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.
First, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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