Re: 19th Century Sauj Bulagh: Clearly Kurdish?

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Posted by Michael Wendorf on December 30, 1998 at 21:34:35:

In Reply to: 19th Century Sauj Bulagh: Clearly Kurdish? posted by R. John Howe on December 30, 1998 at 04:46:55:

: Dear folks -

: Although I am an admirer (not yet a possessor) of 19th century Bijar rugs, this particular topic moves beyond my admittedly minute knowledge of Kurdish weaving. So permit me what may be a question of innocence.

: In his 1998 revision of his complete guide to "Oriental Carpets," this time co-authored with his son, Murray Eiland organizes his treatment of Kurdish weaving in four categories:

: 1) the finely woven urban rugs of Senneh;
: 2) the thick, heavy rugs woven...around Bijar;
: 3) rural rugs with simpler designs woven by villagers and nomads;
: 4) "Rugs from towns of northwestern Iran that may resemble Kurdish products, but may be made by other rural peoples as well."

: He places Sauj Baulagh weaving (his spelling) under this fourth category. His discussion of them accents rugs with thin red wefts and depressed warps, which are distinctive from the flat backed weavings that are the focus of this salon, the latter are apparently the 19th century products.

: Pat Weiler has noted elsewhere in this salon that the Kurdish attribution for the Sauj Baulagh weavings did not seem questioned by the knowledgeable posters in it but Eiland's placement of them in this fourth category raised for me the question of whether there is consensus about the Kurdish origin of the 19th century Sauj Baulagh rugs? Or are we perhaps in a situation analgous to that in the Caucasus in which rugs attributed to one locale have been found to have been woven in a variety of places and likely by a number of ethnic groups?

: Regards,

: R. John Howe

Dear John:

You ask a tough question. However, I do not think we are in a situation analgous to the Caucasus in which rugs attributed to one locale or one group have been woven in various places by various people although Bijar may provide a closer analogy. Staying on the topic of Sauj Bulagh, I think the evidence is fairly strong that rugs were either woven there or collected and dispersed there. In either event, it seems a predominately Kurdish area. Ultimately, we may have to do a lot more pooling of information and, with Marla's help, try to organize the information. The problem of established anchor pieces may remain elusive even then. On balance, however, I don't know what else you would call these rugs. There is nothing to suggest they are not and God knows there is no reason or motivation in the marketplace to call something Kurdish when it is not. Remember the old joke about whether a rug is Kurdish depends on whether you are buying it or selling it. If you are selling it, it is something else. If you are buying it, it is Kurdish.
Several people have struggled with the general area already. In Hali 45, June 1989, Parviz Tanavoli published an article on Shahsavan Pile Carpets. In it he publishes pictures of several rugs and bags. He proposes a Shahsavan attribution for all but even a quick glance at the structural charateristics shows huge differences in materials and handle. It seems unlikely that the Shahsavan wove so many different types of rugs. I think at least one of the pieces in that article is Kurdish Sauj Bulagh. That is #4, a Mafrash side panel. If you go to it you will see a variation of the border Daniel has highlighted in this Salon, a S minor border that is associated more with the Shahsavan but is also seen on Kurdish weaving, among them the Boralevi rug posted by Daniel last night with the tuning fork design and a primary latchhook design that is associated only with Kurds. The structure of this piece is described by Tanavoli as follows:
Warp: Wool, Z3s, natural
Weft: Wool, Z2 dyed red, two shoots
Pile: Wool, Z2, height 2-5 mm
Knot: Symmetric, 7v x 12 h = 84/in2
Handle: Soft and pliable
Another interesting discussion is that of John Wertime in ORR Volume XII, Number 4 April/May 1992 in which surveys Shahsavan persianate sumak bags and covers from the Bidjar area.
More specific to your quote from Eiland. He may have been referring to more recent production when he referred to depressed backs since it seems he was not addressing the rugs we are discussing here. I do not know if this answers any of your questions, but perhaps we'll get some more discussion. Michael

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