Posted by R. John Howe on 05-08-2003 02:52 PM:

Salt Bag

Dear folks -

I've felt a little self-conscious about not being able to support Pat Weiler's carefully prepared salon here and maybe that will still be the case. But I have a piece that I'll at least offer for your thoughts.

It is a salt bag that I bought recently at the Georgetown flea market.

I like the front panel, with its strong blue ground and chaulky white cotton decoration.

But I like the back almost as well, with its unexpected change of color that seems like wear but is not.

The primary reason I think it is Bakhtiari is that is has a narrow strip of pile on the front just under the bottom border. The narrowness of this pile strip and the general character of the piece make me think it has no great age.

Here is a direct scan of a part of the front:

And here is a direct scan of the same approximate area of the back:

It has light brown wool warps and the wefts (as you can see) are red.

It's probably straightforward Bakhtiari, but it has enough irregularities in it to qualify as a Luri weaving.

What do you think?


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-09-2003 05:29 PM:

How can you tell?


Tanavoli only shows two saltbags in his book Bread and Salt that are specifically Lors, plates 82 and 89. He distinguishes them from the dozen or more other Bakhtiyari Lor saltbags by the bright colors particular to the Kohkiluyeh Lors. He notes the colorful side wrappings which are different than the Bakhtiyari side wrappings made of black goat's hair. Your bag does not show the black side wrappings, possibly pointing away from a "plain old" Bakhtiyari salt bag.
He says that Bakhtiyari salt bags, with which he includes Lori salt bags, too, are of nearly universal dimensions of 60x40cm. You did not say what the dimensions of your bag are.
Colors are green, blue, dark red and some yellow. Cotton is used for whites. Your bag certainly fits this description. Of course the goat-head design in the neck of your bag is typically Bakhtiyari, this alone does not eliminate it from being made by one of the Lori groups.
The back of your bag is quite complex and probably unusual in the intricacy of the design.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by R. John Howe on 05-10-2003 08:09 AM:

Pat -

My bag is 60 cm by 50 cm.


R. John Howe

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-10-2003 11:56 AM:

Out on a Limb


The size fits approximately in the range, a bit wide. This 25% wider size could indicate a different tribe of manufacture than Bakhtiyari. Most of the Bakhtiyari salt bags with the goat's head design in the neck of your bag also use the same design as a border to the main field.
There is an article on flatweaves of Kirman province in ORR,

It shows a couple of salt bags. One, from the "Sirjan?" area has a similar border to yours. You will also find pieces with fields of horizontal stripes of various geometric designs. Your bag has horizontal stipes of unusual geometric designs, too. Not that yours is from Kirman, but these design traditions seem to travel around a lot.

Any speculation about differentiating Luri/Bakhtiyari weavings is very tentative. That is why it is easier to lump all these weavings into the larger, more general category of Luri/Bakhtiyari. As more questions arise about the niggling details of differences in these things, the more confident we can be about their origins.
The devil is in the details.

Patrick Weiler