Archive for January, 2014

Ali Aydin on Turkish and Caucasian Rugs

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 by rjohn

On November 2, 2013, Ali Aydin,


gave an Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program on Turkish and Caucasian rugs, here at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.  Ali is a well-known dealer and skilled restoration practitioner, here in the D.C. area and is associated with a family member in Istanbul. He has given several previous RTAM programs.

Ali began with some Caucasians.



This rug is termed a “Borchalo” Kazak woven in the Southwestern Caucasus..  It is similar to rug 6 in Ralph Kaffel’s Caucasian Prayer Rugs, 1998.  The border and the field design and palette are all characteristic. 

Ali called attention to the “dragon” or “double-headed eagle” design used in the two larger outer borders.  He said that the Seljuks used this design, as did the Chinese.

A second rug was also a Kazak, this time of the Fachralo type.



The main border usages is very characteristic.  Compare with Kaffel, rugs 10 and 11.  The “insect -like” devices in the red-ground field are present in both rugs 10 and 11.

I want to put these two rug ups side-by-side in order to pass along something an experienced dealer pointed out to me.

  Ali 1-2

Now these are both strong rugs, but the old dealer said that he thought that the treatment of the niche-topped area of the rug on the right is aesthetically superior to that in the rug on the left.  He said that a niche-topped  area that does not touch the inside of the main border  on the edge of the field, tends, both to “float” in the red field and move in a different plane  than does the red field.  The niche-topped treatment of the rug on the left looks “flat” and lacks the “depth” of the one the right.  One doesn’t have to agree with him to see what he means.  An interesting  observation.

The next rug was a niche-design from Shirvan.



The rug above is a white ground field with a “lattice with flower forms” design.  The border is fairly frequent, but this version strains toward a curvilinear look.  Many versions of this border are more abstracted with a more rectilinear, conventionalized appearance.

Here are some details of A3.


Flower forms seems to repeat. approximately, every other lattice, reading horizontally.





Ali said


that his fourth Caucasian piece was flat-woven.



This piece is done in sumac.  Its designs seem derived from Caucasian embroideries (See Schurman,139 on page 353).  The “armature” devices in the four corners of the field echo usages in the “Caucasian dragon rugs.”

Here are some details of A4.







Ali described A5 as “Marasali.”  It does not have the frequent boteh-dominated field of many pieces with a Marasali attribution, but Kaffel says that striped designs were woven in “niche” rugs in every part of the Caucasus, excepting the Kazaks of the southwest.  He notes that a glowing red is as indicative of Marsalis as is design.

Here are some detail images of A5.





Ali took us to his next piece.




The dark field background that would tempt one to put this piece in the “black Marasali” Shirvan group is actually dark blue. Ali says that in his experience, blue Marsalis tend to be younger.  Its curved niche is noteworthy and the drawing immediately under the niche, moves toward the curvilinear.  It does not exhibit the use of color in the field devices to create diagonal effects.

Here are some details of A6.






Ali described A7 as “Shirvan.”

Here are some details of A7.


Ali called attention to the slight color difference from the yellow ground in the tax diamond device surrounding the “cross” in the image below.  Alie thinks such areas (and there are a number of them) are likely camel hair.







Compartmented designs are frequent in Central Asian rugs (e.g. engsis) and in Anatolian rugs (e.g. many Ghiordes designs) but do occur in some Caucasian rugs.

Ali said this piece was woven in western Anatolia.  The main border is unusual in Anatolian rugs but similar ones occur in Shirvans.

Here are some details.



He said that this piece may have animal and human forms in its designs. See the white “face” and the upside down “bird” forms in the detail below.


Here are a few more details of A8.







Ali said that this graphically attractive long rug was woven in the Konya-Cappadocia area of Turkey.  Although the rich gold is common in the Konya area, he said that you can only tell which is which by closely examining the weave.  The weave of this piece features nine wefts. The higher number of wefts more frequent Cappadocia usage.

There was a question about whether the wefts were unplied.  Unplied wefts are often used as a indicator that a given piece was likely woven in Turkey, and that led to the more general question of whether un-plied wefts could be considered to be a defining characteristic of a Turkish piece.  Ali said after that some Moroccan rugs have unplied wefts, but these would not be confused with Anatolian rugs, so for most purposes, un-plied wefts can be used as a defining characteristic of a rug suspected of being Anatolian.

Here are some detail images of A9.







Many Turkish weavers were Turkmen, who had come to Anatolia in waves from Central Asia.  Ali included some Central Asian Turkmen pieces as part of his Turkic examples.

This is an engsi (door rug) and was distinctive, in part, because the pile is thick for the Tekke location in which it was woven.



Here are some details of A11.

Relatively few “candalabra with animal head” devices staggered row to row on the four panels of an engsi is sometimes seen as an indicator of age. The articulation of the “combs” in the “animal heads” could also suggest age, since this is the sort of thing that is dropped out in conventionalization.  Wonderful red.



The main border with “winged” devices is unusual and simpler than some other Tekke engsi uses.


The next piece is a well-known Anatolian yastik, published, among other places, in Morehouse’s “Yastiks” catalog, number 39.  It has a wonder green and some purple.



Morehouse places this piece in western Anatolia and says that these repeating field forms occur in 17th century Ushak and Bergama rugs.

Here are two details of A12.





This yastik was described as from Karapinar.  Different color and design.  Morehouse offers a similar design (number 79) and places his in Mucur, although he admits it narrowness is not “pure” Mucur.

Here are some details of A13.





Morehouse offers four very similar pieces that he places in the Mucur area near Kirsehir or Karapinar..  Ali says that the Mucur pieces tend to have a much finer weave than do those from Karapinar and he places this piece in the latter area.

Here are some detail images of A14.






The next piece was another yastik of this design: better and much older than the previous one.  It was also woven in Karapinar.  The design of the last two pieces is one of the most frequently encountered in the market. 

I have what I think is an older one but in very poor condition.


Here is a detail of A15.




Ali indicated that this rug was woven in the village Inlice in the Konya area.  Very nice Memling gul, white-ground border.

Here are some details of A16.






The next two yastic have  striped fields and distinctive muted colors.  Morehouse shows four yastiks (81, 82, 83, 84) that are similar.  He says that such pieces are often attributed to Kirsehir but some have features typical of other areas.  For example this piece has a border similar to that on Morehouse 83.  He says a rug with this border was discovered near Arapkir, southeast of Sivas.  Morehouse 84 has a field closest to that in this piece but no real borders.

Here is a detail of A17.


The second yastik of this type is this one.  Ali says this its Mucur from the Kirsehir area.



Notice that A18 has two borders and lappets.A171c

Morehouse calls attention to the deliberate variation in the color placement in the stripes in some of these pieces.




This piece has some similarities with A14 and A15, but its “armature” devices in its field are more abstracted and its red-yellow palette is harsher.  Likely Mucur.

Here are some details of A19.






This is yet another yastik, but now we have moved to Eastern Anatolian.  Ali noted its purple ground and said that despite the fairly steep diagonals, especially in its border devices, there is no offset knotting in this piece.

Here are some details of A20.


Notice the use of a good, strong orange.




This piece has an unusual “architectural” design and was placed in Eastern Anatolia.  Odd coloration in the spandrels ground.

Here are two detail images of A21.





This Karpinar fragment was once thought by its owner to be from a large carpet.  He had in fact down a speculative elaboration of what the design of the large rug looked like.

But he has come to think that, despite the large scale of its major elements, it is from a yastik.  One is always awed anew by its aubergine.

I need to acknowledge that my photographs of the next very old fragment do not do it justice, but I am going to share what I can manage with you anyway.

This is said to be a fragment of a 16th century Anatolian rug from the Ushak area.



It does not look much like more recent Anatolian rugs we know. Ali said that it has two wefts between rows of knots and that the wefts are un-plied, the latter often taken to be an indicator supporting an Anatolian attribution.

Here are some additional details of A23.  These details are a little sharper than the comprehensive image above.






The next piece was a fragment of an Anatolian kilim.  It was described as having been woven in the 18th century in Central Anatolia, close to the Cappadocia area.

Attention was called to its colors, especially the gold.

Here are some details of A24.






This Caucasian piece is likely a side panel from a cargo-type mafrash.  It is done in the flat-woven zili technique. Nooter says that zili is woven in a number of places in the Caucasus.

Here are details of A25.


Notice that the warps are horizontal in the image above but that we have rotated the image below to orient them vertically.


Notice the “corduroy” effect in this weave.  Zili is a species of brocade.  This weave results in rectilinear designs.


The next piece has the same weave structure.



This is a complete Caucasian khorjin set.  Again notice the crisp rectilinear design.  Nooter places two pieces very similar to the two we see here in the Kazak area.  Wertime places a newly identical zili khorjin set in Karabagh.

Here are some detail images of A26.





Its owner said that this lovely and unusual niche design was sold to him as woven in Anatolia, in Mihalic, near Dazkir.  Early 19th century.

Here are some details of A27.







This piece was described as Anatolian woven in Bergama before 1900.  It measures 3′ 1″ by 3′ 10.

Here are some details of A29.

The green designs in the field are similar to those in some very old Anatolian rugs in the Christopher Alexander Collection.  There they are seen a “Seljuk” type devices.







It features a field with cross-panels decorated with abstracted palmettes.  Its main border suggests that it may have been woven in the area where the “eagle” Kazaks were made.

Here are some details of A30.


It is inscribed with what seems to have been intended to be a date.  On the left top we seem to see a date of 1222 which would be a hard-to-believe: that is, early in the 19th century.  A second “date” seen above is 12222, which does not compute at all.







A31 is a Lenkoran long rug (Southeast Caucasus) with some wear.

Here are some details of A31.


This piece has at least two shades of green.



The outer trefoil border is nicely articulated  and uses dark blue, red and a nice green ground skillfully.




This four-medallion long rug was likely woven in either the Kazak area of Karabagh or in Northeast Turkey.  It’s palette suggests that it is 20th century.

Here are some details of A32.










This seems very likely to be new production.  It is probably from Afghanistan.  It uses Caucasian motifs, but with orientations that one would not find in an antique Caucasian rug.  The corners are unusual.  That type of drawing would not be found on an old rug.  Note that the corners are perfectly resolved, another indication of new commercial production.

Here are some details of A33.







This is a sumak mafrash end panel.  Someone suggested that it might be Moghan, but neither the color or the drawing suggest Moghan.  It was woven somewhere in Northwest Persia.

Here are some details of A34.






This piece is a classic Shemakha Shirvan flatweave.  Despite being larger than usual (27″ x 27.5″) this is an end panel from a cargo-type mafrash. Some have suggested that it is too large to be an end panel a cargo-type mafrash, but the dealer from whom it was bought said that two other panels from this bag were still with it when it was purchased.

Notice that the basic design elements “decay” on the sides, something seen in many Jaff Kurd bags.

Here are some details of A35.


Notice the classic Shirvan brown and white warps.





It appears to be woven in weftless sumak, a strong indicator that it was woven by Kurds in Eastern Turkey.  The owner once thought that it might have been one face of a large khorjin, but has become convinced that it was part of a mafrash when he compared its size to that of A35.  They are almost the same.  This piece is very finely woven and supple.

Here are some details of A36.




Ali took questions,


and brought his session to a close.

The audience moved to the front, but today, I didn’t follow them.  Sometimes folks bring textiles not related to the program of the day for sharing with someone at the session and I followed Connie and Jim Henderson, who had brought an interesting Tunisian piece for Bill and Sondra Bechhoefer, who lived for awhile in Tunisia, to consider.


Sondra and Bill are the first and third from the left.  Connie is on the far right and Jim is second from the left.  Second from the right is Ed Elmendorf, a member of the Textile Museum Advisory Council, who attended this program

Jim has given me a few more studied straight-on photos of this piece that he believes show its more muted palette accurately.


Jim also reported on the outcome of their examination of this cover with the Bechhoefers.

The piece is Tunisian, Gafsa Oasis region, c.1870, about 8’ x 7.’  It is a cover and might be used as a blanket by an entire family.  It features square devices amd a camel caravan.  It has a single dovetailed warp sharing weave.  There is also some diagonal and curvilinear wefting, e.g., at camel neck lines.

x123c LLcorner

The main question was whether this piece was constructed from parts of a large cover format called a “huli” or a complete example of a smaller one called “ferachiya.” 

To rehearse some of the points made, at one point Bill Bechhoefer wrote: “… Sondra and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that [your piece] it is from Gafsa, as indicated by the color palette, the design vocabulary and the evidence of white ground in the “caravan” and the squares in the center. Usually the squares make up the entire composition of the type called “ferachiya” … The stripes and caravan are typical of huli. But it is unusual to find both in the same piece. I suspect [if a huli] the piece was originally considerably longer (typically 5 meters), as these were often used as blankets to cover a whole family — the fact that the ends are turned over supports this. The dating to the end of the 19th century is reasonable, given the apparently natural dyes.”

x123c LR corner

The Bechhoefers had seen illustrations of end panels of a longer (about 5 m.) “huli” and the Henderson’s piece was not that long.  After examining it they concluded jointly that it was not  composed of portions of a “huli,” but was, instead, a complete and intact, but unusual, “ferachiya” cover.

Bill Bechhoefer wrote afterward that he had found a similar piece in a book on Tunisian weavings published in 1953. 

TT 31 copy

This ferachiya that is very similar to the Henderson’s. The book calls its example “moderne.”  That would put it in the first half of the 20th century.

The mixing of squares, caravans, and stripes may not be as typologically unusual as Sondra and I had originally thought, but the fact is that in the late 1960’s when we were regularly in the souks, we never saw anything quite like it. The Henderson’s is a fine piece, with good color, wool and design. Very “collectable” and “unusual” as a survivor.

I want to thank Ali for this program with strong material and the Henderson’s and Bechhoefer’s for letting us eavesdrop on their joint consideration of an interesting Tunisian textile.  This side conversation illustrates that these “rug mornings” are not just valuable for the programs themselves, but are often the occasion for rich interchange between members of the local rug community.

I hope you enjoyed yet another virtual version of The Textile Museum’s Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning programs.

Have a fine New Year,

R. John Howe

“Mike” Tschebull on Bags from SW and NE Iran

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12, 2014 by rjohn

On December 14, 2013, Raoul (“Mike”) Tschebull


gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning here at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC, largely concerning Lur and Bakhtiyar flatwoven transport and storage bags from Iran

Mike was introduced by his friend and a long-time figure in the rug world, Russell Pickering,


who said that Mike grew up in N.J. in a home filled with oriental rugs and antiques. After graduation from college in 1963, he initially pursued a career in international banking and then later became a dealer and collector of oriental rugs and textiles. His primary collecting interest was in NW Persian and Caucasian material.  Mike has translated a number of German textile publications into English. In 1971 he wrote “Kazak,”


a landmark publication on this variety of Caucasian rug (and still referenced). He subsequently wrote a number of other articles and papers, especially in Hali, and frequently gives presentations at rug conferences and to rug clubs.  He was awarded the Joseph McMullan Award in 1997 and is currently president of the, McMullan founded, Near Eastern Art Research Center. He has contributed to museum catalogues and was the curator for the New England Rug Society exhibition of bags “To Have and to Hold”. Mike feels that the latter is his best work.  I’ll give you a link to it on-line at the end of this post under Bibliography.

Mike thanked Russell and made a few preliminary remarks on his subject.


He said that there are constantly new areas that come up in the market for rugs and textiles, Kaitag and suzani embroideries being examples.  In the past decade or so as Iran was squeezed more and more by embargo and isolation likely causing textile items to came on the market that had rarely been seen before.

In this session, Mike said, he would present 15 representative bags from the Lurs and Bakhtiaris in Southwest Iran, and more particularly, from an area southeast of Isfahan.  The specific villages where the picker got these pieces is not known. Nomads settled in villages over time, often with their nomad gear. They exhibit an unusual variety of weaves, of types not seen, or rarely seen before 2000.  John Wertime’s publication in the 1970s of Luri and Bakhtiari bags were mostly sumac, perhaps because pieces made in these techniques had more value at that time.

Mike said that he had counted as many as 19 different structures used by the Lurs, Bakhtiari and Kurds, evidently the groups with the most diverse weavings. In contrast, Turkman groups use the least variety of weaves and the Shahsavan wove a middling number of distinctive structures.

Mike said, as he often does, that the true nomads didn’t often weave pile.  Pile takes a lot of material and a lot of time and is, often, market-oriented.  This kind of expenditure was made mostly in areas where there was a prospect of financial gain.

Mike now moved to treat the pieces he had brought.



He said that this piece is probably Luri.  It is what is called a “salt bag” (narrow-neck), but was, in fact, used  for carrying “anything they didn’t want to lose.”  The structure is an overlay-underlay brocading technique.  This bag has its original strap, comprised of braided warps.  Its colors strongly suggest a Luri subgroup, including a characteristic rosy red in the field.  

This piece is in perfect condition. These things are not durable and an unworn condition after, perhaps,125 years seems remarkable.  Later Mike mused: “Where was this stuff in the 1960s and 1970s?”

T1 back


The back image of this piece shows more readily that there is a pile strip along the bottom. Such a pile strip is a typical feature of these  of these Luri-Bakhtiari bags.  Such strips are usually comprised of 5 or 6 rows of pile.  The pile strip on this piece is in alternating diagonal strips of blue and rose. 

Someone in the audience noted that the multiple stripes on the back side of this bag side are like borders on its front.



This piece is probably Bakhtiari  (it is hard to separate Lur and Bakhtiari and the subtribes).  This side has an overlay-underlay brocade structure and a wool foundation (suspect that cotton ones are made later).  Other techniques used in this piece include plain weave, supplementary wefts, and twining.

Here is the back of T2.

T2 back


The design on this back is dominated by a series of concentric diamonds.  As with the front, the back exhibits various techniques (see the top of this side).

Some of these bags were not sewn together.  Indicating that they might have been saved as capital for a later time.

Although largely undamaged, most of them were quite dirty with paint, food and grease.  They’ve been professionally cleaned.



This piece is probably Luri. 

It is the only complete sumak piece among those I have brought today. 

This design is common in SW Iran in pile and sumac (ed. it may be frequently encountered but, for me, it is one of the most attractive pieces Mike showed here).

The red dye of this oxblood color is typical for these weavers. Perhaps related to minerals in water in Chahar Mahal and nearby areas.

Note the pile strip on the bottom.

T3 back

T3backThe back, above, is woven in slit tapestry.

The professional who cleaned this piece also sewed up the sides.



This delicate little bag with warp predominant plain weave ground, has yellow warps and wefts.                         

Mike counted five structures, including overlay-underlay brocading, with twining on the top & bottom and pile along bottom.  

Ed.:  I also think this is a very attractive piece.         

T4 back


Note that this back is done in the same field designs as the front side, not in the plain-weave, which is more usual.

Most of these bags don’t have straps and possibly never had them.  Perhaps they were not meant to be used.  This one does have a small metal ring sewn into its top edge.


Mike said that he thinks it was intended to have a strap run through it, but the piece was never used.




This is a small, complete, khorjin.

It was woven in double interlock tapestry.

Mike said that again he has not seen the “like of this” before.

The oxblood and red brown colors also appear in the pile rugs of the area


The back, done in plain weave, appears almost as all beige, but actually decorated with subtle, fairly wide, darker, horizontal stripes




Probably a grain-flour bag (typically used with a cotton liner).  This bag would not survived actual use without substantial damage to its decoration.  It may probably have been protected from use and out of the light.

It exhibits various techniques, including plain weave ground, sumak, weft substitution, twining and a type of brocade, the ivory bands have a brocade swag design that is certainly not durable.

The black wool selvedges and tassel-straps are fully intact.

And there is no evidence of its being eaten by bugs, this, primarily, because Iran is very dry.

T6 back


Above is the back of T6.  It is wool (virtually none of these bags have cotton).

Notice that, as with T5, it seems to have an undecorated plain weave.


Here are some additional detail images of the front of T6.






T7 is another strapless bag, relatively small, decorated with weft-substitution weave.

Ralph Yohe’s similarly decorated  complete joined bags were in the “Bosphorus to Samarkand” catalog.  Here, below, is the black and white image and caption from that catalog.


Mike said “My piece came through Isfahan. I don’t know if Basari/Basseri were in this area or not, or if the bag came for somewhere else. There are some highlights of cotton.”  It was very dirty, cleaned up nicely by a professional.

T7 back


The back of T7 is characteristic of the type with multicolored selvage wrapping, and is a timeless and repeated traditional format that could have been made as late as 1920s or as early as 1600s.


RET #243, Basiri chuval, front side

T8 is another strapless all purpose bag, too big to be a grain bag.

It has a repeat design in ever-changing color combination.

It has the same weft substitution weave as the previous bag in slightly different colors.

Again, with some cotton for bright white highlights.

As you will see below, the back is essentially the same.

This one has been damaged in the lower folded corners, perhaps from a rodent.

T8 back

RET #243, Basiri chuval, back

This back on T8 is similar to that on T7.

This bag might have been intended as a bedding bag.  And if it was used, and it might have been held in place with a packband, one of which we will treat next.

Note the un-joined sides of T8.

Before we look at the pack band, below, here are some detail images of the front of T8.

Note the closure loops in the first detail.



RET #243 detail, back



This is the most comprehensive image of this pack band that we were able to take.  You can see that there is quite a bit more spooled on the right. 


Mike said that it is 23 feet long.

He described it as a narrow Bakhtiyari pack band.


It is wool and has been done in a warp-faced, reciprocal, warp weave. Colors are unusually clear and strong.


It exhibits a continuous border-like pattern of half rhomboid medallions in blue and light ivory outlined by a reciprocal saw-tooth border in red and brown separated with a yellow outline.


The wood buckle at the other end is typical of fruit wood, e.g., walnut, quince, pear or apple, crudely carved. (Mike said that such buckles are also sometimes metal.)


The other end has three braided ties recombined into a single tassel. This huge tassel seems not useful, but perhaps it is a talisman.

These bands do not last, and buckles are reused, but this band appears to be unused. Band weaving ended by about the 1960s, and the good bands were made mostly before the 1930s. Old bands tend to be wool, which is more elastic than cotton, less prone to break.


This is a large, Bakhtiari, salt bag, with bold stepped design, and tuning forks, in single interlock tapestry weave.  Mike indicates that an expert source on stucture says this is an unusual structure for this type of textile, but the coloration and the location where it was acquired militate toward a Bakhtiyari origin.

It is a very soft textile.

There are no closure loops, and one cannot know if there ever were any.

The characteristic rose-red color may be with madder dyed in an acidic bath using diluted fermented yogurt as a mordant.

T10 back

0-10b Bakhtiari salt bag back

The back of T10 shows horizontal stripes in weft-faced plain-weave.

Its palette includes several shades of madder red, including a purplish-red.



Bakhtiari salt bag with single interlock tapestry weave on front.  Minor zig-zag brocading in two of the broad stripes on the neck and one on the main front.

Very delicate and un-damaged.

It has mostly in the same colors as the prior bag, plus undyed beige and black wool on front and back.

T11 back


The back of T11 shows remaining bits of a braided warp strap in undyed ivory wool.

Here are some detail images of the front of T11.



Here are two detail images of the back of T11.





T12 is a “make do” bag (ed. that is “constructed”) put together from remnants connected back and front by warps and sewn up the sides. Salvaged from of a larger Bakhtiyari bedding bag that must have been shredded by use.

The original bags were very large and made in pairs to use over mules.

This piece has the typical oxblood color,

T12 back


The back of T12 is in supplementary weft weave, with pile at the bottom edge.  One can barely make out rows of marching birds.




Bakhtiyari khorjin. A complete double bag with closure loops.

It is predominantly warp faced.

Mostly 3 colors, red, blue and brown-black.

Touches of yellow in the strips of pile at each end (i.e., the bottom of each bag)


T13 back


The back shows converging wefts.

The weave on the back is in a different pattern as is usual with this type structure.

Here are two details of the back of T13.





T 14 is a bag with a plain warp faced structure.

Mike said that this piece is known to have been collected in a town southeast of Isfahan called Mehme (sp?).

Some white may be cotton.

A lot of color.  We count about 6 colors, but their juxtaposition gives the impression of more.

There are very few bags in this weave, possibly, according to the expert Mike consulted, because the structure/warp is is hard to prepare and inflexible in design implementation. To date, no jajim in this structure has turned up, but there’s still time.


Side selvedge closures done lovingly with different colors. Closure loops done in the common blue/dark brown combo.


Here is the back of T14.


 Two detail images of the back of T14.





The last piece among those that Mike brought was a geographic departure.

T15 is a salt bag is attributed to Kalat, a village/region in northeastern Iran. It was possibly woven by Kurdish weavers there.

There is weft substition with clear bright colors,


and braided warp ends of clear white wool.


Brown strips on front and back may be camel hair rather than beige sheep wool.

The surplus warp ends are braided on each side of the neck.

Here are some images of the back of T15.

T15 back



This was the end of Mike’s presentation proper, but a number of pieces had been brought in and we moved to treat them next.



This is a Qashqai khorhin face.  Both the field design and the border are familiar.



The next piece was another Qashqai khojin, this time one complete side of a set, opened up.  The striped back shows some of the structure we saw in the bags Mike treated in his part of the program.

Below are two detail images of this piece.  The first is its mostly pile face (although notice the flat weave techniques used on the bottom of the image (this area would be at the top of a closed up khorjin).


Then a closer look at its back.




The consensus was that this bag was woven in NW Persia.  Someone observed that it is very dynamic and attractive.  Someone else noted that it warps are cotton and opined that that would likely make it younger than if the warps were wool.  It was also observed that the central medallion was adapted from a border design.


This piece was placed in this orientation on the front board, despite that it warps run horizontally and the design is directional.


I have turned it here to give you a proper look.


One expert observer said it seemed an Afshar khorjin front. 

Another gave this longish opinion: “The cotton wars and the general textile and palette strongly suggest NWP Kurdish, although the design is like a Salor gul adaptation that one might encounter in the Veramin area.  Nothing else says Veramin, however.  The blue/white twining at the bottom suggests NWP.  I’m a bit puzzled by the 3 or 4 cord selvedges.  That look original, but unnecessary, if the was a bag front of some sort, which it seems to be by size and format.”



One experienced person said this is a Luri version of a Qashqai design.




The owner of this piece asked about it.  Seems Northwest Persian, Kurdish, pile (not sumak), Jaf design.  The owner said that it does not have the offset knots that might be expected in steep diagonals.

One expert said: Seems to me that it does have offset knots on the bottom border.  I can see them.  I would guess Sanjabi or Jaf Kurd.

Another said: Clearly this is NWP Kurdish.  The bottom skirt might well have offset knotting because of the steepness of the diagonals, but the rest of it might not use offset knotting.  The field is an adaptation of a border design.

Here are some details of BI6.






To me this is a nice rendition in the field of the “mina khani” design.  The flowers are naturalistic and the color usage is very effective (I especially admire the use of closer darker colors).

One expert observer noted: Baluch, probably a pushti or pillow cover. No evidence of closures.  Too long to be a khorjin face, but may have been a single bag, perhaps made without a back or, perhaps the closure panel was cut off.  Possibly made for market in Mashad.  Mike said, after, that he thinks all Baluch pile was made for market.

Here are some closer details of BI7.






One expert observer said “clearly Chahar Mahal.”  Two agreed that it is probably or possibly Bakhtiyari.  One said that some might call it Luri.  Mike said, after, “Chahar Mahal is a province in central Iran, an artificial construct for nomads.  Nomads didn’t respect borders. It could be Lur, nobody knows. I would agree that we can Lur-Bakhtiyar.”

Here are some details of BI8.





Someone suggested that this piece might be Veramin.  After, one experienced person said “Clearly a Veramin khorjin face.”  Another expert wrote: “Yes, the selvedges are typical for nomads from the Varamin plain. But which ethnic group wove it?  Dunno.”

 Here are some details of BI9.




BI10On experience person said that “with the extra border, some sort of Kurd.”  Another said, “Clearly Kurdish, possibly from the Sauj Bulag area.

Here are some details of BI10.






This is one half of a khorjin set opened up and showing both the front and back panels.  In use it would be sewn up on the side at a halfway point on its sides.

One observer said: Birds on the skirt are a Bakhtiyari feature.  Could also, possibly be Kurd.  Hard to tell.  Another said: “Another Charar Mahal khorjin.  Either Bakhtiyari or Luri.  I’ve never heard anyone call these Kurd.”

Here are some details of BI11.



The birds are upside down here but would be right side up when the back panel is folded upward and sewn up.




This is an Afshar piece in a familiar boteh field design.  Color is more muted than some of this type that we see.  Crisp drawing.  Effective use of outlining. Good framing by white ground main border.  Shame about the missing minor side borders.

Here are some details of BI12.







One experienced person said: “This is South Persian, but there would be debate about whether it is Qashqai or Luri.  I’d call it Qashqai.”

Here are some details of BI13





This seems like some Qashquai faces we saw earlier, but one person wondered whether the presence of the two animal forms might signal a Kamseh attribution.

One experienced person said: “This design is prototypical Qashqai, but the Lurs woven coarser versions of it.  Can’t tell from the images which it might be.  The closure loops look Qashqai.”

Notice that the two animal forms in the central medallion are upside down despite the face being oriented with the closure system at the top (as it would be when in use). 


Weavers are usually pretty good about remembering to weave directional items so that they will be oriented right side up when in use, but in this case, the weaver seems to have forgotten to do that.

Here is another detail of the front BI14.


BI14 has a back.

BI14 back


This is dramatic and colorful and is surprising when one turns it over.  It is nearly all in slit weave tapestry.

One observer noted that if one is using slit weave tapestry and wants a design with vertical color changes, the use of a zig-zig pattern makes the fabric stronger.

Here is a detail of it.




BI15 seems to be yest another Qashqai khojin front, this time with a 2-1-2 field design featuring Memling guls in both 2 positions.  Colors not as good.

One experienced person said that it is a Luri version of a Qashqai design.

Here is one detail of BI15.




One is tempted when birds appear to say “Kamseh.”  One experienced agreed that it is Kamseh.




This is clearly a Jaf Kurd piece.  The absence of more serious side border makes me wonder whether it could have been an end panel in a cargo-type mafrash, but I don’t remember seeing a Jaf Kurd mafrash.

Two experienced people agreed that is not a panel from a mafrash.  One said: “I think the borders were simply cut off.  One sees a secondary side border so it wouldn’t be a mafrash end panel.”




One experienced person said: “Baluch group.”

Here are two details of BI18.



Mike took questions,


and closed his session.

The usual audience migration to the front began.





Someone brought on of Mike’s “Kazak” catalogs for him to autograph.


I done it myself.  I found a copy in a Capitol Hill book store and told Mike I had paid $9 for it (it’s very pricey).

He offered me $12.  (Reading this Mike said that he only offered $5.  This is the way that individual memories work over time.)

I want to thank Mike for coming to make this presentation and for his considerable work after editing this post.  Jim Henderson provided me with a wonderful set of notes and and number of images.  Mike, Jim and Wendel Swan helped a lot with the descriptions of the pieces brought in.


The New England Rug Society has done some outstanding work pioneering on-line textile exhibitions.  They published one called “To Have and To Hold.”

This is the on-line exhibition that Mike Tschebull curated, and that he considers to be his best work.

I hope you have enjoyed this strong, unusual material and Mike’s authoritative treatment of it.


R. John Howe