will get the package in two days, than i will see if i have to scrub my bag!

Thank you Filiberto, this thread was the one where i found something about Aimak, Mushwani and this speciall pattern.

And Steve, you are right, whenever i saw Afghan bags and rugs looking like this i ever said, hey, its a balouch, what else. But who am i to become absorded in this subjekt before getting a little bit older with this.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-14-2007 06:28 PM:

Hi Kirsten,

I would be telling you to apply the "charming guy" label to Filiberto, but that would be "ad hominem," against the rules

I see you bought it, "sight unseen." Very brave. I will be interested to have your opinion about the color and other important issues. I predict you will like the rug better than you expected.

Steve is right, of course, "Baluch group" works very well, and I doubt we will ever get definitive labels for all these pieces, especially the old ones. It is important, however, to keep trying to fill out the knowledge curve.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-14-2007 08:00 PM:

Hey Kirsten,

You probably won't be charmed by this comment. On my home monitor, your bag looks as though it may have some synthetic red that has faded on the surface. It is hard to tell. I am very curious to know how you find the colors when it arrives.

Even if there is some fugitive color in there, I like the piece. The design is very powerful and effective on that scale. Furthermore, though I usually find discussions of "authentic tribal" rugs versus "commercial" rugs to be tedious, I am also intrigued by the obvious fact that this type of "Baluch group" piece is both woven for and used as a practical artifact in a cultural context. The wear is on it.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Jack Williams on 03-14-2007 11:30 PM:

close to closure

I think the closure system is interesting. It appears to be a simple series of loops that are held shut by inserting a stick. That makes this a working bag...but unlike a turkmen chuval, it is long and narrow. I understand that these are/were used in afganistan attached to donkeys,motorcycles, bikes, camels, people. I've seen pictures and been told that they carry everything you can imagine from produce to cement blocks.

I think that this design would be identified more with mashwani if we followed traditional beliefs about design elements. I'm not so sure about anything now. Gene is turning up a lot of interesting information. We have seen that this type of design is the stock in trade for what is called "Kuchi" and is often made commonly in some towns north and east of Herat...but who makes them is not very clear.

I do like this particular bag with the thick hairs at one end and thin hair at the other. And being a bag, it has definitly been used. I buy a lot of things on line myself...and about 80 percent of the time have been more than satisfied.

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-15-2007 05:27 AM:


Hi all,

Lets see..."Baluch type"; here's what I remember so far:

Aimaq - Farsi/Dari speakers, Turko-mongolian origin. Mentioned 500 years ago in "Baburnama" as different from Timurid. Turks. N. Afghanistan. One person claims thy're nomadic turko-farsi versions of Kuchis. Will check further.
Taimuri - Farsi speakers...maybe Khurasan, Iran. Are they Turk's too? Iranian Aimaqs? The name seems to speak of Timurlame and the Timurids. Designs are quite distinctive and beautiful; Brother Jack would sell his Vincent Black Shadow for one particular rug.
Taimani - Farsi speakers, Afghanistan; Ghowr area, some in Farah. poor as church mice; reputedly very intelligent. Not sure of their origin. Bags, loosely woven with strong geometric designs. (There was a thread on this--not archived).
Mushwani - Pushtu speakers, Sarbani Pushtuns, western Afghanistan. dark curliques and colors.
Hazara - Shia, left remnants of Ghengis Khan's troops. Now Dari speakers, Central Afghanistan; copy artists per Jerry Anderson.
Ferdoz Area - Arab-Baluch: Arabic or Farsi or Baluch speakers. Colorful. Afshar influence?
Seistan Area - Baluch speaking tribes allegedly located 20 km west of Zabul.. Color! Tre-Mirhab prayer carpets; yellow borders. Afshar influences?
Bahlul - Baluch tribe or trade name from in W. Iran Seistan-wa-Baluchistan around Zahedan; weave very fine carpets.
Kurd (N.Pak baluchistan-W Iran) - somehow there are Kurds connected to the Brauhui (Brahui has allegedy a Dravadian root to the language with strong Baluch overlay while Kurdish is the closest language to Baluch)...JA said they made carpets...don't know where.
Jan Beg: Baluch speakers from Iranian Khurasan, stretching into Turkmenistan. Blue field, fine, minaKhani type.
Salar Khani: Baluch speakers from Iranian Khurasan; weave yellow and red carpets with cross hatch guls.
Muhlid Khani: Baluch speakers from Iranian Khurasan; weave dark purplish carpets with turkman like guls in them.
Kurds: NE Iran. Can weave Baluch like designs.
Kuchis?? Pashtun speaking, Ghilzai Pashtun nomads movng from the Indus valley to the Central Asian Oasises for 500 years; copy artists? Not at all sure they actually make carpets.
Turbat-i-Haydarreh: Iranian area with some Baluch speakers; a little box with a kind of cross on top is usually an idicator it comes from that area.
Turbat-i-Jam: Iranian city with Baluch around it...forgot what JA said about it. Previsouls called Turbat-i-shaykh jam

I'm sure there are more distinctions. Getting into the proliferation of ethnic groups and putting them into their historical place reveals something about their weavings. Baluch, for instance, were around Kerman as late as mid-late 1800's which might explain Afshar/Kamseh federation/baluch cross-over designs. And the Baluch would intermarry.

By the way, I'm sure Baluch wove rugs to sell...Edwards mentions Baluch rugs being marketed in Mashhad, Firdows, etc, and his knowledge went back to turn of the century. Jerry A. seemed to think by 1940 the tribal structure had eroded. No reason to think traders didn't bring up chemical dyes...but maybe the Baluch were more immune because of abject poverty. Edwards mentions that "camel ground" (no way they could afford camel hair) started occuring because it was dye needed for natural wool. So, rather than "turn of century", a Baluch pre-1940 should be regarded as really collectable.

Lad Duane was fortunate; he got to travel the whole area from Ghowr to Farah before things were tightened up and probably knows the current conditions of the groups in Afghanistan better than most.

Very Very Nice bag. looks complete. I'm partial to bags. They're working items. You see then on bicycles, motorbikes, you see long bags on working donkeys (which look the size of Juwals) today in Herat.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-15-2007 08:44 AM:


This is a balisht, right? Any reason to think otherwise? Am I missing something? Has "Balisht" been repealed?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Steve Price on 03-15-2007 08:59 AM:

Hi Rich,

Yup, it's a balischt alright. Skinner's used to have an auctioneer (in the days when their sales were in Bolton) who took obvious delight in the way the words, Belouch balischt rolled off his tongue. It would be a great disservice to him if the word was abandoned.


Steve Price

Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-15-2007 09:10 AM:

Yes...Balisht...that works.

Found on JBOC:

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-15-2007 09:13 AM:


That looks suspiciously familiar to me...Did I give it to Jack many years ago? Looks Taimani to me. Shame we can't retrieve that thread.

Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-15-2007 03:09 PM:

Hi Steve,

If that Skinner auctioneer is, as I suspect, my good friend, Steve Fletcher (Skinner/Bolton is my next door neighbor), he also used to have them hang the balisht or bagface high on the display roundel. As it would come around and into view, he would say, "Here's a small carpet. It was woven for use in a studio apartment." Very corny.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Steve Price on 03-15-2007 03:43 PM:

Hi Rich

It might be the same auctioneer, but I don't remember that quip (and it's bad enough to have stuck in my memory). He would pronounce, very slowly, "Lot (whatever the lot number was for the piece), a BeLOUCH BaLISCHT", with heavy emphasis on the second syllables of the last two words.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-15-2007 06:09 PM:

Sounds like Fletcher to me.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Stephen Louw on 03-16-2007 04:15 AM:

And how about this one! In my view, it cannot be classified more precisely than 'baluch group' or even 'baluch style'.

However, the dealers I bought it from -- names deleted -- believe firmly that it should be classified as an 'Aimaq rug'. They also date it to the 3rd quarter of the 19th century, which seems about an accurate a guesstimate to me as the fifth or even sixth quarters. I personally don't believe we have the fieldwork or the reference pieces to make more accurate attributions.

Out of interest, this is what dealer's name, deleted says about this and other Aimaq rugs:

Full Description: we presently do not know where this type of Aimaq, generally less finely woven and more colorful that the Ghorian type, originates other than somewhere in northern Afghanistan.. This particular example features a reciprocal octangonal gul design format that resembles Seljuk work. The filler in the cartouch elements that form the octagons is an applique design similiar to that found in the saddle blankets seen in the horsemen border of the Pazyrzk carpet.

Size: 153cm(H) x 95cm(W) / 5'0(H) x 3'1"(W)

Materials: wool, camel, and goat

Structure / Technique: pile, symmetrical knot

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-16-2007 04:49 AM:

Hi Stephen,

Are you sure you sent the picture to me? Unless Yahoo mail is delayed...


Posted by Steve Price on 03-16-2007 06:33 AM:


The images are inserted into Stephen's post. I also deleted the name of the dealer from whom the rug was purchased. I agree that his opinion holds weight, but felt as though our non-promotional policy required that either he not be mentioned as the vendor or that he not be cited as the expert whose opinion you had. I'm not sure whether the choice I made was the best one; I apologize to all concerned if any offense is taken.


Steve Price

Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-16-2007 06:45 AM:


This should be mine!

I was always looking forward to buy a Bordjalou-Kasak with this wonderful running-dog-border. But if you will give me this Balouch i am pleased as well.


Posted by Gene Williams on 03-16-2007 06:56 AM:



That is an absolutely gorgeous carpet. If you don't mind, I'll print off the picture. I'm visiting a couple of Herat carpet guys this week and will ask about it (as well as about James' Kelim).

I'm also going to research the whole Aimaq question. A lot of knowledge has been lost out here 30 years of war, 10 years of drought. I get a lot of contradictory stories..I distrust most everything told to me by Tadjiks about Pushtun geneology for instance...but there are a couple of old profssors billed as the guardians of the history of the area who will know.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-16-2007 10:00 AM:

Hey Stephen,

That's a winner. It feels old to me. I note with interest the symmetrical knotting. Also, the irregular knotting texture evidenced by the image of the back. As to the direct link to the saddle blankets in the Pazyrzk carpet, I sense a Jerry Anderson commentary in the immediate offing. The drawing of those devices, both in your piece and in Kirsten's beginning the thread, is very suggestive of felts.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-16-2007 02:37 PM:


Richard, Stephen,

It has that Baluch feel...yet not quite quite ...oh there's just something different.

Richard, you're right. When presented with a contradiction, Jerry would say something like, "Baluch girl married to a xxxx man. She learned to weave the Baluch designs at here new home she had access to a different tradition with different dyes..used them but kept the basis of what she knew." Something along those lines. I'll have to go back and read Tom Cole's interview "From the Horse's Mouth" again.

I can't wait to talk to some people here about it.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-16-2007 05:16 PM:


Also, I thought Jerry was laying ultimate blame for some of these carpets with the Scythians.

As for Baluch feel, yet not quite, haven't we agreed that about a thousand different groups turn out to have a hand in the "Baluch rug" game? I am sure anyone carrying this rug up to the gate at Baluch heaven will get in.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-17-2007 01:21 AM:



I think Jerry's point was that Scythians (Sakas) took over Seistan, which they did. I also think he was edging toward pan-Aryanism... I sure he regarded Baluch, Kurd, and Pushtun as Aryan..which they are.

He wrote Boucher and McCoy-Jones hugely long letters typed on one of those manual typewriters which had a blue and red part of the ribbon so you could highlight stuff. I wish I had access to those letters. Wonder if the Boucher estate kept them?


Posted by James Blanchard on 03-17-2007 09:30 AM:

Hi all,

First let me say that I really like Kirsten's bag, and love that small rug of Stephen's. But much more of this sort of thing and there might have to be some consideration of renaming this forum "Baluchotek".

Obviously, much has been written about classification of Baluch people groups and weavings, and based even on my limited reading there remains some inconsistency between writers and scholars.

One observation that I have made is that dealers in the region seem to use a mix of tribal affiliation, location and design to designate weavings. For example, it seems that some Afghan dealers clearly label a weaving group as "Mushwani", and they seem to be either the originators or perhaps the most prolific producers of rugs and bags with a basic design that is similar to Kirsten's and Stephen's weavings. However, as is obvious from the two examples in this thread, the basic design is also used by other weaving groups. It is my understanding that this is sort of similar to the designation "Dokhtar-i-Ghazi". It seems to be both a designation of a particular design, as well as a recognized weaving group.

With respect to Aimaq, I was recently told by an experienced Afghan dealer (from Herat) that he classifies four weaving groups into the "Aimaq" bin: 1) Taimani, 2) Firoz Kohi, 3) Suri and, 4) Timuri. He differentiates this group from other "Baluch" groups, and indicates that they are seen as being more "nomadic".

Finally, here are a couple more pieces from our small collection that bear some design similarities. The first is a small mat with luxurious wool, and a sombre palette that is livened up with a bit of nice light blue. I am quite sure that it is considerably more modern than Kirsten's and Stephen's; the drawing doesn't look as "old", it has small bits of bright pink that have thankfully faded out on the front, and some of the brown areas have just started to corrode a bit. The second is my daughter's Baluch saddle cover.


Posted by Gene Williams on 03-18-2007 10:58 AM:


Richard and Chuck,

First, both of you all are right about the Aimaqs. I asked numerous people in Herat and got various answers..ranging from "Farsi speaking nomads in Badghis" to "Sunni-Hazarras."

Finally, I just talked to a distinguised Tadjik Malik in a town north of Herat. He said the Aimaq were known as Char Aimaq. They had four sections, Taimani, Firozkohi, Jamshidi, and Hazara. When asked about the Hazara, he clarified that these are not the Hazara proper but a small group in Badghis who are Sunni, not Shia. He said they are (or were) nomadic.

A trip to the Joshua tree on Google shows a map of their distrbution, Mostly Central Badghis province but with some along the border with Iran in Farah and Herat Provinces. However, the Joshua tree also includes the Timuri in the Aimaq (making it "Panj Aimaz"??). All speak Farsi/Dari. They are Mongolian/Turkic but really mixed.

However, Google also shows that the confederation was put together by a Kakar Pashtun. The Kakars allegedly are the off spring of the Ismael Ghorghust branch of Pashtoons...inhabiting Baluchistan (Zorb valley) for the most part but with elements in Punjab, Sind, India and somehow N.Afghanistan.

So, Hazaras do exist in Qala-ye-Now but they are Sunni Aimaqs. and the Kakar story maybe explains the Baluch origin of the designs. Fascinating!! As I said Lad Duane got to travel to Badghis...I may be able to do so too in a week and sit down with some Aimaqs to get their story and see what they're weaving. Will let you all know what I found out.

Oh yes, for any train fanatics, I just got to see a train transit the border crossing point at Toraghundi from Turkmenistan into Herat province...the track only goes 1/2 mile into Afghanistan to an "inland port" area...but its the only track in all of Afghanistan. I took a picture.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-18-2007 10:59 AM:

Hi James,

"Baluchotek," it has a certain ring to it. Trips off the tongue.

Your daughter's piece would feel right at home with those Pazyrzk horses. I don't recall having seen anything like that.


I hope you plan to show us more of your "Aimaq" when it arrives.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-18-2007 11:20 AM:


and sit down with some Aimaqs to get their story and see what they're weaving
Interesting. If you have the opportunity, ask a lot of questions and… good luck!

James, I envy your daughter's Baluch saddle cover.


Posted by James Blanchard on 03-18-2007 11:21 AM:

Hi Richard,

Frank Diehr presented the only other published example that I have found of this type of horse saddle cover in his ""Treasured Baluch Pieces from Private Collections" (P. 95). His example has a blue background and red medallion, but is otherwise very similar in design. He mentions that it is "rare".



Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-18-2007 01:35 PM:

Hi Rich.

Are you joking?

Don´t you remember the differences between the german and the dutch nations? It is proper for both of us to keep the other package yet!


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-18-2007 02:32 PM:

Hi Kirsten,

Nope, not joking. I'll be patient.

Gene, With all that variety, detail and uncertainty in the makeup of the Aimaq, how will you be able to draw any useful conclusions about the rugs on this thread? Fascinating stuff, though. I envy you your facility with all these ethnic groups.

Rich Larkin

Posted by James Blanchard on 03-18-2007 02:42 PM:

Hi Richard,

When having supper with a couple of Afghan dealers a while back I asked them if they could help me to understand the different Baluch families and tribes and sub-tribes. The older gentleman (from Herat) said it was easier to classify the rugs than the people...

I am finally putting together a short written piece based on my conversations with him, which includes his attributions and comments on a number of the pieces in Frank Diehr's "Three Dusty Dozen: Antique Baluch Rugs".


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-18-2007 02:45 PM:


I look forward to reading that. Will you post it here?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 03-19-2007 07:12 PM:

Hi Gene, James,

I'm glad you were able to get your questions answered Gene; that is always a challenge in that part of the world. Every little thing takes on a life of its own, and fact and fiction get comingled. Kinda like talking to a rug dealer. It's my understanding (I think I read it somewhere) that the word Hazara is also a way of expressing the number "1000", and that the Aimaq Hazara are supposed to be descendants of someone's "personal thousand man horde", or something like that.


Like that saddle rug...

Sorry it took so long to get back to you; our DSL has been down for almost a week. Welcome to the new ATT...

Chuck Wagner:

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-20-2007 03:39 AM:



You are right about the origin of Hazara. They really are the remnents of Ghengis Khan's Mongol troops; they look mongol and don't intermarry. They are mentioned in the Baburnama (written c1500).

They occupy the Hazarat, central Hindu Kush..and have a significant presence in kabul and even down into Pakistan. They traditionally in the big cities occupied the lowest run on the social ladder

But the Hazara are Shia. There is great distrust of them in Afghanistan, because of that. The Taliban slaughtered 1000's of them.

The key to the Aimaq that they are Sunni. One guy even said, "they are the good Hazara." I didn't even know that there were Sunni Hazara.

So, the Aimaq confederation is an odd one...Hazara Mongolian Sunnis, Taimani (from the same area generally as the Hazara),...I think they all had a Turkish sort of origin but all speak Farsi. And were the Timuri fall into this is a question..I've heard that in Iran, the Aimaq are actually called the Timuri.


Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-20-2007 07:24 AM:

Hello Richard.

UUUhhh...its a totaly different bag!

Well, purple turns to brown, maybe the blue is good... anilin is greeting.

Here some shots. Cotton white summak on the top, you see. The back is ok. The front clean. I feel depressed! I think it will be two Martini at lunch!


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-20-2007 08:00 AM:


Oooh Kirsten, that hurts. I was hoping it was just dirty with a good color underneath. Clean it up anyway and put a pillow in it. It will make a good cushion. I still like the drawing.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Kirsten Karrock on 03-20-2007 08:15 AM:

Yes, Richard.

But really, what differences with the light. Is the light in the Netherlands so crazy? Of course, it is. This sort of light that produce a horrible quality of tomatoes, looking dark red but tasting like water. And every winter billions of germans run to the supermarket to buy this dull stuff. And now they flopped me, pretend a sweet-tasting cherry-tomatoe from Italy, but, of course, i get the one from Nishni-Nowgorod!


Posted by Gene Williams on 03-21-2007 02:03 AM:

Aimaq and Taimani


Going back to the unsaved Taimani thread, it was noted that the Taimani used a purple dye that rapidly changed to brown. From the looks of the back of your bag...could be the same type of dye...seeing as how Aimaq do have a Taimani contingent.

I'll repost several Taimani bags and the analysis of each for comparison if you think it worthwhile.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-21-2007 02:14 AM:


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-21-2007 08:07 AM:

Hi Filiberto,

Easily explained. Gene was going to add a note to James, but it slipped his mind and he sent off the post without it. The note was going to be to remind James not to buy any of those tomatoes Kirsten was talking about next time he was in Holland.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Unregistered on 03-21-2007 09:13 AM:

Tomato, tomahto...

I think Richard is right, and I will avoid the devious dark Dutch tomatoes...

Thankfully, the cherry tomatoes are fabulous this time of year in South India.

In my native land (Canada), there is a profusion of home garden tomatoes (or as some Canadians still say "tomahtoes") during the later part of our short summer, so many in fact that when I worked as a "country" doctor we would find bags full of them on our doorstep in the morning. I think they reproduce asexually at night in those climes. We would eat as many as possible, can a bunch more, and try to give the rest away to any city-dwelling relatives who weren't also growing their own ton of tomatoes in the back yard. In the winter, the situation is completely the opposite. Then you are left scrounding through the aisles of supermarkets to find large, hard tomatoes that have been strip-mined somewhere in Texas (kudos to Garrison Keillor for this image). Then we are longing for those mounds of red, ripe back garden tomatoes that we couldn't seem to get rid of in the summer.

So maybe Canadian tomatoes are an appropriate metaphor for Baluch rugs. How many of us have devalued the lovely Baluch pieces when they seemed plentiful, but now long for those delectable pieces with the profusion of the less appealing versions that are so plentiful now...


Posted by James Blanchard on 03-21-2007 09:29 AM:

Sorry about the "Unregistered" post. That was me. I'm not sure what mistake I made...


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-21-2007 09:34 AM:

You simply forgot to log in.

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-21-2007 12:29 PM:


and the uncompleted sentence was"(I think):

"James, what do you think about that purple back?

I have these brief periods of black-outs you know. And it not the fault of the Chevis either.


Posted by Gene Williams on 03-21-2007 01:03 PM:

Timuri and Aimaq

Hi all,

There are two popular web articles on the on Tom Coles site and One on JBOC's SpongoBongo. Both are highly interesting. Both have some suspect info in them:

For instance, the article published in Tom Cole's site refers to Brahui speakers between Herat and Farah. They don't exist. I believe the only place you'll find Brahui speakers is SE-S-SW of Quetta. The Khan of Kalat was a Brahui.

In the article on Spongobongo..there are some wrong dates. The siege of Herat by the Persians was 1839, not 1850. That article also walks through the geneology of Chingirz Khan and their offspring. However, by the time of Timurlame, the Mongol part of their heritage slipped and they and all the Timurids who followed over the net 120 years spoke and wrote in Turkish (and wrote poetry and many spoke Farsi as well). Babur chose to write his memoirs in Chagatai Turkish. And he felt a kinship to the Turcoman Anatolian Kizilbash who expelled the Uzbeks from Mashhad and Herat in 1528 witness the letters he wrote them.

Anyway, both articles are worth a read. Neither tells you who are the Kerozkohe, or Jamshedi or explain very well the origin of the Aimaq confederation. .Both articles differentiate carpets...but I'm not convinced definitively. You might come out more confused than when you began.


Posted by James Blanchard on 03-21-2007 01:04 PM:


Hi Gene,

Better to be purple (or pink) on the back than on the front...

On Kirsten's weaving, my guess is that the purple was used on brown wool, which now dominates the colouring of the front after the purple has faded out.

Some Baluch group weavers certainly seemed to take to the new and colourful synthetic dyes when they became available. Luckily, many of them seem to be fugitive, and a lot of them seem not to run that much. I have a few newer Baluch weavings that I find quite appealing that would have been garish if the pink or purple colours had not faded away. The one colour that seems to be resistant to fading is that harsh orange that one often sees in relatively recent Baluch weavings. Unfortunately, it seems to be a colour not found in nature, and impervious to all of Nature's attempts to tone it down.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-21-2007 05:54 PM:

Zucchini is like that too.

Hi Gene:

There's no "might" about it. We will all be confused as heck after reading those articles. But I love reading your reports on who got left after Genghis Khan or Tamerlane, or whomever. If you're just making it up, don't tell me.

James, good point on the analogous fates of tomatoes and Baluch rugs. If you think about it, some of the best Baluch have a red not that far removed from a first class tomato.

Rich Larkin

Posted by James Blanchard on 03-22-2007 03:46 AM:

Hi Gene and all,

There is a very good article by Brian Spooner on the social structure of the Baluch in the introductory sections of Frank Diehr's "Treasured Baluch Pieces from Private Collections". He makes a very interesting observation about the Baluch social structure being organized such that it is much more inclined to integrate wafarers and strangers into their social and family structure than other tribal structures such as the Turkmen. Conceptually, the successful expansion of the Baluch society and language groups over such a wide area was not through conquest, but rather through assimilation. To the extent that this social construct applies, this might explain why grouping Baluch tribes and families is somewhat more complex than many other tribal groups. Moreover, it might also explain the relatively wider pool of rug design and structure than one sees with other weaving groups in the region.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 03-22-2007 08:47 AM:


That's a very interesting observation. I haven't seen the book. The propensity for assimilation must go beyond culture and ethnicity. If there is a single hallmark of the greater Baluch group of weavings, it must be the assimilation of design that has evidently taken place. Some of the written commentary that has come out over the years has dismissed this phenomenon with mild contempt, referring to the weavers as mere copyists. However, I always considered the ability of those weavers to make so many varied designs "their own" to be a strength.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Barry O'Connell on 03-22-2007 09:52 AM:

Sorry to intrude on your discussion. Gene takes me to task for an imagined error stating, "The siege of Herat by the Persians was 1839, not 1850." In fact Gene is muddling history a bit. The Persians besieged Herat in 1838, 1852, and 1856. I referred to the later 1856 (not 1850) siege because it is the one that plays an important point in the story. I am sure there are many errors in my Rug Notes but I do not think this was one of them.
Thank you,
Barry O'Connell

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-22-2007 10:28 AM:

Not taking JBOC to task at all


i wasn't taking you to task. ...I greatly treasure the site you've put together; what a resource it is..and I always refer new rugophiles here in Afghanistan, who want to learn something, to that site..

As for the article, its the best on the Timuri available that I've found. And I didn't even think that the article I was referring to was was written by you; I thought you had just posted it on your site and weren't responsible for the content at all.

I should have but the link in but out here, sometimes that's hard to do. here it is:

Anyway, Its really nice to see a post from you. Hope you'll share your observations on rugs with us.


Posted by Barry O'Connell on 03-22-2007 11:05 AM:

Hello Gene,
Thank you for your kind words. You re gracious which is a weakness of mine. I tend to be cranky and ill-tempered. Since Turkotek is cultured conversation between nice people I do not fit in so I will not respond here. I had a great deal of fun writing that article and am glad someone still finds time to read it. Special thanks to Steve Price who was kind enough to let me respond here.
Barry O'Connell

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-22-2007 04:07 PM:

Yacub Khani and Timuri


Oh go ahead and be cranky...sometimes its a needed spur to us to do research, and it doesn't bother me at all. I really liked the connection you came up with between Yacub Khani and Timuri.

If you don't mind I'm going to look into this a bit further to confirm some of the conclutions. There was a fellow up in Turghondi who had his opium fields plowed under recently who allegedly is the Malik of the Timuri in Kushk District, Herat Province. I might be able to talk to him. Will let you know.


Posted by Jack Williams on 03-23-2007 12:05 AM:

The color of purple

Ladies and Gentlemen. In the course of increasingly complex investigations (obsession?) of dyes and wool fabrics, I came across an intersting scientific article that explained the basics of color...not dyes or paint...but color.

This article explained that the molecules that create the color purple are more chemically fugitive than most other colors. It doesn't matter the source of the color...natural dyes, chrome dyes, aniline, etc., purple is not a very sound color.

I will find this article and post it as soon as I can. Regards.

Posted by Steve Price on 03-23-2007 05:54 AM:

Hi Jack

Not having seen the article, I can't criticize it. But the conclusion it reaches is contrary to everything I know about the physics and chemistry of color and the interaction of light with molecules, and those are pretty well developed fields.

Anyway, I'm interested, and I'm sure others will be as well. Since it is pretty far removed from the central theme of this thread, would you kindly open a new one for it (when you've found the article, of course)? I think "Miscellaneous Topics" will be more appropriate for it than "Show and Tell".


Steve Price

Posted by Jack Williams on 03-23-2007 11:58 AM:

Purple pupil's eyes eye purple-eyeing eye pupils


I will probably go ahead and post the information about the fugitive nature of “purple” pigments as soon as I can find the article and summon the energy and create a synopsis that is coherent. I hope I did not misunderstand its technical arguments.

Not intending to be argumentative (who?, but I think my comment in this line was germane to one of the subjects under discussion. Not counting the flirting (?)... between Kristan et al...(bright red luscious tomatoes...tomahtos...Italians are better, etc.), it seemed to me that three distinct subjects were being pursued, i.e.:

(1) Kirsten’s cool bag;

(2) The nature of the drawing of Kristen’s cool bag and the attribution within the “Baluch group” to Muswani-Timuri-Tamani-Chahar-amiq peoples;

(3) The colors of Kirsten’s cool bag and others, especially the color “purple.”

My point concerned "(3)" and was intended to be a caution that perhaps we shouldn’t assume that a faded color “purple” indicates a particular type of dye. Unfortunately, it seems to me that there are a lot of nominally excellent “baluch group” rugs that have a bad “purple” color...which color usually is now best described as “muddy.”

Until recently, like most of us I have assumed that carpets with these “bad purples” were probably just poorly dyed with synthetic dyes. That might not be the case. The fugitive nature of “purple” pigments (“purple” being a shade of the “red” group...which is also inherently fugitive) might transcend the dye source.

Oh well, a bad color is still a bad color regardless of dye. More later...Regards,

Jack Williams

PS: It was good to hear from Barry. I have a few questions about the history of the Herat area that relates to rugs. I’ll develop those questions and find a way to solicit a historical discussion perhaps in another forum.

My question concerns the 1856 Persian siege of Herat and the apparent concurrent rout of the Persian army by the Tekkes at Merv. I had assumed that the Persian attack on Merv had proceeded from Serukhs, along the edge of the mountains, and then down the Murghab.

But to march an army by that route without having control of Herat might have been militarily foolish. So what?...this bit of history probably impacted the 1850s-1880s societies and rugs of...gasp...the Tekkes, Saryks, and Salors, (ok, I admit it...they are not Baluch).


Posted by Steve Price on 03-23-2007 12:27 PM:

Hi Jack

I don't think your comment was irrelevant. I suggested opening a separate thread with the details because I think it warrants a discussion of its own, and I think it will generate one. The more directions a thread takes, the more difficult it is to follow, especially if it gets archived and somebody looks into it later.

Barry O'Connell does run his own discussion forum, at and I'm sure he'll be glad to address your questions and exchange points of view with you.


Steve Price

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-23-2007 02:25 PM:

Char Aimaq - My next to last final until the next word

To all,

I've put together this for you reading pleasure:


I’m basing most of this on old British Sources…all of which mention weaving without saying what they wove. I put it into first person…but the most recent of the sources is dated 1939..most are 19th century when I expect the rugs you guys are interested in were woven. These are three I have on my desk:
-- Historical and Political Gazateer of Afghanistan, 6 vols, Adamec
-- Topography, Ethnology, Resources and History of Afghanistan. Calcutta, 1872
-- Military Report; Afghanistan; New Delhi. Gov of India Press, 1925
And there are more..Olaf Caroe’s book The Pathans, etc.

Aimak is an E.Turkic and Mongolic word, originally meaning “tribe.” Chahar or Char is of course Persian/Dari/Urdu/Hindi for 4.

They are a conglomeration generally considered to have four main branches (though a couple of others will be mentioned):
-- Jamshedi
-- Firozkohi
-- Taimani
-- Timuri (var: Taimuri)

They all speak Farsi/Dari. One souce claims they speak an “ancient form” of Persian. They were (19th Century to WWII) nomadic pastoralists – high pastures in the summer and low winter quarters in yurts. They wandered from the Kabul River to Mashhad. One source (1887) claims that “the Uzbeks and Afghans are ‘civilized people’ compared to the Aimaqs.” They inhabited the Western end of the Hindu Kush, Generally the headwaters and upper valleys of the following rivers (Counterclockwise from the North) generally known as the Hazarajat with the center of gravity being Badghis province (province just east of Heart):
-- Murghab (river which ends in the Merv oasis),
-- Kushk (river which flows past Turghondi into the Murghab),
-- Hari Rud (river which flows past Herat, forms the Iran/Afghan then the Iran/Turkmenistan borders and disappears into the desert.
-- Farah Rud (river which flows SW into the Seistan area)

They all speak Persian/Dari with some Turkish words; all are Sunni (Hanafi) (except perhaps some Timuri in Iran). They generally inhabit the Mountains of Herat, Ghowr, Badghis, Farah provinces and Maimana. Roughly N-S they are distributed as follows: Taimani in Ghowr and Shaharak; Timuri Diffused in lower parts of Heart province along the Hari Rud, Gurian, Gulran district and into Kushk district and in Iran from Kaf towards Mashhad; Firozkohi in Chaghcharan (capitol of Ghowr Province) and neighboring areas towards Obeh, Qala-ye-Nau and Maimana; Jamshedi now confined to the Kushk area of Badghis; and the Qala-ye-Nau Hazara only in a small area around the city.

1. Jamshedis: They probably came from Seistan and now live in Badghis. They are pastoralists and excellent equestrians. They are Sunni and speak a dialect of Persian. Traditionally they were divided into 24 administered groups called “mohalla pukhta” and further sub-divided into a “mohalla Kham,” each Kham equaling 500 head. They were believed “probably” to be pure Tatar or Mongolian origin. They were “free from the truculent swagger of the Pathan” and were noted to be of good physique, had considerable intelligence, were active, fairly courageous, simple and comparatively honest. They inhabited the Mountains NE of Heart and were bounded on the North by the Salor Turkomans. They called their country the Bala Murghab..headwaters of the Murghab.

2. Firozkohis: Gujars and Mongols by descent. They live between Sar-e-Pul, Obeh and Daulatyar. They are Sunni and speak Persian. District of Kadis is the Westernmost of the Firozkohi known as the Mahmudi. They are pure Tatar and Mongolian and are the descendents of the Mongols who dwelt near a mountain called Firoz Koh (Victory Mountain) near Samnan, Persia. They are more distinctively Mongolian in appearance than the Jamshedis. They are bold, good physique. They intermarry with the Dai Zangai Hazaras. They fought Timerlame bravely and generally are influenced by Herat.

3. Taimanis: Shepards and cultivators. They are Mongolian origin but are connected with the Kakar Pathans of N. Baluchistan. They live in the upper Farah Rud Valley or Ghorat and extend to the Hari Rud Valley and Farsi district of Herat Province. They are Sunni and speak Persian. Even though Mongolian, they have Pathan blood and are traditionally allied to the Kakars. They have a finer physique than the Jamshedis and are reported to be less courageous than the Firozkohis. They are the only Chahar Aimak tribe living in the Helmand basin south of the central watershed. (down into Farah Province). They wander all over Afghanistan (as of 1925)

4. Taimuris: One source says they are of pure Tatar or Mongolian origin; another lists the origin as “not clear,” another as possibly of Arab descent. They live half in Persia, half in Afghanistan. They were originally Shia but those in Afghanistan have become Sunni. They appear to have first organized into a tribe along the N. side of the Oxus, then moved into Badghis then into E.Persia. There are colonies all over Afghanistan and as far as Mashhad in Iran. A number of families lived for a couple of hundred years near the headwaters of the Kabul River.

With these 4, there are mentioned two others, sometimes as part of the Char Aimaq, or sometimes in the same breath:

5. Zuri: this was reported by one source as one of the 4 original tribes of the Aimaq. The source speculates that it might be the “Suris” found in Ghowr Province. They speak Persian/Dari mixed with Turkish words, are Sunni (Hanafi).

6. Qala-ye-Nau Hazaras: They are centered around Qala-ye-Nau (Capitol of Badghis) and are Sunni. They are reportedly bigger, bonier and more intelligent than other Hazaras, less Mongolian in appearance due to intermarriage and physical separation from the rest of the Hazara. They are descendents of Mughal Tatars who entered Afghanistan under Ghengis Khan and settled at Kala-e-Nao. As of late 19th century they had lost their independence and were reduced to being peasants. They Jamshedis and Firozkohis regarded them as ‘stupid louts” (the Aggies or Auburn tigers of central Badghis?) They lived in yurts in the winter.

Ok that’s about it for now. I’ll leave it to you all to figure out who wove what. I have at least a pretty good idea of what Taimani weavings look like; Timuri designs also register. As for the Timuri - Yacub Khani connections…I’m still working through these sources. The interesting bit is the fact that some Timuri are or were Shia. This might explain why some allied themselves with Persians. Hope above might need a map.

Posted by Gene Williams on 03-30-2007 07:25 AM:

Notes on a conversation with a Jamshedi elder

Hi all,

I've just finished talking to a Jamshedi Malik from Khushk District about the Jamshedi and the Aimaq. He made a couple of comments which may modify the above:

He said the Firozhoe are actually named after a mountain near Chaghcharan (capitol of Ghowr province, Afghanistan, near the headwaters of the Hari Rud...not in Iran). On this mountain is a type of flower called Fieroz. The Firozkhoe, though change the meaning to "Firoz" (victory) because they didn't like being named after a flower.

As for the Timuri, he was adamant that they were not/not part of the Char Aimaq. (The literature on the subject goes back and fourth on this point). He said they came into the area with Timurlame (timurlang)'s troops. They are moghul-Turkic but are directly connected to the Timurid Turks.

He did include the Kala-ye Nau Hazaras as part of the Aimaq.

He added that the Aimaq are also Turkic origin. He said they originated North of the Oxus (Amu Darya). However he said there is a massive amount of Pashtun blood in them (they really do look Indo-European least he does). He added that further east towards Mazar-e-Sharif, there are Jamshedi groups who speak Pashtun.

On the subject of Timuri, in Farah Province recently I was told of a Farsi speaking tribe which lives in Farah and Western Herat provinces along the border with Iran. This is almost certainly the Timuri and the various ethnic maps I've got confirm it. They do indeed stretch into Iran...and the two sides of the tribe are involved in, of course, smuggling stuff (including lots of "agricultural cash crop products") across the border. Maybe I can get out there.

That's about it for now.


Posted by Jack Williams on 04-06-2007 03:06 PM:

"Eimaqs" on maps, 1838-1856

Hello all.

Perhaps these two 19th C. maps might help define the location of the Aimaq peoples. I've reduced and modified the originals and highlighted tribal group references. You can access both complete maps at the web sites specified.

The first was made in 1838 by a British explorer-spy. For the full map, see:

This map is of special interest in its full size because of the wealth of social information included on it. For instance, near the village of “Aralkhana” in East Persia a note indicates the presence of “3,000 families of weavers.” Included throughout the map are notes on historical names of regions, archeological information, hydrology, geography, populations and in some cases the names of the tribal inhabitants of certain regions.

Of note are the tribal groups highlighted in my attached fragments. Despite spelling differences from our usage today, most references are pretty clear as to what groups are being identified. I suspect that the “Dooranees” are actually the “Tamanais.”

The map was created only a few years after the supposed final displacement of the Salor by the Saryks from Merv Oasis and their dispersal. The “Turkas” are shown inhabiting the area identified with the Akhal Tekkes...but the “Sarukh (later “Merv”) Tekkes are not indicated. Also of note is the lack of reference to any “Baluch” tribe. The broad reference to the “Noorzyes” covers the Farah and Seistan area, but I don’t know if these people were “Baluch” or not.

The second fragment was created from a map covering the travels of General Ferrier in 1856.

For the full map, see:

This map would have been 3 or 4 years after the Tekkes were driven from Eastern Persia and the Tejend Oasis, and their subsequent displacement of the Saryk from Merv. The map is contemporaneous with the last (?) Persian siege of Herat. It also approximates (in time) the catastrophic repulse of the Persians and their Salor-Saryk allies from their attack on the Merv Tekkes. Elsewhere, the Crimea War was underway and the Great Mutiny in India was about to begin.

This map contains considerably less sociologic data...but interestingly it does locate the tribal peoples I have highlighted. Again, it contains no mention of “Baluch” tribes.

Hope you all find these maps of interest.

Regards, Jack

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-07-2007 12:10 PM:

Pashtuns in W. Afghanistan


Very interesting map. The Durranis are Pashtuns...formerly called Abdalis...the name was changed at the time of Ahmad Shah in about 1740 when he captured all of Afghanistan..he assumed the name Durr-e-Durran...Pearl of Pearls. The Noorzais are a sub-set of the Durranis.

Not to belabor the Pathan tribes but for information here is one of the accepted geneologies:

oldest ancestor: Abdul Rashid aka Qais
three sons: Sabanr Bitan Gurghurst

Sabanr is the ancestor of the Western Pashtuns and the Northern Pakhtuns from the Kyber to Swat. His geneology is something like this:

Sharkhbun or Sharjuny Kharshbun or Krishyun

Sharkhbun’s tree: Sharkhbun
Sherani Tarin Umar
Spin Tor Abdal
Zirak Panjpoo
I--------------I------------I-i----------I I------------I----------I
Poplzai Alikozai Barakzai Achakzai Noorzai Alizai Ishaqzai

The Baluch on your map would be in the lower Helmand and seistan area..and located further into Iran with only a few scattered families along the frontier...they were there...just didn't count at the time.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 04-07-2007 02:28 PM:


Wow, those are some maps. Fabulous links. There is a village, "Neriz," "Neris," etc., west of Kerman and East of Shiraz, from which rugs have come. Edwards shows a couple, and they are mentioned and pictured in some of the older books. They usually look like Shiraz or Afshar types. I wonder if the name (and the ethnicity) relate to the "Noorzyes" entry on the 1836 map. Anyway, great stuff.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-07-2007 06:07 PM:

Geneology II

Since my attempt at making a tree didn't work out above ...I'll make the geneology of the Nurzais/Noorzais and Durranis a little clearer:

Sabanr had two sons
-- Sharkhbun or Sharjyun - ancestor of all the Western Pashtuns aka Afghans.
-- Kharshbun or Krishyun - Ancestor of the N. Pakhtuns...Yusufzai, Tarklanris, Mohmands, Mandranr, Shinwari, Gigiani, Mashwani...who speak the hard (classic) Pakhtun...they also call themselves "Afghans." Babur recounted his fights against these peoples...and married a Yusufzai.

(Note the names of the two sons of Sabanr: They look to be clearly Rajput origin...)

Sharkhbun had 3 sons:
-- Sherani
-- Tarin
-- Umar (adopted)

Middle son Tarin had three sons:
-- Spin
-- Tor
-- Abdal

From Abdal came the Abdalis/Durranis; Abdal had two sons:

-- Zirak - from whom came the:
----- Popalzai,
----- Alikozai,
----- Barakzai and
----- Achakzai;

-- Panjpoo - from whom came the:
----- Noorzai,
----- Alizai and
----- Ishaqzai.

Hope that clears it up...I like the tree better but the spaces don't register on the software. Incidentally, the "Taujiks" on the map around Herat are no doubt Farsi/Dari speaking Tadjiks. There weren't huge numbers of Pashtuns up that far as I understand it until Abdur Rahman...after the 2nd Afghan war.

Note that on the map is Pittinger's explorations dated 1810..That's got to be the guy who helped hold Herat in 1838-39 against the Russian instigated Persians.


PS. oh yes...the Noorzais still are predominate in Golistan and Baqwa districts of Farah province..the dividing line between them and the Alizais is the village of Kinesk in Farah, just near the intersection of the Ring Road with the Farah Rud. Read the internet about recent attacks in the area. Some say all conflict in Afghanistan is Tribal...not far from the truth. The Noorzai "chief" (highly disputed) is the Talib shadow gov of Farah and is located in Quetta, Pakistan. Wish these guys still made carpets.. another cash crop has taken its place unfortunately.. another bad side effect..outside of corruption and usurpation of the state of this vegetable product.

(edit 1: lets put it bluntly as expressed by a Farah Province Native 7 days ago: A woman can make max 2 rugs a year and earn maybe max $25 per carpet..if get $800 cash at the farmer level for cultivating a half-acre of a cash crop..working from November to the harvest in April. economics 101 anyone?)

PPS. One more thing. Farsi spelling of the sound "vuh" is spelled transliterated in Persia as a "v"...i.e Maulavi, Bakva...Dari traditionally uses a "w"..Maulawi, Bakwa, etc. Note the differences on the maps. Also...the indo-european spelling of names abandons the arabic...its "Abdul" or "Abdal" not "Abd-al"...etc. The "praise God" honorifics, Uddin and Ullah are attached to the names not separate...i.e. Aminullah or Jamaluddin. (of course in Western literature/history, Saladin..of crusader/Richard the lion heart actually Salahuddin..a Turk. Aladdin..of the Allahuddin. etc. Khan is an honorific - Agha is an honorific meaning Lord; Mirza is Turkish central Asian word for Prince...)

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-09-2007 08:33 PM:

Notes from Fraser's book

Hi all,

Jack's maps sparked me to look in my library. I found a long neglected copy of James B. Fraser's "Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan in the years 1821 & 1822." There are some fascinating observations of Tekke (he spells it "Tuckeh) and Yomud (he spells it "Yamoot") vencampments, locations, tents, and rug making (and camel hair garment weaving).

It is very clear from his description in 1821...these were made for commercial sale (I've somehow lost the page...its very clear about the spectacular nature of the Turkoman carpets he describes and the prices they were fetching at the market).

edit: here it is, p. 281: "The manufactures of the Toorkomans consist chiefly in carpets, which they weave of very beautiful fabrick, and which are highly prized, fetching very large prices. They are chiefly of the twilled sort, but they also make them of a fabrick resembling the best Turkey carpets, and of very brilliant patterns. They seldom exceed in size an oblong of from twelve to sixteen by eight or ten feet, and for the most part are greatly smaller. They also weave cloth of camels' hair, ..."

There are many other references throughout of Kurds, uzbeks, and turkoman carpets and peoples. for example:

P. 282: describing a yurt..."The better classes use a carpet shaped somewhat in the form of a horse shoe, centre cut out of the fire place and ends truncated.." (Anybody seen such a thing? it sounds quite large..)

p. 293: "The furniture consists of little more than the furniture of the camels and horses; joals (surely juvals) or bags in which their goods are packed, and which are often made of a very handsome species of worsted velvet carpet, of rich patterns;..."

The point I'm making is that the first map dated 1838 appears very solidly based on Fraser's map from 1822. In his section on "geographical sketch of Khorasan," for instance, he comments on the "8,000 weavers in Kayn." Here is the quote from "Fraser:

"The district is celebrated for its felt manufactures, which supply a great part of Persia with the most beautiful numuds (I believe he means carpets). Many articles are also made of Khoolk (down of underhair of a mountain goat)...and it is alleged that in Kayn, and the villages around there are 8,000 families of these weavers alone..."

Its been 25 years since I looked at that book...what a wealth of info. (note: he also discusses "Timoorees, Hazarehs, Feerozecooees and Jumsheedees" as wells as "Balloochees," "Koordes," and "Oozebeks." and others.)


Posted by Richard Larkin on 04-10-2007 10:05 AM:

Great post, Gene. So the Turkoman were well established in the weaving of carpets for commercial sale during the Monroe administration. Interesting. I've noted in looking at published compilations of mid-nineteenth century photographs taken in the East that the khans and other important chaps are often surrounded by what look like enormous, Turkomanesque carpets. Many of them are types that one doesn't see today. I wonder where they went.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-10-2007 10:30 AM:

Disappearing Turkomans

Hi Richard,

I don't know what happened to those carpets..sand and fire and flood I suppose. Fraser recounts piles of brightly colored carpets on the floors of Uzbek yurts. But some Turkoman tribes seem to just disappear. For instance, he has part of a chapter devoted to Tuckees (Tekes), Yamoots (Yomuds) and "Gocklans" and recountes the downfall of the Gocklans who ultimately had to move to Persia for protection...who are "Gocklans?"


Posted by Steve Price on 04-10-2007 10:47 AM:

Hi Gene

I believe "Gocklan" is more commonly spelled "Goklan" nowadays. This is generally seen as a Yomud subgroup.

It's more than slightly interesting that there is documentation of considerable commercialization of Turkmen weaving by the first quarter of the 19th century. The romantic conventional wisdom is that Turkmen work predating 1850 or so is "pure" tribal weaving (that is, unaffected by western commercial pressures). I've long been skeptical of the notion that Turkmen main carpets were woven on nomadic (portable) looms and used on the floors of yurts.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 04-10-2007 01:31 PM:


As the good and seldom wrong Doctor Eiland has said many times, most rugs are commercial products. Doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad rugs. On the other hand, I know for a fact that some stuff made for domestic consumption is fully up to putting YHS off his feed for days (or at least, hours).

Rich Larkin

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-10-2007 02:05 PM:

Yurts and Looms


Frasher has a very complete description of a Teke Yurt and layout of an encampment which I'll post if there is any interest. However, It looks like there were looms in the yurts. Here is his description of entering Khalle Khan's encampment:

p. 602: "...The Khan receied us with little ceremony; it is the thing of all others of which the Toorkomans have least, and after a short conversation in the open air, he showed us to the tent, or house in which guests were received and lodged, where we seated ourselves along with a plentiful company who had flocked together to gratify their curiosity, by staring at the strangers. We were agreeably please by the tent, for it was by no means deficient either in space or in comfort, but I have described its construction in another place. When we entered it there were on one side women engaged in working at looms, making carpets, I believe, but they soon quitted the tent; this did not proceed, however, from any dislike to being seen, for they mande no scrple at showing themselves freely....."


Posted by Steve Price on 04-10-2007 05:08 PM:

Hi Gene

It would take a hell of a tent to accommodate a loom big enough to weave a carpet as big as some of the old Turkmen main carpets. They can be 9 feet wide, maybe wider. The typical Turkmen yurt is described as being 15 to 18 feet in diameter. A loom big enough to weave a 9 x 12 carpet would pretty much fill it, and it's hard to imagine a loom that big being taken along on a migration.

I notice that the passage refers to the rugs as being woven in the Khan's guest house. That's probably much larger than the yurts with which the nomads migrated. I'd guess that the Khan didn't join his sheep raising subjects when the migrations took place.

Frasher's book looks like a fountain of information - I'll try to locate a copy.


Steve Price

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-10-2007 05:46 PM:

Yurts and Looms

Hi Steve,

You are of course right on the size of yurts. here is Fraser's description p. 282-283...but some of the looms might have been outside...see below:

"The portable wooden houses of the Toorkomans have been referred to by several writers; but I am not aware that any exact description of their structure has been given. The frame is curiously constructed of light wood, disposed in laths of about an inch broad, by 3/4 thick, crossing one another diagonally, but at right angles about a foot asunder, and pinned at each crossing with thongs of raw hide, so as to be moveable; and the whole frame work may be closed up or opened, in the manner of those toys for chidren.... One oor more pieces thus constructed being stretched out, surround a circular space, of from fifteen to twenty feet diameter, and form the skeleton of the walls, which are made firm b bands of hair or woollen ropes, hitched round the end of each rod, to secure it in position. From the upper ends of these rods, of a similar kind bent near the wall end into somewhat less than a right angle, are so disposed, that the longer portions slope to the center, and being tied thus with ropes, form the frame-work of a roof; over which is thrown a covering of black numud, leaving in the center a large hole to give vent to the smoke, and light to the dwelling; smiliar numuds are wrapt round the walls, and outside of these, to keep all tight, is bound another frame, formed of spit reeds or cane, or of very light and tough wood, tied together with string twine, the pieces being perpendiclar; and this is itself secured by a strong broad band of woven hair stuff, which firmly unites the whole. The large round opening at top is covered as occasion reaquires by a piede of numund, which is drawn off or on by a strong cord, like a curtain. If the wind be powerful, a stick is placed to leeward, which supports the fabric.

"In most of these houses they do not keep a carpet or numud constanty spread; but the better classes use a carpet shaped somewhat in the form of a horse shoe, having the centre cut out for the fire place and the ends truncated, that those of inferior condition, or who do not choose to take off their boots, may sit down upopn the ground. Upon this carpet they place one or two other numuds, as may be required for guests of distinction. When they have women in the tent, a division of split reeds is made for their convenience; but the richer people have a separate tent for their privagte apartments...

'Such are the simple wooden houses of the Toorkomans, one of which just makes a camel's load; there are poorer ones, of less artificial construction, the frame work of which is formed of reeds. The encampment is generally square, inclosing an open space, or it forms a broad street, the houses being ranged on either side with their doors towards each other; and at these may always be seen the most pixcturesque groupes, occupied with their various domestic duties, or smoking their simple wooden calleeoons....'


PS. This might be a bit commercial..but Fraser's book like many other British explorer books from the 19th-early 20th centuray dealing with Afghanistan, Iran, and the general Great Game area...including the more encyclopedic type compilations of the British have been reprinted by Oxford University Press in India and Pakistan...They are all quite expensive on the internet. They are 80% cheaper if you know anybody in Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Calcutta or in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, or Peshawar (note: they're generally cheaper in India than in Pakistan). (as you can tell I'm back I have to look to see what books I've got stashed away somewhere).

And also I'll add the obvioius that sometimes in the rug world, we get stuck on reading rug books...good stuff...but there's also a lot of geographical and antropological literature and historical books as well (a lot of the 15-16th century persian/indian books have rug illustrations-illuminations) which mention carpets and weavings and which might throw light on who wove what, when...but of course I'm preaching to the converted...

Posted by James Blanchard on 04-10-2007 09:04 PM:


Thanks for the information and reference to Fraser's book. I'll try to find a copy somewhere here in India, or in Pakistan during my next trip.


Posted by Chuck Wagner on 04-10-2007 09:29 PM:

Hi all,

There's another good book out there:

"A Journey to the Source of the River Oxus", by Capt. John Wood, Indian Navy (Reprint: Oxford University Press, Karachi, 1976).

It seems to me that it came up in a conversation with one of you Williams' in the past, but I can't find thread in the archives. Also, we got off on the topic of ensis and yurts a while ago; there is some info on yurt layout in these as well:

Did the engsi hang inside or outside the yurt?

Tent "Strut Covers" Were Used For That Purpose

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-10-2007 09:56 PM:

yurts and purdah

Hi chuck,

Excellent past posts on the Yurt. Just to clarify one point, the Turkoman women were not ..never purdah. They exposed their faces, walked around with an insolence...tried to seduce foreigners (though this per Fraser sometimes was a trap to capture the visitor and enslave him). (edit: gosh..wasn't there a Flashman book which dealt with this? "Flashman at the Charge" possibly?). The purdah stuff is very sub-continent-India like and Arabian like. There are peoples throughout Afghanistan who never coutenenced it (although with the recent Wahabe reach..some have started the practice who never used it before).

Its pretty obvious though, for Nomads like the Kuchi and Turkoman there was no purdah at veils, burkha, etc. I suspect it was the same for nomadic Baluch, Char Aimaq and Timuri... I'll have to defer on this logical deduction... (dang it ...can't find the Sherlock smile).

As for the Timurid Turks, Uzbeks, Moghuls...there's plenty of literature to explore...but at this point I can't say definitively one way or the other.


edit: Chuck, The re-publication date of the "Journey" (1976, Karachi) takes me back. The Oxford U. Press rep in Karachi in 1976 was Tim extrodinarially eriudite man and a good friend..later Head of Oxford Dictionary. We were a tight community at the time.

Posted by Gene Williams on 04-12-2007 09:41 PM:

Books in Pakistan

James and others who may travel,

Those Oxford U. reprints are really fantastic. I'd recommend several of the books...the list grows daily.... I know they are cheaper in India because in Pakistan the prices are quoted on them in Indian rupees. If you're in Islamabad or Peshawar though,..I know one bookseller who usually stocks them in abundance.. "Sayed Book Bank." I'm not recommending the shop but do know that he usually has a fascinating number of them in stock. You might check him (and others) out when you visit there (make sure you ask for the "discount"..10% for foreigners...20% for locals).

and try to get out to see the Buddist monasteries ruins N. of Mardan... (you'll recall that in 1895, in the fighting against the Yusufzai and the troops of Umrah Khan, the Brits used the remains of an old Buddhist road they had found to smooth their way to the crest of the Malakand pass on their way to try to relieve the fort at Chitral, I went over that think of troops having to fight their way up those knife edged ridges...without helicopter pretty incredible) and to the tomb of Pir Baba up in the Bruner section of Yusufzai country...


PS. Forgot to mention...If you're buying reprints, take a look at these on the above mentioned 1895 expedition:

--- "A Narrative of the Events in Chitral, Swat and Bajour; The Chitral Campaign" by H.C. Thompson.
---"Where Three Empires Meet." (humm my copy is mysteriously missing...the author was the then Times of London war correspondant...1895 or '96)
-- "Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India," Vol I. (oh give the proper Baluch spin to this...Vol III deals with the Brit punitary expiditions into Baluchistan...Vol VI with the campaigns into Absyinnia in Africa in which Baluch troops and camp followers went and apparently stayed in Africa....I think we had a post on a Lion carpet...allegedly Baluch but with Ethopian overtones last year..)

Posted by James Blanchard on 04-13-2007 01:17 AM:

Hi Gene,

I know the Sayeed Book Store well -- it is fantastic. There are a number of other book shops with the occasional treasure as well. I picked up a brand new copy of Bennett's Caucasian I in Pakistan for $85, and Brian Macdonald's Tribal Rugs book for about the same. I bought Jeff Boucher's Baluch book in Quetta, Baluchistan... nice connection.

Indian cities also have fantastic book-buying opportunities, but I have generally found that they are much less likely to carry as wide a range of carpet books as do the shops in Pakistan.

Another book that I would recommend for its pictures is called "From Kabul to Kashmir" (or something like that). It has vintage photography, mostly from the NW Frontier Province from the 19th century. It even has an occasional carpet in the picture. I was interested to see a few East Turkestan rugs in that region. Fascinating to see pictures of the area where I grew up taken a century earlier.


Posted by Chuck Wagner on 04-13-2007 07:49 AM:

James, Gene,

A quick trip to Ghazni (or Peshawer) reveals the reason for such interest in rug books in Afghanistan and Pakistan - old designs on brand new rugs..


Chuck Wagner