Rugs of the World – Baluchi

The Baluchi (alt. Baloch) people inhabit the southern areas of Afghanistan, and the traditional rugs woven by these people are known as Baluchi. Modern Afghani weaving has become more diverse, but traditionally two main types of rugs have come from the country. Turkoman from the north and Baluchi form the south. Both used tribal motifs and dark colors but were separated by a few distinct variables.  

17-030637First, Baluchi rugs tend to be woven without using cable wefts. This gives them a more pliable hand and lightweight feel. They are ideal for rolling up and packing which worked well for many in the region as many Baluchi people tend to be nomadic.

Second, Baluchi rugs tend to use a broader range of colors than their northern counterparts. Where Turkoman rugs are almost always done in reds and blacks, Baluchi tend to also use dark blues, browns, tans, and even sometimes greens.

Third, while there are exceptions, most Baluchi rugs are woven in smaller sizes. This goes back to the idea that they need to be made to be easily transported.

Lastly, many Baluchi rugs use prayer motifs, which are much less common in the Turkoman weaving. Prayer designs are asymmetrical and have a distinct top and bottom. When used in prayer, the top is pointed toward Mecca.

While the look used in most Baluchi rugs is similar, they don’t have a very defined design. They are woven by individuals, and as such have a broad variety of patterns. There are a few motifs that are worth a little extra attention and discussion.

The first is Koudani. These are prayer designs that tend to be more detailed and finely woven. Distinct “towers” dot through the field of the design. These represent prayer towers and always are oriented so that the tops of the towers point toward the head space on the rug.

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Koudani rugs are almost always prayer designs.

Second on this list is Moshwani. Where most Baluchi rugs use traditional knotting through their field, Moshwani are distinct in that they combine three or more types of weaving throughout the field of the rug. Traditional hand-knotting, soumak flat-weaving, kelim style flat-weaving, and in some cases even float stitch flat-weaving. This technique gives moshwani a unique texture and depth that you don’t see in most rugs.

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Moshwani rugs use a variety of weaving techniques.

Next is, Dohtor e Ghaz sometimes called “The Judge’s Daughter”. Again a prayer design, what sets these rugs apart is the distinct head and hand spaces on the top are of the prayer motif. The head space is usually shaped like a head and he hand spaces will even often use design reminiscent of hands. These rugs are less common than most, but very distinct.

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Always done in prayer designs, these rugs have a very distinct shape to the head and hand spaces.

Lastly, a very unique weaving to Baluchi are War rugs. Literal tanks, guns, planes, and grenades are often woven into war rugs. Sometimes these motifs repeat throughout the field, and sometimes they are pictorial pieces depicting a battle between Afghan and Russian forces. Modern Baluchi war rugs will even incorporate drones in their designs.  In these areas, the people weave what they see, and unfortunately, they have been exposed to all too much war and violence. While a tragic reminder of a difficult life for these folks, war rugs make for very interesting and unique designs as no other style of rug embraces these motifs.

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An interesting consequence of the unfortunate amount of war this region has seen over the years, “War Rugs” use distinct war motifs all throughout their designs.

17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_nBy: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com

Rugs of the World – Hamadan

Nestled in the foothills of the Alvand Mountains in Iran, Hamadan is one of the major weaving centers in the middle east.  Hamadan city is the capital of the Hamadan region, so when it comes to rugs, Hamadan is a very broad term.  There are a large number of smaller villages that surround the city of Hamadan, each has its own style of weaving, all are considered to be Hamadan rugs, but all are a little different and in their designs.  

Hamadan are generally coarsely woven using low knot counts, single wefting techniques, cotton foundations, and are woven with Turkish (or Symmetrical) knotting techniques.  These factors are the quickest and easiest way to identify if a rug is a Hamadan.  Also, Hamadan are tribal rugs, and like most tribal rugs, generally tend to use more geometric motifs.  This is a much less reliable identifier however as there are many notable exceptions.  More often than not, Hamadan use strong reds contrasted by deep blues set in geometric patterns.

 

 

Hamadan City – The quintessential rug from Hamadan uses a red medallion offset by a navy border and ivory secondary field.  On occasion, these rug will feature three medallions.  Two of one color and the center of another.  Despite being a major city, most Hamadan rugs are tribal and geometric in their motifs.  

 

 

 

 

Lillihan – South of Hamadan is the village of Lillihan.  Generally considered to be on the lower end of quality, most Lillihan use low knot counts, drab colors, and will often have design inconsistencies.  While certainly not the case for all rugs from this village, It is common that a weaver will start with one shade of a color, run out midway through the rug, and switch to another very different color.  Most Lillihan use simple repeating design motifs.

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Nehavand / Ushvan / Tuiserkand – Nehavad is a region, Ushvan and Tuiserkand are villages.  Rugs from this area have much in common with only subtle differences from one type to the next.  Typically very geometric in their motifs, what really set these apart from most Hamadan is their use of Black.  It is common that these rugs will use a primarily black field or medallion offset by strong reds and bright ivories.  Most often, rug of these types will use central medallions.

 

 

 

 

Hosienabad – Generally from villages to the southeast of Hamadan city, Hosienabad  often use the Herati pattern usually seen in the North Western parts of Iran.  This distinct design repeats through the field of the rug.  Most often, they are woven with red fields, though occasionally done in blue or ivory.  They can, but usually don’t have central medallion or motifs.

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Mehriban – North of the city of Hamadan is Mehriban.  Theser rugs are very floral and in fact use motifs most often associated with Sarouk, another major Persian weaving center.  However, the construction of Mehriban is distinctly hamadan, defining them as such.  Unlike most of the design mention in this article, Mehribhan uses very floral motifs.  Small disconnected groups of  flowers spread throughout the field of the rug.  

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These represent only a small handful of the different types of Hamadan one can find from Iran.  The patterns in these rugs are truly as diverse as the myriad of small villages they come from.  Thick, soft, and colorful, Hamadan rugs are a classic mainstay of Persian weaving in both the modern and old world.


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n By: Matt Gabel

Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years.  Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com