Recently Collected Piece
Here is a piece that I recently acquired. I do not know if I would call it a
"Recent Trends and Taste" acquisition, because I do not think that I will
necessarily focus on obtaining pieces like this.
It was interesting enough and met the most important collection requirement that it did not take a bank loan to finance it. Another requirement is that it is quite likely older than I am (I fall into the category of semi-antique).
I have several Baluch balisht pieces, all of which are pile-woven. This piece, though, is flat-woven with weft-substitution designs in bands on the weft-faced plain-weave fabric. It is 18" wide and 35" long (total length opened is 70"). The other Baluch balisht pieces I have range from this size and smaller to around 16" by 26". All of the others are the pile face only, with little or no remaining back flat-weave.
Here is a photo of one side:
And the other side:
And with the face flipped out so you can see the construction:
It was speculated to possibly be a soffreh, although the designs do not seem typical for that application.
With no remaining end-finishes to assist with a function assumption, it could have been either a grain-bag, pillow or soffreh.
As a grain-bag or all-around storage sack, it would have been quite handy. I do not think anyone actually put grain into this type of woven article, because the substitution wefts on the inside would tend to grab grains and you could hardly empty all of them out of the bag.
Right now it happens to be a butt-warmer. Probably not the original use.
How soon we forget, Patrick, that really was your weaving's original use. Sue
That warm reddish-brown color gives it a different look. I like!
I find that piece very aesthetically appealing. I think it has a "je ne sais quoi" that sets it apart like other good tribal weavings.
Nice! If you find that this piece and others like it don't fit into your collection, please feel free to send them my way. I'll pay the freight.
I am out of my depth in trying to offer attribution, but something about the palette suggests "Sistan" to me.
I'm quite fond of good Baluch flatweave work - by good, I mean: tightly woven, finely woven, well executed design details, and colors generally subdued or at least- not too scary (with one notable exception that many of our readers are aware of).
Your piece definitely meets those criteria ( he pointed out, somewhat enviously...).
There was an interesting lesson hidden away inside the Shahsavan flatweave bag I've show in the Salon intro - it was originally lined with a woven straw lining. That's an odd choice for a lining, as it degrades with even moderate use, and so I suspect the straw was meant as padding and that there was a third layer - probably cloth - that is now gone. We see linings in Uzbek tent pole covers made of heavy Russian tradecloth, and I wonder if the Baluch and other nomads did similar things, perhaps with removable inserts. I've never seen any direct evidence of such linings, but that doesn't mean they were never used. It would make sense in the context of a grain bag with floating weft substitution work.
I found an image of one of my older Baluch bags in another archive; I'll repost it here as an example. As I mentioned in the previous post, this thing will hold water; it must have been packed with a tool. I have a rather nice chanteh as well, the color scheme of which is closer to your piece. I'll stick an image in a little later.
Seistan Frying Pan
The Seistan region of SW Afghanistan/SE Iran was the area it was suggested that this piece is from. There are Actual Baluch weavers in that area and they were known to produce flatweave products but few if any pile pieces. I think it gets a bit warm there (major understatement) and pile weavings would not be in as much demand. So, if this is a bag or balisht it is not surprising that it would be of flatweave construction instead of the pile construction of more northerly "Baluch" pieces.
The odd, seemingly-sideways "major" motif is a bit unusual. When turned around so the flat side is on the bottom, it almost looks like a mosque or architectural design. We know, though, that it actually represents flying Alien fighter craft. They were deployed shortly before the Caspian Sea was created by a huge nuclear explosion from an invading Alien civilization. The only remaining vestiges of this disaster are the flaming gas Fire Temples.*
Of course this area is also near Afshar regions, too. The flattened floral motif made from triangles is often seen in Afshar work. It is in a very light purple color with almost no contrast, so it is rather difficult to see against the similarly light-colored field color.
The colors, especially the main light reddish-brown, are unusual. I have seen this mix of colors on one other piece from the same area.
Perhaps this reddish-brown is a natural, undyed wool from a sunburned sheep.
Which is why it works so well as a butt warmer, Sue!
* Any resemblance to actual reality is hereby disclaimed. I don't want the UFOs to come and get me
colorful Baluchi flatweaves
Patrick, et al--
While you say this lovely bag, or balisht, or woven space alien circuit design is not a trend for you (though it is a fine choice, nonetheless), I suspect that this came from the an eBay source who continues to offer nice colorful Baluchi flatweaves of this sort, and I wonder if they represent a trend in the marketplace. I purchased a fabulous huge Baluchi kilim in stunning greens, blues, reds (no camel though) from this source myself. These weavings as a group seem really wonderful to me and I wondered if those T'tekkers with more experience in looking at such things could comment on my impression that they have become available in much greater numbers over the last five years or so. As you said, the dealer says this stuff is from SE Iran, SW Afghanistan, mostly early 20th c. I will find an image of my kilim and see if I can post it.
I wonder whether these items coming on the market have anything to do with either the increasing US-backed pressure on the Iranian government through support of Baluchi rebel groups in the area, or that nasty earthquake that hit SE Iran a few years ago. These are the sorts of changes that put things on the market.
PS. We may need a space alien smilie
Bad News Is Good News
These pieces are from the area close to the Pakistan border and may be coming into Pakistan and from there to the West by way of pickers in the major Pakistan collection centers.
If you have a little spare time, you may want to fly over there to find out for us.
A lot of "Baluch" material also moves from the Herat-Mashad area to Tabriz. It could then make its way to Istanbul.
Either that or the weavers have direct satellite phone links with their wholesalers in London. They check what is selling on e-bay and then send bales of it to the market.
You are right about earthquakes shaking up the marketplace. The same thing happened in Armenia in 1988, resulting in a number of Armenian families moving to California and bringing turn-of-the-century rugs with them. The rugs ended up on the market for a couple of years.
Military pressures may not have as much impact on the rug market.
I do not recall the same thing happening as a result of the instability in Iraq. Unless a few more Jaf and other Iraqi Kurd pieces started showing up. They were at one time also called Mosul rugs.
This is the chanteh I mentioned earlier (it was posted long ago in a galaxy far away...). I think it falls into the same general class of weaving as yours with respect to weaving quality and color palette, probably SW Afghanistan along the border somewhere:- Sistan or otherwise:
Baluchi flatweave party!
That chanteh rocks my world!
Here is the Baluchi kilim I wrote of...again, similar palette. In some images of these colors they look suspect, but they are just extremely saturated vegetal colors...
I have seen a couple of these with other dealers besides my eBay source on this, but all recently, in the last few years.
South West Pakistan
If you have a copy of Kilim, The Complete Guide, by Hull and Wyhowska, the section on Afghanistan and Central Asia shows a couple of examples with similar designs as your chanteh.
The say it is from the Balouch of South-West Pakistan. This would be a bit farther south and east of where my piece may have come from.
They say "Further south, within the Chagai privince of Pakistan, and eastward to Kandahar and the edges of the Sind Desert, lies the western part of Balouchistan...The color of the field is bright, of light madder red and orange created by overdyeing madder red with a concoction made from pomegranate skins or yoghurt."
They also note the white used in the borders, "with rows of tiny motifs running into the plainweave bands of the field."
And Paul, from the same book it appears your piece may be Maldari Baluch. They use "simple rows of zig-zags woven between bands of plainweave and narrow detailed bands of weft-faced patterning.. The simple design, dark colours and lack of borders are all typical of Maldari Balouch."
They are nomadic or semi-nomadic and Maldar means sheep-owner or goat owner.
Interestingly, it appears that all three pieces are "True Balue" Baluch weavings, and not the usual Baluch-in-name weavings generally found.
Grain bag ?
Hello to All
I have some of these pieces I bought in Kabul in Afghanistan . I will send pictures in a next message. Actually I think that the idea of grain bag must be right, they are originally folded and sewn on the edges to make a bag. The ragged pieces on the market in Afghanistan are damaged on the middle face which proves they were folded pieces and stored stand up. They are so narrow pieces that we can guess they were originally storage pieces like namakdan. It is right that weft substitution is not convenient for storage but these people seem to use systematically this technique so why not... Moreover they use it as well for namakdan which is indented to store salt. It this later case as well weft substitution is not really convenient. People I know in Kabul do not know the original function of these bags but they are not of baluch of “nomads” origin, they can not help. However I am sure in Quetta , Pakistan , you can find many people who know.
My piece does have a "fold" line in the middle, leading me to believe it was used folded. However, it could have been folded for storage, causing the crease.
As for salt in a weft-substitution salt bag, the salt they used was rock salt, not the granular version we use today. And it was only a hundred years ago (or so) that we westerners figured out how to keep our table salt from clumping when damp.
These bags also were used for clothing, fruit and anything else that would fit in there.
It's been a really busy week, so I'm just now starting to catch up on my Turkoreading and TurkoPosting. I also have a Baluchi bag with a distinct Turkoman motif as well; it may not be quite as old as yours, but it's nice nevertheless.
I have a couple other recent acquisitions that I'll post later in the Salon life that are not Baluchi (I've had this one for decades). But then, that's the topic of the Salon - evolution of collecting interest. But after 20 years hobnobbing with Afghanis, one finds a lot of Baluch material hiding in the cedar closet. Regardez:
Also, I do have a copy of KILIM; I haved passed over that piece a hundred times; thanx for pointing it out.
That Piece is No Good, Chuck
After seeing your interesting piece, above, I believe that the origin of all Turkmen guls has been determined. The Baluch made a bunch of bags with these "mystery guls", a combination of types such as this one with Tekke interiors and Salor exteriors, and then sold them to various Turkmen tribes.
Either that or your bag is no good at all, Chuck.
It's too small for a football.
It almost looks like someone cut out a portion of a Tekke main carpet gul and sewed it into the middle of a Salor gul bag face.
Interesting bag. I like it. What is your opinion about the cool red in the centre of the "Tekke" gul? Insect? Synthetic?
I don't think that the red is a synthetic. It's clear, stable, and closer to the red in the braided cords on the side than this image conveys. I think it's a nice madder job. If anything, the brown might be somewhat suspect, but it's also well behaved.
These pictures were taken in direct sunlight, and the combination of shiny wool and the uneven surface of the bag face produces some pile-related shadow effects that may give the impression of bleeding or uneven color distribution which aren't actually present.
Also, although I cavalierly toss this into the Baluch category, I suppose it's also possible that this was woven by some Turkoman related tribe in NW Afghanistan. Attribution in this region is more of a chumps game than we typically care to admit, unless one buys from someone with solid provenence data.
Thanks for the information. On my screen the red looked a bit "cool", and I wondered if it might be an insect dye. I have an interest in that topic. Cochineal seemed to be used by Baluch groups in a fairly low proportion of their weavings. Some have mentioned that it generally is associated with older Baluch weavings, and that does seem to be the case if one looks at various collections (e.g. Boucher or Frank Diehr's books). I also get the sense that it is more common in NE Persian Baluch group weavings. Perhaps others with more knowledge could comment.
it seems fit to pull this one out from the archive. We've discussed it a number or years ago:
It's knotted symmetrically. I have it from S.Azadi, with whom I discussed the piece, that only two goups among the Baluch use the symmetric knot, the Bahluri and the Kurds. Something else might be relevant in this contect: as a rule, S. Azadi says, it seems that those Baluchi groups are more likely to use Turkoman göls as motives in their rugs, that live further away from them. This might be different with the Kurds.
Figuring out how the various Turkoman guls got to what they became among the Baluch seems like a no win proposition, but that gul in the center of Chuck's bag looks like a cross between a Tekke gul and sort of an Ersari gulli gul. Compare it, for example, to Horst's image just posted.
"seems like a no win proposition" - I don't see it quite that dramatic, there are after all a number of theories about it which all seem to contain some grain of truth.
With the Kurds it is perhaps even easier. The detail I posted comes from a small rug that is closely orientated at a classic Turkoman endless repeat pattern: Tekke main göls surrounded by four minor göls, in this instance of the Gurbaghe or reduced Memling type. In other words, the type of design one would imagine to have come across in earlier days, only a few miles due north from the slopes of the Kopet Dagh range where the Kurdes settled. A look into the map in the introduction to the Central Asia chapter in the Eiland&Eiland book shows all the Turkoman tribes lined up nicely there, Yomut, Tekke, Salor. In the 19th century before the border got closed, there was free roaming and grasing for Kurdish groups among the Turkomans on winter pastures on nominally on Russian soil. This should have prompted design transfer considerably.
Chuck, this is to you - I am not very good at assessing knots from images when warp depression is involved, have you checked the knots in that bagface? I am leaning myself somewhat out of the window and hope I'll fall soft if I am wrong - the bag looks Kurdish to me and the knots accordingly should be symmetric.
Further, I think you didn't yet get a feedback on the first sample in the Salon, the supposed Shahsavan textile which I think it is indeed. Those multicoloured rhombes like beads on a string in the inner border are the giveaway in my experience.
By "no win proposition," I meant understanding how the many renditions of Turkoman guls by non-Turkoman weavers got modified to become what they became. Not many of them are strictly accurate copies. I have no problem with the proposition that geographical proximity led to design transfer in many cases. An interesting note is your reference to Azadi's comment that Baluch groups are more likely to use Turkoman ornament when they are farther removed from them.
Do I understand your opinion correctly regarding the image you posted, viz., that it is Kurdish? Are you quite sure that the knotting in that one is symmetrical?
By the way, do you think the occasional appearance of the Memling gul in Baluch work always results from copying of Turkomans in the region, or do you allow for the existence of that motif in their repertoire from much more ancient sources, i. e., the regions farther west that they or their ancestors occupied before arriving in Northeastern Iran and Afghanistan?
Thanks for the opinion on that first bag. It's gratifying to see that someone finally read the Salon. It's been pretty quiet, but that's understandable - when the other members are finally released from Guantanamo, they may want to add some comments as well.
Do you have an opinion on the last pile bag - presumably an Afshar - in the Salon ?
Last, you have me at a slight disadvantage regarding your Asym vs. Sym knot question. Which bagface are your referring to ? The one above, with the not-particularly well drawn Turkoman gul on the front, is asymmetrical.
This is going to sound like a REALLY stupid question, but I'll go for it--I've only been hanging around for a few months anyway. In that last post, you made a comment about people reading the salon, which I thought was all these threads here. I went back and looked for something else to read which had an Afshar bag in it, and I see nothing. I would love to read it if I have missed something in all these threads. Where is the salon, if it is not these threads? I thought the thread started by Richard Tomlinson was the beginning of it.
You can access to Chuck's Salon by clicking on its link in the Turkotek Home Page. The link to Turkotek Home Page is on the top right of this page... or you can click here:
Chuck, I had mixed it up when I was quickly scanning a couple of books thinking you were asking about the Turkoman chanteh - only now realized the Afshar was ment - anyway, let me brighten your day a little, I've just come across a same ilk chanteh: plate 79 in 'From the Bosphorus to Samarkand' in the McCoy Jones Collection.
Yes. thanks, the sort of Tekke göl on that piled bagface I ment. Still think it looks sort of Kurdish although the knots don't fit in with it.
I'll come back to the other issues eventually, just now I'm in a hurry.
p.s. As to textile #1, have a look at plates 2 and 4 in the Jenny Housego book, same beads on a string border.
The last one of your piled textiles, the supposed Afshar one? Maybe it is. I would put it to Fars in any case, could be Gashgai by way of the drawing of the medallion and its content; borders are more like Luri, as is the row of rectangles underneath the fastenings. Putting all my eggs into one basket, I'd go for Luri. This is nomenclature business, emphasizing on differences, as we all know, real life is full of transitions.
Same applies to the (me saying so) East-Kurdish bag face; several examples of Kurdish piled textiles with asymmetric knots in the Kordi book by W.Stanzer as I have just found out. Who would have thought so?
Read The Salon? What For?
Thanks for bringing us back to the actual Salon. The discussion has been a bit like the path of debris from a tornado.
Horst, plate 79 from the Bosporus to Samarkand is a very close analog to the final chanteh in the salon. The picture is black and white, but the field design is identical.
Chuck, the last pile piece you showed I would place in the Khamseh category. The Afshar often made bags with that wider rectangular format, but the designs seem more Khamseh to me.
As for the Housego book, I bought my copy in 1993. I recommend it to anyone interested in tribal rugs and trappings. Most of the photos are black and white, but the variety is unparalleled. It was originally published in 1978 and my version was published in 1991 - eons ago in the rug world.
thanks for appraising my eyesight with regard to image 79 and for mentioning that it is b/w. This definitely helps making sure that knowbody is getting confused .
Mayor design components of your last piled item in the Salon are indeed shared by various groups in the Fars province. An - except for the main border - almost identical piece is depicted as plate 8b in the catalogue of 'The Qashqa'i of Iran' exhibition on occasion of the World of Islam festival at Whitworth Art Gallery and University of Manchester, UK in 1976.
Oops. That unregistered person was me - Sorry.
Chuck. I hoped I would find an image helping demonstrate the Lurs of Fars idea - but I couldn't. Plate 7.30 in Opie's Tribal Rugs comes nearest to it (main and outer border).
W. Stanzer in his Kordi book shows a couple of weaves also flashing the 'rhombes on a string' design' surely reminiscent of their earlier homelands among the Shahsavan.
Richard, this takes me to your notion with regard to the Baluch. Yes. I can image that the Baluch have begun making rugs of their own before they came in contact with the Turkoman, but where and when seems to be a chain with many missing links, very hypothetical. It should be a good idea to research the Baluch in Pakistan and India for related designs. They would probably have been less exposed to Turkoman influence. In any case, it is an idea of immediate benefical effect: good jogging exercise for the brains! Let me play with the idea a little and take plate 13.28 in Opie's book as an example. It shows a wonderful Iranian Baluch rug with an endles repeat design, incorporating the composite knot motive that we know from Gashgai rugs. from the Bachtiari, from the Shahsavan, from Anatolia. Unless one is very confident that all rug designs stem from central Asia or China it seems at least possible that some, like the (endless) knot design have travelled west to east, providing the blueprint for other variants like the composite knot. Something similar might perhaps be said for the Memling design. I am however, not equally familiar with that ones stations on the axis.
Now the images are in Horst's post.
editing of the previous post resulted in removing the images of the Maadani Baluch rug. The'll soon be coming up again in another context. Sorry for any possible inconvenience incurred.
Are those rhombes on a string you show not the same as can be seen on some Jaff Kurd bag faces? JBOC mentions:
" Diamond Border
I have no idea of the significance of this border but I noticed that there seems to be a group with a common border."
His examples are early and later (from 19th c. up to ‘30s). I could not find the page back, but the above is what I copied from there, as we have a Jaff bag with those diamonds on a string. I guess they live not too far from the Shahsavan.
On a lazy Saturday morning (no new snow to shovel), I've finally had a chance to zero in on your salon presentation. Nice bunch of pickups, and plenty of variety, too. Following are some questions or observations. Don't feel compelled necessarily to address them all.
The first piece is very interesting. You point out aptly how much concentrated effort and acquired skill the weaver devoted to this essentially practical item. I'm sure Marla Mallett would have much to say about it. If your comment about the green cast to the piece refers to the back, it comes through very well on my screen, and it raises the visual qualities of that side to another level. The birds and random ornament there are also just right. BTW, would you agree that calling it either "Shah Savan" or "Veramin area" admits for some overlap?
I agree the next item looks Qashqai. Is it possible any of that white is cotton?
The orange on your Bakhtiari looks like a natural "burnt orange" one finds on such pieces. Do you believe it is a natural dye?
I am in full solidarity with your "spousal unit's" fondness for boteh, especially good ones like this Afshar. It's the kind of bag that people who live to find green in their weavings want to trip over. As to the next one, I would think that repeating red pattern is a variation on the famous, if not notorious, "gul-i-frank" or cabbage rose design, no? Your close shot gives a good sense of the plush character of the pile, a great thing in a khorjin face.
Finally, I can easily call the red faced South Persian style bag Afshar. The width/height proportions are telling in that regard, I would say. Also the look of the back side. I acknowledge there other possibilities in the neighborhood. Whatever it is, that great rendition of the border raises it above most similar pieces.
Anyway, nice work in the vineyards (i. e., marketplace), Chuck. I wish I could say as much.
yes, you sometimes find this kind of border as well on textiles from other groups, it appears that they all have or had in the past, a connection to northwest Persia, i.e. the Kurds of Khorasan or the Kashgai. The origin is obscure, some say it is derived from the Central Asian aina göl. More likely it has always been Anatolian.
Chuck, in relation to your last piled textile, plate 12 in Jenny Housego's book shows a Luri or Kurdish rug with a related border design.
Yes, well, this border is familiar to me as well - which only contributes to my confusion. Several years ago, we Turkotek'd for a while about this rug, and I don't think we ever satisfied ourselves that we could call it definitively Luri, or definitively Afshar:
If I'm following the discussion, this Jaff bag face displays the "rhombs on a string" doubled.
Side note to Joel: This bag shows in an understated way the free roaming in color practiced by the Kurds. There are stray color substitutions in the piece. Coincidentally, it does it between buff and red, as in your rug. I say coincidentally because I am sure there is little connection between the two as to provenance.
lets look at it positively. We surely must have ascended a higher level of insight into the complexity of matters.
...or is it a Khamseh ??
If we get bored, I'll dig up the detailed images and we can have at it again.
I love the lack of Disco colors on that bag, and the main (if you could call it that - it seems to be the smaller of the three) border treatment, with the light blue outline, is curiously attractive as well.
Regarding your questions, yes, there is some cotton in the Qashqai flatweave bag. As for the orange in the B-L dragon bag, I have to issue a definitive I Don't Know. My personal feeling is that a synthetic orange would probably have run, and would have noticable tip fading. So, I'm OK with saying it's vegetal. But we need someone like Vincent Keers (who does a lot of veg-dye experimantation) to weigh in on whether that looks like something he could create. I don't t hink I can buy into a Shahsavan attribution, though. It has so many characteristics in common with the well attributed Bakhtiari-Lor that I have to stay with B-l and Veramin.
I would have guessed "Khamseh" for that "mother and daughter boteh" rug. What was the basis for the Luri or Afshar attribution? In any case, I suppose it is often difficult to distinguish between S. Persian tribal weavings.
I'll post a few closeups of the structure for that rug this evening.
FYI, Fred Mushkat (who knows a few things about dyes) has made some observations regarding the orange in the Bakhtiari-Lor khorjin; they're in the "South Persian Bag" thread.
The only Afshar-looking things about that mother and child boteh rug are the shape, more square than rectangular, and the design in the end panels. If the warps are depressed and the handle is stiff, I might be inclined to consider a rogue Afshar origin. The main border is often seen in Khamseh pieces and the minor reciprocal wave border in black and white is almost a signature Khamseh motif.
I believe that the consensus (me and James) is that you need to get on the grass, crawl under the rug and do a bit of inspecting.
Send back a dispatch with your findings. If we don't hear from you in a day or two, we will send out the Foreign Legion.
It's been quite a few years since we discussed this thing, and it was in an unarchived Show & Tell. Memory fails me, and Khamseh works for me, design-wise. But what does the border say about the bag ?
Some pics to gnaw on: