Category Archives: Baluchi Patterns

The traditional Baluchi patterns that influence war rug designs.

Cityscape in Springtime Rug

This is a rug that was sold before being properly inventoried, and recently I found these photos from 2004. If you happened to have bought this rug from me at the showroom in Long Island City, please contact me, for it would be good to get better quality photos.

What makes this rug so great? First, its depiction of spring in a city. The colors are lively and fresh. Second, it is a well drawn and clear Modern City Landscape, and maybe a key to identifying the location. Third, the drawing is very good with wonderful details: the plane, the motorcycle, the blooming trees. Fourth, the border is festive with strong rhythm. Enjoy!

Marled and Checkered Colors in Afghan Rugs

Afghan tribal rugs use two techniques to create “halftones”. The techniques are “checkered” knots and “marling”. Marled and checked colors function particularly well in landscape backgrounds.

When individual knots alternate between colors (both vertically and horizontally) the result is a checkered color, like these examples:

^ Rug #1065 ^

^ Rug #840 ^

^ Rug #355 ^

Marled is two colors spun into one thread then woven into a carpet. It is more irregular and “blurry” than checkered colors.

(verso) ^ Rug #779 ^

^ Rug #1484 ^

^ Rug # 1454 ^

^ Rug #41 ^

^ Rug #49 ^

^ Rug #55 ^

Latif Khel

Through the trade of regular rugs, and confirmed by ‘the literature’, I’ve learned this type of rug is called Latif Khel.

I am told that in the 1960 and 1970’s Latif Khel were the bulk of the Baluchi produciton, and that Latif Khels were the top quality. Furthermore, that now they constitute a very small percentage of total Baluch sajada production.

First Quality Latif Chel Prayer rug
This rug is extremely fine wool and weave. Note the similarity with color and medallions to this war rug. The flat wool sevedge is the same in this Latif Khel and war rug #1011 also. The weft substitution kilim on this rug, particularly the bottom end, are exclusive to Latif Khel rugs. This rug also has a Seh Mihrabi element in the three white arches at top, as well as four white boxes at top and bottom of field. As a sidelight, now there is a name for Baluchi rugs with the ‘slot car track’ border, like this rug; which is analagous to Kleiber’s Afghanistan page 100.

The field color is midnight blue with a band of abrash. Willful use of abrash will be the subject of a future post.

Second quality Latif Khel rug with Eight Lobed Medallions

First Quality Latif Chel War Rug #1011 (private collection)

Traditional Patterns: Genisis for War Rugs

Here is another example in the continuing series exploring how traditional Baluchi designs have morphed into war rugs.

Man in Front of Pool

Some earlier examples of traditional Baluchi patterns morphing into war rugs are: Murray Eilland’s Shindani rug with camel, a round vase of flowers pattern, Checkered Flowers pattern, also called Lateef Khel, Two Deer patern, Vase of Flowers, and a pattern from the Weavings of War exhibition.

Super Mario Rug

This Mario Rug in the style of Super Mario Brother 3 shows Mario riding a white horse.

The horseman is the original figurative image found in carpets. Horsemen are found in the wolrd’s oldest carpet, the Pazyrik, from the 5th century BC. This ancient image, the horsemen, coupled with an icon of digital culture, Mario, is beautiful.

More images of the Mario Rug here.

The original post of this rug, years ago, including size, structure, photos, and description is here.

This rug is on loan to an exhibition at The Miami University Art Museum. The exhibition will feature approximately 70 war rugs that is honored to have lent to the museum. More exhibition information, including dates for symposium and gallery talk by Kevin Sudeith, here

Note: This is a tribal rug, reflecting one weavers artistic vision. This rug was selected, with 25-30 others, from a collection of traditional design Afghan Baluchi rugs from Herat and Farah. All the other rugs were of traditional designs bearing no war motifs or western images.

More rugs here.

Iraq Rug: 1930’s Precedent for Map Rugs Showing Provinces

Ever wonder where weavers got the idea to depict, color and outline Afghan provinces in map rugs, like this rug (War Rug #299) ?

Below is a stunning semi antique rug recently acquired by establishing a precedent for rugs depicting a country subdivided into different colored and outlined provinces. The rug below is all silk pile on silk foundation, 5′ x 6′, mid 20th Century, first half 20th century, woven between 1929 and 1940. It is available, please contact us for more photos and information.

Update: Researching this rug has been a challenging and intriguing process. The date attribution is based on development of the railroad in Iraq.
Identifying the signature has also been a challenge, but I have now concluded the signature reads, unbelievably, “Made by the female prisoners of Iraq.” *shock*

I know of a published illustration of a Tehran rug, circa 1920, showing “The Map of Modern Iraq”. It shows provinces outlined, named, and rendered in different colors, as well.

Above is also an excellent precedent for these Iraq war rugs as well:

Vegetable Dye Iraq Rug, available

Iraq War Rug #1359, available

The Camel’s Back

Two by Two

Here are four rugs woven by two weavers of one pattern. The two pairs have distinctly different structures and materials, but each pair’s material, color, drawing, border, handle, knotting, and selvedge is consistent. Note inverted red helicopter in Camel 1.

Interestingly, in Murray Eiland’s Oriental Rugs, 1976 edition, on page 83 is a rug of this design attributed Shindand, mid twentieth century.

Camel 1

Camel 2

Camel 3

Camel 4

More Mihrabs

Rugs 2030, 2031, and 2032 are new, and they were purchased together. The material, structure and colors in all three are the same.

Rug 2030

Rug 2031

Rug 2032

Mihrabs and Direction
Which way is up? The weaver’s top is “up” in each picture. The mihrab in this style or pattern is the squiggily line on top of the gun barrels, as in rugs #900 and #2025, so not the obvious point on the other end. The squiggily lines in 900 and 2025 are at the weaver’s top and the images are orientated that side up, including border tanks in 2025. Rugs 2031 and 2032’s mihrabs are consistent with gun barrel top, but 2030’s two column orange and yellow checkered towers are like Seh Mihrabi prayer niches, whereas 2031’s mihrab is like the mosque minarets we often see indicating up. Furthermore, the tank orientation jibes with gun barrel mihrab in 900, 2025, the three rugs in Nigel Lendon’s the now outdated and under-maintained blog, but not in 2030, 2031, 2032 and the bottom rug here in Nigel’s now lost post.

The bottom line, the gun is generally the top, but not absolutely, and the black shape makes the rug sort of reversable. More important is the design’s plasticity and our witnessing it change from one state to another.

More mysteries indeed. We clearly have an anti aircraft gun, a tank, as well as two kinds of grenades, small arms, various helicopters, mostly in the older examples.

But, what is the primary black shape with four round corners and pointy end opposite : goat’s head? map? falling bomb? I propose the black four corner form with a pointy end and a gun on the other, form represents the chassis and wheels of the gun. The four corners are the wheels, the minarets are the shock absorbers and the pointy end is the tow package.
Hi-res image of zpu-4
More helpful images
One more good example

The Tank
2030 clearly shows a tank in its “top” half. But 2031 and 2032 show a cute stylization of the tank into a duck-like form, and you’ve got to love the three flowers.

The three new rugs, 2030, 2031, and 2032 (as well as the lower rug in “>Ragged Mihrabs (on Nigel Lendon’s blog), all have the jagged rectangle in the body of the gun. Any ideas? 2025 and 900 have ‘bent Ys’ in the same places. While this ‘bent Y’ motif is a common field filler, or tertiary motif, the three ends of the Y approximate the three jagged points of the rectangle. In 2031 and 2032 below the jagged rectangle is a snake the previous owner and I agreed.

Rug #2025

Rug #900

(note seat shape in 2030, (dead link)here and( dead link) here and:
(dead image link)

(shout out to Ron) Whereas the similar motif in certain Red Soviet Hand Rugs (like Rug #262, Rug 321, respectively below.)shows

The point is, 2031 and 2032 are very difficult to identify as war rugs.