Posted by Leslie Orgel on 04-30-2003 10:45 AM:

Mafrash Panel with Chromosomes

Hello All,

Here is a Mafrash Panel depicting a Chromosome Spread, just to back up Patrick Weilerís speculations about early Persian geneticists.

I donít remember seeing a rug with helices. Any references to other chromosome rugs would be appreciated.

Best wishes,


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-01-2003 12:46 AM:



Are you sure that is a mafrash panel? It seems a bit long for that. It looks more like a section of what has been called a "box cover". Perhaps a box cover for bio-genetic experiments, though. It looks like some of your X chromosomes are deforming
Do you know where it was made? The box covers I am familiar with are Kurdish. ( Of course, the Kurds and Lurs were neighbors)
Are there any repairs to the weaving at either side near the middle? This, too, is an identifying characteristic I have seen in these box covers, almost as though there had been an attaching device which has been removed and repaired.
The little crosses surrounding the field even look a bit like the diamonds surrounding the medallions on the "chromosome" rug in the Salon:

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Leslie_Orgel on 05-01-2003 11:05 AM:

Hello Patrick,

Thank you for your interesting suggestion. I didn't know about "box covers". My only reason for thinking that the piece was a mafrash panel was its size (39 inches by 15 inches) and the attribution of the dealer who sold it to me. There doesn't seem to be any damage to the middle of the sides. Azadi and Andrews, in their book "Mafrash", show two Afshar pieces that are as long or longer than mine, but most of their pieces are significantly shorter.

I have always assumed that the panel is Kurdish. If that is correct, it would fit nicely with your suggestion of a box cover. Incidentally, the warps are cotton. Is that significant?


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-02-2003 12:25 AM:

Cotton is Good


Harken back to good, old Salon 42...... It was a dark and stormy night...

You will see a box cover of remarkable resemblance to your panel. It, too, is woven on a cotton foundation. That cotton foundation may indicate a village or city origin.

The Salon itself shows two panels of one of these box covers, woven on a wool foundation.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Leslie_Orgel on 05-02-2003 11:31 AM:

I think that the resemblance between my panel and the mystery piece in Salon 42 is so close that they must be parts of the same class of textile. A box cover seems the most likely and a mafrash panel unlikely. Thank you for for so much really useful information.

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 05-12-2003 06:23 PM:

Another Box Cover, 2 Panels


Here is another box cover section. It has wool warp and weft. It has a top panel much like your chromosome panel, but with a lower panel, too. (therefore it is worth exactly twice as much as yours!):

It has the same boteh-in-chromosome lattice as yours. This one appears to have a bug-head with two eyes, a nose and a mouth, with antennae sticking out. The bottom of some of the boteh's appear to be oppositely swimming yellow ducks:

But it also has a second panel with two very geometricized floral medallions:

You can also see the repair at the left side I mentioned. It has a similar repair on the right side, too. I suspect that the second panel from your piece may have had these damaged sections but it was cut off because it was easier to dismember than to repair. I suspect that some kind of closure or tie-down strap was attached at these points and their corresponding points on the other end of the cover. Because the middle section was very plain, the market place may have separated the top and bottom sections for sale and either discarded the middle section, or put a fringe on it and sold it as a mat.

One odd feature about these box covers is that each panel has a complete border surrounding it. The upper panel of mine has what I call a "pencil" border. These panels must have been visible in their entirety-on different "sides" of whatever box they were covering. What kind of box was it?

Patrick Weiler