Guide to Afghanistan Rugs & Carpets
Afghanistan is an intersection of Baluch, Turkmen and Uzbek weavers. Most of the antique rugs are tribal rugs.
The Russian invasion fundamentally changed the nature of Afghan rugs. The old economic system passed on farmers supporting village craftsmen became increasingly unable to handle the needs of the people as the war made the economic systen disintegrate. To cope with this millions of Afghans fled into neighboring countries particularly Pakistan and then Iran. Obviously the refugees were not going north into Communist occupied land.
In Pakistan the money poured in and the people were settled in camps once the ability of the villages to absorb refugees was saturated.
Baluch Type Khordjin
This is a piece from my personal collection. I collected it a number of years ago. It was not new when I bought it and there is a good native repair on the bridge. The workmanship is exceptional. It is both pile and flatweave. The bag is closed by opposing loops (loops front and back that interlace). After extensive study and consultation with the experts I attribute this bag to the Chahar Aymaq. Renowned rug expert (the late) George O'Bannon has suggested that the Turkmen characteristics in this type of bag is due to the Chahar Aymaq copying from their Saryk neighbors.
Chahar Aymaq Khordjin (double bag)
Northwest Afghanistan, 20th century. 4 feet by 23 1/2 inch (not including tassels).
Structure:Symmetrical knot. 9 knots per horizontal inch and 12 knots per vertical inch. 108 per square inch (1510 per square decimeter). Flatweave 2/4 sumac with supplementary brocading and twining.
Yarn Spin: Z.
Warp: 2 ply Wool, tan.
Weft: 2 ply Wool, 2 shoots. brown.
Pile: 2 Wool singles.
Closure System: opposing loops (loops front and back that lock by intertwining).
Ends: folded over and sewn.
Sides: plain selvage bag joined by dark wool overwrap.
Condition: Excellent condition. Minor color runs on back.
The workmanship in this piece is wonderful. This is a very unusual type. Only 10% of all Baluchi rugs are symmetrically knotted. Of that small sub-group only a tiny fragment are mixed technique. It is worth noting that the closure system opposing loops are not that uncommon. They are seen from Arabia to Central Asia. The issue is a little clouded because a fellow wrote a article suggesting that opposing loops was a sign of Turkmen weaving. The idea is widely quoted but not accurate. (It was in an exploratory article that put out that idea. As with articles of that type they are sometimes later shown to be in error. I have seen opposing loop closures in Baluch type, Afshar, and Shahsavan to name a few examples.)
Chahar Aymaq Salt Bag
Chahar Aymaq Salt Bag
23 inch by 15 inch.
This is a very good Chahar Aymaq Salt Bag bag that they make and use in Northwest Afghanistan. Salt bags were used by shepherds to haul rock salt for the flock. Sat is necessary for the sheep to retain water and not available for the sheep in the high mountain pastures. Salt and the salt trade have been an important part of the Afghan economy for over 5000 years. There are mines in Badakshan province that were in use 5500 years ago the other mines were lapis mines and because of these two items the silk route became a reality long before silk was cultivated. The Badakshan mines were the source of Lapis used in the ancient city of Ur in the Euphrates river delta 5500 years ago. Not that that all has much to do with this bag so let me just say it is a nice newer salt bag.
Chahar Aymaq Salt Bag, Northwest Afghanistan. twentieth century. 23 inch by 15 inch. (not including fringe).
Structure: Weft replacement tapestry weave with twining, applied tassels and fringe. complete intact bag.
Yarn Spin: Z.
Warp: 2 ply Wool, white.
Weft: 2 ply ground color
Further Notes: Excellent condition. No problems.
This is a weft replacement tapestry with bands of twining. I suspect that weft replacement tapestry patterns may be clan or tribe specific but as of yet no one has done the fieldwork.