Posted by Richard Farber on 01-25-2003 12:41 AM:

Luri vrs. Kurd

Dear Mr. Howe,

thank you for the photo essay, very impressive.

Oh to be on the Potomac shore
when the cherry trees bloom
and the t. museum opens its doors.

Perhaps someone out there would present some information about
the Luri and the Kurd and their weavings

thanks again

Richard Farber

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-26-2003 06:08 AM:

Hi Richard -

Yes, the TM's Rug Mornings are a remarkable community resource. It is one of the things they do for which I think they not only don't receive sufficient credit, but that is not currently organized so that they can be enjoyed by a sufficient number of people. (These sessions are held in Mr. Meyers' former living room that holds about 75 people seated auditorium style. That is one reason we occasionally conspire to put these sessions up here. They are very frequently deserving of a much larger audience.)

And even those of us who live here often don't see it all. There was an interesting lecture on Moroccan rugs by the Pickerings last week (showed how they were used by a great many architects and designers in the 1940s and 1950s. Frank Lloyd Wright and similar folks.) And Igo Licht, an experienced Israeli collector, did a Balouch session yesterday that I unfortunately missed.

But about your question. I'm not clear what you are asking. We have not neglected Kurdish weaving here, with two rather recent detailed salons that focused primarily on it, with knowledgeable hosts.

I refer, you many recall, to Michael Wendorf's salon that presented a version of a "deep Kurdish weaving tradition" argument he made at ACOR 6.

And more recently Guido Imbimbo and Daniel Deschuyteneer:

And way back Daniel did another Kurdish salon:

I don't think we've ever had anyone do a salon on Luri weaving, although there are some of our number who take an interest in it. Pat Weiler I believe, pays some attention to Luri weaving and might be persuaded sometime to do a salon on them

But perhaps I misunderstand your question. Please ask it again.


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Tomlinson on 01-26-2003 07:15 AM:

how about a salon on shahsavan weavings ????????????????????????

Posted by Steve Price on 01-26-2003 10:45 AM:

Hi Richard,

I'd be very happy to see someone do a Salon on Shahsavan or Luri work. Any volunteers?


Steve Price

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-26-2003 10:50 AM:

Hi Richard -

Shahsevan pieces do get frequent coverage here.

A great many of the rug morning sequences have several Shahsevan pieces in them and there has been a salon or two focused on Shahsevan weaving.

Here are two links:

Daniel called this "The Italian Rug," but some call it a Shahsevan piece.

Wendel Swan gave a salon on a "Yellow-Ground Rug," that he believes is Shahsevan.

Perhaps you mean that no one has done anything that systematically suggests the range of Shahsevan weaving and that is true.

Candidates for the Richard's task?


R. John Howe

Posted by Richard Farber on 01-27-2003 02:31 PM:

Dear All.

what I meant was that if the weavings of the Lure and Kurds can be confused than the two peoples must share some common background and perhaps someone outthere might be prepared at first to define the two groups . . . give info about geography culture etc in an attempt to deferenciate between them and should common ground --- somebody who knows this could save those that dont a huge amount of time finding out --- and this would prepare for a discussion or essay[s] about the artifacts of these two groups tribes? peoples


Richard Farber

Posted by M. wendorf on 01-27-2003 03:19 PM:

Ethnic Kurds

Dear Richard:

I have no ready answer to your thorny question. However, it is timely. In an about to be published book titled Antique Rugs of Kurdistan, James Burns and Merdad Izady will argue that the Lors and Bakhtiari are ethnically Kurdish in origin, but had become separate ethnic groups by the sixteenth century. Moreover, they will further argue that Kurds, and by extension the Luri, are the product of five distinct civilizations - the Halaf, the Ubaid, the Hurrian, the Aryan and the Semetic/Turkic in the western Zagros and eastern Anatolia. Unfortunately, Lori/Luri work is beyond the scope of the book and is not discussed beyond the background essays.

The distinction between Kurd and Lori or Luri has always been and remains unclearly defined. Perhaps this is because there is a similar or shared history going back in time. Perhaps it is because no one has tried to examine it closely. Jim Opie may have come closest in the popular rug literature. Try his book Tribal Rugs for starters. Perhaps you will formulate such a salon?

Good luck, michael wendorf

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-27-2003 04:55 PM:

Richard -

Is it your impression that Kurdish and Bijar weavings are noticably mistaken for one another? I don't think I have been aware of that. They both can exhibit real exhuberance in design and rich colors but I wasn't aware that they could sometimes be confused with one another. What is the basis for your impression?


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-27-2003 08:19 PM:

Lur and Kurd


You may have confused John. I think you are saying that Lur and Kurd production can be mistaken for each other, not Kurd and Bijar. Many Bijar and village weavings from NW Iran have been called Kurdish, though whether settled Kurds or others wove them is argued. (rug collectors are quite an argumentative bunch )
The Lur populate the Zagros range, from the north to Kurdistan and south to where the Khamseh federation existed and the Qashqai live.
There is also the complicating detail about the Baktiari, who are a "subtribe" of the Lur and overlap the Lur, living on the eastern range of Lur territory. Another confusing detail is that most of what is called Baktiari work is actually the work of settled non-Lur weavers.
You are correct that some weavings are indeterminate and have been relegated to the Kurdish/Lur/NW Persian groups, simply because there are so few conclusive features that weigh more heavily in any one way or the other.
Because the Lur are "surrounded" by Kurds and many other tribal weavers (not to mention major commercial weaving centers, from Isphahan to Tabriz to Shiraz), the construction and ornamentation of their weavings has probably intermingled back and forth.
I will volunteer to host a Lur salon, since I have a few of their weavings, along with some which are not easily defined. It would be nice to see a bunch of Lur weavings coming out of the closets, from under beds and off the walls of Turkotek-ers.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-27-2003 09:20 PM:

Hi Pat -

No Richard didn't confuse me about his question, I just miswrote. I did mean to confess that I didn't know that Luri and Kurdish weavings are often confused. I can't remember ever hearing anyone complain of that before. I thought the Lurs were generally far enough south and with insolating mountains, etc. to make that less than likely. Wrong?

I just looked at Opie's first book again and he mentions a Luri-Veramin connection as the result of resettlement but is silent about Lur-Kurd confusion.

I also just looked at his map again and clearly most of the Lurs are in the northern most part of southwest Iran and their territories to abut NW Persian ones like Arak.


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-28-2003 12:15 AM:

Kurds and Lurs


Opie's second book, Tribal Rugs, notes, on page 153, regarding Kurdish rug repertoires :
"Close similarities to old Luri and Bakhtiyari nomadic motifs is a noteworthy feature of some of these designs."
I suspect that, over the years, the sellers of tribal rugs have used the most marketable term at the time.
Many of these market-based designations could probably be discarded in favor of a more systematic and structurally-oriented basis.
Otherwise, we remain with an amalgam of designations without a well researched foundation.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-28-2003 08:25 AM:

Pat -

Is it known that the structures of Luri vs. Kurdish rugs are also similar or is this mostly uncharted territory?


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-30-2003 02:02 AM:

Yes and Yes


I wouldn't say that:
"the structures of Luri vs. Kurdish rugs are also similar or is this mostly uncharted territory"
But more that the structures of both and their designs are not always distinguishable from each other.
I recently saw a rug owned by Michael Craycraft which he describes as Kurd, or possibly Lur. The long format and probably the border designs indicated Lur, but the field design bespoke of the Kurdish tradition.
Opie has noted the Kurdish influence in Lur rugs from the Veramin area, where Kurds are also found. He also notes the confluence of design details in rugs from the Boyer Ahmadi Lurs in NW Fars with those of adjacent Kurds.
In his first book, Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia, Opie says that both the Kurds and Lurs are among the oldest tribes in Persia, and that Lur designs have the feel of being more ancient than their adapted relatives woven by the more recently arrived Qashqai and Khamseh.
And because the Lur were not prolific weavers in the first place, compounded by the limited number of Lur weavings imported into the US, there has not been a critical mass of Lur weavings to allow adequate research conclusions.

I suggest that you sell everything you own, borrow all the money you can, and buy all the Lur rugs on the market. This will allow you the opportunity to amass a database of information that may allow accurate conclusions.

Operators are standing by.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-30-2003 09:11 PM:

Finally, the truth


I have located the definitive, conclusive evidence of the relationship between the Kurds and the Lurs. It is from an e-bay item, a Lur saddlebag:

"The history of the Lurs as an independent tribe is less ancient since they were counted as a sub-tribe of the Kurds."

There you have it.

I guess there can be no more arguments!

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Tracy Davis on 02-02-2003 01:46 PM:

I'd enjoy a salon focusing on Luri weavings. I have a few and have always been drawn to them. The resulting discussion and show-and-tell would be interesting. Or maybe we should just start with a Luri show-and-tell, and see which way the discussion goes....?

Posted by R. John Howe on 02-03-2003 04:53 PM:

Tracy -

Pat Weiler has already said that he'd host a Luri salon.

"...I will volunteer to host a Lur salon, since I have a few of their weavings, along with some which are not easily defined. It would be nice to see a bunch of Lur weavings coming out of the closets, from under beds and off the walls of Turkotek-ers."

It's just up to Steve to schedule him quickly before he changes his mind. Or rather to concentrate it on his task.


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-03-2003 08:46 PM:


I am holed up at a secure, undisclosed location, researching Luri weavings.
I suggest you take photos of your Luri rugs and e-mail them to Filiberto. Make them VERY LARGE jpeg's. That will keep him busy until 2/24 when the next Salon opens on Luri weavings!

Patrick Weiler, next room over from Dick Cheney.

Posted by Tracy Davis on 02-03-2003 09:15 PM:

Will do, Patrick.

Keep those Republicans on their toes....

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-04-2003 03:04 AM:

Hi Pat,

I didn’t know you were an Al-Qaida possible target!!!
Now that I think about it, must be when I mentioned your name in a casual conversation with Bin Laden on how distressful are people who e-mail me large images…