Posted by Danny Mehra on 01-05-2004 10:48 AM:

Felts & Pelts

In addition to felt rugs, apparently the Kyrgyz people also use animal pelts - dyed and patched together - as sleeping rugs. I was told that these are known as "Postek".

The companion to the Postek is an "overhanging" made of felt, with long tassels made of wool sown to hang from the felt when it is mounted on the ceiling above the Postek bed. The overhanging also has some colored "painting" on the surface of the felt.

It'll be interesting to hear about other examples of pelts' and felts' usage by various cultures.

Happy new year

Posted by R. John Howe on 01-05-2004 03:38 PM:

Hi Danny -

The road you suggest has been pretty thoroughly traveled in recent years. John Wertime's important article, "Back to Basics," in Hali 100, is likely the place to start for someone looking for what current research suggests about this sequence.

Wertime does suggest that some early textile were in fact made to imitate animal furs that were also used. And felt has its place in this sequence. But it continued even as pile rugs began to be made.

The last piece you put up in the post above appears to be a "julkhir" type piece. Many of these were woven with long pile on alternate warps (designs show only faintly on the back) and with lots of rows of weft between rows of knots. Some are done in strips and then sewn together; others are a single piece. Some are dip dyed after weaving.

We showed and discussed several such pieces in Salon 78 which presents a version of a presentation Jim Blackmon made at the 2001 Textile Museum Rug Convention.

We also talked quite a bit in this salon about the distinctive structures some of these pieces have.

Interestingly, the structures of many "julkhirs" and of such Turkish pieces like the shaggy "Siirts" (the latter have no knots: the shag is teased weft) are sometimes still being used today and are a seeming window on what structures were like in very early rugs (this is an explicit part of Wertime's discussion). They are one sort of contemporary rug that has attracted the attention of folks who are usually interested only in antique pieces.


R. John Howe

Posted by Danny Mehra on 01-05-2004 03:47 PM:

Hi John,

Thanks for the additional information.

The "pelt" rug (Postek??) in this thread is actually made from animal pelts - from what appears to be different animals' hides based on the texture of the fur - they are not woven like Julkhyrs. Some of the strips are "au natural", whereas other strips have been dip dyed.


Posted by R. John Howe on 01-05-2004 04:08 PM:

Hi Danny -

Yes, Wertime showed some pieces that were actually of animal hide. Are you saying that the piece in your third image is one such? It appears to have pile. Is that dyed hair?


R. John Howe

Posted by Danny Mehra on 01-05-2004 04:14 PM:

Hair it is!

Hi John, its indeed all hair...some curly, some straight. The black border is all undyed black animal hair.

On that note, while I personally don't condone fur, I think these are true tribal products made for local consumption. I'm pretty sure they use hide from dead animals to salvage the pelts for use as beddings and rugs in those cold climates.


Posted by Michael_Wendorf on 01-05-2004 05:26 PM:



The third rug Danny shows is a so-called pelt rug and it is nearly identical to the Kirghiz or Uzbek pelt rug that Wertime illustrates as images 1 and 2 in his article in Hali 100 on page 86. Wertime mentions that the needle is 20,000 years old and that Palaeolithic Eurasian peoples "no doubt used animal pelts as wraps, rugs, and blankets from the beginning of their occupation of that continent." The needle then may have allowed these people to use pelts in new ways by joining them. These rugs are similiar in that they used pelt strips and sew them together to form rugs with simple patterns.

Thus, such pelt rugs (though extant examples often are fairly recent in manufacture), may conceptually be the earliest rugs and allow us to conceive of a kind of rug tradition that is thousands of years earlier that even the earliest true weavings which are merely some 6000 years old. Therein lies their significance.

One additional point. If the any of the colors in Danny's rug and that illustrated by Wertime are dyed, they are probably dip dyed and would be the reds and blue. The earliest examples would not have been dyed insofar as dyes would not have been known. However they could have been stained and/or utilized different pelts of different colors or a kind of natural abrash that is found in undyed hairs to create a subtle pattern.

It should come as no surprise that such rugs have caught the attention of some collectors, they evoke real antiquity and can be graphically bold.

Regards, Michael Wendorf