Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-28-2008 09:59 PM:

Salor, Salar, Sailer, So Sue Me!

Here is a recent acquisition that would be nice to continue as a trend. It is tasteful, too, meeting the requirements of the Salon.
I believe it is a Salar-Khani bag face of "good age". The main border is seen in Salar-Khani pieces. The field design is derived from the Salor turreted gul design. I am not aware of any scholarship, articles or books that connect the Salar-Khani with the neighboring Salor Turkmen. But the presence of this gul in a "Baluch" weaving may indicate such a connection, along with the similarity in names. Perhaps a Khan of the Salor brought his family into the "Baluch" tribe - known for liberally accepting outsiders into the clan:

This photo shows the Salar-Khani border and also the corroded brown, leaving the design motifs in high relief:

And here is a picture of the back, showing not only the construction (asymmetric, open left ) but also one row of yellow knots surrounding the outer field of the gul.

On this photo of the front, you can see that these yellow knots have faded to white, a common phenomenon in many Turkmen pile weavings, too.
The fading yellow often turns a green (indigo overdyed with a yellow) into a lighter blue. In this piece, it does not appear that any of the blues have been overdyed with the yellow. There is, however, a marked abrash from dark to lighter blue about one third from the top. The top, though, is really the bottom. The pile "points upwards" indicating that this face of the original khorjin was the bottom of the weaving and the weaver used a lighter blue color when she ran out of the more "desirable" darker blue.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 01-28-2008 10:35 PM:

Hi Patrick,

When the pile is pointing upward it means the weaving was woven upside down to the way you are viewing it. Which means the knots really open to the right. I won't sue you. Sue

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-29-2008 09:54 AM:



No, I took the direction of weave into account when analyzing the knots. I stood on my head.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 01-29-2008 11:24 AM:


Then in your picture of the back, the weaving is upside-down to how it was woven. Is that what you are saying? Do you agree that that is correct? Sue

Posted by Marty Grove on 01-29-2008 11:36 AM:

The real thing

G'day Patrick, Chuck and all,

Just to hold it and wonder... How wonderful it is to see something like this, the aubergine/purplish wool still proud above the reduced browns, the red keeping a vibrant colour while showing signs of its fading with age.

This type gul remains a favourite with me and it astonishes me that even with the loss to the cultures where they were originally woven into rugs, newish pieces from Iran still retain the Salor type in red and white, on a black ground and aubergine borders.

Although it is written that the Salor gull is one of most ancient, perhaps more accurately it might be said the true Salor gul intended is not the turreted type. Its in my mind that the original pattern for the turreted gul could be from ancient Han shapes of their fortresses or keeps.

The Salor gul, that which looks similar to the Tekke gul etc is more in keeping with the tradition which originally used to say was 'rose like' or from a floral origin; the turreted gul for some reason never did look floral like to me, although there are sometimes shared common elements to the other guls.

Even though this bag is of an unidentified Central Asian tribal origin, and obviously old and well weathered, it carries all those things which we are attracted to in our search for tangible objects remaining from those days of wildness past. What was carried within its woven strength? How many deserts crossed with night fires throwing beams of muted light across this bags own glowing colours?

It has certainly outlived the many animals which carried it throughout its working life. To me, bags like this speak out across time, reminding us of the fragility of life and the tenacity of wool

Thanks Patrick, its a beauty.


Posted by Paul Smith on 01-29-2008 12:20 PM:


I appear to be following in your collecting footsteps, O Mighty Fellow Washingtonian. Though odd, this seems to be a trend in itself.

I think the daughter of the gal who wove your bagface wove this pushti...

This one was listed on eBay as "Handloomed rug bound in horsehair." It is mint condition with its back. The brown-black is slightly corroded and all the colors are good, but its condition makes me assume it is younger than yours. And there is some very velvety old-looking wool on yours. No turreted Salor gul here, alas, but the rare image of a droid carrier on the camel ground is nice.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-29-2008 07:22 PM:

Hacked my computer have you, Paul?


Yours is quite a similar piece as far as the major and minor borders go. I think yours was a pillow, meant to be viewed horizontally the way you have shown it, due to the direction of the "tuning-fork" motifs which usually have an up-and-down orientation on weavings.
Similar to the way yastiks were meant to be used.
That major field motif is rather scary. Perhaps it represents a medical implement and the pillow was on the couch at the doctors office.

Sue, both the front and back close-up shots as shown in my beginning post have the "bottom" or beginning, of the weaving at the bottom of the pictures.
Here are a couple more pictures of the piece to clear things up a bit. This first one is a closer version of the earlier photo. You should be able to tell by looking closely at the white knots along the horizontal row that the knots are asymmetric and open to the left, with depressed alternate warps - which causes both "tufts" or ends of each knot to come up through the foundation on the "open" left and the encircled warp is to the right. There are 10 knots per inch both horizontal and vertical, for approximately 100 per square inch. There may be a few symmetric knots thrown in along with an offset knot or two just to cause a bit of confusion here and there.

This next photo shows the piece as it would have been on the loom, although it is missing the closure tabs that would have been the "beginning" of the weaving. There would have been more flatweave and then the other face, with the knots in the "correct" orientation, would have been above it.

And if those properly oriented photographs are knot clear enough, here is one from a different perspective:

Marty, the REAL version of the Salor turreted gul, as seen on chuvals with three in the middle and three half- guls along the top and bottom of the field, also has a "minor" motif of small white squares in the interstices between guls. It represents a group of Salor trellis tents as seen by alien spaceship from above, with flocks of little white sheep in among them. Of course if you tried to explain this to a group of Turkmen collectors at an international conference and your name was not Jon Thompson you may not be taken seriously.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Sue Zimmerman on 01-29-2008 08:42 PM:

Thanks Pat, for the new great photos. It was that first upside-down shot that threw me. Now I can even see that the white knots are made from three singles. Interesting. Any signs of silk?

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-29-2008 09:51 PM:

Intensive Investigation Proves Negative


The only silk I find is in my smoking jacket, which I was relaxing in while waiting for the maid to bring the microscope in from the laboratory and for the butler to bring the trunk down from the attic with the bag in it. I keep all my early Baluch pieces in the attic. Quarantined from the "real" rugs. One can't be too careful...

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 01-29-2008 11:18 PM:

Hi Patrick,

The truth is slowly leaking out... you have obviously been surreptitiously developing Baluchophilia. I think the Salar Khani attribution seems right. Several writers have mentioned the Turkoman influence on Baluch weavings, especially in the northern Khorassan area. The only thing I wonder about is the palette, which for some reason doesn't immediately strike me as Salar Khani. I think I read somewhere that Jerry Anderson indicated that the northern Turkoman-influenced Salar Khani rugs tended to have a predominently reddish palette.

Chuck, there is a small piece with a very similar design as yours in Frank Diehr's "Treasured Baluch Pieces from Private Collections" (page 66, sorry I don't have a scanner). That piece looks older than yours with a freer drawing.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-29-2008 11:49 PM:


The Salar Khani are purported to be a sub-tribe of the Timuri. Timuri weavings show a preponderance of dark blue fields, which this piece also has. The border, though, I have only seen in Salar Khani pieces. This one may be older than the "typical" Salar Khani weavings more common in the marketplace.
There is a "typical" Salar Khani design bag face at this Rug Review link:
It is the second piece shown. Definitely more "reddish" and with a Herati-derived design.
The Diehr page 66 piece certainly has a version of the field design from Paul's piece, but the borders and end finishes are different. It has symmetric knotting. Paul, is your piece knotted symmetrically?

I hope "they" do not come after me for this "Baluchophilia" affliction. I plan to deny everything. It seems to work for sports stars, movie stars and politicians.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 01-30-2008 08:49 AM:

Hi Patrick,

I am not sure whether the Salar Khani are a sub-tribe of the Timuri. Where did you get that information? In any case, I haven't seen very many weavings attributed to the Salar Khani that have the same look as Timuri weavings. Boucher mentions another weaving group from the Khorassan area that wove a bagface with a Salor gul --- Rahim Khani.

If they are after you for the "Baluchophilia" and encounter this latest piece, you could try to convince them that you bought it as a Veramin...

I think that Chuck's piece looks considerably later than the one in Diehr's book, so perhaps it was woven by a different weaving group.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 01-30-2008 11:11 AM:


It’s too late Pat: an executive order has already been signed.
Hope you’ll enjoy the… how it’s called… skate boarding? No… sail boarding?… hummm… sand boarding… gotcha! WATER boarding in Gitmo.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 01-30-2008 01:38 PM:

Thin Air


You asked:

"I am not sure whether the Salar Khani are a sub-tribe of the Timuri. Where did you get that information? "

I thought you knew that we make all this stuff up. Here is how you do it. You speak loudly and slowly, lather, rinse and repeat. Before long, everyone believes you.

This particular tidbit, though, was gleaned from a reputable source - one of the several rug books I have been pawing through recently. When I have a few minutes to spare, I will troll back through them to find the guilty party and post it here. After my waterboarding and taser session.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 01-30-2008 02:08 PM:

Hi Patrick,

I thought you knew that we make all this stuff up. Here is how you do it. You speak loudly and slowly, lather, rinse and repeat. Before long, everyone believes you.

Armed with this latest incriminating information, it is now evident to everyone that you have become immersed in the exotic but confusing world of Baluchotekistan. The only question that remains is how long you have been skulking there. One of the key socio-cultural aspects of Baluchotekistan is the discussion of the names of tribes and sub-tribes. If you do find that reference to the Salar Khani being a sub-tribe of the Timuri, please share it. The small bit of reading that I have done left me with the impression that the Salar Khani group was a Baluch tribe, and the Timuri are not Baluch per se.

I think that Brian MacDonald referenced a rug of the Sangtschuli (sp?) that had Turkmen guls. He indicated that the Sangtschuli was a sub-tribe of the Timuri.


Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-01-2008 02:51 AM:



A cursory review of several hundred of the thousands of rug books from my extensive library has confirmed that the Salar Khani are also known as Kurkheilli, from Torbat-e-Haidari. Perhaps I have become entangled or submerged in a big Torbat-e-Jam, where the Timuris wove.
Common consensus is that a rug with predominant red and blue colors which is not Turkmen is probably Baluch, unless it is from Bergama. Therefore my bagface is probably Baluch, if only in name.
I would copy and paste an extensive list of various Baluch, Afghan and Iranian tribal names at this point, but I have been prescribed Baluchadone, a substance purported to alleviate the symptoms of Baluch-dependancy.
When the Baluchadone wears off, I may consider continuing my thankless inquiry for the true source of this weaving, unless my Probaluchian officer finds out.
Patrick Weiler

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-01-2008 06:41 AM:


Hi Patrick,

They must have you on a very large dose of Baluchadone. I've been told that one of the early side effects (some think this is part of the cure) is the perception that all predominantly red and blue rugs are "Baluch". It is said that this is important to alleviate the obsession with tribes and sub-tribes. If therapy goes well, you'll eventually become fascinated with "Veramin weaving" and lose the urge to investigate tribal attributions any further....

A word of caution... Baluchophilia withdrawal is a fragile process, and a glimpse of a nice and mysterious Baluch weaving can quickly undo much of the healing. To be safe, I would advise you to send any attractive Baluch-type weavings to someone who is unconcerned about Baluchopilia (like me).


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-01-2008 08:08 AM:

You guys are sick. I predict this "name that tribe" approach to Baluch weaving will never be straightened out. Didn't I read somewhere (Eiland?) that they are constantly changing their names anyway?

Just to increase the suffering, I'm posting another familiar type showing a knockoff of the Salor gul. It has minor condition problems, being compromised in the selvages and slightly low in the black/brown corrosion areas (they were aiming for the sculpted effect), but y'all get the idea.

When I say "familiar type," I mean I've seen a few pretty close to this model, with the alternate green/orange outline of the guls and the white "minor gul." The others I've seen had an orange that would definitely not fit in polite company, and I used to think mine was a generation or two earlier, the prototype. Tragically, when I was photographing this baby, I spotted four (count 'em) "bad" orange knots among the pure, open to the left. And I've owned the thing for about 40 years. At least, we know it was pre-1960.

Rich Larkin

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-01-2008 08:14 AM:

Hi Richard,

That looks like a nice old "Veramin weaving"....


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-01-2008 08:14 AM:


BTW, the more I look at yours, the better I like it. Several modest, subtle but pleasing features, such as the little purple zig zag at the diagonal corners of the gul, and the nice rosette border boxing it in.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-01-2008 08:16 AM:


I'm sure you've heard of the "Veramin as Johnny Appleseed" theory. Apparently, they went around showing everybody else how to weave them.

(Of course, Veramin is a place. But it's still a good theory as rug theories go.)

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-01-2008 10:15 AM:

Oh, Good Grief!


That wavy purple line reminds me of the sweater that Charlie Brown always wore. (Maybe Charlie was Baluch?)
And your nice rug is Afshar, of course. Not Varamin at all...

Is that "minor gul" a traditional Turkmen use?
Maybe it IS a Turkmen rug.
Can't be Baluch. Don't recall what a Baluch rug actually looks like any more.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-01-2008 10:38 AM:


See below.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-01-2008 10:41 AM:


I can only say one thing in this field with absolute certainty. If Charlie Brown was collecting rugs, they were Baluch.

(That's two portraits of Charlie from my photo collection.)

Rich Larkin

Posted by Steve Price on 02-01-2008 10:59 AM:

Hi Rich

If my memory is working today, Charlie Brown didn't collect rugs. His one and only beloved textile was a blanket, flea market grade.


Steve Price

Note added: My memory was wrong. It wasn't Charlie Brown, it was Linus.

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-01-2008 02:59 PM:

Good grief!


I could swear Charlie used to keep the football Lucy used to pull out from under him every year in a sort of balisht. Now that I think of it, it was a lot like that thing Patrick has up on the other thread. I must get another look at that.

I know we can't get into values on TurkoTek, but if PW could document that piece as the original CB football bag, the thing would be priceless.

(P. S.: It was the Lucy/football episode I had in mind when I pegged Charlie as a true Baluch collector. It is the gluttony for punishment they have in common that sold me on the concept.)

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-02-2008 01:00 PM:

Stop the Presses!

Breaking News from the Baluch-O-Vision cable news network:
The catalog from the Eighth International Conference on Oriental Carpets, which was held in Philadelphia in 1996, was edited by Dennis Dodds and Murray L. Eiland, JR along with Contributing Authors Rina Indictor, R. DeWitt Mallary, III, Theodore Mast, Brooke Pickering, Robert Pinner and Elena Tzareva
Page 256, plate 318 of Oriental Rugs From Atlantic Collections, is a photo of a double-khorjin labeled "Complete Khorjin, Late 19th, early 20th century, Northeastern Iran, 1'7" x 3'7". Anonymous."

Now I know why the owners wished to remain Anonymous. They are in hiding under the Baluch Witness Protection plan, due to the description of the khorjin:

"Bags and saddle covers with this design and color palette are always attributed to the Salar Khani subtribe of the Timuri. This is one of the tribal attributions that seems consistently supported both by field work and trade information."

(OK, I know that as part of my Baluchophile parole provisions I am not supposed to be watching Baluch-O-Vision cable news.)

However, their forceful attribution of the Salar Khani as a subtribe of the Timuri is the smoking gun, the 18 minutes of erased tape, the grassy knoll, the holy grail, the true Elvis sighting and the correct explanation for UFO's which absolves me of responsibility for negligently disseminating incorrect information regarding the ridiculously complex tribal affiliations of the Baluch.

I rest my case.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Steve Price on 02-02-2008 01:23 PM:

Hi Pat

That description was most likely written by DeWitt Mallory, who is generally very careful about making sure he has his facts right. For that reason, I would give it considerable weight.


Steve Price

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-02-2008 02:00 PM:

Grounds for appeal??

Hi Patrick,

Nice work! But not so fast... Your Baluchadone has obviously created some delusions that such discussions about the Baluch realm can be easily closed with the declamation of rug experts. It's a slippery slope.

I'm sorry that it had to come to this, but you've forced me to invoke JA (from "From the Horse's Mouth" article)...

HALI: The names you use for the weavers of Baluch rugs, Salar Khani, Jehan Begi, for instance, where do they come from?
JA: The original rug weaving tribes of Sistan are the Dobash twin tribes of the Joteg and Sangchuli, the Khakka religious clan, the Kamali and Jamali (these two weave only kilims), the Mengal Sanjarani Barohis and Sasoli Narohis. (‘Narohi’ means people from the plains, ‘Barohi’ is the opposite, people of the hills.) From these groups came all the splinter groups or sub- tribes and clans of the Jehan Begi, Jehan Mirzai, Ali Mirzai, Ali Akbar Khani, Khurkheli, Salar Khani, Yaqub Khani, Madat Khani, Rahim Khani, etc.
I am quite surprised that you hadn't thought to mention the Dobash twin tribes.

If that stunning revelation hasn't bedazzled you sufficiently, here is a quote from Peter Poullada introducing his upcoming talk at the SFBARS (March 2002).
After the lecture I would welcome a Show and Tell and encourage participants to bring in their favorite examples of Chahar Aimaq weavings. These might include those from the Timuri, Taimani, Firuzkuhi and Jamshidi groups, as well as other "so-called Herat Baluch " weavings like the Mushwani or Adraskand. All of these are in fact Chahar Aimaq or Pashtun in origin and need to be differentiated from the other "so-called Baluch” groups like the Salar-khani, Jani-Beg or Dokhtar-ghazi from the Torbat-i-Jam and Torbat-i-Haydari regions of western Khurasan

Obviously, this more recent quote illustrates the great leaps that were made in Baluch ethnohistorical studies after 1996 (the date of the exhibition that you referenced).

In their books, Jeff Boucher and Brian MacDonald both illustrate Salar Khani pieces in the "Baluch" sections, not the Timuri sections. They were obviously sending a discreet but powerful message.

Fire away!


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-02-2008 02:02 PM:

Yuh, but do we really know who the Timuri are? Where's Gene Williams when you need him?

P. S., Patrick, does that Plate 318 from "Atlantic Collections" resemble your khorjin?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-02-2008 05:12 PM:

We May Never Know Who The Timuri Are!!!

The Americans sent an undercover agent into Afghanistan and eastern Iran in the late 90's just to uncover such information:

As you can see, he went "native" and was never heard from again...

(Image from


No, the image from Atlantic Collections is of the more "common" Salar Khani design - apparently a Herati derivative:

I suspect that the information from the Atlantic Collections may have been in error. Someone put Timuri instead of Taimani and it may have not been noticed until yesterday. It is one of the few attributions of the nearly two dozen Baluch pieces from the book that is any more precise than "NW Afghanistan" or "Torbat-e-Heydarieh region".
My piece may have to distance itself from a Salar Khani attribution since the most distinguishing SK feature of the piece is the major border, which I have not found in any weavings other than those with the SK name.
Here is where I should post an extensive bibliography of sources and tribal/sub-tribal names and attributions:

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-02-2008 05:45 PM:



I believe we are in agreement that the Salar Khani is not from the same group as the Timuri, due to the overwhelming preponderance of evidence otherwise from various respectable sources.
My post above showing the quotation from the Atlantic Collections book was to inform the Baluch Police and Interdiction Agency that the reason for my initial posting (on the first page of this thread, which noted the relationship of the SK and Timuri), came from the Atlantic Collections book. And it took several days of re-researching all of the Baluch books and magazines before I was able to relocate the reference.

The reason I found that attribution in the first place was because, when researching my bag, I looked at all the "Baluch" pictures I could find in various sources (web sites, Hali, rug books) and when I finally found that major border from my piece in a couple of Salar Khani pieces (and no where else) I began to look for Salar Khani rugs and references in my book library and loctated the Atlantic Collections reference.

And to summarize, out of all the references to SK tribal affiliations I have researched, only the Atlantic Collections reference indicates a tribal affiliation between the SK and Timuri.
As my daughter, who is taking chemistry, says:
"ignore the outliers".

Patrick Weiler
(Are the Baluch Police and Interdiction Agency still after me now?)

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-02-2008 09:33 PM:

Hi Pat,

I wouldn't be surprised if your very nice piece is somehow related to the Timuri.

Meanwhile, the situation is even more sinister than you could imagine. We have met the Baluch police, and they are us...


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-02-2008 11:46 PM:

Hey gang,

Not only does the tribal and sub-tribal organization of the "Baluch" (for want of a more accurate term) seem hopelessly out of reach for purposes of assigning weaving production among the many constituent members; but I'm not convinced that tribal affiliation or descent is even particularly correlative to weaving style or type among these people. At least, it seems that geography and proximity to other weaving styles and influence often have as much to do with what any particular group might weave as tribal identity. It isn't clear to me there were strong tribal traditions of certain designs in weavings among them, as was so with the Turkoman, for example. Am I right? If so, going down with the ship for the proposition that a particular bag was the work of this or that sub-tribe may be pointless. When the dealers in Herat say that a khorjin was the work of the Jan-begi, they may be right; the thing had to have been woven by somebody. But it wouldn't necessarily mean that was the national emblem of the Jan-begi on the front face. I don't mean to take this "know nothing" approach too far, but there is very little coherence in the body of information out there on the producers of the weavings generally attributed to "the Baluch."

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-03-2008 09:20 AM:

Right. Glad to see that some reason is eventually creeping inside your Baluch-intoxicated brains.

Much has been said about the tribal groups responsible for these weavings; the contributions of D.H.G. Wegner, Siawosch Azadi, Jerry Anderson, Michael Craycraft and other worthies have bequeathed the rug world with a dazzling array of tribal nomenclature, the precision of which, owing to a general lack of agreement, is not particularly convincing. So while others bandy about such mouthfuls as Taimani, Timuri, Jamshidi, Bahluli and Yacubkhani, I preserve my sanity by thinking of them all as Damdifinoni and concentrating instead on the wonderful textile art that they – whoever they are -- have bequeathed us.
Mark Hopkins

By the way, as a non-English speaker, I figured that Damdifinoni should sound as “Damned if I know it”, no? If so, why the “t” is missing?

Filiberto, FBI (Federal Baluch Investigation) agent

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-03-2008 09:23 AM:

Hi Richard,

I tend to agree with you. The wide geographic dispersion and relative social permeability of the Baluch tribes is an important consideration in attributing "Baluch" weavings. Perhaps that is why people point so often to the location of weaving when describing its attribution. Jerry Anderson and others often attribute rugs to "a weaver of this tribe married to a man of that tribe", which would support this concept of pattern and palette mixing.

Which brings us back to Patrick's bag. I'm a bit surprised that he hasn't figure out that it was woven by a 19 year old Salar Khani woman married to a 22 year old Timuri man, who had their summer pastures in the northern reaches of Sistan. Perhaps he doesn't want to share any more self-incriminating evidence....


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-03-2008 11:01 AM:

Hi Filiberto,

Mark's idea was, "Damned if I know," then he added the "-ni" at the end to "baluchify" it.

Either that, or it's a distinguished old Italian family from Bologna. They migrated to Italy from around Seistan in about the 8th century.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-03-2008 11:23 AM:

Aaaah, I see! Thanks Richard

Either that, or it's a distinguished old Italian family from Bologna. They migrated to Italy from around Seistan in about the 8th century.

Nah, those are the Baddini!

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 02-03-2008 11:49 AM:

Pat, et all,

Antique weaving attribution and Baluch enthnography (and almost everything weaving group, for that matter) is not our problem. Rather, it is that we refuse to accept that in most cases, and regardless of Baluch ethnography, we cannot ever know the answer.

But then, if we knew the answer, Salons would be very short, wouldn't they:

"It's a Jamshidi Baluch"

"Uh, OK. Bye"

Like that...

But how has our acquisition and appreciation of Baluch weavings evolved over time ? Sounds like a Salon topic. I know what my first Baluchi piece looks like. Eeek.

The stuff I've found over that last 15 years or so is a marked improvement over the early daze, and continues to improve as kids graduate from college and discretionary spending capabillity recovers.

But an important trend for us is increased emphasis on rustic Persian weavings, an example of which will be on display in the Persian thread. Here is a Baluch Black Hole Escape Mechanism for those who need to come up for some air:

Steve's Persian Bag thread


Chuck Wagner

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-03-2008 02:49 PM:

Hi Chuck,

You're quite right about the unknowability of much of what puzzles us. For my own part, I am intrigued by the questions on a superficial level, much as I am by various quests for bigfeet, UFO's, lost civilizations, etc., on the many TV channels out there. It is the lure of the unknown (but spare me the heavy lifting/thinking).

Some of what attracts me to the "Baluch" (maybe seeing these weavings as a sort of unified block is itself an illusion) is the way they seem to have of adopting much, yet making it their own in small ways. It is a strength, not a fault, in my opinion. Patrick's khorjin with the "Salor" gul variant is a good example. The distinctive coloring and various small touches in secondary ornament make it unmistakably one of this large family. Moreover, I think they often make the designs more interesting and attractive than their contemporaries who might have been the "original" purveyors of the same design, or closer at least to the original purveyors. Thus, an M. A. D. example of the Salor gul on a khorjin or other storage bag of the same period might be more boring than Patrick's piece. Maybe I'm dreaming there.

In any event, I believe they represent a very long tradition of weaving. I do not see them as johnny-come-lately, opportunist weavers, as is occasionally implied in the literature. I could be convinced that the core of long tradition weavers in the region is relatively small, and many of the groups weaving more recently caught the disease from the nuclear group. Whatever the case might be, I find the endless and (apparently) hopelessly confused discussion of the tribes, sub-tribes, sub-sub-tribes, and so on, to be for the most part more distracting than illuminating in pursuing these questions.

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-03-2008 04:56 PM:

Hi Rich,

I couldn't agree with you more. In a way, a quintessential characteristic of good Baluch weaving was the way in which they adapted designs and motifs to create a new and distinct aesthetic.


Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 02-04-2008 03:14 AM:

Rich & James

(smiley used for lack of time)

Posted by Janet Tyson on 02-05-2008 01:58 PM:

a modest affirmation

"Baluchi" weaving as an example of "adopting much, yet making it their own in small ways" really speaks to me. So thanks Rich.

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-06-2008 10:34 AM:

Thank you, Janet. One of the things that has always intrigued me in my interest in rugs is the fact that the craft is obviously very ancient, and numberless groups of people must have taken it up through the ages and contributed their particular and distinctive artistic vision to the pool. The products of "the Baluch" are a particularly distinctive element of that syndrome, and there is enough of what they did extant that we can view and ponder it.

Another thing I've always wondered is, did they choose that palette because that's what they liked, or were those the only colors they could muster? I know one of the old books says they liked the somber colors because their desert environment was blindingly bright, and they needed to rest their eyes in the tent. That seemed like a slightly funny, made up story to me. But who's to say? Tom Cole's site suggests the somber colors may be ho-hum, and we should look for the light and bright. I'll take a Baluch with green and sky blue any day, but those dark somber ones are also great, if they're "right."

Rich Larkin

Posted by James Blanchard on 02-06-2008 10:44 AM:

Baluch darkness

Hi Rich,

I'm inclined to think that the Baluch liked the dark colours, especially the dark blues. As I understand it, much more time and effort and expense is involved in achieving very dark indigo because of the need to dye repeatedly.


Posted by Steve Price on 02-06-2008 10:57 AM:

Hi People

One thing about the very somber palette of many Belouch group rugs: the colors come alive in direct sunlight. It might be a consequence of their very lustrous wool. In a desert environment, you'd have to take them indoors to see them as somber.


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-06-2008 11:07 AM:

Right, Steve, and right James. I have dyed with indigo (under strict supervision!), and it is true it is a much longer process to get the very deep blue ("surmey," according to the old books) than the lighter shades. Thus, it seems anomalous there wouldn't be a much higher prevalence of rugs with substantial areas of the lighter shade.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Dinie Gootjes on 02-06-2008 11:44 AM:


Interesting point about those dark colours. Was weaving usually done outside then? We have a few bag faces with areas so dark, that only if the light strikes the surface from a particular angle, you can see the pattern. I can hardly imagine working on an area like that in anything but bright light. On the other hand, I had always imagined women working in the comparative cool of a tent. Is anything known about where they would weave?


Posted by Unregistered on 02-06-2008 01:12 PM:

Hi folks,

The use of one dark color on top of another, such that a pattern is difficult to perceive absent sunlight or some other strong light, is characteristic of Baluch group work. I can't think of another weaving bloc offhand that does this with any frequency. Following is another recycled (sorry about that) image that shows the phenomenon. There are two blues that are not easily distinguished in low light, but they just jump out in the sunlight. The blue providing the tracery aspect of the mina khani is a distinct teal shade.

Dinie, my sense from odd pictures in books is that quite a bit of rural weaving is done outdoors. It's just an impression.

The image I've posted exemplifies another phenomenon of some rugs that I don't completely understand. The appearance of the pattern on the obverse of the rug is somewhat matte, almost dusty looking; yet the wool and colors absolutely glow on the cut pile side. This can be observed among most rug types, but I think of it as most often encountered in Baluch, some Caucasian types, and some Anatolians. On the other hand, in some rugs, the opposite is true: the pattern is clearer and brighter on the obverse. It's an issue for another thread.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-06-2008 01:30 PM:

Oops! Sorry, Steve. I sent the last post out of an alien computer and neglected to put in my registration.

Posted by Steve Price on 02-06-2008 01:34 PM:

Hi Rich

I knew it was you, so I added your name to the bottom of your message and decided to let you off this time. BUT - if you do it ONE MORE TIME .....


Steve Price

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-06-2008 02:03 PM:

Hi Steve,

I'll take my medicine if it happens again. Just don't let one of those little guys with the dueling swords poke any holes in any of my beloved Baluch balishts. (More pathetic alliteration there.)

Posted by Patrick Weiler on 02-06-2008 10:47 PM:

How Did They Do That?

I have long been curious about the very dark colors in Baluch weavings.
If dyeing indigo to an extremely dark blue and also dyeing other equally dark colors requires extensive, intense processes, why do weavers in dry, desert areas invest so much water in the process? Dyeing is a very water-intensive process. Rinsing and cleaning finished wool and carpets is equally water-expensive.
Can the various Baluch weave types be differentiated from each other by the geographic accessibility of water for the dyeing and finishing process? Are the color combinations of different Baluch weaving types dependent enough upon the availability of surplus water that their location of manufacture could be determined by the proximity of water resources?
Did the Baluch, as with other tribes, acquire dyed wool from specialists whose products can be separated from each other?
I volunteer to donate $5 and a modern Afghan mat to the research.

Patrick Weiler

Posted by Paul Smith on 02-06-2008 10:54 PM:

the blues...

James, Richard, Patrick, Dinie, et al.--

The idea that you have to get some light on these things to get them to work...

I am a slave to indigo...and in relation to the recent trends thing, obsessive-compulsive Baluch color disorder--I have two paths in my collecting these days. One certainly is to find the bright colors, but another is what for me seems to be a deeper aesthetic, that world of weavings that need light.

This prayer rug came into my world through what for me was an insane foray into the world of rug wheeling and dealing. Through an eBay "live" auction, I bought a "lot" of "Three Turkish prayer rugs, c. 1910", which was clearly two Central Anatolian ones (one that was certainly 19th c.) and what for me was the sleeper, this Baluchi, which I think is also 19th c. I sold the two Mudjars, one on eBay which I think was pretty nice and if I could go back in time I would probably have held onto it, but I wanted to see if I could make the Baluchi that I was going for as close to free as I could. I didn't quite make it, but got close. I can't imagine what it is like to be in this as a business...I decided that it was too much like the music business, and I deal with that enough. But it is fun to try something like this. Someday I guess I will go to a Skinners auction or something.

This is a rug that needs to be taken into the shade on a bright day, or, as today, into the last hour of winter sunlight up north here. I did not have a Baluchi prayer rug that had silk, and I just loved this one, even in the incredibly crappy image the auction house posted. Two dealers I respect have been utterly unimpressed with it, but this is my first experience of being drawn to something with no influence whatsoever from what anyone else into these things would like.

What I love is that, even without one of those iridescent Baluchi light blues, there are at least four distinct shades of darker blue: a deep indigo, a medium blue, a "polychromatic" electric blue, and a mysterious corrosive dark green blue. Outside, the little bands of purple and yellow silk shine like jewels and the red looks like a pool of Shiraz (the wine).

If someone told me it was made in 1950 I wouldn't care. I can't imagine that the weaver figured out this thing from the inside of a dark tent.


Posted by Alex Wolfson on 02-07-2008 12:01 AM:


That rug has real presence. I especially ike the way the weaver has effortlessly inserted three guls at one end of the field.
I don't think the presence of four synthetic orange knots means the rug is necessarily later than you would otherwise think - after all these dyes appeared around 130 years ago. Interestingly, I have a belouch prayer rug which shows all the hallmarks of a nineteenth century piece - but it has a single bright pink knot hidden away in the border. I wonder if this was done deliberately, maybe as a way of weaving a special charm into the rug. The appearance of bright colours on the market must have seemed magical to weavers used to their singularly sombre tones.

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-07-2008 09:55 AM:

Hi Alex,

Good of you to try to rehabilitate my rug. As far as that orange is concerned, without having any evidence I can remember, I don't consider that color to have come in with the earliest group of synthetic colors. I guess I consider the Salor gul Baluch to be about early 20th century, with or without the orange. As I mentioned, I've seen a few very like this one, but with clearly synthetic orange, and probably the green too. I doubt they were much before 1950.

The three gul array is at the beginning of the weaving, and it looks like the weaver decided it was too much of a squeeze in that format. Fortunately, the Baluch weavers considered themselves licensed to change what they were doing anytime they wanted.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-07-2008 10:06 AM:

Hi Paul,

Would you say that of your four blues, three represent variations of the same color, perhaps different dye lots from the same vat; and that the greenish one is essentially different? I don't recall seeing such a color in Baluch work that has the corrosive quality. I wouldn't think it had been dyed blue over the standard corrosive brown, even a light version, as I would expect the resulting color to be "muddy." There is a light green that is corrosive, most often associated with Sultanabad area rugs (e. g., old Feraghans). The old books usually say that copper was involved in the dye process, resulting in the corrosive tendency. I haven't heard of it being used among Baluch weavers, but I imagine dying indigo over such a green would create the color in your prayer rug.

Any chance we could see the back?

Rich Larkin

Posted by Paul Smith on 02-07-2008 11:05 AM:


Our camera is toast and won't be back from repair for a couple of weeks, alas. I shot these images awhile ago, and I didn't take one of the back. The four shades of blue are used in elements that are side-by-side; this isn't abrash, but the use of colors that are apparently intended to contrast, which they do in outside light. The dark indigo and dark green blue (which is a bit muddy in tone) are clearly contrasting with the two lighter shades of blue in these images.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-07-2008 11:50 AM:

Hi Paul,

I assume the dark green/blue is the darker element in the quartered leaves in the close-up. (It doesn't look all that muddy on my screen.) How many of the other blues can be discerned in that close shot? To my eye, there is one other blue there.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Alex Wolfson on 02-07-2008 12:05 PM:


Your prayer-rug looks similar to the one I have, and I notice it has small highlight knots of bright wool (or is it silk?).
Is this a feature anyone else has come across? Is it confined to any particular sub-group?

Do you have a picture of your 'wayward' knots?


Posted by Frank Martin Diehr on 02-07-2008 04:02 PM:

Here we go again ...

Hi folks; Paul:

here is one I made earlier:

it also has highlights in the barber pole, some appear early synthetic. I would not hesitate dating your (Paul) prayer rug to 1st quarter, 20th cent, and mine perhaps slightly earlier.
I would call those rugs Timuri, from the border region, or even from Khorassan, but please refere to my motto (see below).


Posted by Paul Smith on 02-07-2008 07:51 PM:



In the close up shot, the dark blue is the regular deep indigo. The clearest use of the dark green blue is in the left hand panel in the big image, in the dark parts of the middle one of the three serrated leaf-clusters. There are some leaf quarters in the bottom of the field that have it, too, about four altogether. I guess the color isn't really "muddy," really, but it has a definite green mixed in with a very dark blue, and there is something corrosive in it, since it has worn away more than the other blues. As there are two darker blues in this, there also seems to be two "medium" blues, but I may be deluding myself. In the close up, in the central cluster of leaves above the barber pole...I am trying to decide if that is an example of the effect. Clearly on the lower left of the image, the weaver used the exact same color as the field blue in the leaf quarter, but some of the leaf quarters appear to me to have a medium blue that contrasts slightly with the "polychromatic" blue. It needs outdoor light to see really, and then it's pretty clear. But I may be insane. I sure wish our camera would get fixed!!

By the way, that last Mina Khani you posted was particularly lovely, and I was struck by the curvaceous vines in the border and the diagonal flowers in the field. I know I was only supposed to pay attention to the blues, however...


Yes, those are yellow and purple silk highlights in the barber pole.


Thanks for posting your prayer rug; it is great to see a similar item. So, in fact the "c. 1910" label that the auction had may well have been correct. It seemed to me that the location of the hand panels out at the corners and not inside a significant border was an earlier thing. The light green silk in yours was very sweet, I thought. Is it the pink silk color that is synthetic? I had thought that the purple and yellow silks in mine seemed natural, but I am also convinced there is both medium and polychromatic blue in the rug, so I may be delusional.


Posted by Richard Larkin on 02-07-2008 07:57 PM:

Hi Frank,

That's a good looking rug. It surely looks like a cousin to Paul's. Please don't go to any trouble, but can you tell me what's going on in that outermost border (blue on purple) surrounding the prayer area, just inside the beaded outline? I've viewed it on three monitors, and I can't quite make it out. Also, what do you make of the corrosive dark green in Paul's? Have you seen it in other Baluch?

I agree with your estimate of the ages of these examples. I believe the Baluch continued to weave to a relatively old standard well into the 20th century, and it is difficult to assign age to many of them with confidence.

Rich Larkin

Posted by Horst Nitz on 02-08-2008 01:36 PM:

Hi Patrick and all,

a short comment on this interesting khordjin of yours. When I peeped in first I took it for a Salar Khani as well, now a couple of days later I think it might be something else. Why?

Going by Azadi's book, all Salar Khani rugs are knotted assymmetric open left (As 1) without warp depression. Your khordjin, as indicated by those neighbouring bigger and smaller knobsies has considerable warp depression, making it impossible to assess how these knots are constructed by just looking at the image. It would be much outside the ordinary for the khordjin to be Salar Khani with such warp depression, but within what is known as being familiar among the Kurds of Khorassan, given their frequent freestyle approach - if knots were symmetric I'd say it was a clear case.

In his review of the literature Azadi comes to the conclusion that the Baluch are an Iranian people who are know to have settled south of the Caspian Sea in Sassanian time and later moved on to Kerman from where they were pushed further east during 10th and 11th centuries to "Baluchistan". Against this, an ethnic and semantic link with Turkoman groups seems unlikely. The Salar Khani apparently have always been counted among the Baluch according to those earlier writers Azadi refers to in his review. Could the claim of them being a subgroup of the Timuri result from a mixup with th Yakub Khani, an undisputed subtribe of the Timuri?

Unfortunately the Boucher / Opie book is of not much help in this. It scores on its great images but falls short on structural data and historical and antropological information.

I agree with all of you who have expressed feeling on tribal grounds with Baluch nomenclature - if not in quick sands.