Hunter Morin, Collecting Bags and Small Rugs, Part 1
On January 15, 2011, Hunter Morin
gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning talk on “Collecting Bags and Small Rugs,” here at The Textile Museum in Washington, D. C.
Hunter is a Washington-area business man who has collected rugs and textiles since the late 196os. He knew personally many of the stellar figures in the local rug world in these earlier days. Not just Harold Keshishian and Russell Pickering (Russell was in the room for this session), but also folks like McCoy Jones and Ralph Yohe. Despite this, and a long-time association with the TM (he has pieces The Textile Museum conserved and mounted for him), Hunter said that he had not presented a “rug morning” for about 15 years.
One of the contexts of this talk was an exhibition of Hunter’s material that he had mounted in a Fredericksburg venue. In his RTAM, Hunter treated some of them in projected slides. In preparation for this virtual version, I traveled to Hunter’s home and photographed a number of the pieces shown below, “in situ.”
The post your are reading is Part 1 in this virtual version and will present material treated in his TM session. Part 2 treats pieces subsequently photographed in use in Hunter’s home.
Hunter began by cautioning the audience that he was not much concerned with such things as textile structure or close attribution, but instead focused on pieces he found to have continuing aesthetic appeal.
He spoke directly to pieces arrayed on the front-of-the-room board and subsequently to others that members of the audience had brought in.
He began with the mafrash end panel below.
Here is a closer look at it.
Hunter said that this piece was for many years on the seat of the chair of a local rug dealer. He attributed it to NW Persia or the Southern Caucasus
The next rug had a design that many will recognize.
A large detail of a rug with a design, either close to, or exactly like this one, graces the front jacket of James Opie’s “Tribal Rugs.” But the rug above is a miniature version done in silk. I have seen one other local example of this silk copy.
Here are some closer details of this small silk piece.
Hunter next treated another small silk rug on the board. This piece is a copy of a variety of Ghiordes niche design.
(Note: This rug was woven upside down, with the niche pointing down, and was shown that way on the board, to let us see its colors at their best. I have turned it here to let you see it in the more usual publication orientation.)
Here are some closer details of this piece.
I am not sure where Hunter said this little piece was made, but, as many readers will know, the Chinese are making remarkable silk copies of Middle Eastern designs.
The next piece was the complete khorjin set below.
Hunter attributed it to the Caucasus, and said that it was once in the Ralph Yohe collection and is published in his book.
The next piece shown was the one below.
In an after-session discussion, Wendel Swan said that this piece is a Jozan from NW Persia. Wendel: “…probably one of the finest I have seen, with wonderful wool.”One can spend hours staring at this small piece and see something new each time.
Here are some closer details of this rug.
The next piece treated was another complete khorjin set.
This is another piece from the collection of Ralph Yohe and was published in his book. I know Ralph would be excited to know how others are still enjoying his collection and his forsight. Russell Pickering , his confident and dear friend was at today’s session to once again enjoy, bringing back for certain many special memories of their collecting days together. Ralph left a legacy, not the least of which were memories. Is it not strange how these pieces all bring with them special memories?
Here are two details of the piece above.
The next piece was a third complete khorjin set. This piece has great color and was attributed to the Qashqai.
Here are two closer details of this piece.
The next piece as an unusual Anatolian yastik.
I say “unusual,” and think that is true, but this piece is also virtually identical to Plate 100 in Morehouse’s “Yastiks” catalog (there are slight color usage variations). Below is Plate 100 for comparison.
They are both inscribed and dated 1869. Morehouse translates the Greek inscription on the piece in his Plate 100 as “Woven by the daughter of Anastasia, the design by the father Anastasiou, working together with God. Feb. 15, 1869 – K. Erve.”
Morehouse attributes Plate 100 to one of the Greek communities in the Kirsehir area of Central Anatolia.
Hunter next treated a series of small bags that he picked up and held in one arm.
Here is a closer look at the one he is holding in his right hand in the image above.
This small bag was attributed to the Qashqai.
Here is a second small bag from this series. The wool is “harder.” It has long, tasseled cords along its bottom edge.
Hunter attributed it to the Khamseh. Here is a closer detail of half of it.
Here is the back of this piece.
The next piece was a similar SW Persian bag.
A closer look at a vertical half of it.
And, again, its back.
The colors of this back get better in close-up.
The next small bag had an interesting design on a white ground.
Here is a closer lower quarter.
The “wings” on the animal forms become visible.
The next piece was a small salt bag.
A closer detail.
And its back.
The next small bag was attributed to Bijar. Incredibly hard wool.
A closer vertical half.
And a detail that highlights its field.
Hunter said that it has great wool.
The next piece was a Caucasian rug from Shirvan and was a rag until artistically repaired in Turkey. It was too pretty to be used for patches.
Here are some details of this piece. Try to find the repairs
The next piece was a Baluch bag face with a mina khani design.
A closer corner. John’s camera work shows a few holes. Wish he was not so good.
Good, “naturalistic” flowers in its field.
The next piece, a Josan Saruk, came from a NY dealer or some renown. took me 5 years to get him to sell me the rug. Beautiful hard wool.
Initial indications in the room suggested this in a NW Persian rug, perhaps a variety of Saruk. But Wendel Swan, speaking from the audience, indicated that its was almost assuredly a Jozan. Jozans he said are woven in the Arak area of NW Persia, as are a number of types, including both Saruks and Hamadans. Some call rugs like this “Jozan-Saruks,” but Saruks have an asymmetric knot open left and Jozans have symmetric knots.
On the basis of the knot alone, it might be more appropriate to place Jozans with Hamadans (although most Hammadans have only one pick of weft between knot rows). In his “Hamadan” catalog Willborg does include one Jozan example, but also says “Technically, [ed. Jozan] rugs are more like Saruks and Araks, being doublewefted in construction with almost completely depressed warps. The designs, too, can be confused with Saruks…” Wendel said that Jozans are a distinctive type and should simply called by that name alone.
Here are some closer details of this nice rug.
The next piece was another salt bag.
Here are some closer details.
Here are some closer looks at details of this piece.
The next piece was a Tabriz.
This NW Persian rug has a Senna design, yet is woven typical to Tabriz with a turkish Knot on cotton
The next piece returned to the Caucasus.
Hunter acknowledged that this piece has been substantially restored. It is from the Kuba area, with a traditional border and weave. Dated 4th quarter of 19th century
Here is one closer detail.
The discussion of restoration of the piece above led to a discussion of fragments and Hunter acknowledged that he is sometimes attracted to fragments.
This, in turn, led to an aside in which he said that his daughter has started a business of using rug fragments to make attractive purses. He held up two.
He said that his daughter’s efforts in this regard had become so successful that he has had to ban her from using any more of his fragments. She must now look elsewhere for this aspect of her raw materials.
Wagirehs can be interesting and Hunter had one.
This sampler is of the sort that provides field and border designs for more than one rug. Rugs of this type were used by merchants in the early part of the 20th century in Bidjar to instruct weaver on the designs desired in a rug , replacing the cartoon used in more sophisticated weaving areas
Here are some details of it.
I have never determined whether the background is Camel hair or wool, and really do not care. The handle of the rug is board like, and cannot be folded.
Now we moved to an impressive saddle cover.
This piece was attributed to NW Persia. I will forever be in debt to John Wertime for sharing this saphire blue jewell with me.
Several closer details of it.
The condition is perfect. Few rear end graced this masterpiece.
Hunter next held up a framed pre-Columbian piece.
This is a kind of cocoa bag. Pre Colunbian
Hunter said it was Huari, 700 to 900 AD.
A second pre-Columbian bag was this one.
1100 t0 1200 A.D.
At one point in his talk, Hunter brought out a series of metal pieces cut into particular, precise shapes.
He asked whether anyone had seen something like this and if anyone knew what these shaped metal pieces were.
Hunter said that they came to him, maybe accidentally, in some rugs he bought and he found out that they were used by a U.S. dealer to cover particular areas of a rug as he attempted to expose the colors in other areas to the sun and make them more mellow.
Hunter said this discovery alerted him at a new level to the kinds of things folks in the rug world would sometimes do to produce particular effects in a piece they wanted to sell. He said, that he asked himself, that if this is what a U. S. rug dealer might do to “improve” a rug, what might some of the dealers he was sometimes using overseas be about?
We now moved to treat pieces brought in by members of the audience.
The first such was a Baluch bag face with a mina khani field.
Hunter examined it side-by-side with the one he had shown earlier.
This subsequent piece is darker, but the flowers are also naturalistic. Hunter said that he thought the piece on the left above was older.
Some closer details of the one on the right.
Comments on details above.
Next was a Baluch piece with Turkman influence showing.
Two closer details.
A Baluch weaver influence by the so-called “Salor” turreted gul.
The next piece was also Baluch, this time in a balischt format.
Interesting, less than usual design. One detail.
The next piece was a shallow Turkman bag.
But with traditional drawing.
The next piece returned us to SW Persia with a khorjin face.
Two detail images.
The next piece is a small sumak half-of-a-khorjin bag, of a sort not frequently seen.
This is a published piece and appears as Plate 55 in John Wertime’s book “Sumak,” 1998. Wertime attributes it to the Hastrud-Miyaneh area of Northwest Iran.
Here are two details of it.
Wertime says that the drawing of the birds is typical of this area.
Next was described as a “vanity” bag.
Very firm handle. NW Persia. Below is a vertical half to let you see it a bit closer.
The next item was a small, complete khorjin set.
And a very firm fabric. There is cotton in this piece. Here is a closer half of one bag.
Hunter held up the next piece.
Here is the whole piece closer.
SW Persia. Its owner thinks it’s camel hair.
The next piece is a glorious, complete Shahsavan khorjin set that we get to see “in the wool” here occasionally.
It is a published piece and appeared in Parviz Tanavoli’s “Shahsavan,” as Plate 184. It is attributed to the Mianeh-Hastrud area in the late 19th century.
It is done in a very tough zili. Some closer details.
The striped connecting piece and back are also handsome.
One more close front detail. This zili structure is an extra weft knotted wrapping.
Next, Hunter held up a Yomut saddle cover.
A little closer look.
Here’s an “existentialist’s bracketing” of the central column in its field.
The next piece was this small Baluch vanity bag.
Hunter said it has great wool. Two closer details below.
The next piece was the khorjin face below.
This is a Shahsavan piece, estimated to have been woven in the early 19th century. Attributed to the Khamseh area of NW Persia.
Some additional details of it.
The next piece was a large, flatwoven, Turkman chuval.
The owner thinks it may be Tekke, but work distinguishing Turkman flatweaves by tribe is not advanced.
Some closer details of this piece.
The next piece was described as a “dowry” tent bag.
It appears to have been made in a single piece and then folded in the middle. There was conversation in the room about whether it might be a “repurposed” rug, but the consensus was that it was made in this way and intended to be a bag format from the beginning.
Attributions varied between Baluch and Afshar.
Next was another small SW Persian bag.
The next piece was the salt bag below.
This striking Kurdish piece has both good color and graphics.
My photo of the back does not do it justice, but facing it, “in the wool,” it is almost as good as the front.
The next piece was one complete half of a khorjin set.
Shahsavan with “snowflake-like” devices in its field.
Here is a closer corner.
Effective use of outlining.
The next piece was another colorful bag.
Here is a closer vertical half.
Here is another small bag with a directional design and good color.
A closer detail.
This one also has a very striking back.
The next piece was a small khorjin-style, but chanteh-sized set. Cotton foundation.
Here is a vertical half of one of these faces.
Nice the small areas of pink silk use. Baluch attribution, maybe Aimaq.
The next piece was a complete half of a khojin set.
Some closer detail images of this piece.
Good color. Notice Persian closure system.
Hunter took us to the next piece.
It was an unusual Jaff Kurd bag face.
“Zili Sultan” field design was whispered in the room.
Some closer detail images.
The next piece was a Baluch balischt.
Here are some closer details of this piece.
The character of its colors is more apparent in these close-ups.
Another Baluch piece followed, this time with a more urban flavor. My notes say Persian Baluch.
The bright orange-reds and the “electric” blues in this piece drew comment.
At one point in his talk (not in relation to the piece above) Hunter said that he had once said in a TM rug morning that the orange in a given piece was too bright to have originated from a natural dye. He said, not long after, a lady in that audience sent him this card with color samples attached.
There was also a card from the lady saying that she had produced these colors entirely from natural dyes. Hunter said this experience made him more cautious about claiming that the fact that a dye seemed “too bright,” might be sufficient evidence that it was likely from a synthetic dye.
The next piece was a Kurdish bag face with a classic 2-1-2 design.
The center of its central medallion is a variety of Holbein gul.
Here is a look at a close corner.
Notice that while the 2-1-2 reading is clearly intended by the use of white, there are in three devices in each corner, not one.
The next piece was a nicely composed, small bag, described as Kurdish, or maybe Bakhtiari. Interesting abstracted floral medallion in its field. Effective use of a brighter blue.
The next piece was the small Yomut saddle cover below.
This piece is in pile, but has a field design often seen in flatweaves woven in zili brocade.
Notice that it has a nice purple (I’m tempted to say “aubergine,” but Wendel Swan pointed out to me once that this latter term should likely be reserved for pieces of exquisite quality, so I guess this is just an instance of “purple.” 🙂 )
There was conjecture in the room about whether, given its small size, (it is 18 inches wide and 14 inches tall at it peak) it was likely that it was used as a saddle cover.
Since the piece is mine, I can test that a bit, and can report that, although I am a sizable male, I can lay it down on the chair on which I am sitting as I type, and it more covers the rug fragment that I usually sit on. I could readily sit on it as it covered a saddle, so I think it was in fact made and used (it is worn where the “horn” would come through) as a saddle rug.
The next piece was described as Baluch and as a small personal bag.
The designs resemble what are often called “jewelry” motifs, since they resemble some items of Central Asian female jewelry.
Here is a closer detail.
It was described as “Aimaq,” probably woven in NW Afghanistan.
The next piece was an Uzbek “napramach” bag face.
It has good graphic punch and features a strong yellow.
The last piece shown in Hunter’s session was almost passed. Hunter thought it might be a hat and tried it on.
But in fact it is a Japanese rice bag of the “boro” category of Japanese textile. “Boro” textiles are made originally from patches. They are one evidence of Japanese frugality. This evidence is redoubled when one notices that boro items have often been patched (over the original patches) due to wear.
Japanese textiles made in the “boro” mode include futon covers (which can be quite large) and jackets. These latter two items can be quite expensive.
As indicated earlier, Huntersaid that he has sometimes bought fragmented pieces and has also on occasion he has had one restored. He ended his session by bringing out two fragments too small to make restoration a consideration, but said that he valued them and felt you could learn things from fragments.
Here is a closer look at the first of these small pieces.
And here is the second of these two small pieces.
Hunter said that if you wanted to experience the essence of a pile Senneh rug, holding this piece in your hands and examining it would be about the best you could do.
Hunter took questions,
and adjourned the session.
To see Part 2 of this post on Hunter’s collection, use the following link: (insert link to Part 2 after publication.
But before you do, let me say a few thank you’s that bear directly on Part 1.
I want to thank Hunter for this excellent program, for being willing to have this virtual version produced, and for his considerable editorial assistance as we did so. My thanks also to Tim Hays, for a good set of notes, and to Wendel Swan for some after session comment on some of these pieces.
I hope you have enjoyed this post on Hunter’s “rug morning” program and hope that it will not be another 15 years before he gives another.
Now, on to Part 2.
R. John Howe