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Persian Rugs: Guide to Khamseh Confederation Rugs


Persian Rugs: Guide to Khamseh Confederation Rugs

Khamseh Long Rug early 20th C lot 194

The Khamseh Confederation

The Khamseh of Fars have always been a confederation rather than a tribe. In 1861 - 62 The Persian Shah Naser ed-Din created the Khamseh Tribal Confederation. He took 5 tribes, the Arab, Nafar, Baharlu, Inalu, and the Basseri and placed them under the control of the Qavam ol-Molk family. Khamseh is the Arabic word for 5 and the confederation gets its name from that. Combining tribes was not a new idea the Safavid Shahs created many Kizilbash confederations. It is thought that the Qashqai were gaining so much power that the Shah wanted to create a counterbalance to Qashqai power in the region. It is also highly likely that the Shah was in debt to the Qavam ol-Molk family and this would have been a fairly painless way to eliminate a debt.

The Khamseh Confederation were a mixed lot of Turks, Persian, and Arab tribes. However they all came to be called Arabs in contrast to the Turkic Qashqai.

These are the languages that identify the Khamseh. Language is identity.

Mesopotamian Spoken Arabic, The Arab

Iranian - Western - Southwestern - western Farsi: The Basseri

Iranian - Western - Southwestern - The Luri

Southern Azeri: The Baharlu, Inalu, and Nafar,

The Qavam Family Leaders of the Khamseh.

The Qavam family were not tribal leaders in the normal sense. They were not the hereditary heirs of a long line of tribal chieftains. The tribes did not choose them but rather the Persian Shah Naser ed-Din granted them to Qavam ol-Molk much as he did when he gave Qavam ol-Molk a long term lease on the island of Kish. The Qavam family were leading citizens of Iran producing numerous prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers. These moves are most likely as repayment of a debt. By granting the tribes to Qavam ol-Molk the yearly income on the tribe belonged to Qavam ol-Molk. Think of him as a tax farmer.

Afifabad Garden Qavam family of Shiraz
Photo Iran Daily

Narenjestan-e Qavam
Photo Iran Daily

"These constructions were designed by Ebrahim Khan-e-Qavam (prime minister during the reigns of the two Qajar Kings, Aqa Muhammad Khan and Fath Ali Shah) and carry the symbols of that era's architectures. A walk through the garden prove to be a pleasing experience so much that leaving the scenes of nature's beauty ,enhanced by admirable works of art is difficult to do." http://www.irpedia.com/photos/photo.php?ID=563

The family Qavam was one one the leading families of Iran from the Qajar period well into the Pahlavid period. Ebrahim Khan-e-Qavam was a prime minister under both Aqa Muhammad Khan and Fath Ali Shah. Qavam-ol-Saltaneh (Ahmad Qavam) was prime minister of the Pahlavi regime in the 1940s. The family finally dropped from prominence for their opposition to the corruption of Mohammed Reza Shah.

W&W Baharlu Khamseh Rug about 1880-1900

W&W Baharlu Carpet of the Khamseh Confederation c. 1880 - 1910

Khamseh Rug Fars Province late 19th/early 20th C Lot 157

Detail Striped Khamseh Rug Circa 1900 Lot 17

Please note the variety of shades of wool used in the warps. I often look for this when I am assessing if a rug is Khamseh.

Khamseh Rug Fars Province late 19th/early 20th C Lot 157

To the left we see a detail of a rug that Dr. Ian Bennett identified as Baharlu Khamseh. This is a border that we see in a number of Khamseh rugs and bags. At the risk of being provocative let me suggest this border as a marker for a Baharlu attribution.

Examples:

Khamseh Bag Fars Province early 20th C Lot 23

Interior decoration of Qavam Residence in Narenjestan, Fars province. Photo Iran Daily

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