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Baluch Rugs the O'Connell Guide

Baluch Rugs: Guide to Arab Baluch Rugs

Rather than a true Baluch Rug this group falls into the broader Baluch Group Rugs

  Arab Baluch Rugs: Arabesque Afshar of the Qainate Arab tribes Rug C. 1870 Arabesque Afshar of the Qainate Arab tribes Rug C. 1870 In the dozen or more groups that make up what we call the Baluch group there are some rugs that fall into a mysterious and somewhat intriguing subgroup. We call these the Arab Baluch or sometimes the Afshar Baluch. As a group they look like Baluch. Baluch rugs to most collectors are rather like the US Supreme Court and Pornography. We may not be able to define it exactly but we know it when we see it.

Ninety percent or better of all Baluch Group rugs use an asymmetrical knot open left using an AS1 or AS3 knot as shown below. The Arab/Afshar subgroup primarily uses the AS2 or AS4 knot or T1, 2, or 3. Do some of the Arab/Afshar subgroup use the AS1 or AS3 knot? Possibly but color usage tends to differ as well so if they do it is a small number.
AS1 AS2 AS3 AS4
T1 T2 T3

The Arab Baluch

The pile rug weaving group of the so-called Arabs also needs to be mentioned, more because of geographical proximity than because of similarities of their carpets with those of the Baluch. These Arabs are almost without exception villagers, who became sedentary a long time ago, and who derive their name -- maybe out of reasons of prestige -- from those Arabs who Islamized their homeland in the 7th century. Their main settlements are in the area of Ferdows with Ayask, Arisk, Dohuk, Seghale, and Serayan as the most important pile rug weaving centers in 1951. Motifs, structures, and colors of those farmers' carpets seldom resemble products made by Baluch from the same area2. Apart from a few exceptions most of the pieces are coarsely knotted, had a long pile and were very colorful. They were a favorite among the rich Arabs from the emirates of the Persian Gulf, who preferred the summer in Iran to that of an even hotter home country. The demand caused an almost assembly-line type of cottage industry , a general degradation of the product, and to a very superficial reproduction of the patterns. We see very crude Afshar designs in the central field and even more so in the borders. These pile rugs must, however, not be confused with other carpets that also have a distinct Afshar influence, that were without doubt made by Baluch in Sistan, about 500 kilometers from Ferdows. In contrast to Arab products, these Sistan Baluch rugs have central fields rich with small, carefully designed motifs and a stepped and/or incised central medallion, similar to those on runners made by southeast Iranian Afshar (Fig. 2.). The main border has an alternating latch-hook pattern, which is favored by some Baluch groups, but is originally a Turkoman pattern (Fig. 3).

As a rule the fabric structure of these rugs points to Baluch weavers. Some fabrics from very small groups, who were semi-nomadic at least until 1960, and who call themselves and are called by their neighboring Baluch, Arabzadeh, descendants of the Arabs, show how difficult it is to classify the rugs. In 1955 a group of 50 Arabzadeh could be in close neighborhood to the Moreidari and the Said-Mohammad-Khani in the eastern Djulghe Khaf. The few small pieces they had woven, however, were not distinguished from those made by the Moreidari (Fig. 4). Wegner's Pile Rugs of the Baluch and Their Neighbors

  Arab Baluch Rugs: The Tom Cole "Afshar"Baluch Rug, NE Persia, 19th c

The Tom Cole "Afshar"Baluch Rug, NE Persia, 19th c

The Afshar Sub-Group

Certain of the rugs seem to show an Afshar influence. Tom Cole has done some good work in this field. See his article Outback Afshars. Another rug that shows a strong Afshar influence is Arab Baluch Zili Zultan Prayer Rug C. 1880. This is problematic in that the Zil es Sultan is a historical figure of the late 19th century. To match up with the majority of theories the pattern would have to be older. It is still interesting to try to imagine why Afshar style rugs are produced where there is no identifiable population of Afshari.


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