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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.

Four Rugs: Structure and Attribution

by Daniel Deschuyteneer

Dear friends,

I introduce four rugs, and some questions about each of them, for discussion during this salon.

Thanks for your participation; I hope you will have some fun.

No. 1: A South Caucasian Rug

I bought this little "tribal" South Caucasian rug (140 cm x 116 cm; 4'7" x 3'10") at a flea market. It's in very poor condition with some holes, the ends and the outer minor borders missing, and the back covered with a thick coat of glue. Despite the poor condition, I liked its colors, its strong and interesting design. It isn't an outstanding piece but the price was very low, and I didn't resist. I had never seen such a piece (my experience is limited), but I think it's unusual enough to make it interesting to exchange ideas about it. With some hard work I have removed all the glue from the back, and can provide the following structural information.

Link to my rug, its back and structural information

After many hours in my library I finally found two rugs with a related design.

But try to form you own opinion of its origin before reading further more and looking at the related rug.

Link to related rugs

Link to comparisons between my rug and O'Bannon's

Link to the questions raised


Wright and Wertime: "Caucasian Carpets and Covers"

O'Bannon : "Oriental Rugs"

Ian Bennett : "Caucasian"

No. 2: South Persian pieces are truly interesting

In this part of the Salon a double complete saddle bag from the southwest Persian Khamseh confederacy is shown. Its design is generally attributed to the Basiri, a tribe that remained nomadic until the reign of Rezah Shah. I will focus my discussion on the structure of this saddle bag for several reasons:

1- This site is visited by many beginners who sometimes don't understand many of our technical terms. This may help them to learn the vocabulary.

2- It has an interesting woven reinforcement at the edges of the bridge. I exchanged some thoughts about this feature with Marla Mallett. Her answers were, as always, very kind and interesting and she illustrated it on her web site.

3- Most collectors look at a rug mostly for its aesthetics, rarity, or because it's very old and interesting. Little attention is usually paid to structure except when it's absolutely necessary in order to sort groups of weavings and determinate places of origin.

Questions raised :

I think (and these are only my thoughts), that some details in the structure of an utilitarian bag not only help us determine its origin but also its function. Some structural details would or would not appear, even in the same group of weavers, depending on the function of the item. I would especially like to hear your thoughts on this point.

I believe that this saddlebag was intended to carry considerable weight, and that some features probably wouldn't be included if it had been woven for another purpose. Here are my reasons for thinking so:

1. The weaver reinforced the selvage warp units of the pile faces using two methods. First, the ground wefts interlace and overcast the selvage; and second, they make large extra interlacing in the outer pile area (sometimes up to 8 knots length).

2. The weaver used eight strands of two colors to make thick twined square braid closure loops. She twined the yarns through the plainweave ground between the loops and at each edge twined the yarns to make handles.

It seems likely that the user, having closed his double bag, used these handles to carry them when they weren't on his animal. Such an integral closure braid is the most resistant for heavy use.

3. She used a two-colour wrapped-and-bound selvage structure in multiple rows to reinforce the handles at each end of the bridge.

4. The yarns used to overcast the selvages and to stitch the joins are very thick (five or six singles).

5. I found seed corns (or something like that; I am not botanist) under some selvage yarns. Everybody will agree, I think, that two bags full of seeds are very heavy.

Link to the double saddle bag

Please visit the linked pages where the structure of each part of the rug is depicted and illustrated with pictures.

The following link to the slit panel may help beginners who don't understand many of our technical terms to learn the vocabulary we use. More experienced readers will focus their attention to the bridge section and its "mysterious" structure.

Link to the bridge section


"Woven structures", by Marla Mallett

"Tribal rugs"  Jenny Housego

"Tribal Rugs from South West Persia  James Opie

No. 3: Is it a Caucasian Rug?

Is this a Caucasian rug? Perhaps. I have my own idea that I will submit to you, but form your own opinion and tell us your attribution and the guidelines you used to make it before reading my comments.

It's through my mistakes that I learn the most, so don't be afraid to have another opinion. I don't know if my attribution is correct but I am able to defend it.

What's important is to know how you made your attribution, so we can share thoughts without playing guessing games as often happens when this kind of discussion is proposed.

Link to the rug

Link to structure

Please look at direct scans of the borders and some charming details, such as birds with "trumps" by following the next link. A direct scan reproduces colors on our screens more accurately.

Link to direct scan of details

Link to my attribution and questions raised


"Woven structures", by MarlaMallett

"Tribal rugs"  Jenny Housego

"Kurdish rugs" William Eagleton

No. 4: Is it a Caucasian Bagface?

Link to the bag face

Link to its structure

Link to related pieces and questions raised


"Oriental Rugs from Pacific Collection",  Murray Eiland

"Caucasian Rugs" Ulrich Schurmann

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