Design of Baluch Rug (Rugman)
|Original name||قالی بلوچ|
|Alternative name(s)||Baluch Carpet|
|Origin||Iran: Sistan and Baluchestan, khorasan|
|Common designs||Tribal, Mihrab, Boteh|
|Common colors||Red, Blue, Red-Brown, Camel, Ceram, Black, White|
|Dyeing method||Natural, Synthetic|
|Pile material||Wool, Camel Hair|
|Foundation material||Wool, Cotton, Camel Wool|
|Knot type||Asymmetrical (Persian)|
Baluch rugs are tribal, hand-woven in the eastern part of Iran by nomadic Baluchi tribes. The majority of them are made in the province Sistan and Baluchistan, which sits on the extreme south east border. A lot of Baluch rugs also come out of Iran's vast province of Khorassan which is just to the north near Afghanistan, and tend to be marketed in Mashad. Colors of Baluch rugs are usually predominantly a rich burgundy with some very dark navy blue and accents of beige. They frequently have either an overall pattern, tree-of-life, etc., or a prayer rug design.
The Baluch, also known as Baluchi, is a population largely living scattered through-out three neighboring countries. They inhabit the provinces of Khorasan and Sistan and Baluchestan in eastern Iran, western and central areas of Afghanestan, and western Pakistan. While some Baluch people reside in villages and cities, there are those that still live a transient nomadic lifestyle in these three regions.
The Baluch population was scattered in eastern Iran and the neighboring countries either by enforced occupation or by traditional nomadic travels. Some of the Baluch people have an Arab heritage that can be traced back to the Arab invasion of Persia during the mid-seventeenth century CE. Another branch of the Baluch population originates from nomadic tribes who moved from eastern Turkestan south to Khorasan. A third Baluch group has a background in eastern Anatolia (Turkey) and Azerbaijan. The Baluch people have kept their heritage alive by continuing to follow the Sunni Islamic faith and by speaking the original languages of Turkic, Farsi, and Arabic. Generally, the Baluch tribes work in agriculture, raising livestock and herding sheep. The women traditionally weave tribal items, along with rugs and carpets. Baluch rugs are known in the market from the early nineteenth century. The rugs have a foundation of wool or a mixture of wool and goat hair. Sheep wool is used for the pile, with the rare exception of some bridal weavers using silk accents for the pile. Many Baluch rugs have a natural camel-hair field as well. The Persian (asymmetric) knot is usually employed, although a small percentage of weavers use the Turkish (symmetric) knot. After World War II some Baluch weavers, mainly from the Khorasan and Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces, began using cotton foundations. In western Afghanistan Baluch weavers keep the tradition and continue to use a wool foundation and a wool pile. Baluch tribes also make a variety of flatwoven rugs.
The rugs are semi to strongly geometric in design. They have either a Mihrab (prayer arch), allover, or medallion style. The ornamental elements used in Baluchs have influences and similarities to Persian, Anatolian, Caucasian, and Turkestan tribal weavings. Hook, Star, S, and EE motifs, as well as flower heads, palmettes, animals, birds, and other tribal ornaments are all woven by the Baluch. The Turkmen Gul (flower) is also woven in some regions. The Minakhani (rosette-linked trellis) is used in allover styles. The Herati (fish), Moharamat (stripes), and Ozbak (large gul) motifs are also used in Baluch backgrounds. Lily, Shrub, and S motifs are woven for the border designs. Early Baluch rugs feature extended flatwoven kilims at both ends that are charming and beautiful. Some PRAYER RUGS have hand patterns woven on each side of the spandrel area, to guide meditation. Baluch formats specifically for daily tribal use include tent decorations, animal decorations, shepherd bags, Paneer (cheese) bags, Namakdan (salt) bags, grain storage bags, Khorjin (saddlebags), transport bags, bed-covers, Sofreh (floor dining rugs), Ru-Korrsi Rugs, and Burial. Rugs. Other weavings are in prayer rug sizes, from four feet by two feet six inches to approximately seven feet by four feet. There are larger Baluch carpets measuring up to fourteen feet by six feet and, in rare instances, twelve feet by ten feet. The rugs are generally woven from medium to very good in grade quality. Baluch weavers make rugs for personal use but also, importantly, for family income. Weavers who are not of Baluchi ethnic origin also make Baluch rugs: non-Baluch weavers have learned to make rugs for a better standard of living.
The rugs are categorized and named after a tribe, an influential leader within the tribe, weaving location, or, at times, after a particular design. Some of the important tribes and leaders are Ali Merzahi, Bahluli, Dokhtar-e Ghazi, Jan Begi, Madad Khani, Salarkhani, Sancholi, and Yaqub Khan. The popular Baluch rugs named for locations are Ghaen, Gonabad of Khorasan, Herat, Kashmar Khorasan, Madan, Nishapur, Sarakhs, Sistan and Baluchestan, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, and Zabol. The Baluch rugs named for designs include the Minakhani (rosette-linked trellis), Nargesi, "Filpa" (elephant footprint), and Turkomani (Bukhara design). In the rug trade Afghanistan Baluchs are called "Herat Baluch" rugs. Weavings by tribes such as Firozkohi, Hazara, Jamshidi, Mushwani, Taimani, and Timuri of the Chahar Aimaq (four tribes), are categorized as Herat Baluchs, but many dealers prefer to name them after the tribe origin.
Baluchs are marketed in the large cities of the Khorasan and Sistan and Baluchestan Provinces.
The largest market is in the city of Meshad, Khorasan, where dealers bring rugs from throughout the region. After World War II in the capital city of Tehran, some wholesalers opened warehouses to stock large quantities of Baluch rugs for export. In Afghanistan a similar marketing process is employed; large cities such as Herat and Kabul are destinations for rug trading.
The coloration is primarily reds and dark blues in the field and borders. A lesser percentage of camel and ivory backgrounds are found in Baluch rugs. In addition to these colors, different shades of green, brown, cinnamon, and gold appear in the design elements. Dark brown or black is used for pattern outlines. After World War II rugs with lighter backgrounds became popular and the percentage of ivory and camel background rugs increased.
Tribal rugs, such as some Baluch weavings, may feature an unusual design, coloration, or weave mainly because of tribal movements from one area to another or by intermarriage. In the antique market, Baluch rugs are collector items, especially Dokhtar-e Ghazi, Salarkhani, and Timuri rugs.
- Moheban, 2015, 88-91
- Abraham Levi Moheban. 2015. The Encyclopedia of Antique Carpets: Twenty-Five Centuries of Weaving. NewYork: Princeton Architectural Press.