Posted by Steve Price on 08-01-2002 07:07 PM:

Jaf Kurd Backs and Bottoms

Hi People,

Some of you may recall that I rather like interesting backs on bags, and did a Salon on them awhile back - Tribal Bags with Interesting Backs. Something that hasn't been mentioned at all in the thread on Jaf bags is that they usually have interesting backs and skirts.

What's been shown as Jaf bagfaces are, at leasst for some of them, probably not full bagfaces at all. The more or less rectangularly framed field of diamond shapes in many Jaf bags has a skirt of some simple repeating motif that extends down to the bag bottom, where it is turned so that some of it becomes part of the bag back. The rest of the back often incldues brocaded bands.

Here's one that shows this. The first image is more or less the part that would have shown from the front when the bag was sewn into the khorjin format.

The second image is a little closer view of the bottom of what would be called the face if the skirt had been removed, and the skirt itself.

The third is a better look at the brocaded bands that make up the rest of the back.

It's too bad the bottoms and backs of so many of these have been lost.

Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 08-02-2002 06:07 AM:

Hi Steve,

Of course you are aware of the fact that Jaf bags, exported by the thousands to US and Europe, were sold after removing the backs for use as mats… Jaf bags with the original backs are difficult to find and whole khorjins should be even rarer (how much?).
Luckily I have one complete, presented some time ago on Show and Tell.

The back you show above is very nice!


Posted by Glenn Manser on 08-02-2002 06:01 PM:

Not a bad back !

Hi Steve and Filiberto,

The following image is of the front of a nice little Jaff bag I have. It is 18" x 24" and I would date it circa 1880. The placement of the white diamond and the very archaic border make this an interesting piece to admire.

What is even more interesting, however, is its kilim back.

As Steve indicated the back can sometimes be more interesting than the front .


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 08-03-2002 03:02 AM:

OK - here is mine again:

Not an extraordinary specimen and not in mint condition - but it's complete.


Posted by Chuck Wagner on 08-03-2002 03:37 PM:

Back To The Future

Greetings All,

We don't see many Kurdish goods where I am, new or old. But every now & then some nice pieces appear. So, I'll legitimize this post by reminding Filiberto that HE SAID:

"Aren't they nice ? Who cares about the age? "

and then show you a new Kurdish flatweave namakdan that came in with some Hajjis during the last 'eid.

It's clearly brand new but has the typical motifs seen so often in this forum. The colors are a little different, though. It's a nice bit of handiwork, finely woven and almost watertight. 15" wide by 20" high.

The front:

The back:

A closeup of a familiar motif:

A shot of the nasty side. Definitely handspun wool, and note the appearance of the green strands, which to my eye look like yellow dyed over blue and could be a vegetable preparation. The dyes are done well; absolutely no running with a hard rubbing using alkaline water.

And finally a request: would a couple of you mind trying to post some closeup shots of the back of your rugs/bags ? It's my understanding that offset knotting is one distinguishing characteristic of Jaf Kurd weavings; I'd like to see some up close.

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Steve Price on 08-03-2002 03:51 PM:

Hi Chuck,

I like the back of your piece very much (I'm not sure why anyone should care, but I said it anyway).

Marla Mallett's site has a page that's chock full of stuff about offset knotting, including some very good diagrams. The URL is


Steve Price

Posted by Sophia_Gates on 08-03-2002 09:28 PM:

Here's the Kurdish (?) bag I mentioned, along with a couple of details of the back & pile. The back reminds me of sofrehs, very abstract and similarly sturdy. It does have cotton warps, however, and has lost the original edges somewhere along the line, darn it. The brocaded decorations look typical albeit on a grand scale.

Agewise, I think this is maybe 6th quarter 19th century

This bag is huge, well over five feet long - this must be the Camel Model. And, I'm not 100% sure it's Kurdish! It has a very Baluch-type coloration which is well within the range of natural colors although, who knows. In any case it's deep and smoldering and it's unlike the usual joyous Kurdish palette. It does appear to have been hand dyed upon hand-spun wool, however, as the dyes are very transparent and the dappled wool shines through and the wool is extremely lustrous, as one frequently encounters with Baluch objects.

The knots are symmetrical, though - like a Kurdish piece. BUT - although the pattern is the typical Jaf diamonds, there is no offset knotting! So, I'm confused.

Anyhow it lives in our dining room. Thus far, we have no camel to go with it

Best to all,

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 08-04-2002 03:12 AM:


Nice back (and pretty front too).
The front: overlay-underlay brocading? (Help Marla!)


Your bag looks definitely Beluch-type. Besides, no offset-knotting…
Well, remember that several groups of Kurds were forcefully moved in the Khorasan district (the so-called Quchan Kurds) living side-by side with Beluch tribes. It’s no mystery that the Beluchis used to copy and adapt design from other tribes. So, it could be a case of Beluch infringement of design copyright. The design was adapted to the Beluch palette, though.

Very interesting, thank you for posting it,


Note added later
Or, more simply: a Beluch weaver saw a Jaf bag and copied it!

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 08-04-2002 04:30 AM:


A further note: around 10% of pile weaving labeled as Beluch is symmetrically knotted.
The "chevron" back is also very Beluch.

Posted by Sophia Gates on 08-04-2002 01:00 PM:

Kurds, Baluch, and Afshars

Dear Filiberto,

Thank you for your comments. I agree, I think it could well be Baluch. One of the most striking rugs I've ever seen was a Baluch interpretation of a Beshir - it was outrageous.

The lack of offset knotting is particularly interesting in this case, and I think is the most important argument against a Kurd attribution.

I believe there are also a lot of tribal Afshar people in the area - I think there's considerable design cross-fertilization with them too. I'm thinking again of the stunning sofrehs one sees, and which have various attributions.

Anyhow it's reassuring to see pieces like Chuck's salt bag too, still being made in our time, and so beautifully.



Posted by Deschuyteneer daniel on 08-05-2002 07:15 AM:

Hi sophia,
Such "chevron" pattern were woven with weft substitution weave a technique widely used by Afshar and Baluch tribes.
I don't remember having seen Kurdish pieces woven in this technique

Marla displays a Baluch bag with similar chevron pattern and the technique used on her pages at

A balouch bag and his lessons

Daniel Deschuyteneer

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 08-05-2002 04:11 PM:

Weavers Must Attend Lots Of Mixers....

Hi Sophia, et all...

Sophia, your bag is interesting. If there is a such a thing as South Caspian Regional Weavers Beach Day, it must be attended by Kurds and Baluchis. To my eye, the bag "looks" like Baluchi work but has features very similar to a Jaf Kurd bag that Kenneth Thompson showed toward the bottom of a prior Salon thread.

The link:

In his post (02/15/2000 09:29) he refers to it as the "Milan bag". Note the rosette border devices and diagonal hatched end panels which are quite similar to those on your bag. But, the diagonal hatched design on the Milan bag is clearly a brocade. I can't see yours very well but it looks like it's in the kilim rather than the pile. Is it brocaded or woven in ?

The diamond devices in the field of your bag look more like those on a Baluchi bag I'll show in a moment rather than a typical Jaf Kurd device, which has an open upper and lower vertex on the diamond latch hook component. So, it's a mutt I guess, and a nice one.

Here's the Baluchi bag, which I personally think qualifies as the darkest Baluchi color pallette currently available on the planet.

The bag (motif impossible to see, yet):

The bag is open along the top edge. The field has a motif just like yours, but only visible at a sharp angle in bright light:

I would LOVE to know how someone piles a pattern like this with so little difference in colors and contrast. I cannot fathom doing such work in anything other than bright sunlight.

And since I'm having a lot of fun with a new camera, here are some more images of the salt bag, up close.

For Steve, a closeup of the back:

For Filiberto, the back side of a diamond motif (so he can practice with his copy of Woven Structures :

And for any dye enthusiast:

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Sophia Gates on 08-05-2002 11:11 PM:

First, thanks to Daniel for his post - yes, looking at Marla's rug makes me lean even more to the Baluch attribution.

Chuck, there is a herringbone pattern at the bottom of the pile part of my bagface, then the diagonal hatched motifs which are brocaded. That's one of the more Kurdish features of the piece, I think, along with the meaty handle.

And yes, I think your bag is clearly Up There with All Time Dark Baluches! Whoa. Must be bright out there!


PS, your detail shots are great - the wool certainly looks hand-dyed - mine has similar characteristics.

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 08-06-2002 02:06 AM:

Dear Chuck,

Nevermind the bag.... What kind of camera are you using that gets such crisp close-ups?



Posted by Chuck Wagner on 08-06-2002 04:04 PM:


Hi Jerry,

Up until about 2 months ago I was using a borrowed Sony Mavica, 1 megapixel, which was OK but inadequate for many of the images I wanted to post. So, while back in the US on a trip (and after having done some, but not a lot, of research) I picked up a Nikon Coolpix 885 (probably the bug-fix version of the 880 ??) which produces a 3.14 megapixel image.

Lots of positives; negatives include the occasional inability of the auto-focus to grab the right portion of a close-up object and (like a lot of color negative film) a tendancy to oversaturate the red. But I'm more than compensated for those with some nice shots.

A couple more examples follow; apologies to Michael for drifting a little from the forum topic, but the images are interesting.

The first is a closeup of one of the tassles from the Baluchi bag above. It's quite interesting: a thin (1mm) cord of twisted hair with cotton yarn wrapped around the cord to form a design, all wrapped around the body of the tassle:

A closeup view of handspun wool yarn on an Afghan Sulayman rug:

And last, a real closeup of the pile side of a non-trivial Tabriz carpet of ours (about 700 knots/inch:

All of these shots were hand-held: no tripod, but usually leaning against a stationary object. Like you said: crisp.

Regards, Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 08-06-2002 04:43 PM:

Thanks, Chuck.

I've been thinking about getting a digital camera. (My brother gave me a first generation Canon when they just came out...not enough pixels, so I decided to wait 'til they were nearly as good as my analog - film - camera.)

Finding a 4 megapixel at a significant discount to retail is pretty easy. And there are more 5+ megapixels cameras every day. So now the question is what's the acceptable balance between crisp images and hard drive-clogging monster files?

I'm pretty satisfied with prints and a scanner to get my digital images. But what do you do when you want to get one or two digital images...and you don't want to buy, process, and print and entire roll of film? Digital cameras let you do this.

Nikon lenses are generally reliable. Your images bear this out...even handheld. Looks like I'll be checking out the Coolpix line. (The new 5000 is waaay kewl but may be more than what's needed.)

Thanks for posting your images, Chuck.



Posted by Steve Price on 08-06-2002 04:56 PM:

Hi Jerry,

Just as with a camera that uses film, excellent optics (the lens) is critical, as is good focusing, color rendition and autoexposure.

The most advertised specification on digital cameras is the number of megapixels in the sensor. Just how important that is depends on what you want the camera to do. A 1 megapixel camera with excellent optics will make very sharp prints at up to 4 x 6, but grain becomes noticeable at enlargements up to 8 x 10 or if you blow up a small part of the image. Two or 3 megapixels have enough resolution for sharp 8 x 10 prints.

For displays on a computer monitor, 1 megapixel is more than adequate. A 1 megapixel camera operating at its high resolution mode creates a 600 KB image. Almost nothing on our site is as large as 100 KB. The last three images Chuck posted are all in the 34 to 51 KB range. The remarkable clarity and crispness testifies to the excellent optics and accurate auto-focus.


Steve Price

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 08-07-2002 03:31 AM:

The really strong points of digital cameras are, of course, the possibility to check at once your pictures and download them to a computer in a matter of second, but I was also amazed by the ability to shoot macro close-ups without tripod. It’s almost impossible to do it with a film camera.

I’m quite satisfied with my two-years-old Olympus 1.3 megapixel model. As Chuck picture’s show, however, more megapixels (and better optics) means higher resolution and crisper images even when you resize them for Web-use.

Jerry, I do not advise to go over 3 megapixel if you are going to use the photos ONLY for the Web.
If you want to save some money, 1-2 megapixels cameras are cheaper and still offer good quality and a very decent free-hand macro facility.
For better macros you can always use your scanner - well, when it’s possible.

A good web site for Digital Imaging information, Digital Cameras reviews and so on: