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Title: The Oriental Rug - A Monograph on Eastern Rugs and Carpets, Saddle-Bags, Mats & Pillows, with a Consideration of Kinds and Classes, Types, Borders, Figures, Dyes, Symbols, etc. Together with Some Practical Advice to Collectors.
Author: Ellwanger, W. D. (William DeLancey), 1854-1913
Language: English
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Libraries.)



THE ORIENTAL RUG



[Illustration:

  PLATE I.
  ANTIQUE LADIK
  _Prayer Rug_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. GEORGE H. ELLWANGER
  Size: 3.10 x 6]



  THE ORIENTAL RUG

  A MONOGRAPH ON
  EASTERN RUGS AND CARPETS,
  SADDLE-BAGS, MATS & PILLOWS.
  WITH A CONSIDERATION OF KINDS
  AND CLASSES, TYPES, BORDERS,
  FIGURES, DYES, SYMBOLS ETC.
  TOGETHER WITH SOME PRACTICAL
  ADVICE TO COLLECTORS.


  BY W. D. ELLWANGER

  Author of
  "A Summer Snowflake"


  NEW YORK:
  DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.
  1909



  _Copyright, 1903_
  BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
  Published September, 1903



PREFACE


That Oriental rugs are works of art in the highest sense of the term, and
that fine antique specimens, of even modest size, have a financial value
of ten, fifteen, or thirty-eight thousand dollars, has been recently
determined at public auction. At this auction, several nations had a
representative voice in the bidding, and the standard of price was fairly
established. The value of rugs may have been imaginary and sentimental
heretofore; it is now a definite fact, with figures apparently at the
minimum. What the maximum may prove, remains to be seen.

Choice old rugs, therefore, to-day come into the same class with genuine
paintings of the old Dutch School; with canvases of Teniers, Ruysdael,
Cuyp, Ostade, or whatever similar artist's work may have escaped the
museums. They vie in prestige with the finest examples of Corot, Diaz,
Troyon, or Daubigny; and in monetary supremacy they overtop the rarest and
grandest of Chinese porcelains.

And yet the Oriental rug, as against such competitors for the wealthy
collectors' favour, has hardly a history, and is practically without a
name or a pedigree. Experts will tell you at a glance whether or not your
Wouverman is genuine, or inform you where every true Corot was owned or
whence it was bartered or stolen. In Chinese porcelains, the knowing
dealer will easily prove to you not only under what dynasty but in what
decade or year a particular piece was produced.

The painting has descent, signature, or the brush mark of a school to
father it. The Chinese vase, bowl, or jar has its marks, cyphers, stamps
and dates, and an undoubted genealogy to vouch for its authenticity. The
rug must speak for itself and go upon its intrinsic merits. It is its own
guarantee and certificate of artistic and financial value.

The study of Oriental rugs, therefore, can never lead to an exact science
or approximate dogmatic knowledge. Whoever is interested in them must
needs rely upon his personal judgment or the seller's advice. There is
practically only one current book authority in the premises.

A new volume on the subject would thus seem to be well justified. It is
the hope of the author that this book may prove itself sound and
practical, and that it may help to make more clear and simple the right
appreciation of a valuable rug.


W. D. ELLWANGER

ROCHESTER, N.Y., 1903



CONTENTS


  Chapter                                                 Page

     I. THE MYSTERY OF THE RUG                               3

    II. GENERAL CLASSIFICATION                              13

   III. OF THE MAKING, AND OF DESIGNS, BORDERS, ETC.        21

    IV. OF THE DYEING                                       35

     V. OF PERSIAN RUGS, SPECIFICALLY                       43

    VI. CAUCASIAN RUGS, DAGHESTAN AND RUSSIAN TYPES         61

   VII. OF TURKISH VARIETIES                                69

  VIII. TURKOMAN OR TURKESTAN RUGS                          79

    IX. OF ORIENTAL CARPETS, SADDLE-BAGS, PILLOWS, ETC.     93

     X. AUCTIONS, AUCTIONEERS, AND DEALERS                 107

    XI. INSCRIPTIONS AND DATES                             121

   XII. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS AND PARTICULAR ADVICE         131



LIST OF PLATES


  PLATE

     I. LADIK              _Frontispiece_

    II. KONIAH           _Facing page_ 22

   III. KAZAK                "    "    36

    IV. SEHNA                "    "    44

     V. CHICHI               "    "    50

    VI. KABISTAN             "    "    62

   VII. GHEORDEZ             "    "    70

  VIII. KOULAH               "    "    72

    IX. MELEZ                "    "    74

     X. BELUCHISTAN          "    "    80

    XI. ANATOLIAN PILLOWS    "    "    94

   XII. BERGAMA              "    "   124



The Oriental Rug



CHAPTER I

THE MYSTERY OF THE RUG


To judge of an Oriental rug rightly, it must be looked at from several
points of view, or, at least, from two aspects; against the light and with
the light. From the first standpoint, against the light of knowledge,
speaking figuratively, there may be seen only a number of rude and awkward
figures in crude colours scattered erratically on a dark or dingy-looking
background, a fringe of coarse and ragged strings at either end, and rough
frays of yarn at the sides. This is what is accepted by many people as an
Oriental rug. And indeed this is what most rugs are.

If, on the other hand, we view our rugs with the light of a better wisdom
and happier experience, we will see the richest and softest of colours,
the most harmonious shadings and blendings, medallions brilliant as
jewels, or geometrical designs beautiful as the rose windows of a
cathedral; or, again, graceful combinations of charmingly conventionalized
flowers and delicate traceries and arabesques,--all these displaying new
glories of ever changing and never tiring beauty. Each woven picture, too,
is as soft to tread upon as a closely mown lawn, and caresses the feet
that sink into its pile. These are Oriental rugs as their admirers know
and love them.

Perhaps the chief charm of all such beautiful rugs is in their mystery.
Their designs are odd and strange and full of hidden meanings, and their
effects are often evolved from the crudest and clumsiest figures, hooks
and squares and angles; they owe their wealth of colour to simple
vegetable dyes from the woods and fields and gardens, and yet the secret
of many of these dyes is still a secret, or has long ago been lost. The
places whence the rugs come, the people who make them and those who sell
them, all are mysterious and hard to know and understand.

Moreover, broadly speaking, there are no experts on the subject, no
authorities, no literature. He who would know them must learn them by
experience. The rug dealers, for the most part, seem to treat their wares
merely as so much merchandise, and what knowledge concerning them they are
willing to impart is so contradictory as to be almost valueless. Few of
them would agree upon the name of an example which might be out of the
ordinary, or be able to tell where it was made. Ask of them what a "Mecca"
is, and they will stammer in their varying answers. And yet the Armenians
who handle most of the rugs in this country are often highly educated, and
fully appreciate the beauty of their wares. Their taste, however, is not
always our taste, and all the Orientalists seem to retain their barbaric
fondness for crude and startling colours. When we would turn to books for
information in the matter we find that the authorities are not many. They
might be numbered on your fingers and thumbs. These few books, moreover,
have been published only in limited editions at high prices, and are not
easily obtainable. One of the most important of such works is the
sumptuously illustrated, elephantine folio, issued in Vienna in 1892 by
the Imperial and Royal Austrian and Commercial Museum. And, elaborate as
this authority is, the modest editor, by way of apology, says in the
preface that "no pretensions are made toward perfection owing to the
little information that we can fall back upon." A recent authority on the
subject is John Kimberly Mumford, and his volume on Oriental Rugs,
published in 1900, has thrown much light on the subject. Too great praise
cannot be given to this work and to his later studies in the same field.

Still, no one knows it all, and the mystery of Oriental rugs only deepens
as we try to learn. The little that any one may really know of them
through experience, through questioning and elusive answers, through
conversations with obliging and polite vendors, and through foreign travel
even, is, when all is said, only a patchwork of knowledge. Consider how
stupendous and hopeless would be the task of one who would dare endeavour
to analyze, criticise, classify, and co-ordinate the paintings of the past
five centuries, were no names signed to them or no appreciable number of
pictures painted by the same known artist.

He who would write of rugs has a like condition to face.

And alas! also, whoever would write on this subject must now treat of it
principally as history. The characteristic rugs, the antique rugs, the
rare specimens, are seldom to be bought. They are in museums, or in the
hands of collectors who hold them in even a tighter fist.

Twenty years ago the warning was given that the choice old rugs were
growing scarce; the years following found fewer still upon the market. Two
or three years ago one of the largest wholesale houses in New York,
carrying a stock of half a million or a million dollars, had no antiques
to show. In the autumn of 1902, another large New York importer who had
just returned from Persia, Tiflis, and Constantinople admitted that he had
not brought back one valuable antique piece.

Nevertheless, the true enthusiast need not be discouraged. From wandering
dealers, in odd corners, at the unexpected or by chance, one may happen on
a choice specimen.

The very word "Persian" is a synonym for opulence, splendour,
gorgeousness; and "Oriental" means beauty and wonder and the magic of the
"Arabian Nights." From the Aladdin's cave of the mystical East, therefore,
we may still hope to gather treasure and spoil.



CHAPTER II

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION


Most of the rugs of commerce in this country come from Persia, Turkey,
Asia Minor, Turkestan, the southern part of Russia, Afghanistan, and
Beluchistan; a few also from India. The rugs are named from the provinces
or cities where they are woven, and to the uninitiated, the names seem to
have been as fearfully and wonderfully made as the rugs themselves. They
are spelled one way on the maps and every other way in catalogues and
advertisements. In enumerating the most familiar ones it may be well to
write their names as nearly phonetically and conventionally as possible. A
few rugs have trade appellations only, without regard to topography; and,
often, unknown towns are called into requisition for fanciful titles to
please the purchaser.

Of course the names of rugs may mean nothing to your man-of-all-work,
whose duty it is to chastise them upon the lawn. But there is poetry in
the names of the roses, and you cannot half enjoy their beauty unless you
know a Mabel Morrison from the Baroness Rothschild; Cécile Brunner from
the Earl of Dufferin; or can give the proper rank and title to Captain
Christy, General Jacqueminot, and Maréchal Niel. And who would dare to
talk of laces that could not give a French or Dutch or Irish name to them?
Or, when painted pictures instead of woven ones were under discussion, who
would venture to admit that he had heard for the first time the names of
some of the Old Masters, or did not know any of the Flemish School, or
could not at least touch his hat to a Gainsborough or a Romney? There were
"old masters" in wool as well as on canvas, as the Gheordez rugs most
particularly prove, and though the artists' signatures are missing or
meaningless, their classification is important. Once learned, and then
difficult to remember withal, rugs answer to their names like old and
familiar friends. If Homer catalogued the ships, surely the masterpieces
of the Eastern loom are worthy of brief nomenclature.

The Persians come first, and perhaps in the following order of excellence:
Kirman, Sehna, Kurdistan, Khorassan, Serabend, Youraghan, Joshghan
(Tjoshghan), Feraghan, Shiraz, Gulistan, Mousul, etc. The rug dealers
frequently speak of a "Persian Iran," but as Iran is the native expression
for Persia, the name is as tautological as are the dealer's laudatory
adjectives. So far as the term "Iran" can be differentiated, it is now
applied with some propriety to rare old Persian rugs of fine weave only,
whose proper name may be in doubt.

Among the Turkish rugs, which are mainly those from Asia Minor, the
Yourdez (or Gheordez), the Koulahs, Koniahs, and Ladiks are by far the
finest, and then come the Bergamas, vying often for like high honour, the
Melez, and many others which are vaguely classed as Anatolians.

From Turkestan come the numerous Bokharas and the more uncommon
Samarkands; from Afghanistan, the Afghans and the Khiva, and
Yamoud-Bokharas. But the two rugs last named seem to have a doubtful
paternity, and should perhaps be classed with the other Bokharas.

Beluchistan sends but one type, which is generally unmistakable, although
Afghans, Bokharas, and Beluchistans all have a family likeness.

To Caucasia in Russia are credited the Kabistans, Shirvans, Chichis
(Tzi-tzis), Darbends, Karabaghs, Kazaks, and Gengias, also the Soumacs, or
so-called Cashmeres. The first four of these are somewhat similar in
character, and not many years ago were generally sold in this country
under the indiscriminate title of Daghestans. We are more specific in our
knowledge now, and can classify and differentiate an old Baku rug, or a
Kuba, which is a Kubistan, and therefore what we used to call an antique
Kabistan.

India provides us only with some fine large carpets mostly of modern make,
and also with many imitations of Persian rugs, made in part by machinery
like the current substitute for a Turkish towel.



CHAPTER III

OF THE MAKING, & OF DESIGNS, BORDERS, ETC.


[Illustration]

[Illustration: _"Serabend" Border_]


In order to appreciate the beauty of rugs, it is well to remember how they
are made, and with what infinite patience the bits of wool are knotted
onto the warp one after another, knot upon knot and tie after tie, until
the perfect piece is finished. Yet, no! Finished it may be, but never
perfect. Deliberately, if necessary, it must show some defect, in proof
that Allah alone is perfect. Such at least is the poetical version of a
crooked rug as the seller tells it. Yet never was a vendor but will
expatiate fluently on the merits of a rug which lies true and straight
and flat upon the floor, as a good rug should. It is a common sight
nowadays in shop windows to see some wandering artisan plying his trade
for the edification of the passer-by. In his own home it is generally a
woman who does the weaving, and very commonly the whole family take part
in it. More often still the rugs were woven by an Oriental maid for her
prospective dowry, and the practice yet obtains. A specimen of her
handicraft in textile art was a bride's portion and marriage gift; it was
considered as essential to the proceedings as the modern _trousseau_. This
offering was a work of love and often a work of years. It is but natural,
under such circumstances, with dreams, hopes, and fancies for inspiration,
and the stimulus of rivalry, too, that masterpieces should result.
These Eastern marriage portions correspond to the "linen chest" of our
ancestral Puritan Priscillas; and similar customs now survive in many
countries. Except that the "accomplishment" of the Oriental maiden is so
much more important, it might also be compared to the beadwork so
diligently done by our grandmothers. If the Persian bride gave infinite
toil and pains to innumerable knots and ties, our belles of the last
century were also unwearying in their tasks, and strung more and smaller
beads than any would care to count or finger now. The designs on these
bead-bags were mostly crude and "homely," and their art was very simple.
But though the handiwork of the Orientals was expended in a better cause
with worthier skill, both linen and wool, and even beads, bespoke a
labour of love in such employments; which, alas! is out of date to-day.
Rugs of this character, gathered from house to house, together with some
few stolen from mosque or palace, were the first ripe spoils of twenty
years ago. Of course the supply was soon exhausted. It is an interesting
question whether it might not be possible, in the East, to revive this
high class of work among the girls. Instead of establishing great
factories for machine-made products from set designs, could not the most
skilful of the girls be induced by good prices to create original pieces
and rejuvenate the old art?


[Illustration:

  PLATE II.
  ANTIQUE KONIAH
  _Prayer Rug_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. GEORGE H. ELLWANGER
  Size: 3.5 x 4.7]

[Illustration: _Persian, Caucasian_]

[Illustration: _Feraghan Leaf Design_]

[Illustration: _Rhodian or Lily Border_]


The method of weaving is most simple. The warp is stretched on a rude
wooden frame, and this warp is either wool, linen, or cotton. The
knotting is begun at the bottom and worked from right to left. A bit of
woollen yarn about two inches long is deftly twisted between the strands
of the warp, then tied in a secure knot, and the ends left as they are.
This knot of yarn is then secured in place by one or more twists of the
end of the warp, and then another knot of yarn is tied and the process
repeated _ad infinitum_ until the bottom row is finished and another row
begun. Not till the rug is all made are the ends of the knots cut,
according to the length of nap desired. Such, at least, was the original
method, although the various knots are all a mystery to any but the
initiated, by whom they are generally classified as two only. When one
square inch of rug is completed, according to the quality of the rug and
the coarseness or fineness of the yarn, there have been thus laboriously
tied from one hundred to five hundred knots, not uncommonly a thousand and
more in some museum pieces. And all this while the weaver is working with
his brains as well as with his fingers and keeping true to the design and
colour scheme which he carries only in his head. Except in the few
intentioned copies, specially made, they had formerly no patterns to
follow. Each particular weaver, however, was wont to keep to the general
design and colouring which distinguished his particular locality.


[Illustration: _Koniah Field_]

[Illustration: _Koulah Border_]


Of designs it may be said, generally, that they were originally individual
trademarks, and, of themselves, stamped the locality of their weavers.
Later, as knowledge and civilization spread and tribe grew to communicate
with tribe and nation with nation, local designs came to be used
indiscriminately. For example, you will find in the semi-antique Feraghans
or Shiraz, or Kiz-Killims as well, the distinctive and unmistakable Sehna
models. On the other hand, certain definite, primal, and unchanged
designs, both in the field and border, mark some rugs absolutely and
exclusively; as the Bokharas and Afghans. In many, their classification is
fixed, or at least approximated, rather by their borders than by the
figuring of their fields. There are many border designs surely determining
their origin and the region to which they properly belong. These borders
may have been borrowed or stolen, or may have naturally spread to other
regions, even in the old time; and they may be adapted to various other
makes to-day. Their evident individuality of design tells its own history
just the same.

It is not difficult to master the characteristic features of the borders
of many types; and, once known, they make a fair foundation of knowledge
for the collector. They are often truer and safer guides to classification
than are the designs of centre or field. Indeed, the study of borders,
inner, middle, and outer borders, and borders characteristic, modified, or
exceptional would make a book of wondrous artistic interest and beauty of
design. Even the item of selvedge, particularly in the Beluchistans, shows
great skill in colouring and pattern.


[Illustration: _Turtle Border_]


The consideration of characteristic patterns in field and border is so
involved with verbal description and specification in the various classes
of rugs that an attempt at complete pictorial illustration of such figures
in their proper place is practically impossible. A few reproductions are
shown in this chapter which may serve as examples. Some of them are more
particularly considered elsewhere in the text, as reference may show.


[Illustration: _Crab Border_]

[Illustration]


The Serabend border is referred to on p. 50, and is quite unmistakable;
and the Persian border (p. 23) is familiar to every one, and appears
frequently on Caucasian rugs of every quality and every age. The Feraghan
leaf design is noticed on p. 52, and wherever used in the drawing,
determines its class as absolutely as any figure may. The Rhodian border
is referred to more particularly on p. 72, and the Koniah design and
Koulah border are described in their proper place, p. 72. Other Persian
borders are most interesting, although they may not particularize any
class or locality. Such are the turtle and crab borders (pp. 28 and 29),
and the lobster design, at the head of this page. The origin of these
strange forms of ornament as applied to carpet-weaving adds only another
mystery to the subject. But dyes were derived not only from leaves and
roots, but also from insects, molluscs, and crustaceans. It must be that
the origin of the colour originally suggested these symbols of marine or
insect life for decorative effect. The more they were used, however, the
more conventionalized and meaningless they appear, recent weavers not
appreciating what they represented. Old pieces show more clearly the
evident model. But old pieces also often show original creations in border
and design, far more artistic than the usual types. The Kazak border of
the titlepage is an example. The discriminating collector, when a choice
offers, will do well to avoid the commonplace.


[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV

OF THE DYEING


The dye, the tone, the richness, and colour value of a rug was, and still
is, an essential characteristic of the weaving of each class and region;
and it was formerly not only essential but exclusive, the dyes being often
trade secrets or, more truly said, tribe secrets.

Of course every one knows that the colouring of the yarn of the best
Oriental rugs is derived only from vegetable or animal dyes, and to this
is due their beauty and durability. It may be noted also, in parenthesis,
that it is the yarn and not the wool that is dyed. Alas, that modern
weavers, Oriental and Occidental, have learned to substitute mineral or
aniline dyes! These not only destroy the wool and fade badly, but when
the fabric is cleaned or wet by any chance the colours run, and leave
their stains and blemishes. Of course, too, they fail to give the
richness, depth, and lustre of the good old method. Generally, their
manifest crudity bespeaks the poor quality and coarseness of their make.
Some vegetable dyes also fade, but they fade only into softer and more
pleasing shades, and more delicate and harmonious blendings, as witness,
in many antiques, the soft and beautiful tones of pink, salmon, and fawn
which come from raw magentas, as the back of the rug will prove. But that
magenta dye was of the old school. Modern magentas seem never to fade away
gracefully and becomingly. It must be noted, however, while speaking of
the dyes used in the fine old rugs and in the best rugs of to-day, that
for one or two colours resort was, and is, had to mineral dyes. Many of
the best old Turkish specimens have thus suffered in their blacks and
browns, and many a museum exhibit is eaten to the warp where these
colours occur. It may be well to remember this, as some varieties of
Mousul and of Turkish weave, thus worn to the warp in spots, leaving the
other figures raised and in relief, are palmed off on the innocent
purchaser as rare, "embossed" pieces. Iron pyrites is the mineral from
which these black dyes are made, and some Turkish weavers seem to know no
vegetable black or brown. In some of the best Persians, Serabends
particularly, the green which is used in the borders has the same fault as
the Turkish blacks and browns; and if it does not "fade away suddenly like
the grass," at least it leaves the nap "cut down, dried up, and withered."


[Illustration:

  PLATE III.
  ANTIQUE KAZAK
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. ERICKSON PERKINS
  Size: 5.9 x 7.2]


The subject of the various dyes might be extended to a separate monograph,
for really the whole history of rug making depends upon the dyes used. The
day that the aniline, petroleum dyes came into use doomed the perfect
making of carpet or rug; and not all the strictest laws of the Medes and
Persians--which is to say, the Shah of Persia--have availed to prevent the
use of the mineral dyes, and the complete demoralization of modern
weaving. You may find even in choice, closely woven, artistic Shirvans and
Kabistans of fifteen and twenty years ago some few figures in certain
colours which are clearly and manifestly aniline. They are the strong reds
and especially the bright orange. And in some modern Kurdistans, which
should be free from guile, a few figures betray the same telltale glaring
_media_. Used with a sparing hand, as they are, they do not ruin a rug,
but they are none the less a blotch upon its fair repute. The theory is,
so far as concerns the new Kurdistans, for instance, that these few
mineral dyes are bought by the weavers from some traveller or agent by
chance and inadvertently, and without knowledge of their character.
Otherwise they would hardly be used for a few figures in a finely woven
piece, where all the other dyes are vegetable.

One expert Armenian has a sure test for mineral dyes in his tongue. When
in doubt he cuts a bit of wool from the rug, nibbles it a minute or so,
and then pronounces his sure verdict. But the test is a delicate one, and
the fruit of knowledge is, presumably, bitter.

Again, in speaking of colours and shadings, it may be interesting to know
why solid colours so often come in streaks, changing abruptly, for
instance, from dark blue to light blue, or dark red to light red. You may
have any of several explanations: that the weaver, dipping his wool into
the dye, stopped, for any trivial word or interruption, and the wool took
on a stronger hue; or, that another hand or one of the women or children
took up the work; or, again, that the plant, from which he bruised that
particular hue, gave out in his back garden. Any of these reasons may be
right. But the more credible one is to believe that the artistic weaver
knew how effective is this change of colour, and what a pleasing,
changing, varying light and shade it gives to his masterpiece.



CHAPTER V

OF PERSIAN RUGS, SPECIFICALLY


To describe in detail the characteristics of all the classes of rugs and
carpets that have been mentioned would be hardly possible, even with a
hundred object lessons. The peculiar features of some of them, however,
may be noted. But first be it observed that the term "antique" as applied
to rugs is generally sadly abused. A rug is not beautiful simply because
it is old. It must have been fine when new, it must have been carefully
preserved, and it must rejoice in a ripe old age. Time must have dealt
kindly with it, and only softened and mellowed its original beauties. Let
the antiques which are but rags and tatters, however valuable for their
design, hang in the museums, where they belong! The only merit of one of
these genuine remnants of three or four centuries ago is in their
originality of design. They were creations and not imitations, and made by
true artists and not merely skilled weavers. Choose you, instead, a more
modern rug of fine quality which will improve from year to year as long as
you may live to enjoy it.

It may also be premised that the sizes of rugs run from about three feet
to six feet wide by four to ten feet long. Few rugs approach squareness,
and rugs wider than seven or eight feet are classed as carpets.

Some of the most beautiful pieces used to come, and still do, in the form
of "strips," "hall rugs," or "stair rugs," according to trade parlance.
They are worthy of a better name, which is their Persian term, "Kinari."
They were made in pairs to complete the carpeting of a Persian room, being
placed on either side of a centre rug, with two shorter strips at the top
and bottom. More fine specimens of these long strips are now to be
found than of smaller sizes, and they should not be neglected by the
collector. By artistic arrangement and device they will accommodate
themselves to almost any house, somewhere, and few choicer prizes can be
bought to-day.


[Illustration:

  PLATE IV.
  ANTIQUE SEHNA
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Size: 2.4 x 3.1

This is apparently one side of a pillow. The other side, which is also in
the possession of the author, is exactly similar, except that the colours
are reversed, the medallion being red and the corners blue. This mat has
33 to 36 knots to the running inch, making over 1,000 to the square inch,
or more than a million knots in the small piece.]


The Persians are eminently the best rugs to buy. They are usually finer
and more closely woven than the others, and more graceful in design, and
seem to show a more refined and aristocratic art. The Kirmans would be the
first choice, and are to the rug dealer what diamonds are to the jeweller,
a staple article which he must keep in stock, and which finds a ready
sale. But even were it possible to buy a true diamond Kirman, the very
catholicity of taste to which diamonds and Kirmans appeal detract from
their merit in the eyes of those who seek for more individuality. For the
new Kirmans, fine, soft, and clean as they look, are all very much alike,
and mostly copies or variations of a few particular antique forms, with a
floriated medallion in the centre, or a full floriated panel, and
floriated corners. A familiar design is a vase of flowers in graceful
spread, with birds perching on the sprays. Or, again, they show some
adaptation of "the tree of life." This symbolical figure appears in many
forms, now denuded of its leaves like the "barren fig tree," and covering
the whole rug, and now in smaller form as "the cypress tree," or the
sacred "cocos," three or more to each rug, in full foliage and looking for
all the world like certain wooden fir trees. It needs only the combination
of these trees with the stiff wooden animals, far more wonderful than Noah
ever knew, and tiny human figures, which might be Shem, Ham, and Japhet,
all of which adorn these rugs, to remind one of the Noah's ark of
childhood. Representations of birds, men, and animals never appear on
Turkish rugs, the explanation being that the Turks, as Sunna Mohammedans,
the orthodox sect, are opposed to them on religious grounds; while the
Shiites, the prevailing sect in Persia, have no such scruples.

But before leaving the subject of the Kirmans, be it well understood, by
the wise and prudent, that not one out of a thousand, or indeed ten
thousand, of those on the market to-day (and they are as common as
door-mats) has any pretence to genuineness. They are faked in every way.
They are washed with chemicals to give them their soft colourings, they
are made by wholesale and, it is said, in part by machinery, and they are
no more an Oriental rug than is a roll of Brussels carpet or an admitted
New Jersey product. To the credit of whom it may concern, it must be
stated that the dipping, washing, and artificial aging of these commercial
pieces is mostly done by cunning adepts in Persia before their works of
art are exported. Only an expert's advice should be relied on in buying a
Kirman, to-day, and even that should have a good endorser. The
distinction between Kirmans and Kirmanshahs was founded in fact and was
important. But the latter term as now used in the trade is only poetical.
It is the same new Kirman euphemized. No other rugs except silk rugs,
which come under the same ban, have proved such a profitable swindle to
unscrupulous and ignorant vendors, and have given a bad name to the
dealers who try to be honest in their calling.

The Sehnas are highly prized by the Orientals and Occidentals. Old
examples are uncommon and are very choice. "Their fabric gives to the
touch the sense of frosted velvet. They reveal the Meissoniers of Oriental
art," says a writer on the subject. Some of these come in very small
sizes, like mats, two feet by three. They have a diamond design, the
centre being a graceful floriated medallion on a background of cream,
yellow, red, or green, with floriation at the corners, making the diamond.
They are the most exquisite of Persian gems, and are further considered
in another chapter.

The Sehnas have the nap cut very close, wellnigh to the warp, and are
therefore often too thin for utility. They do not lie well on the floor,
and by reason of their short nap look cold and lack richness and lustre.
If you can find a choice one, however, and if, happily, as sometimes
occurs, it may have a little depth of nap, you will own a pearl of great
price.

The Khorassans are very soft and thick. They generally show the palm-leaf
or loop design in their borders, and are altogether desirable. Their
colouring almost always inclines to magenta, but time subdues this to a
delicate rose. Time has also subdued most of the specimens offered, to the
sad detriment of their edges and ends. The ends are very seldom perfect,
and age seems to bite into the borders of the Khorassans with a strange
and voracious appetite. It is well to consider these defects in your
choosing.

The Serabends and their class have one border peculiar to themselves and a
centre of double, triple, or multiple diamonds in outline, in which are
scattered irregular rows of small figures, generally palm leaves, so
called. This peculiar figure has three or four different names, the palm
leaf, the pear, the loop, etc. It was originally worked into the fabric of
the finest Cashmere shawls, and represents the loop which the river Indus
makes on the vast plain in upper Cashmere, as seen from the mosque there,
to which thousands made their pilgrimage. It was thus intended as a most
sacred symbol and reminder. The Serabends are firm in texture, lie well,
and are most satisfactory. Sometimes, however, the green in them shows the
faults of an aniline dye. Their designs are peculiar to themselves, but
never become monotonous. The palm-leaf pattern is of course common to many
kinds of rugs. But the varieties in the form and size of it are infinite.



[Illustration:

  PLATE V.
  CHICHI
  _About forty years old_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Size: 3.6 x 5.10]


The Shiraz rugs are warm in colour, lustrous, but rather loosely woven.
Many of them show the "shawl pattern," small horizontal or diagonal
stripes. These striped rugs, however, are always wavering and irregular in
design and soon tire the eye. They are well passed by. Reproductions of
the old Shiraz designs with the centre field filled with innumerable odd,
small figures used to be common a few years ago. They were very rich and
handsome. Almost all of them, however, have the great defect of being
crooked. They will puff up here or there, and, pat, pull, or pet them as
you may, it is hopeless to try to straighten them. They are frequently
called Mecca rugs, on the generally accepted statement that these are the
rugs usually chosen to make the pilgrimage to that shrine.

The Youraghans and Joshghans (Tjoshghans) possess the general excellences
of the best Persians, but they are not commonly seen. The Joshghans will
show in their field a light lattice-work design with conventionalized
roses, or graceful diaperings and patternings, of the four-petalled or
six-petalled rose. The Persian rose is single, of course, and appears in
many simple forms. The Joshghans might be the prototypes of some of the
old Kubas or Kabistans, except that floriation was replaced by tiling and
mosaic work in the Daghestan region.

The Feraghans are not as finely woven as the Serabends, and on that
account, primarily, yield to them in excellence. But old Feraghans often
come in smaller sizes than the Serabends and in more desirable
proportions. On the other hand, while Feraghans are generally of a firmer
quality, there are also antique Serabends heavy and silky. Between the two
it would be little more than to choose the better specimen. While the
Feraghans have no accepted border to distinguish them, they have a most
marked characteristic in the decoration of the field. It is a figure like
a crescent, toothed inside; it might be a segment of a melon. But more
than likely it was originally a curled-up rose leaf; for the rose,
variously conventionalized, is most common to this class. There is
generally an indication of a trellis, on which the roses are formally
spread. But the curled leaf is almost always in evidence, however varied
or angular it may be drawn.

The Persian Mousuls are perhaps the best rugs now to be had for moderate
prices. The region where they are made, being partly Turkish and partly
Persian, gives them some of the characteristics of each nation. But the
choice ones are always offered as Persian; and the designs of most of them
are distinctively of that country, with frequent use of Serabend borders,
Feraghan figures, etc. Their centre field sometimes contains bold
medallions, but generally it is filled with palm-leaf or similar small
designs, which in themselves are quite monotonous, except as they are
diversified and made beautiful by graduated changes of colour in both the
figures and background. Sometimes these streaks of varying colour make too
strong a contrast, but generally they shade into each other most
harmoniously, and, the nap being heavy and the wool fine, these rugs are
eminently lustrous and silky. They have no rivals in this regard except
among the Beluchistans and treasured Kazaks. As you walk around them they
glow in lights and shades like a Cabochon emerald. One of their
distinguishing designs is a very conventionalized cluster of four roses,
the whole figure being about the bigness of a small hand. There is a rose
at top and bottom and one on either side, with conventionalized leaves to
give grace. The design is recognizable at a glance, and is wellnigh as old
as Persia. For the rose is conceded to be Oriental in origin, and if it is
not primarily a Persian flower, it belongs surely to her by virtue of
first adoption.[1]

The designation of certain rugs as Kurdish or Kurdistan has been used
indiscriminately, yet they are by no means the same, and between the two
classes is a well-marked distinction which should be recognized. Kurdistan
is a large province in northern Persia, with a protectorate government
both Turkish and Persian, and with the Turkish inhabitants in the ratio of
about two to one, according to the geographers. The Kurds constitute only
a small but most important part of the population. They are generally
spoken of as "a nomadic tribe," or more frequently as "that band of
robbers, the Kurds." Regardless, however, of their morals or habits, by
them are made characteristic, coarse, strong, and often superb rugs which
are properly called "Kurdish." On the other hand, the Persians in
Kurdistan make a finer class of rugs and carpets, which are known as
Kurdistans. These latter have been praised by an eminent authority as "the
best rugs now made in Persia and perhaps in the East." They are certainly
bold and splendid in design, beautiful in colouring, and of great strength
and durability.

The Gulistans are thick, heavy, and handsome, with striking designs,
frequently like the flukes of an anchor, on a light ground. They are not
common now even in modern weaving.

There are many other Persian rugs which might be further specialized and
considered. But such old commercial names as Teheran, Ispahan, etc., can
in fact only be differentiated by an expert; and when experts disagree, as
will frequently occur, and when they are at a loss to decide whether an
important specimen is an Ispahan or a Joshghan, classification becomes
obscure to the layman and even to the collector; and he will wisely avoid
the complexities of such discussion. So, also, Sarak rugs are rarely seen
now save in modern reproductions, and must be passed by with the same
criticisms as apply to the new-made Tabriz.



CHAPTER VI

CAUCASIAN RUGS, DAGHESTAN AND RUSSIAN TYPES


The Daghestan rugs of Caucasia are only second in importance to those from
Persian looms. An opinion is reserved, nevertheless, regarding antique
Turkish weaves, which are hereinafter considered.

If history does not satisfactorily prove that the Caucasus was originally
the northern part of Persia (as may have been, under Cyrus), Persian
dominance and influence may be demonstrated, in textile art, by rug
borders, patterns, and designs. The Shirvans, Kabistans, Chichis,
Darbends, Karabaghs, all exhibit pronounced Persian characteristics, and
show the educational power of the mother country of this handicraft.
Fineness of weave, delicacy of hue, and chaste simplicity of design are
distinguishing features of this group. But, as contrasted with the Persian
patterns, the Persians use for their detail roses, flowers, palm leaves,
etc., while the Caucasians gain similar effects from geometrical figures,
angles, stars, squares, and hexagons, with small tilings, mosaics, and
trellisings. The true and the beautiful was never better demonstrated by
Euclid through angle, square, or hypothenuse. An old Chichi rug, like a
drawing of Tenniel's, will prove what grace may come without a curve and
by angles only.

It is unfortunate that the best rugs of the Caucasus come from the large
province of Daghestan, and that that general term is applied to them
indiscriminately. Twenty or more years ago most of the Oriental rugs which
were sold here to an uneducated and unappreciative public came by way of
Tiflis, and for lack of knowledge were all branded with the common name of
Daghestan. Thousands of beautiful Kabistans, Shirvans, Bakus, etc.,
were then sold for a song under the one arbitrary title. They would be
priceless to-day, and yet the former commercial, vulgar use of the name
leaves it in undeserved disrepute. As used in this chapter, it is intended
to mark a distinction between certain of the Caucasian types, which it
properly represents, and the Russian types from the same region, which are
illustrated in the Kazaks and Yourucks.


[Illustration:

  PLATE VI.
  KABISTAN
  _Thirty or forty years old_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Size: 4.5 x 5.6]


What may have become of all the fine Kabistans, which were forced upon the
market years ago, is a question. Are they all worn to rags and lost to the
world? Or do they still turn up at chance household auctions? Many fine
specimens may be so discovered, dirty, disguised, and disreputable, but
easily reclaimable and made anew by washing. There is a theory, also, that
many choice pieces came to San Francisco in the 'seventies and 'eighties,
and are lost to sight and memory somewhere in California. A collector
might well explore this home field.

Too great praise cannot be given to the old Shirvans, with their "palace"
or "sunburst" pattern; to the Chichis, with their mosaic work, worthy of
Saint Mark's Cathedral; to the Karabaghs, with their flaming reds; or to
the Kabistans, with their soft, light tones of colour, made softer still
in contrast with ivory and creamy white. These are the despised Daghestans
which _were_, and for which the collector may now vainly search abroad.

It is not always easy to distinguish between an old--or middle-aged, may
we say?--Shirvan or Kabistan. Many of their designs are common property,
and it is the cleverer weaver who executes them the better. This broad
statement may be made by way of a test: the best of the Shirvans are
rather loosely woven and thin. The Kabistans are of finer weave, are
firmer and heavier, and lie truer on the floor.

Two classes of rugs from the Caucasus have been referred to as Russian,
the Yourucks and Kazaks. There is no authority for the distinction except
in the rugs themselves. They prove their case from their thickness and
iron durability, from their sombre or strong red colouring, and from their
daring crude and simple designs. In their utility they bespeak an article
of warmth and weight, and in their art they represent a barbaric
simplicity like a Navajo blanket. Kazak and Cossack are almost synonymous
terms; and the Cossacks, the Kurds, and the Indians have something of
kinship in weaving, at least. But the Kazak rugs are not all crude, by any
manner of means. If strength is their first characteristic and strong
primitive pigments in rare greens, reds, and blues; and if their patterns
are simple and angular;--none the less, in antique specimens, much
originality was shown in the drawing of their borders, and soft browns and
yellows with ivory white appeared in their colouring.

Of the Shirvans, Chichis, etc., ordinarily offered, there is nothing to be
said. They are cheaply and roughly woven, and made only to sell. They are
disposed of by the thousands at auctions, and piles and piles of them fill
the carpet and department stores. Be it said to their credit that they
will outwear any machine-made floor covering; that they are good to hide a
hole in an old carpet; that they help to furnish the bedrooms of a summer
cottage; that they are most useful in the back hall; and, in fine, that
they are better than no rugs at all. Yet, on the other hand, be it well
understood that they are not, as frequently advertised, "exquisite
examples of textile art," and that fine Oriental rugs are not to be bought
at "$6.98" apiece.



CHAPTER VII

OF TURKISH VARIETIES


Babylon or Egypt may have woven the first carpets or floor coverings, and
China of course worked early in the same field. But Persia acquired the
art quite independent of China, and well in the beginning of the long ago.
Indeed, the Chinese industry practically ceased to exist many centuries
back, and was transferred to northern Persia, where the history of this
handicraft has its true beginning. From Persia all other countries have
drawn their knowledge and inspiration, and however much they may have
endeavoured to create and to evolve new figures and new designs, even the
oldest examples of their art must concede something to Persian influence.

The Turks, above all others, have shown themselves the most apt scholars,
and indeed in many lines have improved upon their teachers. The choicest
specimens of Turkish weave are as rubies to the other precious stones,
rarer, more brilliant, and more costly than diamonds. Though not so
closely woven as some of the Persians, they are wonderfully beautiful in
artistic picturing and in their own Oriental splendour of colour and
design. Such in particular are the antique Gheordez, as splendid in rich
floods of light as the stained-glass windows of a cathedral. They are the
finest woven and have the shortest nap of their class.

Here is the description of one taken from a catalogue of twenty-five years
ago: "Antique Gheordez Prayer Rug. Mosque design, with columns and pendant
floral lamp relieved on solid ground of rare Egyptian red, surmounted by
arabesques in white upon dark turquoise, framed in lovely contrasting
borders."


[Illustration:

  PLATE VII.
  ANTIQUE GHEORDEZ
  _Prayer Rug_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. GEORGE H. ELLWANGER
  Size: 4.6 x 5.11]


Another is pictured as: "A flake of solid sapphire, crested by charming
floral designs in ruby on ground of white opal. The mosaics and blossom
borders are toned to perfect harmony."

These word pictures are in no way exaggerated, and only help to portray
the glories of the old Gheordez, with their graceful hanging lamps, as
wonderful as Aladdin's, in a vista between pillars of chalcedony or onyx.
They came in the form of prayer rugs generally, and a pronounced feature
of those more commonly seen is a multiplicity of small dotted borders. The
older and finer examples show borderings of far more graceful and artistic
drawing.

The antique Koulahs and Koniahs, though not so finely woven, have mostly
the same superb centres or panels of solid colour as the Gheordez, and vie
with the latter in the splendour of their hues, if not in the delicacy and
intricacy of their designs outside the central field. The Koulahs may
generally be recognized by a narrow border, which is peculiar to
themselves and is almost invariably found on them. This consists of a
broken line of little tendrils or spirals quite Chinese in character, and
looking much like a row of conventionalized chips and shavings. It is so
odd and distinctive that once seen it can never be mistaken. The Koniahs
also have little figures which are quite their own, and which usually
appear somewhere in the central design. They are small flowers each on a
single stem, and the flower has commonly three triangular petals, like an
oxalis or shamrock leaf. It is quite unlike the blossoms which besprinkle
other rugs. With this, often come crude figures of lamps like miniature
tea-pots. The Ladiks display all the colours of an October wood, and
complete the group of Turkish old masters. Not a few of them have also a
unique border in the form of a small lily blossom. Experts speak of it
familiarly as the "Rhodian border," but its origin is altogether
obscure.


[Illustration:

  PLATE VIII.
  ANTIQUE KOULAH
  _Prayer Rug_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR. GEORGE H. ELLWANGER
  Size: 3.11 x 5.6]


These words in testimony to the beauties of Turkish rugs may be offered
simply by way of guide-posts to lead to some museum. A few battered and
torn war-flags of Gheordez or Ladiks are occasionally offered on the
market, but the best of them lack all character and colour, and show only
the bold design and holes and strings and naked warp.

Just which particular Turkish rugs are properly classed as Anatolians it
is hard to say, Anatolia being so large a province. The term as
commercially used is only as comprehensive and expressive as "Iran"
applied to the Persians. It is generally misapplied to an uncertain class
of old, worn, and tarnished remnants or new coarse prayer rugs, ruinous of
harmony with their magenta discords. Yet many of the "mats" are rightly
called Anatolians, and, premising a later chapter, one of the greatest
delights of collecting was to look over a pile of them, with the
never-failing hope of finding some bright particular gem. And these mats
are truly the little gems of Turkish weaving, and in accordance with the
Oriental fondness for jewels and precious stones the suggestion that they
represent inlaid jewelled work has been well imagined. But here again we
cry, "Eheu fugaces!" They have gone. It is idle to look over the pile.
There are no good ones for sale. One explanation of their scarcity is in
the fact that the Armenian dealers have a weakness for these small pieces
themselves, and are wont to indulge their fondness for colour and sheen by
keeping the choice ones for their own use. So the mats of commerce are
either new, coarse, and crude and offensive with arsenical greens and
aniline crimsons and magentas; or they are but soiled patches and bits of
old rugs sewn together. _Caveat emptor!_ and let the buyer look at their
backs before purchasing.

The old Melez rugs, with characteristics peculiar to themselves, are
of almost like importance to the Koniahs and Koulahs. Frequently they have
a suggestion of the Chinese in their figures and decorations. You will
find symbolized dragons pictured on them, also the cypress tree; while in
colour they form a class by themselves, and exhibit shades of lavender,
heliotrope, and violet such as no other kinds may boast. Whatever this dye
may be, and whatever tone of mauve or lilac it may take, you will find it
only in the Melez, a few Bergamas, or in some old Irans, whose race is
practically extinct. Worthy modern Melez are still to be had, and will
improve as they wear; if only they are firm in texture and do not flaunt
the battle-flag colours of Solferino and Magenta.


[Illustration:

  PLATE IX.
  MELEZ
  _Forty or fifty years old_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Size: 3.10 x 5.3]


The Bergamas come mostly in blues and reds, most prominently set out by
soft ivory white. One of their recognized patterns is quite individual,
and readily marks their class. It is a square of small squares marked off
like a big checker-board. Other small pieces are almost square, with the
field in mosaic-work or flower blossoms. In the fine old specimens, which
used to be, the Bergamas rioted in superb medallions or in a floriated
central figure like a grand bouquet. As a class, their merit is softness
and richness. Their defect is that of the Shiraz, a proneness to curl and
puff themselves with pride. The fault is caused by the fact that their
usually artistic selvedge is too tightly drawn. Skilful cutting of the
selvedge and new fringing will correct the error.

Some old and some excellent new Bergamas have lately been in evidence in
the stocks of the Oriental dealers. Howsoever or wheresoever they come,
the collector may well take courage from their appearance and apply
himself to the chase with renewed zest.



CHAPTER VIII

TURKOMAN OR TURKESTAN RUGS


The geography of the carpets and rugs thus far considered has included a
very considerable area.

Any traveller or collector who may have journeyed in fact to the regions
where they are made may well have stories to tell, for his wanderings will
have led him into strange lands and wild places.

But the remaining classes of rugs, which we are wont to see lying
gracefully in front of our hearths, as tame and peaceful as kittens, have
come from still farther and wilder regions of the world; and the wonder is
that we see them at all or are permitted the privilege of treading on
them. The Turkestan class, so far as our subject is concerned, carries us
east from Persia, through Afghanistan and Beluchistan even into China.
They are Oriental in very truth, and at first blush, it would seem, should
be more crude and barbaric in their art. But as compared with the bold,
rough, and rude weaves and patterns of the Russian Caucasians, they are,
as a class, most refined and delicate in design and fine in texture.

It has been said that "whoever has seen one Bokhara rug has seen them
all." Their set designs and staple colouring have been so long familiar
that we have lost respect for them. There are the well-known geometric
figures for the centre, smaller similar figures for the borders, and a
mosaic of diamonds or delicate traceries of branches for the ends. Choice
examples, like the stars, differ from one another in glory only. The
variations evolved from the one conventional design are almost infinite;
and the many shades and tones of red which are used bring to mind the
paintings of Vibert and his wonderful palette of scarlets, carmines,
crimsons, maroons, and vermilions.


[Illustration:

  PLATE X.
  ANTIQUE BELUCHISTAN
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Size: 4.10 x 8.3]


Some of the rare old Bokharas come in lovely browns and are almost
priceless in value. Sad to say, it remained for an American vandal to
discover a process of "dipping" or "washing" an ordinary rug so as to
imitate these rare originals, and many dealers unblushingly sell these
frauds. To wear imitation jewelry is far less reprehensible. Happily the
trickery is generally distinguishable because the "dip" or stain, whatever
it may be, is apt to run into the fringe or otherwise betray itself. The
wise buyer will reject with scorn any rug, under whatsoever name offered,
which shows no other colouring than various shades of chocolate brown. No
such uniform brown dyeing ever characterized any class of rugs. Even the
brown Bokharas which are in museums show some other tints with their brown
tones.

Good Bokharas, like good Kirmans, are undeniably beautiful and of great
value, but the mere fact that both are considered staples in the rug
trade tends to detract from their artistic value; and that they are so
generally doctored, disguised, and perverted puts them in bad repute.

The Yamoud-Bokharas come in larger sizes than the others of their type;
are not so fine in texture, but thicker and firmer. Their designs are
larger and bolder, and they show a most becoming bloom. They also display
green and even yellow in their colouring, which is not usual in Bokharas.
Their selvedge is beautifully characteristic. In Bokharas proper the
adornment of the selvedge usually is on the warp; as in the Bergamas and
Beluchistans. In Yamouds the selvedge is almost always carried out in wool
with like skill as that given to the rest of the piece.

The Afghans are a coarser edition of Bokharas, and may be mostly
considered for utility. They come in large sizes, and almost square; have
bold tile patternings, and in the finer examples are plush-like and
silky. These are still to be had, but many modern ones are dyed with
mineral dyes, and their bloom is meretricious. The chemist has waved his
magic wand over them, not wisely but too well.

The Beluchistans are somewhat akin to the Bokharas, and like the latter
rejoice in reds and blues in the darker tones, while they display greater
variety in their designs. These are ordinarily crude and simple, but in
the old exemplars they were of considerable variety, and their wealth of
changing colours in sombre shades was rich beyond the dream of avarice.
"Lees of wine," "dregs of wine," "plum," "claret," "maroon,"--these are
terms which have served to describe their prevailing colours. The
adjectives are still applicable and may give some idea of the colourful
effects which are obtained from their stains of brown and red and purple.
For decorative effect, their deeper tones make most harmonious contrast
with the subdued and softened Persians and old Daghestans. In many
specimens, new and old, white, both blue white and ivory, is used in
startling contrast. It makes or mars the picture, according to the
artistic skill of the weaver. The wool used in the good Beluchistans is
particularly soft and silky, and lends to them their unique velvety sheen.
No other varieties show it so perfectly, although antique Kazaks have
their particular plush, and the Mousuls with their depth of pile have a
shimmer and shifting light which is their especial artistic feature. The
distinction may not easily be formulated; but, nevertheless, the sheen of
the Beluchistan is one beauty, while the play of light and shade on a
Mousul is another pleasure to the eye.

In the Bergama rugs the weaver does not disdain to spend some toil and
time upon the selvedge; and this, even in small specimens, is commonly
four to six inches long, carefully woven in white and colour and with
occasional ornamentation. In this selvedge a small, elongated triangle is
frequently embossed in wool, with the commendable purpose of avoiding the
"evil eye."

But in the Beluchistans the maker "enlarges his phylacteries, and
increases the borders of his garments." He goes even to greater pains and
trouble in the elaboration and finishing of his selvedge. It is often
prolonged to eight or ten inches in moderate-sized rugs, and is woven into
most interesting patterns and stripes of colour. It is literally carried
to extremes. It may seem an act of vandalism, but the wise and stoical
collector will do well to eliminate all but two or three inches of it and
have a skilful weaver overcast and fringe the ends. Selvedge, however
adorned, is utilitarian only, and, like useless fringe, it must not be
allowed to detract from the proportions and beauty of the piece itself.

For the comfort of the collector be it known that within the last year or
two, many fine Beluchistan mats and small rugs have been secured somehow
by the wholesalers and are in evidence in the retailers' stock.
Beluchistan, evidently, is one of the remote regions last to be drawn
upon, scoured, ravaged, and exhausted. The opportunity should be improved
by the provident buyer.

The Soumac or Cashmere rug calls for no further description than a
Cashmere shawl. With the exception of choice antique specimens which time
has chastened and mellowed into pictures in apricot, fawn, robin's-egg,
and cream colours, the Cashmeres are rather matters of fact than of art.

What are known as Killims, or Kiz-Killims, the better class, are hard
fabrics akin to the Soumacs except that they have no nap on either side,
and are double faced. They are mostly Caucasian and Kurdish, with the bold
designs of those classes, or they come in the beautiful, delicate patterns
of the Sehnas. In their crudest and strongest Kazak figures they appear
in the most brilliant pigments, with soft reds, rose, lake, and vermilion
for contrasting colours, splashed together as on a painter's palette. Of
course they lack the sheen of a rug, but their colour effects are
marvellous. While generally used for portières and coverings, they are
perfect rugs for a summer cottage, being most durable, and are worthy of
attention. Moreover, fine antique examples are still to be had. Some
collector might be the first to make a specialty of them and garner them
before they pass; the end of the Oriental weaver's pageant. The usual
warning, however, must be given, that they are often cursed with the
barbarous magentas hereinbefore mentioned, a colour which would ruin a
rainbow.

The products of Samarkand are quite out of the ordinary, and thoroughly
Chinese in character. Except by association and classification they have
no resemblance to the Turkestan or any other division. They form a class
by themselves, the legitimate successors of the old Chinese rugs, long
gone by. They are very bold in design, and in colour tend to yellow,
orange, and various soft reds. An inferior make of Samarkands often
appears under the title of Malgaras. They have neither quality nor colour
to commend them.

But there are old Chinese rugs also. Most of them are in the conventional
blue and white, with simple octagonal medallions, with no border to speak
of, and with little strength of character. They are coarsely woven and
have been so commonly imitated by machine reproductions in English
carpetry that even blue and white originals have small merit to boast of.
There were, and doubtless still are, Chinese rugs of far more importance.
Many are noted in the catalogue of a sale in New York City no longer ago
than 1893. From one item remembered, they showed various beautiful
colourings, far beyond the simple white and blue, and in design displayed
much of the artistic strength, grace, and beauty of the old Chinese
porcelains. It is a mystery where these rugs lie hidden. No one boasts of
owning them or claims credit to even a modest $10,000 antique specimen.



CHAPTER IX

OF ORIENTAL CARPETS, SADDLE-BAGS, PILLOWS, etc.


However a man may justify himself for collecting rugs, regardless of his
success, of his needs, or of his income, there would seem to be no danger
of any one making a specialty of buying carpets. Except to millionaires or
for clubs and palaces, space would absolutely prohibit, if the housewife
did not. The nearest that the enthusiast might approach to such an
ambition would be in the accumulation of hall strips; which has its own
temptations, quite within the possible.

And yet the term "carpet" is an elastic phrase, and any piece which
exceeds six or seven feet in width and of greater length, is entitled by
courtesy to be named a carpet. It may be said that a rug, like a baby,
ceases to be a rug at an uncertain size, and then becomes a carpet. But
carpets in the larger dimensions, ten by twelve feet or more, as
ordinarily understood, are only herein considered. They are really
articles of utility first and always, and must answer to certain measured
requirements. Such is the accepted theory and practice. The buyer is wont
to think that the merit or beauty of a carpet is of secondary
consideration if only it fit the room. Here is a heresy. It is far better
that the room should be made to fit or adapt itself to the perfect carpet.

If you would buy one, the best that you can do is to choose wisely. They
are all of modern make, with very few exceptions. If you have one that is
antique, you yourself have made it so, or you have inherited a ragged and
neglected example of bygone years. The modern carpets, nevertheless, those
still made to-day, are many of them superb pieces, far outclassing
any small rugs of the same weaving.


[Illustration:

  PLATE XI.
  ANTIQUE ANATOLIAN PILLOWS
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Sizes: 1.10 x 2.10, and 2.1 x 2.11]


The Kirmanshahs would come first, of course; closely woven, beautiful and
soft in colour, delicate and artistic in their designs, they are the most
perfect floor coverings for the salon, reception or music room. If they
were only real! But very, very few of them are. They have all been treated
with chemicals, and their beauty of complexion is just as artificial as
any rouged and bepowdered courtesan's. Unless you have one out of ten
thousand, it has not come from a palace, but from a scientific laboratory.

Many of the Tabriz carpets lie under the same suspicion, and those of soft
tones, claiming to be antiques, may be wisely questioned. But new ones
come in clean, rich colourings, in fine designs, and are textile
masterpieces.

The Kurdistan carpets of to-day are by far the best of all. They are more
loosely woven, but they are so much the heavier, and that is to be
desired in a carpet. And they are honest. Their colours are beautiful,
varied, strong, and true. It is claimed for the Kurdistans that some of
their dyes are still well-guarded secrets; and it is true history of some
years ago that many a bloody feud and murder grew out of cherished
Kurdistan secrets of dyeing. Their designs are bold and striking, with
grand centre medallion and corners, and a field artistically adorned.
Money cannot buy anything better than a fine new Kurdistan; and thirty or
forty years of wear should leave it better still.

Next to be chosen would be the Gorovans. They also show brave figuring
with a strong centre medallion, characteristic zigzag corners, and angular
ornamentations which are most gracefully carried out. Their colouring is
usually in fine blues and reds.

Modern Feraghans come in large carpet sizes, and some antique ones are
still to be had. But the Kurdistans and Gorovans far surpass them in two
important particulars. The Feraghans appear only in their own peculiar,
small-figured designs, which are without strength or character on a large
floor space. Besides that, being more closely cut than the others, if they
do not soon wear out, they soon wear down, and begin to show the suspicion
of their warp and their loss of tone and colour. They are beautiful
carpets, nevertheless, and will practically last a lifetime. But the
heavier they are, the better.

There are few other modern Persian carpets in large sizes which come in
appreciable numbers for classification. There is a rather indefinite order
of Gulistans, under which title many good nondescripts are sold.

There are also current Sultanabads, in very large sizes, well woven, on
old models, to meet present uses.

Most other carpets are of Turkish weaving, whatever their names, and come
under the general title of Smyrnas. Smyrna is the centre of distribution
for a great variety of cheap and coarsely woven carpets; but poor in
quality as these may be, they should not be confused with the American
machine product also known as a "Smyrna." In the same class come the
Oushaks, Hamadans, etc. There is nothing more to be said for them than to
testify that they will wear better than a Brussels carpet, and give some
distinction to a modest dining-room.

It is a far cry from carpets to saddle-bags, and yet these latter are of
greater importance and interest to the collector. More valuable pieces of
Oriental weaving are to be found among the diminutives than in the grand
_opera_ of textiles.

Beginning at the bottom, we find plenty of the little pairs of bags,
twelve or eighteen inches square. They are donkey bags, carried back of
the saddle, and generally appear in Shirvan make or, most commonly, in
Shiraz weaving. The Shiraz often have considerable beauty and sheen and
dark rich colouring. But these very small pieces have little real utility
or available artistic beauty. They never lie well, and only litter up the
floor. They belittle a well-arranged room as would a frail and useless
gilt chair. They are recommended for pillows, but we Occidental infidels
associate rugs too closely with the foot to find them easy to the head.
They are also advised for use as hassocks. But the hassock long ago
disappeared, with or under the "what-not," or behind "the horse-hair
sofa."

Other bags, used on horse and camel, come in more important sizes, as
large as two feet by six feet or more. Exquisite specimens of Bokharas are
found among these; artistic, antique pieces, woven as fine as needlework.
A number of these seem to have come suddenly on the market in some
mysterious way; and they are of every size within their small limits;
because, as an Oriental has suggested, there are _pony_ camels also.
Another mystery about those camel bags would seem to be that some are
beautifully straight and therefore most to be desired, while others are so
curved as to be impossible of use unless around the foot of a pillar. Here
is a case differing from that of the ordinary crooked rug, because these
bags were originally made straight and true. Overloading and overpacking
have only sagged down the middle. I dare not say that the more the curve,
the greater the age and the more the value; but it may be that curved
Bokhara saddle-bags, passed by, by the Levite, are prizes to be picked up
by the good Samaritan, and may be easily restored to normal rectitude.

But the term "saddle-bag," whether for this animal or that, is confusing
and altogether too generally used. It must be borne in mind that a bag was
and is an article of universal utility to the Oriental. For all purposes
of travel, journeying, or visiting, it corresponds to our valise or
portmanteau of to-day; or, in aptest comparison, to our "carpet-bag" of
fifty years ago. And, according to the taste and means of their owners,
these Persian, Armenian, or Turkish carpet-bags varied in size and beauty.
A few rare old Caucasian small rugs can only be accounted for as valued
personal rug-bags of their period.

Among these smaller pieces are alone to be found the most valuable of all
the collector's spoil, the small Sehnas. Very rarely they come in pairs,
about two feet by three feet, and therefore could not have been used as
bags for any purpose. They are pillows; and pillows of course play their
important part in the _ménage_ of the East. Besides the exquisite Sehnas,
the finest of the Anatolian mats, as they are generally called, were used
for pillows and not saddle-bags. The warp generally proves their purpose.
When the warp runs vertically to the larger side, and ends in a fringe,
that specimen was of course some sort of a saddle-bag. When the selvedge
is at the shorter end you have the pillow.

Among the other beautiful miniature specimens of textile art, which are
still occasionally offered, are saddle-cloths. They appear mostly in
beautiful Sehnas, and occasionally in fine old Feraghans and other Persian
weaves. They are marred, however, for beautiful floor coverings by the
necessary angular cut in them, through which the straps of the saddle
passed. This is often skilfully filled in, in the case of choice
specimens. But the blot remains. Their irregular shape also condemns them
for the most part with the many admirable but irreclaimable crooked rugs.

These saddle-bags are frequently used for table coverings or for mural
adornment. But in our modern house decoration rarely does a rug look well
upon the wall. The Persians hang them instead of pictures, which is well.
But they do not mix them with pictures on the wall, which is better, and
shows good taste on the part of the Persians. A rug appears best upon the
floor.

The collector of small pieces to-day will do well to buy every bag or
pillow of Bokhara or Beluchistan which may please his fancy. They are to
be had now at modest prices, but unless all signs fail, they will soon
become as rare as any of the other miniatures. You will look in vain for
them with the vanished Anatolians and diamond Sehnas.



CHAPTER X

AUCTIONS, AUCTIONEERS, AND DEALERS


A justification of the method of selling rugs by auction has been offered
in many forms and phrases. It is perhaps best expressed somewhat thus:
Every number has a certain intrinsic value, and that is a basis price at
which it should sell. But beyond that it may have an extra value, which,
like beauty in general, is in the eye of the beholder. The beholder,
therefore, who sees a rug to covet it should name his own price for it. It
may be one of the specimens he lacks in his collection; it may fit this
corner or that. Anyway, it is worth more to him than to the lower bidder.
Incidentally, the seller and the auctioneer gain the fair profits of
competition.

Other arguments in favour of the auction have been advanced by the head of
a great department store. His opinion is that the auction gives every one
a chance to get the rug desired at a fair price. Tastes differ and prices
differ, but the average of an auction is fair to both buyer and seller.

Regardless of theories, rug auctions, by whomsoever fathered or sponsored,
thrive and flourish.

If the auction be the collection of such and such an Oriental, whatever
his name, there will be a great deal of cheap stuff in his stock, and
there will also be many choice pieces which he holds as the apples of his
eye.

He buys from the wholesaler so many bales at so much per bale of say
twenty pieces. In the bales of ordinary qualities the several items will
average about the same. But in the more expensive bales there is a good
general average, with a few prizes added. They are like the two or three
green firecrackers in the packs of our childhood. These special pieces in
the high-priced bales give the seller his legitimate opportunity and
profit. If these odd firecrackers please your fancy more than mine, and I
am contented to choose the conventional red ones, it is for you to fix the
value of the greens.

At an auction the apparent authority and ruler is the auctioneer, while
the owner weeps cheerfully on one side and shrugs his shoulders in
half-pathetic resignation at the sacrifice. In reality the auctioneer
knows pretty well what he is about, and, if not, is quickly posted by the
owner. It is no harm to say that if we cannot believe all that we read in
the Bible, no more is it safe to take literally all that the auctioneer
asserts. A recent skit in "Life" is pertinent (quoted from memory):--

     "_The wife._ Look at this splendid bargain I bought for twenty
     dollars to-day. It's worth two hundred.

     "_The husband._ Indeed! How do you know it is worth that much?

     "_The wife._ Why, the auctioneer told me so."

A new plan of auction has been recently tried. You may buy in one or more
lots at your own price, and if you do not wish to keep any, they may be
returned within a certain number of days. You may bid _ad libitum_,
recklessly as you choose; and if your choice be not all that your fancy
and electric light have pictured it, you are under no obligation to keep
it or pay anything on it; you may elect to change your mind and send it
back. How this plan works in practice and finance has yet to be
demonstrated. It would seem to be all on the side of the buyer and against
the seller, who must lose many a bid from a _bona fide_ purchaser at a
lower figure. The matter of human nature doubtless figures in the problem,
because there is some little feeling of shame about returning an article
bought in under competition, no matter what the guarantee may be.

As to the auctioneers, they are always glib of tongue, good-natured, and
persuasive. That they are not canonically and absolutely truthful is
perhaps not their fault. They certainly cannot know more about rugs than
the few authorities who have made a study of the subject; and, as said
before, they are generally prompted by the "consignor" of the collection.
If only they would not call _every_ rug an "antique and priceless
specimen," their individual consciences might be happier, and their
audience less bored.

However, no matter what the audience, or how small it may be, there are
always some there who will appreciate the difference between a four-dollar
and a forty-dollar offering, and bid up the former to seven dollars and
the latter to thirty dollars. Thus the auctions go merrily on and strike a
general average. The skilful auctioneer will feel the pulse of his
audience with a quicker touch than the most renowned of doctors; and once
assured of their class and position, wealth and condition, and what grade
of merchandise they are willing to buy, the game is in his own hands,
provided only that his audience is large enough. He should have at least a
regulation pack of fifty-two in order to do justice to his own hand and
skill, and in order to play off one card of his audience against another.

The auction has its own particular fascinations, and its own _habitués_
and devotees in every city. The chronic attendants should be the most
careful and conservative of buyers. But the artful auctioneer soon learns
to know them, to recognize them among his _clientèle_, and to humour their
whims, moods, and fancies. Sooner or later he will wheedle them into a bid
against their better judgment, and then make good capital of the fact that
such and such a connoisseur had bought so great a bargain.

The question might be asked, impersonally and perhaps impertinently, What
was the auctioneer's influence at the Marquand sale? Was his the power?
Was it due to the catalogue? or was it in the air; and the zeal of an
eager audience?

The retail trade in rugs throughout this country is largely in the hands
of Armenians, both fixed and peripatetic; but of recent years much of
their business has been annexed by the department stores.

These various Armenian dealers are universally known for their shrewdness
and cleverness as well as for other ingenuousness and natural courtesy.
Except the heads of the carpet departments in some few large concerns,
they know much more about their wares than other salesmen, and their
personal, live knowledge gives a fillip of enthusiasm to the purchaser.
They would control the retail trade in rugs, were it not that the
department store has brought against them its powerful weapon of _per
cent_. The store asserts that it wants only its modest _per cent_ on the
cost of any article, no matter what its sentimental value may be. This may
not be truth in its stark nakedness, but it has availed to draw to them a
great deal of the trade in Oriental textiles.

The wholesale dealers are the most important factor in the question of
distribution, for almost all the rugs sold in the United States must first
pass through the hands of one or another of a dozen New York princes of
the market. Large or small retailers may import some pieces directly from
London, Paris, or Constantinople, but even the most important retailers
buy heavily from the great Armenian wholesalers in New York City.

It is difficult to estimate and impossible to state absolutely the number
or even the value of the Oriental rugs annually imported into the United
States. The reason is that in the reports of the U. S. Treasury as to
"Imported Merchandise," etc., Oriental carpets and rugs have no separate
classification, but are included under the general heading of "Carpets
woven whole for rooms, and Oriental, Berlin, Aubusson, Axminster, and
other similar rugs." It is quite a mixed company, but Oriental weaves as
herein considered are at least distinguished as such, and differentiated
from carpeting by the yard. They have also the distinction, with the
others of their group, of paying a tax of ninety cents per square yard and
forty per cent ad valorem, as against from twenty-two to sixty cents per
square yard and the same forty per cent ad valorem for the various
Brussels, Wilton, and Axminster floor-coverings coming by the yard, and
not in one piece. And the duty on Oriental rugs, be it observed, is
measured by the square yard, and therefore no record is kept of the number
of pieces, or how many individual items of the four classes have been
imported.

Nevertheless, the statistics for the year ending June 30, 1902, show this
general result: The total value of that year's import of these "whole
carpets, Oriental, Berlin," etc., was a trifle below three million
dollars. Two and a half millions of this value came to New York with only
half a million left to divide between Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San
Francisco, and other ports of entry. The supremacy of New York City as the
Oriental rug mart for this country is easily manifest, although it is not
so easy to estimate what proportion of the two and a half millions of
value was in Oriental rugs and what in modern carpets. One expert figures
the value of the Oriental rugs imported that year into New York as more
than half the total, or perhaps two millions. It is as fair an estimate as
may be had. Considerable as this amount may be, it seems much less than
might be expected. It may perhaps indicate the cheap grade and low quality
of most of our present acquisitions in this category.

The gathering of the rugs by the buyers, in the first instance, involves
great hardships, endurance, and even danger; and the deeper their
incursions into new and strange territory and unopened and unexplored
sources of supply, the more profitable their spoil, but the greater their
toil. Beluchistan, as previously suggested, would appear now to be one of
the remotest regions yet remaining to yield up a few new treasures to the
persevering buyer.

These rugs so gathered to the centres of trade in Constantinople, Tiflis,
and other distributing points, quickly find their way thence to New York,
and help to make the magnitude and seeming wonderful complexity of the
large wholesale depots. Whoever is fortunate enough to have the _entrée_
to any of these great New York storehouses will be first among those who
understand the importance, value, and appreciation of the Oriental rug.



CHAPTER XI

INSCRIPTIONS AND DATES


In addition to the many patterns, figures, devices and symbols, which are
used for ornamentation, rugs and carpets are often embellished with
hieroglyphic writing, somewhere in their field, and commonly at top or
bottom. Not unfrequently complete borders are thus composed, as is
evidenced in old Kirmans. These designs are so graceful in their many
angles and occasional curves that they scarcely suggest mere lettering.
Such they are, nevertheless; and our English script, with all its loops
and turns and recurrent "lines of beauty," would hardly avail for like
effective results. It is but another proof of the artistic possibilities
of angular lines and geometric figures, so often demonstrated by Oriental
weavers.

With few exceptions, all of these hieroglyphics are in the Arabic
language, and are quotations from the Persian poets, with flowery
sentiment, or from the Koran, in proper precept. But, as is more
important, there will frequently be found in the corners of a choice
piece, or elsewhere unobtrusively woven, the signature or cipher of the
maker, with the date of the making. This at once gives distinction and
value to such a specimen and exalts it above its fellows. It also calls
loudly for an answer to the question of what such name and date may be.
Very rarely can the dealer inform you, because he does not know. Here,
then, is a great stumbling-block in the path of the collector. It may be
worth while to go around it by way of a brief explanation.

The Arabic language has been the _lingua franca_ of the East from the time
that it succeeded Greek in the seventh century. It still retains its
universality wherever Mohammedanism rules. Turkey may be excepted from
its sway, but, none the less, it is a most necessary language to-day in
Constantinople. Its use by carpet-weavers is by reason of its catholicity;
that it may be understood where their varying languages and unknown
dialects would tell no story.

That Arabic is so generally known throughout the Orient is doubtless no
greater marvel than that mere children in Paris speak French. But, however
convenient, as an inter-racial and commercial language, Arabic may be to
those accustomed to it, or naturally conversant with it, it is most
difficult to learn by Western races. With ten years' study one may become
a good scholar, and proficiency may follow for the persistent few. This
will explain why inscriptions, texts, and verses on rugs and carpets are
meaningless, except to the most erudite; and except, also, to those who
see in them only another phase of Persian ornament, strange, mysterious,
arabesque, and beautiful.

Regarding the date, often woven into an example which the artist thought
especially worthy, it would seem that some simple formula might be given
for its ready translation. This may be approximated, although it is not so
easy a matter as might appear, and requires a few words on the subject of
Arabian numerical notation. Their general system is similar to ours, and,
corresponding to our miscalled "Arabic figures" of:

     0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,

their digits are represented by

     [Arabic]

Both are read from left to right. These Arabic digits, however, are not
always easily to be deciphered on a rug, on account of the spreading of
the wool and consequent irregularity of outline, and also because they
generally appear in modest size. The back of the rug will show the figures
much more sharply than the face, when there is a doubt. When the
Arabic numerals are made clear, it remains to reduce this date to the
corresponding one of the Christian era, by means of a complicated table.


[Illustration:

  PLATE XII.
  BERGAMA
  _Thirty to forty years old_
  FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE AUTHOR
  Size: 3.1 x 3.5]


All Mohammedan dating (with exceptions not to be considered here, however
interesting historically) is from the Hegira. The reckoning is not from
the time of Mohammed's "flight" from Medina (September, 622), but from a
day about two months earlier; namely, the first day of that Arabian year.
This beginning of the epoch, according to the best modern authorities,
probably corresponds to July 16, 622.

Mohammedan chronology, however, is often expressed in other ways than by
clear figures, and such florid records are most difficult to interpret.
Again, in old manuscripts, on coins and on a few rare antique carpets, the
date is written out in full, in so many words; as, for instance,
"two-hundred-and-five-and-twenty-after-the-thousand." Intricate dates
like these are to be solved only by an expert.

But when the year is in question, without regard to month or day, and when
the year is written in legible figures, a rough formula for computing the
corresponding Christian date is as follows: Subtract from the given
Mohammedan year one thirty-third part of itself, and add to the remainder
six hundred and twenty-two. Thus: A. H. 1196 = A. D. 1196 - 36 + 622 = A.
D. 1782. This is accurate enough for all practical purposes, and involves
no difficulty except the deciphering of the Arabic digits. The failure to
subtract this essential one thirty-third part explains frequent
misreadings by the ignorant dealer or uninitiated amateur. That six
hundred and twenty-two must be added to the given Mohammedan date explains
itself. But it must be remembered also that the Moslem year is lunar, and
thus a little more than eleven days shorter than our solar year. Their
reckoning therefore gains one year in every thirty-three of our
computation.

Modern commercial rugs of ordinary quality are occasionally provided with
a date or other calligraphic figure to simulate the real signed and dated
masterpieces. This trickery should never deceive even the most unwary,
unless the piece is of exceptional merit; and then, there is no deception;
or at least there is value received.



CHAPTER XII

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS AND PARTICULAR ADVICE


Many kinds of rugs are made in part of camel's hair, generally undyed and
of a soft brown tone. They are praised as particularly desirable and
durable, and antique specimens often showed a distinguished beauty. Modern
examples are seldom improved by this addition to the wool. Camel's hair,
in the muggy days of summer, has the great fault of offending the nose and
proclaiming not only that the "Campbells are coming" but that the circus
and the whole menagerie is already here. If the camel's hair part of your
rug is soft and silky, it has been taken from young camels or from the
camel's belly, and the odour is hardly ever noticeable. Of wool in rugs
generally it may be said that the best is from the younger sheep, and the
silkiness and sheen of the wool give those same characteristics to the
rug.

Silk rugs, both antique and modern, fairly dazzle the eye with their
beauty, but he who may afford one will needs afford also to furnish the
surroundings for it in like magnificence. Otherwise all else grows pale
and dull and leaden beside their refulgent glory. Place a piece of modern
Dresden china side by side with a fine antique specimen of Chinese
porcelain, and the garishness of the modern ware will give a pallid tone
to the soft whites of the Oriental artist. But the fault is not with the
older and perfect art; it is simply the old truth, in a new form, that
evil colours corrupt and kill good colours.

Be that as it may, old silk rugs are almost priceless, and of value to a
millionaire collector for their originality of design and for their soft
harmonies of colour which centuries alone can give. Modern silk rugs are
mostly machine made, in part at least; are a detriment and a blot on any
scheme of household decoration, and are always worth less than the price
paid for them.

By experience we may best learn how to choose a rug. As, for instance:
never buy a rug, least of all at an auction, without thoroughly examining
it. See its back as well as its face, and so be sure that it has not been
cut, and that there are no serious holes in it. Quite one-third of the
good old rugs will show some rents or tears, often made by the
grappling-hooks as the bales are shipped and transhipped. If these are no
bigger than a silver dollar, a skilful repairer, of whom there are plenty,
will readily remedy the defect. Also hold the rug up to the light to know
that the moths have not eaten it. Look at the nap and see that it is not
worn to the warp. Lay it on a board floor, if possible, and apart from
other rugs, and see that it lies flat and straight. None but those that
are firm enough to lie well are desirable for use and general comfort. Of
course many fine antiques are their own sufficient excuse for exception
from this rule.

If in doubt as to whether a rug has aniline dyes or been doctored or
painted, a handkerchief moistened with the tongue may sometimes discover
the truth. Painting a rug is a device not unfrequently practised when the
nap is worn down and the warp shows white.

Bear in mind that a good example may be so dirty as not to show half its
merits. A sharp patting may scatter enough dust to display it in its
proper colours, and you may thus, literally, unearth a treasure.

Remember, too, that rugs never look so well or show as clear and bright
when hanging on the wall as lying on the floor. Therefore, test a rug
spread out flat before you in broad daylight. It is a trick of the trade
to hold up one end of the piece exhibited and keep it waving to show its
sheen. This is often a mere device to conceal its bad shape or other
defects. If you are buying a rug for use on the floor, you should see it
so displayed. Its sheen should be judged by walking around it and
considering it in various lights.

Note that with few exceptions the fringe and selvedge on a rug were not
made for beauty but for protection. When the fringe is ropy, long, or
uneven, or the selvedge eaten into or ragged, do not leave the rug to its
unkemptness, but trim it religiously. A man should have his hair cut and
put in order at proper times; and the propriety of this observance is
commonly preached on very many prayer rugs, where the comb is prominently
pictured, to remind the devout that "cleanliness is next to godliness."
Indeed, the comb in various forms is so common a feature in the angular
arch of most prayer rugs that its suggestiveness almost detracts from
their beauty. The counsel is most persistent.

Even the clean white fringe of a fine Persian is often so long as to need
clipping. Two inches or so is a plenty. If more is left, the strings only
curl under and show a ragged and broken line, and the rug never appears
trim and orderly.

When the selvedge is gone, and the end borders or sides of the _rug
itself_ are encroached upon and sawed by the tooth of Time, more than half
of the value and beauty of the piece is lost; but to preserve its
usefulness it should be overcast and further damage prevented. Never buy a
rug as a perfect or even choice specimen if any border at the sides or
ends is gone beyond repair. Every border should have its corresponding
end, and _vice versa_, or the piece is imperfect. Selvedge is of slight
importance, but, like a woman's skirts or a man's trousers, it is
unforgivable if worn or frayed. The side edges which are otherwise still
perfect are apt to become more or less ragged with wear. That is a detail,
if the borders themselves are intact; and the edges only need overcasting
before it is too late.

When the good housewife has the rugs and carpets beaten, let it be done on
the grass, if possible, and not when they are hung on a line and so
allowed to break with their own weight. Also let the severity of the
beating be tempered with kindness and discretion. In winter, sweeping with
snow will clean and brighten them most wonderfully.

This whole matter of cleaning is a neglected science and worthy of a
thesis all to itself. The face of a rug will stand the slapping which is
its usual punishment for being dirty; but do not forget, in the end, to
stroke it, with the nap, and so soothe its feelings. Do not beat a rug or
carpet on the back. That has no defence of nap, and you are liable to
break the warp and loosen the knots. Frequent sweeping is far better than
the brutality of constant beating. The wool of a rug is really a sentient
thing. However dead it may seem, it has a life and vitality all its own.
It can be quickened, rejuvenated, and made alive again by proper washing.

Rugs in our modern houses easily accumulate dust and grime and smoke. But
it is absurd to think that a rug is antique because it is dirty; or, more
foolish still, that because it is dirty it is both antique and beautiful.
Wash some of your treasures and you will wonder at their real glory and
colour. Generally speaking, every rug should be washed about once a year.
It is the Oriental custom; and carpets there are otherwise kept much
cleaner than with us, by reason of many usages and observances. That the
Orientals wash their rugs in cold water is not so. Wherever and whenever
their laundering is done, the water is as warm as can be had, naturally.

Milady washes her laces with her own fair hands, and delights in the task.
The rug collector will do well, perhaps, to follow her example; except for
the tender specimens, which must needs do without it, and the carpets,
which are unmanageable. At all events, he will do wisely not to send his
valued specimens to the ordinary carpet-cleaner. They may come back
expurgated, but some virtue has gone out of them. The wool has lost its
oil and life.

It is hardly within the province of this volume to prescribe the exact
methods of washing. Wool soap will do wonders, it being always remembered
to stroke softly with the nap, while the rug is drying. In Kurdistan and
neighbouring provinces the rugs are first soaked in milk of some kind and
then rinsed, cleaned, and rubbed dry. The milk gives back to the wool its
essential oil, and it becomes at once soft, shining, silky, and alive with
glowing colour. This process, simple as it is, is kept as a profound
secret by the few who know it in this country. Another Eastern method is
to rub the rug with a mixture of rice-meal and oil, but the first recipe
is by far the better.

Rugs must be cared for particularly as to moths. When they are in general
use the moth will not corrupt, rust, or break through and steal, as may be
paraphrased from the Scriptures. The criminal indictment against the moth
in this regard cannot be drawn too strongly. He is the collector's great
enemy, because he destroys. Age and even wear only ripen the perfections
of fine modern pieces. Carpets and rugs stored, or laid aside, are not
mothproof, wherever they may be; unless they are treated as in the great
wholesale houses, where they are lifted and moved once a week and
protected with the odorous moth-ball.

When rugs have to be moved and packed frequently they should be folded
differently each time, and not always in the same creases. Otherwise,
wear and tear will soon show in the folds. For many obvious reasons they
always should be folded away with the nap inside.

Experience should teach the collector to appreciate and care for all fine
examples which he may already have. There are few others to take their
places. "Going! going! going!" has been said of them too often. Time, as
auctioneer, now says of them, as of old Chinese porcelains, "Gone!" And
that they should be even rarer than old china is quite understandable. The
ravages of time deal more gently with porcelains than with rugs. Only
breakage, not wear, moth, and abuse affects the former; and it is
generally guarded in glass cases and dusted by the mistress herself. Your
rugs are neglected, or left to the gardener's heroic care and treatment.
Use and abuse encroach upon the ends and edges of a glorious old
masterpiece, and ere it is too late, it becomes but "a king of shreds and
patches."

If there were new rugs to take its place, we might say: "The King is dead.
Long live the King!" But there are no new ones worthy of succession. The
royal line is virtually extinct.



INDEX



Index


  Afghan rugs, 82
    "     "  , modern, mineral dyes in, 83

  Anatolian rugs, 73
      "    , commercial term, 73
      "    mats, 73, 74

  Angles, mystery of, 2
    "   , use of, 62

  Angular ornamentation, 96, 121

  Antique carpets, 94
     "    rugs, not to be had, 6
     "     "  , term abused, 43
     "     "  , tones of imitated, 81
     "     "  , valuable for design, 44

  Arabian digits illustrated, 124

  "Arabic figures," miscalled, 124

  Arabic language, 122
    "       "    , catholicity of, 122, 123

  Armenians, appreciation of, 3
      "    , as dealers, 113
      "    hoard Anatolian mats, 74

  Auction, arguments for, 107, 108
     "   , caution in buying at, 133
     "   , fascination of, 112
     "   , ways of, 109, 110

  Auctioneer, 109, 110
      "     , powers of, 111-113

  Authorities, few available, 4


  Babylon, first rugs woven at, 69

  Bale, rugs by, 108, 109

  Bead-bags, 23

  Beluchistan rugs, 83
      "        "  , silkiness of, 54

  Bergama rugs, 75
     "     "  , defect of, 76
     "     "  , lavender in, 75

  Bokhara camel-bags, 99
     "    rugs, 80
     "     "  , brown, 81
     "     "  , Yamoud, 82
     "    saddle-bags, crooked, desirable, 100

  Border, Caucasian, Persian, 23
    "   , classifying rugs, 27, 28
    "   , crab, 29, 30
    "   , dotted, Gheordez, 71
    "   , Koulah, 27, 72
    "   , Ladik, lily, 25, 72
    "   , must have end to correspond, 136
    "   , Rhodian or lily, 25, 72
    "   , Serabend, 29, 50
    "        "    , in Mousuls, 53

  Borders in Khorassan rugs, defective, 49


  Camel-bags, 99
    "    "  , crooked, desirable, 100

  Camel's hair in rugs, 131

  Cashmere, _see_ Soumac

  Carpet, 93
    "   , room should fit, 94

  Carpet-bag, 100, 101

  Carpets, modern Persian, 94-98
     "       "    Turkish, 97, 98

  Caucasian rugs, characteristics of, 62
      "      "  , Persian influence on, 61
      "      "  , varieties of, 16

  Chichi rugs, 61, 62
    "     "  , ordinary specimens of, 66

  Chinese figures in Melez rugs, 75
     "    old, rugs, 88, 89
     "    weaving transferred to Persia, 69

  China, first rugs from, 69

  Collector encouraged, 76

  Colours, brown, to be rejected, 81
     "   , chemical in carpets, 95
     "   , dark, of Beluchistans, 83
     "   , flaming red, of Karabaghs, 64
     "   , green and yellow, in Bokharas, 82
     "   , lavender, heliotrope, &c., 75
     "   , magenta, to be avoided, 75, 87
     "   of Beluchistans, 83
     "   "  Bergamas, 75
     "   "  Ladiks, 72
     "   "  Gheordez, 70, 71
     "   , red, of Bokharas, 80, 81

  Comb, as symbol, 135

  Cossack, like Kazak, 65

  Crooked rugs, poetical version of, 21


  Daghestan, confusing term, 61, 62
    "      rugs, 61
    "       "  , term distinguished, 63

  Dates on rugs, 124, 127
    "   "   "  , Arabian digits for, 124
    "   "   "  , formula for reading, 126
    "   "   "  , intricate forms of, 125

  Dealers, uncommunicative, 2
     "   , wholesale, 108

  Design, checker-board, 75, 76
    "   , comb, 135
    "   , Feraghan, 24, 53
    "   , four roses, 54, 55 (note)
    "   , Koniah, 26, 72
    "   , lamp, 72
    "   , mosque, 70
    "   , no pattern for, 26
    "   , "palace pattern," 64
    "   , "palm-leaf," "pear," loop, 50
    "   , "shawl pattern," 64
    "   , "sunburst," 64

  Designs, as trademarks, 26
     "   , animals for, not on Turkish rugs, 46
     "   , geometric figures for, 80
     "   , Kazak, in Killims, 86, 87
     "   , mosaic-work in, 64, 76, 80
     "   , palm-leaf, in Mousuls, 53, 54
     "   , tile, 82

  "Dipping" rugs to imitate antique, 81

  Donkey-bags, 98

  Dyes, aniline, mineral, 35, 36, 38, 134
    "      "        "   , test for, 39
    " , black, 36
    " , brown, 37
    "     "  , imitated, 81
    " , green, 37, 50
    " , magenta, 36, 49, 87
    " , secret in Kurdistan carpets, 96


  Edges, should be overcast, 137

  Ends, importance of perfect, 136
    " , in Khorassan rugs, defective, 49
    " , should have corresponding borders, 136

  Experts, disagreement of, 56
     "   , no, 3


  Feraghan carpets, 96
     "        "   , small figures of, 97
     "     rugs, 52
     "      "  , characteristic design of, 29, 52
     "      "  ,      "           "    "   illustrated, 24

  Figures, _see_ Design

  Fringe of rugs, not for beauty, 135
    "    "   "  , trimming of, 136


  Geography of carpets and rugs, 79, 80

  Gheordez rug, 70, 71

  Gorovan carpets, 96

  Gulistan carpets, 97
     "     rugs, 56


  Hall rugs, desirable, 45, 93
    "   "  , Persian term for, 44

  Hamadan carpets, 98

  Holes in rugs, cause of, 133


  India carpets, 17

  Inscriptions on rugs and carpets, 121

  "Iran," as descriptive term, distinguished, 15
    "  ,  a trade term like "Anatolian," 73

  Ispahan rugs, 56


  Jewels, mats like, 74

  Joshghan rugs, 51, 52
     "      "  , like Ispahans, 57


  Kabistan rugs, 63
    "      "  , distinguished from Shirvans, 64

  Karabagh rugs, 64

  Kazak rugs, 65
    "    "  , plush of, 84

  Killims, 86, 87

  Khorassan rugs, 49

  "Kinari," Persian term for "hall rugs," 44

  Kirman rugs, 45-48

  Kirmanshah carpets, 95
      "      rugs, trade name for Kirmans, 48

  Kiz-Killims, _see_ Killims

  Knots, kinds of, 25
    "  , numbers of, 26

  Koniah rugs, 71
    "     "  , characteristic design of described, 72
    "     "  ,       "          "    "  illustrated, 26

  Koulah rugs, 71
    "     "  , characteristic border of described, 72
    "     "  ,       "          "    "  illustrated, 27

  Kurdish rugs distinguished from Kurdistans, 55

  Kurdistan carpets, 95, 96
      "     rugs, 55, 56

  Kurds, "a band of robbers," 55


  Ladik rugs, 72
    "    "  , characteristic border of described, 72
    "    "  ,       "          "    "  illustrated, 25

  Lamp, Aladdin's, 71

  Lamps like tea-pots in Koulahs, 72


  Malgara rugs, 88

  "Mats," Anatolian, 73, 74
     " , Beluchistan, 85

  "Mecca" rugs, doubtful term, 3
     "     "  , Shiraz, so called, 51

  Melez rugs, 74, 75

  Mohammedan dating, 125, 126

  Moth holes to be looked for in buying rugs, 133

  Moths to be guarded against, 140

  Mousul rugs, 53
    "     "  , shimmer of, 84

  Museums, best rugs in, 6
     "   , brown Bokharas only in, 81
     "   , guide-posts to, 73

  Mysterious inscriptions, 123

  Mystery of the rug, 2


  Names of rugs, 8, 9
    "   "   "  , commercial, 56
    "   "   "  , importance of, 14
    "   "   "  , unknown and fanciful, 14


  Oushak carpets, 98


  Pattern, _see_ Design

  Persia, inspiration drawn from, 69

  "Persian Iran," ignorant term, 15

  Persian, means splendour, 6

  Persian rugs, best to buy, 45
     "     "  , order of, 15

  Pile, depth of, in Mousuls, 84

  Pillow, shown by selvedge, 101

  Pillows, Sehna, 101

  Prayer rugs, 71
    "     "  , comb in, 135


  Rose, conventionalized, 53
   "  , Oriental origin, 54
   "  , Persian, 52

  Rugs, beating of, 137
   "  , cheap, uses and value of, 66
   "  , cleaning of, 137
   "  , firm, that lie well, desirable, 134
   "  , folding of, 141
   "  , holes in, 133
   "  , hung on wall, criticised, 102, 134
   "  , moths in, 140
   "  , much worn, to be avoided, 133
   "  , neglect of, 141
   "  , number annually imported, 114, 115, 116
   "  , painted or doctored, test for, 134
   "  , retail trade in, 113
   "  , tricks in selling, 135
   "  , washing of, 138, 139, 140
   "  , wholesale dealers in, 114, 117

  Russian, types of, in Caucasian rugs, 63, 65


  Saddle-bag, 98
    "     " , shown by selvedge, 101
    "     " , term confusing, 100

  Saddle-cloth, 102

  Samarkand rugs, 87

  Sarak rugs, 57

  Selvedge, cutting of in Beluchistans, 85
    "         "     "  "  Bergamas, 76
    "     of Bergamas, 84
    "     "  Beluchistans, 28
    "     "  Bokharas, 82
    "     "  pillows, 101
    "     "  saddle-bags, 101
    "     "  Yamoud Bokharas, 82
    "     should be trimmed, 135, 136

  Sehna rugs, 48, 49
    "   pillows, 101

  Serabend rugs, 50
     "      "  , characteristic border of, 29
     "      "  ,       "          "    illustrated, 50

  Shiraz donkey-bags, 98
     "   rugs, 51
     "    "  , defects of, 76

  Shirvan donkey-bags, 98
    "    rugs, 64
    "     "  , distinguished from Kabistan, 64

  Silk rugs, antique, 132
    "   "  , modern, to be avoided, 48, 132, 133

  Sizes of carpets, 44, 94
    "   "  rugs, 44
    "   "   "  , almost square, 82

  Smyrna carpets, 97, 98

  "Smyrna" carpets, so called, 98

  Soumac rugs, 86

  "Strips," or "Stair-rugs," proper name of, 44

  Sultanabad carpets, 97


  Tabriz carpets, 95
    "   rugs, 57

  Teheran rugs, 56

  Tjoshghan, _see_ Joshghan

  Tree, cypress, 75
    "   of Life, 46

  Trellis, rose, 53

  Turkestan rugs, 79
     "       "  , varieties of, 16
     "       "  ,     "     " , order of, 16
     "      weaves, like rubies, 70

  Turkoman rugs, 79

  Tzi-tzi, _see_ Chichi


  Washing of rugs, essential, 138
     "    "   "  , methods of, 139, 140

  Weaving, done by women, 22
     "   , method of, 24, 25

  Wholesale dealers, buyers from, 108

  Wool, camels', 131
    "   from young sheep, desirable, 132

  Wool has life, is sentient thing, 138
    "  , like plush in Kazaks, 84
    "  , soft and silky, in Beluchistans, 84


  Youraghan rugs, 51

  Yourdez, _see_ Gheordez

  Youruck rugs, 65



Footnote:

[1] This ancient four-flowered pattern appears in as many forms as the
loop or palm-leaf; but whatever bud or blossom may be modelled by the
weaver, the design retains its strong distinctive lines. It is shown on
the cover of this volume in one phase, and it appears in different form in
the plate of the Beluchistan rug.





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