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Alluring Luris, Denizens of the Zagros
by Patrick Weiler
In 1953, Cecil Edwards published his important book, The Persian Carpet (1). Edwards may well be single-handedly responsible for the modern assessment of Luri rugs. In discussing the rugs of the Fars region, he breaks down the output of rugs from this area as 15% Qashqai, 40% Khamseh, 44% Village Persian and 1% Luri.
Of the Fars Mamassani and Hulagu Lurs he points out that they are mostly settled. “The output of these two tribes is insignificant.” “During my stay in Shiraz in 1948 I came across only two pieces – neither of which was of any particular merit.”
And as for the Northern Lurs, “The few rugs produced by the Kuhgalu and other Luri tribes which occupy the valleys southwest of Isfahan are hardly worthy of notice. The ouptut of the Lurs was never large, and it has dwindled to nearly nothing…as one of the tribal weaves of Persia, the Luri rugs are no longer of any importance.”
Well, this should make for a VERY short Salon.
The name conjures up images of a harsh, isolated, mountainous terrain, proud and colorful people, ancient art and mysterious rituals. Luristan covers an area of 11,700 square miles. Scotland, a small country, is 30,000 square miles in size, nearly three times as large. Luristan has a relatively small population, 1.5 million in 1991, about half a million in the 19th century (not all Luri, but Kurd, Persian and others, too, complicating the attribution of the weavings). For comparison, the state of Vermont covers 9,650 square miles, slightly smaller than Luristan, and is only the 45th of 50 of the United States in size. It had about the same number of people (608,000) in 1991 as the 19th century population of Luristan.
The story of the Lurs is one of strength and beauty, courage and pride, discrimination and prejudice, humiliation and poverty. Yet the luster of their weavings shows through the mists of time, like the glint of precious gemstones from beneath a heavy haze of dirt and grime. Long neglected and marginally collected, the weaving of the Lurs can rightfully be claimed to be as elegant, colorful, timeless and striking as that of their better-known neighbors.
Luri weavings have often been mislabeled as Qashqa’i, Khamseh, Kurd, Baktiyari, Caucasian and Shiraz. And reasonably so, due to the infusion of Lurs into the Qashqa’i, Khamseh and other tribes and their dispersal to areas such as Veramin for reasons as simple as splitting up the tribe to reduce their power or providing government defense against other unruly tribes.
Here is a
rug from the collection of Danny Mehra,
labeled Luri-Bakhtiyari, similar in coloration to plate 74 in Housego's Tribal
labeled Qashqa'i and plate 12, labeled Luri or Kurdish:
have occupied territory in Iran as long as any other peoples living there
today. Their culture, language and art have survived thousands of years
of turmoil, change and decay.
Lurs have occupied territory in Iran as long as any other peoples living there today. Their culture, language and art have survived thousands of years of turmoil, change and decay.
in the new book, Antique Rugs of Kurdistan (3), James Burns
(Kurds) do, however, show similarities with the work of the Lors and
Bakhtiari. These peoples were historically Kurdish in origin, but
had become separate ethnic groups by the sixteenth century.” In
the Appendix to the Burns book, Mehrdad Izady states: “The
only noteworthy events are the disappearance of Kurds of the southern
their assimilation into the Lors (Luri)…” These two comments
may be about two different groups of Lurs, but they seem to contradict on
the issue of whether Lurs were Kurdish in origin or if
Kurds were absorbed into Luri tribes.
A footnote in the new book, Antique Rugs of Kurdistan (3), James Burns notes: “They (Kurds) do, however, show similarities with the work of the Lors and Bakhtiari. These peoples were historically Kurdish in origin, but had become separate ethnic groups by the sixteenth century.” In the Appendix to the Burns book, Mehrdad Izady states: “The only noteworthy events are the disappearance of Kurds of the southern Zagros through their assimilation into the Lors (Luri)…” These two comments may be about two different groups of Lurs, but they seem to contradict on the issue of whether Lurs were Kurdish in origin or if Kurds were absorbed into Luri tribes.
Rug Review (volume 12, number 4, April/May 1992 (4)) there is a
Letter to the Editor from Jeremy Anderson. He says: “…
Luri or Lohri is derived from the word Loha, meaning iron, indicating a professional
name for ironworkers or blacksmiths - metallurgists. Luristan then
was named, as a province of the Zagros, after these Lurs or Luris, hence
However, this is a trade name and the ethnical dual name is Mammasani,
which is probably much older but has been recently relegated to semi-secretive
discretion in usage, obviously because of its pagan (kaffir) connotations.
In eastern Iran, Seistan, and in Baluchistan, they call themselves
the Mohammed Hassani, as a Muslim tribe of the Baluch, on the one side, or
on the other. Mammasani means “people or followers of the
Great Mother Goddess,” and is therefore obviously not acceptable in
Islam … Both
in Iran as well as Seistan and Baluchistan the Lohris are associated with
the Kurds, but now and for the last three decades at least the Kurds have
become thorough Mussalmans or Mohammedans, whereas earlier many were schismatists … In
the traditional caste system of this area, the Lohris are regarded as low
caste unfit for intermarriage, despite the adoption of the name Mohammed
Hassani. Most tribal peoples of the area regard them as being of Assyrian
Tazi origin, which might relate them to Kassite origins…”
In Oriental Rug Review (volume 12, number 4, April/May 1992 (4)) there is a Letter to the Editor from Jeremy Anderson. He says: “… Luri or Lohri is derived from the word Loha, meaning iron, indicating a professional name for ironworkers or blacksmiths - metallurgists. Luristan then was named, as a province of the Zagros, after these Lurs or Luris, hence Luristanis. However, this is a trade name and the ethnical dual name is Mammasani, which is probably much older but has been recently relegated to semi-secretive discretion in usage, obviously because of its pagan (kaffir) connotations. In eastern Iran, Seistan, and in Baluchistan, they call themselves the Mohammed Hassani, as a Muslim tribe of the Baluch, on the one side, or the Brahuis on the other. Mammasani means “people or followers of the Great Mother Goddess,” and is therefore obviously not acceptable in Islam … Both in Iran as well as Seistan and Baluchistan the Lohris are associated with the Kurds, but now and for the last three decades at least the Kurds have become thorough Mussalmans or Mohammedans, whereas earlier many were schismatists … In the traditional caste system of this area, the Lohris are regarded as low caste unfit for intermarriage, despite the adoption of the name Mohammed Hassani. Most tribal peoples of the area regard them as being of Assyrian Tazi origin, which might relate them to Kassite origins…”
provides this definition of a term related to the word “kaffir” used
by Jeremy Anderson:
Mydictionary.com (5) provides this definition of a term related to the word “kaffir” used by Jeremy Anderson:
n. Islam A nonbeliever; an infidel.
[Alteration of obsolete gower, gour, from Turkish gâvur, from Persian gabr, infidel, Zoroastrian, from Arabic kfir, infidel, from kafr, village, from Aramaic kapr; see kpr2 in Semitic roots.]
A Zoroastrian connection is not unlikely. A website, Zoroastriankids.com (6), shows some history of Zoroastrianism and one page showing a Luristan bronze.
Groundbreaking research by James Opie tantalizingly theorized that some of the ubiquitous motifs used to this day in west and southwest Iranian weaving are derived from ancient bronze work found in Luristan. If the connection is one of direct lineage, or whether the originators of the bronzes were contemporaneous with or predated the Lurs is unknown. The similarities between the millennia-removed likenesses are, however, uncanny. Some of his findings are described in an article in Oriental Rug Review, Volume 11/3 (7).
From Tribal Rugs (2), by Jenny Housego, page P14: “It may not be too fanciful to suggest a source of (Luri weaving) inspiration that stems from an extremely ancient culture in this remote mountainous area, of which the famous bronzes of Luristan are a part.”
From Kilim, The Complete Guide (8), comes this: “They are one of the few ethnic groups to have lived in their native land of Iran for at least three thousand years, and so can be called, along with the Kurds, one of the original Iranian people. ... Very little is known about the history of the Luri tribes apart from the fact that a very strong and artistic culture must have existed at the time of the manufacture of the Luristan bronzes.”
From The Art of Ancient Iran, Pre-Islamic Cultures (9), comes this assessment: “The dates assigned to the bronzes vary from 1500 to 700 B.C.; some scholars would even include the span of the seventh century B.C. in the time during which bronzes were produced in Luristan. Among the people who were supposed to have created the bronzes are the Kassites of the sixteenth to twelfth century B.C. and the Cimmerians of the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.”
Oriental Rug Review volume 11, number 5, June/July
1991 (10), includes an article by the late Don Wilber, Luristan Bronzes,
in which he
documents the origin and manufacture of these enigmatic entities. A few of
the interesting details include:
“ Very little is known about the ancient smiths. It is tempting to try to trace them back to Cain who bore a mark that made him safe from revenge for the slaying of Abel, to his descendant Tubal Cain, smith and worker of iron, to the smiths of Arabia who bore a brand on their forehead that enabled them to move safely among hostile regions because their special skill was respected by all….Their technical skills, so unrelated to any aspects of nomadic and settled life, clad them with an aura of mystery. In early times metals were thought to have magical properties and the smiths were regarded as magicians.
And from The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001 (11): “Lorestan or Luristan (both: lrstän´) (KEY), province (1991 pop. 1,501,778), c.11,700 sq mi (30,300 sq km), W Iran. The chief cities are the capital Khorramabad and Borujerd. The region consists mainly of forested and pastured mountain ranges; the highest point is c.13,000 ft (3,962 m). It has large petroleum deposits. Agriculture, however, is the chief industry. Crops include grain, cotton, fruit, vegetables, and oilseed; there are industries in cotton ginning and food processing. The inhabitants are mainly Lurs and Bakhtiari. From Lorestan came (18th cent. B.C.) the Kassite conquerors of Babylonia. The noted Lorestan or Luristan bronzes, found in the province beginning around 1930, include cups, horse bits, daggers, and shields, ornamented with animal motifs, checkerboards, wavy lines, and crosses. They were probably made in the 8th and 7th cent. B.C. by local metalworkers for Scythian, Cimmerian, or Median nomads.”
Carl Strock, in an article in the Oriental Rug Review, Vol 14, No. 6 (Aug/Sept, 1994)(12), suggests an even earlier, 2500 B.C. Mesopotamian origin for these mysterious images. It is available on the New England Rug Society web site.
From Woven Gardens (Black and Loveless) (13) come these insights written by authorities in Iranian culture. Joan Allgrove: “…archeologists have been turning up evidence, now capable of interpretation with new techniques, of the existence of the same kind of trans-humance economy in the Zagros mountains of West Iran and East Iraq as early as c12,000 BC. Arnold Wilson in 1907-1914 mentions the Lors in the summer quarters of the Kuh Giluyeh mountains in North West Fars (not to be confused with the Lors of Lorestan proper, much farther north). Their lawlessness was equaled only by that of the Turkmen, and Edwards says that their weavings were “so few in the bazaar that dealers have not bothered to inquire their tribal origin. They call them Lori rugs and leave it at that. ... The Mamasani, a now small Lori tribe, have largely settled north of Kazerun and between the Qashqa’i and Buyr Ahmadi summer quarters, and make only small local migrations.”
From Parviz Tanavoli's, Bread and Salt (14) come these observations. “Some of the Moslem geographers such as Mas’udi (died 956 A.D.) and Yaqut-e Hamavi (died circa 1223 A.D) consider the Lors as a section of the Kurds. Although the Lori and Kurdish tongues resemble each other, they are in fact separate and independent. The proximity of the Kurds to the Lors are the reason for these opinions. The land of the Lors includes a large area in the south and the west of the country. Different tribes of Lors dwell in the provinces of Lorestan, Hamadan, Fars, Isfahan, Chahar Mahal, Kohkiluyeh and Khuzistan.
The weavings of the Lors can be divided (by Tanavoli) into four groups: Lorestan, Bakhtiyari, Kokiluyeh and finally the Mamasani of Mohammad Hasani. This division is a geographical and regional partition, and is done purposely to distinguish between the Lori weavings. In addition to these four divisions, there are other regions in Fars, Kerman and Varamin, inhabited by Lors during the last few centuries which will be mentioned in due course. ... Since the weavings of the Lors of Lorestan, for example their khorjins, have much similarity to the weavings of the Bakhtiyari and Boyer Ahmad, they could have had other pieces such as the namakdan or the sofreh included among them. … In spite of the fact that in the last two decades several articles and papers have been published about the weavings of the Lors of Bakhtiyari, a proper study of these weavings is still lacking. In addition to other characteristics of other Lori weavings, the hand weavings of the Kohkiluyeh Lors are composed with more elegance and are more vivid in their colours. The proximity of these Lors to the Qashqa’is and their influence on each other can easily be traced in their weavings.”
In contrast, in Tribal Rugs, Treasures of the Black Tent (15), Brian MacDonald divides Luri weaving into five groups: Luristan, Kohkiluyeh, Boyer Amade, Mamasani and Bakhtiyari.
And Jenny Housego, from Tribal Rugs, page 14: "Little is known of the history of the Lurs. Some accounts suggest that they may have come from Syria in the tenth century. Their language is Persian in origin, and is the chief link between the four main branches. These are the Lurs proper, who inhabit Luristan, adjoining Kurdistan to the south; the Bakhtiyari, whose long migration takes them from the high Zagros mountains west of Isfahan down to Masjid-I Sulayman on the plains of Khuzistan; and the KuhGilu’I and Mamassani Lurs who live further east, in Fars, where their territory adjoins that of the Qashqa’i. These last named Lurs appear to have a weaving tradition distinct from that of the other Lurs and Bakhtiyaris. They weave pile rugs, weft-wrapped bags and gelims which have much in common with their neighbors, the Qashqa’i. Indeed it is often quite impossible to tell the two apart."
From Oriental Carpets, A Complete Guide (16), by Murray L. Eiland Jr and Murray Eiland III: “The Kurds are by far the largest group, numbering well over three million in Iran and possibly more than seven million in Turkey. Living in small villages or as semi-nomads, along the western mountains, they are closely related to the Lori, who live in the south in Khuzistan, and to the Bakhtiaris, ...”
Jenny Housego, in Tribal Rugs, says: "It has been sugested the Lori gelims are simpler in design, perhaps looser in weave and softer coloring than Qashqa’i examples."
Below is a picture of a Luri kilim from the collection of Danny Mehra (17). Notice that is quite simple in design and soft in coloring, as noted by Jenny Housego. It is 4’7” x 9’.
“ Most Lori/Bakhtiyari pieces have red dyed wefts. … the symmetric knot which is found on only a small proportion of Fars pieces in this collection is used by a number of tribal weavers in Iran including the Lori, Bakhtiyari, Kurds, north-west Persian Turkic tribes and also some of the Baluchi. In bags of the Lori and Bakhtiyari extensive use is made of weft-wrapping for saddle bags.”
Of the plates in Woven Gardens, only the following are possibly Luri:
Plate 4 It's soft, loosely woven, long piled texture may indicate
the work of the Lors of Fars.
Plates 12, 27,30, 56, 57 Qashqa’i or Lori
Plate 37 Lori
Plate 40 Qashqa’i, Khamseh, or Lori
42 Khamseh or Lori
Only one plate is indisputably attributed to Luri weavers. The others are only possibly Luri. These few examples and the indeterminate nature of their identifications highlight the difficulty in ascertaining a Luri attribution with any certainty.
Edwards, in The Persian Carpet, shows a chart indicating that only one per cent of Fars rugs were woven by Luri weavers. Is this correct, or were many Luri rugs just not recognized as such?
From Tribal Rugs, by James Opie (18), comes these assertions: “Close similarities to old Luri and Bakhtiyari nomadic motifs is a noteworthy feature of some of these (Kurdish) designs. … the term “Luri/Bakhtiyari” is a reliable name for many nomadic bags for which more definitive labels would be open to question. ... “Some members (of the Qashqa’i) speak Luri.” In discussing plate 10.18, Opie notes, “The Qashqa’i label is tentative, given the fact that many of the same motifs appear in Luri rugs and bags. The factors of high quality, knotting density of 144 knots per square inch, and slightly depressed warps all support the Qashqa’i attribution.”
The Khamseh, too, have a Luri component. Opie says: “These (five) tribes were; Arab, who were mostly of Arab ancestry, but with some Lurs”. Opie notes that one of the most famous Khamseh designs, the “bird/chicken/murgh” pattern may have derived from Luri origins.
He notes that "historical references to Luristan date to the seventh or eighth century A.D. or perhaps slightly earlier, well after the Luristan bronzes were fashioned. ... All in all, the romantic mental picture that rug collectors in the West developed regarding tribal weaving traditions is more appropriate to Lurs than to any other group. However, they, too, wove rugs for external markets." Many good, older Luri rugs date to as late as the 1930’s. They still utilized vegetal dyes and retained ancient tribal designs. During the 1930’s, the Shah was determined to modernize Iran, at the expense of the cultures of the tribes. Starvation, settlement and fragmentation irreparably destroyed the centuries old traditions of the Lurs forever. Complicating the differentiation of Luri weavings from their neighbors is the fact that, according to Opie, “Design similarities in Luri and Qashqa’i kilims, saltbags, and many rugs reveal the extent to which Qashqa’i tribes absorbed Luri elements during past centuries, thereby acquiring traditional Luri patterns.”
From Kilim A Complete Guide: “Until very recently the weavings of the Luri tribes have been mistaken for the work of other peoples from the southern regions. Only in the last two decades has it been realized that many of the kilims attributed to the Qashqa’i were in fact Luri, and the belief that the Lurs were merely unimportant copyists of the flamboyant Qashqai weavers has had to be reversed. In fact, the Lurs probably had a major influence on Qashqa’i designs, for the Luri tradition of weaving is believed to stretch far back into history.”
Nonetheless, there are few if any credible examples of Luri, or for that matter Qashqa’i, Khamseh, Afshar or Bakhtiyari tribal weavings from before the middle of the 19th century. Is it because they did not make rugs before the mid 19th century? Is it because we have confused their output with that of others from the pre-mid 19th century era? Did they all wear out? Were they different enough that we cannot confirm with any certainty their correct tribal origin? We know that the tribal affiliations of the Khamseh and Qashqai were “fluid” in the mid 19th century. So, how do we identify or differentiate the Luri weavings from those of their contemporaries?
From Kilim: “The wool of Luri work is much coarser
in texture, more loosely spun and thicker in feel, and brown wool is used
for warps (the Qashqa’i
usually use white cotton). The colours are much duller and more limited
in range than the wide palette of the Qashqa’i. The composition
of the Luri rugs, although indeed similar and the reason for much of the
and wrongful attribution, are less complex in form. The field is bold
and uncluttered, with areas outside the main patterning left unadorned, and
has far simpler borders.
Designs: Field: Complex patterns/Medallions
Borders: Simple and traditional
Materials: Coarse brown wool warps, wool wefts
Colours: Dull and limited palette
Selvedge: Plain/Occasional extra-weft reinforcement
Remarks: Similar, but less colourful and ornate than Qashqa’i”
From Opie, Tribal Rugs, are these identifying features: “Narrow
borders are a feature of many old Luri rugs. ...
Improvisational approach to patterns…is a frequent feature of Luri work. Irregular design features are consistent with nomadic Luri work. Human figures are common in their work. The irregular shapes of the medallions and relatively loose weave are typical Luri features.” Regarding the kilim in plate 7.14 of Tribal Rugs, Opie notes “the dark warps and the more primitive treatment of patterns point to a Luri source. ... “It is possible to distinguish rugs woven in Luristan proper, where dark-brown undyed wefts are the rule from Boyer Ahmadi and Mamasani Luri rugs, which feature red or red-orange weft ...symmetric knots are the overwhelming rule in pieces of nomadic origin…”
Housego: “The Lurs have never been prolific weavers of pile rugs, and are often credited with pieces that do not fall readily into other categories. Their rugs tend to be thick and heavy; in quality they are more like those of the Kurds, with whom they have ethnic links, than those of the Turkic Qashqa’i. ... Authors of a catalogue on Luri and Bakhtiyari weaving have noted the common consensus in Iran that the Lurs of Fars favour large, uncluttered designs of medallions, lattice or striped patterns. Qashqa’i gelims, although using a similar basic format, are more busy in pattern and minute in detail.”
Oriental Rug Review, volume 9, #6, August/September 1989 (19) includes an article by Thomas D. Cook, reviewing John Collins’ third South Persian Exhibition. A Luri rug from the Veramin region is shown, of typical long, narrow size. It has the dark blue field of Veramin bags, latch hook diamonds familiar from Luri weavings and dark warps. Mr. Cook says: “Except for works by Tschebull and Opie, Luri weavings have been largely ignored in the rug literature. Hence, it was unusual and exciting to find nine Luri rugs and bags on display. They covered a wide array of types. One was from the Veramin region, as was a soumak saddlebag. Another looks as if it were from the more southerly area of the Luri range, closer to Fars, as did another rug with white warps, fine shiny wool, and a lighter color palette reminiscent of the Qasqa’i. There was also one piece that in design and knotting looked as though it had been subjected to Kurdish influences, and Collins labeled it Luri/Kurd. Finally, there were several rugs that Collins designated as Luri/Bakhtiari. I do not take exception to any of his attributions and would have given the same ones myself. ... What makes us designate as Luri these rugs from such a large area, for there is now considerable reliability in their naming, though of the validity of these attributions we must be silent? We use the Luri label when certain elements occur in combination and form a network of probabilistic cues, none of which would be inadequate by itself to justify the classification. Premier among these cues are sizes twice as long as wide, darker warps and wefts, little warp depression, sides wrapped in goat hair or with a barber’s pole in a wider range of colors than one finds in Fars rugs, symmetric knots rarely finer than 80 knots or so per square inch, and a handle that is loose but chunky. The end finishes are likely to be of several kinds, perhaps depending on the region: with wefts braided and folded over, wefts simply interwoven but also containing one or two lines of colored wool, or pile checkerboard in a greater range of colors than is found in Fars. The designs are likely to be simple, with a distinct preference for fields with three to five large angular medallions or flower urns.”
Here is another rug from the collection of Danny Mehra, showing the Urn design.
“Alternately, the fields can have smaller and evenly spaced design elements repeated throughout. There is also more open spacing between the major field elements than we usually find with Fars pieces. The main borders are likely to contain distinctly separated design elements in a repeat pattern, while the minor borders have diagonal stripes in usually two different colors. The pile is clipped long, the color palette tends toward the more somber, and aniline dyes are frequently found in later 20th century pieces.” Cook goes on to say: “But to make the attribution clearer would logically require information we cannot obtain. We would have to interview older Veramin weavers from different tribal backgrounds who would have to claim that (the Veramin Luri rug) or rugs similar to it in structure, color and design – was made around Veramin and by Luri but not Kurdish or Qashqa’i weavers. We would also have to interview older Luri weavers from Luristan who would have to assert that rugs like the one in question had to their knowledge never been woven in Luristan. These logical requirements for valid classification present too tall an order by far, and so we will have to rely on reliable rather than valid regional classification of Luri rugs.”
As for interviewing older Luri weavers as suggested by Thomas Cook, this insight from the pioneering 1976 book, Lori and Bakhtiyari Flatweaves, by Amedeo de Franchis and John T. Wertime (20) is a conclusion from actual field research and interviews: “The nomads themselves, as it was possible to verify in the course of interviews conducted in the tribal areas, are often at a loss to identify pieces only fifty to one hundred years old.”
Here is a three medallion rug with an infinite repeat design, fulfilling most of the requirements of Luri rugs. In describing the rug on page 117 of Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia, James Opie comments that it is “…one of the few three-medallion Lori pieces that I located.”
It has softer, somber colors, dark warps and a simple, less cluttered design of diamonds on a field of rosettes. It has a low knot count of 6x6, 36 per square inch. It measures 8.5’ x 4.5’, approximately twice as long as wide. It also has a few other characteristics common to Luri weavings. Here is a detail of its back.
Notice the two shots of pink wool wefts and some supplemental wefts, probably inserted to even up the length from one side to the other. The warp is only moderately depressed. One thing common to many Luri weavings is a considerable abrash (21). In this rug, it is an abrupt change from a corroded brown to a medium blue in parts of the rug.
In this photo you can also see that the white ground border design changes dramatically from a steady repeat of a wave with interspersed dots to something akin to a genetic defect. We will see this transition from regularity to chaos frequently in Luri weavings. On the picture of the whole rug, you will notice that the design is not regular and geometric. It has a design of diamonds on a pole, with arms sticking out from the diamonds.
The edges of the field have half-diamonds with arms poking into the areas between the central pole diamond arms. This is an attempt at an “infinite repeat” design. However, the small diamonds at the ends of some of the arms just do not seem to be properly aligned. They are like a melting marshmallow drooping from the stick into the fire. The spacing of the diamonds is not anywhere near regular. Even the width of the pole changes from one end to the other. Notice the main blue border design. It is rosettes along the bottom. It changes to rosettes alternating with “X” motifs, then morphs into the “X” alternating with a device that looks something like a DNA chromosome (22).
Note: Image of chromosome deleted at the request of the owner of the copyright of the image.
Were the Lurs actually the worlds first genetic scientists??? This rug may be from the Boyer Ahmadi or Mamasani Luri area, due to the reddish wefts.
Now, take a look at this rug.
It has 7 x 7, 49 knots per square inch, well under the up-to-80 suggested as common to Luri weavings. It is 8’8” x 5’, not quite twice as long as wide. It has a four-diamond field with rosettes scattered about. The diamonds and the rosettes within them are not identical, but each is different in coloration and design. As James Opie notes in Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia, describing the three diamond Lori rug, on page 117, “Medallions of such differing sizes would certainly never appear in a Qashqa’i rug. This piece serves as evidence that Lori rugs were woven for use within the tribe. The contemporary tastes and styles had limited impact on them.”
It is a lot more colorfully dyed than the previous rug, has brown and white wool warps and two shots of reddish pink wefts for most of the rug, but also has sections of yellow wefts, blue wefts and blue/red wefts, too.
The selvedge is overcast with black goat hair. It, too, has significant abrash, from dark to light blue, almost like a striated summer sky.
Here is the top diamond, from the front and from the back.
This rug, too, has some chaos in the border regions (almost like the tribes themselves).
Is this an Internal Elem or just typical Luri Internal Chaos?
This indecisiveness only occurs on one side of the rug, suggesting
a correction rather than a purposeful idiosyncrasy. Note that the outer
and inner major
borders of a wavy line incorporate significant color changes in numerous
areas around the rug. Is this just haphazard weaving, or intended?
Proceed to Part 2