James Opie on Southwest Persian Rugs, Part 2, the Pieces Brought In

This is Part 2 of a two-part Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program, James Opie gave On April 28, 2019, here in Washington, DC at the Textlle Museum.

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The first part of this program began with an illustrated lecture by Opie, but also included a number of pieces he had brought in.

If you have not read Part 1, you can using this link: https://rjohnhowe.wordpress.com/2019/07/04/james-opie-on-south-persian-rugs-part-1/

Although Opie had brought a number of pieces treated in Part 1, members of the audience, some of whom are important, experienced southwest Persian textile collectors, had brought in a great deal of material (more than could be treated). 

In this Part 2, we will show and examine this audience-brought material.  It is possible that one or two of the pieces treated below are also Opie’s, but I can’t tell that as I write.

I want to say, as I did at the beginning of Part 1 of this virtual version of Opie’s program, that I have not been able to arrange for Opie to review what follows.  I have drawn heavily on Opie’s two books, on notes taken for me and I have consulted with some experienced folks who were present.  None of the above are responsible for any errors.  These are mine alone.

We started with the piece below.

Numbers are not always consecutive

O28

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Comments on O28:  This kilim is probably Lori, but could also be Qashqa’i.  Good, spacious graphics.

O29

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Comments on: O29:  This square pile rug could be Lori.  It’s not Afshar.  Excellent wool and real camel hair.

Details of O29.

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O30

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Comments on O30: Similar to O29.  Wefts are dyed.  Motifs could be leaves, plants or flowers.  Hung upside down.  Below, Wendel Swan held O30 up to show this.

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O32

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Comments on O32:  Shekalu, Lori speakers wove this rug.  Earlier versions have wider borders and many animal heads.

Details of O32.

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O33

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Comments on O33: Similar to O32.  More finely woven.  Supple.

O34

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Comments on O34:  Khamseh. Three-medallion “bird” rug.  Stylized pomegranates.  Turkic origin patterns.  Multiple, narrow borders. Probably older.

Details of O34.

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O35

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Comments on O35:  Qashqa’i.  Kilim.  There was a question about whether there are animal or bird heads in some “hook-shaped” design devices.

Details of O35.

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O36

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Comments on O36: Afshar. An impressive rug.  Stylized birds or animals and plant forms in the field.  Interesting striped spandrel treatment: effective use of scale.  Border is of floral elements.

Details of O36.

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O37

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Comments on O37:  Afshar.  Ivory ground.  Stylized vase design.  Similar to the image in Slide 2 in Opie’s lecture.  As Opie said about Slide 2, this rug is full of external usages.

Details of O37.

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O38

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Comments on O38:  Afshar.  The floral bouquet elements in the field were borrowed from Europe.  Similar usages occur in Caucasian rugs.

Detials of O38.

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O39

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Comments on O39:  Two faces of a chanteh-size bag set.  Made for their owners.  Could be NW Persian.

O40

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Comments on O40:  A one-part bag.  Qashqua’i.  Effective use of a white ground.

O41

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Comments on O41:  This curved piece is contemporary.

Opie said that the use of natural dyes persisted in south Persia until the 1970s, primarily due to the work of one man, Abbas Sayahi.  Natural dyes were then picked up for use in gabbehs.

Opie has his own production and said that the piece below is one from it.  These piece features mostly natural dyes and traditional south Persian designs.   

O42

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Comments on O42:  The owner of O42 says that he has a number of rugs from Opie’s contemporary production.  This rug was woven in Afghanistan with enough birds to seem to be based on Kamseh designs.

Details of O42.

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O43

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Comments on O43:  This piece was described as a “workshop” rug: Kashkuli. Only the minor borders are tribal.  Opie said that it is very well done.

Details of O43.

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O44

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Comment on O44:  This was said to be a Luri bag with an unusual back.  I don’t have a back image.

O45

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Comments on O45:  Described as an Afshar bag face.

O51

The next piece was a large Luri flatweave.

Owner’s Camera

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There was discussion about the red square at the lower part of this piece.  It is not a patch or repair but is an integral part of the original weaving.  One suggestion was that it might represent the Kaaba in Mecca.  If so, it was said the piece should be oriented with the square at the upper part of it.

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O46

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Comments on O46:  This is an attractive flat-woven bag face.  I don’t have an attribution. Some said not Fars.  Maybe Shahsavan or even Afshar,

Details of O46.

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O47

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Comments on O47:  Large, rare Lori rug.  Dark wefts.  Endless improvisation. Multiple-headed animals. Birds. Tree-forms.  Most S-shapes in the border include quadrupeds, some with horns. Excellent artistry. Related to some Caucasian and Shahsavan usages,  Edged with camel hair.

Details of O47.

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O48

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Comments on O48: Large Khamseh rug (longer than the front TM panel on which rugs are pinned).  Well articulated pomegranates.  Lions and other quadrapeds.  Urban hints in the borders.

Details of O48.

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O49

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Comments on O49:  Khamseh salt bag.

Details of O49.

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O52

The next piece was a complete Luri khorgin, opened up.  It has a wonderful back that closely resembles the design of O51 above.

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The last piece of the day was this one.

O50

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Comments on O50:  A Qashqa’i wagireh: sampler.  Unusual.  Highly stylized medallion.  Eiland and Eiland note four types of wagireh.  This one has all the needed components of a complete rug.

Details on O50.

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Opie answered questions and brought his session to a close.

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The audience moved forward to get their hands on some of this material.

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We want to thank James for coming to give us this program and for bringing a great deal of material to it.

Multiple thanks are due to Wendel Swan, who nearly, single-handedly, produced this program, worked with ICOC to finance it, and hosted Opie during his stay here.

Thanks, too, to the local collectors, who brought in a great deal of quality material.

Amy Rispin took an excellent set of notes for me and worked with me after to align our comments with Opie’s two books.

Some experienced collectors, who want to be anonymous, talked to me about comments on particular pieces.

Michael Kaplan and Wendel Swan provided some of the photos used here.

The full house was justified.

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We hope you have enjoyed this virtual version of a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program of a sort we cannot manage frequently.

R. John Howe

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