TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Some possibilities
Author  :  Daniel Deschuyteneer mailto:%20daniel-d@skynet.be
Date  :  02-28-2001 on 07:48 p.m.
Dear readers,


Jerry, in his introduction, tells us: "The design appears to be some sort of union of the "birds on a pole" (or tessellated as Wendel Swan calls it) motif which appears in the borders and fields of Shahsavan bags and the interlocked diamonds typically seen in Kurdish pieces. Bags which combine soumak and pile are common among the Bakhtiari, but I doubt very much that this is one of theirs. And in saying that we eliminate most of the soumak/pile pieces in the literature. What remains is minimal indeed."

I think you are right Michael, when telling that this piece underscores the danger of making attribution based upon design. Nevertheless, let us consider this odd combination of patterns to see how it can help.

1/ About the "birds on a pole – tessellated design" used in the flatweave part. I agree with Steve and other readers that it has been extensively used and is ubiquitous in Western and Central Asia.

Among the tribes who used this motif as field pattern, Jerry cited Shahsavan from Moghan Savalan and Bijar and John added Yomud Turkmen. I can add at least the following references NW Persian Khamsa area, Varamin, Qazvin and the Lori-Bakhtiary tribes in the Fars area. This piece is without doubt Persian and if we look to all the references we have we may sort them in two groups. The first group with Moghan (Savalan and Khamsa district), Bijar, Varamin, and Qazvin, is located in the northwest Persian corner, the second group lies around Fars in southwest Persia.

2/ The "hooked diamonds" in the pile section is a motif which is as, if not more, extensively used as the "birds on a pole" design. It is seen as well in the first NW Persian group as well as in the SW Persian one (almost in their flatweaves). It’s rendering here points nevertheless more to NW Persia.

3/ Let us pay attention now to the motif in the borders. The rosette and bars motifs in the vertical main borders in the pile section are common in NW and SW Persia as well and don’t help us. The motif in the horizontal main borders of the pile section and the white ground main border of the soumak section are to my knowledge unknown in SW Persian weavings while it is pretty common in NW Persian weavings.

During my Salon 42, I presented two rugs, maybe Kurdish, showing an exactly similar minor border and last month I saw the same design in the minor border of a Bijar rug.

Mike Tschebull owns one NW Persian rug with a related border.

So my first guess is that the several designs used in this piece point first to NW Persia an area inhabited mostly by Kurds, Turkoman and Turkic clans with among them Shahsavan and Afshar tribes, some Arabs, Bakthiary-Lurs and Qashqai (most of them having Turkic roots).


In its introduction, Jerry asks:

"What about my mystery rug? The soumak part is about the size of a mafrash side panel, and yet the pile part isn’t big enough to be the entire bottom of a mafrash".

You are right Jerry that few pieces, except Bakthiary-Lors large storage sacks have both soumak or tapestry faces and pile bottom. The size of your piece may suggest at first glance that it is a mafrash panel but the pile bottom is totally against this attribution. It is a large storage sack and nothing else.

Jerry says:

"After paging through several dozen rug books I was able to find only two non-Bakhtiari bags that had both sumak and pile fields. Both of these are khorjin. The pile works as a "rub strip" to absorb abrasion - which appears to make perfect sense given the way the bags would obviously be used in real life".

Jerry, you have shown one Varamin and one Shahsavan khorjins with soumak panel and pile bottom and I can add the photo of another Shahsavan khorjin or vanity bag if necessary. But all these pieces are smaller than the large storage sack you have. As you stated most of them are Bakhtiary-Lors.

If there aren’t any NW Persian large storage sacks with pile bottom and soumak panel my first guess that this piece should be NW Persian would be wrong.

So I looked to my references and found quickly pictures of similar pieces from NW Persia and pointed at least five which are illustrated in Jenny Housego Tribal Rugs Plates 40 (Rashvand or Mafi Kurds QAZVIN area) and plates -84-146-147-148 from the Varamin area. Jenny Housego naturally evokes the similarities between these NW Persian large bags and the SW Persian Lori-Bakhtiary storage sacks and therefore attributes her to the LURS of VARAMIN.

Now we are on firmer ground, I think?

Here is a copy of her plate 146. Sizes are 142cm (2 panels) x 72cm wide

3/ Structure

Let us look now if the structure match with this attribution. I asked to Jerry more detailed photo than those shown on in his Salon essay, and some details are very interesting.

Here is what I clearly see:

Flatweave section:

Technique is 2/1 countered soumak with only one red wool weft between soumak rows. Wrapping yarns are two ply wool – No cotton in the white area –Motifs are underlined with diagonal wrapping.

Pile section:

Warps: cotton, seems to be thick machine spun cotton yarns instead of 3 ply cotton

Weft: thick white cotton – ONE pick between rows of knotted (single wefted is a term you use more often) –

Pile: wool, offset knotting in the diagonals.

Selvage: thick rounded selvage wrapped with goat hair.

Certain features matches with a Lori attribution (overcast goat selvages…) but I haven’t enough knowledge in this field and don’t know the characteristics of Lori weavings in Varamin. Maybe someone else can help.

Thank you,


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