Tag Archives: boteh

Nomadic Carpets from Iran: Qashqai, Lurs, and Bakhtiari

A jumble of mini-motifs

Whatever interest I have in oriental rugs, whatever knowledge I have gained about them, whatever research and travel I have undertaken to seek them—I owe it all to a Qashqai carpet. My wife bought it in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (after haggling mercilessly, like a good Indian, with a not-so-wily Turkish salesman) because she liked its unusual patterns and sanguine colours, and brought it home without knowing much else about it.

I eyed it with skepticism at first, as I do all my wife’s profligate purchases, complaining that the colours were too dark and uniform, and that the multitude of small motifs in the medallion were indistinct and messy. But in fact it started to grow on me very quickly, perhaps because of this very oddness, this lack of clean, recognizable figures, this disorderliness that makes it so tribal. I was particularly intrigued by the quirky scarab motifs in the corners, …

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Unique Appliqué Craft – Threadwork on Glass from Azerbaijan

The finished product

Last November I travelled to the Caucasus in search of carpets, but also other handcrafted items that might enrich Arastan’s offering. What I found was a lot of skill, not just in carpet weaving, but also in metalwork, stone masonry and wood carving. But skill is not enough to turn creativity and manual dexterity into a viable business. The artisan also needs some market savvy, so as to understand what customers are willing to buy; and especially some innovation in order to achieve a modicum of differentiation and attract the buyer’s attention. In Azerbaijan I came across the work of one artisan who seems to have achieved this, entirely of her own accord.

Simuzer, 36, lives in Qobu, a small town not to be confused with Quba, or with Qobustan, which is known for its petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. She comes from a family of carpet weavers, so she learned the …

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Carpet Motifs: A Beginner’s Guide

Scarab in a Qashqai rug

Nisha’s instruction was clear and simple: go and look for Caucasian rugs. My search led me to the warehouse of Memet Bozbay, an affable Kurdish carpet trader, whom I had led to believe that I was a professional buyer. He pulled out heaps of Armenian, Kurdish and Kazak rugs, many characterised by bold colours, high piles, and unusual motifs. Gesturing to one of them he commented, “And here, again, you can see the typical Caucasian dragon motif.”

I scanned the carpet’s field expecting to find a flamboyant dragon spewing fire, but I couldn’t make out anything at all resembling a dragon or a serpent. In the centre of the carpet there was, however, an interesting form that appeared somewhat insect-like. “You mean this thing in the middle that looks like a cockroach?” I asked innocently. The dealer gave me a puzzled look and hesitated to respond—he must have been struggling to …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

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