Tag Archives: qashqai

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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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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Tribal Carpets

"Wild Story" Gabbeh

Tribal carpets are almost the opposite of what one may visualize when they think of a carpet. They are abstract. They are spontaneous. They are naïve. They break rules. And most of all, they are personal expressions of the weavers, straight from the heart! Those from nomadic groups in particular are a fantastic potpourri of many diverse ethnicities, tribal lifestyles and indigenous customs.

There is no defined picture that the weaver is copying from… the picture is in the weaver’s heart, which slowly emerges and takes shape on warps strung around a makeshift loom, wefted and knotted in a colourful collage, one single row at a time! A small six by four foot carpet may have tens of thousands of knots and may take months (and sometimes years) to create. Patience and tenacity are two critical virtues each weaver had to be able to create such fantastic art! The end …

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    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.

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