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Salon du Tapis d'Orient

The Salon du Tapis d'Orient is a moderated discussion group in the manner of the 19th century salon devoted to oriental rugs and textiles and all aspects of their appreciation. Please include your full name and e-mail address in your posting. An Interesting Rug, Probably Arab Khamseh

by Daniel Deschuyteneer


Most Khamseh rugs are rather dark and, in my view, fairly unexciting. The one shown here is unusual in the liveliness of the palette, the small size, and the nearly square format (4'2" x 4'4"). The upper and lower borders are worn, but it is otherwise in good condition with low, evenly worn pile. Most of us wouldn't find it outstanding, but the colors and skillful drawing do make it attractive to me.


The central stepped bluish red (perhaps cochineal) medallion, outlined in white, seems to float upon the dark indigo ground. The central axis includes what is probably a stylized tree of life, and many multicolored squares and other geometric ornaments. The central medallion is decorated with very small boteh of varied colors in the inner edges of its lower half and the outer edges of its upper half.

The indigo ground contains a number of motifs, including three "murgh" (chickens, two at each side at the bottom, one on the right side). According to James Opie, murgh are common to Arab Khamseh weavings and those with elongated shapes like the two at the bottom of this one are a feature of older pieces.

The field is full of motifs scattered in contrasting, vivid colors, a feature more common to Qashqa'i than to Khamseh rugs. To me, they are like a fireworks display in a night sky. The ground is framed by bird-like boteh of different shape and contrasting colors, standing on two legs and viewing the spectacle from another level.

The outer border on a medium brown ground is a common type in Khamseh rugs, consisting of meandering boteh and flower heads framed by two running dog minor borders in white and brown.


This rug typifies good folk art for me. Its unusual dimensions, the skillful drawing and the exceptional display of color lead me to suspect that it is a dowry piece. It has been said that the two most important things about any rug are its colors and its colors (I believe this is a paraphrase of George O'Bannon). If so, then this one meets the two most important criteria for judging it


Dimensions: 125 cm x 129 cm; 4'2" x 4'4"

Knot: Wool, symmetric. 30 x 30 per square dm; 57 per square inch

Warps: Wool, Z2S, white, natural brown, mixed white and brown. Alternate warps slightly depressed. Loosely twisted, straight fibers.

Wefts: Wool, Z2S, Two shoots of dyed brown

Handle: Floppy

Selvages: Round, one thick cord of three warps overcast in bands of brown and orange wool

Colors: Appear to be natural

Discussions on the Current Topic:

  • Summary - Daniel Deschuyteneer 20:34:53 11/25/98 (0)
  • Khamseh Attribution - J. Barry O'Connell Jr. 07:08:01 11/24/98 (0)
    - Maury Bynum 12:53:31 11/22/98 (1)

    • Re: Khamseh - Daniel Deschuyteneer 15:02:29 11/22/98 (0)

  • A repainted Khamseh rug - Daniel Deschuyteneer 19:27:13 (2)

  • Color vs Monochrome Images, and Rug Perceptions - Steve Price 05:42:56 11/19/98 (1)

  • Color vs Graphics in This Khamseh - R. John Howe 23:19:10 11/18/98 (7)

  • Arab-Khamseh? Dowry items? - Deschuyteneer Daniel 12:33:35 11/18/98 (0)

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  • South Persian (7)

  • A dowry rug? - Wendel Swan 12:45:06 11/16/98 (1)


  • Attribution: When to Stop - R. John Howe 21:22:42 11/15/98 (0)


  • Khamseh drawing room - Wendel Swan 20:38:40 11/15/98 (5)

  • Who or what are the Khamseh? - Steve Price 14:43:39 (4)

  • An interesting rug - Yon Bard 13:58:19 11/15/98 (1)


  • Testing - Yon Bard 13:54:56 11/15/98 (1)



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