Posted by Mike Tschebull on 06-26-2002 02:18 AM

Jaf Kurd pile weaving

Michael Wendorf's very nice Jaf Kurd pile khorjin face, #40, is quite unusual. (How unusual?) It made me make a comparison to one we own. If you look at the two images side by side, ours and Michael's, you'll see that they are startlingly alike - the progression of hooks is the same in both, as is the color progression, and the apexes of the diamonds (and a few other design elements) are resolved the same way in both. The borders even have similar color progressions. The major differences are in the colors, with Michael's piece having (so it seems on my monitor) lighter aubergine and darker green. I can imagine the knotcounts are about the same. The two khorjin faces are not from the same double bag, as size and color differences militate against it. Were they woven by the same weaver? Was the weaving community so specialized that pile khorjins of this type really were very much alike? Who were all those pile khorjins woven for? Indeed, antique Jaf Kurd pile weaving seems to be all very much alike, with a great love of offset knotting that may have caused the weavers to focus on diamond forms that look welll with the smooth diagonal lines that offset knotting makes possible. These Kurdish women must have produced outstanding flatweaves, as the twined and weft substitution finishes on many of the bags are wonderful. Where are they? Where are the Jaf Kurd pile kellegi that would have been woven for town use? Just a few questions to chew over. I don't have the answers.

For more reading on weaving in western Iran, including Kurdsih village weaving, pick up a copy of Tad Runge's new book "One Woman, One Weft, rugs from the villages of Hamadan".

Thank you, Jerry, for putting up the images. Do you have any of the band show?

Posted by R. John Howe on 06-26-2002 03:15 AM

Fred Mushkat, who curated the band exhibition, and owns many of the bands in it, has indicated that he is interested in hosting a salon based on it at some point. We do not yet have a date scheduled.

I also have good photos of the strong Balouch exhibition, as well as some of the yastiks, Mr. Kearney included in his session.

So some additional good things from ACOR 6 are still possible.


R. John Howe

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 06-26-2002 06:44 AM

Sitting here on my desk is a CD-ROM with hi-rez (5meg) images of each of the pieces in Fred Mushkat's band exhibition, James Douglas' Baluch exhibition, and mine. If it turns out that ACOR has sufficient money, we'll be making copies - complete with exhibition text - for distribution (for free or for a charge? not determined) to the ACOR registrants. There should be several hundred more that will be offered for sale in some as yet undetermined manner.

As indicated, this is still very much in the concept stage.

I love the idea 'cause exhibitions have a very short life, disappearing in days or weeks at most. Preserving them in print is very expensive. But the use of digital photography and media brings the cost down substantially. How many great exhibitions have come and gone that were seen by the relatively few people who could physically get there? Salons like this go part way to solving the problem. But these images are on the order of 100k in size. The images on the CD-ROM will be larger by an order of 10x-30x. In many cases you can see the structure.

I'll keep you all up-dated on the progress (or lack thereof) of the production of a CD-ROM.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 06-26-2002 07:27 AM

Here you can see again Michael Wendorf's khorjin face followed by Mike Tshebull’s one.

The colors remind me a lot another one Sophia posted some time ago perhaps in her Salon, but I cannot find it anymore.


Posted by Michael Wendorf on 06-26-2002 01:41 PM

Dear Mike:

The comparison is quite striking. Your piece seems to have a brighter exposure and I think I recognize those colors. I think you would find them to be somewhat different in color value if you compared the two pieces side-by-side. The primary green, found in the field of my face, is softer than it appears in the image on my monitor. The green in the border is closer to the green in yours. The aubergine in my face is soft, a dye I have assumed is a madder dye on iron mordant. But I have not had it tested.

The most powerful comparison is in the corners. In all four corners of my face and in the two lower corners of your face there is very subtle red on red patterning seen only in perfect light. The same effect is found in the center of my face where yours has the more standard latchhook. I have always found this red on red patterning to be magical as it is often nearly invisible to the eye.

Interestingly, I have now found another comparable piece that is a complete double bag in small size.

The use of concentric diamonds is not surprising, but within this type there are lots of variations. The same is true of Jaf weaving generally. The more you see, the more diversity you find within familiar themes. Like you, I wonder where all the fantastic brocades are. For every good brocade, you find about 100 good pile pieces.

Best, Michael

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 06-26-2002 06:18 PM


The major difference I can see, other than colors - which appear more true-to-life on your bag (the white in the border reminds me of a powdered-sugar coating) than on Michael's - is the edge of the field.
The weaver of your bag, the lower of the two bags, was not able to, or did not desire to, bring the lines of latch-hooks all the way to the inner blue border line. There is a space of the field color most of the way up along the outer edge of the field on both sides.
Michael's bag has the latch-hooks worked all the way to the borders.
This topic, of whether the offset knots in the field were difficult to transition to the straight lines of the borders, was raised on Turkotek some time ago. Was the weaver of your bag not as experienced? If she wove both bags, did she learn a new trick? Or, as has been suggested, is the particular pattern rather specific to a region, tribe or family and the members wove the same design in just slightly different, personal ways?

The design itself, concentric diamonds, is not as common as the field of diamonds in a lattice pattern, but is seen in so-called Mushwani Baluch bags

. The other topic raised, the relative infrequency of flatweaves to pile weaves in Jaf bagfaces seems to be exactly the opposite with Shahsavan bags.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Mike Tschebullon on 06-26-2002 06:18 PM

I think the issue of "tone-on-tone" - Michael refers to it as "red on red" - is worth a second thought. Tone-on-tone is unusual for reasonably pure village and nomad textiles and quite charming when the contrasts work. (To pick one notable village weaving exception to the lack of tone-on-tone, look at the guard borders in Caucasian Kuba and Zeikur pile rugs; but the salmon-rose combo used in those rugs surely can be attributed to court weaving. For a tone-on-tone precursor to Kubas and Zeikhurs, see the well-known ivory Bernheimer runner.) Why is that, why didn't nomads and villagers use tone-on-tone? Tribal weavers had the dye resources. I think that typical "tribal" high contrast textiles evolved as an antidote over millenia to the high altitude, harsh light regimes of Central Asia and the Middle East. Tone-on-tone, probably a gift of urban China, and a low contrast technique, remains an urban favorite, works well in low light situations. Export carpets and rugs use tone-on-tone extensively. One of the best examples is Kirman pile carpets, which use up to five reds in combination. I think the red-on-red in Michael's khorjin face is a vestige of urban taste.

Re comparing images of the two bagfaces, it's frustrating to do, I know. Our piece was diggied outdoors; Is John Howe's image of Michael's piece a scan from a print?

I doubt that whether hooks running to the edges of a border is any indicator of anything, other than different design concepts used by individual weavers. Many overall rug designs stop short of the field edge. There are lots of theories why.

The ubiquity of hooked forms is another illustratuion of Ubcle Walter's axiom: Ain't nothing original, it's all from somewhere else.

Re the ratio of Azarbayjani nomad weaving having an inverse ratio of flatweave to pile when compared to Jaf Kurd weaving, I assume Jafs were villagers when the wove these bags we're discussing. Azarbayjani nomads wove little in the way of pile.

Posted by Steve Price on 06-27-2002 02:58 PM

A couple of thoughts that your post raises in my (befuddled) head.

...typical "tribal" high contrast textiles evolved as an antidote over millenia to the high altitude, harsh light regimes of Central Asia and the Middle East. I've seen this assertion often, but it doesn't come to grips with the very low contrast used in Belouch weavings. In fact, when people try to explain why Belouch use such low contrast palettes, the explanation is usually identical to your statement, but with the word "high" replaced by the word "low"; that is, the Belouch low contrast palette is often said to be an antidote to the harsh light in their environment. I sometimes wonder whether low contrast palettes might just reflect scarcity of cotton or white wool - significant areas of white really add contrast, and is used in abundance in NW Persian/Caucasian tribal stuff.

The predominance of flatweave (rather than pile) in NW Persian/Caucasian nomadic work is, in my opinion, a striking difference between their production and that of the Turkmen. Another is the kinds of utilitarian weavings each group made - there is almost no overlap (cargo bag, salt bag, khorjin for the NW Persian/Caucasian; juval, torba, landscape and portrait formal small bag for the Turkmen). It's like the abrupt change from knife/fork to chopstick as we enter Asia from the east or go beyond Central Asia from the west.


Steve Price