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Title: Oriental Rugs - Antique and Modern
Author: Hawley, Walter A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: _COLOUR PLATE I_

_Section of the Holy Carpet of the Mosque of Ardebil, in the Royal
Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London. Described on Pages
83 and 84._]

by 17 ft. 6 in.


  I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold,
  My head has no protection other than this porchway;
  The work of the Slave of this Holy Place.

                                           Maksoud of Kashan.
                                                   946 A. H. = 1540 A. D.










Printed in U. S. A.


SINCE the appearance, in 1900, of the excellent work of Mr. John
Kimberly Mumford on Oriental Rugs, the public interest in these fabrics
has so largely increased that the author feels warranted in offering
this monograph, which aims to treat the subject in a way that will not
only appeal to the general reader but be of value to the student.

In the chapter entitled “Rug Weaving Before the XVIII Century” is a
brief review of some of the notable achievements in this branch of art;
and in order that the public may as far as possible have access to the
masterpieces described, the carpets on exhibition in the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York have been given unusual prominence. The
chapters on “How to Distinguish Rugs” and on “Purchasing Rugs” should
prove serviceable to those who are collecting or are buying for use; and
the chapter on “Weaving” contains many details which have not previously
received from connoisseurs the consideration they deserve.

The descriptions of all but the least important classes of rugs in the
Persian, Asia Minor, Caucasian, and Central Asiatic groups include not
only a general statement of their most striking features, but also a
technical analysis that is termed “Type Characteristics.” It should be
understood, however, that these characteristics are not invariable, but
are remarkably constant. They may interest chiefly those who aim to
acquire expert information, yet they will doubtlessly prove valuable to
every owner of a rug as a means for its identification.

It would be difficult to acknowledge all the assistance received by the
author since he began the study of rugs; for sometimes a mere suggestion
has started a line of investigation resulting in interesting
discoveries. He has freely consulted well-known authorities, who are
quoted in the body of the work; and has received valuable suggestions
and assistance from Messrs. T. S. Hawley, of Santa Barbara, Cal., George
Harootunian and Frank Loftus, of Los Angeles, Cal.; George Stevenson,
of New York; G. Graf, of the Persische Teppiche Gesellschaft, of Tabriz;
and P. de Andrea & Co., of Constantinople. He gratefully acknowledges
the permission of Messrs. C. F. Williams, of Norristown, Penn., and
James F. Ballard, of St. Louis, Mo., to study their valuable
collections; and the permission of Dr. Wilhelm R. Valentiner, Curator of
Decorative Arts in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, to examine the
carpets of the museum and to take photographs of them. He also wishes
particularly to mention the kindness of the following collectors and
firms who have allowed their rugs to be used for illustrations: Miss
Emily Davis, of Buffalo, N. Y.; the Misses Palache, and Messrs. Nathan
Bentz and T. S. Hawley, of Santa Barbara, Cal.; Mr. R. Y. Struble, of
Fredericktown, Ohio; Mr. E. L. Pierce, of Syracuse, N.Y.; Mr. H. C.
Merritt, of Pasadena, Cal.; Mr. J. F. Ballard, of St. Louis, Mo.; Mr. C.
F. Williams, of Norristown, Penn.; Major L. B. Lawton, U.S.A., of Seneca
Falls, N.Y.; Messrs. Mihran & Co., of Los Angeles, Cal.; Messrs. B.
Altman & Co., Benguiat & Keresey, Wm. Baumgarten & Co., Jones &
Brindisi, Jos. Wild & Co., W. & J. Sloane, and the Tiffany Studios, of
New York City. He is also indebted to Vincent Robinson & Co., Ltd., of
London, for the use of the colour plate of the Royal Garden Carpet, now
owned by them, and to the Royal Victoria and Albert Museum, South
Kensington, London, for permission to obtain a colour plate of the Holy
Carpet of the Mosque of Ardebil.


  NEW YORK, June, 1913.


  CHAPTER                                                   PAGE

     I INTRODUCTION                                           15

         LANDS                                                20

   III MATERIALS                                              30

    IV DYEING                                                 37

     V WEAVING                                                44

    VI DESIGNS AND SYMBOLS                                    58


  VIII CLASSIFICATION OF MODERN RUGS                          97

    IX PERSIAN RUGS                                          102

     X ASIA MINOR RUGS                                       163

    XI CAUCASIAN RUGS                                        197

   XII CENTRAL ASIATIC RUGS                                  233

  XIII INDIAN RUGS                                           253

   XIV CHINESE RUGS                                          263

    XV KILIMS                                                276

   XVI HOW TO DISTINGUISH RUGS                               282

  XVII PURCHASING RUGS                                       295

  INDEX                                                      309




     I The Holy Carpet of the Mosque of Ardebil    _Frontispiece_

    II Oushak Carpet                                          40

   III Mosul Rug                                              66

    IV Bergamo Rug                                           102

     V Ghiordes Prayer Rug                                   130

    VI Royal Persian Garden Carpet    _Between pages 160 and 161_

   VII Ladik Prayer Rug                                      190

  VIII Soumak Rug                                            210

    IX Samarkand Rug                                         240

     X Kang-hi Rug                                           270

    XI Keen-lung Rug                                         300


  Plate  1 Khorassan Rug                                      22

    ”    2 Meshed Rug                                         26

    ”    3 Kirman Rug                                         30

    ”    4 Shiraz Rug                                         34

    ”    5 Niris Rug                                          36

    ”    6 Feraghan Rug                                       42

    ”    7 Feraghan Rug                                       46

    ”    8 Hamadan Rug                                        52

    ”    9 Sarouk Rug                                         56

    ”   10 Sarabend Rug                                       58

    ”   11 Carpet from Northwestern Persia                    64

    ”   12 Carpet from Northwestern Persia                    68

    ”   13 Compartment Carpet                                 70

    ”   14 Persian Animal Carpet                              72

    ”   15 Persian Animal Carpet                              76

    ”   16 Persian Animal Carpet                              78

    ”   17 So-called Polish or Polonaise Carpet               80

    ”   18 So-called Ispahan                                  84

    ”   19 Armenian Carpet                                    86

    ”   20 Asia Minor Dragon and Phœnix Carpet                88

    ”   21 Portrait of Georg Gyze by Hans Holbein             92

    ”   22 Oushak Carpet                                      94

    ”   23 Sehna Rug                                          98

        Map of Persia                                        104

    ”   24 Bijar Rug                                         106

    ”   25 Kermanshah Rug                                    110

    ”   26 Kurdistan Rug with Mina Khani Pattern             114

    ”   27 Gorevan Rug                                       118

    ”   28 Bergamo Prayer Rug                                122

    ”   29 Ghiordes Prayer Rug                               126

    ”   30 Ghiordes Rug                                      132

    ”   31 Kulah Prayer Rug                                  136

    ”   32 Melez Prayer Rug                                  140

    ”   33 Melez Rug                                         144

    ”   34 Rhodian Rug                                       148

    ”   35 Konieh Prayer Rug                                 152

    ”   36 Kir-Shehr Prayer Rug                              154

    ”    E Primary Border-Stripes of Persian Rugs            156

    ”    F Secondary Border-Stripes of Persian Rugs          158

           Map of Asia Minor                                 164

    ”   37 Anatolian Prayer Rug                              166

    ”   38 Mudjar Prayer Rug                                 168

    ”   39 Daghestan Prayer Rug                              172

    ”   40 Kabistan Rug                                      176

    ”   41 Kuba Rug                                          180

    ”   42 Chichi Rug                                        184

    ”   43 Tcherkess Rug                                     188

    ”    G Primary Border-Stripes of Asia Minor Rugs         192

    ”    H Secondary Border-Stripes of Asia Minor Rugs       194

           Map of Caucasia                                   198

    ”   44 Baku Rug                                          200

    ”   45 Shirvan Rug                                       202

    ”   46 Soumak Rug                                        204

    ”   47 Kazak Prayer Rug                                  208

    ”   48 Kazak Rug                                         212

    ”   49 Karabagh Prayer Rug                               214

    ”   50 Gengha Prayer Rug                                 218

    ”   51 Royal Bokhara Rug                                 222

    ”   52 Princess Bokhara Rug                              224

    ”    I Primary Border-Stripes of Caucasian Rugs          226

    ”    J Primary Border-Stripes of Caucasian Rugs          228

    ”    K Secondary Border-Stripes of Caucasian Rugs        230

           Map of Turkestan                                  234

    ”   53 Turkoman Rug with Katchli Pattern                 236

    ”   54 Turkoman Rug with Pindé Pattern                   238

    ”   55 Turkoman Rug of the Salor Tribes                  244

    ”   56 Yomud Rug                                         248

    ”    L Primary and Secondary Border-Stripes of Central
             Asiatic Rugs                                    250

    ”   57 Beshire Prayer Rug                                254

    ”   58 Beshire Rug                                       258

    ”   59 Afghan Rug                                        260

    ”   60 Beluchistan Prayer Rug                            264

    ”   61 Turkoman Saddle-bags                              268

    ”    M Medallions in Chinese Rugs                        272

    ”    N Primary and Secondary Border-Stripes of
             Chinese Rugs.                                   274

    ”   62 Srinagar Rug                                      278

    ”   63 XVIII Century Chinese Rug                         282

    ”   64 Keen-lung Rug                                     286

    ”   65 Keen-lung Rug                                     292

    ”   66 Kurdish Prayer Kilim                              296


  Plate A An Upright Loom                                     45

    ”   B Technicalities of Weaving                           49

    ”   C Prayer Arches of Persian, Caucasian, and Centra
            Asiatic Rugs                                      61

    ”   D Prayer Arches of Asia Minor Rugs                    63

    ”   O General Designs                                    291


  Periods when Antique Carpets were made                      96

  Technicalities in the weave of Persian Rugs                161

  Technicalities in the weave of Persian Rugs                162

  Technicalities in the weave of Asia Minor Rugs             196

  Technicalities in the weave of Caucasian Rugs              232

  Technicalities in the weave of Central Asiatic Rugs        252






IT is not altogether surprising that in a most materialistic age many of
a race distinguished more for its utilitarian than artistic
accomplishments should fail to see in Oriental carpets high artistic
expression; yet during the last twenty years choice specimens have been
sold for sums which not only are very large, but show a tendency to
increase with each succeeding year. In 1893 a woollen rug, known as the
Ardebil carpet and regarded, on account of its beautiful designs and
exquisite colours, as one of the finest products of Oriental art, was
purchased for the South Kensington Museum. Since it had a length of
thirty-four and a half feet with a breadth of seventeen and a half, the
price of £2500, which was the sum paid, was at the rate of twenty
dollars per square foot. At an auction sale in New York in 1910,[1] a
woollen rug five and a half feet long by three and three quarters wide
was sold for the sum of $10,200, or at the rate of four hundred and
ninety-one dollars per square foot; and a silk rug seven feet and two
inches long by six feet and four inches wide was sold for the sum of
$35,500, or at the rate of nine hundred and thirty dollars per square
foot. As it was the general opinion of connoisseurs that the prices paid
for these two rugs were low, and as it is well known that these rugs are
not more valuable than some others of equal size, it is not unreasonable
to assume that many of the best judges of Oriental rugs would declare
that at the present time the sum of five hundred dollars per square foot
is a fair price for some antique woollen rugs, and the sum of one
thousand dollars per square foot a fair price for some antique silk

If these judges were asked on what they based their opinion of the value
of these old pieces, which are less serviceable for wear than new rugs
that can be bought of an American factory at twenty cents per square
foot, they might with reason reply that they are works of art, woven in
those days when Michelangelo, Titian, Rubens, and Rembrandt were busy in
their studios; that they are as scarce as the paintings of these
masters; and that they might justly be compared with them in beauty and
artistic execution. Though granting that the technique of weaving makes
it impossible to represent a design as perfectly as can be done with a
brush, they would claim that the drawing of dainty vines, scrolls, and
arabesques was often represented by lines that in abstract beauty of
form are unsurpassed, and that no artist had ever produced from his
palette colours which equalled in brilliant sheen and marvellously
changing hue those of the woven masterpieces.

Whoever is inclined to disagree with these judges and with those art
critics of Europe and America who assert that in an aesthetic sense the
people of the Orient are cultured to a standard beyond the comprehension
of the Western world, should remember that the taste for any kind of art
is based on convention and is largely a matter of cultivation. The
Occidental, who for generations has cultivated the taste for paintings
and statuary, looks to the painter and sculptor for the highest
expression of artistic genius; but the Oriental takes greater delight in
his marvellous creations of porcelain or woven fabrics. There is, too, a
marked difference in treatment. The Occidental demands that in art
“everything should be stated with the utmost fullness of a tedious
realism before he can grasp its meaning”[2] and fails to recognise the
more subtle beauty of various forms of Oriental art. The Oriental, on
the other hand, is far less realistic and is better satisfied if his
subject suggests abstract qualities that depend for their fullest
appreciation on those quickening experiences that at different times
have touched the soul of the observer. Moreover, as Buddhism, which
prevails in many of the countries of Asia, teaches that a universal
spirit is manifested in each form of nature, determining its character,
and a similar idea pervades other religions of the East, the highest aim
of Asiatic art is to express that inner spirit. It is largely this
difference in artistic cultivation that accounts for the difference in
taste. Whoever then would fully appreciate these rugs must view them
not only with an eye trained to see the beautiful harmonies of colour
and design, but with the artistic temperament of the Oriental.

By study and cultivation the European as well as the American is growing
to value more highly the products of Oriental art. When the old sea
captains carried on trade with Japan, they imported into Europe large
quantities of Imari ware, which the Japanese purposely decorated with
crude and vulgar colours to meet the less refined taste of the
Europeans, who regarded many of them as fine specimens of ceramic art
and studiously copied them in their factories. But so great has been the
change in artistic taste since then that now they are valued principally
as objects of curiosity. Likewise, many beautiful Japanese Makimonos, in
which a few strong lines gave but a hint of the essential thought,
formerly passed before the eyes of Europeans as the paintings of
semi-barbarians. But now we begin to see, as did Whistler, that they are
often the products of great genius and that they express thought and
feeling with marvellous power. There has been a similar growth in the
appreciation of Oriental rugs. Even within the last generation this
growth has been apparent, so that the few who wisely bought those old
worn pieces which thirty years ago hung at doors of little shops where
dark-faced foreigners invited acquaintance, are now the envy of the many
who, too late, have learned that to-day they can scarcely be bought at
any price.

The more we study the several fields of art in the Orient, the better we
realise the wonderful creative genius of its people and learn to value
the products of any one field. Japan has awakened the admiration of the
highest art critics for its bronzes, some of which exceed in size any
other castings in the world, and for its netsukés, which are the
smallest of carvings. Its blades of steel are superior to those of
Damascus and Toledo; and its lacquer, which is the most wonderful of its
artistic products, displays genius of a very high order. To China, a
country that we often regard as barbarous, we owe the invention of
silks, the printing press, and gunpowder; yet it is in porcelain, that
was manufactured even in those days when Caesar was marching with his
legions against the barbarous races of Central and Northern Europe, that
China has surpassed the world and set a standard that probably will
never again be reached. In the land where glide the Indus and the Ganges
stand temples, erected by the descendants of the house of Tamerlane,
before which the beholder, even if familiar with the wonders of St.
Peter’s, is lost in admiration of the intricate delicacy of detail, the
majesty of proportions, and the gorgeous splendour of colour with which
some of the spirit of the East is expressed in material form. When we
realise that in these different lines of artistic effort the genius of
Asia has rivalled and surpassed that of Europe and America, we become
the better prepared to believe that choice specimens of woven fabrics,
in weaving which every class of every country of Asia has been engaged
from time immemorial, are to be regarded as works of the highest art.

However pleasing the design or elaborate the detail, it is principally
in the colouring that these rugs claim our interest and admiration. The
colours which are derived from vegetable or animal dyes grow more mellow
and beautiful with passing years, and applied to wools of finest texture
acquire a lustre and softness which in the choicest specimens are like
the radiant throat of a humming bird, or tints at the close of an autumn
day. The different shades have different moods, expressing peace, joy,
pensiveness, sorrow, the deep meaning of which the Oriental mind with
its subtle and serious imagination has grasped as has none other.
Moreover, in all truly fine pieces there is perfect harmony of tone. It
is in this richness, suggestiveness, and harmony that the greatest
artistic value lies.

That all do not appreciate these qualities is not because they do not
exist; for the keen perception of colour, like the keen perception of
music, is a faculty granted to one person but denied to another. Even to
those who take delight in colour there are different degrees of
appreciation. “The fact is,” said John Ruskin, “we none of us enough
appreciate the nobleness and sacredness of colour.” But as the ear can
be cultivated to a higher taste for music, so can the eye be cultivated
to a higher taste for colour; and to fully appreciate the beauties of
Oriental rugs it is necessary to develop this faculty to its fullest

And yet it is not alone as works of art that Oriental rugs interest us.
They suggest something of the life and religious thought of the people
who made them. Some seem redolent with the fragrance of flowers, others
reflect the spirit of desert wastes and wind-swept steppes. So, too, in
the colours and designs of some appear the symbols of that mysticism
with which the minds of the followers of Zoroaster in their effort to
commune with the unseen forces of the universe were imbued; and though
the original meaning of many of these symbols has been forgotten, the
study of others leads to a better understanding of the life-thought of
the weavers.

Realising, then, that Asia has been the cradle from which has come the
highest expression of many forms of artistic achievement, and that the
Western mind is now assigning to its woven fabrics their proper place in
the galleries of art, we may begin the study of Oriental rugs with the
assurance that the further it is pursued the greater will be the
appreciation and delight. It will take us among strange and interesting
people, and over fields that were historic grounds before the walls of
Rome were built. It will lead beyond the dome of St. Sophia to the land
of the Arabian tales, where the splendour of former days is reflected in
tomb and mosque, and where, perhaps, when the Western world grows old,
there will rise again from crumbling ruins another nation that will
revive the poetic and artistic genius of the East with all the majesty
and creative power of the past.



THE artistic character of Oriental rugs, like every other artistic
impulse, is subject to the influence of physical environment. This
influence is not alone that to which an individual weaver has been
subjected, but is the transmitted effect of the accumulated experiences
of many generations. It appears in the colours which simulate tones
displayed by varying phases of nature, and also in the designs or
symbols which, derived from older types by a long process of evolution,
partially reflect feelings engendered in a people of highly imaginative
and poetic temperament by long contact with elemental forces. Moreover,
the quality of material used depends almost exclusively on the climate
and physical conditions of countries where it is produced. Accordingly,
the artistic and essential characteristics of rugs are better understood
by a knowledge of the salient physical features of the countries where
they are woven.[3]

The principal Oriental countries that continue to produce rugs are
China, India, Afghanistan, Beluchistan, Persia, Turkestan, Caucasia, and
Asia Minor. As all of them are contiguous, they may be regarded as a
geographic unit; and though there is much diversity of detail, there is
also much in common. From near the western boundary of Asia Minor a vast
plateau stretches eastward into Central Asia, increasing in altitude
towards the east.

Its mean elevation in Asia Minor is from two thousand to three thousand
feet, and as it extends beyond the Zagros Mountains and crosses the
northern half of Persia, it rises from four thousand to five thousand
feet. Continuing eastward through Southern Turkestan and Afghanistan it
increases in altitude until it has risen to nearly twelve thousand feet
in the lofty table-lands of Central Asia, where it begins to descend as
it extends farther into the desert of Gobi. From the western part of
this plateau a spur extends northward between the Black and Caspian
seas, to form the high table-land of Caucasia, which has a mean elevation
of about seven thousand feet.

The general topographic features of this plateau include great stretches
of comparatively level land, broad tracts from which there is no
drainage to the sea, and sandy desert wastes. On almost every side it is
bounded by mountain chains and is intersected by transverse ridges that
lift still higher peaks where rests the perpetual snow. Throughout the
deserts and large parts of the table-lands the rainfall is slight, so
that there are but few important river courses.

The cultivated portions of this vast area are relatively small, and
consist largely of strips of land in fertile valleys, through which flow
perennial streams. From time immemorial these streams have been used for
irrigation, and the inhabitants of the districts have prospered by
abundant harvests. In one or another of these valleys have been built
the principal cities, within the walls of which were imposing temples
that stimulated religious fervour, schools of learning to quicken the
intellect, and gardens where perfumed flowers and the songs of birds
delighted the aesthetic senses. In these cities science, philosophy,
religion, and art received their highest development. In them lived the
most skilled artisans and artists of the Orient; and the products of the
loom were of the finest quality.

Beyond these valleys are great stretches of uncultivated tracts
consisting of plains, hills, and mountains. Some of these tracts are
naturally fertile and could be made productive, but at present are used
only for pasturage, and over them numberless tribes of fierce nomads
drive their flocks of sheep. On the other hand, where the land has no
drainage to the sea, so that the streams and rivers that flow into it
empty into small lakes or are finally absorbed, the soil becomes
impregnated with alkali deposited from the waters, and the grass is
scanty. There are also sandy wastes of great extent where scarcely any
animal life can exist. Moreover in many parts of the country the rain
falls only during a few months of the year, and more abundantly in the
higher altitudes, so that the nomads are constantly searching for fresh
pasturage, and moving from the lowlands, where the grass dies after the
rainy season, to the higher altitudes, from which they return again at
the approach of winter. So numerous are the flocks that in the struggle
for pasture the weaker tribes are driven to the poorer land.

The pastoral life, the necessity of moving from place to place, the
strife resulting from the difference in quality of pasture, have
affected the temperament and character of the people. The boundless
stretches of land, the clear atmosphere, the burning desert sands, the
delicate mirage, and the starry heavens, have made men hospitable,
thoughtful, devotional; constant wanderings have made them independent;
the struggle for pasturage has made them lawless and cruel. These
qualities are reflected to some extent in their woven fabrics, which
lack the high artistic finish of those woven in cities. A large
proportion of them are prayer rugs and contain symbols of the sun and
fire worship. The designs are barbaric, and many are doubtless the same
as those used hundreds of years ago. The colours of the old pieces,
woven on upland plains or in mountain fastnesses, blend less
harmoniously than those woven by more cultured weavers; but they
frequently possess rich, pure tones, which are no longer seen in the
modern rugs. As even a partial expression of the thoughts and feelings
of a people, there are no rugs from the Orient more worthy of study than
the rare old pieces woven by nomadic tribes.

Not only physical environment but the conquests of foreign enemies, as
well as political struggles at home, have had an important influence on
all art. It will be of interest, therefore, to briefly review the
histories of Central and Southwestern Asia, where rugs have been made
for over three thousand years, in order to understand the different
racial influences which have affected their artistic development.

[Illustration: PLATE 1. KHORASSAN RUG]

In the rich valleys near the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates dwelt in
the remote past a race of unknown origin called Sumerians, and to the
north of them lived another people known as the Accadians. These races
built canals, cultivated the soil, established towns, and invented the
cuneiform writing. They lived in harmony with one another, and
continued to prosper until about 3000 B.C., when the Semitic race of the
Chaldees, appearing from an unknown land, subdued them. The Chaldees,
however, allowed the conquered races to retain part of their lands,
adopted their civilisation, and about the year 2500 B.C. built the city
of Babylon, the foundation of which biblical students claim was laid by
the mighty hunter Nimrod. By cultivating the surrounding country, by
developing its trade and commerce, the Babylonians became a wealthy and
powerful nation; and by encouraging manufactures, art, and science, they
became noted for their delicate fabrics, magnificent temples, and
knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.

About the year 2000 B.C. a number of tribesmen, among whom was Abraham,
migrated with their flocks to the upper valleys of the Tigris and
founded Nineveh. A century later the land occupied by colonists who
settled about Nineveh was known as Assyria. It increased in numbers and
in power until, in 1300 B.C., it gained its first victory over Babylon;
and during the next four hundred years, though meeting with occasional
reverses, it extended its rule over Babylonia, Asia Minor, and Assyria,
and received tribute even from Egypt. It thus became the first great
conquering power in Southwestern Asia. In their magnificent palaces of
Nineveh, surrounded by luxury, the rulers of Assyria were resting in
supposed security when a powerful and unexpected enemy appeared from the
land now known as Persia.

When the valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates were inhabited by
Sumerians and Accadians, Iran, which included modern Persia, was
similarly inhabited by races of unknown origin. Subsequently, but at an
exceedingly remote period, from the region about the Oxus river in
Western Asia two branches of the great Aryan family migrated to Iran.
One of these, which settled in the northern part, was known as the
Medes; the other, which settled in the southern part, was known as the
Persians. Both Medes and Persians subdued the native races and in the
course of centuries constructed powerful empires. The former were the
first to extend their conquests, and forming an alliance with the
viceroy of Babylon they attacked Nineveh in the year 606 B.C. and
destroyed it. Babylon now became the mistress of all Mesopotamia, and
under Nebuchadnezzar it was enlarged to cover an area of one hundred
square miles, and surrounded by walls three hundred feet high. These
walls enclosed parks, orchards, gardens, and a city that soon became
famous for its palaces, its temple of Bel, and its Hanging Gardens.

While Babylon was rising in power changes were occurring in Iran. Cyrus,
leader of the Persians, instigated a revolt against the Medes and
conquered them. But not satisfied with making the Persians rulers of
Iran he extended his conquests westward, and in the year 538 B.C., by
diverting the waters of the Euphrates, surprised Belshazzar in his
banquet hall and became master of Babylonia. The complete subjection of
all Asia Minor followed, and for the next two centuries the warlike
Persians were the dominant power in Western Asia. But in the year 331
B.C., when Alexander the Great defeated their armies under Darius, the
Persian Empire melted away.

Whether in Egypt or China or by the Tigris the art of weaving first took
definite form, it was in this land of Babylon and Nineveh, of the Medes
and the Persians, of Abraham, Belshazzar, and Cyrus, where a few
remaining monuments attest the delicate textiles of those early days,
that in more recent ages have been woven the most perfect carpets of
which there is any knowledge.

During the succeeding five hundred years Persia, Asia Minor, Caucasia,
and Syria became the prey of the Parthians, Greeks, and Romans, to whom
petty tribes, recognising no sovereign power and secure in their
mountain fastnesses, bade occasional defiance. About the year 226 A. D.
an able leader of one of the Persian tribes founded the dynasty of the
Sassanides, which during the reign of Chosroes (531-579 A. D.) and his
grandson Chosroes II (590-628 A. D.) ruled over the country from the Oxus
on the north to Arabia and Egypt on the south, and from India on the
east to Assyria on the west. This was a period of prosperity and luxury,
the glory of which continued until the middle of the VII Century, when
it was overthrown by a new power rising from a most unexpected quarter.

In the inhospitable land of Arabia, noted for its coffee, dates, and
myrrh, for its dreary, sandy, waterless wastes, a land hitherto almost
unknown in history, Mohammed promulgated the religion which, suited to
the temperament and desires of the Bedouins, united them into a fanatic,
militant body of conquerors. After his death his successors, known as
the Caliphs, extended his conquests. Their successful armies quickly
overran Persia and overthrew the Sassanian rule; then marching northward
into Turkestan and as far east as the Indus they overcame all
resistance. From the Greeks, by whom they were known as the Saracens,
they snatched Palestine and Syria, and invading Egypt, conquered it
after the long stubborn siege of Alexandria. A little later the Arabs
became masters of Northern Africa, and settling there intermarried with
the native races. Near the Straits of Gibraltar their African
descendants, known as the Moors, crossed to Spain, where in the year 711
they vanquished a powerful army that opposed them. During the following
year they subdued all of that country and began an invasion of Northern
Europe. But on the rich pasture lands near Tours, where the infantry of
Charles Martel met the Mussulman cavalry in one of the most decisive
battles of history, they were defeated with terrible slaughter and
Christian Europe was saved.

These conquests of the Mohammedans had not only a political and
religious significance, but also an important influence on art at a time
when Europe was sunk in ignorance and barbarism. Fond of magnificence
and luxury, the Caliphs founded great capitals in Assyria, Egypt, and
Spain, and built palaces that have histories which sound like fairy
tales. Bagdad on the banks of the Tigris, with its sixteen hundred
canals, one hundred and five bridges, and nearly a million people, with
its countless baths, its many thousand mosques, and its royal palace,
where was collected the best of Asiatic taste, elegance, and splendour,
possessed more grandeur than any other city in the world. Gibbon states
that within the palace, furnished with Oriental luxury, hung
thirty-eight thousand pieces of tapestry, one third of which were of
silk embroidered with gold, and that on the floors lay twenty-two
thousand carpets. In Cairo and in Cordova, likewise, the Caliphs
surrounded themselves with similar splendour, of which, unfortunately,
but few traces now exist; but the Castle of the Alhambra still remains
as a powerful reminder of their taste and artistic genius. It is largely
to the influence of this race that were due many of the beautiful
Spanish rugs such as Queen Eleanor in the XIII Century took to England
from Cordova and Granada, as well as those of other periods. Moreover,
in some of the choicest pieces of Asia Minor and Persia, woven during
the XVI and XVII Centuries, are traces of this early Saracenic art.

For about five centuries the militant power of these Mohammedans was
dominant in Southwestern Asia when another conquering race appeared. The
great wall of China, which was built over two hundred years before
Christ by the famous Che-Hwang-te, to protect it against the invasions
of the Tartars, turned westward many wandering hordes from the more
fertile pastures and valleys of Southeastern Asia. One of these hordes
was of Turks, who, leaving their homes near the sources of the Irtish
and Yenisei rivers in the Altai Mountains, settled in Turkestan. Many
centuries afterwards, to escape from other hordes pressing westward and
to reach fresh pastures, different branches of them migrated southward
and westward. About the year 1000 A. D. one of these branches known as
the Seljukian Turks gained a foothold in Persia, and under Malek Shah,
in 1072, made Ispahan its capital. About the same time it extended its
power over Asia Minor and overran Georgia, where it destroyed the
capital Tiflis after slaughtering the inhabitants. To this Turkoman race
should probably be accredited the earliest Mongolian influence on
Persian textile art.

Somewhat later a people numbering forty thousand tents were ranging that
part of Mongolia which lies north of the desert of Gobi in search of
pasture and water. One of their number gathered about him a few
followers, and by his own genius gained the ascendency over his tribes.
He then allied himself with another powerful tribe, and reducing to
obedience all the Mongolians who dwelt north of the desert of Gobi, in
1206, in the presence of his chiefs, he assumed the title of Genghis
Khan. After becoming the ruler of millions of nomads of the great
central plateau of Asia and conquering part of China, which was then
enjoying a period of great wealth and prosperity, he invaded Western
Asia. Bokhara offered no resistance and might have been spared, but
learning that some of the Sultan’s garrison were concealed he ordered
the city to be burned. Samarkand, which surrendered after three days’
siege, was pillaged and the inhabitants were slaughtered. Herat appeased
his anger by opening its gates. Even his death did not stop the ravages
of the Mongol horde that captured and sacked Bagdad, and, crossing the
Tigris and Euphrates, pillaged all Asia Minor. In 1258, Hulaku Khan,
grandson of Genghis, conquered Persia and established his capital in the
province of Azerbijan, where his descendants ruled for over a century.

[Illustration: PLATE 2. MESHED RUG]

With these invasions another wave of Mongolian influence was felt in
Western Asia. Whatever may have been the effect on local art by the
settlement of the Seljukian Turks in Persia and Asia Minor during the
early part of the XI Century, it was inappreciable as compared with
that of Genghis Khan and his followers. For the influence of Bagdad over
Southwestern Asia was like that of Rome over the empire of the Cæsars,
and when in the middle of the XIII Century it was plundered for forty
days, and other important cities of Asia Minor and Persia similarly
treated, there was no longer the same incentive to work, so that art for
a time languished. But in some cities the artistic spirit of the people
prevailed over the loss of independence, and the more skilled workmen
were encouraged by their new masters, who, recognising the beauty of the
Persian carpets, sent many Persian artists to China and brought many
Chinese artists to Persia, that the different races might derive
advantages from the instruction of one another. It is therefore not
surprising that from this time the influence of Chinese art has been
recognised in the woven fabrics and metal work made in the southwestern
part of Asia. In fact, the Chinese motive known as the “key pattern,” as
well as other less familiar designs of distinctly Mongolian origin,
appeared for the first time in some of the carpets and metal work of
this period.

Like Turkestan, Asia Minor has been one of the great battle-grounds of
the world. During parts of the XI, XII, and XIII Centuries not only
Seljukian Turks, but Mongols and Ottoman Turks under Murad and Bajazet,
rose in influence until all Asia Minor, as well as Thrace and Macedonia,
was subject to them. But still another power from the far East was to
overrun Asia and divert Bajazet from the walls of Constantinople.

Under Tamerlane, the descendant of Genghis Khan, the Mongol hordes were
again united and again attempted the conquest of the world. From the
walls of China to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the Steppes of
Turkestan to the Arabian deserts, his victorious armies overcame all
opposition. Never was conqueror more rapacious, more bloodthirsty. At
Ispahan, seventy thousand inhabitants were slain. Georgia was laid waste
and the people were massacred. In 1401, Bagdad was besieged and, when
taken, a pyramid of ninety thousand human victims was raised as a
monument to the Tartar conqueror. In the following year, when the armies
of Bajazet and Tamerlane met on the plains near Angora, the Turks were
defeated and Bajazet was captured. But now the tide of Mongol invasion
receded; and laden with spoils Tamerlane returned to his capital at
Samarkand, where he enjoyed the remaining years of his life by
surrounding himself with a brilliant court and by building palaces and
temples, which he adorned with royal splendour. With all his atrocious
barbarities he had a higher appreciation of art than his Mongolian
predecessors. At his capital were assembled skilled artisans from
Eastern and Western Asia; and there at the beginning of the XIV Century
European travellers saw innumerable art treasures, including carpets of
wonderful workmanship and beauty.

The Mongol power also gained an important foothold in India. This
country, like Iran, had been subjugated by a branch of the Aryan race,
which conquered the native Dravidians, and remained dominant until the
VII and VIII Centuries. Then the Mohammedans invaded it, and were still
in ascendency when Tamerlane crossed the mountains and attacked Delhi.
After the lapse of more than a hundred years his descendants, Baber,
Akbar, and Shah Jahan, rose to power. The magnificence of their courts
and the splendour of the temples which they built stimulated Indian art;
and under the instruction of Persian artisans, who were induced to
settle in that country, the natives attained their highest skill in

With the death of Tamerlane, in 1405, the Ottoman power in Persia and
Asia Minor rose again, and Turkish victories followed in quick
succession until in 1453 Constantinople fell and the church of St.
Sophia became a mosque.

After the lapse of half a century Shah Ismael of the family of the
Safavids defeated the Turkomans in 1502, and founded a new dynasty in
Persia. With his rise began one of the most splendid periods in its
history. Within a few years victories extended his empire from the
Euphrates river to Afghanistan and from the Oxus to the Persian gulf.
This was the land of ancient Iran, over which from his court at Ardebil
he ruled until his death. In the early part of the reign of Shah Tamasp,
which lasted from 1524 to 1576, the new dynasty was threatened by the
Turkish ruler, Soliman the Magnificent, after he had taken Rhodes from
the Knights of St. John and invaded Southern Europe. In 1534 he captured
Bagdad and Tabriz, as well as conquered Shirvan and Georgia.[4] But the
lost territory was soon regained and the new Persian capital was
established at Tabriz where, as will be seen later, were woven many of
the greatest masterpieces of Persian textile fabrics. Much as these
monarchs had accomplished, it was Shah Abbas the Great who, after ten
years of internal strife, succeeded by expelling the Turks from Persia,
restoring tranquillity, and establishing commerce, in elevating his
country from one of devastation and confusion to one of greatness such
as it had not known for many ages. He transferred his court to Ispahan,
where, while adding to the magnificence of the city, he encouraged art
even to the extent of sending to Italy, for study, a number of the most
skilled artists of Persia. These in time returned and exerted an
influence that appeared in the more elaborate designs of carpets of a
subsequent period. It is also probable that he rendered valuable
assistance to Akbar of India in founding carpet-weaving in that country.
He ruled from 1586 to 1628. This period, during which America was a
wilderness and England under Queen Elizabeth was still struggling with
the feudal system, was the golden age of Persian history and Persian
art; but with his death the Safavid dynasty declined and art decadence

In 1722, the Afghans conquered Persia and for a number of years ruled it
with horrible cruelty; but they were finally defeated by Nadir Shah, who
captured Herat in 1731, extended his dominion into Georgia, and
recovered some of the lost territory from the Turkish Empire in the
West. After his death the sovereignty of Persia again waned, until in
time it was confined to its present limits.

It thus appears that from the earliest times recorded in history the
southwestern part of Asia has been subject to invasion, and to constant
struggles between the different races of the East for supremacy. Even
from the desert of Gobi, the flanks of the Altai Mountains, and the
deserts of Arabia have poured forth armies to devastate the land. One
victorious power after another has extended its sway from the banks of
the Indus to the shores of the Mediterranean. The result is that the
present Oriental textile art is of a composite character, which can be
understood only by taking into consideration the value of these racial
influences that have contributed to it some of its most interesting and
subtle charms.



AS was the case with the earliest shepherd weavers, many nomads living
in unfrequented parts of Asia spin the wool taken from their own flocks,
then colour it with dyes brewed from roots and herbs that they have
personally gathered, and finally weave it according to well-known
patterns into fabrics. But in large, enlightened communities the
manufacture of an Oriental rug involves a division of labour. From the
shepherds the professional dyers obtain the wool, which, after
colouring, they sell to weavers; and these in turn often receive their
patterns from others. A knowledge of these separate steps involving the
industries of producing the different materials and the crafts of
dyeing, weaving, and designing is essential to a full understanding of
any Oriental woven fabric.

The materials that were formerly used in weaving were generally of
animal origin, such as the wool of sheep, goats, and camels. To a more
limited extent silk and cotton also were used, and occasionally hair of
the yak, cow, and even human hair. In later years, when there arose a
western demand for eastern fabrics so that the aim of the weaver was to
produce an article as cheaply as possible, flax, hemp, jute, and larger
quantities of cotton were sometimes substituted. Since all of these
materials are indigenous to the country where they are used, and are
affected by its climate, altitude, humidity, and fertility, they acquire
qualities that frequently give to rugs a distinctly local character.

[Illustration: PLATE 3. KIRMAN RUG]

The wool of sheep constitutes the warp and weft of at least half the
Oriental rugs and the pile of over ninety per cent. To be sure, in Japan
the pile is largely jute and cotton; in a few of the districts of Asia
Minor and Persia it is mercerised cotton or silk; and in districts where
the camel is still a beast of burden its wool and fine hair are often
substituted for other kinds; but throughout all the rug-weaving
countries of the East the wool of the sheep has been and still is
preferred to all other materials for the pile of rugs. This is due not
alone to its warmth, to the facility with which it can be spun and
twisted into knots, but also to the fact that from the remotest times
the inhabitants of these districts, like Abraham of old, have been
shepherds, who followed their calling because over the steppes of
Tartary and the great plateaus that extend through Asia Minor, Persia,
Afghanistan, and Turkestan spread vast pasture lands that seem better
suited than any other parts of the world for the nourishment of sheep
with fine fleeces. In fact, a part of these districts seems to be the
natural habitat of the sheep; for among the crags of some of the lofty
mountain chains of Central Asia, and farther west where Eastern and
Western Turkestan meet in the lofty plateau of Pamir, called the “Roof
of the World,” still wander great bands of magnificent native sheep with
enormous horns and brownish grey wool, from which it is believed sprang
the vast flocks that now browse on every hill and mountain slope of
Western Asia.

Centuries of care have effected an important evolution in this native
stock, for in no other part of the world are there sheep with longer and
more silky fleeces. Nevertheless there are different grades, as the
quality depends in a measure on the climate and pasturage as well as on
the care of the sheep. Thus in the hot, sandy lands the wool shows some
deterioration; but in the cold, dry climates of the many high lands of
Western Asia and in the pastures of particular localities the wool is
long, fine, and lustrous. For instance, in parts of Khorassan, on the
flanks of high mountains near Kirman and Shiraz, on the shores of Lake
Niris in Farsistan, among the rolling uplands of Asia Minor, are
produced uncommonly fine and beautiful fleeces. When, moreover, the
sheep of these localities receive the care that is given by some of the
nomadic tribes, as the Uzbeck Tartars, who not only shelter them but
cover them with blankets, the wool acquires a soft and silky quality
that is unsurpassed. The wool produced in many parts of India, on the
other hand, is poor; for not only are the serrations, on which largely
depends its value for textile purposes, less numerous than in better
varieties, but it is harsh and contains many long hairs that do not well
unite with it and that take up very little dye.

The wool of the goat is much less extensively used, yet appears in some
rugs, not only as warp and weft, but also as pile. The goats of
Kashmir, which live in the cold climate of a table-land three miles above
the ocean level, produce the finest and most beautiful wool; but as it
grows near the skin, and beneath wiry hairs from which it can be removed
only with tedious care, it is too precious to be used excepting for the
most beautiful shawls and choicest carpets. Of next importance and
finest texture is the wool of the Angora goat, known to commerce as
mohair. Formerly there was not much demand for it, but now, on account
of the consideration that it has received in the carpet factories of
recent Sultans, it is found in many of the rugs of Asia Minor. As it
grows to an average length of five to six inches it is easily spun; and
its soft, lustrous sheen gives to the rugs in which it is used a silky
and brilliant appearance. Some of the Bokhara goats, also, yield fine
wool that is used in rugs. Yet, as a rule, yarn made from the fleece of
the goat is not regarded with favour by weavers, since it is apt to be
coarse and to pack closely. Nor does the wool of the goat mix well with
the wool of the sheep. There is, however, a much finer grade growing
next to the skin, which may be removed with a knife when it is exposed
by combing the longer fleece in a direction reverse to that in which it
lies. The tougher grades are preferred to any other material by weavers
of the Afghanistan, Beluchistan, and some Turkoman rugs for selvages at
the sides, as they afford excellent protection against hard usage.
Goat’s hair is also sometimes used in these rugs for warp. Unless mixed
with wool it is very rarely used for weft, as it is not sufficiently

Of more frequent use than the wool of the goat is the wool of the camel
which grows close to the skin beneath the long hair. In the tropical
countries, as in Soudan, the camel has no wool, but in more northern
latitudes it yields a crop which increases in quantity and improves in
quality as the climate grows colder. Thus in Arabia, Asia Minor, and in
most of Persia and Turkestan the yield is small, in the table-lands of
Eastern Persia and Afghanistan it is much larger, and on the lofty
plateaus of Turkestan and Chinese Tartary as much as ten pounds of wool
is obtained yearly from each beast. The clip is taken at the usual
moulting season during the spring of the year. The wool of the older
camels is coarse and dark, what is taken from the young is finer and
lighter, and the most silky and valuable of all is what is obtained from
the unborn. The best grade has been more highly esteemed than the wool
of any other animal, and rugs in which it constitutes the pile are more
valuable than those in which the wool of sheep is used. It is seldom
woven in modern rugs, but dyed wool or goats’ hair of similar colour is
often substituted for it.

The wool or underhair of the yak is used only among the mountain tribes
of Tartary, and is never found in any of the choicer grades of rugs.
Occasionally the hair of the horse or cow is employed to a limited
extent in the pile of nomadic rugs, where it may be distinguished by its
coarse and wiry character. In old rugs of which the pile is much worn
cows’ hair will now and then protrude like the hairs of small bristle
brushes. Only very rarely is human hair seen in a rug.

Natural colours of the several kinds of wool, which have made it
possible to dispense with their dyeing, have always been taken advantage
of by weavers. The only black yarn on which the wear of time has left no
impress is from the fleece of the proverbially despised black sheep.
Shades of white, ivory, brown, grey, rufus, and even a plum are obtained
from different varieties. Likewise a wide range of rich chestnut colours
are furnished by the camel.

It is but natural that the nomad should depend on the wool of his flocks
and herds for warp, weft, and pile; but people of fixed habitations have
employed other kinds of material also. Where the sensuous luxury of the
East called for magnificent carpets, they were often woven almost
entirely of silk, which was easily obtained, as silkworms thrive on the
mulberry trees that grow wild on the plains of Central and Southwestern
Asia. Silk rugs are still woven in a few cities of Asia Minor and
Persia. For the cheaper grades of rugs flax, hemp, and jute have been
sparingly used; and during recent years cotton has been widely adopted,
particularly in Persian, Indian, and Chinese rugs, on account of its
cheapness as compared with wool. It is, however, almost entirely as warp
and weft and rarely as pile that it is used. Though much less durable
than wool, its white colour is far less likely to darken with age; yet
there is a poorer variety which, after being thoroughly wet, acquires a
dark colour.

In the preparation of these different textile materials wool requires
the greatest care. In some parts of the Orient it is not washed, and the
lustrous hues of the pile are attributed to the fact that it is dyed in
its naturally greasy state; but in other parts the grease and dirt are
carefully removed. This cleansing is a craft that has been transmitted
from parent to child, and is practised according to different methods
in different parts of the country. One of the chief essentials is an
abundance of clear running water free from alkali; for when the water is
hard, as is often the case in the more arid parts of the country, it
loses some of its cleansing properties, and potash or other chemicals
are required to counter-act this unfavourable quality. After the wool
has been thoroughly washed it is carefully dried in the sun and open

The next important step is the proper sorting, picking, and combing. The
sorting consists of the separation of black and light wool, or of an
inferior from a better grade; and the picking consists of the removal of
burrs or foreign particles. The object of combing is to effect an
orderly arrangement of the wool so that it is ready for spinning. One
method, corresponding to carding, is to draw the wool repeatedly between
rows of upright spikes set in a wooden frame until every matted particle
has been separated and all the fibres are disentangled. The older
method, still employed in nearly every part of the Orient, consists of
“teasing” with the cord of a heavy bow, which is suspended or held
firmly by the left hand over the wool, while with the right hand the
cord is made to vibrate either by striking it with a wooden instrument
or plucking it, so that the fibres of wool are separated and assorted by
the vibrations.

When the wool has thus been prepared, it is wound about the distaff and
then spun into yarn. In many parts of the Orient the common
spinning-wheel has been introduced and adopted for both wool and cotton;
in other parts are crudely made spinning-wheels of different design and
about the height of a man. The natives of districts more remote from
civilisation still cling to the primeval spindle, which sometimes
consists of no more than a rounded stick half an inch in diameter and a
foot in length with a ball of clay at one end. Many of the nomadic
tribes of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia use in place of it a small stone of
convenient shape, to which is tied a strip of linen a few inches in
length. A few fibres of wool are attached to the end of the linen by
twisting them about it, and a few more fibres are similarly attached to
these when the stone is suspended and twirled. As the fibres become
closely twisted together more fibres are added until on account of the
length of the thread thus formed the stone reaches the ground. The
thread is then wound about the stone and secured by a couple of loops so
as to leave a piece only a few inches in length, to which more wool is
attached in continuing the spinning. When a large ball of thread has
been spun, it is removed from the stone and the process begun again.

[Illustration: PLATE 4. SHIRAZ RUG]

One advantage of these simple devices is that they can easily be carried
anywhere. Even to-day a not unusual sight is a half barbaric shepherd
following his flock, while he spins with simple distaff and spindle or
stone, as did his ancestors thousands of years ago. On the end of the
distaff, that rests beneath his left arm, is the ball of wool from which
he selects and twists the fibres, while he deftly turns the short
spindle or twirls the stone with thumb and forefinger of the right hand.
The threads spun by professional spinners on spinning-wheels are of
small diameter and are the most regular in size and texture, those spun
with the small spindle are of larger diameter and less regular, and
those spun by twirling a stone are made of the coarsest diameter in
order to insure sufficient stoutness, since they are the most irregular
in size and texture; yet yarn so made is the most highly valued by all

Only very rarely, indeed, is one of these single threads used for yarn,
since it would be apt to part. Two of them, therefore, are twisted
together to form a double thread. A simple device used by many nomadic
tribes for this purpose consists of two short sticks crossing at right
angles, and another piece with end like a crochet needle perpendicular
to them. The threads which are attached to this piece pass through a
hole at the intersection of the crossed sticks and are twisted by
twirling them. It is very seldom that three single threads are twisted
to make a triple thread, and when such is the case it is the work of a
professional spinner who uses a large spinning-wheel, and never the work
of a nomad. For the weft of many rugs, and for the pile of a few rugs
such as Sarouks and Kashans, a double thread alone is used; whilst for
the pile of most rugs the double thread is again doubled, trebled, or
quadrupled, so as to form yarn of two, three, or four ply, and even yarn
of six ply is sometimes used. A distinction also exists in the manner of
twisting together double threads to make yarn of two or more ply, since
according to the custom of different tribes they may be twisted so
loosely that in the length of an inch they do not describe more than a
single revolution or so tightly as to describe several.

Until the introduction of the modern spinning-wheel wool was spun in the
Orient exactly as it was ages ago. It is this almost incredible
disposition to adhere as with religious fanaticism to methods
transmitted from father to son and to resist as pernicious every
attempt at innovation that makes a precise analysis of rugs possible.
Accordingly, the evenness or unevenness of single threads, the looseness
or tightness with which double threads are twisted together to form yarn
of different ply, as well as the number of the ply used, are a few of
the important indices for distinguishing between rugs of different

Even after the yarn is spun it is not always ready for the dyer, and in
order that it may properly absorb the dye it is often washed and
rewashed. In some parts of the Orient it is first soaked in warm water
and carefully rinsed in cold water. It is then placed in a copper pot or
vat containing boiling water to which has been added carbonate or
sulphate of soda and potash, and stirred for about an hour. After this
thorough cleansing it is again washed very carefully in soft water and
thoroughly dried in the sun.

The wonderful sheen of many old rugs is due almost entirely to the
materials of which they are made. This material, as a rule, is
unsurpassed by similar products of any other part of the world, and is
prepared by patient races who know little of the value of time. The
simple labour required is in itself prosaic enough, yet without a doubt
the earlier spinners and weavers, while following their flocks with
minds free from all conventions and limitations of art, discerned the
elemental forces of nature in all their freshness and power, and from
them drew inspiration that bore fruit in the exquisite colouring and
delicate tracery of the woven carpets.

[Illustration: PLATE 5. NIRIS RUG]



HOWEVER remarkable the achievements of Oriental art in any field, their
most pleasing effect has always been associated with colour. Without it
the beauty of the lustre tiles of Persia, the marvellous porcelains of
China, and the delicate textiles of Western Asia would fade into
insignificance. It is indeed the wonderful harmonies of exquisite tints
chosen by the touch of genius from a palette of many thousand pigments
that awaken the appreciation of the luxurious splendour of the East.
This love for colour is inherent in every rug-producing race of Asia and
is older than history. It is but natural, then, that the earliest
carpets should be radiant with glorious tints, which in a lesser measure
are reflected in modern fabrics.

If high praise is due to the artist who, by a skilful association of
different colours of co-ordinate tones, creates the picture that
delights the sense, a fair measure is also due to the artisan who not
only controls the secrets of the dyes, but has mastered the difficult
knowledge of their proper application; for the beauty of the finished
woven product depends on the judicious dyeing of the yarn more than on
anything else. From father to son for many generations has been
transmitted a knowledge of those particular vegetable and animal
products of root, leaf, fruit, and insect, and the manner of their use,
by which the imperishable lustrous sheen and colour of the finest woven
fabrics are produced. Indeed, this art requires to-day more technical
knowledge than any other branch of rug weaving, since modern designs are
no longer more than the imitation of those in older carpets; and so
important is it regarded that a successful dyer is a man of distinction
in his tribe.

The sources from which are obtained many of the dyes that give the
innumerable carpet colours are recorded. A few of them are received from
remote countries, but most of the plants from which they are extracted
grow in marshes and on hills and plains where the nomads wander with
their flocks. Many of them are used without blending, but even some of
the seven primary colours are derived by proper blending; and from a
number of dyes of different strengths and qualities are produced an
infinite number of rich and delicate shades.

The principal blues of Oriental rugs are obtained from indigo. This is
derived from colouring matter in the leaves of plants of the genus
_Indigofera_, that grow to a height of four to six feet in the East
Indies, when they are cut and placed in a vat containing water. In about
twelve hours fermentation ensues; and after this subsides the liquid is
drawn off into another vat, where after one or two hours of agitation
the indigo forms as a precipitate. Many different species of this plant
grow wild throughout Asia, and from the earliest times have been used to
produce dye-stuff. Indigo is one of the most valuable of all dyes, as by
using it in conjunction with others an infinite variety of shades

Some reds are obtained from the plant madder (_Rubia tinctorum_), that
grows abundantly in Central and Southwestern Asia, Its colouring
properties were known to the ancients; and for a long period it has been
cultivated in Asia Minor, where the succulent roots of the second and
third years’ growth are regularly dried and prepared for use. Other reds
are derived from the insect cochineal (_Coccus ilicis_) that lives on
oaks of the countries bordering the Mediterranean, and was known among
the Arabs as “kermes,” signifying Red Dye. After the discovery of
America another species (_Coccus cacti_) was found that was more
productive of dyeing qualities. The females, which alone are valuable,
are plucked from the trees and killed by exposing them to vapours of
acetic acid, or placing them in hot water, or in an oven. From their
dried bodies, of which over fifty thousand are necessary to make a
pound, the dye is produced. As both these dyes are noted for their
fastness, they are constantly used, but when silk or wool is to be dyed
cochineal is preferable to madder.

The yellow dyes are obtained from several sources. Some are from the
berries of plants of Western Asia. Others are from the leaves of the
sumach bushes, that are indigenous to nearly every part of the world. An
orange tinge is derived from the turmeric extracted from the short root
stocks of a plant of the genus _Curcuma_. From time immemorial a
beautiful yellow has been obtained from saffron. It is the product of
the stigmas of the fragrant crocus, which are so small that over four
thousand are necessary to furnish an ounce of dried saffron; yet the dye
is so powerful that it will give a distinct tint to seven hundred
thousand times its weight of water. As saffron has something of a
stimulating effect on the human system, it has been taken by the
Persians when mixed with their rice.

With none of these three basic colours was any national feeling
associated, yet the Persians excelled in the use of blues. The Turkomans
of Turkestan and Asia Minor produced better reds than any other colour,
and the best yellows, even if generally inferior in positiveness to
blues and reds, were those of the Chinese.

Though other primary and secondary colours sometimes result from the
application of a single dye, the many thousand different tints can only
be produced by the blending of two or more. Moreover, the qualities of
the same dye vary greatly, as they depend on the soil where the plant
grew, the time of year when it was removed, and the weather and other
conditions prevailing during the dyeing.

In nature green is one of the most pleasing colours, but in carpets it
is most unsatisfactory, as it has generally a faded appearance, due
probably to the fact that one of the dyes of which it is formed by
blending is less permanent than the other. The Chinese greens obtained
from the buckthorns are generally the best.

Greys and browns are sometimes derived from gall nuts, and reddish brown
from henna. For very dark browns and black, iron pyrites has been
largely used in both old and modern rugs; but unfortunately the dye has
a corrosive effect on the wool, so that the black knots of old rugs are
often worn to the warp.

In parts of India flowers of the bastard teak (_Butea frondosa_) make a
favourite dye, from which are produced, by blending with other dyes, a
large number of shades ranging from deep yellow to brownish copper
tones. Another well known dye is _Butti lac_, obtained from an insect,
_Coccus lacca_, that lives on the twigs of trees. It is a substitute for
cochineal and produces different shades of red, crimson, terra cotta,
and purple, according to the other dyes and the mordants with which it
is blended.

Besides these few dyes are innumerable others that are used either
singly or in combination. Furthermore, different colour effects are
produced by the application of different mordants, which it is necessary
to use for the reason that without them many fibrous materials are
unable to absorb a large number of the dyes. The most valuable of all
mordants is alum; and the sulphate of iron and tin are largely employed
in the case of red colours. Of the vegetable mordants, pomegranate rind,
which contains some yellow colouring matter, is the best known. Valonia
also is sometimes used, as well as limes, lemons, the fruit of the
tamarind, and the mango.

In the monograph of Mr. Harris on the “Carpet Weaving Industry of
Southern India” are a number of directions from an old manuscript owned
by a dyer who stated that he was the descendant of twenty generations of
dyers who originally came from Tabriz, and that he had made his copy
from a Persian book of dyes which had belonged to his grandfather. A few
of these are given below, because they show not only the dyes and
mordants, but also the methods employed.

“Birbuls Blue. Take cinnabar, indigo, and alum, grind and sift lighter
than the light dust of the high hills; soak for ten hours; keep stirring
it; put in the wool and soak for many hours. Boil for three hours; wash
in kurd water, water in which kurds and whey have been well beaten up;
leave for three hours, and then wash and beat again in water.

“A Fine Indigo Blue. Take indigo, soak it in water for twelve hours,
grind it to a fine paste in a mortar, add some _Terminalia citrina_,
pomegranate peel, and alum; and mix thoroughly. Boil; put the water into
the hot bath and keep stirring till cold. Now mix in some iron-filings
water, and boil steadily for another two and a half to three hours; wash
with a beating and dry.

“Ruddy Brown Grey. Take sulphate of iron, _Terminalia citrina_, oak
galls, and alum; mix well; dry; then steep for twenty-four hours. Put in
the wool; soak it for twenty-four hours, then boil for two or three
hours. Dip in a soda-bath, wash, and dry.

“Cinnamon. Take oak galls, acacia bark, cinnabar, and alum, and steep
for a night. Put in the wool, and soak for twenty or thirty hours; boil
the water for two or three hours and give a soda-bath wash; dip in
acidulated water; and wash again with beating.

“Crimson. Take lac colour and cochineal. Steep for from four to six days
in the sun, in hot weather for the lesser time, stirring constantly till
a rich deep colour comes where some has stood for a few minutes in a
thin glass bottle and settled. Then strain through two cloths, and put
in pomegranate rind and good iron-filings water. Add mineral acid;
steep wool for thirty-six hours, then boil for three hours, wash well,
and dry.


_The colours and pattern of this antique Oushak are similar to those of
the best examples that remain of the carpets woven in Asia Minor during
the XV and XVI Centuries. The deep blue of the central field, the rich
red of the medallions, and the golden yellow of the leaves are entirely
unlike the more subdued hues found in Persian rugs. Strongly contrasting
with them are the more delicate tones of the tendrils and leaves, which
display in their drawing a keen sense of refinement. In the formal
pattern of the field are stateliness and elegance; in the narrow borders
are simplicity and grace. Such colours and drawing show that the early
Asia Minor weavers had an intense appreciation of the ennobling
qualities of beauty and harmony._

  _Loaned by Mr. James F. Ballard_]

“Pale Greyish Green. Take copper rust, asburg,[5] and alum. Mix well
with any hot water, not boiling; soak wool for eighteen hours, then boil
for three hours. Give a bath with water acidulated with some limes, and
dry in shade.

“Old Gold and Rich Yellow. Take turmeric and asburg, cinnabar and alum.
Soak all night. Steep wool for twenty-four hours, boil for four and a
half hours, wash with a beating, and dry in shade.

“Dark Grey. Take of the fruit of _Cupressus sempervirens_, seeds and
seed pods of babul (_Acacia arabica_), iron-filings water, and alum.
Steep over night. Now add the water and let it soak for twenty-four
hours, then boil for two or three hours, until the colour is right, then
wash and dry in the sun.

“Rose Colour. Take ratanjot (_Onosma echioides_), a thought of
cochineal, manjit (_Rubia cordifolia_) or lac colour a very little, and
cinnabar. Add water, soak them for twelve hours, put in wool, and steep
for thirty-six hours; cook it for three hours, then bathe the wool in
alum and wash nicely; afterward dry in the shade.

“Persian Scarlet. Take lac colour, and if you choose a little cochineal
for richness, and soak from four to six days; strain it in two cloths
and add alum and a little turmeric; let it stand for three hours. Put
wool in and steep for twenty-four hours, then boil for two hours. Take
out the wool and add mineral acid; re-enter wool and boil an hour more.
Wash fifteen minutes when cold, and dry in the shade.

“Saffron Yellow. Take turmeric, cinnabar, and soda, add water and keep
for a full day. Then add some alum, make the dip, and soak the wool for
thirty hours. Cook it for several hours, and dry in the shade after
beating and good washing.

“Rich Yellow. Take asburg and turmeric, soak for a night in water, steep
the wool for twenty-four hours, add alum, shake out, and dry in shade.”

Identical shades of a number of colours are not produced in all parts of
the Orient, not only for the reason that soil, moisture, and climate
affect the colour values of dye-stuff, but because each family of dyers
preserve inviolable the craft secrets transmitted from their
forefathers. Thus it happens that different parts of the rug-producing
countries adhere to particular tones that help to identify the locality
where the fabrics were woven.

Unfortunately the Western aniline dyes, which were introduced about the
year 1860 and quickly adopted because they are cheaper and less
complicated in their application, have to such an extent transplanted
some of these fine old vegetable dyes that a number of the richest and
most delicate colours found in the rugs of a former century are no
longer produced. Thus the superb blue of the fine old Ispahans, as well
as of lustre tiles and illuminated manuscripts, belongs to a lost art.
The disadvantages of the aniline dyes are several: they have a tendency
to make the fibres of the textile fabric brittle, and when it is wet the
colours will frequently run. Some dyes also fade more readily than
others, so that if a colour be the product of two or more dyes, the
resultant tint may be totally unlike the original. On the other hand,
not all vegetable dyes are fast; but as they fade they mellow into more
pleasing shades. Efforts have been made to encourage the use of old
vegetable dyes; but unless the laws which have been enacted in parts of
Asia to restrict the importation of aniline dyes be more stringently
enforced than in the past, the cultivation in the garden patch of the
dye-producing herbs and plants will soon cease to be the time-honoured
occupation it was in days gone by.

Almost as important as the art of preparing the dyes is that of properly
applying them to the yarns. It is an art that demands infinite pains in
its technique, as well as a lifetime to acquire. It is in itself a
separate profession practised by artisans who guard with jealousy the
sacred secrets that transmitted from generation to generation occupy
their thoughts to the exclusion of almost everything else. The homes of
these professional dyers in the larger villages and cities are located
on a stream of water which possesses mineral properties that long
experience has proven especially suitable as solvents for the different
kinds of colouring matter. Ranged about the walls of their low dwellings
are jars or vats containing liquid dye of various colours. Suspended
above them, from hooks driven into beams, are the yarns from which,
after immersion in the proper vats, the liquids are allowed to drain.
After this the yarns are exposed for the proper length of time to the
dry air and burning sun. It is, therefore, the suitable mordants, the
preparation of the proper dyes for the vats, the immersion of the yarn
in correct sequence and for the correct length of time, as well as
the exposure to the glare and heat of the sun for a definite period to
be gauged to the exact moment, on which the colour results depend. This
complicated process by which, for instance, the infinitely different
shades of a red, a blue, or a brown may be conveyed to yarn by using the
same dyes but by slightly modifying the steps requires the greatest
precision, for which no rule but an experience amounting almost to
instinct is the guide.

[Illustration: PLATE 6. FERAGHAN RUG]

There was a time when the Oriental had not learned the meaning of
_tempus fugit_ or seen the glitter of Western gold, when his dyeing and
weaving were proud callings, in which entered his deepest feelings. Then
the old vegetable dyes that mellow, grow softer and more lustrous, were
almost exclusively used; but now throughout all weaving countries the
dyer has deteriorated so that he can no longer produce some of the rich
colours in use half a century ago. Yet remote from the principal lines
of travel, on the edges of the desert, in lonely valleys, among rugged
mountains, half-tamed tribes are still dyeing their hand-spun yarn as
did their fathers’ fathers.



NEAR the tents of some nomadic tribes may occasionally be seen crude
looms on which are woven some of the most interesting rugs that now
reach the Western markets. In all probability they are not dissimilar to
what were used thousands of years ago, for it would be impossible to
construct a simpler loom. Where two trees suitably branching are found
growing a few feet apart, all of the upper branches are removed
excepting two, which are so trimmed as to leave a crotch at the same
height in each tree. In each crotch is rested the end of a pole or beam,
and parallel to it is placed another extending at a short distance above
the ground from trunk to trunk. Or, as is more frequently the case,
roughly hewn posts are firmly implanted in the ground and horizontal
beams are stretched between them. In the upper one is a groove with a
rod to which one end of the warp, consisting of strong threads of yarn
numbering from ten to thirty to the inch, is attached, while the other
end is tightly stretched and firmly secured to the lower horizontal
beam. Sometimes the beams to which the warp is attached are placed
perpendicularly, so that the weaver may stand and move sideways as the
work progresses. But among a very large number of those tribes that are
constantly wandering in search of new pastures for their flocks and
herds, it is customary to let the loom lie flat on the ground, while the
weaver sits on the finished part of the rug.

[Illustration: PLATE A.—AN UPRIGHT LOOM]

Under more favourable circumstances, when the tribes live in villages or
cities, the looms are so made that the weavers are not compelled to bend
in order to tie the first row of knots or stand erect to finish the last
rows of a long rug. Of the several devices by which the weaver may
remain seated while at work, the crudest consists of a plank used as a
seat, which rests on the rungs of two ladders placed parallel to each
other at the sides of the rug. As the work progresses, the plank is
raised and rested upon the higher rungs. More frequently, however, both
upper and lower beams of the frame have the shape of cylinders of small
diameter, which revolve between the upright posts. The lower ends of the
threads of warp are attached to the lower beam, and the other ends may
either be wound several times around the upper one or else pass over it
and be kept taut by weights attached to them. Such a loom is generally
used for weaving very large rugs, which are rolled up on the lower beam
as the work progresses.

In Plate A (Page 45) is represented a loom commonly used in many parts
of the Orient. When preparing it for weaving two stakes are driven in
the ground at a suitable distance apart, and about them the warp is
wound in the way a figure eight is formed. The warp is then carefully
transferred to two rods that are attached to the upper and lower beams.
If it has been carefully wound, none of the threads should be slack; but
if desired the tension may be further increased by different devices.
Two other rods, known as “Healds,” are then attached to the front and
back threads of warp; or in the case of a single rod, it is attached to
the back threads, as shown in the Plate. A lease rod is next inserted
between the threads of warp that cross below the upper beam, and another
is placed below it where, if necessary, it is supported in position by
loops. When the weaving begins, a short web is generally woven at the
lower end to protect the knots from wear. After the first row has been
tied, the shuttle carrying the thread of weft is passed between the
front and back threads of warp; the heald rod attached to these back
threads is then pulled forward, so that they are now in front of the
others, and the shuttle is passed back. If the rug is narrow, only one
shuttle is used; but if the rug is wide, or if the weft consists of two
threads of unequal thickness, a shuttle is passed across from each side.
Every thread of warp is in this way completely encircled by the thread
of weft as it passes and repasses. When weaving large rugs, there is an
advantage in having two heald rods, as by their use the distance between
the front and back threads of warp may be increased. The object of the
lease rod is to prevent any slack caused by drawing forward the threads
of warp, and is accomplished in a very simple manner, as will be seen by
studying the drawing; since when the tension of the back threads is
increased by drawing them forward, the tension of the front threads is
also increased by displacing the lease rods which thereby stretches

[Illustration: PLATE 7. FERAGHAN RUG]

The products of the loom are divided according to their weave into
three separate classes. The simplest of these are the kilims, which are
without pile and consist only of warp and weft to which a few
embroidered stitches representing some symbol are occasionally added.

A more elaborately made class are the Soumaks. They consist of warp
covered by flat stitches of yarn and of a thread of weft which extends
across and back between each row of stitches in the old rugs and between
each second and third row of stitches in the new rugs. In the narrow,
perpendicular lines that define both borders and designs the stitch is
made by the yarn encircling two adjacent threads of warp; but in other
parts of the rug it is made by the yarn passing across two adjacent
threads of warp at the front, and after encircling them at the back,
recrossing them again at the front. It is then continued across the next
pair of adjacent threads of warp. The result is that at the back of
these rugs each of the two threads of warp encircled by the yarn appears
as a separate cord, while at the front the yarn passes diagonally across
four threads of warp. As this diagonal movement is reversed in each
succeeding row, the surface has an uneven appearance sometimes termed
“herring bone” weave.

By far the largest class of rugs are those with a pile. When making
them, the weaver begins at the bottom and ties to each pair of adjacent
threads of warp a knot of yarn so as to form a horizontal row. A thread
of weft is then passed, as often as desired, between the threads of warp
and pressed more or less firmly with a metal or wooden comb upon the
knots, when they are trimmed with a knife to the desired length. Another
horizontal row of knots is tied to the threads of warp; again the yarn
of weft is inserted; and so the process continues until the pile is
completed. In tying the knots, work almost invariably proceeds from left
to right and from the bottom to the top. It is but rarely that the warp
is stretched horizontally and that the knots are tied in rows parallel
to the sides. It is still more infrequently that a rug is found in which
the knots are tied by working from the centre to the right and left, and
to the top and bottom. These interesting exceptions may easily be
discovered by rubbing the hand over the pile, when it will be noticed
that the knots lie on one another so as to face the same direction,
which is the opposite to that in which the work of tying advanced, or as
is generally the case, from top to bottom.

The compactness, durability, and value of a rug depend somewhat on the
number of knots in any particular area. Yet if the yarn is coarse, the
rug may be compact even though the number of knots be small; and if the
yarn is fine, the rug may be loosely woven, either because the rows of
knots have not been firmly pressed down, or because there are several
“filling threads” of weft, and still the number of knots be large. A
square inch is a convenient size for measurement; but since all parts of
a rug are not woven with equal compactness, the measurement should be
made in several places if exactness be required. In loosely woven
pieces, such as the Oushaks and some of the Genghas, there may be less
than twenty knots to the square inch; but among the more closely woven,
as the Kirmans and Bokharas, are frequently several hundred.

These knots are of two classes, the Ghiordes and the Sehna. The Ghiordes
are found in all rugs of Asia Minor and Caucasia, in some of the rugs of
India, and in most of the rugs of Persia. They are named after the town
of Ghiordes in Asia Minor, where some of the finest Asiatic pieces were
made, and which tradition states was once the ancient Gordion, noted
even in the days of Alexander. In tying the knot, the two ends of yarn
appear together at the surface included between two[6] adjacent threads
of warp around which they have been passed, so that the tighter the yarn
is drawn the more compact the knot becomes. The three different ways of
tying this knot are shown in Plate B, Figs. 1, 2, and 3 (Page 49), of
which the second is known as a “right hand” and the third as a “left
hand” knot. The Sehna knots, which are used in the Turkoman, Chinese,
many of the Persian, and in some of the Indian rugs, take their name
from the city of Sehna in Persia. In tying them, a piece of yarn
encircles a thread of warp and is twisted so that its ends appear at the
surface, one at each side of the adjacent thread of warp, as is shown in
Plate B, Figs. 4, 5, and 6. According as this thread of warp is to the
right or the left of the one they encircle, the knots are known as
“right-hand” or “left-hand” knots,[7] but in the appearance of the
carpet there is no distinction. If the pile of a rug is carefully
parted, the two ends of yarn forming a Sehna knot can be separated; but
with the Ghiordes knot this is impossible, as will be understood by
studying Plate B, in which Figs. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, and 9 are Ghiordes
knots, and Figs. 4, 5, 6, and 10 are Sehna knots. As a rule, the Sehna
knots, which permit of closer weaving and clearer definition of pattern,
appear in rugs of shorter nap.

[Illustration: PLATE B.—Nos. 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, Ghiordes knots. Nos. 4,
5, 6, 10, Sehna knots. No. 11, Weft-overcasting. No. 12,
Double-overcasting. No. 13, Weft-selvage. No. 14, Double-selvage. Nos.
15, 16, 17, illustrate one, two, and three threads of weft passing
between two rows of knots.]

The nice distinctions in the technique of weaving are rarely understood
even by those who are familiar with Oriental rugs. The general pattern,
which next to colour is the characteristic that most quickly arrests the
attention, is often the sole guide by which novices guess the class. The
more experienced will observe if the knot be Ghiordes or Sehna, and
examine the finish at the sides and ends; but few give the peculiarities
of the weave the consideration they deserve. This, perhaps, is because
only those who have made a special study would believe the constancy
with which members of a tribe or locality have followed the same method
of tying the knot and inserting the weft. The different methods of
treatment by separate tribes are sometimes only slight, but they afford
a most important clue for determining the place of origin of doubtful
classes. In fact, nearly every class has a typical weave differentiating
it from all other classes. To be sure, there are exceptions to the
established type which are inevitable; since, for instance, a man from
the Feraghan district might marry a woman from the adjoining Hamadan
district, who, to please her husband, might weave a rug with pattern
common to his district but follow the style of weaving that she has been
familiar with from childhood. Nevertheless, weavers of a particular
district adhere more closely to a typical style of weaving than they do
to any other characteristic of a rug. Nor is this surprising, since
weaving is learned in earliest childhood; and as it contains no elements
calculated to stimulate the imagination, it is mechanically followed
with stereotyped precision. An innovation in pattern, by copying some
strange designs that strike the fancy, is far more likely. These
distinctions in weaving may be conveniently divided into those that
affect the knot, the warp, and the weft.[8]

THE KNOT.—Not only may a knot be tied as a Ghiordes or a Sehna knot, but
it may have other distinguishing peculiarities; as, for instance, it may
be of fine or coarse wool. This is most conveniently observed at the
back, where it will be seen that the knots of rugs such as the Bokhara,
Kirman, Joshaghan, and Bergamo are tied with fine yarn; while the knots
of other rugs, as the Samarkand, Bijar, Gorevan, Kurdistan, Yuruk, and
Kazak are tied with coarse yarn. Whether the yarn be fine, medium, or
coarse, all specimens of any class will show a remarkable conformity.
Also in some rugs the knots are drawn very tight against the warp, while
in others the yarn encircles the warp loosely. Any one who has examined
the back of many Sarouks, Kashans, Kirmans, or Daghestans, and rubbed
the finger-nail against them, could not possibly mistake them for a
Shiraz, Kulah, Yuruk, or Karabagh, which are less tightly woven. Again,
as a result of using yarn in which the double thread that forms two or
more ply has been very loosely or very tightly twisted together, there
is some difference in the direction or slant of the strands forming the
yarn, where it shows at the back, though this feature is not pronounced.
For example, in most Afghans, Yuruks, Bijars, and others the strands of
yarn where it crosses the warp in forming the knot lie for the most part
in a direction parallel to the weft; while in other rugs, as Mosuls,
Kurdistans, and Kazaks, the strands of yarn slant irregularly.
Furthermore, in some rugs, as the Melez and Yuruks, as a result of the
threads of yarn being strung rather far apart, each half of a knot
encircling a thread of warp stands out at the back distinctly from the
other with clear cut edges; while in many rugs, as the Shiraz or Sehna,
each half is very closely pressed together. Also in some rugs, as
Sarabends and Afshars, each of these half knots where they show at the
back have the same length, measured in a direction parallel to the warp,
as width, measured in a direction parallel to the weft; while in such
rugs as the Kazaks, since the yarn generally consists of several ply,
the length exceeds the width; and in a few rugs the length is less than
the width.

THE WARP.—The appearance of the back of a rug is partly due to the
relative positions of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot. If,
for instance, in any Kazak a pin be thrust through the nap wherever a
single perpendicular line of one colour appears at the surface, it will
be seen that each of the two threads of warp encircled by a single knot
lie side by side with equal prominence. This is shown in Plate B, Figs.
7 and 7-a (Page 49), in which the former represents a section of a rug
cut transversely to the threads of warp, and the latter the appearance
of the rug at the back. The same will be found true of Beluchistans,
Feraghans, Yuruks, and many others. If, however, a Kulah,
Persian-Kurdish, or Karabagh be similarly examined, it will be seen that
one thread of warp to each knot is depressed, so that the back has a
slightly corrugated appearance (as in Plate B, Figs. 8 and 8-a). And in
the case of a Bijar or Sarouk it will be seen that one thread of warp,
included in every knot, has been doubled under so as to be entirely
concealed from view; with the result that the foundation of warp has a
double thickness, which makes the rug much stronger, as in Plate B, Fig.
9, representing a Ghiordes knot, and Fig. 10 representing a Sehna knot.
To be sure, it occasionally happens that in rugs of a particular class
some may have each thread of warp included in a knot equally prominent
and others may have one slightly depressed; or that in rugs of another
class some may have one thread of warp depressed and others may have it
entirely concealed; but as a rule these tribal features show a
remarkable constancy. These relative positions of the two threads of
warp encircled by a knot are partly due to the degree of closeness with
which the threads of warp are strung, also partly to the method of
inserting the threads of weft or “filling” between the rows of knots;
but more than all else they are due to the way one end of the knots is
pulled when they are tied.

THE WEFT.—In the character and arrangement of weft are technical
differences that are more serviceable than any other feature for
distinguishing between the rugs of different tribes and districts. So
subtle are some of them that they can be learned only by long and
painstaking study, and are appreciated by few except native weavers.
Nevertheless, to any one who will carefully examine almost any
well-known classes, it will be apparent that these differences in the
weave are real, and that they are sufficiently constant to differentiate
one class from another. The fine brown weft of the Bokhara, or equally
fine bluish weft of a Sarouk that is almost concealed between firmly
tied knots; the fine thread of cotton weft passing but once between two
rows of knots and covered only by the transverse warp of the Sehna; the
coarse thread of cotton weft similarly passing but once between two rows
of knots in the Hamadan; the coarse thread of cotton weft that once
crossing and recrossing appears irregularly between appressed rows of
knots in Kermanshahs; the bead-like appearance of the threads of weft
that, as a rule, pass many times between two rows of knots in Genghas;
the crudely spun weft of coarse diameter crossing and recrossing once
between the rows of knots in modern Mosuls; the very fine reddish brown
weft that entirely conceals from view the warp in old Bergamos, —are
features peculiar to these separate classes with which every rug
expert is familiar. The weft of many other classes is equally
distinctive, though there are exceptions to the types. It should be
remembered, however, that the weave of many rugs woven over a hundred
and fifty years ago is different from the weave of rugs woven only fifty
years ago; and that many modern pieces cheaply made for commercial
purposes are more crudely woven than were the same classes thirty years

[Illustration: PLATE 8. HAMADAN RUG]

These distinctions in the weft relate to the material of which it is
made, its colour, the size of the diameter, the way in which it is spun,
to its loose or compressed condition between separate rows of knots, as
well as to the number of times it crosses the warp between them, and to
whether it is inserted with much or little slack. Most rugs are woven
with woollen weft of a natural colour, but occasionally it has a reddish
brown, a blue, or a yellow tint. When cotton, jute, or hemp are used,
they are almost invariably of natural colour; only in a very few pieces,
as some of the Kulahs, are both wool and jute ever used in the same
piece. The weft of some classes, as Bokharas, Sarouks, and Bergamos, is
of a very small diameter, and of others, as the Hamadans and Kurdistans,
it is of relatively large diameter. In some classes, as the Karajes and
Genghas, the weft is tightly spun like twine; while in the Beluchistans,
Mosuls, and Kurdistans it is loosely spun, so that the projecting fibres
of wool give a rough appearance to its surface.

Also the weavers of some districts invariably compress very firmly the
yarn of weft between every two rows of knots, while other weavers
compress it only to a slight degree; as, for instance, in the Afghan,
Tabriz, and Kirman the rows of knots are pressed down so firmly that the
weft is almost concealed at the back and the transverse threads of warp
are entirely covered; whilst, on the other hand, in the Karabagh or
Kazak between every two rows of knots the weft and part of the
transverse threads of warp are exposed to view. According as the rows of
knots are pressed down upon the threads of weft or not, one of the two
halves of each separate knot, as shown at the back, may extend slightly
or very much beyond the other in the direction of the length of the rug,
or each of them may lie in a straight line at right angles to the warp.
Comparing Kazak, Kutais, and Tiflis rugs, for example, it will be
noticed that as a rule the line thus formed in Tiflis rugs is nearly an
even, clear cut line at right angles to the warp, that in the Kutais
part of one knot extends beyond the other, while in Kazaks this
unevenness is even more conspicuous. Or again, if typical Shirvans,
Kabistans, and Daghestans be compared, it will be noticed that in
Shirvans the half-knots, or parts of the knot encircling the two
adjacent threads of warp, are often inclined at an angle of at least
thirty degrees to the line of weft so as to present a serrated
appearance, but that the alignment formed by knots of Daghestans is
nearly even, and that of Kabistans is intermediate. To be sure, there
are exceptions to this rule, but these features are remarkably constant.

The number of times that a thread of weft is inserted between two rows
of knots varies with the practice of different localities, but is almost
constant in each locality. Weavers of Sehna rugs insert only a single
thread of weft between every two rows of knots, which winds in front of
and behind alternate threads of warp, with the result that the back of
these rugs have a checkered or quincunx appearance, caused by minute
portions of exposed warp and weft crossing each other at right angles.
In Hamadans a much heavier thread of weft passes only once before and
behind alternate threads of warp, so that the appearance of the weave is
very similar to that of Sehnas.[9] In almost all other rugs the weft
crosses twice, that is, across and back once, between every two rows of
knots so as to completely encircle each thread of warp. The weave of a
few rugs, as some Anatolians, shows the weft crossing three times, that
is, twice in one direction and once in the opposite direction. In the
Genghas, Tcherkess, Bergamos, and in many rugs over one hundred and
fifty years old, the threads of weft frequently cross many times; and it
is not unusual for the number to vary in different parts of the same
rug. In Plate B, Figs. 15, 16, and 17 (Page 49), is illustrated the
appearance of the back of rugs in which a thread of weft crosses once,
twice, and three times between two adjacent rows of knots. There are
likewise rugs in which the number varies with methodical regularity; for
instance, in Khorassans it is usual to find an extra thread of weft
inserted at intervals of every few rows of knots; in many Herats the
threads of weft cross twice between several successive rows of knots,
then three times between the following several rows, and so continue to
alternate; and in some of the Kulahs a thread of woollen weft that
crosses twice alternates with a single coarser thread of jute.

As the shuttle passes back and forth, the thread of weft may be allowed
considerable slack, so that when it is pressed down by the comb it will
fit about the sides of the warp; or it may be drawn tightly across, so
that it has a tendency to displace the threads of warp. If, for
instance, a Hamadan and one of the Feraghans which, unlike the majority
of them, has only one thread of weft crossing between the rows of knots,
be examined, it will be seen that in the Hamadan the weft crosses with
hardly any slack, so that the warp stands out clearly and well defined
at the back; but that in the Feraghan the weft crosses with much slack,
so that it folds about the warp, which accordingly seems slightly
imbedded in it at the back. In some rugs the weft is passed across once
with very slight slack, and as it recrosses it is allowed much slack.
These features of the weave, which are followed with remarkable
constancy in the same class, can be observed to advantage in a fragment
of a rug cut transversely to the direction of the warp. If, for
instance, the weft which crosses and recrosses between the rows of knots
be carefully removed so as not to disturb its mould, it will be noticed
in the case of many rugs that each thread of yarn has a similar shape of
moderately deep undulations, which show how it conformed to the warp and
indicate how slack it was when inserted. In the case of a few rugs, as
the Luristans, each thread will likewise have similar undulations, but
they will be very prominent. If, on the other hand, the weft be removed
from some classes, as the Tabriz, Sarouk, and Kashan, one of the two
threads will be almost straight or have slight undulations, while the
other thread will have deep undulations. The weft of the Herez, Herats,
old Khorassans, and Koniehs have the same peculiarities, excepting that
the thread with very slight undulations is of three or four ply, while
the other is of a single ply.

The only instruments employed in weaving are the knife, comb, and
scissors. The first is used, after each row of knots has been tied, to
cut the ends of yarn to nearly the proper length; the second, to press
firmly each row of knots; and the last, to trim the nap with care, so
that the finished product may present an even and compact appearance.

FINISH OF SIDES.—As the sides are constantly exposed to wear weavers of
different districts strengthen them in different ways, which may be
designated as Weft Overcasting, Double Overcasting, Weft Selvage, Double
Selvage, and Added Selvage. Each of these terms, though not euphonious,
suggests the method employed. In Weft Overcasting (Plate B, Fig. 11,
Page 49) the thread of weft, after encircling the threads of warp to
which the knots are tied, is wound about a much heavier cord that is
strung at the side of the rug for a space equal to the thickness of the
knots. It then partly encircles the threads of warp between the next two
rows of knots as it passes to the other side, when it is wound about the
heavy cord there. As this process continues, the cords at the sides are
completely overcast with the thread of weft. When the sides have a
Double Overcasting (Plate B, Fig. 12), heavy yarn is wound about the
cord that has previously been encircled by the weft. Frequently several
threads of yarn take the place of a single heavy cord. Weft Selvage
(Plate B, Fig. 13) is made by placing two or more heavy cords instead of
a single one at the side of the warp, and encircling them by the weft in
figure-eight fashion. As they extend beyond the rows of knots they form
a plain flat selvage. The Double Selvage (Plate B, Fig. 14) is used
among nomadic tribes such as the Beluches and Afghans, whose rugs
receive an unusual amount of hard wear, so that an extra selvage is
necessary. In adding this extra selvage the threads of weft are carried
about the heavy cords, as in weft selvage, and then the extra yarn is
wound over it in figure-eight fashion so as again to encircle the heavy
cords. In Added Selvage the heavy cords are not encircled by the weft,
but are attached to the side of the rug by the extra yarn that winds
about them figure-eight fashion, and also encircles two or more
adjoining threads of warp. Sometimes also the selvage is “Mixed,” or
made by the weft encircling only one or two of the heavy cords, and then
an extra yarn is wound about these and the remaining cord or cords.
Moreover, the Double Overcasting and Double Selvage may be “attached”
more firmly to the sides of the rug by the yarn passing in figure-eight
fashion about the adjacent thread or threads of warp between the two
rows of knots. When a Double Overcasting is thus “attached,” it is
somewhat similar to a two-cord Double Selvage.

These are the principal methods of finishing the sides, though they are
sometimes modified by tribal customs. Simple as they seem, skill is
required in both overcasting and making the selvage; for if carelessly
done the sides are frequently made to curl. This is occasionally found
to be the defect of old rugs, the worn sides of which have been recently
overcast by inexperienced weavers. When such is the case, removing the
stitches and overcasting with more care will remove the defect.

[Illustration: PLATE 9. SAROUK RUG]

FINISH OF ENDS.—The ends, which receive more attention than the sides,
are treated in several different ways; and in many rugs a distinction
exists between the treatment of each end. The simplest finish is where
the warp and weft are woven like the threads of a kilim, and extend
beyond the pile as a web, which may be exceedingly short, or, as in
Beluches and Afghans, several inches long. Frequently the ends are
finished by a selvage formed by cords heavier than the weft braided into
the warp; or the upper end may be doubled back and hemmed. It is not
unusual to find both web and selvage; but though the finish be web,
selvage, or web and selvage, the warp of the end finished last generally
forms a fringe, and often each end will have a fringe. Sometimes each
separate thread of warp hangs loose; sometimes a number a foot or more
in length are twisted together in cords; and again they are knotted or
are tied to one another diagonally so as to form a network from which
hang the loose ends. Very frequently the loops formed by the warp that
encircled the rod extend beyond the web at the lower end of the rug, or
else are braided about the ultimate thread of weft in the web. Though
the warp and weft are generally undyed in the body of the rug, the web
of the ends is very frequently coloured. Some of the webs, particularly
those of the Beluches, are embroidered; and through others, as the
Kurdistans, a parti-coloured cord runs transversely; still others, as
Bergamos, are adorned with shells, beads, or other articles to avert the
evil eye.

In the study of rugs it should be remembered that the effect of rough
usage is so considerable that in old pieces the webs of the ends have
frequently disappeared, leaving short fringes composed of the ends of
warp from which some rows of knots have been removed, and that recent
overcasting of the sides may take the place of former selvage.

The many characteristics of knot, warp, weft, sides, and ends, with all
the variations made by innumerable tribes, remarkably constant in their
methods, are technical peculiarities that are uninteresting to those who
feel only an aesthetic interest in rugs, yet they demand the most
careful consideration of whoever would learn to differentiate accurately
between the many classes. Though admitting of exceptions, these
peculiarities are real and definite, yet their analyses often require
the subtlest perception of small though exact distinctions, without
which expert understanding would be impossible.



HOWEVER well woven, however resplendent in rich modulations of colour,
Oriental rugs would quickly lose their fascination if in patterns and
designs there were not at least some partial expression of the simple
lives of the people, of their religious feelings, and of that veiled
mysticism which pervades the thought of every Eastern race.

In all nomadic rugs as well as in many others are innumerable reminders
of common life. It may be only crude outlines of the goat or camel, or
realistically drawn rose and lily; but even these are suggestive of

Religion, too, exercised on the character of rugs an important
influence, which is expressed in the symbolism of both designs and
colour. Without a doubt, some of these well-known designs have been
transmitted from the earliest times, and were once associated with
different forms of idolatry. Thus, among the old Babylonians the sun and
moon, which are sometimes seen in the old pieces, represented particular
deities; and very many of the oldest Chinese rugs that remain also
contain symbols of their deities. In the early religion of Iran, which
over 1000 years B.C. was reduced to a system by Zoroaster, the elements
were worshipped, so that designs representing these elements would
likewise represent the divine forces they personified. This ancient fire
worship of the Parsees, which even to-day has a few devotees in parts of
Persia, and the kindred sun worship have added much to the symbolism of
Oriental rugs. Buddhism also has contributed its share; and with the
spread of Mohammedanism appeared a Saracenic influence that is
frequently recognised. Even the two great sects of Mohammedan followers,
the Shiites and Sunnites, have had distinct effects in the use of
designs, as the former employed animal figures and the latter prohibited

[Illustration: PLATE 10. SARABEND RUG]

There was, moreover, a symbolism that in a manner expressed the vague
philosophic teachings of the ancient races. It was but natural that the
early weaver engaged in tedious sedentary work, often requiring many
months of constant application to complete, should endeavour to express
therein not only artistic taste, but also the spirit of his innermost
thoughts. So as he wove he sometimes left the result, though poorly
defined and little understood to-day, of that struggle to interpret the
great mysteries of the visible and unseen universe, from which arose the
crude beginnings of philosophy.[10]

The patterns, however, of many Oriental rugs are chiefly decorative.
Even a casual examination shows that in all of them the coloured knots
of the surface represent a border surrounding a central field. The
former serves much the same function to the latter as a frame to a
picture; yet its office is in no wise subordinate. Nor is there any part
of the pattern more useful in determining the place of its origin. For
this reason it is well to clearly define the special names which in this
work are applied to its different parts. The lineal divisions are
designated “Stripes,” though they are frequently spoken of as separate
borders. At or near the centre of the border is the main stripe, which
is generally accompanied by a much narrower pair, one on each side,
known as “Guard stripes.” Very narrow stripes are sometimes called
“Ribbon stripes,” and those of only one or two knots in width are called
“Lines.” The latter are of solid colour or have the simplest geometric
device. The decoration of the ribbon stripes is also necessarily simple;
but in the main stripe of artistic rugs the patterns are often
exceedingly elaborate, of exquisite colours, and co-ordinate in
character with those of the field.

The fields display even greater diversity of pattern than the borders.
Frequently they are covered with a heterogeneous mass of detached and
unrelated figures, as in many of the nomadic rugs; or, on the other
hand, are entirely covered with repetitive patterns, as in the
Turkomans; or with intricate and correlated designs, as in the diaper
and floral patterns of so many of the Persian and Indian rugs. Others
consist of a background of solid colour on which appear isolated formal
designs, as in some of the Khorassans, or medallions on which are
represented smaller figures, as in some of the old Sehnas and Feraghans.
Occasionally the medallions are so large as to extend to the sides and
ends of the fields, and thus separate the corners into nearly triangular
shaped sections, such as are characteristic of a number of Persian and
one or two Caucasian rugs. In a few of the latter, also, the fields are
covered with large geometric figures suggesting the medallions. It is
only within comparatively modern times that weavers have used solid
colours for large portions of the fields. The intent no doubt was a
saving in labour and pains, but the effect is frequently most
gratifying; as when, for instance, the space beneath the arch of Asia
Minor prayer rugs is of a uniform red, blue, or cream, relieved only by
a gracefully suspended lamp, the tree of life, or some other emblem of


No. 1, Antique silk. No. 2, Kermanshah. No. 3, Khorassan. No. 4, Sarouk.
No. 5, Persian, XVI Century. No. 6, Kashan. No. 7, Feraghan. No. 8,
Shiraz. No. 9, Daghestan, Kabistan, Shirvan, Chichi, Kazak, Karabagh.
No. 10, Kazak. No. 11, Shirvan. No. 12, Karabagh (not usual). No. 13,
Beluchistan. No. 14, Bokhara, Tekke. No. 15, Khiva. No. 16, Beshire.]

The patterns of prayer rugs are not only pleasing, but have a peculiar
importance, as weavers of certain sections of the country adhere so
strictly to time-honoured traditions that the shape of the arch, or
mihrab, which is the principal feature, often denotes the class, as well
as the group, to which they belong. Some of these arches are illustrated
in Plates C and D (Pages 61 and 63), from which it will be seen that in
Persian rugs they are formed by gracefully curving lines, but that in
rugs of other groups, with the exception of a very few old Ghiordes
pieces, they are geometric. The peculiarities of the arches of the
several classes, also, are observable; as those of the Beluchistans,
which are rectilinear and relatively high, and those of the Bokharas,
which are tent-shaped, flat, and small. In the Caucasian group they have
a marked resemblance to one another and also to those of the Turkoman
rugs, but are larger than the latter. Again, the arch of almost all Asia
Minor rugs rises higher than those of any others, excepting the Persian,
and extends from one side of the field to the other. In many of them a
panel is placed above the spandrel, and occasionally a second panel is
placed beneath the field. Above the niche of some Asia Minor and
Caucasian prayer rugs is woven a small rhomboidal figure, where the
suppliant plants the pebble or bit of earth that he has brought from
Mecca; and at the sides of a few arches are crude figures, where are
placed the hands during the act of worship. More than one arch is the
exception; but now and then are seen two and even four, one above the
other, or several parallel to one another. These and other special
features associated with prayer rugs will be considered more fully in
subsequent chapters.

The smaller designs that appear in rugs and compose the general pattern
are distinguished as geometric and floral ornamentation. The former is
adopted in those countries where the population is principally nomadic;
and the latter is the accepted style in countries where exist numerous
towns and cities in which the arts have been cultivated and where a
large percentage of the population have enjoyed an advanced state of
society. Thus in Caucasia, Turkestan, Afghanistan, and Beluchistan
geometric designs are characteristic of the rugs; but in China, India,
Persia, and part of Asia Minor floral designs prevail. Sir George
Birdwood, an eminent authority on Oriental rugs, has made the statement
that the geometric designs are found among the lower Turanian and the
floral among the higher Aryan. But it seems most probable that the
adoption of the geometric or floral style of ornamentation is due not so
much to racial distinctions as to the state to which the textile art had
advanced among the different peoples and to the waves of influence that
at times spread over the countries. Thus the early rugs of Asia Minor
had patterns that were more geometric than those of later times, and
during the period when the Mongols ruled in Persia geometric patterns
were more frequently employed in the rugs of that country than


Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, Ghiordes. Nos. 5, 6, 7, Kulah. No. 8, Ladik. Nos. 9,
10, Bergamo. Nos. 11, 12, Melez. No. 13, Kir-shehr, Mudjar. Nos. 14,
15, Konieh. No. 16, Anatolian.]

In all rugs, however, some trace of the floral design appears. Even in
the Turkoman weavings, the pattern of which is strictly geometric, some
vestige of the tree of life is manifest. In the fields of Caucasian
rugs, in which are represented squares, octagons, triangles, diagonals,
lozenges, stars, etc., the weavers have depicted designs that are almost
as geometric as those of the Turkoman rugs by which they have been
influenced; but, on the other hand, large numbers of the border designs
are distinctly floral. In the rugs of China and Asia Minor are found
both geometric and floral ornamentation, the latter predominating in
pieces woven during the last two centuries, and the former in those of
earlier date. Among the woven fabrics of India and Persia, however,
few traces of the geometric pattern remain; but vines, leaves, and
flowers form the favourite theme for decoration.

The floral patterns are the result of many centuries of growth, that
reached its highest development in the Persian carpets of the XVI and
XVII Centuries; and since then till the present time they have continued
as the most characteristic features of the rugs of that country and
India. They represent the highest technique of the weaver. In the
borders are generally represented vines from which are pendant rosettes,
palmettes, or flowers; and in the fields, particularly those of the fine
antique rugs, are a profusion of floral forms realistically portrayed.
On long, gracefully twining and intertwining stems is often the rose,
pink, violet, lotus, crocus, narcissus, or daisy. But if the rug is more
modern, in its field of uniform colour may be represented a central
medallion covered with delicate tracings enriched by bright-coloured
conventionalised flowers.

In the general pattern of all rugs are interwoven particular designs or
motives that give them a distinctive character and render the greatest
assistance in distinguishing the groups and classes. Thus the serrated
leaf and wine cup (Plate I, Fig. 1, opp. Page 226) is found only in
Caucasian and old Armenian rugs; and the design represented in Plate H,
Fig. 10 (opp. Page 194), suggestive of some Chinese character, is found
almost exclusively in Kulahs. Not only are all designs important as aids
in classification, but they have a special interest, as it is maintained
by writers of the highest authority that when employed by the earliest
weavers each had a symbolic meaning. To be sure, the origin of many has
been lost in the remote past and is unknown even to those who now employ
them; but others still represent definite ideas, as they did centuries
ago, and portray to some extent the thought of the weaver. They
therefore deserve the most careful study.


Loaned by C. F. Williams, Esq., to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New

Few of these designs have been transmitted from a more remote past or
have been more universally employed than has been the figure [Symbol: S]
or [Symbol: horizontal S]. It appears in each of the groups of Oriental
rugs excepting the Chinese; and two of the forms it assumes are
exceedingly like the arms of the swastika and parts of the fret as
occasionally seen in Chinese designs. In Indian rugs it is rarely found
except in the borders, which may have been copied from those of other
countries. It is very commonly seen in the Beluchistans, Tekkes, and
Beshires, of the Central Asiatic group; and in the rugs of the Persian
group that show nomadic influences. There is probably not a single class
of the Caucasian group, nor any of the Asia Minor group, with the
exception of the old Ghiordes, in which it is not sometimes represented.
It may be seen near the corner of the Asia Minor “Dragon and Phœnix”
carpet of the XIV Century, illustrated in Plate 20 (opp. Page 88); and
appears in some of the old Armenian carpets, which are believed to be
even older. That it was associated with sun worship and regarded as an
emblem of light and the deity is the accepted belief. It is possible,
however, that it was intended by some weavers to represent the serpent,
which among many different races is emblematic of superhuman knowledge.

Probably no other design has been more universally employed than the
swastika, which appears in the textile fabrics of North American
Indians, on the Maya ruins of Yucatan, among the monuments of the Nile,
and on the temples of India. Widely as is its distribution, its most
usual form of intersecting right angles is found in each of these
countries. It is not improbable that it originated in China, where it is
a most common decorative motive, and was almost invariably represented
in the borders and in many of the medallions of rugs woven before the
beginning of the XVIII Century. It is also very frequently seen in the
rugs of Samarkand, and occasionally in those of Caucasia. It seldom
appears in the rugs of Persia, Asia Minor, or Turkestan. The
universality of the design indicates its great antiquity, yet its
primitive symbolic meaning of abundance, fertility, and prosperity has
never been lost. Some of its different forms are shown in Plate O, Figs.
5-a, 5-b, 5-c, 5-d, 5-e, and 5-f (Page 291).

The reciprocal trefoil (Plate F, Fig. 17, opp. Page 158) is a very usual
design in Caucasian and Persian rugs; it is often found in some of the
rugs of India and in Beluchistans, but is very rarely seen in other
classes of the Central Asiatic or in the Chinese and Asia Minor groups.
Its origin is uncertain, but since it appears in the “Polish Carpets”
and other antique Persian carpets of strictly floral pattern, where its
drawing is more elaborate than in modern rugs, it is not improbable that
it is the conventionalised form of the lily or a spray bearing three
leaves, and that it has the emblematic significance of the tree form.

Among all primitive races the sun, moon, and stars have been associated
with their religion, so that it is surprising that so few emblems of
them are recognised in rugs. In the theology of the Chaldees, from which
the earliest weavers must have received inspiration, the sun was
regarded as one of their principal deities and the moon as another. The
sun is generally represented by a plain circle, a circle with diameters
intersecting at right angles, or a circle with small ovals intersecting
at right angles; the moon is represented by the crescent. Of much more
frequent occurrence is the eight-pointed star, another inheritance of
those ancient times when all primitive races worshipped the heavenly
bodies. It represented the female principle of the Chaldean sun god; and
it is believed, too, that it represented the deity to the Medes,
ancestors of many of the present Persians. There is a tradition among
some Eastern races that King Solomon wore a ring of diamonds arranged in
the form of an eight-pointed star, and also a crown containing a large
star of which the eight points and centre were composed of precious
stones of different colour. A star now and then seen in rugs with
colours so arranged is known as “Mohammedan’s jewel design.” The
six-pointed star, a Jewish symbol for the “shield of David,” was adopted
as a talisman by some of the Moslems. All of these stars are chiefly
nomadic symbols, they rarely if ever are seen in the rugs of China or
India, they are only occasionally found in those of Persia, and are of
most frequent occurrence in the Caucasian pieces.

Another design is an octagonal-shaped disc (Plate O, Fig. 10, Page 291),
usually about two and a half inches in diameter, on the face of which
and extending the full width are figures somewhat like hour-glasses
placed at right angles to one another. It seems not improbable that it
is of the same origin as the large designs that appear in the field of
the Holbein rug of the XV Century, illustrated in Plate 21 (opp. Page
92). It is a very old motive, and is sometimes regarded as a dial
symbolising the diurnal motion of the earth. It is of very frequent
occurrence in nomadic rugs; and is found in Beluchistans, in nearly all
Caucasians, in some rugs from Asia Minor, and in only a very few from

The zigzag line, known as the water motive, is found in many of the rugs
of China, India, Persia, Caucasia, and Asia Minor, as well as in the
Beluchistans and Beshires of the Central Asiatic group, though in some
instances it appears as little more than a serrated line. It is
represented in the narrow guard-stripes of some of the Western Asia
Minor carpets of the XV Century. According to Mr. John Mumford, “even in
the oldest Egyptian symbolism a zigzag line stood for water and by
implication for eternity; and a succession of these arranged to
represent the sea has long been a recognised carpet design in India,
China, and Persia.”


_Long before the commercial instinct had been felt among the weavers of
the Orient, one or more of them dwelling in the Mesopotamian valley tied
the knots of this old Mosul. The central field is of camel’s hair that
shades from a rich dark chestnut at one end to lighter tones at the
other, and is enlivened by bright flowers representing those found on
the river’s banks. This variation of ground colour, the small geometric
designs at the extreme ends of the fields, the eight-pointed stars of
the main stripe of the border, and some of the drawing are nomadic
characteristics. The dainty vine and flower of the narrow guard stripes,
on the other hand, show Persian influence. This piece represents a type
of which few now remain._

  _Property of the Author_]

One of the most common designs is what has been called the “latch-hook.”
When there is a long succession of latch-hooks with the straight ends
resting on a line and the hooked ends inclined in the same direction, as
in Plate K, Fig. 20 (opp. Page 230), they are called “running
latch-hooks.” Since they appear in the Dragon and Phœnix rug (opp.
Page 88), that was probably woven about the end of the XIV Century, they
are evidently a very old design, which not improbably was derived from
the Chinese fret. The hook is of different shapes, and is sometimes
perpendicular, sometimes inclined. Its particular function is to shade
or subdue the harsh effect of a sudden transition from one colour to
another that is entirely different. As such a device is unnecessary in
artistic rugs of intricate designs, it is rarely seen in any Indian or
Persian piece, excepting the modern Shiraz that frequently adopts
geometric patterns; but it is found in all the rugs of Caucasia, Central
Asia, and in most of those of Asia Minor. It is in fact as universal as
the reciprocal trefoil.

In rugs of geometric patterns are occasionally found both Greek and
Roman crosses. The latter are represented in most of the Soumak rugs,
and appear profusely in old Asia Minor or Armenian rugs, in which they
were probably woven with the intent to convey a religious significance;
but in many instances crosses are not used symbolically.

The design of a comb (Plate O, Fig. 11, Page 291) is a Mohammedan emblem
suggestive of cleanliness, yet it is not improbable that it is sometimes
intended to represent the instrument employed in pressing the threads of
weft closely against the knots. It is found mostly in Caucasian rugs,
and rarely in those of other groups.

In a large number of the finest carpets woven in Persia three or four
centuries ago was represented what is known as the Chinese cloud-band
(Plate O, Fig. 7). It appeared in Persia about the middle of the XV
Century, and was conspicuous in the carpets of Herat, Tabriz, and Gilan,
as well as in many of the “Polish Carpets.” Later it was introduced into
Asia Minor, but was never represented in any of the strictly nomadic
weavings. It appears in only a very few of the modern rugs, and these
are mostly Persian. Nor is it recognised in its usual form in any of
the Chinese rugs that now exist; though without a doubt it originated
with the Chinese, since their early mythology placed the abode of the
Supreme Ruler in the Constellation of Ursa Major, of which the stars of
the Big Dipper were represented in early art as enveloped in a band of
clouds; but in more conventionalised ornamentation the stars are omitted
and the band remains. As a motive, then, it is symbolic of heaven and
the deity.

In almost all rugs are found expressions of vegetable life, as a twig,
vine, flower, or tree. Sometimes they are most naturalistic, again they
are partly conventionalised, or so disguised, as in nomadic rugs of
geometric designs, that only by study and comparison of many forms in a
series can their origin be established. This universal adoption of
floral form was due to something more than an aesthetic love for the
beautiful, since in every country of the East some part of the tree or
plant was emblematic. Moreover, a tree form known as the Tree of Life
had a religious significance among many races. The Jews were told that
in the Garden of Eden grew the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil;” and
in the Book of Revelation the Apostle John speaks of “The Tree of Life
which bore twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month,
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” From
this passage may have been borrowed the belief of the Mohammedans in the
Tree of Life which grew in Paradise, and spread its branches that true
believers might rest beneath them and enjoy its fruits and the
companionship of beautiful houri. In the ancient lore of China is the
Taoist tradition of the Tree of Life, growing by the Sea of Jade, that
confers immortality on the fortunate who may gather and eat its fruits;
also the tradition of the mountain top where grows the sacred tree on
which the elect may climb and mount to heaven. Even among the ancient
Chaldees was a story of a tree that grew to heaven and sheltered the
earth. In different countries the Tree of Life is represented by
different kinds; in Yarkand of Eastern Turkestan it takes the form of a
cedar; in Persia it is generally the cypress. Wherever employed it is
symbolic of knowledge, resurrection, immortality.


Loaned by C. F. Williams, Esq., to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New

No other form of vegetable life was so universally employed in Oriental
symbolism as the lotus flower (Plate O, Figs. 16-a, b, and c), since the
Egyptian, Assyrian, Indian, Chinese, and Persian alike did it reverence.
It was, perhaps, first employed emblematically in the valley of the
Nile, but later it was held in high esteem by the inhabitants of India
where the floating blossom is regarded as an emblem of the world. It was
inseparately associated with Buddha, and its religious significance must
have extended with the spread of Buddhism. Professor Goodyear regards a
large number of designs that apparently are not related in form as
derived from it through a long series of evolutions. During the highest
development of the textile art in Persia it appears most realistically
drawn in a large number of the carpets, especially the so-called
Ispahans, or Herats, and the so-called Polish. It is also most
artistically represented in the fabrics of India, and is a favourite
design for Chinese weavers. But in other modern rugs it is seldom used
as a motive, and is so conventionalised as often to escape notice.

If the lotus was the first flower to be represented in early woven
fabrics, as seems not improbable, several others have met with greater
favour among modern weavers. Of these the rose, which is cultivated
extensively in the gardens of the East, appears in a large number of the
rugs of Persia and Asia Minor. Moreover, a pattern frequently seen in
many old Persian rugs is an all-over pattern of small bushes with
flowering roses. Almost equally popular is the lily, which is
characteristic of many of the rugs of India and of a few of Western Asia
Minor. The “Euphrates flower,” which grows by the river banks of the
Mesopotamian valley, is also occasionally found as an all-over pattern
in some of the rugs of Western Iran and Southern Caucasia. Less
frequently seen and still less frequently recognised, as they are
generally woven in small figures, are the daisy, anemone, crocus,
narcissus, pink, and violet. All are depicted chiefly on account of
their associations and beauty, and whatever emblematic meaning they are
intended to convey is generally no more than that of their colours.
There are, however, in a few old Persian carpets designs of sunflowers,
which were accepted by the Zoroastrians and the earlier sun and fire
worshippers as symbols of the sun and emblems of light.

Of the fruits of the earth none is more highly esteemed than the
pomegranate, which was sculptured in temples of Mesopotamia and
embroidered on the robes of Assyrian and Jewish priests. In the days of
King Solomon it was cultivated in Palestine, where the Israelites, like
modern Persians, made a sherbet by mixing its juice with sugar and
spices. At the time of Homer it was cultivated in Phrygia. Now it grows
wild over vast tracts of Syria, Persia, and Asia Minor. Yet it rarely
appears conspicuously in any woven fabrics excepting the Ladik prayer
rugs, in which it is invariably seen. Since the weavers of these,
whether Christian or Moslem, would probably be familiar with many of the
old Jewish and Assyrian rites, it is not unlikely that it refers
emblematically to its religious associations rather than symbolises, as
has been suggested, the idea of fruitfulness as expressed in the Turkish
wedding custom where the bride throws a pomegranate at her feet that the
scattered seed may fore-tell the number of her children.

In almost every rug of Persia, India, and Asia Minor there is in some
part of the border a vine with pendant leaves, flowers, rosettes, or
palmettes; and even in many Caucasian rugs of geometric pattern the vine
with its appendages is seen in conventionalised form. In a few of the
more sumptuous carpets, where the drawing is elaborate, delicate
tendrils bearing flowers or the more formal designs of the Herati border
take the place of the vine, from which they were evolved. In such
borders the designs generally convey no symbolic meaning, but the
simpler vine encircling the field without beginning or end represents
symbolically the continuity of purpose and permanency.

One of the most interesting designs (Plate O, Fig. 6, Page 291) is known
as the Cone, Palm, Mango, Almond, River Loop, and Pear. By some it is
believed to represent no more than the closed palm of the hand, since
there is an old tradition in Persia that a weaver once asked his little
son to devise for him a new design, whereupon the boy thrust his hand
into a pot of dye, then placed it sidewise upon a piece of white linen,
on which became impressed the “palm” design formed by the hand and
incurving small finger. By some it is regarded as a cluster of old
Iranian crown jewels. To others, who point to the well-known pattern of
the Kashmir weaving, it denotes the bend of the river Jhelum above
Srinagar in the valley of Kashmir; and to Sir George Birdwood it
symbolises the flame sacred to ancient fire worshippers. In this work it
will be called the Pear, the name now generally applied to it. In the
course of the many centuries that have elapsed since its origin, and in
its migration through India, Persia, Turkestan, Caucasia, and Asia
Minor, it has adopted more strange shapes than any other device. In the
rugs of Sarabend it is represented in its best-known form of simple
curving lines, in the Bakus its identity is almost lost on account of
its geometric appearance, and in the fabrics of India it is often very
ornate. Though its origin is hidden in the mists of the past, when its
antiquity is considered, and also the devotion of the early races to the
glowing orb of the sun and to terrestrial fires, it is not surprising
that it has been regarded as a relic of the Zoroastrian faith of old
Iran, symbolising the eternal flames before which the Parsees


If the floral designs are more beautiful, others are more truly
symbolic, and when appearing in rugs of barbaric patterns they are more
interesting. Of these the creeping things are represented by the
serpent, scorpion, turtle, crab, and tarantula. Among a few races of
Asia the serpent, which is found in a few old Persian carpets, has been
regarded as emblematic of immortality, but has been more frequently
considered as the symbol of knowledge. The scorpion, also, was supposed
to represent the idea of knowledge. It does not often appear in woven
design, but is sometimes drawn with careful precision in Caucasian
fabrics. The turtle or tortoise stands for constancy. What is called the
“turtle border” (Plate E, Fig. 3, opp. Page 156), which was probably
derived from interlacing arabesques, occurs most frequently in Feraghans
and also in some other Persian rugs, as Muskabads, Sarabends, Serapis,
and even the Sehnas. The tarantula and crab designs are found
exclusively in borders of Caucasian rugs. As their resemblance to the
animals they are supposed to represent is remote, it is most probable
that they are simply the conventionalised forms of the star and

Among the designs seen in Chinese rugs are several not found in any
others. Of these the dragon, originally intended as a symbol of the
infinite, denotes imperial power; the stork, long life; the duck,
conjugal felicity; the bat, happiness; and the butterfly, a spirit.
These designs will be noticed in the chapter on Chinese rugs.

With few exceptions the only modern rugs in which birds are represented
are the Persian. The drawing as a rule is far from natural; but in the
fine old carpets it is often so accurate as to show unmistakably the
order to which they belong. Several of them were used symbolically, as
the bird of paradise, suggestive of felicity; the peacock, symbol of
fire; the eagle, emblem of power. The attitude, to be sure, in which
they appear, affects in a measure their symbolic meaning; as an eagle in
flight denotes good fortune, but one in the act of descending denotes
ill luck.

As the Mohammedan religion interdicts portraying birds and beasts as
well as human forms, they are rarely seen in any rug of Western Asia
Minor, which is inhabited by the Sunnites, the strict conformists to the
law of the Koran; but in Mohammedan countries lying farther to the east,
where the Shiites or nonconformists live, animal designs are very
common. In modern rugs of Persia and Caucasia, dogs, goats, and camels
are the most popular animal subjects, but the drawing is often so poor
that the identity is in doubt. In the old carpets, on the other hand,
animals and human beings were most realistically drawn, and were
intended to represent symbolically the weaver’s thought. In fact, those
masterpieces of Persian art known as the “Hunting Carpets” would lose
much of their interest if their many forms of animal life were without
symbolic meaning. In them the lion is a symbol of victory, power, the
sun, and the day; the antelope and unicorn are symbols of restfulness
and the moon. The lion destroying an antelope would mean, then, the
victory of day over night, or of a powerful over a weak foe. Leopards
and hounds likewise symbolise success and fame. There are also
mythological creatures, as the phœnix, emblematic of life and
resurrection, and the winged _djinni_ or Persian spirits, that often
adorn the fields and borders of some of the elaborate antique carpets of

Not only the forms of vegetable and animal life and their relative
attitudes to one another were intended to convey a symbolic meaning, but
among almost all ancient races colours had a special significance. To
the Moslems no colour was more sacred than the green, which, though
difficult to produce in beautiful tones, they have placed in the fields
of many of their prayer rugs. To them, also, blue was the emblem of
eternity, and in the spandrels above the arches it was the symbol of the
sky. Though to the Hindoo it denotes ill luck, it was the chosen colour
of the Persians, as well as one of the imperial colours of the Chinese.
Among all nations yellow, another imperial colour of China, and red are
suggestive of joy and happiness. Such colours, when used in conjunction
with other emblems, expressed not only beauty, but also different shades
of thought.


These are but a few of the many motives that are employed by the weaver.
Some of them represent objects intimately associated with his daily
life. Some of them reflect his thoughts and emotions. Others are the
still unsolved hieroglyphics of his craft. When, then, we examine some
old worn rug, we may see only an exquisite pattern resplendent in the
deep rich colours of an art now lost; but if to an aesthetic taste be
added an interest in a symbolism that expresses something of the thought
and life of the weaver, we may find in the study of the various designs
another charm that increases with the discovery of any previously hidden



THERE are no records to definitely indicate in what land the art of rug
weaving originated, or to disprove that it developed independently in
different lands. It would be unreasonable, then, to assume that rugs
were not woven in northern regions as early as in southern. In fact,
during the Neolithic age the Lake-dwellers of Switzerland grew and spun
flax, and it is believed that they had looms. Moreover, it is probable
that the savages of cold climates soon learned to weave garments with
the long wool of their sheep or goats; and the similar process of
weaving mats for the floors of their huts would naturally follow.
Nevertheless, such evidence as now remains points to the civilisations
of the Euphrates or the Nile, as the birthplace of this art.

Though we do not know when the first rugs were made, without a doubt
they existed before the pyramids of Egypt or the palaces of Babylon had
risen from the plains. Among the rock-cut tombs of Beni-Hassan in Egypt,
that date from about 2500 B. C. are pictures of men with spindles, of
looms and weavers. There is also unmistakable evidence of the antiquity
of a high state of the textile art among the ruins in the valleys of the
Tigris and the Euphrates. On carved walls of the palaces of Nineveh,
where dwelt the rulers of Assyria over three thousand years ago, are
elaborate drawings indicating that carpets of remarkable workmanship
were then in use. In the borders of some of the robes worn by the rulers
are designs of rosettes and latch-hooks, and on one is depicted the tree
of life, similar to what may be seen in modern rugs. Nor are ancient
writers silent. In the Old Testament are frequent references to woven
fabrics. Homer, also, speaks of them in his Odyssey. Herodotus,
Diodorus, Pliny, Strabo, in fact almost all classic writers have
mentioned them. Moreover, designs on pottery, bowls, tiles, and walls,
similar in appearance to those found in the oldest existing carpets,
carry contributory evidence to their antiquity and character.

This art, that necessity created, comfort nourished, and luxury matured,
has been a process of slow development. To the mind of some dark
tribeswoman of the desert contemplating the rushes gathered from a
sluggish stream and strewn upon the floor of her master’s hut several
thousand years ago, may have been suggested the first idea of a mat.
Indeed, from earliest times mats of reeds, straw, bamboo, or other
pliable material have been constantly made. At first they were doubtless
without ornament; later they were coloured with dyes obtained from roots
and herbs to increase their attractiveness; finally designs symbolic of
nature or the deity were embroidered on them. As wealth and luxury
increased the ornamentation became more elaborate, until during the rule
of the Caliphs the mats rivalled in beauty the carpets for which, during
the summer months, they were substituted. “On these mats,” wrote the
eminent authority, Dr. F. R. Martin, “the artist found free scope for
displaying as much artistic skill as on the real carpets, and gold
threads were intertwined to make them as precious as the most expensive
silk and gold carpets.” Long, however, before they had reached such a
high state of perfection, they would have suggested the idea of making
warmer and more durable floor coverings. The first of these was a simple
web of warp and woof; later they assumed a character not dissimilar to
the kilims now made in the lands of their origin. With further advance,
more elaborate carpets and tapestries were made; but it was not until
the art had been developing for a great many centuries, that there
appeared those most perfect products of knotted pile that were similar
in kind but superior in quality to the modern pieces.

Slow as was this development, as early as the Christian era, the work of
the most skilled weavers of the Orient deserved to be classed as a fine
art. During the time of the Sassanian kingdom (extending from about 226
A. D. to 632 A. D.) carpets of elaborate design and finish were produced
in Mesopotamia and Syria. Most of them were of the wool of sheep or
goats; and in them were represented designs of trees, birds, animals,
and other figures. Other pieces were made of silk richly embroidered
with silver and gold. Moreover, authentic evidence from the VI Century
A. D. not only gives us positive knowledge of the marvellous workmanship
of that time, but enables us to conjecture through what a long period
of progression the artisans had been labouring to arrive at such
results. Dr. Karabacek, director of the Imperial Library of Vienna, in
his monograph “Die Persische Nadelmalerei Susandschird,” gave the
following description of the “Spring of Chosroes” carpet:

“When Ctesiphon, the residence of the Sassanides, fell into the hands of
the Arabs in the year 637 A. D., they found in the royal palace, the
ruins of which still remain, a colossal carpet of 1051 square
metres,[11] which was originally made for Chosroes I. His successor,
Anoschar (531-579 A. D.), used it also, but only during the stormy
weather, when remaining in the gardens was impracticable. The
festivities were then transferred to the palace, where a garden with the
beauty of springtime was represented by the pattern of the carpet. This
was the Winter Carpet that was called in Persia the Spring of Chosroes.
Its material, which was marvellous and costly, consisted of silk, gold,
silver, and precious stones. On it was represented a beautiful pleasure
ground with brooks and interlacing paths, with trees and flowers of
springtime. On the wide borders surrounding it were represented
flower-beds in which precious stones coloured blue, red, yellow, white,
and green denoted the beauty of the flowers. Gold imitated the
yellow-coloured soil and defined the borders of the brooks, where the
water was represented by crystals. Gravel paths were indicated by stones
of the size of pearls. The stalks of trees were of gold and silver, the
leaves and flowers of silk, the fruits of many-coloured stones.”

As the value of this carpet was estimated at about three quarters of a
million dollars, it was regarded as too precious to fall to the lot of a
single captor, and was accordingly divided into segments to be
distributed as booty among the soldiers. Even if during this period
there was no other fabric so valuable and elaborate, it represented the
importance of the textile art during the dynasty of the Sassanides.


During the Caliphate (632 to 1258 A. D.) the Moslem rulers, devoted to
luxury, preserved the art treasures of their conquered subjects and
encouraged them to renewed efforts. This is particularly true of the
Caliphs and sultans of Syria and Egypt. A carpet that adorned the
banquet hall of the Caliph Hisham of Egypt, who died 743 A. D., was of
silk interwoven with strands of gold, and had a length of three hundred
feet and a breadth of one hundred and fifty feet. All of the rooms of
the Egyptian palaces, occupied by the sultans, contained carpets of silk
and satin; and the mosques of Syria were similarly furnished. In the
year 1067 A. D. one of the Caliphs was forced to sell his accumulated
treasures, which consisted, besides jewels and works of art, of about
four thousand bales of carpets. Dr. Martin states that a single one of
these bales contained several hundred perfect carpets, which were woven
in silk and gold, and that some of them contained portraits of entire
royal families. One of them, valued at about $300,000, was made for the
Caliph el Mirz li alla in the year 964 A. D. It was of blue silk, on
which were represented the heavens and the earth, seas and rivers, as
well as the holy cities Mecca and Medina. Such was the character of some
of the carpets woven during the days of the Caliphs.

As the imperfect records which have been left us indicate that the
finest carpet collections of this period were in the mosques and palaces
of Syria and Egypt, it has been assumed that they were woven by the
native artisans. To some extent this is doubtless true, as rug weaving
was one of the oldest industries of these countries. But it is more
probable that most of them were made elsewhere and were acquired as
presents or by purchase. Some were made in Armenia, Assyria, and
Turkestan; but the largest number, as well as the most costly and
elaborate, doubtless came from the same hills and towns of Persia where
many of the finest pieces are woven to-day. In several of these towns as
many as three or four hundred looms were constantly at work; and since
the carpets consisted of warp and weft only, it is probable that they
were produced far more rapidly than modern rugs in which knots are tied
to the warp. But if they lacked the richness of deep, heavy pile, they
were elaborately woven with threads of gold and silver, and were often
embellished with precious stones.


To the tendency of overestimating the age of art objects to which
antiquity adds value, there is no exception in the case of Oriental
rugs, yet there is good reason to believe that a few pieces still exist
that were woven in Persia as early as the XIII or XIV Century. Indeed,
we cannot positively affirm that there may not be religiously preserved
some relic of the Seljukian dynasty, which ruled in Persia till about
1150 A. D., for we have little knowledge of what some of the old mosques
which no Christian has ever entered may contain; but it is more probable
that the oldest remaining pieces belong to the Mongolian period, which
began with the invasion of the armies of Genghis Khan in the first half
of the XIII Century. This conclusion is based partly on the facts that
their archaic patterns indicate a very remote period, and that they
suggest early Mongolian influences. Moreover, as the age of rugs of a
somewhat later period can be determined by the evidence of similarity of
their designs with those of early tiles, metal work, pottery, and
miniatures, of established age, it is possible to infer the relative age
of these older pieces by comparison of patterns showing a progressive

One of the oldest Persian pieces now existing, the property of C. F.
Williams, Esq., of Norristown, Pa., is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
of New York (Plate 11, opp. Page 64). It is also one of the most
interesting. In it are found Persian, Armenian, Caucasian, and Mongolian
characteristics, which serve to determine the district where it was
woven and to suggest its age. Its Sehna knot, cotton warp and weft, as
well as much of the drawing, are typical of Persia. The tri-cleft leaf
and stem seen in the two lower corners, in the main stripe, and in parts
of the field are found in almost all Armenian rugs. The reciprocal
sawtooth of the outer border stripe and the geometric inner stripe are
Caucasian features. Certain colour tones, the octagonal discs at each
end of the large central palmettes, and more particularly the tendrils
or scrolls of the main stripe of the border which resemble the foliate
forms as they appear in Chinese rugs and porcelains of the late Ming and
Kang-hi periods, are Mongolian. The combination of these characteristics
indicates that it was made in the most northwesterly part of Persia
where in 1258 Hulaku Khan established his capital, and his successors
ruled for over a century. Here undoubtedly the craft of weaving
flourished for a long period, and exercised an important influence on
the surrounding countries. To judge by the colours; the formal character
of the border; the rigid lines of the large palmette motives of the
field, which are not seen in carpets of a much later period; and the
stiff, archaic character of the bushes with foliage and blossoms
arranged mechanically on the thick trunks, it is not unreasonable to
place this piece as early as the middle of the XIV Century, during the
interval between the overthrow of the Seljukian dynasty by the followers
of Genghis Khan and the later invasion of the Timurids. In fact, it
may be even older, since those graceful lines that belong to the highest
art of a subsequent period are entirely lacking. But in the drawing is
strength, and in the colours, a few of which have faded, are beauty and


Such old pieces are very rare, yet a similar one, belonging to Prof. W.
Bode, is in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin. Its drawing is more
regular, and the trunks of the trees are broader. These two carpets
represent the art of weaving at a very early period.

Of equal interest and higher artistic merit is another carpet (Plate 12,
opp. Page 68), belonging to C. F. Williams, Esq., and at present in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art but formerly in the possession of J. Böhler
of Munich. It has a length of nearly seventeen feet and a breadth of
nearly twelve. There are about three hundred knots to the square inch.
Though much of that stiffness of drawing found in the earlier pieces
remains, the more pliant branches and less regular setting of the
flowers indicate a later date; so that it is not improbable that it was
woven about the first of the XV Century. Dr. Martin regards this piece
as one of the oldest of the Timurid period if not from the Mongolian,
and says that the trees resemble those in a Mongolian miniature in the
Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and in a manuscript from the year
1396. At any rate, they display more formal drawing than the trees of
more recent carpets. The character of pattern and the colouring suggest
that it was woven in Northwestern Persia.

The field is skilfully divided into three subfields by beds of flowers,
from which slender trees rise and partly screen from view more stately
cypresses. The subdivisions are further indicated by pairs of palmettes,
of which the upper pair mark a transition between the lower pair and
those more elegant forms commonly seen two centuries later. There are
likewise palmettes of simpler form in the two guard stripes. But the
principal ornamentation of the rich border is the interlacing arabesques
of three different colours, which are decorated with a slender wreath of
leaf and flower. There is, moreover, a particular interest in the
grouping of the arabesques since they form a design which may be the
prototype of the so-called turtle borders so frequently seen in
Feraghans and Gorevans, and is itself derived, according to Dr. Martin,
from a still older form in which branching arabesques extend across the
whole field. It may not be unreasonable to assume that this pattern has
been handed down from that earlier period when a Saracenic influence was
felt in all the weavings.

If the chief interest in this piece is centred in the pattern, its
greatest charm lies in its soft, dainty colours, some of which are
exquisitely beautiful. They are expressed in delicate shades of orange,
ivory, light green, sable brown, and light and dark blue on a
background of pinkish red. This pattern and colouring suggest an
Eastern wood when the first frost of autumn has left its touch on the
leaves. The border contains the same colours as the field but is strong
and effective, since the soft tones are in the narrow guard stripes and
the deeper colours appear in the broad central stripe in larger masses
and in immediate contact.

If this carpet was woven about 1400 A. D., as seems not improbable, the
drawing of the trees, palmettes, and border designs becomes by
comparison an important guide for determining the age of other antique
Persian carpets.

Very different, indeed, from the preceding is a woollen piece (Plate 13,
opp. Page 70), sixteen feet four inches long by eleven feet two inches
wide, that was formerly in the collection of Mr. Vincent Robinson of
London, but is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which
bought it at the Yerkes sale in 1910, for $19,600. It has about six
hundred knots to the square inch, and is woven with warp of cotton and
silk, and with weft of silk. The pile is velvety, and the texture,
drawing, and colouring display a high grade of artistic craftsmanship.
Another of similar character is represented in the Vienna Publication of
Oriental Carpets of 1889, at which time it belonged to the Countess
Clotilde Clam-Gallas of Vienna; and a third belongs to the Palais de
Commerce at Lyons.

In no other rugs from Iran is the effect of Mongolian tradition on
design more noticeable; but that this was due to the Timurid invasion at
the end of the XIV Century is doubtful, and it is not improbable that
more immediate intervention with China determined the motives. Nor is
the Saracenic influence obscured, since in every part of the field and
border is seen the perfect rhythm of graceful arabesques. Such carpets
represent, in fact, the transition from those earlier pieces to the
higher products of Persian looms.


One of the simplest ways of studying the pattern is to regard it as
consisting of a number of units formed by a large rounded octagon
encircled by eight heart-shaped escutcheons, and with a smaller
rounded octagon at the centre of the diagonal lines connecting them. On
the large octagons, which are of dark blue crossed by narrow bands of
sable brown, is represented the fight of dragon and phœnix so common
in the ornamentation of the Ming dynasty; and in the smaller octagons,
which are plum colour, are four running lions in red, blue, and green.
The eight escutcheons alternate in crimson and blue, and have arabesques
and Chinese ducks. The large pentagonal-shaped areas of the ivory field
are covered with a most symmetrically drawn tracery of tendrils and
flowers in red, yellow, and blue; and in the smaller hexagonal-shaped
areas are cloud bands of similar colours.

The border shows a marked advance over that of the preceding piece. The
main stripe, which follows a pattern that with slight modification is
adopted in many of the carpets of this and a later period, consists of a
chain-like series of octagons similar to those of the field, separating
elongated panels with crenated edges. The latter are adorned with cloud
bands in yellow interlaced with delicate tendrils supporting flowers in
red, yellow, green, and white, on a dark blue field; and surrounding
them on a red ground is also a delicate tracery of leaves and flowers.
The outer and inner stripes have arabesques and tendrils bearing flowers
in red, green, and blue on a ground of golden yellow. All the colours of
both field and border have mellowed into rich, beautiful hues in which
is the most perfect harmony.

The intricacy and character of design, the delicacy of drawing, and the
tones of colour indicate that this piece was woven near the beginning of
the Safavid dynasty, in the early part of the XVI Century. Mr. Robinson
ascribes its origin to Bagdad; but it seems far more probable that it
came from the northwestern part of Persia, which was an important centre
of textile art only a few years later. This piece and the two others
described on the pages just preceding are among the most interesting
carpets now existing; for they represent not only a very high standard
of the textile craft, but also most important steps in its development.

There is no evidence to indicate how early animal carpets were woven in
Persia. Dr. Martin found a piece with archaic drawing, that from its
resemblance to an old tile of established age, he placed at about the
year 1300 A. D.; but it was about the beginning of the XVI Century that
were woven the first of those masterly pieces which displayed animals
surrounded by a maze of floral life. Lions, leopards, boars, deer, and
hounds were the principal motives. To each of these was ascribed some
principle or quality, so that it has been assumed that the aim of the
weaver was to give expression to some theme of interest.

A number of these carpets represent the chase and are called “Hunting
Carpets.” The best of them are regarded by Dr. Martin as belonging to
the latter half of the XVI Century for reasons indicated in the
following extract from his work: “The manuscript of Nizami, one of the
pearls of the British Museum, which was executed in Tabriz 1539-1542 for
the Shah Tamasp, has the most wonderful designs on the margins. Although
the manuscripts and the miniatures are signed by Persia’s most renowned
masters, there is nothing to give a hint as to who has drawn these
magnificent borders. This manuscript, which at the time it was written,
was considered one of the most remarkable ‘the like of which the eye of
time never beheld,’ plainly proves that the large carpets with hunting
scenes must be relegated to a later time or to about 1560-1570. Both
animals and trees are of a far more stately and earlier character in the

One of the best of these pieces with animals (Plate 14, opp. Page 72) is
in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, by which it was
purchased at the Yerkes sale in 1910, for $15,200. It has a length of
ten feet eleven inches with a breadth of five feet ten inches, and an
average of four hundred and eighty knots to the square inch. Both warp
and weft are of silk, and the pile is of wool. As it was confidently
believed by Mr. Edward Stebbing[12] that this piece belonged for a long
time to the Mosque of Ardebil, where Ismael had established his capital,
and from which Tamasp subsequently moved; it is not improbable that it
belongs to the early period, between the closing years of Ismael’s reign
and the first part of the reign of Tamasp.[13] Nor is there anything in
the technique of colour or design to convey a different impression, as
the general colour of the field is a claret red, and that of the border
a dark blue characteristic of this period.

The most noticeable feature of the carpet is the display of animal life
amid the carefully balanced arrangement of floral figures. Four-fifths
of the field can be divided into two perfect squares with sides equal to
the breadth of the field; and the remainder will be equivalent to
one-half of one of these squares. Each quarter of a square contains
animals, probably intended to represent a lion, leopard, and boar, that
are perfectly balanced with those of the adjacent and alternating
quarters. Moreover, the same balance exists in the case of the smaller
animals and floral forms. Thus it appears that each square forms a
perfect unit in which is shown a remarkable relation between all parts.
Such mathematical exactness indicates the highest artistic skill. The
repetition of pattern also accentuates the predominant idea of animal
life, which is rendered even more noticeable by the strong golden yellow
of some of the group. Whoever has studied the early Iranian monuments
remembers with how slight variation some of the drawing has been copied
during subsequent generations; so that it is not surprising that Mr.
Stebbing should call attention to the resemblance of some of the animals
in this carpet to those of the rock-carved sculptures of Tak-i-Bostan
near Kermanshah.

As is the case with most modern Persian rugs, there is no correspondence
between the size of the animals and the flowers. Nevertheless the lack
of harmony is not felt, as the animal and the floral life are intended
to be regarded separately. The principal flowers of the field are
peonies, some of which are woven with silver threads. They also appear
in the border arranged with perfect precision within the folds of
symmetrical cloud-bands and interlacing arabesques. The latter form a
well-executed repetitive figure that suggests an origin for the
reciprocal trefoil or lily pattern, as it is sometimes called, which
received its highest development in the silk rugs of a later century.

On the whole, this piece is not far short of the highest sumptuary
standard of a subsequent period, and is an excellent example of the
artistic development of the earliest part of the Safavid dynasty. In few
other carpets is combined such intricacy of design with richness and
simplicity of colour.

Of still greater interest than the last is the Arbedil Carpet, now in
the South Kensington Museum. It has a length of thirty-four and a half
feet with a breadth of seventeen and a half; the texture shows about
three hundred and twenty-five knots to the square inch; and the pile is
of wool tied to warp and weft of silk. It has been very carefully
studied by Mr. Edward Stebbing, from whose description the following
extracts are taken:

“The body ground is blue, covered with a floral tracery of exquisite
delicacy and freedom of treatment. A central medallion of pale yellow
terminates on its outer edge in sixteen minaret-shaped points from which
spring sixteen cartouches; four green, four red, and eight light cream;
and from two of these again, as it were, suspended and hanging in the
direction of the respective ends of the carpet, two of the sacred lamps
of the mosque.

“Quarter sections of the central medallion also on a pale yellow ground,
relieved by tracery, form the angles; while a broader border completes
the glorious design, a border of the alternate elongated and rounded
cartouches filled with floral and other tracery, the former on a base of
red, the latter on a rich brown ground flanked on the inner side by a
broad band of cream seven inches wide, relieved by a variation of a
so-called cloud pattern, and a narrower band of crimson near the body of
the carpet; and on the outer side by a single broad band, also seven
inches wide, of tawny hue, shading from dark to light, and relieved by a
bold design in blue.”

But however exquisite the tracery, however delicate the colouring, the
greatest interest centres in the fact that in a panel adjoining the
border of the upper end is the following inscription:

  “I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold;
  “My head has no protection other than thy porchway;
  “The work of the slave of the holy place, Maksoud of Kashan,
     in the year 946.”

Here is revealed the age of the carpet, which not only determines the
character of workmanship of a particular period, but affords a standard
for determining by comparison the relative age of other pieces. The year
946 corresponds with our year 1540 A. D., and the position of the date
indicates that it was inscribed a little before the completion of the
fabric. Accordingly, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the
carpet was begun during the closing years of the reign of Ismael, who
died at Ardebil in 1524, and that it was finished during the reign of
Tamasp I.

To infer that at this period were many such carpets would be a mistake;
since this was doubtless woven by the order of the court, and by one of
the most skilled artisans, who may have made it the crowning labour of
his life. It indicates the highest technique acquired in the early part
of the Safavid dynasty.


Besides the mosque carpets, other pieces such as small prayer rugs were
used for devotional purposes. When the first of them were made is
unknown, though they existed in the days of the Caliphs, when the
words of the Prophet were still fresh in the memories of his followers;
and they were also used at an early period among Turkomans. The oldest
that remain belong to the early part of the Safavid rule. One that was
formerly in the collection of Stefano Bardini of Florence and is now
owned by Mr. Benjamin Altman, appeared at the exhibit of the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1910. It is a woollen piece with a length
of nearly five and a half feet and a breadth of three and a quarter. In
the central field is a prayer arch resembling some of a later period,
with outlines gracefully recurving near the base and broken on each side
by a pentagonal-shaped flower. All parts of each of the two trees that
rise from the bottom of the field are reversely duplicated in the other.
Some of the stiffness of drawing of the earlier carpets remains, but the
blossoms are clustered more naturally and the whole treatment is more
skilful. The effect of the scroll-work on the red ground of the
spandrel; of the suspended lamp with its bright flowers of red, yellow,
and pink; and of the blossoming trees beneath, is most pleasing; but the
chief interest centres in the outer border stripe, where appear features
that are more interesting than harmonious, features derived from Persia,
Assyria, Mongolia, and Arabia. The rounded octagons have Cufic lettering
that recalls early Mesopotamian civilisation; the cartouches at the
bottom with their cloud-bands suggest Mongolian conquests; and the upper
cartouches contain the following verses from the Koran:

  “Iman the victorious and expected Mahdi, the Lord of the Age.
  Zalsi and Hason; and bless the standing proof.
  Oh Lord bless Mohammed the chosen one. Ali, the elect, Fatimeh the
  Jofer Sadik, Mooza Kazin, Ali Riza Mohammed Taki, Mohammed Nakee, Ali.
  The two branches Harson and Hussein Bless Ali Zaimulubbad Mohammed

These verses, the archaic lamp, and the green of the field, a colour
sacred to Moslems, all indicate the religious character of the carpet.
Similar features also appear in another antique piece of about the same
age, but the Cufic characters of the border are within squares
surrounded by circles that resemble Chinese seals as they appear in
early manuscripts. Both of these pieces were probably woven in
Northwestern Persia about the middle of the XVI Century. Few such prayer
carpets remain, though without doubt they were used by devotees during
succeeding periods, and it is not unusual to see, even in modern
Kermanshahs, prayer arches of the same pattern.

Of totally different character but of about the same age is an animal
rug (Plate 15, opp. Page 76) that belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. It was bought at the Yerkes sale in 1910, for $5,600, and had
previously belonged to the collection of Vincent Robinson of London. It
has a length of about seven and a half feet with a breadth of about five
and a half, and consists of woollen pile tied to cotton warp crossed by
woollen weft. The weave is not unlike what is seen in many modern
Sarouks; as the knot is Sehna, one thread of warp is doubled under the
other in each knot, and the coloured thread of weft, which crosses
twice, is partly exposed at the back.

Like so many of the old Persian pieces, the ground colour of red appears
in the main field, and is strongly contrasted with the dark blue of the
medallion and dark green of the corners. Red and green also appear in
the border contrasted with yellow. This association of colour is not
usual, nor is the repetitive pattern of the border with its sharp cusps
at many of the angles, nor the trapeziform corners, and the nearly
rectangular medallion. Likewise the mechanically formed bushes with
their quince-like fruit, on which sit birds of disproportionate size,
show a departure from the accepted traditions of the Safavid schools.
Yet these very features awaken new interest, and suggest that it was
probably woven in some part of Northern or Western Persia where the
influence of the court was not paramount. Nevertheless the accurate
balance of the different halves, and the drawing of the palmettes show
that it is distinctly Iranian.

If this last piece be compared with the animal rug (Plate 16, opp. Page
78) that was presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Mr. Cochran,
the wide contrast will at once be noticeable. As the latter has a length
of about eight and two-thirds feet with a breadth of nearly six, the
difference in size and proportions is not great; nor is there any
particular difference in the number of animals; nor in the balanced
relation of upper and lower, right and left halves; nor in the red
ground of the main fields. But here the resemblance ends. Whereas in the
former the animals are one of the most prominent features, in the latter
they are subordinate to the rich assemblage of floral and palmette
forms, that occupy not only the field but also the border. It is,
indeed, a piece that marks a transition from the animal rugs, so
prominent in the early part of the XVI Century but rarely woven later
than its end, to the more elegant pieces, so characteristic of the court
of Ispahan, which belong almost exclusively to the XVII Century. It
accordingly seems not without reason to assign it to about the year


Not only do these different elements that denote a transition add
interest; they also give a most pleasing effect. The main border stripe
of a rich green with its well-drawn palmettes surrounded by vines and
foliated stalks, on which rest naturally drawn birds of handsome
plumage, and the chaste floral designs of the narrow guards, serve as a
tasteful frame to the central picture. Here again the outer field, with
artistic effect, brings into greater relief the central medallion, where
on a ground of greenish yellow, standing and seated amidst blossoming
shrubs in red, blue, and green, as in a garden, are richly dressed human
forms. Apart from these, yet perhaps intended in some way to reflect the
tenor of their thoughts, are four ducks, emblematic of matrimonial
happiness. Whatever may have been the original shade of the central
medallion, it is now slightly out of harmony with the surrounding
colours, and is perhaps the only jarring note in this exquisite piece of
workmanship. Not improbably the present shade is due to the unfriendly
hand of time, since the artistic genius of the weaver is fully displayed
in the masterly arrangement of other colours and in the delicacy and
precision of the drawing of the perfectly balanced floral and animal

The difficulty of determining the locality where the antique carpets
were woven is often greater than in the case of modern rugs, but this
piece was probably one of the last of those fine old animal carpets that
were woven in the northwestern part of Persia.

Though modern silk rugs fail to awaken the interest of woollen pieces,
the old silk carpets were formerly regarded as the choicest products of
weaving. As a rule, they were the work of the most skilled artists
employed in the imperial factory under the direction and patronage of
the court. It was during the reign of Shah Tamasp that they received
special attention. Following a custom that had been in vogue of sending
carpets as presents to foreign courts, in 1566 he sent to the Sultan of
Constantinople a number of pieces on which flowers, birds, and animals
were woven with silk on threads of gold. But it was doubtless after his
successor Shah Abbas I had begun to embellish his capital at Ispahan,
that were made the famous “Polish” silk or “Polonaise” carpets about
which there has been so much controversy. It is true that Mr. Robinson
in his “Eastern Carpets” claims that they were woven in Poland by
Persians taken there by a Pole named Mersherski; but it seems far more
probable that they were woven under the supervision of the Persian court
and were either sent as presents to European sovereigns or purchased by
wealthy connoisseurs of art.

How many of these pieces may be hidden away in the palaces and mosques
of the far East it is impossible to determine, but two hundred would be
a very conservative estimate of the number owned by the different courts
of Europe and by private collectors of that country and America. One of
them was presented to the Danish court as late as 1639; and it is
believed that all that reached Europe arrived there between the years
1604 and 1650.

Their beauty is exquisite and chaste. To the threads of silver and gold
is tied silken nap that often displays a striking brilliancy. Unlike the
earlier Persian carpets which had more subdued hues, these pieces have
light tones such as salmon, rose, and green, which are arranged with
perfect harmony. Moreover, there is an elegance of design representing
the highest types of Iranian, Saracenic, and Mongolian influences
combined. Here in perfection are dainty floral forms, the rhythmic
tracery of arabesques, and delicate cloud-bands. In them the textile art
of the East reached a perfection that probably has never been surpassed.

One of these (Plate 17, opp. Page 80), that has a length of about nine
feet and a breadth of five and a half, belongs to the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. In many respects it is typical of its class, though
threads of yellow and grey are substituted for the usual gold and silver
of the foundation. On a field of rose are outlined palmettes, leaves,
and scrolls in green, blue, brown, and salmon, that harmonise with the
light blue of the border. All of these colours blend with pleasing
effect and soften lines that in a print seem harsh. Furthermore with all
its complexity of detail, every part of the pattern is arranged with
mathematical precision. That a carpet with such perfect balance of every
part, such intricacy of elaborate detail, such graceful curves of the
heavy foliate leaves should be woven without copying some older pattern
or a carefully executed drawing, seems improbable.


In this piece and in others of the same class can be recognised what is
probably the prototype of more conventionalised and less elegant
designs so often seen in modern Persian pieces, since the palmette with
encircling lancet leaves in its borders is most suggestive of the
borders of modern Herats; and the rhomboidal-shaped figure connecting
four palmettes at the centre is equally suggestive of the Herati or fish
pattern seen in the field of innumerable Feraghans.

It was also during the reign of Shah Abbas[14] and his immediate
successors that most of the so-called Ispahans were woven, though some
of them appeared as early as the XV and some as late as the close of the
XVII Century. As in the case with the Polish silk carpets, within recent
years some difference of opinion has existed regarding the place of
their manufacture. After careful research, Dr. Martin believes that they
came from Herat and with this idea some other authorities concur. It is
true that Herat belonged to the Persian Empire during the reign of the
Safavid dynasty, and that even in the days of Shah Ismael magnificent
carpets were woven there. It is also true that during the time of Tamasp
and Abbas it was as important an art centre as Tabriz, and that the
weaving of carpets was a leading industry there. Furthermore, there has
not been found the same evidence to show that Ispahan was at this period
an equally important centre of weaving. On the other hand, it is well
known that the splendid industrial and art products of this period were
largely due to the direct encouragement and favour of the court, and
that the court was for most of the time at Ispahan. It is also known
that skilled artisans were repeatedly removed from one district to
another at the command of a sovereign, so that carpets of similar
character might be woven contemporaneously in remote parts of Persia. It
accordingly seems not improbable that the original type of these carpets
was evolved at Herat and that many of them at least were made at Herat,
but that others were also made at Ispahan. At any rate they were made to
a great extent under the influence that emanated from Ispahan.

Almost without exception they are pieces of large size and oblong shape.
The ground colour of the field is usually red, the border blue; but blue
is occasionally used in the field and green in the border. Their
distinguishing feature is the use of the palmette, that was probably
derived from the lotus, so frequently associated with the Buddhist cult
of India and China. In the field it generally occurs in pairs that
slightly vary in size. Of almost equal importance are the Chinese
cloud-bands and the scrolls or arabesques. These three designs were
constant motives in almost all the Ispahans; but they were subject to
modifications in size and shape, which appearing in chronological order
furnish some guide to the time when the carpets were woven. For
instance, the palmettes were at first small and distributed plentifully
over the field; later they became larger, until in a few instances they
were a yard in diameter. Dr. Martin says that in the first part of the
XVII Century the palmettes began to be very large and the richness of
the interior design to disappear; until at the end of the XVII Century
only a few were sufficient to cover the ground that one hundred years
before was almost hidden by innumerable designs of small palmettes,
cloud-bands, and scroll work. He also states that towards the middle of
the XVII Century the borders began to lose their importance and that the
palmettes were surrounded by two long, narrow leaves.

Though most of the antique Iranian carpets that remain were woven in the
Northern provinces, it is well known that even from earliest times
carpets of elaborate design and skilful technique were also woven in
Southern Persia. In fact, many of the wonderful pieces that adorned the
palaces and mosques of the Fatimid Caliphs of Egypt came from the
districts of Fars and Kirman. The latter, notwithstanding invasions of
Seljukian Turks, Mongolians, and Afghans, has continued almost
uninterruptedly as a centre of the textile industry; yet comparatively
few pieces exist that were woven there three or four centuries ago.
Their colour scheme harmonises more with that of the carpets of Western
Persia than with the more sombre tones of the old animal carpets and
Ispahans, or with the brighter hues of the so-called Polish. Their
patterns also show a distinction from those of northern textile fabrics.
The fields are often artificially divided, by foliate stalks or
lance-shaped leaves with serrated edges, into rhomboidal figures that
contain mechanically drawn shrubs, palmettes, or flowers. In the main
stripe of the border are generally represented interlacing arabesques
adorned with flowering vines or arabesques and a sub-pattern of vines.
Mongolian designs are rarely seen in any of these pieces, which probably
represent more closely than any other Persian carpets native art
unaffected by foreign influences. Almost all of them are now owned in

Of the early rugs, those woven in Armenia are far less known than those
from Persia. Nevertheless, it may reasonably be assumed that the high
culture that was manifested in Bagdad and Ctesiphon during the sway of
the Caliphs was felt among the mountainous districts to the north; and
that the Seljukian rulers, who left such artistic monuments in the old
Armenian capitals, appreciated and encouraged the manufacture of fine
woollen fabrics. In fact, Marco Polo, who travelled through that region
during the latter part of the XIII Century, referred to them as being
remarkably handsome.

Probably the oldest remaining pieces are the so-called Dragon carpets,
which, it is believed, were produced from the XIV to the XVII Century
and possibly even earlier. Not infrequently the length is at least twice
the breadth; the very narrow border occasionally consists of only a
single stripe; and the field is occupied by a trellis-like pattern of
narrow, conventionalised leaves, within which are designs containing
archaic flowers and dragons. The ground colour of the field is generally
some shade of red, that of the border white, and the leaves are yellow,
blue, or green. In the borders of many of them appear an S motive from
which undoubtedly was derived the design so frequently seen in panels of
more recent Asia Minor prayer rugs.

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York is a XV Century carpet
(Plate 19, opp. Page 86), which, though widely differing from these
pieces in general pattern, so closely resembles them in the essential
characteristics of weave and colour that it is unquestionably of the
same class. The field is occupied by concentric diamonds with stepped
sides. The encircling bands, that are mostly red, yellow, and violet,
and the corners, that are white, contain numerous archaic forms,
including palmettes, trees, birds, and animals. There are also numerous
small designs of the tri-cleft leaf so common to the Circassian and
Soumak rugs; and the ray-like edges of the central lozenge, as well as
the four palmettes that rest upon it, suggest the origin of the
effulgent stars of old Daghestans and Kabistans. An effort has been made
to balance similar designs in corresponding parts of the field, though
its centre is at one side of the geometric centre of the diamonds. The
palmettes show distinctly a strong Persian influence and the animal
forms likewise show that it was not woven by a sectarian Sunnite of
Western Asia Minor.

Part of a very unusual carpet (Plate 20, opp. Page 88), from a district
in Eastern Asia Minor, is in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum at Berlin. Its
principal interest lies in the fact that it is very old and that its
approximate age has been determined. In the hospital at Siena, Italy, a
similar rug is represented in a fresco called the “Wedding of the
Foundling,” painted by Domenico di Bartolo about the year 1440, so that
it is reasonable to conclude that this particular piece was woven not
much later. In fact, its character would indicate that it or some other
from which it has been copied was much older. Each of the nearly square
compartments contain octagons, within which on a yellow field are
represented the mythical fight of the dragon and phœnix that was
adopted as the Ming coat of arms. It is interesting to note that the
chain pattern of the brownish-black main border stripe is not unlike
what is seen in modern pieces, but the running latch hooks of the
corners and the small S designs are unusually stiff. This disposition to
formal drawing, which is conspicuous in all parts of the rug, shows an
archaic style noticeable only in the very earliest carpets.

In the celebrated painting of Georg Gyze (Plate 21, opp. Page 92) which
hangs in the Berlin Gallery, is represented a rug of a class so
frequently seen in the paintings of Hans Holbein that they are known as
“Holbein rugs.” Their marked dissimilarity to those previously described
indicates that they were woven under different circumstances if not in
different regions. Neither in the fields nor borders is any trace of
Mongolian or Persian influences; and the absence of all floral, leaf,
and animal forms so usual in most antique carpets is noticeable. Indeed,
the fact that animal forms rarely appear in the art of the Sunni
Mohammedans aids in determining the place of their origin. They came
from Asia Minor or Western Armenia.

It has generally been assumed that they were woven in Western Asia
Minor, because they were purchased there in former centuries and taken
thence to Europe; but they possess many features that indicate they may
have been woven farther to the east, whence many could easily have been
transported westward in caravans. Their borders contain the well-known
pattern derived from Cufic letters which, more conventionalised, appears
in later years only in such rugs as the Kabistans and Daghestans of
Eastern Caucasia. Most of them also contain the small octagonal discs
and larger octagonal figures with Greek crosses at the centre that
suggest forcibly the designs of Southeastern Caucasia. The narrow
stripes of ribbon and chain pattern found in many of them also are
very common in Caucasian rugs; so that it seems not improbable that
these Holbein rugs were made within the boundaries of that greater
Armenia which, embracing the upper Mesopotamian valley, extended over
the eastern part of Asia Minor and the southern part of modern Caucasia.


These rugs claim the attention not only because they have borders of
such interesting origin, but by the fact that the age when they were
woven is ascertainable. As Holbein lived between the years 1497 and
1543, and some other rugs of this type appear in the works of early
Flemish and Italian painters, it may reasonably be assumed that some of
them were made before the end of the XV Century.

A very excellent example of this class, owned by Mr. C. F. Williams, is
now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has a length of about five
feet with a breadth of three and a half. The ground colour of the field
is an olive green and that of the main stripe of the border is red. The
prevailing colours of the designs, which are entirely geometric, are
blue, green, and ivory. All of these rugs are small or of moderate size,
and are slightly oblong. Some of them have a ground colour of green; and
yellow is frequently found in the pattern. The weaving is rather loose;
and compared with Persian rugs they have fewer knots to the square inch.

Another carpet from Asia Minor that also belongs to Mr. C. F. Williams
appears in Plate 22, opp. Page 94. It is the only entire rug with this
pattern that is known, though a piece of a similar rug is in the
Victoria and Albert Museum at London. On fields of blue and red are
outlined three large four-pointed stars separated by smaller diamonds.
Within these figures and in the surrounding field is a network of
tracery supporting conventionalised leaf and floral forms. Between the
field and the main stripe of the narrow border is a close co-ordination
of pattern, but the simple ribbon of the inner guard seems alien. It
appears without modification in many later Asia Minor and Caucasian

An important feature are the double knots at the corners of the stars,
since they are identical with designs found in a manuscript made for one
of the Shahs in 1435, and thus assist to determine the age of the rug.
For this reason and on account of its general character, it seems not
unreasonable to place it as early as the middle of the XV Century.

Similar carpets were woven during a long period, and it is probable that
in the latter half of the following century they were largely influenced
by the weavers that Solyman the Magnificent, after capturing Tabriz in
1534, transported to his own country. The same general features still
remained, but the detail was more elaborate and ornate. Arabesques,
palmettes, and floral forms, both of field and border, resembled more
nearly the Iranian character. But at a later period, after the beginning
of the general decadence to which every industry and art were subject,
the patterns became much simpler, and the colours were reduced almost
exclusively to red and blue with a little green. At length, both pattern
and colours assumed the type of modern Oushaks, that by a slow process
of devolution originated from these antique pieces.

In Armenia and Asia Minor it is probable that weaving existed before the
Christian era, and that the earliest carpets which remain, though
affected by more eastern influences, are largely the product of an
indigenous art. But in India it was otherwise. It is true that Sir
George Birdwood is authority for the statement that the Saracens
introduced carpet-weaving there; but it is most probable that at the
time of the invasion of the armies of Tamerlane and during the lives of
many of his successors, whatever carpets were woven were very crude.
Even when the Moguls began to build and embellish palaces, they obtained
their carpets from Persia. But at length Shah Akbar established
manufacturies at Lahore about the year 1580, and invited Persian weavers
to settle there. From them the native workmen acquired much of their
knowledge of patterns and technique.

It was during the reign of Shah Jahan (1628-1658), builder of the famous
peacock throne and Taj Mahal, that most of the choicest pieces that now
remain were woven. In delicacy of texture they rival those of any other
country, and it is not unusual to find pieces with nearly eight hundred
knots to the square inch; moreover, all their designs are depicted with
remarkable clearness of definition. One of the most noted of these
carpets is the woollen piece, about eight yards long by two and a half
wide, that was made at the royal factory at Lahore and presented to the
Girdlers Company of London in 1634. The mingling of leaf and floral
forms, as well as the Herati designs of rosette and crumpled leaf, on a
field of red, shows unmistakably its relation to Persian carpets. At the
same period were woven large numbers of others with fields covered
with an imposing display of superbly drawn flowers, of which every
part from root to leaf tips was represented with astonishing realism.
Another class included the animal or hunting carpets, which unlike their
Persian prototypes seem intended not so much to portray symbolically
some historic event or abstract idea, as to convey a correct impression
of an actual event.

[Illustration: PLATE 22. OUSHAK CARPET

Loaned by C. F. Williams, Esq., to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New

One of these, a woollen piece with a length of eight and a quarter feet
and a breadth of five and a quarter, is in the Boston Museum of Fine
Arts. The inspiration was from some old Persian piece, but the rendering
is peculiarly Indian. In this representation of an Oriental jungle is a
strange mingling of the real and unreal. The struggle of a monster bird
with a winged beast, half lion, half elephant, and the demoniac faces of
the border suggest the inspiration of early pagan mythology; but the
movements of the running gazelles and the stealthily creeping tiger, the
attitude of the driver of the cart and his attendant, are most natural.
The drawing as a whole is exceedingly delicate. The ground colour of the
field is the red of most Ispahans and Herats of this period, but the
border is a cream colour, a combination not in accord with Persian
tradition. The other colours are fawn, blue, pink, grey and brown. It is
probably the only Indian hunting carpet of its kind.

Few strictly antique carpets from other countries of the Orient are
known. Of the innumerable pieces that were surely woven in Caucasia and
Western Turkestan before the end of the XVII Century, scarcely a vestige
can be found. Nor are there many from the looms of Syria, though in the
days of the Caliphs every mosque was adorned with magnificent carpets.
It is true a few sterling pieces of Saracenic character, that have been
ascribed to the region about Damascus, still exist. There are also a few
rare and beautiful pieces that have come to light in China.[15] But of
the countless thousands that in almost every country of the Orient once
covered floors of palaces and mosques, representing one of the most
refined arts, now nearly lost, only an insignificant fraction remains.




RUGS contribute to the comfort of the nomad more than
any other fabric. With them he closes the entrance to his tent or covers
the floor and couches on which he sits and sleeps. Thrown over other
objects they form the table, made into saddle bags they take the place
of trunks. The followers of Islam when at prayer kneel on a rug, and in
token of affection spread one over the grave of a friend. To dwellers in
cities, also, rugs contribute largely to the comfort and luxury of the
home. Indeed, without them the splendour of Oriental life would seem
incomplete, since they are the principal furnishings of every house,
where stout woven pieces with long pile are spread as floor coverings,
and lighter ones are hung as portières and tapestries. Yet it is in the
assembly or dining hall that the finest rugs are used, though here the
most valued are exposed only on great occasions.

In the East a rug receives a particular name according to which of these
special purposes it is adapted. The large, almost square piece that is
used to cover the centre of the assembly hall is known as the “Khali;”
and the narrow strips or “runners” that are placed at its sides and ends
are known as the “Kenares.” It is on the Kenares that the servants are
required to walk and the less honoured guests to stand, for they are
rarely of such fine quality as the former. Before the divan, that
generally surrounds three walls and is covered with fine cloth and
velvet, are seats on which are placed carpets called “Sedjadeh.” They
are nearly twice as long as broad, and since they are of moderate size
and excellent quality they are frequently used for many other purposes.
The hearth rug, termed “Odjalik,” can generally be distinguished from
others, as each end of the field is of triangular shape with the apex at
the extremity. However much any of these may be valued, the one that to
every worshipper of Allah has the most sacred association is the
“Namazlik,” or prayer rug, at one end of which is an arch in token of
the mosque. At call for prayer the faithful Moslem spreads his rug with
arch directed towards Mecca, and kneeling with the palms of his hands at
each side of the centre he bows his head till it touches the rug. As the
Mohammedans of Persia are unwilling that a Namazlik be trampled by the
foot of an infidel, few from there can be bought; but the Mohammedans of
other countries are less scrupulous, so that many of the prayer rugs
sold in America have been made solely for trade and have never been used
in worship. They may be beautiful, but special interest attaches to old
pieces of which the well-worn nap shows where the knees of both father
and son for over half a century have often pressed. In addition to these
are other rugs with technical names, but a classification of much
greater importance is that which depends on the country or district
where they are woven.

When the Oriental rugs first appeared in the market of the United
States, they were spoken of as “Turkish,” for the reason that importers
purchased them from Turkish merchants of Constantinople. But when it
became known that they had been taken there by caravans from countries
farther to the east, and that large numbers of them came from Persia,
the name “Persian,” that to the mind of many conveys ideas of splendour,
was at once applied; even to-day all classes of Oriental rugs are often
spoken of as Persian. As objects of ornament or utility, their value is
independent of their place of origin; yet it is known that the wool of
the nap and the dyes used in some districts are superior to those in
others, and that in consequence the beauty of some rugs will improve
with age far more than that of others. It is also known that because in
certain districts the material of warp and weft, as well as the
workmanship, is of a superior quality, the rugs made there will wear
better than others. The knowledge, then, of where a rug is made is
important in determining the quality and value, which otherwise only a
critical examination, that few people are able to make, would show.

[Illustration: PLATE 23. SEHNA RUG]

Furthermore, the knowledge of where a rug is made, suggesting the class
of people who wove it, adds immeasurably to our interest. When, for
instance, we look at an old piece of Kurdish weave with its nomadic
designs and shaggy nap, on which a Moslem savage as an Apache often
rested fully half a century ago, there is called up a picture of the
dark-visaged tribesman, fearless and untamed as were his ancestors
who contested the march of Xenophon over two thousand years ago. We see
him wandering with his flocks over the hills while he watches for a
chance to fall upon an unsuspecting stranger. We picture to ourselves
the hut of brush upon the mountain side where a slender barbaric girl
bends to tie, with wonderful patience, the knots one by one. So if we
would enjoy our Oriental rugs, we should know what people made them, and
whence and how they journeyed, before they reached our fireside.

At the request of a purchaser the vendor is ever ready to classify a
rug, but his statements are not always reliable. This is partly due to
the fact that even the great importing houses are often deceived.
Throughout Asia Minor, Persia, Turkestan, even farther east, great fairs
are regularly held. Here gather the representatives of tribes from far
distant quarters to enjoy for a few days or weeks the gay life and
abandon of the East while bartering the products of their different
crafts. Here come the purchasing agents looking for rugs; and the pieces
that may be brought from afar are bought and shipped by camel and rail
to such great marts as Tabriz, Tiflis, and Constantinople, where the
bales are unpacked and the rugs assorted, classified and labelled,
before they are resold to the importing houses of Europe and America.
Thus both in the buying from the itinerant agent of rugs assembled from
different quarters and in the reassortment at the exporting cities there
is frequent opportunity for errors of classification.

The characteristics of the different groups and classes of rugs are
given in later chapters, but it should not be presumed that these are
infallible guides to the locality where they were made. Often a ruler,
by fostering art, has drawn to his capital artists and artisans from
other districts. Thus designs and quality of workmanship characteristic
of one district would be adopted in another. So, too, the great caravans
that pass along regular routes eastward and westward, and the annual
pilgrimages to Meshed and Mecca, have been most potent influences for
the dissemination of designs. Yet taking into consideration the general
pattern and smaller designs; the material of warp, weft, and pile; the
knot; the dyes; the finish of sides and ends, and the peculiarities of
the weave, it is possible with a reasonable amount of certainty to
determine in what districts almost all Oriental rugs are woven.

It should be borne in mind, however, that the names by which some of the
rugs are known in America are not the same as those by which they are
known in Asia. For instance, the rugs made by some of the tribes of the
Tekke Khanate are known in the Orient as “Tekkes;” but as the great
depot for Turkestan carpets was formerly the city of Bokhara, they are
generally known in this country as “Bokharas.” On the other hand, there
are local distinctions in the eastern countries not known in the
western. The accompanying classification, therefore, is slightly
arbitrary, but should be convenient for reference; since the classes
represent the cities or districts where are woven the several different
kinds, excepting the Chinese, which are divided chronologically. The
names of the groups are not in each instance entirely satisfactory, but
are probably the best that can be chosen. The fourth group, for example,
has frequently been called the “Turkoman;” but as it includes some of
the rugs of Afghanistan, and also those of Beluchistan, which is remote
from Turkestan, that name is not sufficiently comprehensive. The
district where these rugs are made is, strictly speaking, the western
and southwestern part of Central Asia; but the term here employed has
the authority of some German writers of note. So, too, the rugs of
Herat, though it is now a city of Afghanistan, are included with the
Persian group; but it should be remembered that Herat, as well as the
districts of Mosul and Kurdistan, was once part of the old Persian


  (_a_) Khorassan district:
            Herat, Khorassan, Meshed.

  (_b_) Shiraz district:
          Ispahan, Kirman, Yezd, Shiraz, Niris.

  (_c_) Feraghan district:
            Feraghan, Hamadan, Kara-Geuz, Bibikabad, Iran, Sarouk,
              Kashan, Sarabend, Burujird, Sultanabad, Muskabad, Mahal,
              Joshaghan, Gulistan, Teheran.

  (_d_) Sehna district, or Adelan province:
            Sehna, Bijar, Kermanshah, Persian Kurdistan, Karaje.

  (_e_) Tabriz district:
            Tabriz, Gorevan, Bakshis, Serapi, Herez, Suj-Bulak, Karadagh,

  (_f_) Kurdistan district:
            Western Kurdistan, Mosul, Gozene.


  (_a_) West Asia Minor district:
            Bergamo, Ghiordes, Kulah, Oushak, Ak-Hissar, Demirdji,
              Kutayah, Smyrna, Melez, Isbarta, Rhodian, Broussa,

  (_b_) Central Asia Minor district:
            Konieh, Ladik, Kir-Shehr, Anatolian, Karaman, Sivas, Mudjar,
              Nigde, Tuzla, Kaisariyeh, Zile, Yuruk.


  (_a_) North Caucasian:
            Daghestan, Kabistan, Kuba, Derbend, Lesghian, Chichi,

  (_b_) Trans Caucasian:
            Baku, Shirvan, Soumak, Shemakha, Tiflis, Kutais, Kazak,
              Karabagh, Shusha, Gengha.


  (_a_) West Turkoman sub-group, Western influence:
            Royal Bokhara, Princess Bokhara, Tekke, Yomud, Khiva, Afghan,

  (_b_) East Turkoman sub-group, Eastern influence:
            Samarkand, Kashgar, Yarkand.

  (_c_) Beluchistan.


  (_a_) Northern India:
            Srinagar, Amritsar, Lahore, Multan, Agra, Allahabad,
              Mirzapur, Zabalpur, Patna, Jaipur.

  (_b_) Southern India:
            Madras, Mysore, Bangalore, Warangal, Malabar, Hyderabad,


  (_a_) XVII Century:
            Late Ming 1600-1643 and Early Kang-hi (1662-1700).

  (_b_) XVIII Century:
            1. Late Kang-hi (1700-1722). 2. Yung-ching (1722-1736).
               3. Keen-lung (1736-1795).

  (_c_) Early and Middle XIX Century.

  (_d_) Late XIX Century or Modern.



IN the grouping of Oriental rugs, it is not always desirable to follow
the present political divisions of territory, since great and frequent
changes in national boundaries have occurred without corresponding
changes in the traditional style of weaving. Thus it happens that with
the rugs made in Persia, which is still called Iran by its inhabitants,
it is desirable to group those made within that former Iran that
included the valley of Mesopotamia on the west and part of Afghanistan
on the east. The woven products of all this territory have
characteristics that are similar to one another and that differentiate
them from those of other countries. Their patterns are distinctly
floral, representing leaf, bud, and flower, and show a tendency to
naturalistic drawing with graceful and often intricate lines. Moreover,
their colour schemes of delicate tones are not only beautiful but in
perfect harmony. In marked contrast with them are the rugs of Caucasia,
Asia Minor, and Central Asia, which have patterns of geometric shape or
highly conventionalised flower forms, and colours that often appear in
bold contrast. In the Chinese rugs, also, is generally less harmony of
colour, as well as less co-ordination of design, than in the Persian.
The scroll and floral patterns appear on the field in isolated figures,
or else imitate with more formal drawing the diaper pattern of some
Iranian carpets. Only in the rugs of India is there a similarity to the
patterns and colour tones of those of Persia; but the designs are more
realistically drawn, less artistically arranged, and less profuse.


_The weaver of this interesting Bergamo followed the early Asia Minor
traditions in the use of rich, deep blue and red of field and border,
yet in respect to pattern showed his freedom from conventionality by
departing from types peculiar to his district and adopting many nomadic
designs prevalent throughout Anatolia. Reciprocal latch-hooks form the
background of the central field, on which are three upright panels
containing octagonal discs; and latch-hooks surrounding lozenges and
forming what may originally have been intended to represent the tree of
life appear almost as conspicuously in the border. There are also combs,
knots of destiny, and innumerable S-forms. The panels at the upper and
lower ends of the field and the reciprocal vandykes are most suggestive
of Ladiks, but in the place of pomegranates at the ends of the upright
stalks are small checquered squares. Bergamos with such patterns are now
rarely seen._

  _Loaned by Mr. Hulett C. Merritt_]

The similarity in the rugs of the Persian group is due to past political
influences as well as to common ties of race and religion. From the time
when Ctesiphon and Babylon vied with the cities of Persia in the
splendour of their capitals, all of this territory was repeatedly under
one and the same dominant power, which at different times was held by
Saracens, Seljukian Turks, Timurids, and Safavids; and even after the
end of the Safavid dynasty the influence of Nadir Shah was felt over
Mesopotamia as well as Western Afghanistan. A still stronger influence
is that of race; for Aryans, Arabs, Armenians, and Turks have blended
with the early people of the whole territory, until not only do all
resemble one another, but their craftsmanship is similar. Furthermore,
with the exception of a few rapidly disappearing Parsees, who still
cling to the early Zoroastrian faith, all are Mohammedans; and in their
frequent pilgrimages to the same shrines is a constant interchange of
ideas and exchange of fabrics. It is true Asia Minor, Caucasia, and
India have shared to some extent the same influences, but to a much less

A resemblance, also, exists between many of the physical features of the
entire country that affect the habits and industries of the people. To
be sure the Euphrates and Tigris, that wind sluggishly through the great
Mesopotamian valley, and the great ranges of the Elburz and Zagros, that
extend from Mt. Ararat easterly and southeasterly through Persia, have
no counterpart; but on the other hand in Mesopotamia, Persia, and
Western Afghanistan are great stretches of sandy wastes where there is
little vegetation, high table-lands where during rainless summer months
the earth is parched, and little valleys of fertile soil that are
watered by streams from the encircling mountain ridges. Throughout this
territory, wherever physical conditions are similar, the people follow
similar pursuits. In the deserts the impoverished Bedouins live; in the
higher lands some two millions of nomads follow their sheep and goats,
pitching their tents wherever there is pasture; in the valleys are
several millions of people, who, with the placid contentment of the
East, irrigate their garden patches, fashion simple articles of metal,
and weave artistic rugs.

A general decadence in social, political, and industrial life pervades
the whole country; yet due partly to the inheritance of a past
associated with the glories of Persepolis and Ecbatana, Babylon and
Nineveh, Bagdad and Ctesiphon, and to the more immediate influence of
the textile masterpieces of three centuries ago, rugs are still produced
that in delicacy of weave, beauty of design, and harmony of colours
surpass those of any other part of the world. In the weave of the best
examples is displayed a technical skill only approached by a few of the
Royal Bokharas. In the fine rhythm of lines and in the colour scheme of
harmonious and delicate tones, with which a few of the best products of
India alone compare, is united the touch of both artist and artisan. The
fields of the old pieces are lavishly covered with intricate designs of
buds and blossoms supported by vines or tendrils, and frequently
encircled by arabesques that interlace so as to form an harmonious
whole. The fields of the modern pieces are frequently of solid colour,
with central medallions and triangular corners defined by graceful
lines. Again, the ground colour of the field, which is either uniform or
slightly shading from one end to the other, is covered with
realistically drawn or conventionalised floral designs that are arranged
with studied precision, and are now and then relieved by some nomadic
design. Surrounding the fields are borders of several stripes, some of
which contain an undulating vine with pendent flowers or palmettes
co-ordinate in drawing and colouring with the main pattern. It is,
however, principally in the colours, which are delicate yet rich,
subdued yet lustrous, that these rugs surpass all others. Their most
distinctive tones are blues, reds, browns, and greens, so arranged that
the ground colours of border and field generally contrast yet remain in
perfect harmony; as where there is some moss green in border and wine
colour in field, each being subordinated to other superimposed colours
representing floral detail.


The best known of the floral patterns, repeated with formal precision
throughout the field, is the Herati pattern, which is of uncertain
antiquity and origin. It consists of a central figure that generally
represents a rose, but sometimes a peony or rosette, about which are
grouped other figures like crumpled or lance-shaped leaves. Probably
both the central and encircling figures are of Persian origin, though
the latter have been regarded by some authorities as representing fish
and attributed to Egypt or to China; in fact, they are occasionally
drawn so as distinctly to show eyes and fins. Very frequently four of
these figures are arranged about a lattice-shaped design with pendants
and a central rosette, as in Plate O, Fig. 4 (Page 291). This Herati or
Fish Pattern, as it is frequently called, appears in many of the old
Persian rugs and in most of the modern pieces, particularly the
Feraghans and Herats. A less frequently seen floral pattern, which has
been used from a very remote time and is still represented in modern
rugs, is the Guli Hinnai, or Flower of Hinnai (Plate O, Fig. 3). Of this
plant Mohammed was so fond that he called it the “chief of this world
and the next.”

It occurs as a formal pattern in many of the Feraghans, and in several
other rugs in which its bright five-petalled flowers are scattered
informally over the field. Another floral pattern frequently seen is the
Mina Khani, illustrated in Plate O, Fig. 2, that was named after Mina
Khan, a former Persian ruler. It is particularly characteristic of
Persian Kurdish pieces in which a dark blue field is covered by a
network of intersecting olive-coloured vines. At the intersections are
placed large flowers that alternate in regular series according to their
different designs and colours; and between them often appear other
flowers, such as the smaller and brighter coloured Hinnai, so as to
destroy too great stiffness of design. As the flowers are relatively
large and sufficiently separate to show the intervening blue field, this
is one of the most effective of the formal repetitive floral patterns. A
still more formal pattern (Plate O, Fig. 1), which appeared in some of
the Persian rugs of the XVI and XVII centuries, was named after Shah
Abbas. It is not unlikely that it was suggested by the Mina Khani
design, to which it bears a slight resemblance; but the principal motive
is so conventionalised that it has lost much of the floral character.
Between the large and formal palmettes, that are arranged with
mathematical precision, are grouped with similar regularity smaller
palmettes, connected by angular vines and leafy branches.

Only a few Persian rugs have the formal repetitive patterns, such as the
Herati, Guli Hinnai, Mina Khani, and Shah Abbas. Others have the
repetitive pattern of bushes, flowers, or the pear, on a field of rich
colour. The remainder have patterns consisting largely of scrolls,
vines, or tendrils, drawn with exquisite art and decorated with leaves,
flowers, and buds in beautiful profusion; also birds, beasts, human
beings, demons, and other imaginary shapes, sometimes associated with
the foliage but frequently bearing no apparent relation to it, appear as
special motives. Since many of these forms, which originated in the
remote past, have been transplanted from one country to another, and
conventionalised to meet the new environment, it is interesting to
observe the designs in the different classes of rugs and trace as far as
possible the influences to which they are due.

HERATS.—On great lines of travel between India, Turkestan, and Persia,
the city of Herat in Northwestern Afghanistan for centuries occupied
commercially a most important position, so that its people long since
became familiar with the best fabrics of the surrounding countries.
During the XV Century it reached its greatest prosperity, and exerted an
important influence on the art and culture of Western Asia. Before the
art decadence that followed the capture of the city by Nadir Shah in
1731, and the removal of many of its artisans to Persia, its looms were
producing some of the best rugs of the Orient, which excelled in
delicacy of drawing and in perfect harmony of colours. The fields
contained patterns of serrated leaves entwined with flowing arabesques,
scrolls, and Chinese cloud-bands. Conspicuous among this tracery were
palmettes and such flowers as the lotus and peony, which were often most
realistically drawn.[17] These rugs are of further interest, as they
contained in field and border the design that, slightly changed, appears
in many of the later rugs of Persia as the Herati pattern.

The modern rugs are as unlike other Afghans as were the antique pieces
and show a close relationship to those of Persia. Nor is this
surprising, as the weavers, though falling far short of the high
standards of the time when Herat was part of Persia, are still mindful
of the early traditions. Moreover, many of the rugs are made across the
border in Khorassan, and have the silky pile peculiar to the rugs of
that province; but their tones of colour, consisting principally of red
or blue in the field, and light green, yellow, and ivory in the border,
as well as most of the patterns, are dissimilar. In one type the fields
are covered with pear designs; but their bent narrow ends always turn in
the same direction, whilst those of other rugs turn in different
directions in alternate rows. Another type suggests the Feraghans,
because their fields are covered with the Herati or Fish pattern; but
the borders of the Feraghans usually have the well-known turtle pattern,
while the borders of these adhere to the traditional Herati design. It
is also not unusual to see a large central medallion, in which blue or
red predominates, separated by a field of lighter colour from the
triangular patterns of the corners. Now and then, a nomadic influence is
seen in the small adventitious figures of the field.

[Illustration: PLATE 24. BIJAR RUG]

One of the most characteristic features of this class are the borders,
that generally have three stripes, of which the central consists of a
continuous vine of crumpled leaves so conventionalised as to be merely
bent, thorny stalks partly enveloping formal rosettes. The other stripes
are narrow, and have some simple undulating vine. This typical border,
the stout, closely woven warp and weft of cotton, their large, almost
square shapes and rather coarse weave, are important aids in
distinguishing this class from all others. Some of the rugs recently
made are coarse; but the older rugs have excellent dyes, lustrous nap,
and matured tones of well-blended colours.

_Type Characteristics._[18] _Colours_, principally red and blue with
minor quantities of green, yellow, and ivory. _Knot_, Ghiordes, rarely
Sehna. Knots to inch horizontally, eight to eleven; perpendicularly,
nine to twelve. A half knot, as it appears at back, is about as long,
measured in direction of length of rug, as wide.[19] The rows of knots
are firmly pressed down so that the warp is concealed at back. _Warp_,
of cotton, rarely wool; one of the two threads encircled by a knot is
generally doubled under the other, sometimes it is only depressed.
_Weft_, wool, occasionally cotton; of coarse diameter. For a short space
a thread of weft crosses twice, that is across and back once, between
every two rows of knots, then three times, and so alternates every
several rows. _Pile_, wool of medium length, soft, and silky. _Border_,
three to five stripes, and frequently an outer edging of uniform colour.
_Sides_, a double overcasting. _Both ends_, narrow web and loose warp
fringe. _Texture_, stout and firm. _Weave_ at back is of coarse grain.
_Usual length_, eight to twenty feet. _Usual width_, three fifths to
three quarters length.

KHORASSANS.—Among Iranians, Khorassan is often spoken of as the Land of
the Sun. In its northern part are long ranges of mountains where herds
and flocks find excellent pastures, and intervening valleys where the
soil is cultivated. But the remainder of the province, with the
exception of scattered oases, where small towns and villages are
located, is almost entirely a desert, from which in classic times the
Parthians advanced to harass the armies of Greece and Rome, then
retreated to seek the protection of its vast salt marshes and
inhospitable wastes.

Nevertheless, in the little villages surrounded by a dreary wilderness
have been produced as beautiful rugs as in those more favoured spots
where prevailed cultured influences that could develop an Omar Khayyam
and produce the sacred shrine of Meshed. Even before the Mongolian
invasion several hundred looms, each employing four or five women, were
busy in the town of Toon in Central Khorassan. Lying farther to the east
is the district of Kain, which was once renowned for its beautiful rugs
of Herati pattern, but of later years has produced coarser pieces with
inferior designs and bad colours. Still better known was Birjand, in the
southeastern part of the province, where formerly were woven pieces of
superior workmanship that contained from two hundred to three hundred
knots to the square inch. Their colours were of delicate shades; and it
was not unusual to employ ivory or other light tones for the ground,
with which was contrasted the darker tones of the Herati or pear
patterns. Over a century ago many such towns in Khorassan were weaving
rugs of artistic design and beautiful colours, but as a rule the present
products fall far below the early standards.

Most of the Khorassans now seen were made almost fifty years or more ago
and rival the best of modern Persian rugs. As a rule, they are of large
size and have closely woven texture. They can be distinguished from most
others by the silkiness of their moderately long nap, which is often due
to the fact that it is from the fleece of a yearling lamb as well as
because it is cut long and unevenly. Another characteristic is the use
of some shade of red, as a pink, rose, or wine colour. Very frequently
it is magenta or even purple, which are rarely found in other Persian
rugs. Blue and cream are also largely employed. Their colours are
generally softened by age, yet are warm, and at times brilliant, as when
a large field of bright rose red or blue surrounds a central medallion.

The diversity of pattern in Khorassans is partly due to copying designs
of rugs brought from other provinces by the pilgrims who yearly visit
Meshed, and to the remoteness from one another of different centres of
weaving in a province occupying one fourth of all Persia. One pattern,
however, based upon the treatment of the pear design, which is employed
in many of these pieces, at once distinguishes them from rugs of other
districts. It consists of large pears arranged in regular order on a
field of dark colour with their principal axes inclined diagonally in
the same direction, and of two or three much smaller pears partly
resting on them and partly projecting beyond their edges. Unlike the
pear designs in other Persian rugs, which are oval, these are elongated
like those of Indian rugs; and within them, as well as in the field, are
often small floral figures. This distinctive pattern is rendered more
effective by the colour scheme; since frequently pears of red or
magenta, defined by lines of yellow and containing white petalled
flowers, rest upon a ground of dark blue. The Herati design is also
frequently employed, and in very old pieces are occasionally represented
birds and animals naturalistically drawn. It is not unusual to see a
central medallion or large vase of flowers surrounded by a field of
bright uniform colour, and in some rugs are two medallions. When the
centre contains a medallion, the triangular-shaped corners are set off
by lines that are much simpler than those in Sarouks and Kermanshahs.

Few other rugs have more noticeable borders; for not only are they very
wide, but in the main stripe, which is as wide as several guard stripes,
is some characteristic pattern. Occasionally it contains the Herati
design, but more frequently it consists of a heavy undulating vine with
incipient flower forms, that at times almost assume the appearance of a
bird’s head resting on a sub-pattern of double floral vine. This stripe,
illustrated in Plate E, Fig. 2, (opp. Page 156) is so frequently met
with in Khorassans as to be characteristic of them. The narrow guard
stripes usually contain some simple vine or ornate reciprocal figure.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally rose, blue, and ivory,
with minor quantities of yellow and green. _Knot_, Sehna. Many are
“left-hand.” Knots to inch horizontally, eight to thirteen;
perpendicularly, twelve to twenty. The rows of knots are firmly pressed
down, so that the warp is concealed and the weft is partly hidden at
back. _Warp_, cotton; one of the two threads encircled by a knot is
doubled under the other. A few short lengths of threads of warp hang
loose at the back of some pieces. _Weft_, almost always cotton,
occasionally wool of fine diameter and usually dyed blue. A thread of
weft crosses twice between two rows of knots, excepting at intervals of
every six or eight rows of knots, where it crosses three or more times.
_Pile_, wool of medium length, silky and unevenly clipped. _Border_,
three to six stripes, and generally an outer edging of uniform colour.
_Sides_, a double overcasting of same colour as edging. _Both ends_, a
narrow web and short warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at
back is of moderately fine grain. _Usual length_, five to twelve feet.
_Usual width_, three fifths to three quarters length.

MESHEDS.—In few parts of the East have the weavers received greater
inspiration from sacred and historic association than those of Meshed.
To Shiite Mohammedans it contains the most holy spot in Persia; for
within a mosque resplendent with façade of blue and white tiles, and
with gilded minarets of exquisite design, lie the remains of Ali Riza,
the eighth Imam or Moslem priest, in a tomb that is viewed yearly by
nearly one hundred thousand pilgrims. It was for a short time the
capital of Shah Abbas, who beautified its mosques; and here Nadir Shah,
whose remains lie in the mausoleum, held his court after the capture of
Delhi. Within its walls was born Firdousi, the Homer of Persia; and not
far away, among the mountains to the west, was the home of the poet and
astronomer, Omar Khayyam. Not only devotees but large numbers of
merchants regularly visit the city in the caravans from Khiva, Bokhara,
Herat, Yezd, and Teheran, so that it is also a city of commercial

It is possible that a few of those matchless pieces which were
attributed to Herat before its destruction by Nadir Shah were made in
the district near Meshed, since according to an Arabian traveller[20]
who visited it during the XIV Century many fine carpets then lay on the
floor of its mosque. It is also believed that within the shrine, which
has never been entered by an unbeliever, still remain some of the most
magnificent carpets of the Orient. But for more than a century the
textile industry has been declining, and the rugs now seen are generally
of recent manufacture.

As a rule, these rugs are of the Khorassan type, and have the same silky
appearance of nap, though it is shorter and more evenly clipped. The
pattern, however, is generally different, as seldom is the field
completely covered with the pear design, but whenever used, it is of
elaborate drawing and frequently very large. Nor is the characteristic
Khorassan border stripe, illustrated in Plate E, Fig. 2 (opp. Page 156),
employed. On the other hand, it is not usual to see large central
medallions, with floral designs in tones of rose or pink on fields of
blue or ivory, and borders with undulating floral vines, in which
appears evidence of Herati influence. Most of the rugs that now exist
were made within the last fifty years, and are of large size and
almost square shape. The colour scheme inclines to light and often
brilliant tones, which at times are strongly contrasted with small
masses of much darker shades. The wool is excellent, and the warp and
weft are rarely coarse.

[Illustration: PLATE 25. KERMANSHAH RUG]

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally rose or pink, blue and
white, with minor quantities of yellow and green. _Knot_, generally
Sehna, rarely Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally, eight to fifteen;
perpendicularly, twelve to seventeen. The rows of knots are pressed
down, so that the warp is concealed and the weft is partly hidden at
back. _Warp_, generally cotton, occasionally wool; one of the two
threads encircled by a knot is doubled under the other. _Weft_, wool or
cotton, of fine diameter and usually dyed blue. A thread of weft crosses
twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool of fine quality and
medium length. _Border_, usually from three to six stripes, occasionally
as many as eight, and generally an outer edging of uniform colour.
_Sides_, a double overcasting of same colour as edging. _Lower end_, a
narrow web and warp fringe. _Upper end_, a web and warp fringe.
_Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse grain.
_Usual length_, six to fourteen feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to seven
eighths length.

ISPAHANS.—Still imposing in the ruins of its former splendour,
surrounded by orchards, vineyards, and groves of trees that shade a
broad, well-watered plain, is the ancient city of Ispahan. Under the
Caliphs it became the capital of Persia; and though sacked by Tamerlane,
who slew seventy thousand of its inhabitants, it rose to such importance
that in the XVII Century it contained within its walls several palaces,
one hundred and sixty mosques, over two score of colleges, nearly two
thousand caravansaries, and about three quarters of a million people.
Now the population has dwindled to about sixty thousand; and the few
stately mosques and colleges that remain amid miles of deserted streets,
abandoned bazaars, and ruined homes but feebly reflect the magnificence
of the former capital.

Here was the royal court of Shah Abbas, who sent to Italy, for the
purpose of studying decorative art, a number of the most experienced
artisans, to whom are accredited some of the gracefully drawn designs of
many of the early carpets. Here, in the days of its greatest prosperity,
were founded many industries, and on its looms were undoubtedly woven
some of the best of old Persian carpets. Though Herat is now regarded
by some authorities as the centre where the so-called Ispahan rugs were
made, it is improbable, as previously pointed out, that all of them came
from there. But after the death of Shah Abbas the rug industry began to
decline; and with the removal of the capital to Shiraz, in 1760, Ispahan
ceased to be a rug-producing centre of consequence. There may be a doubt
whether such enormous carpets, as the one with length of sixty feet and
breadth of thirty that Sir Purdon Clark in his monograph on Oriental
Carpets mentions as lying in the hall of Chehel Sutoon at Ispahan, were
made there or were imported from other cities; but the weaving of rugs
has never entirely ceased; and so great is the fame of the former glory
of the city that even now Oriental dealers will often apply to rugs the
term “Ispahan” as an epithet of superiority.

The few modern pieces which reach the western markets bear little
resemblance to their prototypes; and even among themselves show little
similarity of pattern, though the pear and Herati designs are not
uncommon. In some rugs a century old the field is almost covered with
what is known as the Persian crown jewel, and in others the field
contains diamond-shaped medallions arranged in regular order with small
foliate and floral forms placed between them. Small figures of animals
are also occasionally represented. The border is generally narrow and
lacking in impressive individuality, so that the character of the rugs
depends largely on the pattern of the field and the well-seasoned
colours, which are always rich and harmonious. Some shade of red or blue
is usually chosen for the ground; and in the designs are green, yellow,
and white. The weave has variations rarely found in other rugs; for the
warp, which is usually cotton, may also be wool, or wool and cotton
twisted together; and the weft may likewise be wool or cotton, and may
cross between the rows of knots either once or twice in different rugs,
or even once or twice in the same rug.

_Type Characteristics._[21] _Colours_, principally red and blue, with
minor quantities of green and yellow. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally six to nine; perpendicularly, eight to fourteen. The rows
of knots are firmly pressed down. _Warp_, usually cotton, occasionally
wool; in a few pieces wool or cotton are twisted together. Each thread
of warp is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool or cotton. A thread
of weft crosses once or twice between two rows of knots. If it is wool,
it generally crosses twice; if of cotton, two threads are generally
placed side by side and cross together once as a single thread. _Pile_,
wool, of short or medium length. _Sides_, a double selvage of two or
three chords. _Lower end_, a web. _Upper end_, a web and fringe.
Occasionally the web is turned back and hemmed. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_
at back is moderately coarse. _Usual length_, six to fourteen feet.
_Usual width_, two fifths to two thirds length.

KIRMANS.—On account of the isolated position of Kirman in Southeastern
Persia, where the almost impassable saline and sandy deserts by which it
is surrounded on the north and east, and the mountain ridges that
separate it from the fertile valleys of Persia on the west, in a measure
protected it from the repeated invasions that disturbed the political
and industrial conditions of Northern Persia, it has continuously for
over a thousand years been an important centre for the manufacture of
rugs. Moreover, during all this period it has been noted for the
excellence of their quality. As early as the Mohammedan conquests its
fabrics were taken to furnish the floors and divans of Caliphs’ palaces.
When Marco Polo visited Persia in 1270 he wrote of the beautiful shawls
and carpets made by the women of Kirman; and the noted French traveller
Chardin, who lived in that country during part of the XVII Century, also
spoke most favourably of them. Even after Nadir Shah removed many of the
most skilled weavers to the northern part of Persia subsequent to
ascending the throne in 1739, and Aga Mohammed Khan pillaged the city
and massacred many of the inhabitants in 1794, the rug industry
continued to prosper, and to-day that district is producing the best of
modern pieces.

To this isolation is also largely due the excellence of the weave and
dyes, since the artisans have in a measure escaped the pernicious
influences of market demands and aniline colours. And to it must be
attributed the fact that the old Iranian textile art appears nowhere
else in greater purity; for of all the rugs on the market to-day these
conform more nearly in texture, colour, and design to the masterpieces
of earlier times, and show none of the foreign influences appearing in
pieces woven in the north. And yet in Kirman is complexity of race as
well as religion; for the Beluches who have wandered across the desert
mingle with the Persians; and the Guebres, still practising in secret
their fire worship, meet with the Mohammedans.

For long ages silkworms have been cultivated in the district about
Kirman and fed on the mulberry trees that grow wild among its hills, so
that it is not surprising that small quantities of silk are sometimes
used in the rugs; but as a rule the pile is entirely of wool, yet of
such fine quality and so well woven that many of the old pieces have a
lustrous and silky appearance. This wool, which is white and of
unusually fine texture, is partly the product of the native sheep and
partly the product of a variety of goats that live among the ridges and
yield fleeces almost as fine as those of Kashmir.

It is probably because of the fondness of the people of Kirman for
roses, which they cultivate for the attar, that they depict them so
profusely in their rugs. Sometimes they represent them as filling vases
set in rows, or again as formal bouquets arranged in regular order upon
the field. They also weave them in the borders among green leaves, as
placed there tenderly and not hanging from such stiffly formed vines as
are seen in other Persian rugs. Nor are they conventionalised like the
flowers of most modern rugs; but petal, leaf, and stem are drawn with a
precision that suggests the work of Indian weavers. Usually they are red
contrasting with a ground colour of soft, ashy grey in the field, and of
golden yellow in the rich, harmonious border. Sometimes, instead of a
profusion of roses, there are other flowers, such as the sunflower,
suggesting the old Zoroastrian faith, the cypress, or the sacred
“cocos.” Again, the general design may be modified from one strictly
floral, and amid the foliage may be introduced birds, animals, or human
beings; but the naturalistic drawing is always noticeable. In modern
pieces the central medallion is often adopted, yet the general
resemblance to older pieces is evident. As a rule the border has five
stripes, of which the main one is twice the width of any other, and
surrounding the outer is a narrow edging that is usually pinkish red;
though now and then, according to the general colour scheme, a very
pleasing effect is obtained by substituting an edging of moss green.


_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally grey or ivory, with minor
quantities of faun, yellow, rose, and blue. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to inch
horizontally eleven to twenty; perpendicularly, eleven to twenty. The
rows of knots are pressed down so that the warp is concealed and the
weft is partly hidden at back. _Warp_, cotton; one of the two threads
encircled by knot is doubled under the other. _Weft_, generally wool of
fine diameter, occasionally cotton, and frequently dyed blue. A thread
of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool,
short, soft, and silky. _Border_, usually of five stripes and an outer
edging of uniform colour that is generally pink but sometimes green.
_Sides_, a double overcasting of the same colour as edging. _Both ends_,
a narrow web and short warp fringe. _Texture_, very firm. _Weave_ at
back is of moderately fine grain. _Usual length_, five to seven feet.
_Usual width_, three fifths to two thirds length.

YEZD.—In the centre of a sandy plain, midway between Kirman and Kashan,
is the city of Yezd, where almost the last of the Iranian
fire-worshippers, now a small part of the total population, still follow
the ancient faith. Though partly shut off from the great desert of
Khorassan by a mountain range, the city is only an oasis, where the
drifting sands that buried the old city ever suggest to the inhabitants
the dread spirit of desolation which finds an echo in ruined walls
within. At the present time very few piled rugs are woven there and they
are rarely seen in Western markets; yet on account of the historic
interest in its people, the name is sometimes applied to modern products
made in other districts. At one time it was noted for its silk rugs, and
also for its felt “namads,” which are generally too heavy to be
transported, since some of them have a thickness of two inches and a
superficial area of ten thousand square feet.

SHIRAZ.—Near the centre of a small, well-cultivated valley encircled by
mountains is Shiraz, capital of Farsistan. During the reign of Kerim
Khan, from 1760 to 1779, it was the capital of Persia; but since then it
has suffered from earthquakes and neglect until now much of its former
glory has departed. And yet there still remain associations to kindle
the imagination, for without the gates are the gardens that Persian
poets have extolled in verse; the tombs of Saadi and Hafiz; and not far
away are the spots where Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes lived, and the ruined
palaces that Alexander destroyed in a night of drunken revelry.

As early as the time of the Caliphs this district produced large numbers
of carpets; though few, if any, remain that were woven before the XV
Century. As is the case with modern pieces, all of them were
distinguished for their soft and beautiful wool, which is to be
attributed to the climate and pasture of the surrounding mountains and
valleys. One of the oldest existing rugs of this district which
displays the characteristic wool is referred to by Dr. F. R. Martin in
the following words:[22] “As soon as I had touched it, I was certain
that we had to deal with a very rare kind of carpets which were made at
Shiraz, or at least with the brilliant Shiraz wool. Most of the carpets
made of that wool are lost, because the material was such a soft one
that it was easily worn out. I know of very few which are older than the
eighteenth century. No wool in all Persia takes such rich and deep
colour as the Shiraz wool. The deep blue and the dark ruby red are
equally extraordinary, and that is due to the brilliancy of the wool,
which is firmer and, so to say, more transparent than silk, and makes
one think of translucent enamel. As a piece of colour this carpet is
certainly one of the finest, and there are very few carpets that have
greater charm, which even the best reproduction could not give. In its
colours there is something of an early Gothic stained-glass window,
where the dust of ages has so covered the design that it has become
obscured and the imagination of the spectator must complete it.
Certainly the Persians for whom this carpet was made used to sit and
dream for hours over the beauty of its colours, beautiful as the
wonderful landscape surrounding Shiraz.”

On account of the design and workmanship of this remarkable piece it is
referred by Dr. Martin to the XV Century. During the two following
centuries the carpets of Shiraz attained the high standard of excellence
prevalent in the principal cities of Persia; but most of those pieces
are now extremely rare, as they were woven chiefly for imperial use or
for exchange with foreign rulers. This city experienced the art
decadence that began with the XVIII Century, yet under the patronage of
Kerim Khan imperial factories for weaving were again established there.

Though some of the rugs made eighty or even sixty years ago are
certainly beautiful, these modern pieces, as a rule, lack the excellent
qualities of early rugs, and those more recently woven are still poorer.
On a few of them are depicted designs that are strictly Persian; but
they generally depart widely from the early traditions, and floral forms
are very much conventionalised. In a large number of this class the
field is covered with pear designs which are described by straight lines
and angles. Sometimes they are as small as in the Sarabends, occupying
the whole field as the principal motive; or they may be placed less
prominently within diagonal or perpendicular stripes. Again, they may be
as large as in Khorassans and grouped with other designs. Another very
common pattern, known as the “pole-medallion,” consists of a narrow
perpendicular bar connecting two or more large diamond-shaped figures on
which are grouped conventionalised floral forms and geometric designs.
In other pieces the pattern is as geometric as that of any Caucasian
rug, and it is not unusual to see both field and border profusely
adorned with latch-hooks enclosed within and surrounding geometric
figures. Nor is it unusual to see small figures of men and animals
scattered through the field. Indeed, there is no other Persian rug in
which the pattern is so heterogeneous. The borders usually consist of a
number of narrow stripes, or a wide one with narrow guard stripes. One
of them, at least, almost invariably contains some form of vine and
leaves, and not infrequently the row of small X figures that also appear
in Shirvans. In fact, the rugs are sometimes mistaken for Shirvans on
account of the resemblance in geometric designs.

Though there is such variety in the patterns, these rugs are not
difficult to recognise. There is something distinctive about the dark
blues and reds contrasted with smaller areas of ivory and yellow. They
are, as a rule, loosely woven, and many of them have a trait of lying
unevenly on the floor. Not infrequently an extra band of pile is woven
between the border and the broad embroidered webs of the ends, from
which hang a loose fringe. The sides are overcast with heavy strands of
wool varied like a barber-pole at regular intervals; and, as is not the
case with any other class, they are often ornamented at intervals with
coloured tassels.

There are also large numbers of Shiraz saddle-bags, which are superior
to any others made. They resemble the Caucasian, as the patterns are
geometric; but they may be distinguished from them by the finer wool and
a slightly different colour scheme.

Not infrequently the term “Mecca” is applied to Shiraz rugs, and the
impression is conveyed that they were made there. Nor is the statement
always entirely devoid of truth; for each year caravans aggregating some
two hundred thousand souls enter that city to make their devotions to
Allah, to walk around the sacred stone within the Kaaba, and leaving
behind their forgotten sins to return homeward with a bit of sacred
earth or a strip of the temple’s covering. Each of these pilgrims bears
offerings for propitiation, of which a large proportion are rugs; and
whatever their size, they are invariably the choicest the devotee can
offer. Since the Mohammedan priests regard the best interests of their
religion and themselves as conserved by a disposition of all articles
not directly available for their use, they sell large quantities of such
rugs, that find their way to Cairo, Damascus, and Constantinople.
Furthermore, the pilgrims carry many pieces which are sold or exchanged
along the routes of the caravans or at Mecca, and ultimately reach the
same markets. Such a large number of the pieces that years ago came from
these sources were of the well-known type of Shiraz rugs that they and
similar pieces which had never left Persia were called Mecca rugs. This
deception is still encouraged by some dealers, because for many buyers a
special interest is attached to a piece that they are persuaded has been
carried on this pilgrimage as an offering.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and ivory, with
minor quantities of yellow and green. _Knot_, generally Sehna,
frequently Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally seven to twelve;
perpendicularly, eight to twelve. At back one of the half knots is
generally smaller than the other and pressed to one side. The other half
knot is about as long as wide, and the yarn is not drawn tight against
the warp. The rows of knots are pressed down, so that their alignment is
slightly irregular, and the warp is concealed at back. _Warp_, almost
always wool; in a few modern rugs goats’ hair is used. Each of the
threads encircled by a knot is almost equally prominent at back, or
occasionally one to each knot is depressed. _Weft_, wool of medium
diameter, frequently coloured red. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, short to medium, and
silky. _Border_, three to five stripes. Beyond the borders, at each end,
is frequently a narrow band of pile. _Sides_, a heavy double overcasting
in a barber-pole stripe or in short lengths of different colours, which
generally consist of two of the following colours: red, yellow, green,
and blue. In some pieces small tufts of wool protrude from the sides at
regular intervals of one or more feet. _Lower end_, a broad web of
coloured stripes, through which may run a dovetailed coloured cord, and
warp loops. _Upper end_, a broad web of coloured stripes, through which
may run a dovetailed coloured cord, and warp fringe. _Texture_, loose.
_Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse grain. _Usual length_, five to
nine feet. _Usual width_, three fifths to four fifths length.

[Illustration: PLATE 27. GOREVAN RUG]

NIRIS.—A resemblance exists between the rugs that take their name from
Lake Niris and those of Shiraz, which is distant only fifty miles to the
westward; for many of each class are woven with the same silky wool,
obtained from sheep that graze in the intervening mountain ranges, and
the shepherd weavers about the lake have acquired ideas from the old
capital. This resemblance exists mostly in the soft, floccy appearance
of the nap, and in the barber-pole or parti-coloured overcasting of the
sides. The webs of each end are broad and have long fringes; but
generally those of the Shiraz are embroidered and crossed with one or
more parti-coloured cords, whilst those of Niris pieces are, as a rule,
flatly woven in stripes of different colours. There is also an
occasional resemblance in pattern, but the best known pattern of the
Niris is rarely seen in the Shiraz. On the other hand, they are more
firmly woven; and there is a slight difference in the character of their
weave, since one of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot is
depressed below the other, and the weft is of wool coloured red, whereas
in the Shiraz it is frequently of cotton.

The pears are the favourite design, and, like those in Sarabends, extend
over the field in orderly array; but they are much larger and consist of
an assemblage of bright colours isolated from one another, yet grouped
gracefully in a way that might readily suggest the origin of crown
jewels sometimes ascribed to them. Frequently the ground is a dark blue,
and the pears are of red, blue, green, and ivory. Violet and yellow are
also employed. In other types, less usually seen, the field is covered
with a lattice-work pattern containing small figures. The typical border
has a broad central stripe of vine and flower, with narrow guards of
simpler vine or reciprocal trefoil. Barber-pole stripes are also
characteristic of the borders.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, yellow, green,
and ivory. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to eleven;
perpendicularly, seven to fifteen. The rows of knots are not closely
pressed down, so that at the back the warp is noticeable and the weft
conspicuous. _Warp_, wool; one of the two threads encircled by a knot is
depressed below the other at back and frequently doubled under the
other. _Weft_, wool of medium diameter, generally dyed red. A thread of
weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of
medium length. _Border_, generally of three stripes, sometimes as many
as seven. _Sides_, a heavy double overcasting in a barber-pole stripe or
in short lengths of different colours, such as red, blue, green,
yellow, and black. _Both_ ends, a broad web of coloured stripes, one row
of knots, and loose warp fringe. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_ at back is of
slightly coarse grain. _Usual length_, four to seven feet. _Usual
width_, three quarters to four fifths length.

FERAGHANS.—Stretching eastward from the base of Mt. Elwund is the plain
of Feraghan. Its length does not exceed forty-five miles, nor its
breadth ten or fifteen, yet here are clustered several hundred villages.
On account of its altitude of seven thousand feet, the ground is covered
with snow in winter, and the people are then huddled in their low mud
houses, and the flocks and herds are gathered within the village walls.
But in the spring the men are cultivating the fields, and the sheep are
grazing on the banks of numerous streams. It is a plain of fertility and
industry. For generations it has been productive of large numbers of
fine rugs, and it is still possible among its villages to find some of
those old pieces that have been regarded by the Persians themselves as
the best examples of the textile art.

When the characteristic patterns of Feraghans have once been carefully
observed, they are never forgotten; yet it is surprising to note the
many distinctions observable in a large collection. These patterns may
conveniently be divided into two groups, namely: one in which the field
is entirely covered with diaper designs, and the other in which the
field contains a central medallion surrounded by uniform colour.
Probably nine tenths of these rugs fall within the first group, which is
divisible into three sub-groups: those in which the field is covered
with the Herati design; those in which the field is covered with the
Guli Hinnai design; and those in which the field is covered with some
other small diaper design.

The Herati design is the one most frequently seen, and is found in the
very oldest of existing Feraghans. As a rule, the crumpled leaf does not
exceed a length of four or five inches, and the rosettes are
proportionally small, so that the ground colour is almost entirely
concealed, and at a short distance is not distinguishable; but there are
other pieces in which the leaf is over a foot in length, and the figures
less closely clustered, so that the ground enters prominently into the
colour scheme. The prevailing colour of the leaf and rosette is
generally rose red, which gives a distinctly reddish tone to the rug;
though the small designs have shades of green, yellow, white, and light
blue. The ground is usually a rich, dark blue; but occasionally red or
even ivory is used. In very few other rugs are the corners separated
from the field, unless there is a central medallion; but in almost all
Feraghans small triangular-shaped corners, with colours contrasting with
those of the field, are separated from it by lines bearing teeth or
serrated edges.

Surrounding the field is a border that has from five to seven stripes.
The main stripe is about three times as wide as any other, and may have
a ground colour of red, blue, or ivory white; but in many of the best
pieces it is moss green, with blue, yellow, or red appearing in the
overlying pattern. Of different but corresponding shades is the colour
of the ground and designs of other stripes. Probably three fourths of
the Feraghans now seen have the well-known turtle design in the main
stripe; but it is sometimes replaced by the rose design shown in Plate
E, Fig. 12 (opp. Page 156), or by an undulating vine with rosette or
palmettes. On the innermost stripe, which is very narrow, is invariably
represented some reciprocal figure, as the trefoil or sawtooth; and on
the other stripes are undulating vines, with floral or quasi-floral

The Feraghans with fields covered with Guli Hinnai designs instead of
the Herati show a difference in both drawing and colouring, though the
general effect is much the same. In place of crumpled leaves and
rosettes of reddish hue are the star-like flowers of the Hinnai plants
that brighten the mountains surrounding the Feraghan plain with their
large yellow or ivory coloured petals. The pattern, as a whole, is
slightly more prominent, and the prevailing colour tone, which is rich,
is less red and more yellow. There is, however, a very noticeable
difference in the pattern of the third sub-group, though specimens are
not frequently seen. In these the small figures of conventionalised
flowers sometimes have geometric shapes and are arranged in diagonal or
perpendicular rows. Moreover, they generally lack the rich colouring of
the preceding sub-groups.

The central medallion is found not only in modern but also in old
Feraghans. It is generally of diamond or hexagonal shape, with serrated
edges and with pendants. Almost invariably Herati figures cover its
surface, and not infrequently some lattice-work design with small
conventionalised leaves or flowers appear faintly on the field of
uniform colour surrounding it. As a rule, pieces of this group are of a
more striking and handsome appearance than those in which the entire
field is covered with numerous minute figures of equally rich hues that
blend and produce, when viewed at a distance, an undefined colour. The
border designs are similar to those of the other group. All of the old
pieces were stoutly woven; and though the nap was short, many of those
that remain are still serviceable.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and dark blue, with
minor quantities of yellow, light blue, green, and white. _Knot_, Sehna,
rarely Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally eight to thirteen;
perpendicularly, seven to eighteen. The rows of knots are pressed down,
so that the warp is usually concealed at back. _Warp_, cotton; each of
the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back.
_Weft_, cotton, occasionally dyed blue or pink. A thread of weft of fine
or medium diameter crosses twice between every two rows of knots, or
occasionally a thread of coarse diameter with much slack crosses only
once, so that the transverse warp produces a quincunx effect. _Pile_,
wool, clipped short. _Border_, three stripes. _Sides_, a double
overcasting in dark colour. _Lower end_, a web. _Upper end_, a web and
warp fringe. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse
grain. _Usual length_, four to twelve feet. _Usual width_, three fifths
to two thirds length.

HAMADANS.—A little to the northeast of Elwund and at an altitude that
overlooks a small, well-cultivated valley adjacent to the Feraghan plain
is the city of Hamadan. On this site was the ancient city of Ecbatana,
capital of Media; and here guarded by Jews is a tomb, which tradition
declares is the burial place of Esther and Mordecai. Within the
encircling walls are gardens, bazaars, and mosques; yet the present city
of forty thousand inhabitants with its general misery and squalor has
little to remind one of the magnificence of that former capital which
for a short period was mistress of the world.

[Illustration: PLATE 28. BERGAMO PRAYER RUG]

Like Yezd, Hamadan is famous for its namads; and like Yezd it once
produced, according to tradition, most beautiful silk carpets, though no
longer are any woven there. But its looms have been busy for the last
few generations weaving rugs of wool and camels’ hair, which have such
marked individuality that they bear unmistakably on their face the stamp
of identification. The few old rugs that remain are sterling pieces,
which are stoutly woven and of excellent dyes. They come in many sizes;
some are simply mats, others sedjadehs, and an unusually large number
are runners. The typical pattern of the mats and smaller sedjadehs
consists of a central diamond-shaped medallion, surrounded by a field of
contrasting colour, from which are set off the triangular-shaped
corners. In the large sedjadehs and in the runners, which are sometimes
twenty feet or more in length, are often three or more pole medallions,
though the pole device may be omitted. These medallions and corners are
covered with small, carefully drawn geometric figures, or more
frequently with floral designs such as appear in Feraghans, and as a
rule are defined by serrated lines or are fringed with hooks or
comb-like teeth. The colour of the surrounding field is unobtrusive. In
some pieces it is void of pattern, and its monotonous tone is broken
only by slight variations of shade; yet not infrequently it is marked
with faint lines of slightly darker or lighter tint, like a delicate
tracery. Not only are the borders wide, but a broad edging, which is at
least one half and sometimes two thirds as wide as all the coloured
stripes combined, surrounds them. As it is usually of camels’ hair and
without pattern, it is a very noticeable characteristic. The main stripe
has an undulating vine with conventionalised flowers, and the two guard
stripes have a simpler vine, or, more frequently, the reciprocal

To this general type, however, are many exceptions. Sometimes the
figures of the medallion and corners are more geometric; sometimes the
corners are omitted; the outside edging may be decorated with large
conventionalised floral or geometric figures; and occasionally a camel
or some other animal is represented in the field or border. A few of the
old rugs were strikingly handsome. Dr. George Birdwood refers to a large
Hamadan that formerly hung in the India Museum in these words:[23] “An
irregular lozenge form, a little island of bright clustering flowers, of
which the prevailing colours are red and blue, adorns the centre; while
the wide extended ground of yellow, in irregular shades, surrounds it
with a rippling amber sea; and there are blue pieces in the corners,
within the broad blue border worked in arabesques. It is a carpet not to
be laid on a floor, but to be hung in a gallery, to be looked at like a
golden sunset. It was a sacrilege to remove it from the mosque where it
evidently was once spread under the great dome. _Beati possidentes._”

Most of the old pieces have disappeared, and in their places are modern
products with pile of wool or goat’s hair often dyed in garish colours.
There are also many nondescript rugs, which were gathered from wandering
tribes or surrounding villages and taken to Hamadan, since for a long
time it has been one of the great rug markets of Persia. When exported
from there they were often classed as products of that city.

Moderately old Hamadans contain more camel’s hair than any other class
of rugs, since in very many of them it forms the pile of both field and
outer edging, where its soft tones of pale chestnut colour contrast with
the bright shades of blue, red, and yellow yarn used in other parts of
the field and border. This lavish use of camel’s hair, the broad
encircling edging, the cotton warp, and a single thread of coarse weft
passing once between two rows of knots, distinguish them from all other

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally the chestnut of camel’s
hair with red and blue. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally,
six to nine; perpendicularly, eight to twelve. The rows of knots are
firmly pressed down. _Warp_, cotton; each of the two threads encircled
by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, generally cotton,
frequently wool; of coarse diameter. A thread of weft crosses only once
without slack between every two rows of knots, so that the white spots
of transverse cotton warp exposed at back have a quincunx appearance.
_Pile_, in old rugs, mostly camel’s hair and some wool; in recent rugs,
mostly wool clipped short. _Border_, wide, generally of three or four
stripes, and a broad outer edging of camel’s hair. _Sides_, overcast,
generally in brown or red. _Lower end_, a narrow web and warp loops.
_Upper end_, a narrow web turned back and hemmed. _Texture_, very firm.
_Weave_, at back is of moderately coarse grain. _Length_, three to
twenty-four feet. _Width_, two fifths to three quarters length.

IRANS.—Although neither a city nor district of Persia is called Iran, a
well-defined class of rugs is known to the trade by that name. They are
woven by some of the old Iranian stock dwelling principally in the
province of Irak-Ajemi. These people follow no particular pattern or
colour scheme of their own, but to a large extent copy those of a few
well-known Persian classes; yet in other respects their rugs have a
noticeable individuality. They are woven with a Ghiordes knot and so
loosely that if the rug be observed from the front, as it is bent
backward in a plane parallel to the direction of the weft, the
foundation threads of warp and weft, which are of cotton, will show
distinctly between the knots. Each of the two threads of warp encircled
by a single knot are equally prominent at the back. Ordinarily the
threads of weft cross twice between the rows of knots, but occasionally
they cross only once, as in Hamadans. Many of the fabrics regarded as
Sarabends, Feraghans, and even Hamadans are in reality Irans, which on
account of their inferior workmanship are much less valuable.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue and red, with minor
quantities of ivory, yellow, green, and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots
to inch horizontally, six to eleven; perpendicularly, seven to eleven. A
half knot as it appears at back is frequently longer, measured in the
direction of the length of the rug, than wide. The rows of knots are not
pressed down closely, so that the warp is noticeable at back. _Warp_,
cotton; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent
at back; they are not closely strung, so that each half knot stands out
distinctly. _Weft_, cotton; a thread of weft of coarse diameter as a
rule crosses twice between each two rows of knots, and only rarely
crosses but once. The weft is conspicuous between the knots at front
when the rug is bent backwards. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_,
generally four to six stripes. _Sides_, a heavy double overcasting that
is generally brown or black, but sometimes red. _Lower end_, a narrow
web. _Upper end_, a narrow web and loose warp fringe. _Texture_, loose.
_Weave_ at back is of coarse grain. _Usual length_, five to ten feet.
_Usual width_, two fifths to three quarters length.

SAROUKS.—Towards the western end of the Feraghan plain and at an
altitude of seventy-five hundred feet is the mud-walled village of
Sarouk. Here, shaded by poplars, are clustered one hundred and fifty
houses, with floors, roofs, and sides of mud that has dried and cracked
until it admits the wind. The sun and light enter through the open
doors, for there are no windows. Nor are there chimneys, but simply
openings between the rafters to permit the escape of smoke from the open
fireplace in the floor below and the entrance of more wind. At times the
atmosphere is not only oppressive with smoke, but is laden with odours
that arise from the pens beneath and beside the houses, where fowls,
sheep, and goats are huddled. During the winter and early spring snow
lies on the ground; a little later a hot summer follows. Yet amid these
depressing surroundings and under these adverse conditions lived
weavers who gave the name of their little village to some of the most
beautiful rugs made in all the East.

Now and then is seen an old piece with surface like velvet and with
mellowed tones of perfect harmony that has come from these huts or
surrounding hills; but probably not one in a score, perhaps not one in a
hundred, of the Sarouks now offered for sale in this country was woven
there, as most of them are made in the work-houses of larger cities,
though they follow essentially the general appearance and technique of
old and genuine pieces, even if lacking some of their best qualities.
Nevertheless, the modern pieces are of handsome colour, of graceful
pattern, and are well woven. Some of them, which were made two or three
decades ago, had large designs of the cypress, willow, or the tree of
life, as well as realistically drawn animals represented in the fields;
but the great majority of those now seen invariably follow a pattern
consisting of a large medallion with pendants, or of two or more
concentric medallions resting on the field, from which are set off the
four corners. Defining the edges of both medallions and corners are
lines that are most artistically irregular, yet correspond with one

Between each part is the greatest co-ordination, for the designs of
field, corners, medallions, and borders are similar. On long delicate
stems that bend and interlock like carved tracery are leaves, buds, and
flowers, suggesting the craftsmanship of the best days of old Iran. The
borders generally have only three stripes: a broad main stripe on which
appears an elaborately drawn undulating vine with pendent flowers, and a
narrow guard stripe on each side. Sometimes the guards are ornamented
with only a simple vine, but more frequently with a reciprocal pattern,
which, however, is so well drawn as to conflict in no wise with the
harmony of the floral forms. In the drawing of the borders the weavers
exercise greater latitude than in any other part of the rug; for
occasionally they add a narrow outer edging of dark colour, place the
reciprocal figure next to the innermost stripe as a fringe to the field,
or increase the number of stripes to seven. Rarely is the medallion
wanting in modern pieces, but now and then the pendants are replaced by
bunches of flowers, and in some pieces the corners extend along the
sides in undulating lines until they meet near the centre.


All of these pieces are so closely woven that the fine bluish weft is
hardly discernible at the back. Very few other rugs have such
short-cut wool, which has a velvety appearance, rendered more effective
by the soft, rich colours that are always in perfect harmony and
excellent taste. As a rule they are dark. Ever present in the ground
colours are deep blues and reds, suggestive of the hues of the so-called
“Ispahans;” while olives, delicate greens, and ivory represent with
consummate dignity of tone and design a lavish tracery of leaves and
foliage motives.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark blue and red, with
minor quantities of green, olive, buff, and ivory. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots
to inch horizontally twelve to eighteen; perpendicularly, twelve to
twenty. The rows of knots are pressed down, so that the warp is
concealed and the weft is partly hidden at back. _Warp_, cotton, rarely
linen; one of the two threads encircled by a knot is almost always
doubled under the other; in a few pieces it is only depressed. _Weft_,
cotton, of small diameter, dyed blue. A thread of weft of fine diameter
crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, short and
velvety. _Border_, generally of three stripes but sometimes as many as
seven. Occasionally there is an outer edging of dark colour. _Sides_, a
tightly wound double overcasting of red, blue, or black wool. _Both
ends_, a narrow web, or web and short warp fringe. _Texture_, very firm.
_Weave_ at back is of fine grain. _Length_, four to twelve feet.
_Width_, two thirds to three quarters length.

KASHANS.—Near the centre of the province of Irak-Ajemi, on the ancient
and well-travelled highway between Ispahan and Teheran, is the city of
Kashan, from which, according to an old tradition, the three Wise Men of
the East followed the Star of Bethlehem. Like many of the cities of
Persia it is now largely in ruins; its homes are infested with
scorpions; for many months of the year the heat, which in a measure is
due to the proximity of the great salt desert that extends far into
Khorassan, is unendurable; yet in spite of these inconveniences, for
which perhaps familiarity has in a measure lent contempt, forty thousand
people live there. In the past it has produced some of the greatest
artists and artisans of weaving. It was once the home of Maksoud, whom
Shah Ismael I ordered to weave the famous carpet of the Mosque of
Ardebil, which, ranking among the greatest woven products that still
exist, bears unmistakable evidence of the wonderful technique and
artistic skill then practised in Kashan. Without a doubt other textile
masterpieces of the XVI and XVII Centuries were woven there, for it
would be unreasonable to believe that the city where Maksoud had learned
his art was not at that time a prominent rug-producing centre.

According to Persian tradition many of the antique silk carpets came
from Kashan. At any rate, it has been for a long time customary to take
the raw silk from other places to be spun and dyed there. Some of it is
woven into rugs, which are considered among the best of modern pieces,
though the demand for them is small.

On the other hand, the woollen pieces are now found in every market,
though it is only within recent years that they have been generally
known. Occasionally they are defined as a higher grade of Sarouks, on
account of the striking resemblance in texture, colours, and designs;
yet there are certain distinctions: the warp is often linen, the nap is
a little shorter, the texture slightly firmer, and there are a great
number of border stripes. A feature that is more frequently found in
these two classes than in any other is the fringe of hooks or short
comb-like teeth that border the innermost stripe and extend into the
field. Without doubt Kashans are among the most perfect as well as the
most expensive woollen products of the modern Persian looms. Their
velvet-like surface and rich sheen give them an appearance that to those
unfamiliar with rugs seems like that of silken pieces. The fine wool is
dyed with rich, deep tones of blue, olive, red, and brown; the perfectly
balanced pattern is artistic as well as ornate; and on account of the
very short nap the drawing of each minute detail is clear. In place of
bold designs accentuated by masses of colour are delicate tracings of
floral and foliage motives, of graceful arabesques and foliated stalks,
so expressed in rhythmic lines and harmonious tones as to give a sense
of the greatest refinement. Even though these rugs be modern and
chemically washed, their wealth of artistic workmanship and exquisite
colour make them exceedingly handsome.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark blue, red, and
yellowish brown, with minor quantities of light blue and green. _Knot_,
Sehna. Knots to inch horizontally sixteen to twenty; perpendicularly,
sixteen to twenty-four. The rows of knots are firmly pressed down so
that the warp is concealed and the weft almost hidden at back. _Warp_,
generally cotton, rarely linen; one of the two threads encircled by a
knot is doubled under the other. _Weft_, generally cotton, of small
diameter, dyed blue; rarely linen. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, very short and velvety.
_Border_, generally of seven stripes. _Sides_, a tightly wound double
overcasting in dark red, blue, or brown. _Lower end_, a narrow web.
_Upper end_, a narrow web and short warp fringe. _Texture_, very firm.
_Weave_ at back is of very fine grain. _Usual length_, six to ten feet.
_Usual width_, three fifths to three quarters length.

SABABENDS.—Standing on the top of lofty Elwund, that rises on the
boundary between the provinces of Ardelan and Irak-Ajemi, in
Northwestern Persia, one would see within a radius of ninety miles as
prolific a centre of rug weaving as anywhere exists. Just within this
distance to the northwest are Sehna and Bijar, to the southeast is
Sultanabad, to the southwest is Kermanshah; and skirting the mountain on
the eastern side are the high plains where lie the districts of Hamadan,
Feraghan, and Sarawan, as well as the village of Sarouk and less
important centres of weaving.

Among the valleys of the Sarawan district, that lies on the northern
flanks of mountain ranges extending as far as Ispahan, are made the rugs
which, by a corruption of the word Sarawan, are known as the Sarabends.
No other rugs of Persia have a pattern that is so simple, and that for
generations has been followed with so little variation. Nor are there
any other modern rugs that have changed less from the old styles in
respect to colour and quality. The typical pattern of the field consists
of rows of pear designs arranged in transverse lines, with the smaller
ends pointing in different directions in alternate lines. The pears of
the field show great diversity of shape, but those of the borders are
long, narrow, and most angular; yet they never assume the rectilinear
figures found in Baku rugs. Only very rarely is there any departure from
this pattern; though in a few old pieces is an adaptation of the Herati
design, and now and then is seen a geometric figure, or human form, or
the date when the piece was woven.

The ground colour of the field may be blue, red, or white. If blue, it
is so largely covered with pinkish or rose-coloured pears that the
prevailing hue, when the pieces are viewed from a distance, is light
red. If, on the other hand, the field is red, the pears are mostly blue;
and if the field is ivory white, the pears are red and blue. In all old
pieces the blue has rich, deep tones, the red has mellowed into soft
rose or delicate pink, and the white has turned to ivory. This pleasing
effect is increased by shades of yellow and green, which are added to
the other colours of the pears.

With few exceptions the borders have a large number of narrow stripes,
of which the central is about one third the aggregate width. Its ground
colour is ivory white, but the angular vine and pendent, narrow pears
have the same colours as those of the field. On each side of it is
usually a stripe with ground colour corresponding to that of the field
and with an undulating vine and rosette. Almost invariably there is an
outer stripe of reciprocal trefoil in red and blue, which may be
balanced by a reciprocal sawtooth adjoining the field. It is not unusual
to see large pieces with two white stripes, and very rarely one is seen
with three.

The best of these pieces are made in the town of Mirabad, which
signifies the “city of Mir,” and are accordingly called Mir-Sarabends.
They can be distinguished from others, known to the trade as Royal
Sarabends, by the fact that in tying the knots the yarn is so twisted
that one thread of warp is doubled under the other; and in the latter
each of the two threads appear with equal prominence at the back.
Neither of them should ever be mistaken for Iran imitations, in which
the pile is of much looser texture and is tied with the Ghiordes knot.
For durability, there are very few modern pieces that will give the
satisfaction of Sarabends; for as a rule they are stoutly and closely
woven, and though there is monotony in the pattern, those coloured with
vegetable dyes will grow more beautiful with age.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red or blue, with minor
quantities of ivory, yellow, and green. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to inch
horizontally eight to thirteen; perpendicularly, nine to thirteen. The
rows of knots are firmly pressed down, so that the warp does not show at
back. _Warp_, cotton. In Mir-Sarabends one of the two threads encircled
by a knot is doubled under the other at back. In Royal Sarabends each is
equally prominent. _Weft_, cotton, of fine diameter, and dyed red or
blue. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots.
_Pile_, wool of short or medium length. _Border_, five to seven stripes,
and occasionally even more. _Sides_, a red double overcasting. _Lower
end_, a web, or web and short warp fringe. _Upper end_, a web and short
warp fringe. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of moderately fine
grain. _Length_, five to eighteen feet. _Usual width_, two fifths to two
thirds length.


_Only now and then is seen a prayer Ghiordes that represents such a high
type of artistic skill. The weaving follows more closely the fine
technique of the Persian than that of the Asia Minor weaver. Yet it is
the drawing and colouring that claim attention. The delicate tracery of
the spandrel, the minute delineation of tendril and leaf in the border,
and the perfect balance of every part of one side with a corresponding
part in the other, resemble the finest workmanship of old Iran. Not only
so, but the beautiful border pattern of rosette and leaf is so
suggestive of the well-known Herati design that it seems not improbable
that here is shown the influence of those Persian weavers that Solyman
the Magnificent took with him to Asia Minor after his capture of Tabriz.
The colour also displays dainty tones and careful shading found in no
other class of Asia Minor rugs. Such pieces are usually regarded as
products of the XVI Century._

_Property of the Author_]

BURUJIRDS.—About sixty miles to the west of Sultanabad and forty to the
south of the Sarawan district is the city of Burujird. It is in a rich,
well-watered valley and is surrounded by numerous hamlets. Most of the
population are engaged in agriculture; and only a small part, who are
stimulated by the increased prices occasioned by the rug industry of
Sultanabad, are weavers. They produce pieces that resemble closely the
Sarabend rugs, as the field is generally occupied with pear designs; but
on account of the Ghiordes knot and cotton warp and weft, they might be
mistaken for Iran rugs.

SULTANABADS.—Southeastward from the plain of Feraghan is the city of
Sultanabad, which in recent years has become important as the centre of
a great rug industry controlled by Europeans and Americans. Higher
prices, resulting from the constantly increasing Western demand for
Persian rugs, have stimulated the native weavers to more persistent
efforts. Those who are too poor to purchase wool and dyes[24] are
supplied by the companies. Others, who are more dependent, are paid
regular wages. Thus it happens that not only large numbers of looms are
constantly at work in the city, but a hundred hamlets and villages that
lie within a day’s journey produce rugs that are marketed there. But
while the output has been increased the true artistic spirit has been
suppressed, and patterns favoured or supplied by foreign purchasers only
are in demand. Most of the rugs are well woven, though there is a
difference in grades. Some take the name of the city, others are called
Savalans, from a range of mountains that lie to the north, and others
are known as Mahals. Most of them are large pieces, rather coarsely

MUSKABADS.—In the district of Muskabad, a short distance to the
northwest of Sultanabad, are produced rugs very similar to the Mahals.
They come in the same large carpet sizes and nearly square shapes; they
have almost the same harmonious colour scheme of unobtrusive red,
yellow, blue, green, and ivory; they have the same cotton warp and weft,
the same finish of sides and ends; but as a rule they are less closely
woven. The patterns are varied. Occasionally they have large figures
such as are seen in Gorevans, though these are more usual in Mahals. In
some of them the field is covered with conventionalised leaf and floral
form. But the usual type has two or more concentric medallions of
different colours covered with the small Herati designs so distinctive
of the Feraghans. When such is the case, the border has usually the
turtle pattern in the main stripe and some stiffly drawn vine and floral
pattern in the smaller stripes. But the velvety appearance, the elegant
finish of old Feraghans, is always lacking. The nap is of soft wool of
medium length, but the surface of the back displays coarse texture.
These pieces lack the artistic qualities of most Persian rugs; but on
account of their excellent quality of material and stoutness of weave
they are very serviceable.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and ivory,
with minor quantities of green and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes or Sehna.
Knots to inch horizontally seven to fourteen; perpendicularly, eight to
twelve. The rows of knots are not firmly pressed down. _Warp_, cotton;
one of the two threads encircled by a knot is generally depressed at
back, and frequently nearly doubled under the other. _Weft_, cotton, of
medium to coarse diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every
two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of medium length. _Border_, three to
five stripes, with a narrow outer edging. _Sides_, a double overcasting.
_Lower end_, a very narrow web and short warp fringe. _Upper end_, short
warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of very
coarse grain. _Length_, ten to eighteen feet. _Width_, two thirds to
seven eighths length.

JOSHAGHANS.—Lying to the southeast of Sultanabad and to the north of
Ispahan is a district where a century ago were woven some of the best
carpets of Persia, known as Joshaghans or Djushghans. Even long before
then it was noted for its textile fabrics; but during the reign of Nadir
Shah, who removed many of the best artisans from the central to the
northwestern part of Persia, the carpet weaving received a new impulse,
and continued to flourish there until nearly the middle of the last
century. Since that time it has almost ceased, so that the genuine
Joshaghans of rich, deep colour and skilfully drawn pattern are all
sixty or more years of age. They may still be found scattered throughout
the country, and should be carefully preserved; for they merit the high
esteem accorded to them by the Persians themselves.

[Illustration: PLATE 30. GHIORDES RUG]

In a few of these pieces are seen the Shah Abbas pattern. In other
pieces the field is covered with scrolls, or with a lattice-work
pattern in which small floral forms are the motives. Again it is
occupied by pear designs encircled by small rounded figures, which
combined form the outlines of a larger pear, while in the intervening
spaces are small floral forms. The principal border stripe generally
consists of floral designs, which not infrequently are some form of the
Herati pattern. The secondary stripes often contain floral vines.

Whatever the pattern of the field, the effect is always striking and
beautiful; for the lines are never harsh, and the colours are rich. The
ground is very frequently a rose tint, but is sometimes dark blue; and
the overlying designs are rose, yellow, green, and ivory. The colours of
the border are generally the same as those of the smaller designs, so
that the effect is always harmonious. These rugs are excellently woven;
and the soft lustrous wool of the pile, which is usually longer than
that of Sarabends and Feraghans, has often an appearance like plush.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and blue, with lesser
quantities of yellow, green, brown, and ivory. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots
to inch horizontally seven to eleven; perpendicularly, eight to
thirteen. The rows of knots are not always firmly pressed down, so that
the warp may be seen at back. _Warp_, usually cotton, occasionally wool;
one of the two threads encircled by a knot is usually depressed below
the other at the back. _Weft_, wool, sometimes dyed red, brown, or
reddish brown, but frequently of natural colour. A thread of weft
generally crosses twice, but sometimes three times between every two
rows of knots. _Pile_, wool of short or medium length. _Border_, usually
three stripes. _Sides_, a double overcasting that is generally brown or
black. _Lower end_, a web. _Upper end_, a web and warp fringe.
_Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of moderately fine grain.
_Usual length_, eight to sixteen feet. _Usual width_, two fifths to two
thirds length.

SEHNAS.—Seldom has prophecy been more precisely fulfilled than the one
made a decade ago that the old Persian rugs would rapidly disappear from
the market. Nor is it better exemplified than in the case of those woven
before the middle of the last century in Sehna, capital of Ardelan, for
to-day it is exceedingly difficult to obtain any of them. Nevertheless,
there are still many looms among the four or five thousand families of
the city, where true to early traditions are woven modern fabrics that
maintain the same floral Persian patterns, the same colour, the same
general character of weave; but they lack the fine technique of the
older pieces. It is, indeed, surprising that these modern pieces so
closely resemble the old in all save quality, when it is considered that
Sehna is distant only fifty miles from the western border of Persia;
that it is surrounded by Kurdish tribes who for generations have woven
rugs with nomadic features; and that it is not far distant from other
important rug centres.

To one familiar with the leading characteristics it is possible at once
to distinguish these rugs. Their nap is exceedingly short, and the weave
is so distinctive that with eyes closed an expert will generally
recognise them after rubbing the hand across the front and back. Their
patterns, also, conform to well-established types, yet have sufficient
variety to be always interesting. They may be conveniently divided into
two groups: one represents the entire field covered with floral designs,
and the other represents a field of uniform colour with a medallion at
the centre, or with two or more concentric medallions. The former, which
is undoubtedly the older group, has generally a small diaper pattern of
the Herati design or floral figures daintily drawn. To obviate too great
monotony, a number of the old pieces have the leaves and flowers so
adjusted that the ground conveys the effect of lattice work, or less
often have small trees of cypress regularly placed amid the other floral
designs. Again, the field may be covered with large pear designs placed
in rows. Of modern pieces the most beautiful pattern, as a rule,
consists of a field of rich, uniform colour, as ivory or red, containing
at its centre a single medallion of contrasting ground colour, which is
generally dark blue or even black. The four corners of the field have
serrated edges and are covered with floral designs similar to those of
the medallion. The borders, which are invariably narrow, usually consist
of three stripes, but sometimes of only two. With very few exceptions
they are floral, and in the main one, that has a ground colour of yellow
or red, are represented designs which are also similar to those of the
medallion. Some of the old Sehnas had borders that were less floral than
more modern pieces, and the turtle design so common to Feraghans was
often used. Isolated and adventitious designs, such as are seen in all
nomadic rugs, are never found in these pieces, nor are the floriated
scrolls that are peculiar to Sarouks, Kashans, and Kermanshahs.

As is seldom the case with modern rugs, occasionally both linen and
silk are used for the warp, and silk for overcasting, but generally the
warp is cotton and the overcasting is of wool. The city of Sehna has
given its name to the kind of knot with which almost all the rugs of
China and Turkestan as well as many of the rugs of India and Persia are
tied; yet strange as it may seem, its own weavers have been inconsistent
in its use. To be sure, most of its rugs have the Sehna knot, but a
surprisingly large proportion of both recent and comparatively old
pieces have the Ghiordes knot. Only a few other rugs ever adopt the same
style of weaving; for a thread of weft passes between two rows of knots
but once, so that at the back only alternate threads of white cotton
warp appear between these knots and thus give to the weave a checkered
appearance or quincunx effect. Moreover, the yarn of the knots is not
drawn tightly against the warp, so that in whatever direction the hand
is rubbed the surface feels like a file. Very few other rugs are so
closely woven, as four hundred knots to the square inch are not
uncommon; and in very old pieces nearly double that number are now and
then met with. Since both warp and weft are of fine threads and the nap
is very short, these rugs are exceedingly thin and, accordingly, are not
well adapted for floor use.

Some old saddle-bags are still to be found, rich in their fields of deep
blues and floral forms of brighter tones, but unfortunately they are
somewhat marred by the long slit in the centre made to fit the saddle.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark blue, red, and
ivory, with lesser quantities of green, light blue, and yellow. _Knot_,
Sehna, often Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally eleven to twenty;
perpendicularly, twelve to twenty-four. The rows of knots are closely
pressed down, but the yarn of knots is not drawn tight against the warp.
_Warp_, generally cotton, occasionally linen, rarely silk. Each of the
two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_,
generally cotton, occasionally wool or linen, rarely silk. A single
thread of small diameter crosses only once between every two rows of
knots, so that the white spots of transverse warp exposed at back have a
quincunx appearance. _Pile_, wool clipped very short. _Border_, three
stripes. _Sides_, a tightly wound double overcasting. _Lower end_, a
short web, or web and warp loops, or web and short warp fringe. _Upper
end_, short web and fringe. _Texture_, very firm. _Weave_ at back is of
fine grain but very rough. _Length_, three to seven feet. _Width_, two
thirds to three quarters length.

BIJARS.—One hundred miles beyond Hamadan, on the road to Tabriz, is the
city of Bijar, capital of the district of Gehrous. It is surrounded by
barren mountains that rise out of high table-lands, where for miles
scarcely a habitation or bush breaks the monotony, and where not even a
blade of grass or flower brightens the cracked and sun-parched earth,
except for a short season of the year. As is the case throughout nearly
all Persia, the spirit of desolation has crept into the city; the
grapevine climbs over ruined walls; the shade of poplars and willows
falls alike on decaying palace and crumbling houses. Yet there still
remain caravansaries, schools, and mosques, as well as a population of
five thousand people. Without doubt the importance of the city is partly
due to the regiment of soldiers that the governor maintains to keep in
subjection the bands of robbers and fierce Kurds who, in large numbers,
live throughout the surrounding country. Nor are they the only tribes of
fierce foreign blood dwelling in this region; for it is stated that
during the invasions of the Timurids, a body of Turkomans from the
fortress town of old Saraks, where the corners of Persia and Afghanistan
meet Turkestan, followed the conqueror westward and settled here. After
them is named a small river that flows a short distance to the north and
finally empties into Lake Urumiah; and it is not unusual to apply the
name Saraks to the rugs woven about Bijar, though they have none of the
Turkoman characteristics.

By adopting some of the best qualities of both Persian and Kurdish rugs,
the Bijar weavers have produced pieces of unusual merit. The foundation
is generally of wool; but unlike almost all other rugs with nomadic
features one thread of warp to each knot is doubled beneath the other in
the process of weaving, so that it is almost or entirely concealed.
Bijars are accordingly pieces of great firmness and durability.
Moreover, their threads of warp and weft are of coarse diameter, so that
they are invariably thick even when the nap is not long. They are also
distinctive in the effective massing of bright and strong colours.
Perhaps the association with ranges of treeless hills, with salt wastes,
with vast plains where rainless months leave the grass parched and the
flowers withered, has deadened the Persian love for the brilliant,
joyous colours so acutely cherished in other parts of Asia; but by the
weavers of Bijar it is not unusual to discard many of the Persian
colours, which, however rich, are subdued and sombre, and adopt the
brighter hues seen in some of the rugs of Asia Minor. Yet, as is not
always the case with the latter, there is no sense of outraged taste;
and though crimson reds, deep blues, or tawny camel’s hair be brought in
relief against a field of strongly contrasting colour, the effect,
except in modern pieces of poor dyes, is never displeasing.

[Illustration: PLATE 31. KULAH PRAYER RUG]

In the pattern much latitude is exercised, but only in the oldest pieces
are found the gracefully flowing lines suggestive of the highest Persian
art. In many pieces a central medallion and triangular-shaped corners,
separated by a field of plain or slightly shaded colour, is a favourite
pattern. But the defining lines are severe, and lack the delicate
drawing characteristic of Kermanshahs and Sarouks. Or the field may be
covered with a lattice-work pattern that contains small repetitive
forms, consisting of slender stems supporting one or more flowers.
Frequently a rug is covered with a medley of designs composed of
conventionalised flowers, crudely drawn trees, as well as birds,
animals, or human beings. The borders generally consist of an outer
edging of plain colour, and three stripes, on which are often
represented purely geometric forms, but more frequently the undulating
vine and pendent leaves, such as are common to most Persian rugs.
Fortunately many sterling pieces still remain that have none of the
earmarks of factory-made rugs, but are beautiful with their soft wool
and lustrous colours, as well as interesting with their blending of
Persian and Kurdish features.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, also blue, ivory,
green, yellow, and chocolate. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally six to ten; perpendicularly, eight to twelve. The rows of
knots are pressed down, so that the warp is concealed at back and the
weft partly hidden. _Warp_, wool; one of the two threads encircled by a
knot is doubled under the other. _Weft_, wool, of medium or coarse
diameter, frequently dyed red. A thread of weft crosses twice between
every two rows of knots. _Pile_, of medium length, usually wool, but
frequently partly of camel’s hair. _Border_, of three stripes, often
with an outer edging. _Sides_, a double overcasting in red or purple.
_Lower end_, a web that is occasionally coloured or a narrow braided
selvage. _Upper end_, a web with loose warp fringe and sometimes a
braided selvage. The webbing is occasionally turned back and hemmed.
_Texture_, very firm. _Weave_ at back is of coarse grain. _Length_, six
to sixteen feet. _Width_, one quarter to three fifths length.

KERMANSHAHS.—On an ancient highway between Bagdad and Teheran is the
city of Kermanshah. As it is situated near the frontiers of northwestern
Persia, facing the Turkish provinces, and is surrounded by mountains
where once wandered bands of homeless marauding Kurds who recognised no
government, it was formerly a most important stronghold of defence. A
century ago Robert Kerr Porter, who visited the city, referred to the
luxurious gardens and orchards that surrounded it, and to the villages
of the vicinity in which were made “carpets of most beautiful colour and
fabric.” Within later years the moat has filled with rubbish, the
encircling walls have crumbled, and the deserted bazaars and
caravansaries show that its present population of about twelve thousand
is but a small part of what it has been. With its decline in political
importance followed a decline in industrial activities; yet for a long
time it remained a rug-producing centre of importance. In 1880 Sir
George Birdwood wrote that “the finest Oriental rugs of our time, which
at the Vienna Exhibition astonished all beholders, are those made in the
palace of the Governor of Kermanshah, in Kurdistan, and are only
disposed of as presents.”[25] And in 1890 a traveller[26] spoke of the
weaving as follows: “It is a process carried on in homes, hovels, and
tents by women and children.... The vegetable dyes used are soft and
artistic, especially a wonderful red and the various shades of indigo.
The dull, rich tints, even when new, are quite beautiful. The women
pursue their work chiefly in odds and ends of time, and in some cases
make it much of a pastime.”

From this city and the surrounding hills are still obtained large
quantities of rugs, which follow the same patterns that for years have
been characteristic of this district. Yet most of the modern Kermanshahs
are made elsewhere in the work-houses of exporting companies. So
noticeable is the resemblance in drawing and colouring of some of them
to the Kirmans of Southeastern Persia, that they are offered now and
then by dealers as real Kirmans, though they lack the fine technique and
artistic merit of the latter. They possess, however, the same wealth of
floral expression, for throughout border and field are sprays of flowers
on delicate vines and foliate stalks. Most of the pieces now seen
contain at the centre of the field a large medallion, which may have
serrated or lobed edges, be oval or of diamond shape, and with or
without pendants. The corners are defined by lines that do not always
conform to those of the medallion; and the borders have always several
stripes, of which the main one is usually but little wider than the
others. In all these different parts are floral and foliage motives that
find expression in sunflowers, roses, tulips, daisies, and many simpler
forms, supported by delicate branching sprays and vines.

There are, however, other patterns less frequently met with, as it is
not unusual to see elaborate pear designs, and sometimes the cypress or
the palm tree naturalistically drawn. Covering the field of a rare old
Kermanshah recently seen were thirty large panels, which like so many
small rugs contained central fields that were alternately coloured blue
and ivory. Surrounding each of these little fields, on which were
represented the arch of a temple and the tree of life, were borders
wherein were woven verses from the Koran, and at the intersections of
the borders were floral designs like roses. Encircling all the panels
was a wide border containing escutcheons in which were woven other
verses. Without doubt this rug was used for sacred purposes. In fact, a
larger proportion of Kermanshahs than almost any other Persian rugs have
prayer arches as well as verses from the Koran inscribed in some part of
them, but with very few exceptions they are recently woven and bear no
evidence of devotional usage.

The general colour scheme is distinctive, for the tones are much lighter
than those of most other Persian rugs. Frequently a field of ivory
surrounds the central medallion, though sometimes a light rose red is
used. Other colours are light blue, green, and buff, which are softened
by the floccy quality of the excellent and moderately short-clipped
wool. One feature common to almost all of them is the narrow edging of
pinkish red that surrounds the border. This edging, the foliate scrolls,
the soft light tones, and the rather coarse weaving, that leaves the
white or sometimes pinkish weft exposed at the back, are characteristics
by which these rugs may readily be distinguished. As they come in all
sizes from small mats to large carpets, and have tones that harmonise
with almost any surroundings, they are a most popular class with those
who care little for association and ignore the fact that they are
chemically washed.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally light rose and ivory,
also blue, green, and buff. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to inch horizontally
twelve to eighteen, perpendicularly eleven to eighteen. The rows of
knots are pressed down, so that the warp is concealed at back, but the
weft is conspicuous. _Warp_, cotton; one of the two threads encircled by
a knot is doubled under the other. _Weft_, cotton, of medium diameter,
sometimes dyed pink. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two
rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, soft and of medium length. _Border_,
frequently of three stripes of almost equal width, but sometimes many
stripes; also an outer edging that is generally red, but occasionally
blue. _Sides_, a double overcasting in same colour as edging. _Lower
end_, a narrow web and warp loops, or short warp fringe. _Upper end_, a
narrow web and short warp fringe. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of
moderately coarse grain. _Usual length_, four to fourteen feet. _Usual
width_, three fifths to four fifths length.

WESTERN KURDISTANS.—Within the land lying between the Anti-Taurus and
Zagros mountains, where the Euphrates and Tigris rivers have their
sources, dwell a people almost as untamed as when in the dawn of history
they were designated the “Warriors;” or centuries later, under the name
“Carduchis,” opposed the retreat of Xenophon and his ten thousand
Greeks. Now they are known as “Kurds,” of whom large numbers, wild,
brave, and hospitable, live a nomadic life among table-lands partly
covered with sycamores and oaks, or follow their sheep over lofty
pine-crowned mountains, that for long months are enveloped in snow.
Doubtless the cheering influence of green hillsides and the rich
vegetation of innumerable valleys, where streams flow perennially, is in
a measure responsible for their more sprightly aspect when contrasted
with that of the Persians. They recognise no law but the will of their
chief, to whom they maintain strictest fealty. “There was up to a recent
period no more picturesque or interesting scene to be witnessed in the
East than the court of one of these great Kurdish chiefs, where, like
another Saladin, the bey ruled in patriarchial state, surrounded by his
clansmen with reverence and affection, and attended by a body-guard of
young Kurdish warriors, clad in chain armor, with flaunting silken
scarfs, and bearing javelin, lance, and sword, as in the time of the

[Illustration: PLATE 32. MELEZ PRAYER RUG]

Large numbers, also, are settled in Persia, where they cultivate the
soil of small tracts of land, or live in villages of stone houses. Many
of them are scattered around Lake Urumiah. Others have made their homes
in the district of Kermanshah, and not a few have wandered as far as
Khorassan. But wherever they may be, they are distinguished by their
appearance; for the men are bold and handsome, and the young women, whom
custom permits to appear unveiled in public, are beautiful as well as

There is no racial distinction between the Kurds who live the pastoral
life and those who dwell in villages, or between the Kurds of Asiatic
Turkey and those of Persia; yet environment has produced a marked
difference in their textile fabrics. Those woven by the tribes that live
among the mountains that encircle Lake Van and extend to the north of
Diarbekr embody the wild characteristics of the weavers. They are strong
and coarse, with close weave, long nap, and bold patterns, that suggest
Caucasian influence devoid of artistic feeling. In some of them is a
large central diamond or lozenge surrounded by latch-hooks, as well as
floral forms so conventionalised as to be purely geometric; now and then
Arabic symbols and letters are scattered over the field. Moreover, the
colours lack the delicate shades of Persian rugs, but possess rich,
strong hues obtained from native dyes that applied to the excellent wool
give it a warm, lustrous appearance. Brown is very largely used. There
are also dark reds and blues brightened by dashes of white and yellow.
Only the Kazaks, Tcherkess, and one or two Asia Minor weaves are trimmed
with such long nap, which, together with the deep colours and long
shaggy fringe, give these pieces a semi-barbaric appearance possessed by
no other rugs. Sometimes they are confused with the Mosuls; but as a
rule the pile is longer, and they are more coarsely woven. In fact, the
yarn is so coarse that it is not unusual to see pieces with only thirty
or forty knots to the square inch. Like the Persian-Kurdish rugs, they
rarely come in large, almost square shapes, and are frequently decidedly
oblong. They may, however, easily be distinguished from them by their
cruder patterns, darker colours, coarser texture, and the fact that each
of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot is equally prominent at
the back.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally brown, red, and blue,
with minor quantities of yellow, green, and white, and the natural
colour of the undyed wool. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally
four to seven; perpendicularly, six to nine. A half knot, as it appears
at back, is as long as, or longer than, wide. The rows of knots are
closely pressed down. _Warp_, wool; each of the two threads encircled by
a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool, of coarse diameter,
and often dyed a reddish colour. A thread of weft crosses twice between
every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, occasionally camel’s or goat’s
hair clipped long. _Border_, generally of three stripes. _Sides_, a
heavy double overcasting, usually in brown or black, occasionally in
several different colours. _Lower end_, a narrow web, through which runs
a coloured cord, and warp loops. _Upper end_, a narrow web, one or more
rows of knots and long, coarse warp fringe. _Texture_, very stout.
_Weave_ at back is of very coarse grain. _Length_, five to sixteen feet.
_Width_, two fifths to two thirds length.

PERSIAN KURDISTANS.—Nowhere is the influence of association among
weavers more evident than in the Kurdish rugs woven by the tribes
settled in the rich valleys of Northwestern Persia, as is apparent in
weave, colours, and pattern, which differ widely from those seen in the
Kurdish rugs of Asiatic Turkey. The warp is only rarely of coarse goats’
hair, and is generally soft, brown wool. The pile is much shorter, so
that the drawing is clearly defined. Likewise, the colours are more
varied and of more delicate tones so as to include lighter shades of
green, rose, and ivory with the darker reds, blues, and browns. But the
chief distinction consists of the more artistic pattern. The medallion
in the centre of the field with corner pieces in which appear some form
of repetitive pattern is most common. Instead of large figures are often
the more dainty Herati designs borrowed from the Feraghans and the
Sehnas, or the pear design from the Sarabends. Now and then is seen a
rare old piece with field completely covered with drawings of the tree
of life and strange floral conceits; but the pattern that is
pre-eminently typical of this type of Kurdish pieces is the Mina Khani,
though it is occasionally adopted in other rugs. The white and yellowish
flowers, connected by a lattice work sub-pattern of brown or olive,
rests on a ground of dark blue, that in accordance with a feature
peculiar to rugs of Kurdish weaves varies from one end of the field to
the other, so as to suggest that their wandering life often made it
difficult to obtain the roots and herbs necessary to produce similar
shades. As is rarely the case with other patterns, the naturalistic
flowers that are pendent from the undulating vine of the main stripe and
the flowers of the field have nearly the same drawing. The two remaining
stripes of the narrow border have most simple vines.

Almost without exception rugs of this class are stoutly woven. To
assure firmness, one thread of warp is depressed below the other in
tying the knots; and the weft that is thrown across for filling is of
fair quality. On account of the firm texture, excellent wool, and good
colours it is still possible to obtain moderately old pieces, that as
objects of utility as well as ornament are desirable for their sterling

A similarity exists between the Persian-Kurdish, Mosul, and Bijar rugs;
but a precise, even if easily overlooked, difference in the weave serves
to distinguish one from the other. As may be seen by examining the backs
of typical specimens, in Mosuls every thread of warp lies in the same
plane parallel with the surface of the pile; in the Persian Kurdistans
one of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot is depressed at an
acute angle to that plane; and in Bijars one of the two threads of warp
encircled by a knot is doubled under the other so as to be at right
angles to that plane.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and blue, also
yellow, green, and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally
seven to ten; perpendicularly, eight to twelve. A half knot, as it
appears at back, is no longer than wide and is frequently not so long.
The yarn is loosely woven, so that each separate ply is distinct. The
rows of knots are pressed down, so that the warp is largely concealed
and the weft partly hidden at back. _Warp_, wool; one of the two threads
encircled by a knot is generally much depressed below the other at back;
but sometimes each is equally prominent. _Weft_, wool, of medium
diameter. A thread of weft usually crosses twice between every two rows
of knots, only rarely once. _Pile_, wool, and occasionally some camel’s
hair of medium length. _Border_, three to four stripes. _Sides_, a heavy
double overcasting in dark colour. _Lower end_, web crossed by a
parti-coloured cord, and warp loops. _Upper end_, web crossed by a
parti-coloured cord, and loose warp fringe. _Texture_, very firm.
_Weave_ at back is of coarse grain. _Usual length_, six to twelve feet.
_Usual width_, five eighths to two thirds length.

KARAJES.—Dwelling near Hamadan, in the northwestern part of Persia, are
tribes who weave rugs that are known in the markets as Karajes. In their
colour scheme, length of nap, and texture they resemble many of the
Kurdistans; but in the technicalities of weave they show a marked
difference. As a rule, a single thread of weft crosses only once between
two rows of knots, or in a few pieces two threads of weft pass side by
side as though one. In this particular they resemble Hamadans; but the
alignment of their knots at the back is more regular, their weft is
inserted with some slack, their warp is of wool, and their weft is
almost always of wool. They are generally runners, with long nap of
soft, lustrous wool, with rich colours, and with border of three
stripes. The pattern is Iranian, and very often consists of a small bush
or sprig of leaf and flower disposed in formal array throughout the
field. Sometimes the floral forms are placed within the diamonds formed
by a trellis pattern, but more frequently they are arranged in rows like
the pear designs of Sarabends. In some pieces they are very much
conventionalised and suggest similar figures seen in rugs of Southern
Caucasia; and in others stem, leaf, and flower are very realistic.
Another pattern frequently followed consists of three or four large
diamond-shaped medallions extending from one end of the field to the
other. The borders are moderately narrow, and an undulating vine of
well-known Persian character generally appears in one or more of the
stripes. As these pieces are almost always comparatively old, the
vegetable dyes that were used for colouring have mellowed, and have a
richness of tone that is accentuated by the depth of pile and softness
of wool. The prevailing tone of many is a deep plum colour.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark blue or plum and
red, with minor quantities of yellow, brown, and white. _Knot_,
Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to twelve; perpendicularly,
seven to twelve. A half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as wide,
and occasionally is longer. The rows of knots, which have even alignment
at back, are not firmly pressed down. _Warp_, wool, rarely cotton; each
of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back.
_Weft_, wool, rarely cotton; a single thread of medium diameter crosses
once between every two rows of knots; but in parts of the same rug two,
three, or even four threads of small diameter will cross side by side as
a single coarse thread. Occasionally a thread of weft crosses three or
four times. The filling of weft stands up as high as the knots at the
back, giving an even surface. _Pile_, wool, of medium length or
moderately long. _Border_, of three stripes. _Sides_, a heavy double
overcasting. _Lower end_, web and warp loops. _Upper end_, web and short
fringe. _Texture_, moderately loose. _Weave_ at back is of coarse grain.
_Usual length_, eight to fourteen feet. _Usual width_, three eighths to
one half length.

[Illustration: PLATE 33. MELEZ RUG]

TABRIZ.—Although Tabriz, capital of the province of Azerbijan, is
situated in a remote corner of Persia, from the earliest times it has
been one of the most important centres in the Orient for the production
of carpets. They were well known in the days of the Caliphs; and some of
the earliest masterpieces that now remain were woven there during the
reign of Shah Tamasp, who extended to this industry his royal patronage.
This city has been for a long period on the great routes of caravans
passing to Trebizond and Tiflis from the country to the south and east,
so that it has become the principal mart of Persia for the export of
rugs gathered from surrounding regions. Nevertheless, it still continues
to produce its own pieces; but the weavers are in the employ of foreign
companies who prescribe the character of workmanship. As a consequence,
the rugs are of good material, excellently woven; and though many of the
old dyes are no longer used, the colours as a rule are fair; yet on
account of the mathematical exactness of their formal patterns the truly
Oriental spirit is largely lacking.

Since the rugs are made solely to meet the requirements of Western
buyers, the patterns are various. Most of them consist of a large
central medallion surrounded by a broad field of ivory, blue, or red
that extends to the sides and ends. In others, a small diamond occupies
the centre and is surrounded by a series of concentric medallions.
Although in these respects they correspond with Kermanshahs, Sarouks,
and Kashans, the patterns of their fields lack the long scrolls and
interlacing branches, and consist frequently of short, slender stems
supporting fronds, leaves, flowers, or the pear designs arranged so as
to present almost the appearance of lace-work. Sometimes the drawing is
a delicate tracery representing intertwining arabesques. A field
completely covered with the small designs peculiar to Sehnas, or
containing the disjunct forms of nomadic rugs, is never seen; and yet it
is not improbable that many of the early Tabriz weavers were Kurds.
Sometimes the flowers are similar to the roses of Kirmans, or are
realistically drawn compositæ surrounded by delicate leaves on graceful
stems; some times the small designs are as formal as the palmettes of
old Ispahans, from which they were doubtless copied; again, the
naturalistic and conventional may be blended together in an harmonious
whole. But whatever the pattern, the different parts show the perfect
balance so frequently seen in the antique pieces of three or four
centuries ago. Nevertheless, to these types are many exceptions, since
the weavers will produce for hire any class of rug or copy any coloured

The borders differ from those of Kermanshahs, with which these rugs are
frequently compared, in the fact that in their central stripe the
continuous vine of leaf and flower is less conspicuous; and in its place
are often palmettes, pears, shrubs, or formal trees separated by
foliated scrolls. Not infrequently the smaller stripes, also, have a
repetitive pattern of leaf and flower, though in some of the many
stripes is usually a well-drawn vine. Again, the border may consist of a
series of cartouches that have been copied from much older rugs and
contain verses of the Koran or of Persian poets. Within recent years
this tendency among the Tabriz and Kermanshah weavers to imitate not
only borders but also fields of old masterpieces is increasing.

A feature peculiar to a very large number of these rugs is the adoption
of very finely spun linen for the warp; though cotton, which is used for
the weft, is sometimes substituted. The knots are carefully tied, and
the closely woven texture presents an appearance at the back similar to
that of Sarouks; but the almost concealed weft is generally either white
or pink. The weave compared with that of Kermanshahs is finer, but the
wool of the closely shorn nap is neither so soft to the touch nor so
silky, the colours are harsher, and the patterns more formal. These rugs
are made in all sizes, though most are large and almost square.

_Type characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and ivory.
_Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally twelve to twenty;
perpendicularly, ten to twenty-two. The rows of knots are pressed down,
so that the warp is hidden and the weft partly concealed at back.
_Warp_, generally cotton, frequently linen; one of the two threads
encircled by a knot is doubled under the other. _Weft_, as a rule, is
cotton, occasionally it is wool or linen, of fine diameter, and
frequently dyed pink. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two
rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, clipped short and harsh to the touch.
_Border_, from five to eight stripes and an outer edging. _Sides_, a
two-cord selvage. _Both ends_, a narrow web and loose warp fringe.
_Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of fine texture. _Usual length_,
nine to eighteen feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to four fifths length.

GOREVANS.—Of the many rugs now made in Persia and designed primarily for
use, few are of such moderate price as the Gorevans, which, during
recent years, have been imported in large numbers from the province of
Azerbijan in Northwestern Persia. A hasty glance suggests Occidental
craftsmanship, but in every essential they are distinctly Oriental.
Their stout weave, large size, and nearly square shape place them in the
class of Persian pieces often called carpets, to which belong the
Kermanshahs, Muskabads, Mesheds, and rugs of Tabriz. Yet they are
frequently larger than any of these, and are readily distinguished from
them by their colours and patterns. It is true that they have the same
light shades, but the tones are in a distinctly different scale,
consisting principally of dull brick-red, light terra cotta, buff, dark
blue, dull green, yellow, and ivory, which, when once recognised, are
rarely mistaken for those of any other rugs. Nor are the colours
distributed in patches so small as to blend when viewed at a short
distance, but are of sufficient masses to be separately observed and

The patterns are equally distinctive. The field is generally covered
with a number of concentric hexagonal-shaped medallions, of which the
longer sides of the largest are often marked with conspicuous
indentations such as are not seen in classes made in other districts.
All of the medallions are covered with large designs, in which the
artist has departed from the usual forms of vine, leaf, and flower, that
poorly imitate the splendid examples of so-called “Ispahans,” and in
many instances has represented them in the archaic drawing of the oldest
remaining Persian carpets. Hard, straight lines with angles replacing
graceful curves define the medallions, corners, stems, leaves, and
flowers. And not infrequently the formal treatment shows a European
influence, as when all semblance of leaf and flower has disappeared in
the extremely conventionalised forms that are placed with set regularity
in the field. A very noticeable feature of these rugs is the manner in
which the designs are coloured, as it is not unusual to represent a
large figure in two strongly contrasting colours, as blue and pink
separated by a stiffly drawn line.

The designs of the corners are similar to those of the central
medallions, but the designs of the borders are dissimilar. The small
stripes are marked with Persian vines of well-known floral and leaf
forms that show nothing of the drawing characteristic of the field. The
main stripe occasionally has cartouches and star medallions, but in most
instances has the turtle pattern, though its treatment differs from the
usual form seen in Feraghans. A co-ordination in colour exists between
field and border. The ground of both the main stripe and one of the
medallions is often a dark blue or a red, while the ground of the other
stripes corresponds with those of other medallions.

All of the Gorevans are modern pieces, and so lack the interest of those
that follow traditional patterns; but their stout weave, warm colours,
and archaic designs make them both serviceable and pleasing.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dull red, dark blue, and
buff, with minor quantities of green, yellow, and white. _Knot_,
Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to eight; perpendicularly, six
to ten. The most conspicuous half of a knot, as it appears at the back,
is, as a rule, longer than wide. The rows of knots are somewhat pressed
down, but the warp is rarely entirely concealed at back. _Warp_, cotton;
one of the two threads encircled by a knot is usually depressed below
the other at back; sometimes both threads are equally prominent. _Weft_,
cotton, of coarse diameter, sometimes dyed blue. A thread of weft
crosses only once between every two rows of knots, or frequently twice.
_Pile_, wool, of medium length. _Border_, generally of three stripes,
occasionally four or five. _Sides_, a two-cord double selvage. _Both
ends_, a short warp fringe. _Texture_, rather loose. _Weave_ at back is
of very coarse grain. _Usual length_, ten to sixteen feet. _Usual
width_, three fifths to three quarters length.

BAKSHIS.—A close relationship exists between the Gorevans, which are a
comparatively modern product, and several other less known sub-classes
of earlier origin that are woven in small towns in the east central part
of the province of Azerbijan. One of these towns, located fifty miles to
the southeast of Tabriz, is Bakshis, which formerly produced rugs that
were highly esteemed by the Persians, before the weavers were corrupted
by a spirit of commercialism. Those which are exported to-day are of
little artistic value, are poorly coloured, and carelessly woven. The
patterns are inferior copies of other well-known classes.

[Illustration: PLATE 34. RHODIAN RUG]

SERAPIS.—The rugs known as Serapis are named after the village of Sirab
in the mountainous district between Tabriz and Ardebil; but they are
made not only there, but also in the country farther to the east. The
large sizes are frequently mistaken for Gorevans, as they are of
similar shape and have similar finish of sides and ends, yet as a rule
they are better woven. Many of them follow the same patterns of
concentric medallions, but the lines of others are more artistically
drawn. Although the borders lack the gracefully symmetric vines of old
Iranian pieces, the drawing is interesting in its individuality and is
in harmony with that of the field. All the colours are cheerful. A field
of ivory or some light shade of buff usually surrounds the central
medallions, on which appear soft and pleasing tones of smaller designs.
Yet on the whole there is a tendency to employ richer and deeper tones
than those of Gorevans. The smaller pieces often contain more elaborate
patterns, but there are always the same pleasing and unobtrusive shades
of colour.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and ivory,
with minor quantities of green and yellow. _Knot_, generally Sehna,
frequently Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to ten;
perpendicularly, seven to twelve. The rows of knots are firmly pressed
down, so that the warp does not show at back. _Warp_, cotton; one of the
two threads encircled by a knot is generally much depressed below the
other at back, and frequently doubled under the other. _Weft_, cotton,
of coarse diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two
rows of knots. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_, three stripes.
_Sides_, a double selvage of two cords, or double overcasting attached
figure-eight fashion to the sides. The selvage or overcasting is usually
in red or buff. _Lower end_, a narrow web and warp loops or short warp
fringe. _Upper end_, a narrow web and warp fringe. _Texture_, stout.
_Weave_ at back is of coarse grain. _Usual length_, ten to eighteen
feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to three quarters length.

HEREZ.—The city of Herez is in the extreme eastern part of the province
of Azerbijan, where for a long time the weavers steadily adhered to the
sterling values of early fabrics and produced pieces that were followed
with slight modification in many of the former Gorevans. In a measure
the rugs of Tabriz also are reflected in the medallion pattern of some
of these pieces, but for their gracefully flowing lines are substituted
more rectangular ones; and in place of many colours are few, of which
blue and a reddish copper are particularly noticeable. Another
well-known and interesting type consists of a field of white, on which,
with formal precision, are represented, in delicate shades of red, blue,
yellow, and green, archaic leaves and flowers supported by stems and
tendrils that are so conventionalised as to form geometric lines and
angles. At regular intervals the branching tendrils assume the shape of
arches, of which in larger pieces there are frequently one or two dozen;
and so closely do they resemble prayer arches that these rugs are
sometimes mistaken for namazliks. The borders usually consist of three
stripes. The outer and inner are narrow guards containing some simple
floral figure, and the broad central stripe has often a continuous vine
with formal leaves and a conspicuous design suggestive of the
cloud-band. The tones are never harsh; many of the pieces are large and
almost square, and the wool of the pile is generally excellent.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally ivory, light blue, and
reddish brown, also some yellow and green. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to
inch horizontally five to ten; perpendicularly, six to twelve. The most
conspicuous half of a knot, as it appears at the back, is longer than
wide. The rows of knots are only slightly pressed down, so that the weft
is noticeable at back. _Warp_, cotton; one of the two threads encircled
by a knot is depressed below the other at back, or each thread is
equally prominent. _Weft_, of cotton, seldom of wool, of moderately
coarse diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows
of knots. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_, generally of three
stripes. _Sides_, a two-cord double selvage. _Lower end_, a very narrow
web and short warp fringe. _Upper end_, a short warp fringe. _Texture_,
loose. _Weave_ at back is of very coarse grain. _Usual length_, nine to
fifteen feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to seven eighths length.

SUJ-BULAKS.—About fifty miles to the south of Lake Urumiah and the same
distance from the western boundary of Persia is the old Kurdish capital
of Suj-Bulak. Kurds still largely predominate in the district and
comprise most of the population of the city, to the discomfort of the
much smaller number of Persians, for whose protection a large garrison
was formerly maintained. Accordingly, the rugs made in this vicinity are
strongly characteristic of Kurdish pieces in the strong texture, the
excellent quality of wool, the rich, dark colours, the finish of sides
and ends. The patterns also are largely Kurdish, but frequently show the
influence of Persian association.

In typical old pieces deep reds and blues are largely used. One of them
is generally the ground colour of the central field, and shows the
Kurdish influence by a gradual shading from end to end; the other
appears in the overlying pattern, which partakes of a floral character.
The drawing sometimes represents flowering plants, such as the rose
bush, arranged in perpendicular rows and brightened by tints of white,
green, or yellow. Detached flowers not infrequently line the edges of
the field. The wide borders also, as a rule, have vines and floral

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red and blue, with
minor quantities of brown, green, yellow, and ivory. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally seven to ten; perpendicularly, eight to
twelve. The rows of knots are, as a rule, pressed down, so that the
alignment of each half knot is very uneven; but frequently this feature
is not regularly maintained in all parts of the same rug, so that here
and there the warp is noticeable at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the two
threads encircled by a knot is generally equally prominent at back, but
occasionally one is depressed below the other. _Weft_, wool, of medium
diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of
knots. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_, of three to four
stripes. _Sides_, a double selvage of two or three cords in blue, red,
or brown. _Lower end_, a web through which runs a parti-coloured cord,
and a warp fringe. Frequently there is a braided selvage in addition to
the web. _Upper end_, the same as lower, excepting that the web is
occasionally turned back and hemmed. _Texture_, moderately loose.
_Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse grain. _Usual length_, six to
seven feet. _Usual width_, two fifths to three fifths length.

KARADAGHS.—In the extreme northwestern part of Persia, between the city
of Tabriz and the river Aras, is a mountain range called Kara Dagh,
which signifies the “Black Mountain,” On its slopes and in the adjoining
valleys rugs have been woven for at least several hundred years, and at
one time were well known in Europe, but few have reached this country.
Most of them are produced for home use, so that they are, as a rule,
well woven, of good material, and of vegetable dyes. They resemble in
colour scheme, weave, and finish of sides and ends the rugs of Karabagh,
which immediately adjoins this district on the north. Indeed, in no
other rugs of Persia are the traditions of Iranian weavers so much
disregarded and Caucasian ideas so closely followed.

The field of many of these rugs is completely covered with
conventionalised flowers of several different colours, so arranged that
diagonal lines are of similar colours. Sometimes it is covered with a
pattern of hexagonal-shaped figures containing geometric forms or
conventionalised floral designs. Again, it may contain the Herati
pattern or one similar to the Mina-Khani. In fact, some repetitive
pattern of small design is the usual type; but now and then some form of
pole medallion, which the weavers have learned from their more southern
neighbours, is substituted. The patterns of the borders are either
mechanically drawn vines or contain geometric figures characteristic of
Caucasian pieces. For guard stripes the reciprocal trefoil is constantly

The colour scheme is generally bright and pleasing. A favourite colour
for the field is blue or a camel’s hair yellow; sometimes rose is seen.
The nap of modern pieces is medium long and of old pieces is short. The
weave of the latter is excellent, so that the closely pressed knots and
stout threads of weft make at the back an even surface unlike the coarse
appearance of many rugs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, yellow, green,
and white. Knot, Ghiordes. _Knots_ to inch horizontally seven to eleven;
perpendicularly, seven to eleven. The rows of knots are not firmly
pressed down, so that the warp appears at back, and the weft is
prominent. _Warp_, wool; each of the threads encircled by a knot is
equally distinct at back. _Weft_, wool, of coarse diameter, occasionally
dyed. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots.
_Pile_, wool, of moderate length. _Border_, three to six stripes.
_Sides_, a double selvage of two or three cords. _Both ends_, a narrow
web and short warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back
is of rather coarse grain. _Usual length_, five to nine feet. _Usual
width_, two fifths to two thirds length.

MOSULS.—Near the ruins of ancient Nineveh, on the bank of the Tigris, is
the city of Mosul. Once it was not only an important mart for wares
carried up and down the river, and for vast caravans from east and west,
but it became noted for its textiles from which was derived the name
“muslin.” At length on account of pestilence, misrule, and the sack of
armies its population and industries have dwindled; though it is still
the capital and commercial centre of a district that lies between the
high table-lands surrounding Lake Van and the low plains of Bagdad, and
that extends across the Mesopotamian valley to the mountain ridges
bordering Western Persia. Within this extensive area are large stretches
of rich pasture, where Abraham once fed his flocks, and where each year
Kurdish nomads from the north drive their sheep when the winter snows
cover their own hillsides. Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Jews, and Christians
likewise mingle with the natives, so that the population is as mixed as
can be found anywhere in the Orient.

[Illustration: PLATE 35. KONIEH PRAYER RUG]

Thus it happens that the rugs marketed in the city of Mosul are made by
different races and show great diversity of character. It would, indeed,
be often difficult to distinguish them if the weave were disregarded;
for though they are prone to yellow and russet hues, and the long wool
is floccy as well as lustrous, there is no pattern that can be
considered truly typical. Many of them borrow Caucasian designs, such as
stars, latch-hooks, diagonal bands, and barber-pole stripes. Others have
patterns adopted almost bodily from Kurdish pieces. But however much the
nomadic rugs are copied, a Persian influence is always shown by the way
in which the severer features are softened. In fact, a very large
percentage of rugs that come from Mosul are made by the tribes that
wander as far east as the great mountain divides along the borders of
Western Persia, and adopt patterns and colour schemes current in
Azerbijan and Ardelan. It accordingly happens that medallion patterns
resembling those of Bijars, but with bolder and less graceful outlines,
are seen. More frequently the field is covered with small figures common
to Feraghans, as well as with the well-known pear designs; but the
former are coarsely drawn, and the latter lack the gracefully rounded
lines seen in Sarabends and are often as geometric as those of the Baku
rugs. Somewhere in almost all these pieces appears evidence of some
conventionalised floral form; but now and then a rare old piece is found
which was woven in the plains of Mesopotamia, with field completely
covered with a naturalistically drawn tulip that grows on the banks of
the Tigris and Euphrates. Its bright flowers and leaves, supported by a
delicate stalk, constitute one of the most beautiful designs seen in any

The borders are rarely wide, and generally consist of three stripes, one
of which usually has some simple vine, and the others some well-known
geometric pattern. It is, also, not unusual to find an outer edging
surrounding the border. In a few of these pieces camel’s hair is used
even to the extent of occupying the whole field; and goat’s hair or
sheep’s wool, dyed to a similar colour, is constantly employed. One of
the most usual colours is some shade of yellow. Reddish hues also
prevail. These rugs frequently have the same pleasing effect of slightly
graduated changes so common in the ground colour of Kurdistans, but as a
whole the colour scheme is lighter. On the other hand, they follow the
shading adopted in Persian rugs, which in a measure eliminates the
sudden transition between adjacent areas of strongly contrasting colour
so noticeable in nomadic pieces. On account of the present remoteness of
the Mosul district from important highways of travel, many excellent
pieces, which with careful use should acquire the rich tones of those
now old, are still woven there.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally yellow and brownish red,
with minor quantities of blue, green, and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots
to inch horizontally five to seven; perpendicularly, seven to nine. A
half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as wide and frequently
longer. The yarn is not drawn tightly against the warp. The rows of
knots are firmly pressed down, so that the warp is concealed at back.
_Warp_, almost always wool, rarely cotton; each of the two threads
encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, generally of
wool, of coarse diameter and frequently dyed red or orange, but
occasionally of cotton. As a rule, a thread of weft crosses twice
between two rows of knots, but sometimes crosses only once; or two or
three threads cross side by side, as in Karajes. _Pile_, wool and
occasionally camel’s hair, of medium length. _Border_, of three stripes
with frequently an outer edging of solid colour. _Sides_ are generally a
heavy double overcasting, but in a few pieces there is a two-cord weft
selvage or double selvage. _Lower end_, a web. _Upper end_, a web and
warp fringe; occasionally there is a heavy braided selvage, or the web
is turned back and hemmed. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back
is of coarse grain. _Usual length_, six to ten feet. _Usual width_, two
fifths to three quarters length.

Now and then are seen comparatively scarce rugs, such as the Teheran,
Gulistan, Kara-Geuz, Bibikabad, Afshar, and Gozene, that were woven
within the Iranian boundaries. Some of them are no longer produced, and
others are woven in such small numbers that but few are exported.

[Illustration: PLATE 36. KIR-SHEHR PRAYER RUG]

The Teherans were formerly made in the present capital of Persia. The
typical pattern consists of the Herati design or some floral form
occupying the central field, which is two or three times as long as
wide. The weave resembles that of Irans, since the knot is Ghiordes,
each of the two threads of warp that it encircles is equally prominent
at the back, and both warp and weft are cotton. The borders are wide,
and the sides are finished with a two-cord selvage.

Gulistan is the Persian name for a flower garden, and the rugs known by
that name were once made in a district not far from Kashan, where rose
bushes bloomed profusely. The fields may be covered with
conventionalised floral and leaf patterns, or again they may contain
roses naturalistically drawn with extended petals, as if viewed from
above. The most striking characteristic is the opulence of colour, such
as red, blue, and yellow softened by shades of brown and green. Even the
weft and the webs of the ends are red, blue, or brown. The sides have a
two-cord selvage, warp and weft are usually of cotton, and one thread of
warp to each knot is depressed at the back. These rugs, which formerly
came in large sizes, are no longer made.

Only a short distance to the northeast of Hamadan is the district of
Kara-Geuz, which is occupied by a large tribe, who in the past have
furnished some of the best of Persian cavalry. The people are
industrious, and not only cultivate the land but engage in weaving. Some
of their rugs closely resemble the Kurdish pieces, and others correspond
with the Irans. In the technique of weave they often follow the
Hamadans. On the outskirts of this district is the town of Bibikabad,
where, also, rugs are woven for market.

For a number of generations the country adjoining Lake Urumiah on the
west and stretching into the Turkish domain has been partly occupied by
a powerful race of brave and active people who are known as Afshars.
They are regarded as a branch of the Yuruks of Asia Minor, and the rugs
of both tribes have many points of similarity. The wool of the nap is
generally the coarse product of the mountain sheep. The patterns
incorporate some of the floral features of Persian rugs, though they
display many Caucasian characteristics. These Afshars bear a close
resemblance to the Kazaks, from which they may be distinguished by
observing a fold as they are bent backwards, which will show the fibres
of the yarn of a knot standing out at front as a unit, while in Kazaks
they have a greater tendency to blend. Also at the back, each half of a
knot is no longer than wide, nor is it drawn closely against the warp,
while in Kazaks each half of a knot is often double its width and is
drawn closer.

In the country about Gozene, in the watershed of the Euphrates river,
are made a few rugs for local use, though they occasionally reach
Western markets. The pattern, which is very simple, usually consists of
some small diaper figure of brown or grey colour, or of dull tones of
maroon. Many of this class have a double foundation of warp; and
frequently, at the back, the knots do not form regular lines parallel
with the length, as is the case with other rugs. This is due to the fact
that any thread of warp may be encircled by both the left half of some
knots and the right half of others. Occasionally, also, a knot is tied
about four threads of warp. In other rugs of this class which have a
single foundation of warp the weave resembles that of Mosuls.


The most noticeable feature of Persian border stripes is their floral
character, which is very frequently represented by a vine winding from
side to side with pendent flowers marking each flexure. Some of these
vines have been evolved from arabesques, and others from naturalistic
tendrils, but all are graceful. In a few pieces the stripes contain rows
of detached flowers, rosettes, or pears, expressed in rich yet
unobtrusive colours, that are always in perfect harmony with those of
the field. Rarely is the pattern geometric. Accordingly, with the
exception of the Indian and some of the Chinese, they are the most
elegant, pleasing, and artistic of all border stripes. Moreover, some of
them follow almost the same patterns that were in use centuries ago.

_Primary Stripes._—In Plate E, Fig. 1 (opp. Page 156), is represented a
typical Herat stripe derived from some of the XV and XVI Century
carpets. It shows close relationship to the pattern of conventional
rosette and pair of attendant leaves so frequently seen on the fields of
such rugs as the Feraghans and Sehnas. In this stripe the angular and
serrated leaves are extended to form a vine.

One of the best known Khorassan stripes, shown in Plate E, Fig. 2, bears
a resemblance to the Herat stripe; and it is not unlikely that they had
a common origin, since they were designed in adjoining and freely
communicating districts. The enlargements of the vine at the centre of
each flexure are doubtless leaves, but they occasionally resemble the
heads of birds.

[Illustration: Plate E. Primary Border-Stripes of Persian Rugs]

The so-called turtle pattern, Plate E, Fig. 3, has probably been derived
from the interlacing arabesques that appeared in rugs at least as early
as the beginning of the XV Century, as is indicated on Page 79. The
rosette and attendant leaves between adjacent “turtles” suggest the
Herati pattern. This stripe is found principally in Feraghans, Irans,
Sehnas, and Muskabads. One that is similar, but more mechanically drawn
and with wider spreading arms, is typical of Gorevans and Serapis.

A stripe found in Joshaghans, representing a row of floral bushes, is
shown in Plate E, Fig. 4. It is also seen in some of the old rugs of
Northwestern Persia. Another Joshaghan stripe, which also suggests the
Herati pattern, is represented in Fig. 5.

A single row of pears (Plate E, Fig. 6) is a characteristic Luristan

The dainty pattern of Plate E, Fig. 7, in which the vine has been
abandoned and serrated leaves nearly surround a floral device, shows a
not unusual Herez stripe.

As a rule the drawing of Persian-Kurdish stripes is never crowded, and
represents a simple vine with bright pendent flowers. A stripe commonly
seen in this class is represented in Plate E, Fig. 8. It is also seen in
the Bijars.

On account of the geographic position of the Karadagh district, which is
separated only by the Aras river from Caucasia, its stripes show a
combination of floral and geometric design not usual in other Persian
pieces. Plate E, Fig. 9, represents one of these stripes with a rosette,
and the serrated leaf so common among the Shirvans. Plate E, Fig. 10,
represents another stripe of the same class with eight-petalled
star-shaped flowers pendent from an angular vine.

A beautiful stripe, representing a vine and pendant flower, which is
frequently seen in some of the Persian-Kurdish rugs, is shown in Plate
E, Fig. 11.

In Plate E, Fig. 12, is illustrated a very dainty pattern of vine and
roses that now and then is seen in old Feraghans; and in Fig. 13 are
also represented vine and roses as they occasionally appear in old rugs
of Northwestern Persia.

The very mechanically drawn double vine shown in Plate E, Fig. 14, is
sometimes seen in stripes of Hamadans. In fact, simplicity of border is
a characteristic of this class.

Mosul and Kurdish stripes show a similarity, but the former are often
more mechanically drawn than the latter. In Plate E, Fig. 15, is a
stripe from an old and beautiful Mosul with conventionalised vine and
King Solomon’s eight-pointed star.

Undoubtedly the most typical of any class of Persian stripes is the
well-known Sarabend pattern of formal vine with pendent pear on white
ground. It is very rarely that a rug of this class is without this
stripe (Plate E, Fig. 16). Its presence at once indicates that the piece
is either a Sarabend or an Iran copy.

In Plate E, Fig. 17, is the well-known pear pattern of a Meshed stripe.
The graceful form, resembling in a measure the Indian drawing, is
peculiar to these stripes.

The Kirman stripe (Plate E, Fig. 18) invariably contains red roses
naturalistically drawn, surrounded by a profusion of leaves and stems.
This is one of the most beautiful of Persian border patterns.

Somewhat similar, but far more formal, is the Kermanshah stripe, one of
which appears in Plate E, Fig. 19, with mechanically drawn flowers,
leaves, and vines.

The formal pattern (Plate E, Fig. 20) of octagons surrounded by
latch-hooks is now and then found in borders of Shiraz rugs, and
indicates how great a concession their weavers at times make to nomadic

The main stripe of Sehnas is always narrow and contains some floral
form, though frequently much conventionalised. One of these stripes is
shown in Plate E, Fig. 21.

Very few Persian rugs have such wealth of floral ornamentation in the
borders as the Sarouks and Kashans. A stripe typical of the former is
represented in Plate E, Fig. 22.

_Secondary and Tertiary Stripes._—The ornamentation of a large
proportion of secondary stripes of Persian rugs consists of running
vines, which fall within two divisions, according to the absence or
presence of pendants.

Plate F, Fig. 1 (opp. Page 158), taken from an inner stripe of a
Kermanshah, shows one of the simplest vines with budding tendrils at
each flexure.

In Plate F, Fig. 2, is a simple stripe seen in such rugs as Gorevans.
Similar stripes are very common. As there is no pendant, the character
of the vine depends upon the form it assumes in alternating flexures,
one of which in this instance is an eight-petalled star.


In many of the Karadaghs is seen the Caucasian stripe (Plate F, Fig.
3) consisting of an angular vine, from each flexure of which spring
small designs like three-leaf clover.

Another type peculiar to some rugs of Northwestern Persia, as the Bijars
and even Sehnas, is shown in Plate F, Fig. 4. Here one flexure is a
serrated leaf, and the other is a small rosette with short curving

A simple vine of somewhat similar order appears in Plate F, Fig. 5. At
each flexure is a flower of four petals, and from alternating flexures
spring tendrils of colour different from that of the vine. Stripes of
similar drawing appeared in Persian carpets as early as 1350 A. D. A
further stage in the development of the same pattern is illustrated in
Plate F, Fig. 6.

One of the simplest forms of a vine with pendant is shown in Plate F,
Fig. 7. It appears in Asia Minor carpets woven during the XIII Century,
and also in some of the earliest Iranian carpets. Now and then it is
seen in modern Persian rugs.

A very common form of a vine with pendant is shown in Plate F, Fig. 8.
This pattern is seen in a large number of Persian rugs, such as Mosuls,
Bijars, Kurdistans, and Hamadans. Each flexure of the vine is enlarged
to almost the form of a leaf, and between them is a branching pendant.

In another stripe (Plate F, Fig. 9), taken from a Feraghan, there is no
particular enlargement to the vine, and the alternating pendants are
buds and flowers of four petals.

A more geometric form that appears in such rugs as Muskabads is shown in
Plate F, Fig. 10. In this the vine represents serrated leaves, and
suggests one of the Shirvan patterns.

A very similar stripe (Plate F, Fig. 11), taken from a Sehna, should be
compared with those of Figs. 8 and 10, as it serves to illustrate the
evolution of vine patterns. In fact, if a very large number of stripes
were arranged in proper order, they would show almost imperceptible
gradations from one type to another.

One of the simplest vines with pendant, adopted by the Kurdish tribes,
is shown in Plate F, Fig. 12; and in Fig. 13 is another vine with
pendent pear alternating with a rosette.

Not all the patterns, however, are vines. In Plate F, Figs. 14 and 15,
for instance, is represented the same secondary stripe as it appears at
the sides and the ends of some moderately old Persian rugs. The former
pattern bears a resemblance to the one in Fig. 5, and each illustrates a
series of connecting links.

A graceful pattern that is seen in Bijars, Hamadans, and other rugs of
Northwestern Persia is represented in Plate F, Fig. 16. It was probably
derived from an old form of leaf and tendril.

The reciprocal trefoil (Plate F, Fig. 17) which is constantly used in a
tertiary stripe, is probably a degenerate form of an ornate floral
design. It is more widely used for a border stripe than any other
pattern, as it is found not only in such Persian rugs as Sarabends,
Bijars, Sarouks, and Kashans, but in many of the Indian and Beluchistan
rugs, and in almost all of the Caucasian group. It was commonly used in
Persian rugs as early as the year 1500.

In many of the rugs of Persia and Asia Minor is seen as a tertiary
stripe the simple ribbon pattern (Plate F, Fig. 18). Its origin is lost
in the dim past, and it is not improbable that once it had a symbolic

A very interesting tertiary stripe, because of its well-authenticated
age, contains the “Y” pattern shown in Plate F, Fig. 19. It is found in
some Persian carpets that were woven as early as 1550.

One of the simplest guard stripes, shown in Plate F, Fig. 20, is
frequently found in modern Persian rugs, as well as in Iranian carpets
woven six centuries ago.


This carpet and the one at the Naesby House, Sweden, which it resembles
in pattern but not in colouring, are, so far as known, the only complete
carpets of this type. The Naesby carpet has been assigned to the middle
of the XVIII. Century; this is undoubtedly much older.

A 16TH CENTURY PERSIAN ROYAL “GARDEN” CARPET (Reputed to have been made
for Shah ’Abbās for Safavi Palace.) Date 1587-1628.

31 ft. 0 in. x 12 ft. 3 in.

[_Statement of the owner_]


The pattern represents a Persian garden divided into four sections by
two intersecting streams, which are bordered by rows of cypress trees,
alternating with bushes on which are birds. These sections are similarly
divided by smaller streams, that meet at the four pavilions of each
side, into plots containing trees and flowering bushes. Four peacocks
rest above the central basin. The colours are harmonious, and show the
mellowing influence of time.



    H = Horizontally
    P = Perpendicularly
    s = silk
    l = linen
    e = each equally prominent
    d = 1 to the knot depressed
    h = 1 to the knot doubled under
    s = silk
    l = linen
    No. = No. times crossing bet. two round knots
    O = overcast
    S = selvage
    W = web
    S = Selvage
    K = Rows knots
    L = warp loops
    F = fringe
    W = web
    S = selvage
    K = Rows knots
    T = turned back and hemmed
    F = fringe

  │            │          KNOT              │           WARP               │
  │            ├─────────┬──────┬───────────┼─────┬───────┬────┬───────────┤
  │  PERSIAN   │         │      │ Number to │     │       │    │ At back   │
  │            │         │      │ Inches    │     │       │    │           │
  │            │ G =     │ S =  ├─────┬─────┤  w =│ c =   │    ├───┬───┬───┤
  │            │ Ghiordes│ Sehna│  H  │  P  │ wool│ cotton│ s/l│ e │ d │ h │
  │Bijar       │    G    │      │ 6-10│ 8-12│  w  │       │    │   │   │ h │
  │Feraghan    │   [G]   │   S  │ 8-13│ 7-18│     │   c   │    │ e │   │   │
  │Gorevan     │    G    │      │ 6-8 │ 6-10│     │   c   │    │[e]│ d │   │
  │Hamadan     │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 8-12│     │   c   │    │ e │   │   │
  │Herat       │    G    │  [S] │ 8-11│ 6-12│ [w] │   c   │    │   │[d]│ h │
  │Herez       │    G    │      │ 5-10│ 6-12│     │   c   │    │[e]│ d │   │
  │Iran        │    G    │      │ 6-11│ 7-11│     │   c   │    │ e │   │   │
  │Mod. Ispahan│    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 8-11│  w  │   c   │    │ e │   │   │
  │Joshaghan   │    G    │      │ 7-11│ 8-13│ [w] │   c   │    │ e │   │ d │
  │Kashan      │         │   S  │16-20│16-24│     │   c   │[l] │   │   │ h │
  │Karadagh    │    G    │      │ 7-11│ 7-11│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Karaje      │    G    │      │ 6-11│ 7-12│  w  │  [c]  │    │ e │   │   │
  │Kermanshah  │         │   S  │12-18│11-18│     │   c   │    │   │   │ h │
  │Khorassan   │         │   S  │ 8-13│12-20│     │   c   │    │   │   │ h │
  │Kirman      │         │   S  │11-20│11-20│     │   c   │    │   │   │ h │

  │            │         WEFT           │ SIDES │     LOWER END   │
  │            +─────┬───────┬────┬─────┼───┬───┼─────┬───┬───┬───┤
  │  PERSIAN   │     │       │    │     │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │ w = │ c =   │    │     │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │wool │ cotton│ s/l│  P  │ O │ S │ W/S │ K │ L │ F │
  │Bijar       │ w   │       │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │   │
  │            │     │       │    │     │   │   │ [S] │   │   │   │
  │Feraghan    │     │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │   │
  │Gorevan     │     │   c   │    │ 1-2 │   │ S │     │   │   │ F │
  │Hamadan     │[w]  │   c   │    │  1  │ O │   │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Herat       │ w   │  [c]  │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │            │     │       │    │[3-4]│   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │Herez       │[w]  │   c   │    │  2  │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Iran        │     │   c   │    │2/[1]│ O │   │  W  │   │   │   │
  │Mod. Ispahan│ w   │   c   │    │ 1-2 │ O │   │  W  │   │   │   │
  │Joshaghan   │ w   │       │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Kashan      │     │   c   │[l] │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │   │
  │Karadagh    │ w   │       │    │  2  │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Karaje      │ w   │  [c]  │    │  1  │ O │   │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Kermanshah  │     │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │[L]│ F │
  │Khorassan   │[w]  │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │            │     │       │    │[6-8]│   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │Kirman      │ w   │  [c]  │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │

  │            │   UPPER END     │    NAP    │   WEAVE   │ TEXTURE  │
  │            ├─────┬───┬───┬───┼───────────┼───────────┼──────────┤
  │  PERSIAN   │     │   │   │   │l = long   │f = fine   │l = loose │
  │            │     │   │   │   │m = medium │m = medium │m = medium│
  │            │ W/S │ K │ T │ F │s = short  │c = coarse │f = firm  │
  │Bijar       │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      m    │     f    │
  │            │ [S] │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │Feraghan    │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      m    │     m    │
  │Gorevan     │     │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │     l    │
  │Hamadan     │  W  │   │ T │   │    m/s    │      m    │     f    │
  │Herat       │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │     f    │
  │Herez       │     │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │     l    │
  │Iran        │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │     l    │
  │Mod. Ispahan│  W  │[K]│[T]│ F │    m/s    │      m    │     f    │
  │Joshaghan   │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      f    │     m    │
  │Kashan      │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      f    │     f    │
  │Karadagh    │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/c   │    m/f   │
  │Karaje      │  W  │   │   │ F │    m/l    │      c    │     l    │
  │Kermanshah  │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │     f    │
  │Khorassan   │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/f   │    m/f   │
  │Kirman      │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      f    │     f    │

  │            │          KNOT              │           WARP               │
  │            ├─────────┬──────┬───────────┼─────┬───────┬────┬───────────┤
  │  PERSIAN   │         │      │ Number to │     │       │    │ At back   │
  │            │         │      │ Inches    │     │       │    │           │
  │            │ G =     │ S =  ├─────┬─────┤  w =│ c =   │    ├───┬───┬───┤
  │            │ Ghiordes│ Sehna│  H  │  P  │ wool│ cotton│ s/l│ e │ d │ h │
  │Persian     │         │      │     │     │     │       │    │   │   │   │
  │  Kurdistan │    G    │      │ 5-9 │ 6-13│  w  │       │    │ e │ d │   │
  │Western     │         │      │     │     │     │       │    │   │   │   │
  │  Kurdistan │    G    │      │ 4-7 │ 6-9 │  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Mahal       │    G    │   S  │ 7-12│ 6-12│     │   c   │    │ e │ d │   │
  │Meshed      │   [G]   │   S  │ 8-15│12-17│ [w] │   c   │    │   │   │ h │
  │Mosul       │    G    │      │ 5-7 │ 7-9 │  w  │  [c]  │    │ e │   │   │
  │Muskabad    │    G    │   S  │ 6-11│ 6-11│     │   c   │    │   │ d │[h]│
  │Niris       │    G    │      │ 6-11│ 7-15│  w  │       │    │   │ d │[h]│
  │Sarabend    │         │   S  │ 8-13│ 9-13│     │   c   │    │ e │   │ h │
  │Sarouk      │         │   S  │12-18│12-20│     │   c   │[l] │   │[d]│ h │
  │Sehna       │    G    │   S  │11-20│12-24│     │   c   │[l] │ e │   │   │
  │Serapi      │   [G]   │   S  │ 6-10│ 7-12│     │   c   │    │   │ d │[h]│
  │Shiraz      │   [G]   │   S  │ 7-12│ 8-12│  w  │       │[g] │ e │[d]│   │
  │Suj-Bulak   │    G    │      │ 7-10│ 8-12│  w  │       │    │ e │[d]│   │
  │Tabriz      │    G    │      │12-20│10-22│     │   c   │[l] │   │   │ h │

  │            │         WEFT           │ SIDES │     LOWER END   │
  │            ├─────┬───────┬────┬─────┼───┬───┼─────┬───┬───┬───┤
  │  PERSIAN   │     │       │    │     │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │ w = │ c =   │    │     │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │wool │ cotton│ s/l│  P  │ O │ S │ W/S │ K │ L │ F │
  │Persian     │     │       │    │     │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │  Kurdistan │  w  │       │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Western     │     │       │    │     │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │  Kurdistan │  w  │       │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │[K]│[L]│   │
  │Mahal       │     │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Meshed      │  w  │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Mosul       │  w  │  [c]  │    │2/[1]│ O │[S]│  W  │   │   │   │
  │Muskabad    │     │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Niris       │  w  │       │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Sarabend    │     │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │ [W] │   │   │ F │
  │Sarouk      │     │   c   │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Sehna       │     │   c   │    │  1  │ O │   │ [W] │   │   │ F │
  │Serapi      │     │   c   │    │  2  │   │ S │  W  │   │ L │[F]│
  │Shiraz      │  w  │       │    │  2  │ O │   │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Suj-Bulak   │  w  │       │    │  2  │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Tabriz      │ [w] │   c   │[l] │  2  │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │

  │            │   UPPER END     │    NAP    │   WEAVE   │ TEXTURE  │
  │            ├─────┬───┬───┬───┼───────────┼───────────┼──────────┤
  │  PERSIAN   │     │   │   │   │l = long   │f = fine   │l = loose │
  │            │     │   │   │   │m = medium │m = medium │m = medium│
  │            │ W/S │ K │ T │ F │s = short  │c = coarse │f = firm  │
  │Persian     │     │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │  Kurdistan │  W  │   │   │ F │     l     │      c    │     f    │
  │Western     │     │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │  Kurdistan │  W  │[K]│ T │ F │     l     │      c    │     f    │
  │Mahal       │ [W] │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │   m/f    │
  │Meshed      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      m    │   m/f    │
  │Mosul       │W/[S]│   │[T]│ F │     m     │      c    │   m/f    │
  │Muskabad    │ [W] │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │   m/f    │
  │Niris       │  W  │ K │   │ F │     m     │      m    │     l    │
  │Sarabend    │  W  │   │   │ F │    m/s    │     m/f   │     f    │
  │Sarouk      │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      f    │     f    │
  │Sehna       │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      m    │     m    │
  │Serapi      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │     f    │
  │Shiraz      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      m    │     l    │
  │Suj-Bulak   │  W  │   │[T]│ F │     m     │     m/c   │    m/l   │
  │Tabriz      │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      f    │     f    │

  [] indicates the less frequent condition.



ALL rugs that are woven in the Turkish provinces of Asia are frequently
grouped together and called “Turkish” rugs; but a more natural
classification is to distinguish between those made to the east and
those made to the west of a line drawn from the Gulf of Iskenderoon to
Trebizond, deflecting slightly in its course so as to follow the ridges
that divide the watershed of the western forks of the Euphrates river
from the plateau of Anatolia. With the exception of the very few pieces
that come from Syria or other southerly districts, those woven in the
Turkish provinces east of this line show such a relationship to those of
Persia that they are more properly classed with them; while on the other
hand, with the exception of the rugs of the wandering Yuruks, those
woven to the west of this line and in the neighbouring islands of the
Mediterranean conform so closely to a common type that they fall
naturally into a separate group. It is better, therefore, to treat them
separately and to call them the Asia Minor Rugs.

Though a certain glamour attaches to all that comes from Persia, the
Indes, or Far Cathay, in no part of the Orient are rugs woven on more
classic ground than are the Asia Minor pieces. They are still made in
the shadow of the walls where Crœsus lived and among villages where
Homer trod. Their yarn is spun with crude distaff by the shepherd who
still drives his flock along the same road where Artaxerxes marched,
across the bridges that Roman legions built, and over the green slopes
of Mt. Ida. In fact the names of some of them call to mind pictures of
the Crusades, the journey of Paul, the march of Alexander’s conquering
army, and of cities founded before the beginning of history.

When analysing the rugs of Asia Minor, it is necessary to make a
distinction that has been previously noticed in the case of Persian
rugs, though with them it is less important. From the time when there
arose a large demand in the markets of Europe and America for the rugs
of the East the natural supply decreased, and, as a consequence, the
price of those that remained increased. To meet this deficiency, and
because of the higher prices, there was established a system by which
large numbers of women and children were constantly employed; although
many worked in their own homes, using such material as was furnished by
their employers and receiving fixed daily wages. In the western and
southern parts of Asia Minor, which are connected by railroads with
seaports, are a number of communities where this system is in vogue. One
of these is at Demirdji in the province of Smyrna, where there are a
small number of looms; others are in the districts of Ghiordes and
Kulah, which together have about one thousand looms; and Oushak, the
principal rug-weaving centre of Asia Minor, has as many more.[28] Almost
all rugs produced at such places are now shipped to Smyrna, which itself
has but very few looms, or to Constantinople, whence they are reshipped
to Western markets. These products lack much of the oldtime artistic
spirit and individuality of character, on account of the dependence of
the weavers on their employers, who demand the largest output consistent
with fair quality. Furthermore, the weavers are frequently required to
reproduce Western patterns. The result is that most of these rugs
possess little of the firmness of texture, the harmonious relations of
designs, and the excellent colour of old fabrics. Since, then, they
represent in a measure European influences, and are subject to further
changes to meet the demands of a fluctuating foreign taste, it would be
of little use to describe them, especially as all their original
characteristics exist in the old pieces.

The striking features of Asia Minor rugs woven over fifty years ago are
the colour schemes, main patterns, and the separate designs, which may
be either independent of the pattern or constitute part of it. The
colour effect of Asia Minor rugs is as a rule brighter than that of the
Central Asian, Indian, or Persian groups; for the reds, blues, and
yellows are less subdued. Some of their tones never appear in Chinese
rugs, and on the whole they most closely resemble those of the Caucasian
pieces; yet it is not unusual to see such colours as mauve, lavender,
and canary yellow, that rarely appear even among these. Moreover, in a
few of them masses of strongly contrasting colours are placed beside
one another without the customary shading of Persian rugs or the
artificial device of Caucasian latch-hooks to soften the effect of harsh

[Illustration: MAP OF ASIA MINOR]

The difference, nevertheless, between the Asia Minor rugs and those of
other groups is less apparent in the colour schemes than in the main
patterns, for in the Asia Minor rugs is evidence of an independent
inspiration and development. There are lacking the rigid octagonal
figures of the Central Asian groups; the frets and floral sprays
distinctive of Chinese; the naturalistic floral treatment of the Indian;
the delicate tracings, rhythm of movement, and wealth of foliage motives
that characterise the Persian; as well as the severely geometric forms
and conventionalised motives of the Caucasian. Instead of gracefully
flowing lines we find strong rectangular ones; instead of flowers
realistically balanced on interlacing, foliate stalks, they are arranged
separately in formal rows. But if their patterns lack the fertility of
invention or the refinement of Persian and Indian pieces, they excel
them in the strength of their clear definition, accentuated by massing
of colour. It is, however, in the prayer patterns, which appear in the
majority of Asia Minor rugs, that the weavers attain their best results;
for in such work they have the inspiration of a high religious as well
as artistic spirit. In these patterns, which differ from those of any
other group of rugs, is often manifest singular beauty and grace, as
well as delicate sentiment derived from worship in Moslem chapels; for
in many is represented the burning lamp that, projected against a
background of sacred green, hangs from the column-supported arch, above
which is spread a spandrel of blue typifying the vaulted heavens.

Likewise many of the small designs that are found in other groups of
rugs are rarely, if ever, seen in this one; as, for instance, animals,
birds, fishes, and human beings are never employed, on account of the
religious prejudice of the Sunnite Mohammedans, who prevail in the
country. Nor, with very few exceptions, is the Herati design, so
characteristic of Persian rugs, nor the pear design, so characteristic
of both Persian and Indian rugs, ever seen. Furthermore, the reciprocal
trefoil, that is used as a motive for a small border stripe in all
Caucasian and many Persian rugs, is very rarely found in Asia. Minor
pieces woven during the last two centuries, though it appears in some of
an earlier era. But in its place are the water motive and ribbon, which
are less frequently employed by the weavers of any other country. There
are also many small floral motives that appear only in Asia Minor rugs,
and that will be noticed in connection with the separate classes.

These characteristics of colour, pattern, and design are not the result
of a spontaneous growth unalloyed by foreign influences; for a natural
art never existed in Asia Minor, which has never enjoyed a national
existence; but they are the results of artistic movements that at
different times have swept over that country. Thus, as an heirloom of
dynasties that once flourished farther east, are the Cufic characters
that appear in some of the early border patterns; and as a relic of the
Mongol and Timurid invasions are the dragon and other designs found in
the oldest pieces. In Oushaks, as well as others, are seen the evidences
of Persian treatment; while the drawing and colour schemes of the prayer
rugs forcibly suggest Saracenic, Grecian, and Christian ideas. In fact,
the rugs of Asia Minor, while possessing co-ordination of colour and
design, are in a measure composite. They never reach the high artistic
development of Persian rugs, because the latter were produced under the
fostering care of great kings whose royal magnificence could secure from
years of patient labour suitable furnishings for palaces and mosques;
yet they are none the less interesting subjects for speculation and

BERGAMOS.—In the valley of the Caïcus and twenty miles from the Ægean
Sea is the city of Pergamus, that gives its name to the Bergamo rugs. It
is of unknown antiquity, and may have stood when Agamemnon was warring
with the house of Priam before the walls of that other city of the same
name. In turn, Persians, Macedonians, Thracians, Syrians, and Romans had
taken possession of it before the Apostle Paul founded there one of the
seven churches of Asia. Greek sculptors chiselled its monuments,
philosophers taught beneath the shade of its trees, and scholars
gathered there the library that rivalled that of Alexandria. Partly
encircled by mountains and enclosed by the wall of this old city, that
was wellnigh destroyed during the Turkish wars, is the modern city of
some fifteen thousand inhabitants. It is to-day one of the flourishing
cities of the Levant, yet only in the surrounding ruins is there any
reminder of its former greatness and splendour. But in these crumbling
relics of the past and in the excellence of its woven fabrics of more
recent times are traces of the artistic spirit that once prevailed


It is still possible to obtain many good specimens of Bergamos
representing the craftsmanship of fifty or more years ago, when aniline
dyes and European patterns were unknown east of the Hellespont. Almost
without exception they are sterling fabrics that glory in a wealth of
colour accentuated by depth of pile and sheen of soft lustrous wool. An
observer is at once impressed by the tones of deep blue and madder red
that a few lines or patches of ivory white bring out more clearly, and
forms a favourable estimate of the value of these pieces independently
of the drawing, which seems subservient to the part of giving spirit and
quality to the colour scheme. In fact, it is to the genius of the dyer
who applies his knowledge to the tinting of carefully selected wool, and
to the pains of the weaver in constructing the foundation of warp and
weft rather than to his skill in arranging artistic designs, that these
pieces command as high a price as old Kirmans of similar age.

In two particulars Bergamos differ from most Asia Minor rugs: in shape
they are nearly square, and prayer rugs are the exception rather than
the rule. Nor do all the prayer rugs follow the same general pattern, as
is usually the case with other classes. They may have low tent-shaped
arches like those of Daghestans, high triangular arches with stepped
sides and a panel above the spandrels as in the Kir-Shehrs, or they may
have shapes unlike those of any other class. Moreover, the pieces not
used as prayer rugs also have great diversity of pattern; but as a rule
some large figure, as a medallion, occupies the centre of the field.
Very frequently it is of hexagonal shape, with the sides at upper and
lower ends of the rug serrated or fringed with latch-hooks. As is not
the case with many of the Persian rugs, the field surrounding the
medallion is almost always covered with small designs, arranged with
careful precision so as to show a perfect balance with reference to the
centre. Eight-pointed stars and other geometric figures are frequently
used, but there is a leaning to floral designs, which, however, are
often so conventionalised as almost to lose their identity. Most
prominent of these is the Rhodian lily and the pomegranate; but the lily
never shows such graceful drawing or such dainty colouring as in the
Kulahs, and in some pieces even loses all resemblance to a floral form.
The pomegranate, which suggests the Ladik, is more frequently seen in
the main border stripe. Undulating vines do not find favour among the
Bergamo weavers, and small isolated geometric designs are largely
employed in the narrow border stripes, while larger, more complex
figures often replace the floral in the main stripe.

In no other class of rugs are so many and such painstaking devices to
avert the spell of the evil eye. Should an unexpected visitor surprise
the weaver while at work, he may be required to part with a bit of his
frock, which is then attached to the wide web of the end; should a
similar occurrence of ill omen follow, another bit of different material
and colour may be sewn upon this; and as a crowning talisman, a button
may be affixed to both. Small cowrie shells from the Ægean shores are
often used for such purposes; and now and then may be seen a woollen
tassel dangling from the centre or from one of the ends of the rug.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and blue, with minor
quantities of yellow, white, and green. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally five and one half to nine; perpendicularly, seven to
eleven. The rows of knots are pressed down, so that the warp is
concealed at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the two threads encircled by a
knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool of fine diameter, dyed
red. A thread of weft crosses from two to six times between every two
rows of knots. _Pile_, wool; generally of medium length but frequently
long. _Border_, from one to four stripes; most frequently of three.
_Sides_, a weft selvage of two, three, or four cords, coloured red or
blue, with occasionally some green or yellow. _Both ends_, a web, that
is sometimes six or seven inches wide, coloured red and crossed by broad
longitudinal stripes, which are generally blue, but may be black, white,
brown, or yellow. Some device to avert the evil eye is frequently
attached to the webs. Beyond the web is a tasselled warp fringe.
_Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of fine grain. _Usual
length_, three to seven feet. _Usual width_, three quarters to nine
tenths length.

GHIORDES.—Whether, as has been maintained, the town of Ghiordes, that
lies a day’s journey to the east of Pergamus, is on the site of the
ancient Gordion where tradition says the father of Midas dedicated his
chariot to Jupiter, and Alexander severed the bark which bound the pole
to the yoke, it claims attention from the fact that the rugs woven there
one and two centuries ago not only excelled similar products in all
other parts of Asia Minor, but equalled the best fabrics woven in Persia
during the same period. Indeed, a few connoisseurs would rank them still
higher; yet with reference to technique of weave and delicacy of
colour and drawing, very few should be classed with those woven in the
previous century by the protégés of Tamasp and Shah Abbas.

[Illustration: PLATE 38. MUDJAR PRAYER RUG]

So essentially do the modern rugs of the Ghiordes district differ from
the old pieces in weave, colour, and pattern, and so great is their
inferiority, that they have little interest; but fortunately it is still
possible to purchase pieces from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty
years of age, and others still older are in the hands of collectors or
in museums. In determining their age the colours and drawing, as well as
weave and pattern, are important indices. For instance, the reddish
tones of the fields of pieces less than a century old have a pinkish or
even magenta tinge, while in the oldest the red is of rich, deep colour.
Similarly, in the case of blues, greens, yellows, and even the ivories
that rarely occupy the field, a riper and richer colour marks the
greater age. Likewise with the drawing, greater painstaking and higher
artistic skill are apparent in the older rugs; though in some of the
oldest the designs are less ornate than in those of a subsequent period.
This is also true of the patterns as a whole; since the best types are
found in rugs that are probably from one hundred and fifty to two
hundred and fifty years old, whereas in the extremely old pieces there
is an approach to archaic forms.

The difference between the odjaliks and namazliks, which are the kinds
most frequently seen, is most noticeable. The colours, to be sure, are
much the same, though as a rule lighter and duller tones predominate in
the odjaliks. Their borders show a greater tendency to use geometric
figures, some of which are profusely fringed with latch-hooks suggestive
of Caucasian influences. They also contain archaic designs believed to
be associated with sun worship, as well as many floral forms common to
the prayer rugs. It is, however, in the fields that the distinction is
most noticeable; since the large masses of uniform colour that make the
namazliks so effective are wanting, and instead are frequently seen
hexagonal-shaped medallions that are fringed with large rounded
latch-hooks and contain a lozenge or other geometric design in the
centre. At both ends of the fields are sometimes narrow panels
containing quasi-floral forms, and stiff conventions occupy the
intervening corner spaces.

In striking contrast to these odjaliks are the old Ghiordes prayer rugs,
with the rich tones of solid colour in the fields and the delicate
drawing of the borders. No doubt they were made with unusual care, since
they were intended for religious purposes. The pattern represents an
entrance into a mosque; and it is not improbable that some of the
earliest rugs were copied directly from archways, many of which still
exist in Mohammedan countries.[29] Near the base of all Ghiordes arches,
at each side, is a shoulder, which in old pieces was supported by a
single pilaster or a pair. Sometimes these were ornamented with scroll
work or floral forms, but finally many of them degenerated into floral
devices that bore slight resemblance to columns, and in other rugs they
have entirely disappeared. In some very old pieces the shoulders and the
mihrab were rounded, but as a rule the shoulders are flattened at a very
obtuse angle; and the mihrab is either plain or has stepped sides that
culminate in a blunted apex. To further suggest the sacred purposes of
the rug a lamp is often suspended from the niche, though floral forms
may take its place, and not infrequently these too are wanting. Almost
without exception some reminder of the tree of life, such as the small
floral sprig or the Rhodian lily, is projected from the inner side of
the arch and from all sides of the border against the field. In the
spandrel, also, is almost invariably some floral or leaf form; though
these may be very much conventionalised or even supplanted by geometric
figures. Above the spandrel is a panel, which may contain some floral
form, scroll device, or verse from the Koran; and another panel, though
generally with different design, is almost invariably placed beneath the
field. A scroll resembling a large S (Plate O, Fig. 9, Page 291)
frequently appears in these panels. Its resemblance to forms found in
Armenian dragon carpets of earlier centuries is very noticeable.

The border surrounding the field is as characteristic of this class as
is the prayer arch. There are invariably a number of stripes, which
generally consist of a wide central one, two secondary, and two or more
small guard stripes. The drawing is distinctly floral, yet is widely
different from the Persian. A design (Plate G, Fig. 1, opp. Page 192)
frequently seen in the central stripe represents a large palmette or
rosette partly surrounded by leaves, suggestive of the Herati
design, and connected by tendrils with more delicate flowers or leaves.
But the more usual design (Plate G, Fig. 3) consists of flowers and
fruits that are arranged in quadrangular shape, so that the alternate
units face in different directions as they extend around the border.
Though it is far from naturalistic, its delicate lace-like drawing with
clear definition and its tones in harmony with the central field,
contribute largely to the beauty of the rug. The secondary stripes have
generally repetitive leaf forms; and running through the guard stripes
is a simple vine, ribbon, or wave design. Occasionally, however, the
typical Ghiordes border is replaced by one borrowed from the near
district of Kulah, and instead of the broad central stripe are several
narrow parallel stripes studded by perpendicular rows of small floral
figures (Plate G, Fig. 12). An unusual feature of these rugs is the
linen nap which is sometimes used in the field instead of wool, for the
reason that it retains its colour while wool darkens with age; and
another is the silken fringe which is often seen at the corners of fine
specimens. The nap is always short, and the rugs are closely woven.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, yellow, and
white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally seven to twelve;
perpendicularly, eight to sixteen. The rows of knots are pressed down,
so that the warp is concealed and the weft is partly hidden at back.
_Warp_, wool or cotton and in a few pieces raw silk. One of the two
threads encircled by a knot is usually slightly depressed below the
other at the back. _Weft_, wool or cotton. A thread of weft crosses
twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, and occasionally
some cotton, clipped very short so as to be harsh to the touch.
_Border_, six to nine stripes. _Sides_, a weft selvage of two or three
cords, or only infrequently an added selvage of silk. _Both ends_, a
narrow web and warp fringe. A few pieces have an added silk fringe at
the corners. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of very fine grain, but
slightly rough. _Usual length_, five to seven feet. _Usual width_, two
thirds to three quarters length.

KULAHS.—About fifty miles from Ghiordes, in a southeasterly direction,
is the Turkish village of Kulah. Both places are surrounded by the same
general character of hills and plains, and for the last several
centuries the people of each have been subject to the same influences of
race and religion. They have undoubtedly visited, intermarried, and
become familiar with the arts and crafts of one another. It is not,
therefore, surprising that some of their rugs should have similar
technique of weave, and that a few resemble one another in general
pattern and small designs. Moreover, such a close correspondence exists
between many of the old rugs of both districts, that even the most
experienced are sometimes at a loss to distinguish between them. In fact
it is surprising that there is so marked a distinction between most of
them. In the Kulahs the border designs are not so elaborately drawn, nor
are the prayer arches so high. They have rarely the fringe that adorns
the corners of some Ghiordes rugs, or more than one panel. The field
usually contains floral figures, arranged in formal order; the spandrel
is almost always extended in two narrow stripes, one at each side of the
field; and the colours are always subdued. These and other
characteristics of each class make it possible to distinguish between
most of them.

As is the case with Ghiordes rugs, sedjadehs are almost unknown; but it
is not unusual to see odjaliks. These resemble prayer rugs in the
following respects: the borders are almost identical; the central fields
contain the same floral figures resting on a similarly coloured ground;
both ends of the hexagonal-shaped field resemble a mihrab; and the space
between the field and border is covered with designs peculiar to the
spandrels of the prayer rugs.

On account of their artistic drawing and soft colours the prayer rugs
are favourite pieces with all collectors. It is true that the arch is
flatter than that of any other rug of this group, and is defined either
by plain sloping lines, or more frequently by stepped edges, so that it
lacks the classic beauty of the Ghiordes type; but on the other hand the
Rhodian lily and other floral forms characteristic of these pieces are
delineated with a realism and graceful delicacy that are unequalled in
any other Asia Minor rugs. Arranged on slender sprays along each side of
the field, hanging as long clusters from the niche in place of a lamp,
or placed on the panel in formal rows, they accentuate with their bright
tones the subdued richness of the ground colours. Sometimes, however,
these simple field designs are replaced by more formal drawings that
represent a plat of land with a tomb shaded by a tall cypress and other
trees with many leafy branches. Rugs with these designs are not uncommon
in Germany, whither large quantities of Asia Minor prayer rugs were
shipped many years ago, and where they are known as “Friedhofteppiche,”
or “Grave Rugs,”


The most pleasing features are in the fields, but the most
distinguishing features are in the borders, which are invariably of
several stripes. Instead of the large central stripe with floral and
repetitive designs common to most rugs is a series of parallel bands,
from five to ten in number and about an inch in width, that contain rows
of minute floral forms. These narrow bands are a distinguishing feature
of the Kulahs, though they have occasionally been copied by the Ghiordes
weavers. Nevertheless, they are sometimes replaced by the broad stripe
containing rows of geometric-shaped designs, as in Plate G, Fig. 13
(opp. Page 192), which also are peculiar to these rugs. Strange as it
may seem, these designs have doubtless been derived from leaf forms by
successive degradation, as will be seen by comparing Figs. 13-a, 13-b,
13-c, and 13-d of Plate O (Page 291). There is still another border design
that is so constantly found in the secondary stripe of these pieces and
so rarely in any others that it might well be designated the “Kulah
stripe” (Plate H, Fig. 10, opp. Page 194). The design consists of a
repetitive figure suggestive of some Chinese device, but is in reality a
degraded form of a vine, as will be seen by observing some of the very
old border stripes. Between the inner secondary stripe and the field is
usually a narrow stripe containing a continuous ribbon design, or a
simple vine-like form, as in Plate F, Fig. 18 (opp. Page 158). Often a
part of each succeeding undulation of the vine has been omitted and the
remaining parts have been compressed, so as to leave small detached
figures like a row of “f’s,” as in Plate H, Fig. 2. It is not unusual to
see both vine and detached figures in the same rug.

Diversity prevails in the colours of field, spandrel, panel, and
borders. In the field is generally a mellowed red, or a yellow tint that
is described both as golden brown and apricot; blue also is occasionally
seen, and white is very rare. But whatever the colour of the field, that
of the spandrel is generally a light blue, indicative of the sky, and
the overlying panel is frequently a dark blue. Green and brown often
appear in the border, as well as a canary yellow peculiar to Asia Minor
rugs. Moreover, a few of these pieces have a single small area of red or
blue, that was doubtless inserted to avert the evil eye, since it shows
no more relation to the surrounding colours than spilt ink might have;
yet in spite of these contrasts and the fact that the nap lacks the
lustre peculiar to many other classes, some of them are as beautiful as

Between these old fabrics and the modern, which factory-like are
produced in large quantities to meet the demands of a Western market
and taste, is the most noticeable difference, for the latter are
inferior to the former in patterns, weave, and dyes. Furthermore, with
the wool of many is mixed mohair, so that rapid deterioration follows
slight usage.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, brownish yellow, and
blue, with minor quantities of green, dark brown, and white. _Knot_,
Ghiordes, Knots to inch horizontally five to ten; perpendicularly, seven
to twelve. The rows of knots are not firmly pressed down. _Warp_, wool;
one of the two threads encircled by a knot is noticeably depressed at
the back. _Weft_, in most rugs, of wool of medium diameter, sometimes
dyed yellow. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of
knots. In other rugs, even very old, the weft consists of a coarse
thread of jute crossing once between two rows of knots and alternating
with a small thread of jute and another of wool crossing side by side
once between the next two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of short or
medium length. _Border_, six to nine stripes. _Sides_, a coloured mixed
selvage of two, three, or four cords. _Both ends_, a coloured web and
warp fringe. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_ at back is of moderately coarse
grain. _Usual length_, five to seven feet. _Usual width_, three fifths
to three quarters length.

OUSHAKS.—Fifty miles eastward from Kulah is the city of Oushak, famous
during the XV and XVI Centuries for the carpets exported thence to
Europe to adorn the halls of cathedrals and thrones of monarchs. But
with the subsequent decadence in Asiatic art its glory ebbed, so that
half a century ago it was but a small mud-housed city known for the
excellence of its dyes and the wool which was taken there from the
interior to be washed, spun, and then sold to the weavers of the
surrounding country. Since then, however, its population has steadily
grown, and the weaving industry has thrived, until now it is one of the
most populous cities of Asia Minor, with looms more numerous than those
of any other city. The weaving is done entirely by women and girls, most
of whom are Mohammedans. Though they live principally in private houses,
they are under the direction of large firms, who furnish the wool as
well as the patterns, which are in accordance with European and American

Important distinctions exist between the different grades of these rugs.
Some are known as “Turkish Kirmans,” in which Persian designs are
frequently introduced, others are of still finer workmanship, but the
oldest and coarsest pieces were formerly known as “Yapraks.” These are
distinguishable by their strong colours of red, green, and blue, of
which only two as a rule are seen in a single rug, and are massed to
produce striking effects. Their foundation of warp and weft, which are
dyed in the same colours, is loosely woven and often of an inferior
grade of wool. Many of them are too large and heavy for domestic use,
but are well adapted for salons and public halls.

With such slight variations in pattern and none in colour, Oushaks would
be of little interest were it not that their prototypes were striking
pieces woven by artisans whom Sultan Solyman the Magnificent brought
from the northwestern part of Persia, when he conquered it in the XVI
Century. Some of them appear in the paintings of old masters, and when
contrasted with the modern fabrics indicate how great is the decline in
the craftsmanship of the weavers. Of the beautiful well-balanced designs
once represented in the fields, only large stars and diamonds, defined
by less pleasing lines and placed with less regularity, remain. All of
the graceful arabesques and dainty floral motives that appeared as
sub-patterns are omitted. As works of art, the modern products are
little esteemed; but their durability, depth of pile, and wealth of
colour make them excellent objects of utility.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and green.
_Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally four to eight;
perpendicularly, four to nine. A half knot, as it appears at back, is
longer than wide. The rows of knots are not closely pressed down.
_Warp_, wool. Each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally
prominent at back, or one is slightly depressed below the other. _Weft_,
wool of medium diameter and generally dyed red. A thread of weft crosses
twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, clipped long.
_Border_, usually of three stripes. _Sides_, generally a double
overcasting, occasionally a selvage. _Both ends_, generally a web
coloured red and a warp fringe. _Texture_, very loose. _Weave_ at back
is of moderately coarse grain. _Length_, carpet sizes. _Usual width_,
two thirds to four fifths length.

AK-HISSAR.—Almost seventy-five miles by rail from Smyrna and a short
distance to the west of Ghiordes is the Turkish town of Ak-Hissar, the
White Citadel. Even before the building of the railroad rugs were woven
in this district; and in recent years the work-house system has been
established, and large quantities, that bear some resemblance to the
modern products of Kulah and Oushak, have been exported.

DEMIRDJI.—Half a century ago the town of Demirdji was almost
uninhabited; but as a result of the Occidental demand for Oriental rugs
and the disappearance of old pieces, it has grown to be an important
manufacturing centre. Many of its weavers learned their trade at the
historic Ghiordes, which is about twenty-five miles distant; but the
fabrics are more closely woven and the wool is more carefully selected
than is the case with the modern Ghiordes.

KUTAYAH.—On the main railroad that will eventually connect the Bosphorus
with the Euphrates is the town of Kutayah. As it is on the edge of the
Anatolian plateau, wool and goat’s hair have been for a long period
important articles in its trade. Both of them are now used in the local
manufacture of rugs, which in a measure resemble the products of Oushak.

SMYRNA.—The location of Smyrna on a magnificent harbour and its
connection by rail with all the important rug districts of the interior,
have made it the principal centre for the export trade in Asia Minor
rugs. Many of the people are also largely engaged in the industry of
weaving, but almost all weavers are now in the employ of large companies
who furnish the materials and patterns. As a result, the Smyrna rugs are
mere copies of well-known types of other Turkish pieces, or, as is
generally the case, of stereotyped patterns that have been evolved to
meet the requirements of European and American tastes. Many of the rugs,
to be sure, are well woven and serviceable, but they lack individuality
of character.

MELEZ.—About seventy-five miles to the south of Smyrna and twenty from
the Mediterranean Sea is the town of Melassa, or Melez. It is now little
known, but was once the market place of an important rug-producing
district, which included a large part of the classic province of Caria.
Accordingly, the pieces that came from there were sometimes called
Carian, but are more generally known as Melez.

[Illustration: PLATE 40. KABISTAN RUG]

On their face they show a close relationship to the Anatolians, and
also, though in a less degree, to many other Asia Minor rugs; yet as is
to be expected of the products from one corner of the country, they have
a distinct individuality in both pattern and colour. Occasionally an old
piece is seen, in which the border is very narrow and the whole field is
covered with parallel stripes on which are systematically arranged
geometric and semi-floral forms; but as a rule the fields are not much
wider, and often less wide, than each of the adjacent borders. Within
this central space are frequently arranged prominent designs, which are
widely different from the designs of any other rugs, and are suggestive
of Chinese ornament, but were doubtless derived from floral or tree
forms (Plate O, Fig. 12, Page 291). Moreover, projecting in regular
order from the alternate sides of the narrow border stripe, next to the
field, are sometimes seen thumb-like figures, that fit against one
another like the cogs of a wheel (Plate H, Fig. 15, opp. Page 194). Each
of these features, though not always present, is peculiar to this class.

Of the several border stripes, the central is generally as wide as the
remainder and not altogether dissimilar to that of the Ladiks. Very
frequently it consists of a row of palmettes between which are
conventionalised leaves and flowers on slender stems; but now and then
the palmettes are replaced by eight-pointed stars or other geometric
figures, and the intervening spaces filled with corresponding designs.
The secondary stripes are of a pronounced Caucasian type; and almost
invariably in a smaller tertiary stripe is represented a waving line or
the reciprocal sawtooth.

The prayer rugs are equally characteristic. In typical examples the
lines defining the mihrab descend from the niche to meet the sides of
the narrow field at an angle of forty-five degrees, and are then
deflected towards its centre, to return again to its sides. The
resulting drawing shows two equilateral triangles on each side of the
field at the base of the mihrab, which in conjunction with the upper
sides of the triangles has the appearance of an incomplete diamond. This
effect, moreover, is frequently accentuated by a perpendicular row of
diamonds extending from just below the niche to the base of the field.
The sides of mihrab, field, and central designs are, as a rule, fringed
with small geometric or conventionalised floral forms; and in the
spacious spandrel are more realistic floral designs arranged on a
trellis-like sub-pattern.

This individuality of pattern is accompanied by a less marked yet
noticeable individuality of colour scheme. As is the case with many
Bergamos, the principal tone is a dark red, which generally appears in
the central field, and is also used almost without exception in the
broad end webs, the side selvages, and the threads of weft. Ivory white
for the spandrel, some yellow and green for the borders, are common
colours; but the one that rarely appears in any appreciable quantity in
other rugs is a characteristic tone of lavender or mauve, which is
present in almost every old Melez. Not always are these tones pleasing,
as many of the rugs have been poorly dyed; but there are other pieces,
now rapidly growing scarce, of which the colours are exceedingly rich
and harmonious.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, with minor
quantities of blue, yellow, white, and some mauve. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally five to eight; perpendicularly, six to
eleven. A half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as wide or
slightly longer. The rows of knots are not closely pressed down, yet the
warp does not show at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the two threads
encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool of small
diameter, dyed blue or red. A thread of weft generally crosses four
times between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of medium length
and sometimes short. _Border_, wide, from three to seven stripes.
_Sides_, a selvage of two to four cords, usually coloured red. _Lower
end_, a red web and loose warp fringe. _Upper end_, a red web, a braided
selvage, and loose warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately loose. _Weave_ at
back is of slightly coarse grain. _Usual length_, four and one half to
six feet. _Usual width_, three fifths to three quarters length.

ISBARTA.—In the town of Isbarta in the southern part of the province of
Konieh are woven rugs which are sometimes known to the trade as
“Spartas.” Like many other pieces made to meet the Western demand, they
lack spontaneous individuality, but are often of excellent quality and
coloured in delicate tones, arranged harmoniously.

RHODIAN.—Even at a very early period the people of the islands bordering
the southwestern coast of Asia Minor produced textile fabrics that
rivalled many of the best products of the mainland. None of them were
more beautiful or more interesting than those which came from the Island
of Rhodes, where were blended the vigorous Grecian and the more subtle
Oriental arts. Here was the inspiration of the sea, cloudless skies,
luxuriant vegetation. Here was felt the deep influence of the Mohammedan
and Christian religions, as well as an early pagan mythology; and there
is little doubt that the cathedral walls and picturesque church of the
valiant knights of St. John made an impression on the weavers. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the fabrics should be of deep, rich colour
full of suggestion, and that the drawing of the long central panels
should remind one of cathedral windows.

Of the many beautiful rugs formerly woven in Rhodes only a few now
remain, and these are generally in the hands of collectors. Some are
odjaliks, some namazliks, some sedjadehs; but all, with the exception of
a few crude and coarsely woven pieces, have colours and weave that
bespeak a ripe age, amounting in many instances to one hundred years or
more. On the field of odjaliks are represented as a rule the usual
hexagonal figure with two sides at each end forming a triangle; and on
the fields of the namazliks are prayer arches which, though
characteristic, never equal the graceful drawing seen in Ghiordes rugs.
It is the sedjadehs that awaken the greatest interest, as they have some
striking peculiarities rarely seen in rugs of the mainland.

Their field is divided into two or three panels that extend almost the
full length of the field, and terminate at one end in flat and often
serrated arches. The spandrels are small; and placed transversely above
them is a low panel, that contains designs of mechanically drawn leaves,
vandykes resembling those of Ladiks, and other figures common to Asia
Minor rugs. In fact, these pieces at once suggest prayer rugs containing
two or more prayer arches, but the pattern is generally regarded as a
representation of cathedral windows. Both colouring and designs give
force to this idea. In each of the principal panels is a different
ground colour, as red, blue, or green, which is never gaudy, yet
exceedingly rich on account of the depth of pile; and in the overlying
figures there is often a strangely contrasting splendour of brighter
colouring. Furthermore, one of the most usual of these designs, arranged
like pole medallions, consists of large eight-pointed stars with
effulgent rays of brilliant hues. As we look at some of the rare old
pieces with this pattern, cathedral windows almost appear before us with
bright sunshine streaming in golden rays through the stained glass and
brightening the interior with its more sombre tones of “dim religious
light.” Sometimes the pole design is modified so as to suggest a tree
of life extending from one end of the panel to the other. An equally
common design represents six very mechanically drawn leaves assembled in
the form of a medallion (Plate O, Fig. 15, Page 291). Each of these
leaves has two straight edges meeting at right angles and containing at
the corner a small rectangular spot; but the remaining sides that form
the circumference of the medallion are deeply serrated, so as to produce
much the same effect as the rays of effulgent stars. In the fields are
also frequently seen latch-hooks, and occasionally checkerboards with
different colours for separate squares.

Between field and border is a close correspondence in both colours and
small designs. The latter consist principally of geometric and
semi-floral forms, as eight-pointed stars, the octagonal disc, and the
geometric leaf that is typical of Kulah rugs. No other design is more
prevalent than the last, which may be found in all parts of these rugs.
Sometimes it is drawn most realistically so as to resemble the flower
forms so common in spandrels of Kulahs; but again the outlines are most
conventional with square-like projections at the edges and a bar of
underlying field of contrasting colour crossing the face diagonally, as
in the border stripe of Plate G, Fig. 13, (opp. Page 192), which shows
the foliate origin of the latter.

The name “Makri” is frequently applied to these rugs, since they were
often bought in the city of that name, which is one of the harbours of
Southwestern Asia Minor nearest to Rhodes.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and blue, also
considerable yellow, green, and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally five to eight; perpendicularly, seven to nine. The rows of
knots are not firmly pressed down, so that the warp shows in places at
back. _Warp_, wool; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is
equally prominent at back, occasionally one to each knot is slightly
depressed below the other. _Weft_, wool, of medium diameter, coloured
red. A thread of warp usually crosses twice between every two rows of
knots, rarely only once, and sometimes as many as four times. _Pile_,
wool, clipped long. _Border_, two to three stripes. _Sides_, a double
selvage of two, three, or four cords, usually coloured red or blue.
_Lower end_, a web, either red or of several colours, and long warp
fringe hanging loose or braided. _Upper end_, a web, either red or of
several colours, beyond which is often a heavy braided selvage; also a
long warp fringe hanging loose or braided. _Texture_, moderately loose.
_Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse grain. _Length_, four to seven
feet. _Width_, three fifths to four fifths length.

[Illustration: PLATE 41. KUBA RUG]

BROUSSA.—At the base of Mt. Olympus and distant only twenty-five miles
from the Sea of Marmora, with which it is connected by rail, is the city
of Broussa. By reason of this location and its proximity to
Constantinople, it is an important commercial centre; and on account of
the excellence of the wool and silk obtained in the surrounding country,
rugs are woven here for foreign markets. The fabrics are stoutly made
and compare favourably with those of Smyrna.

HEREKE.—In the town of Hereke, on the Sea of Marmora, is a Turkish
factory, where large numbers of silk rugs are manufactured. Most of the
silk is obtained in the immediate neighbourhood and from the country
about Mt. Olympus. As the early weavers were brought from Kirman to
instruct the artisans of the Sultan, and the patterns have been largely
copied from old Persian and Asia Minor pieces, it is not surprising that
many of the fabrics compare favourably with the silk rugs of Persia.

KONIEHS.—At the base of Mt. Taurus and overlooking the salt desert of
Central Asia Minor is the city of Konieh. Within its present walls is
all that is left of the ancient Iconium that opened its gates to
Xenophon, Cyrus, and Alexander, but drove forth the Apostle Paul.
Finally it surrendered to Seljukian conquerors, who, realising the
importance of its situation on one of the great highways between east
and west and in an oasis of well-watered fields, orchards, and gardens
which face a great barren plain, established there a Mussulman capital,
that became noted for its opulence and culture. In later years it
successfully resisted the assault of Frederic Barbarossa; but
subsequently it declined, until now the only remaining vestiges of its
former importance are several colleges, one hundred mosques, and the
famous green tower surmounting the tomb of the whirling dervishes.

In few other cities of Asia Minor were greater inducements offered to
the rug weavers. Surrounding them lay hills and plains that produced
sheep with soft, fine fleeces. On the oaks that grew not far to the
north lived the kermes, from which were obtained the vermilion dyes
famous even through Persia. The political and commercial importance of
the city, as well as the religious fanaticism of the people, aided them.
Accordingly a great many choice pieces were formerly woven there, but on
account of the remoteness of the city from the markets that supplied
Europe, few found their way into channels of trade.

Large numbers were used solely for religious purposes, but other kinds
are as frequently seen. All of them contain both geometric and floral
forms. The geometric forms resemble designs prevalent in Eastern
Anatolia and in Caucasia, such as latch-hooks, eight-pointed stars, and
barber-pole stripes; and the floral forms consist of mechanically drawn
palm leaves and the tree-of-life design.

Probably in no other Asia Minor rug is such latitude in the drawing of
the prayer arch. Sometimes it begins below the middle of the field and
rises at a sharp angle to a point near the upper end; again it may be
exceedingly flat; but generally it has the same pitch as the arches of
Kulahs, and, like them, the sides, as a rule, are stepped or serrated.
Furthermore, it is not unusual to see latch-hooks projecting from each
step or serration into the spandrel, which is filled with small floral
and geometric forms. From the niche is occasionally suspended a lamp;
and arranged against the border, on each side of the field, is a row of
conventionalised flowers, or small sprigs which resemble three
triangular-shaped petals at the end of a straight stem. These floral or
foliate designs are one of the most constant features of this class. The
borders are more geometric than those of almost any other Asia Minor
rugs, and even when vines are represented they are drawn with stiff

Whatever may be lacking in artistic drawing is frequently atoned for by
the excellence of the colour scheme, which occasionally rivals that of
the Ghiordes and Kulahs. Rich reds or blues are almost invariably found
in the fields, where there is sufficient depth of nap to enhance their
richness; and the borders are brightened by attractive tones of yellow,
green, and white. Contrasted with these old pieces, the modern rugs of
Konieh have little artistic merit, but are large pieces desirable solely
for their durability.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and blue, with minor
quantities of yellow, green, and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally five to eight; perpendicularly, six to ten. The rows of
knots are not very firmly pressed down. _Warp_, wool; each of the two
threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool,
of medium diameter, dyed red. A thread of weft crosses twice between
every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of medium length. _Border_, from
two to five stripes, with frequently an outer edging. _Sides_, generally
a selvage of two or three cords, but occasionally an overcasting. _Both
ends_, a web and warp fringe. _Texture_, only moderately firm. _Weave_
at back is of slightly coarse grain. _Usual length_, four and one half
to six feet. _Usual width_, three fifths to three quarters length.

LADIKS.—On the ruins of ancient Laodicea is the mud-walled town of the
village of Ladik, once the centre of an important rug industry. Among
the surrounding hills are still woven pieces which resemble in pattern,
though they poorly imitate in weave and colour, the early prototypes
that have been classed among the masterpieces of Asia Minor. Few of
these old rugs remain, and they are often badly worn in spots; yet they
display tones mellowed by the touch of more than a century, and rival
the Ghiordes in beauty of design.

As is the case with other classes of rugs woven in Turkish countries,
the sedjadehs and odjaliks lack the interesting details of the
namazliks, from which they widely differ. On the central fields of many
of them are oblong hexagonal-shaped medallions, often three in number,
that contain designs of stars or other geometric figures. Between the
fields and the borders of the ends are generally spacious panels, on
which are represented rows of vandykes. These figures are one of the
most permanent characteristics of this class of rugs; and though their
origin is uncertain, it is not improbable that they are derived from
arrowheads, which were one of the emblems of the Chaldean deity Hoa, the
reputed inventor of Cufic writing. The borders are also geometric,
consisting, as a rule, of three stripes, of which the central contains
an angular vine that in different pieces may be very simple or very
ornate. One of the central stripes often adopted is represented in Plate
G, Fig. 10 (opp. Page 192) and shows a vine with conventionalised leaf.
Latch-hooks are common in the sedjadehs, and when floral forms are
present the fact is generally disguised by the harsh, mechanical

In contrast with these pieces, the namazliks with their interesting
arches and dainty drawing are most pleasing. In a large number of them
the central fields occupy about one half the space within the border,
the spandrels extend for a considerable distance above the arch, and the
panels are larger than in any other prayer rug. Occasionally arches
resembling those of the Ghiordes or Kir-Shehrs are seen; but they are
to be regarded merely as copies, since the typical arch differs widely
from any other and gives to this class one of its greatest charms.
Instead of rising to the apex in lines of many serrations, each side of
the arch rises from the border and falls in one large serration, then
rises again to form the niche. The arch is often fringed with
latch-hooks, and extending above the apex of each serration and the
niche are perpendicular devices that may, also, be a development of the
latch-hook, since they have not been traced to any other satisfactory
origin. But whatever their origin may be, their shape as well as that of
the arch at once suggests Saracenic mosques. In the spandrel are
constantly seen serrated leaves, rosettes, and designs peculiar to the
Ladik. The large panel is equally typical, and consists of reciprocally
drawn vandykes, from which rise perpendicular stems supporting leaves
and pomegranates. These are generally five in number, and are so
gracefully and naturalistically drawn that it seems surprising that the
vandykes, from which they spring, are ornamented with a profusion of
latch-hooks. The central fields are sometimes without ornament, but as a
rule they contain some suggestions of the tree of life either in the
central design or in the three-leaf sprigs arranged about the borders.
The latter are as characteristic as any other part of the rug, and
consist of four stripes separated by dotted lines. The main stripe most
frequently contains a row of delicately drawn lilies alternating with
rosettes, though occasionally a very formal vine with conventionalised
leaf is substituted for it. In the stripes at each side are very angular
vines with three-cleft leaves, and in the narrow innermost stripe is
generally a ribbon pattern.

All of the drawing has clear definition accentuated by rich and strongly
contrasting colours. The fields of the namazliks, like those of the
Ghiordes, are entirely occupied by masses of unshaded blue, red, or
brown, that are relieved only by the colours of superimposed designs.
But as is not the case with Ghiordes, there is often a strong contrast
between the colours of centre and ends; yet the tones are always in
perfect harmony. Other rugs may have more delicate drawing or more
exquisite finish; but in the barbaric arrangement of strong colour and
in the uniqueness of graceful designs, none exceed the old prayer

[Illustration: PLATE 42. CHICHI RUG]

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and blue, with minor
quantities of green, yellow, and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally nine to twelve; perpendicularly, ten to thirteen. A half
knot as it appears at back is longer than wide. The rows of knots are
pressed down so that the warp is concealed at back. _Warp_, wool. One of
the two threads encircled by a knot is generally depressed below the
other at the back. _Weft_, wool of fine diameter, generally dyed red. A
thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_,
wool, of medium length. _Border_, three to five stripes. _Sides_, a red
added selvage of two or three cords. _Both ends_, a narrow web and warp
fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of medium grain.
_Usual length_, four and one half to seven feet. _Usual width_, three
fifths to two thirds length.

KIR-SHEHRS.—To the north of the great salt desert and in the southern
part of the province of Angora is the town of Kir-Shehr. It stands
between two mountain ranges, on which are raised sheep with fine
fleeces, and is on the branch of the Kizil Irmak, whose waters are well
suited for preparing wool for the dyes obtained in the surrounding
country. On account of the excellence of wool, water, and natural dyes,
as well as the remoteness of the town from main highways of travel, many
of the old rugs were excellent pieces, free from the taint of Western
influences, and possessing the charm of individuality. It was due,
moreover, to the fact that its three or four thousand inhabitants, and
the Turkomans who roamed the surrounding country, rarely felt the
influence of larger cities that they were so untrammelled by
conventionalities. Unhesitatingly they grouped together large spaces of
red, yellow, and blue, as well as grass-coloured green, for which they
had a particular fondness and employed to a greater extent than almost
any other weavers; yet in the case of these old pieces the artistic
sense is rarely shocked, since the individual colours are good and the
tones are harmonious. Furthermore, the patterns show an unusual blending
of floral and geometric forms.

Most of the pieces come in moderate sizes; some are mats, others small
sedjadehs, but the choicest are the prayer rugs. The serrated sides of
the arch, which rise at a steep angle from the centres of each side of
the rather narrow fields, are formed of several parallel lines of
different colour. In a not unusual rug, for instance, eight narrow lines
separating the spandrel of grass-green from the inner field of brick-red
appeared in the following order: red, black, white, yellow, lavender,
yellow, red, and blue. The inmost line is frequently fringed with
tri-cleft floral forms, which, as in Koniehs, extend in a row along the
sides of the field. From the niche is usually suspended the design of an
inverted tree of life, and above it are projected latch-hooks or similar
devices. It is not unusual to see two arches, and there are sometimes as
many as four, placed one within the other. The spacious spandrel that is
continued in narrow stripes along the borders to the bottom of the field
is covered with geometric or conventionalised floral forms; and the
horizontal panel, which may be placed at either end of the field,
contains designs in harmony with the remaining parts.

On the whole, the wide borders have some of the most characteristic
features; for, as a rule, not only are one or two of the stripes of a
peculiar cherry red and one a rich yellow, but three or four of the
narrow stripes next to the field are similar in width and ornamentation
to those of the Kulah. When contrasted with them the broad central
stripe and the outer one seem lacking in harmony, for they are
distinctly floral and suggestive of Persian influences.

On account of the quality of their wool and weave, these rugs are soft
and flexible. They resemble in some minor details others of the
Anatolian plateau, yet they can be distinguished by the presence of
grass-green colour and the shape of the prayer arch. The nap of these
old pieces, like that of Kulahs and Ladiks, is of medium length; though
in modern pieces it is often longer, and the weft and webs are coloured
as are those of Bergamos.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and green, also some
blue, brown, and white. Knot, Ghiordes. _Knots_ to inch horizontally
five to nine; perpendicularly, five to ten. A half knot as it appears at
back is as long as, or longer than, wide. The rows of knots are not
firmly pressed down, so that in places the warp shows. _Warp_, wool;
each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at
back, or occasionally one is slightly depressed. _Weft_, wool, of medium
or coarse diameter and generally of different colours in the same rug. A
thread of weft crosses from two to six times between two rows of knots,
varying in the same rug. _Pile_, wool, of medium length. _Border_, from
five to eight stripes. _Sides_, a weft selvage of two, three, or four
cords of different colours. _Lower end_, web and warp loops. _Upper
end_, a web and warp fringe. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_ at back is of
coarse grain. _Usual length_, four to six feet. _Usual width_, two
thirds to four fifths length.

ANATOLIANS.—To all of Asia Minor was once applied the term “Anatolia,”
which signifies the Land of the Rising Sun; so that any product of this
country might well be called Anatolian, just as any product of Persia
might be called Iranian. In fact, many of the less known classes, as the
Nigde, Tuzla, Mudjar, and even the Kir-Shehr, Melez, and Konieh, are
often called Anatolian. But as there is a special type of rugs known as
Iranians, so is there a special type known as Anatolians. They are,
however, a mixed lot, that come from parts of a wide stretch of
territory, extending over the interior table-land to the home of the
Kurds, and incorporating ideas received from many districts. It is,
accordingly, difficult to define them as a type; but, as a rule, they
are small pieces that are often used for mats and pillows, with
moderately long nap of soft, floccy wool, with narrow borders, and a
colour scheme that inclines to bright and sometimes garish colours.

Doubtless the best of them come from the provinces of Angora and Konieh,
lying within a radius of one hundred miles of Lake Tuz Gul. Here can be
obtained the best of wool and dyes; and in some of the old pieces
appears the artistic drawing of the more important rug centres farther
to the west, but with a strange blending of geometric and floral forms.
Eight-pointed stars as well as latch-hooks are seen everywhere, and a
very old design with the shape of ram’s horns is frequently used. In
many of the prayer rugs the arches are of the Kir-Shehr order, though
the panels may contain vandykes suggestive of Ladiks. There is the
greatest latitude in the width of the borders, which occasionally are
their most noticeable feature and again are most insignificant; but in
either case they rarely contain more than three stripes, and not
infrequently only one. Red, blue, green, and brown are the usual
colours, but pink and canary yellow are sometimes used.

Farther to the east, among the foot-hills of the Anti-Taurus mountains,
is woven a coarser type by the Kurdish tribes. With the exception of
wool and dyes they have little to their credit; for their usual
unsymmetric shapes, crude geometric designs, long uneven nap, and
braided fringe of warp at the ends are lacking in all elegance.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, green, brown,
and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally five to nine;
perpendicularly, six to twelve. A half knot, as it appears at back, is
generally as long as wide, or longer. The rows of knots are not firmly
pressed down, yet the warp is frequently concealed at back. _Warp_,
wool; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent
at back. _Weft_, wool, of medium or coarse diameter and usually dyed, A
thread of weft crosses two, three, and four times between two rows of
knots frequently varying in the same piece. _Pile_, wool, of medium
length. _Border_, one to three stripes, and occasionally an edging.
_Sides_, a weft selvage of two or three cords. _Both ends_, a web and
warp fringe. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_ at back is of coarse grain.
_Usual length_, two and one half to six feet. _Usual width_, one half to
two thirds length.

KARAMANS.—At the foot of Mt. Taurus and overlooking the plain that
stretches northward into the heart of Asia Minor is the city of Karaman.
Before its subjection in the XV Century by Bajazet II and the removal of
the capital to Konieh, that lies sixty miles to the northwest, it was
the seat of a Turkish government extending to the Mediterranean Sea; but
to-day the only reminder of its early importance are several Saracenic
mosques covered with rich arabesques. Of the rugs woven there during the
early period almost nothing is known, but, on account of the former
importance of the city, it is not improbable that they compared
favourably with the rugs of other parts of the Turkish Empire. On the
other hand, some of the modern products are among the poorest rugs of
the East, and contain little artistic merit. A feature peculiar to many
of them is the use of natural wool of reddish brown colour, obtained
from sheep which live on the mountain ranges to the south of Karaman.
The pile is long, the weave is never very firm, and at each end is a
coloured web.

SIVAS.—In the city of Sivas, at the eastern end of Anatolia, and in the
villages of the surrounding plain, girls and women have woven rugs from
time immemorial; but on account of the difficulties of transportation
few of them reach this country. The carefully finished sides and ends,
the formal character of the pattern, and the almost harsh effect of the
strongly contrasting colours of many of them are unlike what are found
in the nomadic rugs made farther to the east and west. In the weave is a
hint of Persian influence; for not only are both warp and weft of
cotton, but the warp is of small diameter and well spun, and one of the
two threads to which a knot is tied is depressed below the other. The
pattern, on the other hand, is distinctly Turkish. One of the best known
types consists of a large hexagon that reaches to the sides and ends,
and contains within it a medallion on which are designs similar to those
seen in Bergamos. On the white field surrounding the medallion are often
small rosettes and floral figures. The corners of the field may be
fringed with running latch-hooks or a row of formal T’s, and contain a
rosette at their centre. The borders are rarely wide, and often consist
of a single stripe that contains some conventionalised floral form.
Although these rugs are well woven, their crude blending of floral and
geometric figures, as well as their formality of drawing, which is
accentuated by the shortness of the nap, are most suggestive of
Occidental conventions.

[Illustration: PLATE 43. TCHERKESS RUG]

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and white; also dull
blue, green, and light yellow. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally seven to eleven; perpendicularly, nine to fifteen. A half
knot, as it appears at back, is not as long as wide. The rows of knots
are pressed down, so that the warp does not show at back. _Warp_,
cotton, well spun and of small diameter. One of the two threads
encircled by a knot is depressed below the other at back and sometimes
doubled under the other. _Weft_, cotton, of medium diameter. A thread of
weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool of
short to medium length. _Border_, narrow, one to three stripes. _Sides_,
an added selvage of four or five cords attached in places, and with weft
encircling inner cord of selvage. _Both ends_, narrow web and loose warp
fringe. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is only slightly coarse. _Usual
length_, three and one half to six and one half feet. _Usual width_, two
thirds to four fifths length.

MUDJARS.—Near the river Kizil Irmak in Central Asia Minor is the city of
Mudjar, which produces rugs that occasionally reach this country. They
are often classed as Anatolians, but their colour scheme covers a wider
range, including red, yellow, green, blue, mauve, and pink, all of which
may be seen in the same piece. In fact no other rug of Asia Minor
contains as a rule so many colours, which appear in the broad borders of
old, well-woven pieces with glistening wool almost like mosaic work.
Many of this class are namazliks with arches very similar to the arches
in the rugs of Kir-Shehr, which is distant only twenty-five miles to the
north; and in the panels above the spandrel are not infrequently designs
of vandykes borrowed from the Ladiks. Some suggestion of the tree of
life often appears in the field, and again rows of flowers may extend
into it from the sides. Some of the best examples are very handsome.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, yellow, blue, green,
and ivory, also mauve and pink. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally six to nine; perpendicularly, seven to twelve. _Warp_,
wool. Each of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot is frequently
equally prominent at the back, but generally one is depressed below the
other. _Weft_, wool, of medium to coarse diameter dyed red or brown. A
thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_,
wool of medium length. _Border_, broad, of three to four stripes.
_Sides_, a three-cord selvage, frequently red. _Both ends_, coloured
webs and fringe. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_, moderately coarse. _Usual
length_, four to six feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to three quarters

NIGDES.—Near the base of the Anti-Taurus mountains in the eastern part
of the province of Konieh is the city of Nigde, which is little known in
this country as a rug-producing centre, though its fabrics reach Europe.
Many of them are namazliks, that are distinguished by their high
geometric arches. The borders often show the influence of the Kurdish
tribes, and contain patterns common in the Mesopotamian valley; but
their colour scheme of red, blue, and yellow more closely resembles the
Anatolian. Most of them are of small size and are poorly woven.

TUZLAS.—Another class of Asia Minor rugs rarely seen are the Tuzlas.
They are generally regarded as Anatolians, but are made by people who
live about Lake Tuz Gul in the province of Konieh. Some of them are well
woven, and have soft woollen pile and attractive patterns. The prayer
arch of the namazliks bears some resemblance to the arch of the
Kir-Shehrs; the panel is relatively high; and not infrequently the
borders have rosettes similar to those of Bergamos. The principal
colours are red, blue, green, and ivory.

KAISARIYEH.—One of the few Asia Minor centres for the manufacture of
silk textiles is the city of Kaisariyeh, the ancient Cæsarea, near the
eastern part of Anatolia. Formerly rugs of excellent quality were made
there; but the modern products are, as a rule, inferior both in
workmanship and material to those of Hereke. Frequently their dyes are
aniline and the colours garish. Many of them are prayer rugs with
arches resembling the Ghiordes pattern, but their borders are more
conventional. Woollen rugs which are copies of other well-known Asia
Minor pieces are also woven there.


_The rug here represented conforms in every particular to one of the
best types of Ladik prayer rugs. It contains the beautiful border stripe
of Rhodian lilies, the pomegranates and vandykes in the panel below the
central field, and the queer designs of scrolls and serrated leaves so
peculiar to these rugs. It is interesting to see how the pattern of the
innermost stripe, which consists of a row of S-forms at the top and
sides, is changed so as to resemble a ribbon at the bottom, to note the
eight-pointed stars resting on octagons in the lower panel, so
suggestive of nomads, and also the designs which have been placed near
the two corners on the left, between the rosettes and Rhodian lilies of
the main stripe, as if to divert the spell of the “evil-eye.” Such
irregularities, denoting the idiosyncrasies of the weaver, add to the
charm of Oriental rugs._

  _Loaned by Mr. Hulett C. Merritt_]

YURUKS.—Suggestive of gipsies, yet widely unlike them, are the tribes of
Turkoman descent known as Yuruks. This term means “Wanderers;” and they
are well named, since throughout the western part of Asia Minor they
follow their sheep, cattle, and camels from the rich pastures among the
mountain tops of the interior, where they live in summer, to the
fertile, sunny plains bordering the seashore in winter. Even near Smyrna
and the slopes of Mt. Olympus may be seen their black goat’s-hair tents,
where the unexpected guest is always welcome.

In their rugs is the reflection of their untrammelled lives, unaffected
by the refinements of cities; and as their lives are different from
those of all other inhabitants of Asia Minor, so are these rugs entirely
distinct, resembling more than anything else the work of the wild Kazaks
of the Caucasus. In them will be recognised the same long nap, the same
massing of colour, the same profusion of latch-hooks, and other simple
designs. The colours, however, are less brilliant, bright reds and
yellows being more sparingly used; but on the other hand the depth of
floccy nap gives a subdued richness to the dark metallic madder, blue,
green, and brown, such as is rarely seen in any Kazak. The patterns show
the usual diversity of nomadic rugs. The fields may contain crude,
unrelated figures, or diagonal stripes on which are small geometric
designs. Again from the Kurdish tribes to the east may be adopted the
pear designs as well as floral forms, but the drawing is always far from

Most of the modern rugs have fine wool coloured with vegetable dyes, and
stout warp and weft woven to give flexibility; but their patterns show a
want of all artistic feeling. Now and then, however, comes to light a
piece that has stood the wear of more than a century, showing the touch
of a higher craftsmanship, and with colours softened by each succeeding

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally brown, red, and blue,
with minor quantities of yellow, green, and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally five to seven; perpendicularly, six to nine.
The rows of knots are not closely pressed down, yet the warp does not
show at back. _Warp_, wool or goat’s hair; each of the two threads
encircled by a half knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool of
medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses two, three, or four times
between every two rows of knots, varying in the same rug. _Pile_, wool,
clipped long. _Border_, from four to six stripes, occasionally with an
outer edging. _Sides_, generally a heavy double overcasting, but
occasionally a double selvage of two or three cords. _Lower end_, a
coloured web through which generally runs a parti-coloured cord, and
warp loops; or the warp threads may be knotted and hang loose. _Upper
end_, a coloured web through which generally runs a parti-coloured cord,
a braided selvage, and a warp fringe; or the warp ends may be braided
together at short intervals. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_ at back is of
moderately coarse grain. _Usual length_, four to nine feet. _Usual
width_, two fifths to two thirds length.


Regarded as a whole, the borders of Asia Minor rugs show but slight
relationship to either the geometric patterns of the Caucasian, or the
floral patterns of the Persian; for as a rule the geometric features
either are subordinate or suggest an origin by degradation from floral
designs, and the floral features generally are represented by an orderly
arrangement of disjunct forms rather than by continuous vines with
pendent flowers. Yet there is no doubt that some were copied by
Caucasian weavers, and that many were derived from Persian patterns.
They are frequently, however, more artistic than the former, more
interesting than the latter, and rival both in beautiful colouring and
delicate drawing.

_Primary Stripes._—Several different stripes peculiar to Ghiordes prayer
rugs are illustrated in Plate G, Figs. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (opp. Page
192). The first of these is probably the oldest. It is so strikingly
suggestive of the Herati design of rosette and attendant leaves that
there can be little doubt of its Persian origin. The seed-like processes
of the alternate rosettes are noticeable. The second, which is found in
many of the Ghiordes rugs, shows the same pattern more conventionalised,
with the rosette resembling an open pod and with the leaves almost
octagonal-shaped. The third is a still greater evolution of the same
pattern in which leaves and rosettes of nearly equal shape and size are
placed at three angles of a quadrangular space. The last, which is a
very elaborate pattern somewhat similar to the first, is found in a few
old rugs. Besides these, a number of parallel lines similar to those of
Kulah rugs (Plate G, Fig. 12) are sometimes seen in the Ghiordes.


One of the best known Ghiordes stripes found in odjaliks and sedjadehs
is shown in Plate G, Fig. 6. It is a broad stripe with wide, vine-like
bands covered with rows of small flecks or flowers. Between each flexure
of the band are designs probably symbolic of early sun worship.

In Plate G, Fig. 7, is represented the most usual and beautiful stripe
of the Ladik prayer rugs. The principal motives are Rhodian lilies, and
rosettes identical with Persian forms, that are probably
conventionalised roses. Another stripe, in which the lily is replaced by
a conventionalised vine, is shown in Plate G, Fig. 8. Both these stripes
are found only in Ladik rugs. Other stripes seen now and then in Ladik
and Melez sedjadehs are illustrated in Plate G, Figs. 9, 10, and 11,
each of which shows a conventionalised leaf.

One of the most typical Kulah stripes is seen in Plate G, Fig. 12. It
might in fact be regarded as a number of parallel stripes, but as will
be evident by observing a large series of Kulahs it serves the function
of a single broad stripe. Often the separate bands are replaced by a
ground of uniform colour marked by parallel rows of minute flowers of
regularly varying colour. Occasionally this stripe is copied by Ghiordes

In Plate G, Fig. 13, is a well-known stripe that appears both in Kulah
and Rhodian rugs. As previously explained, its origin is probably
floral, though the drawing is geometric. A formal stripe found in
Bergamos, and consisting largely of diamonds and eight-pointed stars, is
represented in Plate G, Fig. 14.

Figs. 15 and 16 of Plate G illustrate the border stripes of Melez rugs.
Each contains regularly spaced rosettes, separated by conventionalised
leaf forms. A much more geometric Melez border, in which the rosettes
are replaced by eight-pointed stars and the leaves by discs, is shown in
Plate G, Fig. 17.

A geometric stripe of uncertain origin that is found in some Koniehs is
shown in Plate G, Fig. 18.

In Plate G, Figs. 19 and 20, are represented two stripes characteristic
of Kir-Shehrs. The former is a dainty pattern consisting of a row of
bushes separated by the lily design. It is occasionally found in the
Melez also.

A typical Mudjar stripe in which the geometric patterns are subdivided
into small and richly coloured mosaic work is seen in Plate G, Fig. 21.

In Plate G, Fig. 22, is illustrated a Yuruk border stripe such as is
frequently seen in modern pieces.

_Secondary and Tertiary Stripes._—In Plate H, Figs. 1 and 2 (opp. Page
194), are illustrated two secondary stripes frequently seen in Ghiordes
and Kulah rugs. The first is most suggestive of a running vine, and the
second has doubtless been derived from it.

A more ornate pattern, which generally accompanies the broad band of
perpendicular lines peculiar to Ghiordes and Kulah rugs, is shown in
Plate H, Fig. 3. The arrangement of three leaves in angles of
quadrangular spaces suggests relationship to the primary stripe of Plate
G, Fig. 3 (opp. Page 192).

Two other secondary stripes found in Ghiordes rugs are seen in Plate H,
Figs. 4 and 5. The former, which is also found in Kulahs is a vine and
flower subject to many modifications.

A tertiary stripe containing a ribbon-like vine is very usual in
Ghiordes and Kulah pieces. One of these, which is very graceful, is
shown in Plate H, Fig. 6.

Another angular vine with pendent flower, that appears as a secondary
stripe of a large number of Ladik prayer rugs, is illustrated in Plate
H, Fig. 7. This resembles a few Persian stripes, but the drawing of the
pendent leaf is characteristic of Asia Minor.

Figs. 8 and 9 of Plate H represent two tertiary stripes often seen in
Ladiks and Kulahs. They illustrate the evolution of patterns; for in the
same stripe of a rug will sometimes be seen the first of these and the
simple ribbon pattern of Plate F, Fig. 18 (opp. Page 158), and also in
the same stripe of another rug will sometimes be seen the second of
these and a continuous row of “_ff_” designs, as in Plate H, Fig. 2.

The most typical of all Kulah secondary stripes, though it is also seen
in Rhodian rugs and occasionally in an old Ghiordes, is illustrated in
Plate H, Fig. 10. A somewhat similar stripe is shown in Plate H, Fig.
11. The design looks like a Chinese motive, but that it is evolved from
a vine will be seen by comparing these stripes with those in Figs. 4 and
12. All of them are Asia Minor border stripes.


In Figs. 13 and 14 of Plate H are illustrated the swastika and S
stripe, which are seen now and then in Asia Minor rugs, such as Kulahs,
and also in Caucasian rugs.

One of the most typical of Melez secondary stripes, representing
processes like cogs projecting in a row from alternating sides of the
stripe, is shown in Plate H, Fig. 15. The stripes shown in Figs. 16 and
17 of Plate H, representing a row of small rosettes and a row of
octagonal discs, are also occasionally seen in Melez rugs.

The very angular vine shown in Plate H, Fig. 18, is sometimes seen in

A very unusual secondary stripe (Plate H, Fig 19), found in a few
Anatolians, represents a fret pattern, which was probably copied from
some monument.

The chain pattern (Plate H, Fig. 20) is occasionally seen as a tertiary
stripe in the Ghiordes. It appeared in Asia Minor rugs of several
centuries ago, and has been copied by the weavers of Caucasia. Sometimes
the lines are angular, and again the S’s are separated by small round or
square dots.



    H = Horizontally
    P = Perpendicularly
    g = goat’s hair
    s = silk
    e = each equally prominent
    d = 1 to the knot depressed
    h = 1 to the knot doubled under
    s = silk
    j = jute
    No. = No. times crossing bet. two round knots
    O = overcasting
    S = selvage
    W = web
    S = Selvage
    K = Rows knots
    L = warp loops
    F = fringe
    W = web
    S = selvage
    K = Rows knots
    T = turned back and hemmed
    F = fringe

  │            │          KNOT              │           WARP               │
  │            ├─────────┬──────┬───────────┼─────┬───────┬────┬───────────┤
  │ ASIA MINOR │         │      │ Number to │     │       │    │ At back   │
  │            │         │      │ Inches    │     │       │    │           │
  │            │ G =     │ S =  ├─────┬─────┤  w =│ c =   │    ├───┬───┬───┤
  │            │ Ghiordes│ Sehna│  H  │  P  │ wool│ cotton│ s/l│ e │ d │ h │
  │Anatolian   │    G    │      │ 5-9 │ 6-12│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Bergamo     │    G    │      │ 5-9 │ 7-10│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Ghiordes    │    G    │      │ 7-12│ 8-16│  w  │  c    │[s] │ e │[d]│   │
  │Karaman     │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 8-13│  w  │       │    │   │ d │   │
  │Kir-Shehr   │    G    │      │ 5-9 │ 5-10│  w  │       │    │ e │[d]│   │
  │Konieh      │    G    │      │ 5-8 │ 6-10│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Kulah       │    G    │      │ 5-10│ 7-12│  w  │       │    │[e]│ d │   │
  │Ladik       │    G    │      │ 9-12│10-13│  w  │       │    │[e]│ d │   │
  │Meles       │    G    │      │ 5-8 │ 6-11│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Rhodian     │    G    │      │ 5-8 │ 7-9 │  w  │       │    │ e │[d]│   │
  │Sivas       │    G    │      │ 7-11│ 9-15│     │  c    │    │   │ d │[h]│
  │Youruk      │    G    │      │ 5-7 │ 6-9 │  w  │       │[g] │ e │   │   │

  │            │         WEFT             │ SIDES │     LOWER END   │
  │            ├─────┬───────┬────┬───────┼───┬───┼─────┬───┬───┬───┤
  │ ASIA MINOR │     │       │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │ w = │ c =   │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │wool │ cotton│ s/l│   P   │ O │ S │ W/S │ K │ L │ F │
  │Anatolian   │  w  │       │    │  2-4  │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Bergamo     │  w  │       │    │  2-6  │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Ghiordes    │  w  │   c   │[s] │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Karaman     │  w  │       │    │   2   │ O │ S │ W/S │   │ L │   │
  │Kir-Shehr   │  w  │       │    │  2-6  │   │ S │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Konieh      │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Kulah       │  w  │       │[j] │ 2/[1] │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Ladik       │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Meles       │  w  │       │    │   4   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Rhodian     │  w  │       │    │2/[1-4]│   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Sivas       │  w  │   c   │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Youruk      │  w  │       │    │  2-4  │ O │[S]│  W  │[K]│ L │ F │

  │            │   UPPER END     │    NAP    │   WEAVE   │ TEXTURE  │
  │            ├─────┬───┬───┬───┼───────────┼───────────┼──────────┤
  │ ASIA MINOR │     │   │   │   │l = long   │f = fine   │l = loose │
  │            │     │   │   │   │m = medium │m = medium │m = medium│
  │            │ W/S │ K │ T │ F │s = short  │c = coarse │f = firm  │
  │Anatolian   │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │    l     │
  │Bergamo     │  W  │   │   │ F │    m/l    │      f    │    m     │
  │Ghiordes    │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      f    │    m     │
  │Karaman     │ W/S │   │ T │ F │     l     │      c    │    l     │
  │Kir-Shehr   │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │    l     │
  │Konieh      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/c   │   m/f    │
  │Kulah       │  W  │   │   │ F │    m/s    │     m/c   │    l     │
  │Ladik       │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      m    │   m/f    │
  │Meles       │  W/S│   │   │ F │   m/[s]   │     m/c   │    l     │
  │Rhodian     │  W/S│   │   │ F │     l     │     m/c   │   m/l    │
  │Sivas       │  W  │   │   │ F │    m/s    │     m/c   │    f     │
  │Youruk      │  W  │ K │[T]│ F │     l     │      c    │    l     │

  [] indicates the less frequent condition.



ASIDE from the facts that the Caucasus is rugged, that during the Middle
Ages it was ruled by the illustrious Tamara, and that till recently the
physical charms of its women made them favourites in the slave markets
of Constantinople, the character and history of that country are to-day
almost as unknown to the average reader as they were when the bards of
ancient Greece bound Prometheus to its rocks and hung the Golden Fleece
from its oaken boughs. Yet it is a country of wonderful interest. Above
its gorges, rivalling those of the Himalayas, rise mountains higher than
the Alps. On the southwestern slope are combined the luxuriant
vegetation of tropical lowlands with virgin forests of fir and pine, and
in meadows and beside shaded brooks grow flowers of strange beauty.
Beneath the ground is undeveloped wealth of ores and mineral oil. The
river Phasis is the natural home of the pheasant; the crags are the
resorts of ibex; and in secluded glens sharing solitude with bear, wolf,
and boar are hidden the wild aurochs.

Moreover, the philologist, ethnologist, and historian can here follow
his favourite pursuit with as much zest as the Alpine climber, botanist,
mineralogist, and sportsman; for within the confines of this region are
spoken some seventy languages by as many distinct clans, each of remote
origin. Some are the descendants of the early dwellers; some are the
Aryan stock that found its way to Europe before the beginning of
history; still others are but the offspring of the flotsam and jetsam
which recurring waves of Asiatic conquerors, surging westward in ancient
times, left stranded here. Nevertheless, for so many generations have
the present inhabitants remained among their mountain strongholds,
unabsorbed and unassimilating, that they have been regarded as a type
sufficiently pure and characteristic to give its name to the great
Caucasian race.

Though enjoying greater isolation than surrounding countries, the
Caucasus at different times and in different ways has felt their
influences. During the Augustan age of Tamara’s rule she attracted by
her brilliancy, taste, and industry foreign courtiers and artisans.
Hardly was she dead before Genghis Khan’s horde of conquering Mongols
poured over the land; and rival suitors, enraptured by her daughter’s
beauty, pressed their claims by invading it with their Mohammedan
armies. For long succeeding years Persia struggled with Turkey for the
mastery of the country, and was about to take it when Russia grasped the
prize, but only after Shamyl with a few brave thousands had defeated
vast armies.

Each of these foreign guests or foes left some impression on the native
art; so that Caucasian rugs show traces of Turkoman, Turkish, and
Persian influences. It is rarely, excepting in a few small geometric
figures, that there is any evidence of the Turkoman influence; but it is
not unusual to see border stripes and field designs adopted from the
Turkish rugs. Some of these stripes represent both geometric and floral
patterns, either copied directly or derived with slight modifications
from rugs woven three or four centuries ago in Asia Minor or Armenia.
The Persian influence is apparent only in the floral forms. It doubtless
inspired the stripe of dainty carnations so common in a large number of
Caucasian pieces, the pear design inseparable from Baku rugs, as well as
many other figures that first appeared in the rugs of Persia.

Nevertheless, these rugs have their own distinct characteristics, which
have a boldness and virility that are to be attributed in a measure to
grand and rugged scenery as well as to centuries of struggle for
independence, since in art the influence of environment is most
apparent. They lack something of the sobriety, artistic drawing, and
delicate colouring of those woven in vast deserts, amid the monuments of
fallen empires, and in the gardens of the East; they contain on the
other hand, both in line and colour, the forceful expression of
untrammelled thought. The patterns are largely geometric; the tones of
colour, in which clear red, blue, green, and yellow predominate, are
strong. On the whole, they possess an individuality of character that is
not surpassed by the rugs of any other group.

[Illustration: MAP OF CAUCASIA]

DAGHESTANS.—In no part of Caucasia have better rugs been woven than in
Daghestan, “the mountain country.” Nor is it surprising that this
province should produce distinctive types, when it is considered that it
has a length of over two hundred miles; that its topography is
diversified by glaciated mountains, barren steppes, and fertile valleys;
and that it is occupied by numerous clans, many of whom differ in origin
as well as religion. Some of the rugs come from the city of Derbend on
the Caspian Sea; some come from Kuba in the southeastern corner; others,
called Kabistans, are produced in the country about Kuba; a few are made
by the Lesghians who live among the lofty mountains; and in other parts
of the province are woven pieces which formerly were sent in large
numbers to Europe and America, where they soon became known as

Though their resemblance to the Kabistans is so great that it is often
difficult to distinguish between them, the rugs which acquired the trade
name of Daghestans are different from almost all other Caucasian pieces.
This is largely because the province is bounded on three sides by a sea
and a nearly impassable mountain range, which render communication with
surrounding territory difficult, and create a natural isolation, where
in the course of many generations a distinct type was developed.
Moreover, these same physical conditions have impeded both the
introduction of aniline dyes, so that even among modern pieces spurious
colours are not frequently seen; and also the adoption of new designs,
so that the patterns of two or three centuries ago are still largely

It is among the oldest rugs of the Daghestan weave that are found many
of the best examples of Caucasian textile art. The dark, rich reds and
blues of the fields, which are brightened by the ivory, light blue,
green, and yellow of the small designs, resemble the fine colouring of
choice Persian carpets. But the patterns are totally dissimilar; for it
is only in a few rare old pieces, in which are copied some designs such
as the lotus, or the running vine with leaf and bud, that there is any
likeness to the realism of Persian floral ornamentation.

The drawing, however, is never crude, and on account of the short nap
and strongly contrasting colours always appears with clear definition.
With the exception of conventionalised pears, the three-leaf sprig,
which is commonly seen in the field, and the narrow border stripes of
carnations, almost all of the figures are geometric; and are so
carefully drawn, so closely clustered, that they represent an appearance
frequently compared to mosaic work. Even when the patterns represent
large medallions or stars, they contain smaller concentric forms, or are
divided and redivided into smaller stars, diamonds, or tessellated
figures, so that the effect is the same. In some form or other the
latch-hook is seen in almost all these pieces. Of small designs, the
octagonal disc is almost invariably found; and animals, human beings,
and the pear are not infrequently seen.

As the population of the province is largely Mohammedan, namazliks as
well as sedjadehs are made; but with the exception of the unobtrusive
arch of the namazlik, which is represented in Plate C, Fig. 9 (Page 61),
there is little difference between them. There is never any panel as in
Asia Minor rugs; nor is there a noticeable spandrel, since the space
above the arch contains designs similar to those on the rest of the

As a rule, the borders consist of three or four stripes separated by
coloured lines. Only in the secondary stripes are any floral forms
employed; and these, with the exception of the carnation design, are
rare. The reciprocal trefoil is most characteristic as an outer stripe;
the serrated line is also employed; and it is not unusual to find next
to the field a broad stripe of diagonal barber-pole bars, on which are
small dotted lines.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and ivory,
with minor quantities of green and yellow. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to
inch horizontally seven to twelve; perpendicularly, eight to fifteen. A
half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as wide and occasionally
longer. The rows of knots are not firmly pressed down, so that their
alignment is even and the warp shows at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the
two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at the back;
occasionally in old pieces one thread is slightly depressed below the
other. _Weft_, wool of medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, clipped short. _Border_,
three to five stripes. _Sides_, a selvage of two, three, or four cords,
or occasionally a weft-overcasting. _Both ends_, a web, one row of knots
or more, and loose warp fringe. Occasionally there is also a narrow
braided selvage. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of fine
grain. _Usual length_, five to ten feet. _Usual width_, one half to two
thirds length.

[Illustration: PLATE 44. BAKU RUG]

KABISTANS.—Within recent years most of the rugs shipped from the
southern part of Daghestan have become known in Western markets as
Kabistans, though the distinction between them and the type that takes
the name of the province is so slight that it is determinable only by
the strictest analysis. In fact, Kabistans are merely a variety of
Daghestans. Both have short nap and occasionally adopt the same colour
scheme and patterns, so that many of each class are indistinguishable
from one another.

On the other hand, there are a few interesting points of difference
between the best types, which are largely attributable to geographic
environment. As the only easy access to this province from the south is
by the shore of the Caspian, where the great mountain wall that forms an
almost impassable barrier between Northern and Southern Caucasia
descends to the plain, the district adjacent to this entrance on the
line of travel would naturally feel and show a foreign influence, while
the remote and more inaccessible parts of the province would be
unaffected. Accordingly, the designs of Kabistans are more varied, and
it is not surprising to find in them evidences of Persian influence not
so apparent in the Daghestans. In some, for instance, are pear designs,
like those occasionally seen in Shiraz pieces; and the rich tones, that
are usually more subdued than those of the Daghestans, suggest the
finest dyes of the Feraghans. There is also a slight difference in
weave. Both display the two threads of warp encircled by each knot with
equal prominence at the back; but in the Daghestans the alignment of the
two halves of the knot, as they appear at the back, is more regular;
while in the Kabistans one extends beyond the other in the direction of
the length of the rug, as is the case with the Shirvans woven in the
adjoining country to the south. Frequently the weft of Kabistans is of
cotton; and the filling is not as wide as that of Daghestans, which is
of wool. Moreover, the Kabistans may be either overcast or have a
selvage at the sides, but the Daghestans have almost always a narrow
selvage. Among the modern pieces there is a tendency for both classes to
follow the side finish of the Shirvans.

A well-known type of old Kabistans, that is also sometimes repeated in
Daghestans, has a dark blue field on which are spaced in regular order
white bracket-like designs, in which the perpendicular arms are usually
connected (Plate O, Figs. 18-a and 18-b, Page 291). Their origin is
unknown; but when their shape and their position in reference to the
rosettes or effulgent stars that are placed near them are considered,
the thought is at once suggested that in them is reproduced after a long
process of slow change a conventionalised form of the Herati design.
Other small harmonious designs are properly spaced throughout the
fields, and in the main stripe of the border, on a cream-coloured
ground, is frequently seen the beautiful pattern of Cufic origin
represented in Plate J, Fig. 19 (opp. Page 228). Old pieces of this
pattern, which are now growing rare, represent in weave, colour, and
design the masterpieces of Caucasian textile art.

Another pattern consists of diagonal stripes with small geometric
figures, or of small floral forms arranged in rows, so that those of
similar colour fall in diagonal lines. Again, the entire field may be
covered with rectangular pears like those of Baku rugs. Oblong odjaliks
are often seen with fields of dark colour, at each end of which are
large geometric figures symmetrically balanced with reference to the
centre. But they are so fringed with latch-hooks and so subdivided into
smaller devices, which are accentuated by the shortness of the nap, that
they have the effect of an assemblage of smaller designs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, also some red,
ivory, green, and brown. Knot, Ghiordes. _Knots_ to inch horizontally
seven to twelve; perpendicularly, eight to sixteen. A half knot, as it
appears at back, is as long as wide and occasionally longer. The rows of
knots are not firmly pressed down; their alignment is less even than in
Daghestans, yet the warp may be seen at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the
two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_,
wool or cotton, of medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots and occasionally three times. _Pile_,
wool, of medium length. _Border_, three to five stripes. _Sides_,
generally a weft-overcasting, or a two-cord weft selvage; occasionally a
double overcasting or selvage. _Lower end_, a narrow web, not
infrequently a fine braided selvage and warp loops. _Upper end_, a
narrow web, occasionally a fine braided selvage and warp fringe.
_Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of medium grain. _Usual
length_, five to twelve feet. _Usual width_, one half to three quarters

[Illustration: PLATE 45. SHIRVAN RUG]

KUBAS.—Not far from the southeast corner of the province of Daghestan,
in a plain watered by streams that debouch from the Caucasus, is the
small town of Kuba. It is on the site of an old Persian fort, about
which in the course of time sprang up a town sufficiently important to
be the residence of a Khan. For a long period previous to the treaty
of Gulistan, in 1813, the influence of the Persians had been predominant
in this part of the country; and it is not improbable that some of the
oldest Kuba rugs now existing are the work of their weavers. Many, on
the other hand, have few foreign characteristics either of weave or
design, and show a relationship to the work of the Shemakha tribes, who
inhabit an adjoining district in Shirvan.

In some of this class the floral form receives more elaborate treatment
than in any other Caucasian rug. One of the patterns of undoubted
Iranian inspiration represents a large oval panel or medallion, with
graceful outlines resting on a field of deep blue and sable brown,
streaked with waving lines of gold. Within the medallion is a lavish
display of large flowers _en masse_, and not detached from one another
or arranged in set form, as is the case with most floral patterns. In
each corner is a rose with spreading petals that equals the largest seen
in nature, and with colour that suggests the beauty of a Duchess or
Marechal Niel. Surrounding all is a narrow dainty border of some
well-known Persian vine. The most recent copies of this pattern, that
has been followed for at least a century and a half, are so crude as to
resemble but slightly the oldest, which suggest the work of some early
Kirman weaver and are unsurpassed in beauty and artistic elegance by any
other Caucasian rug.

Other patterns are more distinctly representative of the native art. The
field of some is occupied by large, irregular, octagonal-shaped figures
defined by serrated edges and subdivided by mosaic work, at the centre
of which is some well-known design. One of the most pleasing patterns
consists of a field on which with mathematical precision are placed
large effulgent stars. At their centre is often a much smaller star
enclosed by a diamond from which extend broad rays directed towards the
eight principal points of the compass. When softened by time the
different shades, such as light blue, ivory, and deep red of the
enveloping rays, contrasted with other shades at the centre and with a
dark blue of the ground, are exceedingly beautiful.

The Kubas and Shemakhas have similar tones of colour, consisting
principally of blues, reds, sable brown, and yellow, to which the soft,
velvety character of the wool of the best examples gives a quality of
richness that is distinctive. The finish of their sides and ends, which
is usually similar to that of the Soumaks, is also identical, so that
they are frequently mistaken for one another, and can only be
distinguished by a difference of pattern and a slight difference of

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and brown,
occasionally some green. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally
six to nine; perpendicularly, seven to thirteen. The rows of knots are
pressed down, so that the warp is almost hidden at back. _Warp_, fine
wool; the two threads encircled by a knot are equally prominent at back.
_Weft_, wool of fine or medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool of medium length.
_Border_, one to three stripes. _Sides_, a blue double selvage of two or
three cords. _Both ends_, a narrow blue web of “herring-bone” weave, a
knotted selvage or several rows of knots, and short warp fringe.
_Texture_, slightly loose. _Weave_ at back is of moderately fine grain.
_Usual length_, four to nine feet. _Usual width_, one half to two thirds

DERBENDS.—Near the great walls built by Alexander on the Caspian Sea,
where mountains rise abruptly so as to leave only a narrow pass, is one
of the oldest cities of Caucasia. It was known by the Romans as Albana,
and was renamed by the Persians of the VI Century “Derbend,” which in
their language signifies a gateway. No other city of Caucasia has been
visited by more foreign foes. Tartar tribes passed that way when
entering Europe; Mongolians captured it as late as the XIII Century;
Russians and Persians in turn held it. Moreover, the sea has offered an
easy approach to the Turkoman tribes dwelling to the east. It is
therefore somewhat surprising that there is so little evidence of
artistic foreign influence in the weavings; but this is due, perhaps, to
the fact that pieces with an authentic age of over two centuries no
longer exist, and such old rugs as remain are very scarce; whilst the
modern pieces are derived largely from the mountainous districts that
find a market in the city.

Occasionally, however, there comes to light a very old piece that
reaches the standard of the finest Kabistan. The field of such a one may
be filled with elaborately drawn pears like those seen in many of the
Niris rugs. Again, it may be covered with a checkered or lattice-work
pattern that contains within the diamonds geometric or semi-floral
mosaic designs. Surrounding this field are three or four stripes, of
which the outer has a reciprocal pattern. The nap is of fine wool of
moderate length. At the back of these older rugs is sometimes
displayed finely spun reddish dyed threads of woollen weft pressed
closely together between lines of knots carefully tied to brownish
threads of woollen warp; but not infrequently cotton is used for both
warp and weft. Such designs and technique suggest the rugs woven much
farther to the south.

[Illustration: PLATE 46. SOUMAK RUG]

In contrast with these beautiful but rare pieces, the modern products
are sad commentaries on the retrogression in weaving; for those that are
ordinarily found in the market are like poor imitations of inferior
Daghestans. They are of slightly larger size, and have longer nap,
looser weave, and cruder colours. Moreover, they show evidences of
Turkoman influences; for not infrequently the warp is of brown goat’s
hair, and at each end is a reddish brown web like what may be seen in
the rugs of Yomud tribes living on the eastern shores of the Caspian.
Still other nomadic characters, resembling the workmanship of Kazak
tribes, appear in the large star-like or diamond-shaped figures which,
fringed with latch-hooks and coloured with bright tones of red, blue, or
green, are often placed in simple array on a field of strongly
contrasting colour. There is nothing, however, offensive in the colour
scheme, excepting when aniline dyes are used. With wear the nap of many
of them acquires the soft and pleasing effect of Beluchistans.
Furthermore, they are both flexible and durable, though entirely lacking
in artistic qualities.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and ivory,
with minor quantities of green, yellow, and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally five to nine; perpendicularly, six to twelve.
Each half knot is about as long as wide, and occasionally longer. The
rows of knots are generally pressed down, so that the warp is concealed
at back. _Warp_, generally wool, occasionally cotton. The separate
threads are not strung closely together. Each of the two threads
encircled by a knot is equally prominent at the back. _Weft_, generally
wool, but often cotton. In some pieces a thread of weft of medium
diameter crosses twice between every two rows of knots; not infrequently
it crosses both twice and three times in the same piece; rarely a thread
of coarse diameter crosses only once. _Pile_, wool of medium length.
_Border_, three stripes. _Sides_, a double selvage of two or three
cords, or occasionally a double overcasting. _Both ends_ have a web,
frequently a knotted selvage, and a warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately
loose. _Weave_ at back is of medium grain. _Usual length_, five to seven
feet. _Usual width_, one half to two thirds length.

LESGHIANS.—On the northern flank of the high mountain ranges that extend
eastward from Kazbek into the province of Daghestan, live the numerous
tribes classed as Lesghians. Their different dialects and languages
would indicate unrelated origins; but their common religion, mode of
life, and struggle for liberty have established between all of them
strong bonds of sympathy. They are nominally Christians, but essentially
Mohammedans. Most of them live in almost inaccessible spots, beneath the
snow covered, glaciated ridges, and beside fierce flowing torrents,
where on occasions they have converted their homes into almost
impregnable fortresses. These are the people who united with the
Circassians in the long-continued struggle against the Russian Empire,
and followed Shamyl to repeated victory among the mountain defiles.

It might naturally be expected that the rugs of such people would
partake of a character totally distinct from those woven in the sunny
atmosphere of Kirman, amid the sacred influences of Meshed, or among the
peaceful hills of Ghiordes. Such, in fact, is the case, since both
patterns and colouring display extreme simplicity, as well as strength
and beauty. Large numbers of these rugs are of moderate size and
slightly oblong; and are flexible yet stout. Both warp and weft are of
fine brown wool; and as is rarely the case with any other Caucasian rugs
excepting the Shushas, one of the two threads of warp encircled by a
knot is often almost doubled beneath the other. The knotted fringe of
the ends suggests the work of tribes living further westward, but the
selvage of the sides shows relationship to the Daghestans.

The patterns of some of these rugs are not unlike those of rugs woven
south of the Caucasus; and not infrequently the fields contain unrelated
designs such as the lozenge fringed with hooks, the octagonal disc,
eight-pointed stars, and S forms. The borders usually consist of two or
three stripes, on which is some geometric pattern. The colours are few
and characteristic. Blue and yellow are generally present, and
frequently red and brown. On the whole, these pieces have an interesting
individuality unlike that of any other rugs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, blue, yellow, red, brown, and ivory.
_Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to nine;
perpendicularly, six to eleven. The rows of knots are firmly pressed
down, so that the warp is almost hidden at back. _Warp_, brown wool;
one of the two threads encircled by a knot is depressed below the other
at back, or doubled under the other. _Weft_, wool of medium diameter. A
thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_,
wool of medium length. _Border_, usually three stripes. _Sides_, an
added selvage, which is generally wool but occasionally cotton, of two,
three, or four cords. Both ends, a web, two or three rows of knots, and
a warp fringe. In some pieces there is also a braided selvage.
_Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse grain. _Usual
length_, five to eight feet. _Usual width_, one half to two thirds

CHICHIS.—On the lower slope of the Caucasus, extending down into the
valley of the Terek are the homes of the Tchechens, the weavers of
pieces so often spoken of as Chichis. Beyond them to the north are great
stretches of Russian steppes, and to the south is the land of the hardy
Lesghians. Nevertheless, their rugs show little relationship to the work
of the latter or of any other tribes to the north of the mountain chain;
but resemble more closely the work of the Shirvans in the valley of the
Kur, so that not infrequently they are mistaken for them. Indeed, their
general character is remote from anything barbaric, and is more in
keeping with the pleasing effect of the Persian sense of harmony. All
floral forms are conventionalised, but the geometric designs have a
delicacy of drawing, a refinement of detail, from which every jarring
note is eliminated.

Like almost all weavers, the Tchechens adopt different patterns. On the
field of some of the rugs is a plentiful array of small devices
surrounding two or three large geometric figures; or again the field may
be covered with pear designs arranged in regular order; but most of the
rugs now seen follow a common type. In this the field resembles a floor
inlaid with beautiful mosaic work, formed of carefully cut stones of
various hues, studiously arranged in the form of small diamonds,
eight-pointed stars, or rosettes. Not infrequently the rosettes are
outlined by a fret device surrounding a central star. They are
invariably arranged in lines parallel to the ends of the rugs, and this
horizontal effect is sometimes accentuated by inserting between each row
narrow bands composed of conventionalised leaves. The colours of these
small designs are generally ivory, light blue, pale yellow, or red; and
appear more pronounced by contrast with the underlying ground of light
blue. Now and then the nomadic instinct of the Tchechen tribes, who lead
their flocks regularly from the green pastures of the ridges to the
valley of the Terek, crops out in unrelated devices such as combs and S
forms, which they weave in the field. But they usually arrange them so
as to harmonise with the main pattern, or else place them near the sides
and ends, which are almost invariably fringed with either a serrated
line or a row of reciprocal trefoils projecting from the border into the
field. This feature of a reciprocal trefoil employed as a fringe to the
edges of a field independently of the lines of a stripe, is seen in very
few other classes.

Often the borders, which contain a large number of stripes, are as wide
as the central field, with which they harmonise both in colour and
design. There is something chaste in the simplicity of the geometric
figures of the secondary stripes and of the conventionalised floral
drawing of the main stripe. The latter, as represented in the type
generally seen (Plate I, Fig. 6, opp. Page 226), consists of a row of
about eight rosettes, connected by an angular vine drawn with such
breadth and regularity as to resemble a number of parallel bars diagonal
to the sides. In fact, this pattern would be entirely geometric were it
not for the three-cleft leaves, which spring from opposite sides of the
rosettes. Of the secondary stripes, the outer almost invariably has the
reciprocal trefoil, and one has frequently a continuous line of
eight-pointed stars. The arch of the prayer rugs is similar to that of

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally ivory, blue, and red,
with minor quantities of green and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to
inch horizontally seven to ten; perpendicularly, eight to twelve. The
rows of knots are not firmly pressed down, so that the warp may be seen
at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is
equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool, of medium diameter. A thread of
weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of
short or medium length. _Border_, three to five stripes. _Sides_,
generally a double overcasting, but occasionally a double selvage of two
or three cords. _Both ends_, a web, one row of knots or more, and a warp
fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of medium grain.
_Usual length_, four and one half to six and one half feet. _Usual
width_, five eighths to three quarters length.

[Illustration: PLATE 47. KAZAK PRAYER RUG]

TCHERKESS.—The narrow strip of fertile and beautiful country that
reaches from the Kuban valley southward along the shore of the Black Sea
for a distance of two hundred miles is occupied by a people known to
the western world as Circassians. In their own land they are called
“Tcherkesses,” a Tartar term for “cutter of roads” or highwaymen; and
they have been in the habit of speaking of themselves as “Adighies” or
Nobles. In fact, there has been no prouder Caucasian race, even though
their homes were often log huts and their daughters were sold in the
markets of Constantinople. These are the people, who half a century ago
finally yielded after a long, fierce struggle for independence; but a
hundred thousand families, preferring exile to submission to the Czar,
migrated to Armenia and Asia Minor, where they intermarried with other
races, and are rapidly losing their identity.

Very few of the Circassian or Tcherkess rugs have been woven by those
who left their country. The best were made before the exodus; and on
account of the hardships and poverty of the people, many that have come
to the market within recent years are greatly inferior to the excellent
pieces of former times and are often mistaken for the work of nomadic
tribes. Not only so, but crude and foreign devices have crept into some
of them. It is, therefore, to the older pieces that we must turn for a
better understanding of this class.

Something of the ruggedness of lives spent in struggles with men and
nature found expression in the fabrics, which show firmness of texture,
boldness of design, richness of colour. In fact they resemble the Kazaks
so closely in their long nap, and finish of sides and ends that they are
constantly mistaken for them; yet they may be distinguished from all
classes by the large amount of brownish red or tawny colour of the field
and their stereotyped patterns. These usually consist of diamond-shaped
figures sometimes called “sun-bursts,” that are often regarded as crude
copies of the Russian coat of arms; but there is little doubt that they
have been derived from the medallions of some old Armenian rugs of the
XIV and XV Centuries, in which also appear the same tri-cleft leaves so
common in both this class and the Soumaks. These patterns are
sufficiently large to occupy the full breadth of the field; and there
are seldom less than two and occasionally as many as four or five
extending from one end to the other. The strong contrast between the
blue and ivory of the figures and the red or tawny colour of the ground
is softened by the depth of pile, which in turn adds warmth and
richness. The borders are always of three stripes. The main one almost
invariably has the tarantula design and is enclosed by guards with the
serrated sawtooth design. Many of these old pieces are excellently
woven and have a dignity of pattern and wealth of harmonious colour
rarely seen in nomadic rugs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red and tawny yellow,
with minor quantities of blue and white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally six to nine; perpendicularly, seven to ten. A half knot, as
it appears at back, is as long as wide or longer. The rows of knots are
firmly pressed down, so that the warp does not show at back. _Warp_,
wool; generally each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally
prominent at back, occasionally one is depressed below the other.
_Weft_, wool of medium diameter. A thread of weft usually crosses only
twice between every two rows of knots, but in some pieces as many as
four or six times. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_, three
stripes. _Sides_, a two-cord double selvage. _Both ends_, as a rule have
a web, a heavy braided selvage, and knotted warp fringe; occasionally
either web or selvage may be omitted. _Texture_, very firm. Weave at
back of medium grain. _Usual length_, five to ten feet. _Usual width_,
one half to two thirds length.

BAKUS.—No other rugs of Caucasia have greater individuality of colour
and design than the Bakus. This, perhaps, is partly due to the fact that
the district from which they come is dissimilar to any other. It
consists largely of the peninsula of scanty vegetation, where the great
mountain chain extends to the dreary Caspian, leaving at its base the
narrow strip of land now famous for its immense accumulations of mineral
oil. Hither, during the past, the followers of Zoroaster have come from
all directions to worship in the temple of the Guebres, where day and
night the priests watched the blue flame that rose perpetually from the
ground, and once in long intervals spread over the waters like a sea of
fire. This sacred spot has been owned in turn by Saracens, Persians,
Turks, Russians, and the Princes of Shirvan; so that the influences of
different religions and different races have been felt here.

The most noticeable feature of many of these rugs is their dull colours,
that give the impression of being partly bleached or having faded. There
are subdued tones of light blue, tan, pale ocherous yellow, and black,
as well as light, medium, and dark brown colours of natural wool; but in
the rugs woven a century ago the colours were much richer. None of them
are used in large masses excepting for the underground; nor are there
striking contrasts, so that the effect is somewhat monotonous.


_The shape, colouring, and particularly the pattern of this interesting
Soumak, which was probably woven seventy-five or more years ago, not
only are unusual but belong to a higher type than is often seen.
Arranged in diagonal rows on a field of red are flowering bushes, that
for the most part are blue and pink, but at one end are green, yellow,
and brown. The accurate drawing of these bushes and of the reciprocal
trefoils of the guard stripes, the care with which the stitches have
been inserted, and the fine texture of the wool, as is shown even in the
cream-white warp at the knotted ends, alike proclaim the excellent
quality of this rare piece._

  _Loaned by Mr. Theodore S. Hawley_]

An equally important characteristic is the large number of pear designs,
which are unlike those of any other rug. These designs (Plate O, Fig.
6b, Page 291) are so rectangular that they have lost all resemblance to
floral drawing; and to add to their formality, each is placed in the
field with studied regularity and often surrounded by a delicate
hexagonal shaped sub-pattern giving a diaper effect. Sometimes, also,
they appear in the border between an array of other designs, to which
they show no relation; but they never constitute the sole feature of the
rug as they do in Sarabends.

At the centre of the field is often a star-shaped design surrounded by a
large diamond or other figure fringed with radiating lines. These lines
suggest the effulgence of light; and it is not improbable that their
origin lay in the mysticism of fire worship. In sedjadehs the corners
are set off by quadrants of octagons, of which the diagonal sides are
serrated and frequently fringed with radiating lines like the central
medallions. Throughout both corners and fields often appear
eight-pointed and effulgent stars, the three-cleft leaf, S designs,
crude human and animal forms, and other small geometric devices like
those seen in Daghestans and Shirvans. But more noticeable than any of
these are the realistic but mechanically drawn birds, which are
represented in larger numbers and more frequently than in any other rugs
woven within the last century.

The borders contain from three to five stripes, of which one at least is
always geometric; and another, as a rule, has some suggestion of floral
form. Often it is only the carnation in profile; but now and then it is
a running vine with leaf or flower, adopted without modification from
Persian rugs. This is not, however, surprising, when it is remembered
that during the reign of Shah Abbas, Baku belonged to Persia, which for
centuries had been the home of devout Parsees, some of whom undoubtedly
made pilgrimages to the sacred temple.

These rugs can at once be recognised by their short nap, and their
characteristic colours and designs. They are always interesting on
account of their marked individuality and the still unsolved symbols of
Zoroastrian mysticism they may contain; but in spite of the careful
delineation of the design and the delicate mosaic effect of the central
medallions, very few, excepting the old pieces, are handsome.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally brown, tan, blue, yellow,
and black. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to nine;
perpendicularly, seven to eleven. The rows of knots are firmly pressed
down, so that the warp does not show at back. _Warp_, wool; each of the
two threads encircled by a knot is generally equally prominent at back,
occasionally one is depressed slightly below the other. _Weft_, usually
cotton, sometimes wool, of medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses
twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, clipped short.
_Border_, three to five stripes. _Sides_, a weft overcasting or a narrow
weft selvage. _Both ends_, a web, one row of knots or more, and a warp
fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of slightly
coarse grain. _Usual length_, six to nine feet. _Usual width_, one half
to two thirds length.

SHIRVANS.—Between the rugs of Shirvan and Daghestan is a relationship
easily accounted for by the fact that they are adjoining provinces, and
that almost the only approach to Daghestan for the Asiatic races among
whom the art of weaving reached its highest development was through
Shirvan. Both districts, therefore, received ideas from the same
sources; but since Shirvan has been at times more completely under the
sway of Persia, it has yielded more readily to the influence of the
Persian weavers, as is observable in the flower and foliate forms which
are used more frequently and are drawn more realistically in its rugs
than in those of Daghestan. On the other hand, the technique of weave as
well as finish of sides and ends in the Shirvans lacks something of the
refinement observable in the Daghestans.

The oldest existing Shirvans are absorbingly interesting. In them the
foliate forms are more noticeable than in almost any other Caucasian
rugs, though they may in a measure be disguised by formal treatment.
Sometimes they appear as large figures covering a great part of the
field and acting as sub-patterns for superimposed smaller devices; but
they are most frequently found in the borders. Other old pieces contain
lattice-work of hexagonal-shaped diaper patterns, within which may be
designs abounding in latch-hooks and figures strongly suggestive of
Chinese devices. Such patterns, however, are unusual; as the fields of
most old Shirvans are covered with large medallions, stars, and diamonds
similar to those of Daghestans, although the drawing inclines to greater
simplicity of outline and detail; and they have greater diversity of
colour, as tones of blue, red, green, and brown in a field of ivory are
not unusual.

[Illustration: PLATE 48. KAZAK RUG]

The patterns of the more modern rugs have become corrupted into a mere
mechanical copying of conventional forms lacking all artistic spirit.
Some of them resemble those found in both Daghestans and Kabistans, but
generally the designs are drawn less clearly in Shirvans. This is partly
because, as a rule, they are not so closely woven and the nap is not
quite so short. Now and then the large medallions so common to Soumaks
are seen; and not infrequently the field is covered with diagonal
parallel stripes on which are small geometric devices.

There is, however, one pattern peculiar to Shirvans that rarely, if
ever, is adopted in any other class. It has somewhat the appearance of
pole medallions and consists of a panel that occupies nearly the whole
field and contains broad incisions at each side, which nearly divide it
into three or four rectangular sections. Within each of them are
octagonal figures, and an octagonal shape is given to both ends of the
panel so as to leave small corners to the field. Each part often
contains small designs such as latch-hooks, octagonal discs, S forms,
eight-pointed stars, and combs, as well as crudely drawn dogs and other
animal or human forms. With slight modifications this pattern is
sometimes repeated in the prayer rugs (Plate C, Fig. 11, Page 61), but
the section at one end is more completely an octagon, and the remainder
is an oblong rectangle. A more usual pattern for prayer rugs has the
same form of arch that is common in Daghestans.

Whatever the fields of these rugs may lack in delicacy of drawing is
amply compensated for by the diversity and beauty of some of their
borders, which have a well balanced harmony of colours. They have seldom
less than three, nor more than five stripes, of which the secondary are
often as interesting as the primary. The best known is the one with
serrated leaf and wine glass, represented in Plate I, Fig. 1, opp. Page
226, which is found in such a large percentage of Shirvans that it is
almost typical of them. If the figures of the field contain latch-hooks,
they are very apt to be expressed in some form in the primary stripe.
Such a one appears in Plate I, Fig. 2; and the beautiful Georgian
pattern (Plate J, Fig. 9, opp. Page 228) is also occasionally seen. A
very much rarer stripe, which is shown in Plate J, Fig. 8, is only used
when the field has a large central panel with a corresponding pattern.
Now and then appears a stripe with no other ornamentation than a formal
row of pear designs. Of the secondary stripes, the one with the designs
of carnations (Plate K, Fig. 1, opp. Page 230) is very frequently seen,
but its beauty depends largely upon the delicacy of its drawing and
colour scheme. On the whole, the Shirvan dyer displays a wider scope in
the selection of colours than his Daghestan neighbour, but the tones are
not always so rich or harmonious.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and ivory.
_Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally seven to twelve;
perpendicularly, eight to twelve. The rows of knots are firmly pressed
down, so that the transverse warp does not show at back. _Warp_, wool;
each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at
back. _Weft_, generally wool, occasionally cotton, of medium or coarse
diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of
knots. _Pile_, wool, of short or medium length. _Border_, three to five
stripes. _Sides_, generally a weft selvage of two or three cords or a
double selvage, occasionally a double overcasting. _Both ends_, a web,
one row of knots or more, and a warp fringe. _Texture_, slightly loose.
_Weave_ at back is moderately coarse. _Usual length_, four to six feet.
_Usual width_, one half to four fifths length.

SOUMAKS.—Seventy miles to the northwest of Baku, and about the same
distance to the south of Kuba, where the high ranges of the Caucasus
begin to descend to the sea, is the city of Shemakha. It was almost
destroyed by Nadir Shah, but recovered sufficiently within the last
century to become the capital of Shirvan and a manufacturing centre of
silks. It is the market place for many tribes from the mountains of
Daghestan and the valley of the Kur, who take thither their rugs, from
which its own weavers often borrow patterns. By a corruption of the name
of the city, their fabrics are called Soumaks, though they are more
popularly known as Kashmirs, because ends of yarn hang loosely at the
back, as is the case with the beautiful shawls of the noted valley of


It is, of course, the finish at the back and the absence of pile that
make them so different from all other rugs and place them in a class by
themselves; but even apart from these characteristics, they are as
distinct a type as any in Caucasia. On the fields of most of them are
three or four diamond-shaped medallions, that occupy nearly the full
width of the field and extend from one end to the other. Almost without
exception they are slightly hexagonal, and are incised on the diagonal
sides to represent crosses. These patterns are doubtless derived from
very old Armenian rugs; and it is possible that once the crosses had
a religious significance, as it is claimed that the earlier weavers of
this type were a Christian sect; but the present weavers are mostly
Mohammedans. At the centre of the medallions and in the triangular
spaces at the sides are flattened octagons, which are generally
ornamented with some star-shaped devices. Superimposed on these larger
patterns and surrounding them on the field, are also many small designs,
which as a rule are grouped with a regularity suggestive of the mosaic.
Some are common to other Caucasian pieces; but a few are more frequently
seen in this class than in any other, as for instance, the knot of
destiny (Plate O, Fig. 17, Page 291), and the tri-cleft leaf, drawn like
a bird’s claw, which appeared in Armenian rugs at least five centuries
ago. Sometimes the medallions and octagons are replaced by smaller and
more ornate figures, but the geometric character is seldom entirely

There are also some old pieces with a totally different pattern, and
with fine colours that are most pleasing in the rich harmony of tones.
They may contain geometric, foliate, or floral designs. One recently
examined had a field of rose red completely covered with diagonal rows
of innumerable dainty figures, which were evidently the conventionalised
forms of small flower bushes. Not a single other design appeared in the
field, yet the richness of colour and chasteness of pattern made it
exceedingly beautiful.

The patterns of the border stripes, that number from two to five, are
generally distinctive; though occasionally they follow well known
Caucasian drawing. The outer one has so frequently the running
latch-hook that it is almost typical. As a rule, it has the simple form
shown in Plate K, Fig. 20 (opp. Page 230); but now and then the more
elaborate drawing of the Georgian stripe (Plate J, Fig. 9, opp. Page
228) is followed. Sometimes this is replaced by the reciprocal trefoil,
which is used also for the inner stripe; and a running vine and rosette,
such as the one in Plate K, Fig. 4, is not infrequently used for a
secondary stripe. The primary stripes, on the other hand, although most
dissimilar to those of other rugs, differ so widely among themselves,
that no one is typical. Separating these primary and secondary parts of
the border are frequently narrow lines with the barber-pole device.

The old pieces are of fine texture and excellent wool, which even in the
warp displays a silky character. The dyes are faultless, though the
colours never acquire a lustre. Red and blue are largely employed, but
they are partly replaced by brown in the more modern pieces; and in both
old and modern is usually an orange yellow that rarely appears in other
Caucasian rugs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, brown, some
yellow, and white. _Knot_, flat stitch. Knots to inch horizontally eight
to fourteen; perpendicularly, six to sixteen. _Warp_, wool; each thread
is equally prominent at the back. _Weft_, wool, of fine or medium
diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots
in old rugs, and between every second and third row in modern rugs.
_Border_, two to five stripes. _Sides_, generally a double selvage of
several cords, occasionally an overcasting. _Both ends_, narrow web, one
or more rows of knots and fringe; sometimes heavy added selvage. _No
nap._ _Usual length_, five and one half to twelve feet. _Usual width_,
one half to three quarters length.

SHEMAKHAS.—Flatly woven Soumaks are not the only rugs of the Shemakha
tribes. Some of the same people, who dwell among the ranges of the
Caucasus a short distance to the north, make rugs of pile that
occasionally surpass in quality of material and beauty of colour scheme
the best of Daghestans, and are sometimes spoken of by dealers as “Royal
Daghestans;” yet they are seldom seen and little known. In fact, they
are frequently mistaken for Persian fabrics on account of the subdued
richness of their deep reds, blues, greens, yellows, and browns, and the
patterns which are largely floral.

Very often the principal border stripe is the well-known Georgian
pattern, that occurs in so many Soumaks, even though the secondary
stripe be some Persian pattern. These rugs also resemble the Soumaks in
the coloured woollen selvage of the sides, and in the narrow coloured
web of “herring-bone” weave and knotted fringe of the ends. In some, the
field is divided by diagonal bars into large diamond-shaped figures
containing conventionalised flowers; in others, it is merely a
background over which are strewn more realistically drawn floral forms;
and in all is expressed an artistic perception of design and colour not
frequently found in Caucasian pieces.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and brown.
_Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally seven to eleven;
perpendicularly, seven to thirteen. The rows of knots are pressed down,
so that the warp is almost hidden. _Warp_, wool; one of the two threads
encircled by a knot is depressed below the other at back. _Weft_, wool,
of fine or medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every
two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of medium length. _Border_, two to
three stripes. _Sides_, a blue selvage of two or three cords. _Both
ends_, a narrow blue web of “herring-bone” weave, a knotted selvage or
several rows of knots, and short warp fringe. _Texture_, slightly firm.
_Weave_ at back is of moderately fine grain. _Usual length_, four to
eight feet. _Usual width_, two fifths to two thirds length.

TIFLIS.—When it is considered that for centuries Tiflis has been the
Georgian capital, where culture and art received more encouragement than
in the provinces; that it was in constant communication with the
rug-producing countries on all sides; and was on one of the great
highways between Persia and Europe, it is surprising that what has been
written hitherto about Caucasian rugs has contained almost no reference
to a type peculiar to this city and district. This is undoubtedly due to
the fact that within recent years hardly any rugs have been produced
there, and that the old pieces are few and but little known.

Nevertheless, now and then come to light beautiful old rugs which are
dissimilar to those of all other classes. The wool of their moderately
long nap has a silkiness that suggests a Shiraz or a Meshed; the colour
scheme includes a very wide range of bright and positive tones, such as
blue, green, rose, and ivory; the weave of delicate and fine threads is
as close as that of old Bergamos. A glance at the ends and back helps to
determine the type; for the warp is occasionally of cotton, which is a
peculiarity not seen in many other Caucasian classes; the weft which
crosses from three to five times is of very finely spun wool mostly dyed
a brown or dull red, and strung with great exactness; and the knots are
tied with care. There is also something distinctive in many of the
patterns; for however interesting they may be, precision of drawing is
often combined with discordance of detail. One part of the field, for
instance, may consist of a well executed diaper pattern; another part
may represent a number of stiff, perpendicular, parallel bars, occupying
the full width of the field; and still another part may be entirely
occupied by hexagonal-shaped pear designs. Adjoining these may be other
pear designs of totally dissimilar shape as well as mystic symbols and
other strange devices. Likewise, many different colours may be placed in
close relation, yet the wool is so soft and the tones so delicate that
the effect is not harsh. Some sort of tree-form is not unusual; but on
the whole, the designs of both field and border are geometric.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue and red, with minor
quantities of yellow, green, and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally six to ten; perpendicularly, six to ten. A half knot, as it
appears at back, is as long as wide or longer. The rows of knots are
firmly pressed down, so that the warp does not show at back. _Warp_,
generally wool, occasionally cotton; each of the two threads encircled
by a knot is equally prominent at back. _Weft_, wool, of fine diameter,
usually dyed red or brown. A thread of weft crosses from three to five
times between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, soft wool of medium
length. _Border_, three to five stripes. _Sides_, a double overcasting
or narrow selvage. _Both ends_, a web and warp fringe. _Texture_, firm.
_Weave_ at back is of moderately fine grain. _Usual length_, six to
eleven feet. _Usual width_, three eighths to two thirds length.

KUTAIS.—Among a large assortment of Caucasian rugs are occasionally seen
a few pieces from Kutais, once famed as the home of Media, and now the
capital of Imeritia. The gardens surrounding its homes, that line both
banks of the river Rion, are fragrant with lilacs and roses; in the
valley beyond the city, pink rhododendrons and yellow azaleas blossom
beneath the oaks. Here is woodland scenery not found in other parts of
Caucasia, and it might be expected that the weavings of the people would
have a striking individuality of their own; but they are little known as
a distinct class. In fact, they bear such a resemblance to the Kazaks
that they are constantly mistaken for them; though as a rule they have a
more oblong shape and somewhat shorter nap; they are less stoutly woven,
less barbaric, and contain fewer crude, nomadic devices. Moreover, as
this district was producing rugs before the Cossacks had settled
permanently in Southern Caucasia, it is not improbable that some of its
patterns were copied by them.

[Illustration: PLATE 50. GENGHA RUG]

A peculiarity of this class is the drawing of the pear designs, which
are found in a very large number of the rugs. The extension of the
narrower end, instead of being a short, curved hook, is generally more
developed, so that it may be as long as the major axis of the pear and
frequently stands almost at right angles to it. Also attached to the
sides of the pear are rectangular bead-like processes (Plate O, Fig. 6c,
Page 291). In many of these rugs, the field is divided into a number
of bands parallel with the sides; and through them run vines, from which
the pears are suspended. Or the pears may be arranged in regular order
on the field without the bands and vines. Sometimes the field is reduced
to a very small space by a broad border consisting of a number of
stripes, some of which are often of striking patterns. One of them is
represented in Plate I, Fig. 15 (opp. Page 226), which suggests the
grape vine common to the gardens of Kutais. Some form of the tree of
life and floral forms are also seen in old pieces.

A resemblance exists between the weave of Kutais and Tiflis rugs, as in
each the weft usually crosses several times; it is generally coloured
blue or red, and is formed of fine threads of yarn. The wool of the nap
is of the same fine quality; but the warp of the Kutais rugs, which is
almost invariably of wool, frequently consists of a brown and white
thread twisted together; and the knots are tied less evenly, so that the
alignment at the back is a little more irregular, yet less so than in

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and white,
with minor quantities of yellow, brown, and black. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally five to nine; perpendicularly, six to eleven.
A half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as wide or longer. The
rows of knots are slightly pressed down. The alignment is more even than
in Kazaks. _Warp_, generally wool, occasionally cotton; each of the two
threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent at the back. _Weft_,
wool, of fine or medium diameter. A thread of weft usually crosses three
times, occasionally only once, and again four or five times. _Pile_,
wool, of medium length or long. _Border_, three to five stripes.
_Sides_, either a double overcasting, or a double selvage of two or
three cords. _Both ends_, a web and warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately
firm. _Weave_ at back, generally of medium fine grain but occasionally
coarse. _Usual length_, six to twelve feet. _Usual width_, one third to
two thirds length.

KAZAKS.—Of the warlike Cossack tribes, which were once stationed along
the southeastern border of Russia to protect it from the depradations of
Caucasians, a number settled permanently in Circassia, and a few crossed
the mountains to the high plateau lying between Lake Gotcha and Mt.
Ararat. Here they adopted more sedentary lives; but there still lingers
the inherited spirit that generations ago won for them the name Kazaks,
which denotes to the Tartars, from whom many have doubtless sprung, a
Marauder. All of these tribes weave; but the rugs seen in this country
come principally from the southern district, where may also be found the
fabrics of other races such as Armenians, Tartars, and the native
people. Nevertheless, the Kazak weavings are of a most distinct type, to
which even the smaller Kazakjes conform. They have bright, rich colours,
of which a liberal amount of green is almost invariably present, though
sparingly used in other Caucasian rugs. Only the Tcherkess vie with them
in the length of the nap; and no other class has such noticeable
patterns of incongruous sizes and shapes. They have, in fact, the most
nomadic, unconventional patterns of all this northern group; and in
their barbaric characteristics, they bear much the same relation to
other Caucasian rugs as those of Western Kurdish and Yuruk tribes bear
to Persian and Asia Minor pieces.

In marked contrast to the almost mosaic drawing of Chichis and many
Daghestans, the Kazaks show a tribal fondness for large patterns.
Sometimes the field is divided into three horizontal panels, which may
be entirely plain except for a simple design fringing the edges; or as
is more frequently the case, it may be occupied by large, slightly
elongated octagons, within which are represented smaller figures.
Occupying almost the entire field of other pieces are large patterns
like medallions, perfectly balanced with reference to the centre and
subdivided into small sections, each of which contains individual
motives. A few of this class, also, have the “sunburst” pattern, so
characteristic of the Tcherkess.

At least half the pieces now seen are without any formal pattern, but
contain a heterogeneous lot of geometric designs characteristic of
nomadic weavings; but even these are generally arranged with the idea of
symmetrical balance. For instance, at the centre may be a large
geometric figure surrounded at equal distances by pairs of smaller and
similar figures. Not infrequently the drawing of the upper and lower
half, or of the right and left side, shows an almost perfect
correspondence, notwithstanding the many separate designs. The most
common of these are eight-pointed stars, lozenges fringed with
latch-hooks, and what are known as the “tarantula” device. Of the
innumerable small figures, the octagonal discs and S forms are the most
common; crude animal and human figures are also seen.

Excepting the addition of the arch, there is little distinction between
namazliks and sedjadehs. It is small and less graceful than that of Asia
Minor pieces, and follows stiff lines in harmony with the general
pattern. It is, however, drawn in two different ways. Generally it has
the shape of half an octagon, or of a wall-tent with apex flattened;
but not infrequently it is square or slightly oblong. The narrow bands
that form the arch are extended transversely from each side of the base
to the borders; and occasionally they are continued down the sides of
the field to form at the bottom a figure similar to the square-shaped
arch. Now and then a comb, or small figure of diamond shape, on which to
place the bit of sacred earth from Mecca, is outlined within the mihrab;
and now and then crude palm-like figures, indicating where the hands are
to be rested in the act of devotion, are represented at the sides.

However many stripes the border may contain, rarely are there more than
one of any consequence; since the guard stripes have generally only the
reciprocal sawtooth or trefoil patterns, the barber-pole or dotted lines.
The absence of important secondary stripes, however, brings out more
prominently the drawing and colouring of the main one. The most common
pattern is what is known as the “tarantula” represented in Plate I, Fig.
8 (opp. Page 226). Very similar is the crab pattern (Plate I, Fig. 7),
which was undoubtedly derived from the double vine of some Persian rug,
as the crab-like figure may be resolved into a rosette to which are
attached four conventionalised leaves. Another pattern, which is also
seen in Kutais rugs, is the crude but striking vine shown in Plate I,
Fig. 15, which, when represented in bold, rich colours on an ivory
field, makes a most effective and beautiful border stripe. Other border
stripes frequently employed in these rugs appear in Plate I.

Unfortunately, during recent years, many inferior rugs of other tribes
have been sold as Kazaks, which in a measure they often resemble though
they lack their spirit and character. The very modern Kazaks, also, are
often of poor quality, but those made two generations or more ago were
carefully and stoutly woven, with silky wool dyed with the best of
vegetable colours. There is always something interestingly barbaric in
their long, almost shaggy nap, their masses of rich red and green, their
bold designs surrounded by smaller nomadic figures, all of which
collectively find no counterpart in any other Caucasian rugs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, green, and yellow,
also some blue, white, and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch
horizontally six to nine; perpendicularly, seven to ten. The rows of
knots are pressed down, so that the warp is hidden at back. _Warp_,
wool; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent
at back. _Weft_, wool, of coarse diameter, usually dyed red or brown. A
thread of weft generally crosses only twice between every two rows of
knots, but occasionally three or four times. _Pile_, wool, clipped long.
_Border_, three to five stripes. _Sides_, a double overcasting attached
in figure-eight fashion to the sides, or a double selvage having from
three to five cords. _Lower end_, a red or brown web and warp loops, or
a braided selvage and fringe. _Upper end_, a red or brown web,
occasionally a braided selvage or several rows of knots, and a warp
fringe. _Texture_, stout. _Weave_ at back is of very coarse grain.
_Usual length_, five to twelve feet. _Usual width_, one third to three
quarters length.

KARABAGHS.—To the southeast of Lake Gotcha and north of the river Aras,
that divides Caucasia from Persia, is the district of Karabagh, a name
signifying “Black Vineyard.” On account of its geographic position, it
has been subject to the Shahs for long periods, during the many
struggles between the two countries. It is, moreover, separated from the
rug-producing district of Karadagh by the river only; and its southern
border is less than eighty miles distant from the city of Tabriz, to
which many of its rugs are taken. For these reasons it would be only
natural to expect that the weavings of Karabagh would show more of the
Persian influence than those of any other part of Caucasia. Such,
indeed, is true, when applied to the oldest pieces; but it is not at all
true in the case of a large percentage of the modern products.

Within recent years large numbers of these coarsely made and wretchedly
dyed rugs have reached the Western markets. Some of them resemble Kazaks
in their geometric figures; but differ from them in their workmanship,
since one of the two threads encircled by a knot is depressed; they are
much more loosely woven; they are not so large; nor for the most part
are they so heavy. Other pieces often lack the symbolic and other small
designs that render nomadic rugs so interesting. Occasionally the
central field is almost figureless, or there may be large expanses of
white or some raw colour such as startling red, yellow, or blue, on
which appear stiffly and crudely drawn nondescript devices.

[Illustration: PLATE 51. ROYAL BOKHARA RUG]

It is a relief to turn from these poor pieces to those woven half a
century ago, with less obtrusive colouring and more chaste patterns.
Many of the old pieces are oblong sedjadehs, which have often a length
almost twice the breadth; though the more modern pieces incline to
smaller and nearly square sizes. There are also namazliks that do not
always religiously follow the usual pattern; for now and then one is
seen with an arch of several steps, rising from near the middle of the
sides, and with a diamond for the sacred earth or pebble from Mecca, as
is shown in Plate C, Fig. 12 (Page 61). The particular piece from which
this was drawn was over fifty years old and was three fourths as wide as
long. Scattered over the main field, which was yellowish brown, and the
spandrels, which were white, were geometrically shaped flowers with long
angular stems tinted with blue, green, and pinkish red.

The borders show as great diversity as the fields, but one stripe
usually contains a concession to the Persian and another to the
Caucasian tradition. For instance, the primary stripe may be of Iranian
character flanked by the running latch-hook; or it may be the well-known
crab pattern, while the adjacent stripe may be a running vine of simple

Many of these old pieces are very handsome and equal in artistic finish
the best of Caucasian rugs; the drawing is carefully executed; the
colours are rich; the weave is fair; but like the rare old rugs of
Daghestan and Tiflis, are now seldom seen.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, yellow, and
white. _Knot_, Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally six to ten;
perpendicularly, seven to ten. The rows of knots are only slightly
pressed down, yet the warp is generally concealed at back. _Warp_, wool;
one of the two threads encircled by a half knot is depressed below the
other at back. _Weft_, wool, of medium or coarse diameter, sometimes
dyed red. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of
knots. _Pile_, wool, of short or medium length. _Border_, three stripes.
_Sides_, generally a double selvage of two or three cords, in lengths of
different colours; occasionally a double overcasting attached
figure-eight fashion. _Lower end_, a web and warp loops, or a braided
selvage, one row of knots or more, and a warp fringe. _Upper end_, a
web, a web turned back and hemmed, or a braided selvage, one row of
knots or more, and a warp fringe. _Texture_, loose. _Weave_ at back is
of coarse grain. _Usual length_, four to nine feet. _Usual width_, one
half to three quarters length.

SHUSHAS.—About seventy miles to the southeast of Lake Gotcha is Shusha,
capital of Karabagh. Nearly two centuries ago, it was built by Nadir
Shah on an almost inaccessible mountain side to guard the northern
boundary of Persia, which had been extended to the Caucasus. It has now
about twelve thousand inhabitants, and is the market place for numerous
tribes that are scattered over the dry plains as far as the Aras river.
In this city and in the suburbs are woven rugs that are frequently
imported to this country and sold under several names, yet are of a
distinct type. They resemble the Karabaghs of the surrounding country
but differ from them in their richer and more subdued colours as well as
in the stoutness of weave. One thread of warp to each knot is doubled
beneath the other, whereas in the rugs of the desert tribes it is only

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark blue, red, and
brown, with minor quantities of green and yellow. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally seven to twelve; perpendicularly, six to
eleven. The rows of knots are only slightly pressed down, so that the
warp shows at back. _Warp_, wool; one of the two threads encircled by a
knot is much depressed below the other at back, and frequently doubled
under the other. _Weft_, wool, of medium diameter, generally dyed red. A
thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_,
wool of medium length. _Border_, three stripes. _Sides_, a double
selvage of two or three cords, often attached to the sides in
figure-eight fashion. _Lower end_, a narrow web and warp loops. _Upper
end_, a web that is sometimes turned back and hemmed, and a warp fringe.
_Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back is of slightly coarse grain.
_Usual length_, four to nine feet. _Usual width_, one half to three
quarters length.

GENGHAS.—Over the land lying between lakes Gotcha, Van, and Urumiah, in
Caucasia, Armenia, and Persia, tribes of mixed origin wander back and
forth, but frequently gather at the yearly fair of Elizabethpol. During
the period when the Persian rule extended over the country, it was the
residence of a Khan and an important centre of trade. As it was then
known as Ganja or Gengha, the weavings of these nomads, which were
marketed there, acquired that name.


Naturally they are a heterogeneous lot containing ideas incorporated
from many sources; but they resemble the Kazaks more than anything
else, and are frequently mistaken for them. Yet some of the distinctions
are very marked: they have a more oblong shape; the nap is shorter; and
they are less stoutly woven. In the Kazaks a thread of weft, as a rule,
crosses only twice between two rows of knots, which are firmly pressed
down; but in these rugs a thread of weft crosses from four to eight
times between two rows of knots, which are not firmly pressed down, so
that the narrow filling of weft is sometimes even four times as wide as
a row of knots and presents a bead-like appearance. In the colour scheme
of numerous pieces, which in many respects resembles that of Karabaghs,
is often a preponderance of ivory white. There is no characteristic
pattern. The field may be covered with diagonal stripes as in some
Shirvans; it may consist largely of lozenges fringed with latch-hooks
and tarantula devices; again, it may have some large central figure
surrounded by a motley lot of emblematic as well as apparently
meaningless devices, or crudely drawn human, animal, or floral forms.
The borders, likewise, include a wide scope of patterns. It is,
therefore, largely by the character of the weave, quality of material,
and finish of sides and ends, that these pieces can be distinguished
from other nomadic products.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally blue, red, and white,
with minor quantities of green, yellow, and brown. _Knot_, Ghiordes.
Knots to inch horizontally six to eight; perpendicularly, six to nine. A
half knot, as it appears at back, is longer than wide. The rows of knots
are not firmly pressed down, so that the warp shows at the back. _Warp_,
generally wool, occasionally goat’s hair; each of the two threads
encircled by a knot is equally prominent at the back. _Weft_, wool, of
medium diameter and usually dyed red. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots, but generally three and frequently as
many as six or eight times. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_,
three or four stripes. _Sides_, a double selvage of two, three, or four
cords. _Lower end_, a web, usually coloured red, and warp loops. _Upper
end_, a web to which a braided selvage is often added, and a warp
fringe. _Texture_, very loose. _Weave_ at back is of coarse grain.
_Usual length_, five to nine feet. _Usual width_, two fifths to two
thirds length.


Disregarding a very few floral secondary stripes that have been derived
from Persian rugs, the Caucasian borders are characterised by geometric
patterns, which distinguish them from other groups. But were it possible
to trace them to their origin, it would doubtless be found that a very
large number that are now strictly geometric have degenerated from leaf
and flower patterns. Of the remainder, some are symbolic and others are
crude copies of familiar objects. The more artistic and realistically
drawn floral patterns appear in the less conspicuous secondary stripes;
but on the other hand the primary stripes contain a number of unusually
interesting patterns, which have been copied for centuries.

PRIMARY STRIPES.—The cup and serrated leaf pattern (Plate I, Fig. 1,
opp. Page 226) appears so frequently in Shirvans as to be almost
typical. It is also occasionally seen in Daghestans and Kabistans; but
probably originated in Southern Caucasia or Armenia, since it is found
similarly drawn in rugs woven in that district about 1500 A. D. It is a
pattern that scarcely varies with time or locality except in the number
of serrations to the leaf and in the shape of the cup.

Serrated leaf patterns, represented in Figs. 2 and 3, Plate I, are
sometimes seen in Kazak and other nomadic rugs. It is not improbable
that they have a common origin with the Shirvan cup and leaf pattern.

In the stripe represented in Plate I, Fig. 4, is a series of wine cup
rosettes that are occasionally seen in the old rugs from the Shirvan
district. In fact, the wine cup design is a favourite there.

Another stripe, in which a somewhat similar cup appears, is shown in
Plate I, Fig. 5. This is an old nomadic pattern not frequently seen.

Fig. 6 of Plate I, represents the well-known Chichi border stripe,
composed of rosettes separated by diagonally drawn ribbon-like bars. To
the rosettes are attached tri-cleft leaves. This stripe suggests at once
some Persian vine and flower.

What is known as the crab pattern (Plate I, Fig. 7), is seen in Kazaks
and other Caucasian nomadic rugs, as well as in a few very modern Asia
Minor pieces. Though its resemblance to a crab is noticeable, it is
really a rosette to which are attached four crudely drawn leaves, that
frequently contain smaller designs at their centres.


Slightly resembling the last is the so-called tarantula pattern (Plate
I, Fig. 8), that was possibly derived from the stripe with an
eight-pointed star (Plate K, Fig. 12, opp. Page 230); but it seems more
probable that the inspiration is Iranian and that it is intended for
rosette and double vine. This stripe is found in Kazaks, Genghas,
Tcherkess, and other nomadic rugs.

Somewhat like the last is the stripe of Plate I, Fig. 9, that is now and
then seen in old Tiflis and other rugs of Southern Caucasia. It suggests
a geometric rosette and double vine.

Occasionally the dainty clover-leaf design, represented in Plate I, Fig.
10, is used by the nomadic weavers. It is almost the only reciprocal
pattern found in a Caucasian primary stripe.

The repetitive urn-shaped pattern of Plate I, Fig. 11 is once in a while
seen in old rugs of the Daghestan country.

On account of the resemblance between the stripes shown in Plate I,
Figs. 12 and 13, they have probably a common origin. Both are found in
rugs of the Daghestan and Shirvan districts, and the former is
occasionally seen in rugs of Asia Minor. Sometimes smaller adventitious
devices are placed at the sides of the stripes between the rosettes.

Resembling the last is the pattern shown in Plate I, Fig. 14, which is
commonly seen in Shirvan rugs and kilims. It is purely geometric and
resembles one used in Western Asia Minor rugs of the XV Century, from
which it may have been derived.

Though greatly conventionalised, the pattern represented in Plate I,
Fig. 15 is a vine and leaf derived from much more ornate forms, which
may be seen in a XVI Century Asia Minor piece that is in the British
Museum. It is now seldom copied, but was once a popular pattern for the
Kazak and Kutais weavers.

Some form of the latch-hook appears in a large number of Caucasian
stripes, but mostly in nomadic pieces. Figs. 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 of
Plate I, represent patterns found mostly in old Kazaks and kindred rugs.
The last one is also occasionally used as a secondary stripe. The
patterns shown in Plate I, Figs. 21 and 22 are from stripes sometimes
seen in the Daghestan and Shirvan districts.

A much more interesting stripe because of its well authenticated
antiquity, is the one shown in Plate J, Fig. 1 (opp. Page 228). It is
found in rugs made in Southern Caucasia two centuries ago, and according
to Dr. Martin has been used since the XII Century. Probably as the
result of copying, the design appears reversed in many old rugs.[30]
These stripes are seen in comparatively recent pieces, but principally
in those of the Daghestan and Shirvan districts. Though the latch-hook
is suggested by the small triangular parts, it is more probable that
originally they were intended for leaves. In a few stripes the design is
elongated, and in place of a single crossbar there are several, forming
a figure that slightly resembles a poinsetta, which is the term
occasionally applied to it by weavers.

The stripe shown in Plate J, Fig. 2, which is found in Kazak and other
nomadic rugs, is interesting as representing a vine of which the pendant
flower is replaced by a T formed by latch-hooks.

In Figs. 3 and 4 of Plate J, are patterns of stripes found in rugs of
the Shirvan and Daghestan districts. As they are several centuries old,
they may be derived from Armenian patterns, to which they show kinship.
Both patterns are at times reversed as the result of copying.[31] A
stripe also used in the same districts and probably of similar origin is
seen in Plate J, Fig. 5.

Differing from any of these because of their utilitarian origin, are the
separate designs, which arranged in perpendicular rows, form the “churn”
stripe of Plate J, Fig. 6. Each of them represents crude machines for
churning milk, which were formerly used by the nomadic tribes of
Southern Caucasia and Armenia, who constructed them out of logs with a
length of about five feet, and placed the sharpened base in the ground.
Then hanging a goat’s skin filled with milk over each of the sides, and
seating themselves in the middle, they turned first one then the other.
As might be expected, these stripes belong entirely to nomadic rugs.

Figs. 7 and 8 of Plate J, represent stripes sometimes seen in Shirvans.
The latter is undoubtedly derived from the prayer patterns that are
often used in these rugs.

What is known as the Georgian stripe is shown in Plate J, Fig. 9. It is
found in Daghestans, Kabistans, Shirvans, Soumaks, Shemakhas, and Kubas.
Though a primary stripe, it is rarely placed at the centre of the
border, but at the outer or the inner side, or at both sides with a less
ornate stripe between. As a rule it accompanies only the more artistic

Generally the primary stripes of Soumaks are different from those of
other rugs. A few appear in Figs. 10, 11 and 12 of Plate J. The last is
interesting on account of the leaf-like forms of the octagonal designs.


The stripes seen in Plate J, Figs. 13, 14 and 15 are found only in
nomadic rugs. The last is interesting principally on account of the

And old form now and then seen in the Daghestan-Shirvan classes appear
in Plate J, Fig. 16. It is an archaic pattern copied from a most
interesting Daghestan prayer rug.

The stripe shown in Plate J, Fig. 17 is sometimes adopted in rugs of
Southern Caucasia, such as the Kutais and Kazak.

Another very old pattern found in the borders of the Daghestan-Shirvan
classes is shown in Plate J, Fig. 18. Though it suggests the narrow
tertiary stripes known as “barber-poles,” it differs from them by being
very much wider, and by containing bars of many different colours, as
red, yellow, cream, blue, green, and brown, which generally contain
short, oblong dashes.

A very interesting stripe, found almost exclusively in rugs from the
districts of Daghestan and Shirvan, is the Cufic pattern of Plate J,
Fig. 19. It is particularly characteristic of old Daghestans and
Kabistans, but must have been introduced through Shirvan from Armenia,
as it can be traced through a gradation of changes to stripes of Cufic
characters used in Asia Minor rugs of the XV Century.

Plate J, Fig. 20 represents a “bracket-chain” pattern that probably
originated in Asia Minor, but is occasionally found in the rugs of

In Plate J, Fig. 21 is a stripe representing scorpions, that is very
rarely seen in Shirvans; and in Fig. 22 is a stripe representing birds,
sometimes seen in Bakus.

SECONDARY AND TERTIARY STRIPES.—As the pattern shown in Plate K, Fig. 1
(opp. Page 230) shows in profile flowers representing carnations, it has
been called the “carnation pattern.” It is very common in Shirvans,
Kabistans, and Daghestans.

Less frequently seen are the rectangular vine with a design like a
three-leaf clover, shown in Plate K, Fig. 2, and the very graceful vine
with leaf and flower shown in Fig. 3, both of which are indiscriminately
used in place of the carnation pattern in rugs with the same primary
stripe. The latter is the most dainty and graceful Caucasian floral
stripe. It is found in pieces of the Kabistan and Daghestan classes made
over a century and a half ago, and is probably of Iranian extraction.

Another floral pattern from the same district is seen in Plate K, Fig.
4. It often accompanies the Georgian stripe of Daghestans and Soumaks,
with which its stiff drawing harmonises.

Likewise, the stripe shown in Fig. 5 is found now and then in the same
classes of rugs. Similar rosettes are sometimes represented in Persian
stripes that show the influence of nomadic weavers.

Simple forms of the running vine which are seen mostly in the rugs of
Southern Caucasia are represented in Plate K, Figs. 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
All are old patterns. The third appears in an Asia Minor carpet woven
about 1250 A. D. The fourth is found in some of the oldest remaining
rugs from Southern Caucasia, that date back two and a half centuries;
and a pattern similar to the last is seen in some Persian carpets made
about 1650 A. D.

Plate K, Figs. 11 and 12 represent stripes sometimes seen in Chichis and
a few other Caucasian rugs.

A very simple pattern, but one that at times is very attractive on
account of its delicate colouring, is shown in Plate K, Fig. 13, and
another is shown in Fig. 14. Both are used principally in rugs of
Southern Caucasia.

The stripe represented in Plate K, Fig, 15, is found in very old rugs of
the Daghestan and Derbend types; and there is a tradition among some of
the native weavers that the designs originally represented boat hooks
used by the sailors of the Caspian Sea. It is not unreasonable to
suppose that the early weavers imitated objects of utility before those
of mere ornament; but even if there is any basis for the tradition, it
is equally probable that these designs are derived from the lily or
other floral forms, and were introduced from Persia.

Somewhat similar to the last is the reciprocal trefoil, which generally
appears with more simple drawing than is shown in Plate F, Fig. 17 (opp.
Page 158). It is more widely used for a border stripe than any other
pattern, as it is found in almost all Caucasian, in a large number of
Persian, in Indian, and Beluchistan rugs. It was commonly used in
Persian rugs as early as the year 1500.

The dainty Chain pattern of Plate K, Fig. 16 has a well authenticated
antiquity, as it is found in Asia Minor carpets of the XV Century, from
which it was probably derived. Without doubt it was a favourite pattern
three centuries ago, as it appears in some of the early paintings in
which Oriental carpets are represented.


Not infrequently the right-angled corners are rounded so as to give it a
more graceful form.

As the purely geometric pattern of Plate K, Fig. 17 is entirely lacking
in ornamental features, it is used principally to separate more
important stripes. Occasionally it is found in such rugs as the Chichis
and Shirvans.

Another very simple pattern that is sometimes used as an inside stripe
is seen in Plate K, Fig. 18. This is evidently an archaic form and is
found principally in pieces of the Shirvan district.

The reciprocal sawtooth and the running latch-hook patterns (Plate K,
Figs. 19 and 20) belong to the less important stripes of not only
Caucasian but a number of Persian rugs. The former pattern appears
constantly on the monuments of ancient Susa, and doubtless had once some
symbolic meaning. The latter is seen in the corners of the Dragon and
Phœnix carpet (Plate 20, opp. Page 88) which was woven about 1350
A. D.



    H = Horizontally
    P = Perpendicularly
    g = goat’s hair
    e = each equally prominent
    d = 1 to the knot depressed
    h = 1 to the knot doubled under
    No. = No. times crossing bet. two round knots
    O = overcast
    S = selvage
    W = web
    S = Selvage
    K = Rows knots
    L = warp loops
    F = fringe
    W = web
    S = selvage
    K = Rows knots
    T = turned back and hemmed
    F = fringe

  │            │          KNOT              │           WARP               │
  │            ├─────────┬──────┬───────────┼─────┬───────┬────┬───────────┤
  │ CAUCASIAN  │         │      │ Number to │     │       │    │ At back   │
  │            │         │      │ Inches    │     │       │    │           │
  │            │ G =     │ S =  ├─────┬─────┤  w =│ c =   │    ├───┬───┬───┤
  │            │ Ghiordes│ Sehna│  H  │  P  │ wool│ cotton│ s/l│ e │ d │ h │
  │Baku        │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 7-11│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Chichi      │    G    │      │ 7-10│ 8-12│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Daghestan   │    G    │      │ 7-10│ 8-15│  w  │       │    │ e │[d]│   │
  │Derbend     │    G    │      │ 5-9 │ 6-12│  w  │   [c] │    │ e │   │   │
  │Gengha      │    G    │      │ 6-8 │ 6-9 │  w  │       │[g] │ e │   │   │
  │            │         │      │     │     │     │       │    │   │   │   │
  │Kabistan    │    G    │      │ 7-12│ 8-16│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Karabagh    │    G    │      │ 6-10│ 7-10│  w  │       │    │   │ d │   │
  │Kasak       │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 7-10│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Kuba        │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 7-13│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Kutais      │    G    │      │ 5-9 │ 7-12│  w  │   [c] │    │ e │   │   │
  │Lesghian    │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 6-11│  w  │       │    │[e]│ d │[h]│
  │Shemakha    │    G    │      │ 7-11│ 7-13│  w  │       │    │   │ d │   │
  │Shirvan     │    G    │      │ 7-12│ 8-12│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Shousha     │    G    │      │ 7-12│ 6-11│  w  │       │    │   │ d │ h │
  │Soumak      │         │      │ 8-14│ 6-16│  w  │       │    │ e │   │   │
  │Tcherkess   │    G    │      │ 6-9 │ 7-10│  w  │       │    │ e │[d]│   │
  │Tiflis      │    G    │      │ 6-10│ 6-10│  w  │   [c] │    │ e │   │   │

  │            │        WEFT         │ SIDES │     LOWER END   │
  │            ├─────┬───────┬───────┼───┬───┼─────┬───┬───┬───┤
  │  CAUCASIAN │     │       │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │ w = │ c =   │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │wool │ cotton│  No.  │ O │ S │ W/S │ K │ L │ F │
  │Baku        │  w  │       │   2   │ O │ S │  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Chichi      │  w  │       │   2   │ O │[S]│  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Daghestan   │  w  │       │   2   │[O]│ S │  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Derbend     │  w  │  [c]  │ 2/[1] │[O]│ S │  W  │[K]│   │ F │
  │Gengha      │  w  │       │  2-4  │   │ S │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │            │     │       │ [6-8] │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │Kabistan    │  w  │   c   │[2]/[3]│ O │ S │W/[S]│   │ L │   │
  │Karabagh    │  w  │       │   2   │[O]│ S │W/[S]│[K]│ L │ F │
  │Kasak       │  w  │       │2/[3-4]│ O │ S │W/[S]│   │ L │ F │
  │Kuba        │  w  │       │   2   │   │ S │  W  │[K]│   │ F │
  │Kutais      │  w  │       │3/[1-5]│ O │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Lesghian    │  w  │       │   2   │   │ S │  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Shemakha    │  w  │       │   2   │   │ S │ W/S │   │   │ F │
  │Shirvan     │  w  │  [c]  │   2   │[O]│ S │  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Shousha     │  w  │       │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Soumak      │  w  │       │   2   │[O]│ S │ W/S │ K │   │ F │
  │Tcherkess   │  w  │       │2/[4-6]│   │ S │ W/S │ K │   │ F │
  │Tiflis      │  w  │       │  3-5  │ O │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │

  │            │   UPPER END     │    NAP    │   WEAVE   │ TEXTURE  │
  │            ├─────┬───┬───┬───┼───────────┼───────────┼──────────┤
  │  CAUCASIAN │     │   │   │   │l = long   │f = fine   │l = loose │
  │            │     │   │   │   │m = medium │m = medium │m = medium│
  │            │ W/S │ K │ T │ F │s = short  │c = coarse │f = firm  │
  │Baku        │  W  │ K │   │ F │     s     │      m    │  m/f     │
  │Chichi      │  W  │ K │   │ F │    m/s    │      m    │   m      │
  │Daghestan   │  W  │ K │   │ F │     s     │      f    │  m/f     │
  │Derbend     │  W  │[K]│   │ F │     m     │      m    │  m/l     │
  │Gengha      │W/[S]│   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │   l      │
  │            │     │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │Kabistan    │W/[S]│   │   │ F │     m     │      m    │  m/f     │
  │Karabagh    │W/[S]│[K]│ T │ F │     m     │      c    │   l      │
  │Kasak       │W/[S]│[K]│   │ F │     l     │      c    │   f      │
  │Kuba        │W/[S]│[K]│   │ F │     m     │      m    │  m/l     │
  │Kutais      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/c   │  m/f     │
  │Lesghian    │  W  │ K │   │ F │     m     │      c    │   f      │
  │Shemakha    │ W/S │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/f   │  m/f     │
  │Shirvan     │  W  │ K │   │ F │    m/s    │     m/c   │  m/l     │
  │Shousha     │  W  │   │[T]│ F │     m     │     m/c   │  m/f     │
  │Soumak      │ W/S │ K │   │ F │           │      m    │   m      │
  │Tcherkess   │ W/S │ K │   │ F │     m     │      m    │   f      │
  │Tiflis      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/f   │   f      │

  [] indicates the less frequent condition.



THE land that extends eastward about fourteen hundred miles from the
Caspian Sea to the western boundary of the Chinese Empire, and northward
for a similar distance from the Arabian Sea through Beluchistan and
Afghanistan to the steppes of Western Siberia, is one of the least
civilised parts of the eastern continent. Here until within a few recent
years, the people lived the same untrammelled lives that their ancestors
pursued for past centuries; and the encroachments of the Russian Empire
on the north and the English on the southeast, have as yet made little
impression on their uncultured natures. To these circumstances it is
largely due that the rugs termed Central Asiatic, which come from this
district, still possess to a large degree the originality of design,
virility of character, and beauty of colour that are so rapidly
disappearing from the woven products of countries more subject to the
influence of Western civilisation.

These rugs may conveniently be divided into three natural sub-groups,
which include:

1. The Turkoman, consisting of what are known in this country as Royal
and Princess Bokharas, the Tekkes, Yomuds, Khivas, and Beshires, all of
which are made in Turkestan;[32] and the Afghan, of which part are made
in Turkestan and part in Afghanistan.

2. The Turko-Chinese, consisting of the Samarkands, which re made in
Western Turkestan, and the Kasghars and Yarkands made in Eastern

3. The Beluchistans or Beluches, made principally in Beluchistan.

No other rugs adhere more strictly to uniformity of colour and design
than the Turkoman. And, when it is considered that their prevailing
tones and their simple, geometric designs are such as would readily be
adopted by people with primitive ideas of ornamentation, it seems
probable that they have been copied with only slight modification for a
great many centuries, even though more gorgeous and elaborate carpets
were woven during the short period when Samarkand was capital of the
East. This is probably true, notwithstanding no other country in the
world has been subject to more conquests than Turkestan or overrun by so
many different races. For here, as we learn by the aid of philology,
dwelt the Aryans even before the light of history had come to dispel the
mists of antiquity. Two or three thousand years later it was overrun by
Cyrus and added to the dominion of the Medes and Persians. In the V
Century A. D., Tartar tribes conquered it; and in the following century
Turks and Persians divided it between them. Still later it was again
overrun by the Arabs, who, sword in hand, converted the vanquished to
the creed of Islam. When a few more centuries had rolled away the Mongol
hordes of Genghis Khan swept over it; and once again it suffered
desolation under the iron hand of Tamerlane, “Scourge of Asia.” But in
spite of these waves of conquest and the minor struggles with Persians,
Greeks, and Romans, that left their impress on the country, each of the
several classes of Turkoman rugs, including even those made two
centuries ago, show a remarkable conformity to definite types, however
much may be their modification in small detail. Their nap is invariably
short; in all of them some shade of dark red is the predominating
colour; and in most of them some form of an octagon appears. They are,
moreover, the best woven and the most beautiful of the Central Asiatic

[Illustration: MAP OF TURKESTAN]

Though the Turko-Chinese rugs are made in places subject to the
influence of Turkomans and far removed from the culture of Chinese, they
are unlike the rugs of the former and resemble those of the latter. Not
improbably this is because Tamerlane had gathered at Samarkand noted
artists and artisans from China, whose influence continued long after
his death. And as traditional patterns have been transmitted for
centuries, there is little doubt that some of the modern rugs, even
though falling far short of the standard of their early prototypes, more
closely resemble them than they do any other rugs of Asia. In these
pieces Turkoman simplicity of geometric figures is replaced by an
elaboration of conventional floral forms and by designs associated with
early philosophies; sobriety of colour yields to the bright and even
gaudy tones not infrequent in modern textile fabrics.

The Beluchistans, which are regarded as a sub-group of the Central
Asiatic rugs, show a closer relationship to the Turkoman rugs than to
any others. A few of them have octagonal patterns suggestive of
Bokharas, and all have the long webs at the ends and the heavy goat’s
hair selvage at the sides peculiar to Afghans and Tekkes. On the other
hand, many of the patterns both of field and border resemble Persian
workmanship; so that placing these rugs in the same group with the
Turkoman and Turko-Chinese rugs, which are not made in an adjoining
territory, is slightly arbitrary.

ROYAL BOKHARAS.—The best known district in Turkestan is the Khanate of
Bokhara, which extends from the offshoots of the lofty Pamir mountains
in the east to the desolate sandy plains beyond the Amu Daria, or Oxus
river, on the west. Situated in its northern half and near the centre of
a fertile valley is its capital, Bokhara, “The Noble.” Though noted for
its cruelty, it was once the intellectual centre of Asia, and still
possesses nearly a hundred schools and innumerable mosques. These and
its bazaars are almost all that remain of the splendour of those days
when the great caravans that came from China, India, Persia, and Russia
made it one of the great marts of the East.

On account of its commercial importance, the wild tribes of the Kirghiz
steppes, the Turkomans from Kizil Kum,[33] the Afghans who dwell north
of the Paropamisus range, and the fierce Tekkes and Yomuds from the
west, came and bartered their rugs for other necessities. Many of these
rugs were taken in caravans, that often numbered several thousand
camels, and sold in the Russian market places of Astrakan, Orenburg, or
Nijni Novgorod. Since they came from the same place, the term Bokhara
was often applied to each of the different classes. Thus we hear of
Royal Bokharas, Princess Bokharas, Tekke Bokharas, Yomud Bokharas, and
Khiva Bokharas.

Of these five classes the Royal Bokharas, as a rule, not only are the
best woven, but are made of the finest material; even the warp of many
of them is of soft, silky white wool. The old rugs were made in the city
and suburbs of Bokhara, where now only a few pieces are made. Both old
and new are found only as sedjadehs. They have two well-known patterns,
one of which consists of an octagon surrounding a quartered hexagon. Of
these quarters, which are either plain or contain a small triangle of
contrasting colour, a pair that are opposite are always white or cream
coloured, and the other pair are of some shade of red. Small triangular
figures are invariably seen above and below the hexagons, as well as
small diamond, oval, or spear-shaped figures at each end of the major
axis. In the other pattern the contour of the octagon is rounder; and
the hexagon is replaced by an eight-pointed star, at the centre of which
is a diamond containing a rectangle or occasionally a Greek cross.
Projecting into the four corners from the star are small designs, that
careful observation of a large number in many different kinds of rugs
shows to be leaf forms. Between the diagonally placed octagons of both
these types are stars or diamond-shaped figures, that are usually of the
same design regardless of the shape of the octagon. In large rugs the
centres of the octagons are generally joined by straight lines of dark
blue colour.

It is uncertain why the term Royal has been applied to this class of
Bokharas, but it is eminently befitting the old well-woven, velvet-like
pieces. A few have small patches of pink or ruby coloured silk; and all
have a prevailing tone of red diversified by deep blues and touches of
lighter red and ivory, that convey an idea of opulence and dignity
worthy of a king.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red, with minor
quantities of blue, pink or orange, and ivory. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to
inch horizontally eight to twelve; perpendicularly, sixteen to
twenty-four. The rows of knots are firmly pressed down, so that the warp
is concealed at back and the weft is almost hidden. _Warp_, fine white
wool; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally prominent
at back. _Weft_, wool, of fine diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, fine wool, or occasionally
silk, clipped short. _Border_, three stripes divided by smaller coloured
lines. _Sides_, a blue double overcasting. _Both ends_, a narrow web and
short warp fringe. _Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back is of fine grain.
_Usual length_, four to ten feet. _Usual width_, three fifths to four
fifths length.


PRINCESS BOKHARAS.—The rugs known as Princess Bokharas are woven by the
Mohammedan tribes who dwell in parts of the Khanate of Bokhara. They are
nearly square and the field is divided into four equal sections by
perpendicular and horizontal bands. Because of this pattern they are
called “Katchlis,” a word derived from the Armenian language signifying
“like a cross.” The bands generally have designs that are co-ordinate
with those in part of the border; but not infrequently the designs of
the horizontal band differ from those of the perpendicular one, and in a
few rare instances consist of an octagonal figure. It is generally
believed that the well-known Y-shaped motive characteristic of the field
and the border is intended to represent the tree of life, but some
native weavers suggest a different interpretation. To them the whole rug
symbolises a mosque; the perpendicular arm of the cross is the entrance;
the Y-shaped designs are benches; and the broad diagonal lines with
serrated edges in the borders are groves of trees surrounding the
mosque. A very large percentage of these pieces are namazliks. One of
their peculiarities is the position of their unobtrusive tent-shaped
prayer arch, which is in a panel entirely within their upper border.

Compared with Royal Bokharas their nap is rarely of as fine quality, the
warp is usually of brown instead of cream white wool, and the weave is
coarser. Also, the tones of colour are more sombre, and of browner
shades; but in rare old pieces the rich mahogany and bronze hues of the
ground, on which are represented small designs in shades of cream and
dark blue, are exceedingly rich and pleasing. Unfortunately, within
recent years large numbers of this class have been made solely for
commercial purposes, and lack the finer qualities of their prototypes.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red or brown, with
minor quantities of dark blue and ivory. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to inch
horizontally eight to twelve; perpendicularly, fourteen to eighteen. The
rows of knots are firmly pressed down, so that the warp is concealed at
back and the weft partly hidden. _Warp_, brown wool or goat’s hair; each
of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot is equally prominent at
back. _Weft_, wool, of fine diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool of short or medium length;
occasionally some goat’s hair is used. _Border_, three stripes,
separated by narrow lines. _Sides_, a double overcasting or a double
goat’s hair selvage of three cords. _Both ends_, a web and warp fringe.
_Texture_, stout. _Weave_ at back is of moderately fine grain. _Usual
length_, four and one half to six feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to
four fifths length.

TEKKES.—A little over two centuries ago there lived on the peninsula of
Mangishlar, on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, an almost unknown
tribe called the “Tekke,” a term which is said to denote a mountain
goat, and was applied on account of the headlong pace at which the men
rode over rough mountain sides. About the beginning of the XVIII Century
they packed their _khibitkas_,[34] and after moving southward to escape
from the attacks of a more powerful tribe, they met the Yomuds in the
southwestern corner of Turkestan and robbed them of their lands. Further
eastward they snatched the fertile oasis of Ak-kal from some Kurds,
whose ancestors a Shah of Persia had located there in earlier times to
protect his kingdom from fierce northern tribes. By irrigating and
cultivating the soil, they prospered and increased rapidly in
population, until, about 1830, they numbered one hundred thousand. One
fourth of them then moved eastward; and after settling on the banks of
the Tajand, not far from the Persian town of Saraks, they attacked the
inhabitants of Merv and captured the city. Growing thus to be a powerful
people, they occupied much of the country between Persia and the Amu

Ever restless, they were constantly looking for weaker foes on whom to
fall; and when a leader would announce an intended raid, hundreds or
even thousands would meet at the appointed rendezvous prepared to
blindly follow him. Sometimes it was through the passes that looked down
into the fertile valleys of Northern Persia. Stealthily creeping through
them they would fall unexpectedly upon an unprotected village and dash
away with young women and children. If pursued, they would stab their
captives, and if necessary, ride more than one hundred miles a day in
flight. At other times, they would attack caravans crossing the deserts
and carry away both camels and wares.


Their raids, however, were not viewed with complacence by the Russians,
who had been steadily advancing on the land lying between the Caspian
and the Amu Daria, and whose armies the Tekkes harassed. At length in
January, 1881, came the final death struggle in the memorable attack on
the fortress of Geok Teppe, where thirty-three thousand tribesmen and
seven thousand women and children had taken refuge. With the fall of
that stronghold and the terrible punishment that followed, the power of
the Tekkes was completely crushed; and a people whose ancestors for
countless centuries had roamed the desert, recognising no master,
yielded finally to the advance of civilisation.

These were the people whose wives and daughters wove the rugs generally
known as Tekke Bokharas, of which large numbers with excellent weave and
sterling dyes can still be found. As few of them were designed for
mosques or palaces, it is very unusual to find pieces over one hundred
years old, and even these are rare. Indeed, any that are now forty years
old should possess great interest, as they were woven at a time when the
Tekkes were still a fierce race. Very many have the Katchli pattern. The
prayer arch, which is similar to that of Princess Bokharas, is in a
panel exterior to the field and within the border. Not infrequently
there are three arches in the same horizontal panel, which, as a rule,
is above the field, but occasionally below it. In a great many of these
rugs the three-leaf clover is found in some part of the field; and in
the band of pile that extends beyond the border at one end are usually
small conventionalised bushes with white and yellow flowers. The pattern
shown in Plate L, Fig. 4 (opp. Page 250), appears almost invariably in
the outer stripe.

There are other types, into one of which it would seem as if the very
spirit of the desert had crept. Their dark ground colours are brightened
by lighter tones that give an effect of strange yet not inharmonious
beauty. A few would seem to speak of the early Zoroastrian faith, for in
their fields are designs like stars with effulgent rays that suggest the
burning altars of fire worshippers.

The shape or some peculiarity of the rug indicates the purpose for which
it was intended. For instance, the rugs which were made for doors of the
khibitkas have at the upper end a selvage with the web turned back and
hemmed, and at each corner a heavy braided cord of about two feet in
length, by which they were suspended. Other pieces have webs at both
ends. Many beautiful pieces are made for use on horses or camels. Those
intended for camels are of oblong shape with a field usually containing
large octagons, between which are smaller octagons similar to those in
Royal Bokharas.

Tekkes may be distinguished from the Princess Bokharas, which they
resemble, by their goat’s hair selvage at the sides, by one thread of
warp to each knot being slightly depressed at the back, and by their
coarser character. There is, however, a great similarity in the colours,
though in the Tekkes tones of deep plum and rich red are not uncommon.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red, brown, or plum,
with minor quantities of dark blue and ivory. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to
inch horizontally seven to twelve; perpendicularly, nine to fourteen.
The rows of knots are slightly pressed down, but the warp shows at back.
_Warp_, wool or goat’s hair; one of the two threads encircled by a knot
is depressed below the other at back. _Weft_, wool of fine or medium
diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of
knots. _Pile_, wool, or occasionally goat’s hair of short or medium
length. _Border_, three stripes, separated by coloured lines. _Sides_, a
three-cord double goat’s hair selvage. _Lower end_, a wide coloured web
and long warp fringe. _Upper end_, a braided selvage turned back and
hemmed, or occasionally a wide coloured web and long warp fringe.
_Texture_, firm. _Weave_ at back of moderately fine grain. _Length_,
five to eight feet. _Usual width_, three fifths to four fifths length.

KHIVAS.—On the west bank of the Amu Daria, and stretching for two
hundred miles above its mouth, is the plain of the Khanate of Khiva.
Most of the people live in khibitkas, and either follow a nomad’s life
or raise from the alluvial soil, that is watered by innumerable canals,
crops of cotton, corn, and rice, as well as melons, peaches, and
pomegranates. A large population, also, inhabits the city of Khiva,
which before the building of the Siberian railway, was on one of the
direct highways between east and west. Caravans of nearly two thousand
camels regularly passed through it en route to Orenburg in spring and to
Astrakan in fall, carrying wares from districts farther to the east as
well as its own rugs and manufactured articles.


_Although this rug is an excellent example of that class generally known
as Samarkands, it was bought in Yarkand. Undoubtedly it was woven in
some part of Turkestan that lies between these two cities; yet with the
exception of the eight-pointed stars at the centre of the upper and
lower medallions the pattern is characteristic of Chinese ornamentation.
Surrounding the central medallion, on a ground of rich deep blue, are
six conventionalised butterflies, and near them are four clusters of
pomegranates. At each end of the field are designs that suggest the tree
of life, which under different forms appears so persistently in the
woven fabrics of the East. The delicate drawing of these motives is
accentuated by the formal character of the four corners and by the broad
border of well-known stripes. It is a piece in which beauty of line and
colour is combined with unsolved symbolism._

  _Loaned by Mr. Hulett C. Merritt_]

On account of the constant intercourse between the Khiva and Bokhara
tribes, their woven fabrics show a close relationship in patterns and
colours; yet they contain important differences. Those made by the Khiva
tribes are cruder, and reflect the effect of constant struggles against
the rigours of the desert and the fierce Kirghiz from the steppes to the
north. The wool is also coarser and longer, and the knots are much fewer
to the inch. Occasionally geometric as well as animal designs suggestive
of Caucasian influence occur. Moreover, the brownish threads of weft
that separate each row of knots, are noticeable at the back, whereas
in other Turkoman rugs the weft is hardly perceptible.

Many of the old pieces were very handsome, as is shown by the following
description of an antique goat’s hair carpet from Khiva by Dr.
Birdwood.[35] “The ground is of madder red, decorated with leaves and
scrolls and lozenge-shaped forms in red, white, and orange, each lozenge
being defined by a deep line of indigo blue. The ends terminate in a
fringe. Professor Vambery says that these rich lustrous carpets are made
entirely by the nomad women about Khiva, the head worker tracing out the
design in the desert sand and handing out to her companions the dyed
materials of different colours as required in the progress of weaving.”

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red, with minor
quantities of blue and ivory. _Knot_, Ghiordes or Sehna. Knots to inch
horizontally six to ten; perpendicularly, eight to fourteen. The rows of
knots are but slightly pressed down, so that the warp shows at back.
_Warp_, wool or goat’s hair; each of the two threads encircled by a knot
is equally prominent at the back. _Weft_, wool of medium or coarse
diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of
knots. _Pile_, wool of medium length. _Border_, generally three stripes.
_Sides_, a double selvage of two or three cords, which is generally of
goat’s hair. _Both ends_, a web, one or more rows of knots and a warp
fringe. _Texture_, stout. _Usual length_, four and one half to six feet.
_Usual width_, three fifths to three quarters length.

YOMUDS.—When, in 1718, the Yomuds were driven by the Tekkes from their
homes in the well-watered region about Kizil Arvat, they moved to a less
fertile country to the north and west. Though now numbering about one
hundred thousand, they have few villages; and regardless of the dreary
sand storms, the biting cold of winter, or the terrible heat of summer,
they wander with their sheep and goats from place to place in search of
more favoured spots. Sometimes their khibitkas are seen along the border
of the Caspian Sea as far south as Astrabad in Khorassan, or among the
sandy trackless wastes of Kara Kum, nearly as far north as the Aral Sea.

Many of their rugs rival the Royal Bokharas in wealth of colour. The
prevailing tone of the field is usually red or maroon, but is sometimes
rose, plum, or dark brown; and the remaining shades correspond with the
blue, green, brown, and white of Tekkes. Contrasted with these is the
ivory ground of the border, which, as a rule, has a much brighter colour
than the field. Furthermore, the pile of the old pieces has a lustre
that is due to the excellence of the dyes and the thick soft wool.

There are several distinct types, of which only one is well-known. Its
pattern is clearly Turkoman, though the lesser designs show that there
has been frequent intercourse with the weavers of Caucasia. Covering the
field of these pieces are regularly placed diamond-shaped figures that
suggest those of the Royal Bokharas, from which they may have been
developed to the almost entire exclusion of the octagon; though the
latter appears much less prominently in the centre of the diamonds. In
the border occurs the running latch-hook, the barber-pole stripe, and a
geometrically drawn vine. The webs of the ends, which are usually red
and striped, are broad and have a fringe of goat’s hair, sometimes
braided into ropelike tassels, but more often hanging loose.

The saddle bags are of irregular shape resembling a flat walled tent,
and contain in both field and border much brighter colour than the rugs.
Their field is checkered with diamond-shaped figures rich in ivory
colour and separated from each other by diagonal barber-pole stripes;
their border contains the running latch-hook.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red and mahogany
brown, with minor quantities of blue, green, and white. _Knot_,
generally Sehna, occasionally Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally five
to eight; perpendicularly, seven to ten. The rows of knots are pressed
down, so that the warp is largely concealed at back. _Warp_, coarse wool
or goat’s hair; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally
prominent at the back, or one is slightly depressed below the other.
_Weft_, wool, of medium diameter, or occasionally wool mixed with goat’s
hair. A thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots.
_Pile_, wool, of medium length. _Border_, three stripes. _Sides_, either
a two-cord selvage of red alternating with blue or brown, or a goat’s
hair double selvage of three or four cords. _Both ends_, a broad,
reddish brown web through which, as a rule, run coloured lines or
several narrow stripes, and a long warp fringe. _Texture_, stout.
_Weave_ at back is moderately coarse. _Usual length_, five to twelve
feet. _Usual width_, two thirds to three quarters length.

BESHIRES.—On the Amu Daria and not far from Afghanistan is a small
district from which the rugs known as Beshires now and then find their
way to this country. As it is not far from several routes of caravans,
these rugs show a relationship to the products of other Turkoman tribes.
Their colour scheme is principally the dark red and brownish tones found
in Bokharas, Yomuds, and Khivas. The ends, too, have the web crossed by
several lines, such as blue, green, and yellowish brown, that are usual
in Afghans. The patterns sometimes contain a suggestion of the geometric
figures of the Yomuds and some Caucasian pieces; and yet they have a
striking character of their own. Not infrequently the field is covered
with broad, irregular scrolls or foliate forms, unlike anything seen in
any other class of rugs. Again the field may be occupied with a trellis
pattern, which divides it into diamond-shaped figures. Within these are
smaller diamonds surrounded by eight-pointed stars and quasi-floral
forms. The borders, as a rule, are narrow and have simple designs that
incline to the geometric; but a few are of fair width and are ornamented
with rosettes and conventionalised leaves. In namazliks, which are
rarely seen, the prayer arch lies within the field. Almost all of this
class found in this country are old rugs; and on account of their rich,
harmonious colours and unobtrusive yet distinctive patterns, are always
pleasing and interesting.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red and brown, with
minor quantities of blue, yellow, and white. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to
inch horizontally seven to twelve; perpendicularly, seven to twelve. A
half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as, or longer than, wide.
The rows of knots are pressed down, so that the warp is almost hidden at
back. _Warp_, generally goat’s hair. Each of the two threads encircled
by a knot is equally prominent at back, or occasionally one is slightly
depressed. _Weft_, wool or goat’s hair of medium or coarse diameter. A
thread of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_,
wool, of medium length. _Border_, generally three stripes, occasionally
only one. _Sides_, a goat’s hair selvage of two to four cords. _Both
ends_, a wide web, crossed with several coloured stripes. _Texture_,
stout. _Weave_, coarse. _Length_, four to twelve feet. _Usual width_,
two fifths to two thirds length.

AFGHANS.—One of the most distinctive classes of Turkoman rugs is known
in this country both as Afghans and Khivas. Both of these names are
unfortunately applied; for their only title to be called the latter is
that many were formerly exported from the bazaars of Khiva, and that
they slightly resemble the rugs of that city. Nor are they strictly
Afghans, since they come from the territory of mountain ridges and
fertile valleys that stretches from the Hindu Koosh Mountains northward
across the eastern part of the Khanate Bokhara, and are made by the
tribesmen of both countries. In fact, they differ considerably from the
rugs of Central and Southern Afghanistan, and bear no resemblance to
those of floral pattern woven about Herat.

Within the territory where these rugs are made the Aryan and Teutonic
races have met and blended; and across it have passed the armies of the
greatest conquerors of Asia. Here still exist some of the most untamed
races of the East, feeding their flocks on lofty table-lands, or
cultivating patches of valleys, through which flow icy streams to form
the Amu Daria. Here the rights of hospitality are held sacred, but
wrongs are revenged without recourse to any tribunal.

When the antecedents, customs, and surroundings of the people are taken
into consideration, it is not strange that their rugs should be strong
and firm in texture, bold in design, positive and striking in colour.
Most of them are large and almost square in shape, though mats are not
uncommon. The traditional pattern consists of perpendicular rows,
usually three in number, of large octagons, that are almost in contact.
Between these rows are much smaller diamond-shaped designs, which
consist in some pieces of a cluster of eight-pointed stars, and in
others of a geometric figure that is occasionally fringed with hooks and
contains within its centre an eight-pointed star.

With a few exceptions the octagons, which closely resemble those of
Royal Bokharas, are symmetrical, and all their details are drawn as
regularly as if the rugs were factory woven. They are invariably divided
into quarters which usually are marked with a small figure like a
three-leaf clover. The field contains but few adventitious designs and
they are rarely animal, as the Afghans are Sunni Mohammedans. One of the
most common of these designs, which appears also in the Tekkes and
Yomuds, is probably intended to represent part of the headstall of camel
trappings. The pattern of the border conforms to that of the field, but
frequently has crudely drawn floral forms and a conventionalised vine.
The sides have an added selvage of brown goat’s hair; and the ends
are finished with reddish brown webs, from which hang loose fringes of
dark wool or goat’s hair.


As characteristic as the large bold octagons are the colours, which
however subdued are invariably of rich hues. Those of the field consist
of dark red, maroon, or reddish brown. The quarters of the octagon are
of a deep blue alternating with a red that is lighter than the field. In
some pieces this red is blood colour, or nearly crimson, standing out in
bold relief against the adjacent blue and a field of maroon. Lines of
green, orange, yellow, and white often appear in the body of the rug;
lines of dark blue and a checkered pattern in red and blue are frequent
in the red webs of the ends.

Though these rugs are, as a rule, heavier and coarser in texture than
most other Turkoman rugs, the old pieces have a soft plushy nap of fine
wool and goat’s fleece, as well as richness of tone, that is very
attractive. They are exceedingly durable and moderate in price.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally dark red and mahogany
brown, with minor quantities of blue, green, yellow, and white. _Knot_,
generally Sehna, occasionally Ghiordes. Knots to inch horizontally five
to eight; perpendicularly, seven to ten. The rows of knots are pressed
down, so that the warp is largely concealed at back. _Warp_, coarse wool
or goat’s hair; each thread encircled by a knot is equally prominent at
back, or one is slightly depressed below the other. _Weft_, wool, of
medium diameter, or occasionally wool mixed with goat’s hair. A thread
of weft crosses twice between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, of
medium length. _Border_, three stripes. _Sides_, a goat’s hair double
selvage of three or four cords. _Both ends_, a broad web of reddish
brown colour through which run several narrow lines or several narrow
stripes, and a long fringe. _Texture_, stout. _Weave_ at back is
moderately coarse. _Usual length_, five to twelve feet. _Usual width_,
two thirds to three quarters length.

SAMARKANDS.—A little over one hundred miles east of Bokhara, and on the
southern border of the desert of Red Sands, the river Zarafshan,
“Strewer of Gold,” has turned a plain of yellow loam into an oasis.
Forty-three large canals bring its waters to fields of cotton; to
vineyards; to orchards of apple, pear, peach, and pomegranate; and to
gardens of fragrant flowers. Here is Samarkand, “The Mirror of the
World.” Few cities as old remain after passing through so many
vicissitudes of fortune. Alexander forced his way through its gates, the
Chinese Empire annexed it, and finally Tamerlane seized and made it the
magnificent capital of one third of the known world. His tomb and other
remaining monuments attest the grandeur of that time when there was
fostered here the art, the luxury, and the splendour of the East.

The rugs known as Samarkands are woven in a district somewhat eastward
from the city and are often called “Malgarans.” They are not to be
compared with the magnificent carpets that adorned the palaces and
mosques of the capital of Tamerlane; yet they possess a special
interest, as in them are combined features derived from both Eastern and
Western Asia. Either because this city, known as Samo-Kien, was once
part of the Chinese Empire, or as is more probable, because it is on one
of the great highways of caravan travel between China and Western Asia,
the Chinese element is particularly noticeable. It appears in the
colours that are in strong contrast; in the general pattern that shows
little affinity for those of Persian or West Asian rugs; and even in the
weave, in which silk is occasionally mixed with the wool of both warp
and pile.

The ground colour of the field is usually some shade of red or madder,
with blue and yellow appearing conspicuously in the principal designs
and border stripes. Or again, the field may be blue, soft brown, gray,
or tan, with which the colours of the designs and borders, that may
contain red, yellow, and blue, invariably appear in strong contrast.

Few rugs have a more noticeable pattern, which consists principally of
rounded medallions. If there be but one, it is in the centre; and if
there be many, one is at each corner. They are usually ornamented with
Chinese scrolls or some geometric design, as an eight-pointed star; but
dragons, birds, or fishes are not uncommon. Occasionally, also, flowers
of Persian design, with eight rounded petals, appear in the medallion,
and others of larger size cover the field; or they may even exclude the
medallion and constitute the principal motive. Some simple design in
fretwork gives finish to the corners of the field, which is further
covered with Chinese butterflies, scrolls, or archaic flower forms. The
borders are equally distinctive, and unlike those of Chinese rugs are
relatively wide and consist of several stripes surrounded by an edging
of uniform colour. One of the stripes has generally a stiffly undulating
vine; another a continuous swastika design; and a third is marked with
frets, the barber-pole design, or a design which by some is regarded as
the sacred Chinese mountain rising from the waves. In most pieces warp
and weft are loosely woven, and the pile is of a medium grade of wool;
but in very old pieces the wool is fine and lustrous.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and yellow.
_Knot_, Sehna. Knots to inch horizontally six to eight; perpendicularly,
five to eight. Each half knot, as it appears at back, is as long as, or
longer than, wide. The rows of knots are not firmly pressed down, so
that the warp shows at back. _Warp_, generally cotton, occasionally
wool; one of the two threads encircled by a knot is doubled under the
other. _Weft_, generally cotton, occasionally wool, of coarse diameter
and frequently dyed. A thread of weft crosses twice, between every two
rows of knots, and occasionally three times. _Pile_, wool, of medium
length. _Border_, three stripes with a pink edging. _Sides_, a red or
pink overcasting. _Lower end_, web and warp loops. _Upper end_, web and
warp fringe. _Texture_, moderately firm. _Weave_ at back, rather coarse.
_Length_, six to fourteen feet. _Usual width_, one half to three fifths

KASHGARS AND YARKANDS.—Among the foothill plains at the western end of
the Chinese Empire, are the mud-walled cities of Kashgar and Yarkand,
that were ancient even in the days when Marco Polo visited there.
Situated in populous and fertile districts, each has been a city of
political and industrial importance; but on account of the great divides
that separate them from Western Turkestan, Persia, and India, their
commerce has been principally with Thibet and China. Thus it has
happened that only within recent years have any of their textile fabrics
reached Europe and America, where they are still almost unknown. Yet
even in the remote past, these cities gained a reputation for the
culture of silk and the weaving of carpets. Moreover, at different
periods they were centres of luxury, so that it may safely be assumed
that many of their woven products were of a high order of excellence.

These rugs, to be sure, come from a district lying within the Chinese
Empire; but it is so remote from the centres where the well-known
Chinese rugs have been and are woven, and is so much nearer to West
Turkestan and Afghanistan, that it seems best to place them in the
Central Asiatic group.

As a rule, such pieces as reach this country show crude workmanship
entirely lacking in graceful floral patterns or artistic drawing.
Octagonal forms, animals, and even mythical creatures are often
distributed over the fields so as to give them a decidedly Chinese
character. The narrow border stripes ornamented with the swastika and
fret forms are often similar to some of the Samarkand stripes. The
colours, which lack the subdued richness of Persian pieces, are often
light; but they occasionally consist largely of tones of dark blue and
red which show Turkoman influences. Most of these rugs are interesting
on account of their quaintness and individuality; but few compare in
quality of material, weave, or artistic finish with other classes of
this group.

BELUCHES OR BELUCHISTANS.—“When creating the world, the Almighty made
Beluchistan out of the refuse” are the words of an old proverb, that
refers to a land which formerly produced some of the most interesting
rugs of the East. In fact, the thought is not surprising when the
desolate character of the country is considered; for a sandy, waterless
waste stretches over the greater part, and only in a corner to the
northeast and in narrow strips, where streams from mountain sides water
small valleys, is any cultivation. Across this sparsely settled land and
farther westward into the southeastern part of Persia, untamed tribes of
Beluches and Brahoes wander with their sheep, goats, and large numbers
of camels. Their rugs, woven on crudely made looms, bear little
resemblance to the more artistic floral pieces of the Indian weavers to
the east or to those of Kirman to the west. Nor are they closely related
to the Turkoman rugs with which they are usually grouped. In fact, they
possess an individuality that once recognised is never forgotten; an
individuality due to the isolated condition of a country that is
protected from its nearest neighbours by barriers of deserts and
mountain ridges, and is possessed by a still unconquered people. To
these circumstances, also, it is due that the rugs are rarely coloured
with aniline dyes, though many modern pieces have been chemically washed
by dealers.

[Illustration: PLATE 56. YOMUD RUG]

One of the most distinguishing features of Beluchistans are their tones
of colour, that rarely depart from traditional usage. They are
principally a red of the shade of madder, a blue with purple cast, and a
dark brown that has sometimes a slight olive tinge, particularly when
appearing in the webs. Frequently, too, dull tones of green are seen.
Contrasting with these more subdued ground colours is almost invariably
some ivory which appears as small detached figures in part of the
border, or as outlines of principal designs. The patterns also show
individuality and diversity. Most frequently they are geometric and
represent some ill defined octagons suggesting Turkoman rugs. Or they
may consist of a field covered with diagonal bands, with large lozenges,
or medallions, all of which are decorated profusely with latch-hooks.
Still others have some crudely drawn flower design, as the Mina Khani,
that tells of Persian influences.

A fair proportion have the prayer pattern, consisting of a large
rectangular shaped mihrab, which is as high as, and frequently higher
than, wide. The borders, as a rule, consist of three or four stripes.
The main stripe is geometric and in the guard stripes are running
latch-hooks or the reciprocal trefoil, though occasionally they are
replaced by some conventionalised vine or ribbon pattern.

Proportionally to their length few other rugs have such long webs at the
end, though they are sometimes entirely worn away while the body of the
rug is still serviceable. They are usually coloured in harmony with the
colours of the field, and are marked with embroidered lines or simple
designs. No other rugs have a surface with more lustrous sheen, due to
the soft, fine wool of the pile, which in old pieces is short and
closely woven, giving a play of colours, and velvety appearance
unsurpassed by any other nomadic rugs. Many of the choicest pieces of
Beluchistan weave now on the market are the small saddle bags, that are
of rich yet subdued colours, and possess the character and sheen of very
old rugs.

_Type Characteristics._ _Colours_, principally red, blue, and brown,
with minor quantities of white. _Knot_, Sehna. Knots to inch
horizontally six to nine; perpendicularly, seven to ten. The rows of
knots are usually pressed down, so that the warp does not show at back.
_Warp_, wool; each of the two threads encircled by a knot is equally
prominent at back, or one is slightly depressed below the other. _Weft_,
of coarse, wiry wool, of medium diameter. A thread of weft crosses twice
between every two rows of knots. _Pile_, wool, and occasionally camel’s
hair, of medium length. _Border_, three stripes. _Sides_, a heavy goat’s
hair selvage of three or four cords. _Both ends_, a broad embroidered
web with warp fringe. _Texture_, slightly loose. _Weave_ at back is
moderately coarse. _Usual length_, four and one half to six feet. _Usual
width_, two thirds to three quarters length.


The border stripes of the Central Asiatic group are even more geometric
than the Caucasian; for it is rarely that any floral forms are seen in
them, though they may appear in the pile that extends beyond the borders
of the ends. Even the vines are so angular as almost to lose their
identity. Octagonal figures, stars, frets, and latch-hooks are common.
In fact, the group as a whole, shows the influence of the Caucasian and
Chinese groups more than the Persian.


The stripe shown in Plate L, Fig. 1 (opp. Page 250) is one of many found
in the rugs known as Royal Bokharas. The eight-pointed stars, as well as
the small tent-like designs, which may have been derived from the
headstalls of horses, are almost always found in it.

A well-known stripe of Princess Bokharas corresponding with the pattern
of the field, appears in Plate L, Fig. 2. It represents a continuous
series of designs shaped like a Y, that were doubtless derived from
forms of trees. More frequently the stripe (Fig. 3) of broad, serrated
diagonal lines, that originally may have been intended to represent
foliage, is seen.

Another stripe found in Princess Bokharas and also in Tekkes and Khivas
is shown in Plate L, Fig. 4. It forcibly suggests the Chinese fret.
Sometimes it is used as a primary but more frequently as a secondary

In Plate L, Fig. 5, is a stripe frequently seen in Tekkes, which is
interesting on account of the eight-pointed stars and latch-hooks
similar to those of Caucasian rugs. Without doubt this is only one of
the many instances illustrating the migration of designs.

Plate L, Fig. 6 represents a stripe peculiar to Yomuds. The running vine
is most mechanically drawn and fringed with latch-hooks, which are a
constant feature of this class.

Another Yomud stripe with vine in which serrations take the place of
latch-hooks is shown in Plate L, Fig. 7. Pendent from the vine are other
hooks shaped like frets.

Very similar to an old Caucasian stripe is the one represented in Plate
L, Fig. 8; but in this stripe the small designs are drawn so that the
proportion of length to width is greater; and it is probable that they
were copied from a wreath of leaves. This stripe is very commonly seen
in Beluchistans.


Plate L, Fig. 9 represents a mechanically drawn vine found in Beshires.

Well-known Afghan stripes are shown in Plate L, Figs. 10 and 11.

In Plate L, Figs. 12 and 13 are two of the most typical and interesting
stripes of Samarkands and Yarkands. The first is supposed to represent
the sacred mountain of Chinese lore rising out of the waves. The second
is a vine with leaves and flowers, which suggest Persian influences.

A stripe with simple archaic pattern peculiar to Yarkands is seen in
Plate L, Fig. 14.


In Plate L, Fig. 15 (opp. Page 250), is a well-known form of a secondary
stripe found in Royal Bokharas.

A stripe seen in both Princess Bokharas and Tekkes is shown in Plate L,
Fig. 16. It bears a slight resemblance to some conventionalised vines
found in other groups.

Stripes of running latch-hooks (Plate K, Fig. 20, opp. Page 230) are
frequently found in Yomuds, and occasionally in Beluchistans.

In Beluchistans the reciprocal trefoils, so well-known in Caucasian and
Persian rugs, are very frequently used.

The pattern of a double vine, illustrated in Plate L, Fig. 17, is a
Beshire stripe that suggests a Persian influence.

In Plate L, Fig. 18, is the narrow pear stripe that appears in a very
large number of Afghans and in some Khivas.

Two well-known stripes that belong to Samarkands are shown in Plate L,
Figs. 19 and 20. The pattern of the conventionalised vine speaks of
Persian origin, and the swastikas suggest Chinese origin.

In Tekkes, Yomuds, Afghans, and Beluchistans the small barber-pole
stripes are constantly employed.



    H = Horizontally
    P = Perpendicularly
    g = goat’s hair
    e = each equally prominent
    d = 1 to the knot depressed
    h = 1 to the knot doubled under
    g = goat’s hair
    No. = No. times crossing bet. two round knots
    O = overcasting
    S = selvage
    W = web
    S = Selvage
    K = Rows knots
    L = warp loops
    F = fringe
    W = web
    S = selvage
    K = Rows knots
    T = turned back and hemmed
    F = fringe

  │            │          KNOT              │           WARP               │
  │            ├─────────┬──────┬───────────┼─────┬───────┬────┬───────────┤
  │  CENTRAL   │         │      │ Number to │     │       │    │ At back   │
  │  ASIATIC   │         │      │ Inches    │     │       │    │           │
  │            │ G =     │ S =  ├─────┬─────┤  w =│ c =   │    ├───┬───┬───┤
  │            │ Ghiordes│ Sehna│  H  │  P  │ wool│ cotton│ s/l│ e │ d │ h │
  │Afghan      │    G    │  S   │ 5-8 │ 7-10│  w  │       │[g] │ e │ d │   │
  │Beluchistan │         │  S   │ 6-9 │ 7-10│  w  │       │[g] │ e │ d │   │
  │Beshire     │         │  S   │ 6-9 │ 8-11│ [w] │  [c]  │ g  │ e │[d]│   │
  │Princess    │         │      │     │     │     │       │    │   │   │   │
  │  Bokhara   │         │  S   │ 8-12│16-24│  w  │       │    │ e │[d]│   │
  │Royal       │         │      │     │     │     │       │    │   │   │   │
  │  Bokhara   │         │  S   │ 8-12│14-18│  w  │       │[g] │ e │   │   │
  │Tekke       │         │      │     │     │     │       │    │   │   │   │
  │  Bokhara   │         │  S   │ 7-12│ 9-14│  w  │       │[g] │   │ d │   │
  │Khiva       │    G    │  S   │ 6-10│ 8-14│  w  │       │[g] │ e │   │   │
  │Samarkand   │         │  S   │ 6-8 │ 5-8 │ [w] │   c   │    │   │   │ h │
  │Yomud       │   [G]   │  S   │ 7-12│ 9-17│  w  │       │ g  │ e │[d]│   │

  │            │          WEFT            │ SIDES │     LOWER END   │
  │            ├─────┬───────┬────┬───────┼───┬───┼─────┬───┬───┬───┤
  │  CENTRAL   │     │       │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │  ASIATIC   │ w = │ c =   │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │            │wool │ cotton│ g  │ No.   │ O │ S │ W/S │ K │ L │ F │
  │Afghan      │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Beluchistan │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Beshire     │ [w] │  [c]  │ g  │ 2/[1] │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Princess    │     │       │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │  Bokhara   │  w  │       │    │   2   │ O │   │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Royal       │     │       │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │  Bokhara   │  w  │       │    │   2   │ O │[S]│  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Tekke       │     │       │    │       │   │   │     │   │   │   │
  │  Bokhara   │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │
  │Khiva       │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │ K │   │ F │
  │Samarkand   │ [w] │   c   │    │   2   │ O │   │  W  │   │ L │   │
  │Yomud       │  w  │       │    │   2   │   │ S │  W  │   │   │ F │

  │            │   UPPER END     │    NAP    │   WEAVE   │ TEXTURE  │
  │            ├─────┬───┬───┬───┼───────────┼───────────┼──────────┤
  │  CENTRAL   │     │   │   │   │l = long   │f = fine   │l = loose │
  │  ASIATIC   │     │   │   │   │m = medium │m = medium │m = medium│
  │            │ W/S │ K │ T │ F │s = short  │c = coarse │f = firm  │
  │Afghan      │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/c   │    f     │
  │Beluchistan │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │   m/l    │
  │Beshire     │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │    f     │
  │Princess    │     │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │  Bokhara   │  W  │   │   │ F │     s     │      f    │    f     │
  │Royal       │     │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │  Bokhara   │  W  │   │   │ F │    m/s    │     m/s   │    f     │
  │Tekke       │     │   │   │   │           │           │          │
  │  Bokhara   │  W  │   │[T]│ F │    m/s    │     m/f   │    f     │
  │Khiva       │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      m    │    f     │
  │Samarkand   │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │      c    │    m     │
  │Yomud       │  W  │   │   │ F │     m     │     m/c   │    f     │

  [] indicates the less frequent condition.



THROUGHOUT parts of India are woven rugs known as _Dari_, which are
unlike the rugs of any other country. They are pileless cotton fabrics,
that may represent an indigenous craft old as the Aryan migrations.
Their designs are of the simplest order; usually no more than plain
stripes of blue, red, and black, or only blue and white modified
occasionally by simple geometric figures. Furthermore, their workmanship
is poor, so that they possess little artistic merit. Some pieces of
large size are exported, but they awaken but little interest compared
with other kinds of rugs.

The weaving of pile carpets in India, on the other hand, does not appear
to have been the result of spontaneous growth or to have flourished
without artificial encouragement. It was probably introduced by the
Saracens, but carpets of elaborate design and workmanship were not made
till the reign of Shah Akbar, who imported Persian weavers. Under his
patronage and the encouragement of his royal successors, the manufacture
of pieces that rivalled those of Persia continued for a hundred years,
but after the death of Shah Jahan, in 1658, the industry began to
decline. Nevertheless, for nearly a hundred years longer excellent
fabrics were produced as the result of the system that was maintained in
all the provinces by lesser potentates. This system, which was also in
vogue in parts of Persia, is described by Dr. George Birdwood as
follows: “The princes and great nobles and wealthy gentry, who are the
chief patrons of these grand fabrics, collect together in their own
houses and palaces all who gain a reputation for special skill in their
manufacture. These men receive a fixed salary and daily rations and are
so little hurried in their work that they have plenty of time to execute
private orders also. Their salaries are continued even when through age
or accident they are past work; and on their death they pass to their
sons, should they have become skilled in their father’s art. Upon the
completion of any extraordinary work, it is submitted to the patron; and
some honour is at once conferred on the artist and his salary increased.
It is under such conditions that the best art work of the East has
always been produced.”

After the overthrow of the Mogul dominion by Nadir Shah, in 1731, the
production of carpets rapidly diminished and the quality deteriorated.
This was due to several causes. With the conquests of the East Indian
Company, that began in the middle of the XVIII Century, and the
extension of trade into every district, large quantities of antique
carpets became the property of the Company or of those in its employ.
Many of them, including sumptuous pieces that had adorned the palaces of
the descendants of Tamerlane, found their way to England. Thus were
removed many of the masterpieces that had been an inspiration to the
weavers. Moreover, with the overthrow of native princes their patronage
ceased; and later, when looms were established in jails for the
employment of convicts, undesirable competition reduced the wages of
free labour. Still more pernicious was the introduction of aniline dyes,
and the elimination of individual taste by supplying patterns, that were
often of European origin, to be mechanically copied. Thus it followed
that, in spite of the efforts of Mr. Robinson and of others, for nearly
half a century, to resuscitate the art and restore it to its former
condition, weaving in India, to-day, rests purely on a commercial basis;
and the workmanship is almost as mechanical as the manufacture of
machine-made carpets in Europe or America.

Yet to the cloud hanging over the weaving of India is a brighter lining.
European companies have established factories where natives are employed
making rugs that in quality equal the products of Smyrna and Sultanabad.
Some of them, indeed, are even more firmly woven than the Persian
products from which they are copied. In many of the towns, also, are
looms where the weavers, who are mostly boys, enjoy more independence.
Moreover, the companies, realising that the future of their business
depends on the quality of the fabrics, are largely discarding aniline
dyes. It is now possible, therefore, to obtain Indian rugs of excellent
workmanship and colours at very moderate prices; but individuality,
representative of native character and temperament, is entirely lacking;
and in its place is simply a reproduction of Persian or European

[Illustration: PLATE 57. BESHIRE PRAYER RUG]

Any arrangement of these rugs in sub-groups must be arbitrary, as
similar conditions of early foreign influence, royal patronage, and the
jail and factory systems, have prevailed throughout India. Yet since the
northern part has been more directly under the influence of the courts
and more intimately connected with Herat, which seems to have left a
strong impress on the weavings of all the surrounding country, it is
convenient to make a distinction between the rugs of Northern and
Southern India.

The principal rug-producing centres of Northern India at present are
Srinagar, Amritsar, Lahore, Multan, Allahabad, Agra, Mirzapur, Sindh,
Jubbulpur, and Jaipur.

SRINAGAR.—From the extreme northern part of India come the rugs of
Kashmir, which are often named after the capital of the province,
Srinagar, the “City of the Sun.” To a large extent, they resemble the
far more famous shawls that were woven in the central valley, where
winds the Jhelum, that some believe first suggested the pear design. The
pieces woven before the British occupation of India were of excellent
quality and contained delicate colour schemes, that were exceedingly
pleasing; but the products of the last half century show deterioration.
The colours are harsher, the mechanical drawing of the patterns show
European influence, and the borders resemble too closely the central
field to have distinct characters. Yet many of them are now dyed with
vegetable colours, and are stoutly woven with the soft and silky wool
for which this district is renowned.

AMRITSAR.—On account of famine and several other causes, a large number
of the people of Kashmir migrated about the year 1840. Some of them
settled at Amritsar, where they followed their former craft of making
shawls, until a change of fashion, that occurred about the year 1870,
deprived many of their occupation. These turned to rug weaving and thus
gave an impetus to that industry.

Amritsar is now the most populous and wealthy city of the Punjab; and as
some twenty thousand men and boys are employed at the looms, it is one
of the leading rug-producing centres of India. Yet before the exhibition
of Indian rugs at the World’s Fair in Chicago, in 1893, there had not
been any demand in this country for its rugs. For a long period it has
been the home of weavers who found in the surrounding mountains and
valleys the best of wool, but before the revival of the industry their
patterns and workmanship were of an inferior character. Under the
factory system, conducted by American and English firms, has been a
marked improvement. Both dyes and wool are excellent, and the technique
of weave equals what is found in the best of Persian products, To the
square inch are frequently two hundred Sehna knots; and since when tying
a knot one thread of warp is doubled under the other, as in Bijars, and
the threads of weft are pressed down very firmly, the texture is
unusually close. The nap is short; the sides are overcast; and as a
rule, the lower end has a cotton web and the upper end a web and fringe.
The moderate prices for rugs of such excellent dyes and workmanship are
possible only on account of the wage of the weaver, which does not
exceed one eighth what he would receive in this country.

There is nothing, however, in the pattern to distinguish these rugs from
others; for in the drawing the greatest latitude is exercised. It may be
a copy of a European carpet, or some Indian or Iranian antique. Of
recent years, many well-known modern Persian patterns have been
followed, so that not infrequently these pieces are mistaken for the
products of Kermanshah or Sultanabad.

LAHORE.—About the year 1580, the imperial carpet factory of Shah Akbar
was established at Lahore, the capital of the Punjab; where during the
reign of the Mogul princes were produced many of the best examples of
Indian weaving. It was here that, in 1634, was woven the well-known
carpet now in the possession of the Girdler’s Company of London. Some of
the pieces that still remain show wonderful delicacy of drawing and
brilliancy of colouring. At a much later period, under the British rule,
the jail system of weaving was inaugurated, and rugs were made with both
woollen and cotton foundation. Within more recent years the factory
system followed; and on account of the nearness of Amritsar to the
capital, some foreign firms have weaving establishments in both cities.
It is not surprising, then, that there should be a resemblance in their
products, which is seen in the finish of sides and ends and in the
character of weaving, which usually shows one thread of warp to each
knot doubled under the other; but as a rule the rugs of Lahore come in
lighter shades and are woven with fewer knots to the square inch. In the
guards of the border often appear geometric figures; but the patterns in
other respects largely follow well-known Persian drawing, though leaf
and flower are more artistically portrayed and the designs are less

MULTANS.—One of the most ancient cities of the Punjab is Multan, which
during the vicissitudes of centuries was more than once captured by
early Mohammedan conquerors and also by Tamerlane. Its woven fabrics are
of three types: the _Dari_, which are made almost exclusively in the
jails; rugs of cotton pile, that have been made only within the last
sixty years; and rugs of woollen pile, that have been produced for an
unknown period. As the looms on which they are made are unlike those of
other districts, and the weavers are but little affected by external
influences, it is not surprising that the pile carpets not only display
uniqueness of pattern rarely seen in other Indian pieces but also
possess peculiarities of weaving as well as of material. Usually they
are of moderate size, but some have a breadth of twelve feet. There are
seldom more than one hundred knots to the square inch and occasionally
only nine, so that the texture is coarse. Not infrequently a single knot
encircles four threads of warp, and between two rows of knots is a
single thread of weft. Almost all of the weavers are Mohammedans, who
have a tradition that they originally came from Persia; yet their
products contain few of the Iranian characteristics, since the field is
usually occupied by geometric designs or crudely drawn floral patterns.
As is seldom the case with weavers who dwell in cities, these dye their
own wool, using both vegetable and aniline dyes. The principal colours
are bold and strongly contrasting tones of red, yellow, and blue. Some
of the cotton rugs, however, have a single colour of bluish shade. On
the whole, the Multan rugs possess great individuality but little
artistic merit.

AGRA.—Almost within sight of the minarets of the Taj Mahal are prison
walls where convicts of Agra ploddingly weave. In 1891, Dr. John Hurst
“saw a long row of prisoners for life, who were chained to each other by
the feet, engaged in weaving a rug for Queen Victoria, and another for
the ex-Empress Eugenie.” Most of these pieces are of cotton foundation.
Each thread of warp is equally prominent at the back, and the texture is
looser than in Amritsars. The nap is short, and the fibres of the knots
blend well together. Not infrequently the fields are monotones of
delicate shades of blue, green, or fawn colour. As a rule, the rugs are
very large and heavy; and it would seem that this has always been the
case, as Mr. Robinson suggested that the reason for establishing looms
at this place was the early demand for carpets too large to be imported
on elephants.

ALLAHABAD.—Situated like Benares on the banks of the Ganges, and next to
it the most sacred city of India to the faithful Brahman, is Allahabad,
capital of the northwestern provinces. Its geographic and political
importance, as well as the fact that each year half a million or more
devotees visit it, have been important factors in the growth of its
industries, one of which is the weaving of rugs. Yet the numbers
produced have never been great. As a rule they are of large size, and
are loosely woven with each thread of warp equally distinct at the back.
Few of them equal the best examples of the Amritsar looms.

MIRZAPUR.—When it is considered that Mirzapur is the centre of a very
populous cotton-producing district in the valley of the Ganges, to the
west of Benares, and is the seat of important manufactures, it is not
surprising that it is noted for its carpets. Those made half a century
ago were well woven and dyed with fast colours, but largely on account
of the employment of convicts, the texture of those made since then is
coarse and loose, the patterns are poor, the colours crude. To a limited
extent a higher grade of wool has been imported as a substitute for the
harsh local product, but the result has not been satisfactory. These
rugs accordingly find small favour among those who appreciate artistic
qualities, and give little satisfaction where durability is the chief
requisite. It should be noted, however, that within recent years efforts
have been made to raise their standard.

JUBBULPUR.—Two hundred miles to the southwest of Allahabad is Jubbulpur,
capital of a district of over half a million people. A century ago many
beautiful rugs were woven there; but since the establishment of a School
of Industry, in 1850, the character of weaving has retrograded rather
than advanced. In 1880, Dr. Birdwood wrote of its rugs as follows: “The
foundation, as now scamped is quite insufficient to carry the heavy pile
which is a feature of this work; and is moreover so short in the staple
as to be incapable of bearing the tension even of the process of
manufacture. Jubbulpur carpets often reach this country (England) which
will not bear sweeping, or even unpacking. I know of two which were
shaken to pieces in the attempt to shake the dust out of them when first
unpacked. The designs once had some local character, but have lost it
during the last four or five years.” Within recent years few have been

[Illustration: PLATE 58. BESHIRE RUG]

SINDH.—Formerly good rugs were woven at Sindh, one hundred miles above
the mouth of the Indus; but after the introduction of aniline dyes their
colours, as well as patterns, deteriorated. In the poorest pieces the
foundation was of cotton and hemp, and cow hair was frequently used for
pile. Very few of them have been imported into this country.

JAIPUR.—In the palace of the Maharajah at Jaipur, the great commercial
centre of Rajputana, are some of the most beautiful carpets that remain
in India. Native appreciation is also apparent in the present
workmanship of the district weavers. There is nothing crass or inelegant
in the patterns which follow the pleasing drawing of Persian rugs. The
vine, leaf, and flower, trees, and animals are faithfully portrayed. The
texture of weave is excellent.

The principal rug-producing centres of Southern India are Madras,
Marsulipatam, Ellore, Vellore, and Bangalore. Rugs are also woven in
Hyderabad, Warangal, and Ayyampet in the Tanjore district.

MADRAS.—Only within a comparatively recent period have rugs been made at
Madras, the early stronghold of the British in South India. Over half a
century ago, native products, woven in the interior towns of the Dekkan,
were shipped by way of Coconada to that city and were sometimes known as
Madras rugs. Two of these pieces, which were sent by Mr. Vincent
Robinson to the South Kensington Museum, differ widely in harmony of
colours, beauty of design, and delicacy of workmanship from the present
products of Madras. Yet the latter have much to commend them. Some are
made in the jail, others in the School of Fine Arts, and others in the
Anjuman Industrial School. All are made of good wool, coloured with
vegetable dyes. Great diversity appears in the patterns, as some are
copied from antique carpets represented in the “Vienna Carpet Book,”
others are copied from rugs of Northern India, Persia, and Asia Minor.
As a rule, the fields are well covered with repetitive designs, that
give them the appearance of factory-made carpets.

MARSULIPATAM.—Two hundred and fifty miles north of Madras on the
Coromandel coast is the city of Marsulipatam, one of the earliest of the
British settlements in India, from which the East India Company shipped
rugs over two centuries ago. At that time they were among the finest
produced in that country, but the demands of agents for articles that
could be produced as cheaply as possible resulted in the use of inferior
materials and in poorer workmanship. Most of the dyes are aniline. The
patterns, that once were executed with marvelous beauty of detail, gave
way to crude drawing until “these glorious carpets of Marsulipatam have
sunk to a mockery and travesty of their former selves.”[36] Few of them
are any longer imported into this country.

ELLORE.—Not far from the delta of the Godavari river is the town of
Ellore, where a few centuries ago some Persians settled, and where their
descendants, faithful to early tradition, have followed the craft of
weaving. Here in former times were produced some of the best rugs in
Southern India; and even as late as 1883, Mr. E. B. Havell wrote that he
had seen pieces woven to meet special orders which were equal in point
of interest and material to the old specimens in the hands of
connoisseurs of London or in native palaces. This is one of the few
districts in Southern India where the industry exists outside of jails.
In the town and surrounding country are about four hundred looms
operated by some three thousand people, who are Mohammedans.

In the better class of rugs, in which vegetable dyes are still used, and
the yarn is often a native product of wool obtained from sheep of the
uplands and spun by shepherds, something of the old style of
craftsmanship remains. On the other hand, a very large percentage of the
rugs which are intended solely for export trade are of an inferior
order, since many of their colours are obtained from aniline, their
weaving is inferior, and their patterns are ordinary. Mr. Henry T.
Harris, in his report on the Madras Industrial and Art Exhibition, 1903,
said: “The exhibits of carpets sent from Ellore were poor in conception,
weave, and colour.... The patterns in use were poor and often
modifications of cheap Wilton, Kidderminster, and German power loom
designs. Some of the old patterns are still with the weavers, but
unfortunately there is no trade demand for this fine class of goods, the
old dyes are being forgotten and have given place to cheap anilines
unskilfully applied.”

[Illustration: PLATE 59. AFGHAN RUG]

In length, the rugs are from a few feet to twenty-four feet. The warp is
of cotton, and the weft is sometimes of jute or hemp. The pile is of an
inferior quality, as it consists largely of the wool taken from a sheep
after death, known as “dead” wool, or as “Chunam” or “limed” wool, since
it is necessary to treat it with lime. Unfortunately vegetable dyes do
not produce in it the same results as in “live” wool; and since the
scarcity of wool in Southern India frequently necessitates its use,
aniline dyes are for this reason alone often employed. The number of
knots to the square inch is relatively small. The patterns show great
diversity, as Persian features predominate in the older rugs; but both
geometric and floral designs are employed in the modern.

VELLORE.—Almost a hundred miles to the west of Madras is the town of
Vellore, where native weavers once produced fine woollen carpets on
their own looms. A few specimens of these old pieces are preserved in
the jail to serve as patterns for the convicts, who now weave the only
rugs of the district. There are some fifty looms; and as the largest is
about thirty feet wide, almost any size of rug may be obtained. The
product rests on a commercial basis and depends on the market demands,
restricted by the material available and the limitations of the weavers.
According to the order, the rugs may be coloured with vegetable or
aniline dyes; they may have warp and weft of cotton, jute or hemp; and
they may have from six to sixteen knots to the inch measured
horizontally and perpendicularly. In the patterns, which are as
promiscuous as those of Ellore and often similar, the Herati design with
a corresponding border is not infrequently used. Recently an effort has
been made to exclude all but vegetable dyes and improve the

BANGALORE.—The principal weaving industry in the Mysore state is centred
about Bangalore, a city of about two hundred thousand inhabitants. Its
founder, Hyder Ali, is said to have established looms and to have
imported the first weavers. In 1908, the nine jail looms, of which the
largest had a length of nearly thirty feet, were constantly occupied in
making rugs to order. The number of knots to the square inch varied
greatly according to the quality required; and the dyes were almost
entirely aniline. In the city are employed a much larger number of
weavers, who clean and spin the wool produced in the district, as well
as dye it by secret processes, that they guard most carefully. The
closeness of texture; the colouring by aniline or vegetable dyes; and
the use of cotton, jute, or hemp, for warp and weft, are regulated by
the requirements of the trade, which is conducted largely by two or
three English firms.

HYDERABAD.—Splendid craftsmanship was once displayed in the rugs made in
the cities of Hyderabad and Warangal, in the district of Hyderabad. The
weave was exceedingly fine, and the colours were brilliant but
harmonious. Now few rugs are produced in these cities, and they have
poor patterns and wretched colours.



THE existence of Chinese rugs of age and merit was almost unknown to the
Western world until the close of the last century, when a few pieces
reached Europe, where they aroused the just admiration of art
connoisseurs. About the beginning of this century a larger number, which
were obtained during the Boxer revolution by reason of the spoliation of
homes, temples, and palaces, that never before had been entered by
foreigners, were exported to this country. In New York City, between the
years 1908 and 1910, some of them were sold at public auctions for
prices that stimulated collectors in China to search for more. But they
have proved to be scarce when compared with other Oriental rugs, so
that, as yet, the general public are only slightly familiar with them.

Moreover, little is known about their antecedents, for written records
are exceedingly meagre. It has been suggested that many were made in
Eastern Turkestan along the highways that extend to Persia and India.
But it is more probable that they were woven in Eastern China, where
other branches of art reached a remarkable development under the
patronage of wealthy mandarins and the imperial court. Even if they are
not the product of an indigenous growth, the knowledge of weaving may
easily have been acquired from Western Asia; since it was not unusual
several centuries ago to import weavers from one country to another to
instruct native craftsmen. Furthermore, the features which at a glance
differentiate these rugs from all others, proclaim their Chinese
character. The diaper patterns that cover the fields of some of them,
and the foliate and floral forms that appear in most of them, not only
are unlike those of any other groups, but have well-known Chinese
elements. A more distinctive feature are the colours, which are
relatively few. Many of them, as tan, yellow, and blue, are of shades
unlike what are seen in other rugs. Even more distinctive than these are
the reds, which never have the primary colours found in other groups but
resemble the tints of ripe apricot, peach, pomegranate, and persimmon.
Similar tones are seen in old Chinese porcelain. The geometric and
floral ornamentation also shows relationship to what is found in the
products of other branches of Chinese art. More characteristic still are
the small designs which are so related to the philosophic and religious
thought of the people and to the industrial and social life that their
Chinese origin is unmistakable.

Though it be granted that nearly all were woven in Eastern China, it is
not possible satisfactorily to assign them to different classes based on
locality; yet without doubt important distinctions, observable also in
the early paintings and porcelains and resulting largely from
differences of race and character of country, exist between those woven
in Northern China, where the highest appreciation of art existed, and
those woven in Southern China. It is probable, however, that such marked
local distinctions as are found in other groups never existed in Chinese
rugs. Such distinctions as do exist relate more to stages in development
of the textile art, so that the natural classification is based on the
successive periods when they were woven.

The absence of written and traditional history regarding the weaving of
these periods is by no means an insuperable obstacle to such
classification. By a careful examination of large numbers of rugs, it is
possible to arrange them with reasonable accuracy in series that
represent progressive forms of ornamentation and design from the archaic
to the modern. A most important aid to this arrangement is the
interdependence so conspicuous in the several arts of China; for designs
of innumerable articles with well-established ages, especially of the
ceramic art, have been copied by the weavers.

Technical peculiarities in weaving are also an aid in determining the
period to which rugs belong. An important distinction, for instance,
often exists in the manner in which the material is spun. If pieces of
yarn be taken from old rugs and carefully examined, as they are
untwisted, the simpler, cruder methods of spinning practised in former
days are often apparent. In some of the oldest fabrics that remain the
wool was very loosely spun. Irregularities in the size of yarn are also
more noticeable in old than in modern pieces.


More important often in determining the relative age of a rug than
either design or technical peculiarities of weaving, is the shade of
colour; for however excellent were the original dyes and whatever care
was exercised in their application, they slowly changed under the
mellowing influence of time to tones that are obtained by no human
process. Furthermore, as is the case with porcelains, certain colours
were peculiar to certain periods. For instance, golden browns are seen
mostly in pieces woven before the middle of the XVIII Century, and azure
blue in pieces woven before the XIX Century. Yellow with a lemon or
citron cast is found principally in pieces woven since the beginning of
the XVIII Century; and green is rarely found in pieces woven before the
middle of the XVIII Century. Aniline dyes were not introduced into China
much before the year 1870. The time when a rug was woven may safely be
regarded as not more remote than the period when the ornamentation and
designs it contains were generally adopted; yet it may be much more
recent, as the oldest designs were copied even after the adoption of
newer ones. It is necessary, then, in determining the age of a rug to
consider not only the evidence of the spinning, the weaving and designs,
but also the evidence of colour.

Though Chinese rugs have features that distinguish them from other
groups and divide them into separate classes; they also have many
features in common. All are woven with the Sehna knot. In all but the
earliest rugs the warp and weft are of cotton; each thread of warp is
equally prominent at the back; and the weft, which is coarser than the
warp, crosses twice between two rows of knots. The nap of both old and
modern rugs is almost always wool or silk, and rarely, if ever, jute or
cotton. The sides are finished by carrying the weft around the outer
threads of warp, but never so as to form a wide selvage. The lower end,
as a rule, has a very narrow web and warp loops; and the upper end has a
narrow web and fringe. Compared with other groups they are generally
more loosely woven. These and other features of resemblance and of
distinction will be more fully noticed in considering the rugs of
different periods.

In rugs of this group are constantly seen symbols intimately associated
with the religious and philosophic thought of China. One of them is the
Sacred Mountain rising out of the waves of eternity, which is an old
Chinese emblem, though more frequently found in rugs of Samarkand and
Yarkand. Others are the cloud-band and the Joo-e. There are also
mythical creatures, as the dragon, emblem of imperial power; the Ky-lin,
partly deer, partly unicorn; the Fung-Kwang or phœnix; and the
lion-dog. Still other symbolic and decorative designs are the figure
Shou and the stork, emblems of longevity; the bat and butterfly,
denoting happiness; the conch, wheel of law, and the two fishes, which
are Buddhist emblems; and the lyre and chess board, which are symbols of
the literati.

It is not improbable that rugs were woven during the Sung dynasty
(960-1280 A. D.), when for nearly three centuries prosperity prevailed,
literature and art flourished, and the court at Hang Chow was maintained
with imperial splendour; but as far as is known, none of them exist. Nor
do any remain that may have been woven during the Yuan dynasty
(1280-1370) distinguished by the reign of the illustrious Mongol prince,
Kublai Khan; though designs appearing in later rugs were used in kindred
arts of these and preceding periods.

MING RUGS.—The oldest Chinese rugs that remain were probably woven near
the end of the Ming period, or during the first half of the XVII
Century. It may reasonably be assumed that they were superior in quality
to those of any former period, since during this time Persia and India
were producing their greatest woven masterpieces; and other branches of
Chinese art were marked by an advance over the work that had preceded.
Yet, on the whole, it was a period of ebb in the splendid
accomplishments of intellectual and artistic effort that marked the Tang
and Sung dynasties.

Such pieces as exist are distinguished by careful workmanship, archaic
designs, and sobriety of colour. Most of the rugs were woven with warp
and weft of cotton. Some, intended principally for wealthy mandarins or
the imperial court, had pile of silk attached to warp and weft of
cotton; and others were made entirely of silk. Fewer in number, but
constituting the most sumptuous products of the Chinese weavers’ art,
were the rugs of silk woven on a web of metal threads.

The field of many of these early rugs contained all-over patterns.
Sometimes the repeat designs are of octagonal shape and are arranged in
horizontal and perpendicular lines, so as to leave small diamond-shaped
spaces between diagonally placed octagons. Within these designs are
often the emblems of happiness or longevity, floral motives, and
sometimes archaic dragons. In another well-known pattern the field is
completely covered with a swastika-fret and marked at regular intervals
with diagonal rows of bats, emblematic of happiness. Occasionally a
field of plain colour contains an irregular arrangement of objects used
for sacrificial or sacred purposes. Again, it may be covered with an
all-over pattern of small archaically drawn dragons resembling some of
the earliest designs in Chinese decorative art, or of most
conventionalised floral forms on mechanically drawn stems.

The essential feature, however, of a large number of these rugs, and one
that probably antedates the all-over pattern, is a central medallion
surrounded by a field that is either plain, that is marked with a
subdued diaper pattern, or contains what is known as the “tiger skin”
pattern, consisting of waving lines repeated throughout the field. The
medallions may be either octagonal or, as is more frequently the case,
rounded; but the defining lines are angular and generally represent
frets. Sometimes they contain archaic dragons, which are so
conventionalised in a few pieces that it is apparent that from them
originated many of the Chinese scrolls. In other pieces, the shape of
the central medallions and the designs which cover them suggest most
forcibly that they were copied from old mirror backs. The corners of the
fields may contain simple scrolls, but more frequently they correspond
closely in drawing with the central medallions.

The borders are equally typical. They are invariably narrow, and
generally consist of a single stripe which is figured and surrounded
with a coloured edging. Probably over three quarters of the rugs of this
period have a stripe with a pattern of swastika-frets. Two of these
stripes, which are very old patterns, are illustrated in Plate N, Figs.
1 and 2 (opp. Page 274). Occasionally some form of the key pattern
appears in the inner stripe, but almost all Chinese rugs that have two
border stripes with figures belong to a later period. Many of the oldest
borders are without figured stripes, and consist merely of one or more
stripes of plain colour.

The few colours used in the rugs of this period have deep, rich tones.
Undyed dark brown or blackish wool was occasionally used in the outer
edging that surrounded the field or in the narrow border stripes; but
more frequently the same colour effect was obtained by the use of
corrosive dyes that in time have often eaten the wool almost to the
foundation of warp and weft. Wools dyed with corrosive browns are also
used in the fields and enhance the effect of designs of contrasting
colours, which stand out in bold relief. Other colours, as soft dull
yellow and shades of blue, are also seen in the borders. The field is
usually richer. In some pieces it is a deep red; in others it is a soft
yellow, golden brown or yellowish tan, that shows the effect of time on
what were originally several shades of apricot. Dark and light blues,
sky blue, and robin’s egg blue, as well as jade green and bottle green,
are also found in these old pieces. In the metal and silk rugs the glint
of silver even though tarnished, adds lustre to colours that have grown
deeper and richer with age.

KANG-HI.—During the first years of the Tsing dynasty, that continued
from 1644 to its recent overthrow, the country was so occupied by wars
waged between the conquering Manchoos and the still resisting followers
of the Ming dynasty that art was nearly at a standstill. But during the
reign of the illustrious Kang-hi, 1662-1722, art revived and enjoyed one
of the most splendid periods of its history. There is, however, a
noticeable difference between the rugs that belong to the early and to
the late part of this reign; so that it is convenient to divide them
into the early Kang-hi pieces, that were woven during the last part of
the XVII Century, and the late Kang-hi pieces, almost all of which were
woven at the beginning of the XVIII Century. This division is also
convenient; as many rugs cannot be definitely assigned to the reign of a
particular emperor, and, accordingly, the broader distinction of
assigning them to different centuries is frequently adopted.

In weaving, as in making porcelain, many of the products of the late
Ming were still copied during the early Kang-hi period, but there was a
freer use of colour and a more decorative ornamentation. Many of the
figures are still geometric. Frets are conspicuous in the fields of
large numbers of these pieces. The dragon also is a favourite motive;
but in the scrolls that represent the legs and bifurcated tail, and in
the conventionalised head, the resemblance to the mythical monster is
almost lost. Sometimes two or more of these constitute a medallion in
the centre of the field, in which others are grouped with regularity;
while similar forms occupy the corners. Some of the rugs in which the
fields are covered with sundry objects, as scrolls, vases, altar pieces,
and sacred plants, also belong to this period. The borders of these and
late Kang-hi pieces have frequently an outer edging of brown and a
single border stripe with swastika-fret. In a few pieces, the stripe has
a well-balanced scroll which has been developed from designs of
conventionalised dragons and frets that appear in the central
medallion and in the corners of the field. Occasionally, however, there
is an inner stripe with the key meander. The colour scheme of the late
Ming, including the golden browns and deep blues, is largely employed in
rugs of this period.


The same influences that resulted during the late Kang-hi period in the
remarkable development of decorative art as applied to porcelains,
produced a corresponding effect in the rugs woven at the same time.
Manchurian ideas and taste gave renewed spirit to earlier Chinese style.
The fields were not infrequently covered with sub-patterns of fret work,
on which medallions appeared more prominently. The geometric figures
were largely supplanted by foliate forms. Even when the central
medallions and corner figures are of frets or stiffly conventionalised
dragons, the fields are often covered with delicate scroll or foliate
sub-patterns that support floral forms resembling the lotus or the
peony. The drawing of some of these has a Western character, and there
is little doubt that at this time the art of Persia had a strong
influence on the weaving of China. In other pieces of this class, the
foliate and floral forms no longer appear as sub-patterns but become the
prominent feature in the decoration of the field; and the
conventionalised flowers are arranged with precision in diagonal or
perpendicular lines. To this period also belong rugs of a distinct type,
in which the field represents a blending of pictorial and symbolic
ideas, as, for instance, a homeward flight of swallows; or a grove where
butterflies flit among the leaves, and deer with sacred fungus,
emblematic of longevity, wander.

The employment of border stripes of uniform colour was still continued,
but there was a tendency to employ more elaborate designs in many of the
figured stripes. It is not unusual to see single or double vines with
conventionalised flowers; and though the drawing is mechanical, the
relationship to Persian art is apparent. Yet in most of these pieces the
swastika-fret is used. A noticeable difference also exists in the colour
scheme of many of the late Kang-hi rugs, which frequently display
brighter colours. Much of the yellow, for instance, contains more red,
giving it a golden hue known as the “imperial yellow.”

YUNG-CHING.—During the short reign of Yung-ching (1722-1736), though
many of the old patterns were followed, the tendency to adopt more
ornate forms begun during the first part of the XVIII Century continued.
Manchurian ideas were now a strong factor in Chinese art, so that the
use of colours and ornamentation followed broader lines. To this period
are assigned most of those rugs in which designs are defined by lines of
contrasting colour that has been so treated that the lines are depressed
and throw the designs into bold relief. It is very difficult, however,
to definitely determine that any particular rug belongs to this period;
since the transition in colour scheme and patterns was gradual; and the
effect of time on dyes, one of the most reliable factors in determining
age, depends somewhat on their exposure to the elements and to use. But
broadly speaking, figures of leaf and flower were more frequently
adopted than in preceding periods and designs became less
conventionalised and more artistic. Lemon and citron shades of yellow,
also, became more prominent during this period.

KEEN-LUNG.—The long reign of Keen-lung, lasting from 1736 to 1795, was
one of the most prolific for Chinese art. To this period may safely be
assigned most of the existing rugs made before the XIX Century, as well
as many of the finest porcelains. The rugs partake of a more
cosmopolitan character than those which had preceded; for not only are
many of the designs and colours strictly Chinese, but others are of a
Persian character, and others still suggest Mohammedan influences
observable in the products of Turkestan and India. Moreover, many of the
designs show a delicate shading that is not observable in the rugs made
during the early part of the century. As a whole they are the most
ornate of Chinese rugs. Woven after the inspiration of Persian
masterpieces had left its strongest impress on Chinese weavers, and
decoration in kindred arts had assumed a luxurious style, they represent
in the drawing of leaf and flower, of birds, butterflies, and emblems of
early philosophy and faith, and in the colours that blend with rare
harmony, the most elaborate and voluptuous expression of native

In the best examples the geometric, and many of the stiff conventional
forms which continued through the XVII and the early part of the XVIII
Century, disappeared. In their place was a greater refinement of design,
a greater accuracy of drawing, which found expression in floral forms
that reached their highest development at this time and became
characteristic of it. Occasionally they are represented in profile as is
usually the practice in Western Asia, but more often are represented as
viewed from above. Some of them, as chrysanthemums, peonies,
sunflowers, and orchids, are most dainty and naturalistic. The fields of
many of these pieces are covered with such flowers carefully arranged in
harmonious groupings of leaf, bud and flower, but never with the formal
and exact balance of old Persian carpets. Not infrequently mingled with
them in the same piece are more conventional designs that belong to an
earlier period; sometimes there is a single central medallion; and
occasionally there are a large number of them. As a rule these
medallions are entirely floral, and in rugs made during the latter part
of this period they display elaborate ornamentation that distinguishes
them from earlier ones; but now and then they contain fabulous
creatures, as the lion-dogs, by which in a few instances they are
entirely replaced.


_Perfect technique of weaving, accuracy of drawing, and subdued rich
colouring are the characteristics of this unusual piece. The knots of
the fine woollen yarn are tied with a precision not frequently seen in
Chinese rugs, and the shortness of nap discloses the faithfulness with
which an artist of no ordinary ability has represented plants and
flowers. Their soft tones stand out in relief against a background now
darkened and enriched by the mellowing influence of time. Moreover, the
motives of the upper and the lower half of the field, even to the
minutest detail, show an exact balance. Many old Chinese rugs are of
uncertain age, but this piece has been attributed, not without reason,
to the Kang-hi period._

  _Loaned by Mr. Nathan Bentz_]

There are also many other well-known types of Keen-lung rugs.
Surrounding the central medallion of some pieces are grouped the Taoist
symbols; emblems of the literati, as chess boards, scrolls, and the
lyre; as well as tripods, flower vases, fans of state, fruits of
abundance, emblems of honours, and symbols of longevity and happiness.
To this class also belong many of the pieces which have neither
medallions nor corner pieces, but have fields completely covered with a
pattern of continuous foliate stems and conventional flowers, repeated
with exact precision of drawing. Likewise, in a few pieces the field is
completely covered with an all-over pattern of small hexagonal or other
geometric figures containing a conventionalised flower, strongly
suggesting Turkoman influences. Some of the “Grain of Rice” rugs, also,
were woven during this period.

The borders are as distinctive as the fields. Only in a few pieces is
the swastika meander seen, but in its place is often the T pattern. The
key patterns represented in Plate N, Figs. 7 and 8 (opp. Page 274), as
well as the dotted line (Fig. 22), are also largely employed. Almost all
of these rugs have two ornamented stripes, and occasionally three, to
which is added an outer margin of plain colour. In a few pieces both
stripes are geometric; but generally one is floral and one geometric, in
which case the wider, that, with very few exceptions, is the floral, is
the inner one. Very rarely the border contains two floral stripes; and
now and then Buddhist emblems and other devices are introduced.

The breadth of artistic conception expressed in designs is accompanied
by a wider scope of colour, in the use of which these rugs may
conveniently be grouped in three sub-classes. The first is the Blue and
White, with ground of ivory or ashy white and designs that have shades
of light or dark blue. The second comprises those in which the ground is
some shade of yellow. Sometimes it has a tinge of lemon, orange, or
apricot. Again it is what is known as dull, golden, mandarin, or
imperial yellow. The overlying designs may contain a different shade of
yellow from that of the field, an ivory white, a blue, or a red. The
third subclass comprises those in which the ground colour is some shade
of red; such as persimmon, terra cotta, crushed strawberry, apricot red,
or a deep salmon pink, which is rare. The overlying designs may be a
shade of blue, ivory white, yellow, gray, and even green. Colours of
both field and border are sometimes the same but are more frequently
complementary. As a whole, the elaborate designs, delicate shading, and
rich colours rank these rugs among the most beautiful products of the
Chinese loom.

The rugs woven during the reigns of Kea-king (1796-1820) and Tao-Kwang
(1821-1850), extending to the middle of last century, repeat with slight
modification the patterns of the preceding period, though there is a
tendency to use larger and coarser designs. The colours, too, are
similar, yet they lack the deep richness that is matured only with the
lapse of great time. Many of these rugs, as well as some woven still
later, before the introduction of aniline dyes and factory processes,
are beautiful; but as a rule the modern pieces lack the refinement of
technique observable only in those produced before the beginning of the
XIX Century.


The study of medallions which occur in fields of Chinese rugs is not
only interesting but is an important aid in determining their age; yet
it should be remembered that approved patterns were often repeated even
after the introduction of more elaborate styles. Many of the oldest
medallions were copied from bronzes or mirror backs, and their drawing
is geometric except as embellished by some conventionalised figures of
the dragon. By a process of evolution these figures, in turn, were
converted into scrolls, which in time were replaced by elaborate leaf
and flower patterns.

In Plate M, Fig. 1 (opp. Page 272), is a “Shou” design of octagonal
shape, copied from an old rug which was probably woven during the early
part of the XVII Century.


Figs. 2, 3 and 4 of Plate M, represent fret-covered medallions, which
also are found in rugs of the same period. The first is probably the
oldest pattern; and the last, to judge by the panel surrounding it, was
apparently copied from a bronze mirror back.

In Plate M, Fig. 5, is a copy of a medallion similar to the one shown in
Plate M, Fig. 2, but with the dragons replaced by frets.

A medallion of greater interest is illustrated in Plate M, Fig. 6. It
shows the evolution of scrolls from dragons, of which the heads alone
betray their origin. Such medallions are found mostly in the earliest

By comparing Fig. 7 of Plate M with the preceding, it is apparent that
its scrolls had a similar origin, but in this one the dragon heads have
entirely disappeared. The design is characteristic of the early Kang-hi

In Plate M, Fig. 8, is represented a medallion that closely resembles
some of the earliest period; but the more accurate drawing and clearer
definition of lines shows that it is a later copy. It is found in late
Kang-hi pieces.

To this period, also, belongs the geometric pattern with swastikas
represented in Plate M, Fig. 9.

Another medallion with frets and dragon heads is shown in Plate M, Fig.
10. The particular rug from which it was copied was probably woven about
the Yung-ching period; but there is little doubt that similar medallions
appeared in older rugs.

In Figs. 11 and 12 of Plate M, are represented two medallions with
foliate designs that were largely employed in the early Keen-lung
period. A comparison of the first with Fig. 13 of Plate M, shows an
interesting step in the evolution of the Chinese drawing.

A very different medallion pattern of the same age is shown in Plate M,
Fig. 14, in which an encircling border consists of cloud-bands.

Also during the Keen-lung time first appeared medallions with accurately
drawn flower designs. One of this period is shown in Plate M, Fig. 15.
Wreath-like borders, such as are seen in this and the preceding one, are
found in XVIII and XIX Century pieces.


The knowledge that certain border stripes antedate others in definite
sequence of time, is another aid in determining the age of Chinese
rugs. As was seen to be the case with medallions, the earliest stripes
were purely geometric. In others, still very old, appeared forms of
conventionalised dragons, which again were replaced by simple scrolls
and these by ornate floral forms. But it should be remembered that
earlier designs were often copied in later rugs, so that the evidence of
age is merely contributory.

Stripes containing the swastika meander were used almost exclusively in
the oldest rugs. Figs. 1, 2, and 3 of Plate N (opp. Page 274), represent
three old forms, which rarely appear in any pieces woven since the
Kang-hi time. The pattern of Plate N, Fig. 4, in which alternate
swastikas are reversed, is also very old.

The usual drawing of the swastika stripe is shown in Plate N, Fig. 5. It
is found largely in Kang-hi rugs, and if used in more recent fabrics, is
often accompanied by a stripe with some other pattern. As illustrated
here, the facing of the swastika is reversed in the middle of the

The shading of Plate N, Fig. 6, which is somewhat similar to Plate N,
Fig. 4, is characteristic of the Keen-lung and subsequent periods.

In Figs. 7, 8, 9, and 10, of Plate N, are Key and T patterns, which are
found in rugs of the Kang-hi and subsequent periods, but rarely in
earlier pieces. When employed in rugs woven later than the middle of the
XVIII Century they are often shaded. These meander and key-patterns are
of great antiquity; and though the drawing is exceedingly simple, it is
supposed that the figures from which they were derived once symbolised
clouds and thunder.

A very interesting stripe derived from dragons is illustrated in Plate
N, Fig. 11. The rectangular frets represent bodies of which
conventionalised heads alone betray their origin. The graceful scroll in
the middle was also probably derived from dragon forms. This stripe is
seen in old Kang-hi rugs.

The rectangular frets and floral forms are combined in an unusual stripe
(Plate N, Fig. 12) that appeared in rugs which were probably woven about
the Yung-ching period. It shows the influence of older traditions on
which are ingrafted the later inspiration.

Still more interesting is a stripe (Plate N, Fig. 13) seen in what are
known as Buddhist rugs of the Keen-lung period. In different parts of
the border appear the Buddhist emblems, the Joo-e, conch, wheel of law,
and knot of destiny, separated by cloud-bands and foliate and floral


The tendency to use more ornate forms in the Keen-lung and later rugs is
shown in Plate N, Figs. 14, 15, and 16, which illustrate three stripes
that with slight modifications are found in large numbers of Chinese
rugs of the last half of the XVIII and the XIX Centuries.

The stripe illustrated in Plate N, Fig. 17, on which are represented
halves of octagonal discs containing conventional flower forms, is found
in some rugs woven as early as the first part of the XVIII Century, as
well as in more subsequent pieces. The central fields of some rugs in
which it is found have geometric Ming patterns, and others have floral
conceits that suggest Persian influences.

In Figs. 18, 19, 20, and 21, of Plate N, are represented simple stripes
found in XVIII Century rugs. The last of these, which is found in
Keen-lung porcelain, shows a marked resemblance to the reciprocal
trefoil so common in Persian pieces.

The simple dotted stripe (Plate N, Fig. 22) was rarely employed before
the middle of the XVIII Century, but has been constantly used since



KILIMS have a special interest apart from their beauty and utility, as
some of them undoubtedly resemble the early fabrics of the Egyptians and
Babylonians from which were evolved the more durable pile carpets. The
different links in this evolution can only be conjectured. Yet it is not
unlikely that such pieces as the nomadic kilims, which occasionally have
little tufts of wool attached for ornament or loose threads of weft
hanging from one side, first suggested the greater durability and warmth
that would be derived from a woven fabric completely covered with tufts
of yarn.

It is also certain that the most delicately woven kilims have likewise
been evolved from cruder forms. In fact, the different steps in this
evolution correspond to three separate styles of weaving still in vogue.
The earliest products which were made subsequent to the primitive
weaving of uncoloured warp and weft were doubtless similar to the simple
fabrics now used to line the under side of saddle bags, and consisted of
a warp and weft of uniformly coloured threads. A much more advanced
style, induced by a desire for ornamentation, was the representation of
patterns which required the use of different coloured threads of weft.
As these threads were never carried beyond the edges of each pattern,
their loose ends were at first allowed to hang at the back, giving an
appearance somewhat similar to what is seen in Soumaks. The third and
most finished style, representing much higher workmanship, was produced
by deftly disposing of the ends of threads of weft so that they should
be concealed and thus permit each surface of the kilim to be exactly the

Each of these kinds of weaving is constantly seen in the East. The first
not only is used as a lining for saddle bags, but is frequently
substituted for them. It is also sometimes used as the only floor
covering, or again is laid as a protection beneath valuable carpets. It
often replaces the heavier felt for tents, and indeed is utilised for
all purposes requiring a strong material like canvas. The second is
found among nomadic weavers, especially those of Asia Minor; who
naturally waste no unnecessary labour in weaving kilims with a delicate
finish, which would be quickly marred by the rough usage that they
receive. The third, which is the more elegant product, is invariably not
only of excellent finish but of carefully drawn patterns. In this
country, the last two are used principally for portières and couch
coverings; but in the Orient they still serve, as they have from the
remotest times, for floor coverings; and because of the custom of
removing the shoes when entering a house, last for a great many years.

Though these three styles represent the principal variations in kilim
weaving, there are a few pieces with embroidered pattern; and
embroidered stitches are sometimes added to represent some simple
design, or as is frequently the case in Shirvans, to make more prominent
the separate horizontal compartments.

When weaving a kilim, the threads of warp are strung as in piled rugs,
and number from six to eighteen to the inch according to the texture.
There are generally about twenty threads of weft to the inch, measured
at the front or back; but in pieces of the finest workmanship, there may
be as many as fifty, and in the crudest only eight or nine. At the sides
of the kilim, the threads of weft encircle the last thread of warp as at
the sides of any pattern; but at the ends, the threads of warp are
braided about a heavier added cord, or else are tied in knots, from
which their loose ends are permitted to hang like tassels.

The patterns are usually geometric; and even when an attempt is made to
copy floral figures, the drawing inclines to the rectilinear. If a
straight line representing the side of a figure is horizontal, or in the
direction of the weft, it will often be several inches in length; but a
straight perpendicular line never exceeds an inch in length. This is
because the threads of weft are never carried from one pattern to
another or to the adjoining field, but are turned back at its defining
edges, so that an opening is left, which would impair the strength of
the fabric if it were of much length. Accordingly, if it is desired to
represent a pattern with perpendicular sides, it is necessary that the
edges be slightly uneven. But here necessity is turned to advantage, as
this unevenness or fringing softens lines that otherwise would be
harsh. Defining the outlines of many figures is yarn of different
colours, which either may be woven like other threads of weft, or when
it serves the purpose of closing the space between adjacent threads of
warp, may be attached by stitches. Borders find slight favour with kilim
weavers, and in most pieces they are entirely wanting or only present at
one end. Even when they completely surround the field, there is
generally some difference in design or colour between the stripes of
side and end. Prayer arches are found in some of the kilims, but their
outlines rarely correspond closely with those of piled rugs.

The colours, by which alone the patterns are distinguished, are largely
responsible for the character of the kilim. Threads of weft of every hue
that is seen in piled rugs are employed in these pieces; yet the
colouring never appears the same, since there are lacking the lustre and
deep wealth of tones due to the length of pile, in which appears an
almost imperceptible gradation from the ends that are exposed to the
light and have incurred the mellowing influence of the elements to the
part which retains more of the original colours and seems darker,
because it is more concealed. Indeed, on account of the lack of pile,
the colours and patterns would seem harsh were it not for the
irregularities of perpendicular and diagonal lines, the devices of
latch-hooks, and other peculiarities that convey to the eye an
impression of blending. Moreover when the designs are large, the effect
of the colour is always severe; but when the field is covered with
innumerable small figures, it is greatly softened.

As kilims are much less durable than rugs that have a pile to protect
the warp and weft, it is not surprising that few of great age remain.
The oldest piece of which we have any knowledge is a fragment obtained
by Dr. M. A. Stein, the archæological explorer, from the ruins near
Khotan, in Eastern Turkestan, of an ancient settlement, which was buried
by sand drifts about the fourth or fifth century _anno domini_. The
weave is almost identical with that of modern kilims, and has about
fourteen threads of warp and sixteen threads of weft to the inch. The
pattern consists of narrow stripes of blue, green, brownish yellow, and
red, containing very small geometric designs. With this one exception,
so peculiarly preserved, there are probably very few over a century old.

[Illustration: PLATE 62. SRINAGAR RUG]

Though kilims are now made in most of the districts where piled carpets
are woven, very few classes are recognised. This is because it is
difficult to distinguish between most of them, and such differences as
exist are with few exceptions unimportant. The best known classes are
the Sehna, Shirvan, Karaman, Kurdish, Turkish, and Merv.

The Sehna kilims are usually of small size, and rarely exceed a breadth
of four and a half feet and a length of seven. They are far superior to
all others in the delicacy of colour, daintiness of design, quality of
material, and character of workmanship. Their patterns, including
border, are identical with those of the piled rugs; and the colours, to
which at a short distance the small figures of the Herati design give
the effect of blending, are the same. As is not the case with other
kilims, the warp is of cotton or linen and there are generally from
fourteen to sixteen threads to the inch. The weft is of wool, and to an
inch there are often nearly fifty threads encircling a thread of warp as
they cross and recross. The old pieces, like the rugs of which they are
true copies, are rapidly becoming scarce. They resemble tapestries and
are unfit for hard usage.

A large percentage of the kilims now sold in this country are Shirvans.
Their fields are divided into a number of parallel horizontal
compartments or bands a foot or more in width separated by narrower
bands. Not infrequently the principal figures of the wide bands are
hexagons surrounding smaller geometric figures; and through the more
narrow bands runs a waving line or a parti-coloured cord. Another
peculiarity, occasionally seen, are the ray-like projections of uniform
colour fringing the edges of the sides. As a rule, there are no borders,
but at each end are two or more narrow bands that give the effect of a
border. In some pieces webs of plain colour extend beyond the bands; and
the ends are fringed with loose threads of warp. The colours are always
pronounced, because of lack of shading, and consist mostly of red, blue,
and ivory. Yellow and green are also used. These kilims are much heavier
than the Sehnas, and also larger, as the average size is about five by
nine feet; and some are even seven by twelve feet.

From the district of Karaman in Southern Asia Minor, such a large number
of kilims were formerly imported into Europe that the general name of
Karamani was applied to all kilims. They are still made there by many of
the tribes of Turkish or Turkoman origin, who wander over the Taurus
mountains, and like all their fabrics are stoutly woven. Their average
size is about four and a half by eight feet. In colours and patterns,
they resemble many of the Kurdish kilims from the districts farther to
the east.

A distinction similar to what exists in the piled rugs of the Kurds, and
dependent on the district in which they are made, is observable in their
kilims, as those which come from the Persian border have carefully drawn
designs, that are generally lacking in others woven in the mountainous
watershed of the Tigris and the Euphrates. Many of these are coarsely
woven, and from the back hang the loose ends of threads of weft, that in
more artistic pieces, are removed. Moreover, in modern pieces the
colours are often crude or even garish. Some of the kilims have large
diamond-shaped figures containing small designs; others have horizontal
bands in which are woven embroidered devices suggestive of the so-called
Bagdad portières; in many are wide spaces without designs; but whatever
the pattern, there is usually a parti-coloured cord running through the
web at the end.

In many parts of Asia Minor are made kilims that are usually classed as
Turkish. They are of large size, and since they are used mostly for
portières or curtains, are divided perpendicularly into equal halves,
that at times are united by stitches. The tribes that make them also
make large numbers of smaller prayer kilims with pointed arches
suggesting the Ghiordes design. Some of them are beautifully woven, yet
the finest workmanship is shown in pieces known as “Kis-kilims” or
girl’s kilims. These are made with the utmost care, since they are
intended as a bride’s gift to her husband; and a sentiment of romance,
and the hope that her skill may weigh favourably in the estimation of
her accomplishments, contribute to influence the weaver. Sometimes even
a lock of hair is added as a charm, or coloured beads as a talisman.

The Christians who live permanently about Oushak, and are, accordingly,
not under the necessity of making such small pieces as can conveniently
be carried by wandering tribes, weave some of the largest kilims. Most
of them are at least six feet in width and many are much wider.

The best known kilims from the Central Asiatic group are known as “Merv
Kilims,” since they are woven by Turkoman tribes who inhabit the desert
near the old capital of Merv. The brilliant colours found in the
products of more Western tribes are entirely wanting, and in their place
are the few subdued, rich tones so characteristic of all Turkoman
weavings. These pieces are stoutly woven, and since the pattern is
represented by diagonal lines, there is no open work. The designs are
largely of diamond-shape, and are arranged in parallel horizontal lines
on a field that is usually surrounded by a border profusely ornamented
with carefully drawn latch-hooks. A heavy embroidered selvage, from
which hang loose threads of warp, often occurs at the ends. These kilims
are noted for their durability, and are usually of large size.

In the city of Dera Ghazi Khan, four miles from the Indus river, are
woven kilims in which warp and weft are of wool, as is not the case with
almost all the rugs of India. They are made by the women in their own
homes and display an individuality which also is rare in Indian textile
fabrics. In a monograph on “Carpet Weaving in the Punjab,” Mr. C.
Latimer says: “The Dera Ghazi Khan rug, which belongs really to the kind
of fabrics known as kilims, is woven in stripes, with designs between
them, and it is interesting to notice that the patterns employed were by
local tradition originally copied from the robes of the Pharaohs of

Though all such Oriental weavings lack the precision of drawing and the
delicacy of minutely varied colour so frequently found in piled rugs;
though they never display high, artistic perception or poetic instinct,
nevertheless some of the oldest pieces with designs suggestive of the
workings of a primitive imagination untrammelled by the conventions of
art, and with a chaste simplicity of colour that lends an atmosphere of
dignity, possess a subtle charm that awakens an intense interest.



THE owner of an Oriental rug will find the pleasure to be derived from
it will be greater if he knows where and by whom it was made. This is
particularly true if it is one of those pieces of which the charm
depends more on its individuality than on the masterly handling of line
and colour. The study of classification, therefore, will well repay the
effort; though unfortunately it is often discouraging, since it involves
a consideration of the characteristics of a hundred different classes,
almost all of which are found to have exceptions to the best known
types. To add to the difficulty, the opinions of dealers in regard to
the less known classes are very often erroneous; and detailed
descriptions, even at the best, are unsatisfactory. Without a long
personal experience in handling rugs, combined with careful study, it is
impossible to become expert; but familiarity with one class makes it
easier by comparison and a process of elimination to distinguish others.

The beginner should first learn to identify each of the six groups. Of
these the Chinese can readily be distinguished by their well-known
patterns, which are found in no other part of the Orient except in the
rugs known as Samarkands, Yarkands, and Kashgars; and the Indian may
generally be recognised by the realism and formal arrangement of their
floral patterns. Relatively few of either group are found in the United
States; and as about ninety per cent of the rugs belong to the other
four groups, they alone will be considered in detail. Leaving out of
consideration, then, the Chinese and Indian rugs, it should be

   (_a_) That, as a rule, rugs from Persia have floral patterns;
   and rugs from Asia Minor, Caucasia, and Central Asia have

   (_b_) That figures with latch-hooks belong principally to rugs
   of the Caucasian group and, to a limited extent, to the rugs
   of the Asia Minor group.


   (_c_) That fields covered with designs of octagonal or diamond
   shape belong to rugs of the Central Asian group.

   (_d_) That about two thirds of the Persian group have cotton
   warp; and the remaining third, as well as the Asia Minor and
   almost all the Caucasian and Central Asian group have woollen

   (_e_) That about one third of the Persian group have one of
   the two threads of warp encircled by a knot doubled under the
   other so as to be hidden at the back; and that this is not the
   case with the remaining two thirds nor with almost all classes
   of other groups.

   (_f_) That, with few exceptions, the Persian rugs have a side
   finish of overcasting; and the other groups have both
   overcasting and selvage.

   (_g_) That the rugs from Persia and Central Asia have both
   light and dark colours which, though rich, are subdued and
   harmonious; that the rugs of Asia Minor and Caucasia have
   colours that are often gaudy and inharmonious; and that the
   rugs of the Central Asian group have dark tones of red, blue,
   and brown.

   (_h_) That all of the rugs of Asia Minor and Caucasia have the
   Ghiordes knot; that the rugs of Central Asia, with rare
   exceptions, have the Sehna knot; that the rugs of Persia with
   woollen warp have the Ghiordes knot; and that those with
   cotton warp have either the Ghiordes or the Sehna knot.

   (_i_) That the few classes of rugs which have very long
   end-webs belong to the Central Asian group. Of the classes
   with moderately long end-webs, several belong to the Central
   Asian and the Asia Minor groups, only two belong to the
   Persian group, and none belongs to the Caucasian group.

Excluding the Indian and Chinese rugs, it follows from the above
statements that:

  (1) A rug is from Persia or Central Asia,—
        If it has a Sehna knot.

  (2) A rug is probably Persian,—
        If the patterns are distinctly floral;
        If the warp is cotton;
        If one of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot is doubled
          under the other.

  (3) A rug is probably from Asia Minor, Caucasia, or Central Asia,—
        If the pattern is geometric;
        If the sides are selvaged.

  (4) A rug is probably from Asia Minor or Caucasia,—
        If the colours are gaudy or inharmonious.

  (5) A rug is probably from Caucasia,—
        If the designs are largely fringed with latch-hooks.

  (6) A rug is probably from Central Asia,—
        If the field is covered with octagons or diamond-shaped designs,
          and has dark tones of red, blue or brown;
        If it has long webs at the ends.

Of these four groups the Persian has the largest number of classes, some
of which can only with difficulty be distinguished from one another.
They may, however, conveniently be divided into the following sub-groups,
depending on the technical peculiarities of the weaving and the material
of the warp, so that the task of learning the class of a particular rug
will be greatly facilitated by first determining to which of these
sub-groups it belongs, and then eliminating the others from

                                                      { Kashan
                                                      { Kermanshah
                                                      { Khorassan
                                  { Sehna Knot (A)    { Kirman
         { One thread of          {                   { Meshed
         { warp to each knot      {                   { Mir Sarabend
         { doubled under and      {                   { Sarouk.
         { hidden at back.        {
         {                        {                   { Gorevan
         {                        {                   { Herat
         {                        { Ghiordes Knot (B) { Herez
         {                                            { Serapi
         {                                            { Tabriz
         {                                            { Feraghan
  Cotton { Each thread of         { Sehna Knot (C)    { Mahal
   Warp  { warp equally prominent {                   { Muskabad
         { at back or             {                   { Royal Sarabend
         { one slightly depressed {
         {                        {                   { Gulistan
         {                        { Ghiordes Knot (D) { Iran
         {                                            { Joshaghan
         {                                            { Luristan
         {                                            { Sultanabad
         {                        { Sehna Knot (E)      Sehna
         { Quincunx effect        {
         { of weft at back.       { Ghiordes Knot (F) { Hamadan
                                                      { Ispahan (modern)

It should be remembered, when studying the foregoing table, that all
classes of rugs are subject to occasional variations in the
technicalities of their weave, as for instance, the Herats may have
woollen warp and Sehna knots; the Tabriz very often have linen warp;
some of the Feraghans, Mahals, Muskabads, and Sehnas have the Ghiordes
knot and some of the Sultanabads have the Sehna knot; the Joshaghans may
have woollen warp; and in modern Ispahans the weft sometimes crosses
twice between two rows of knots.

           { One thread of warp to each knot doubled    (G) { Bijar.
           { under at back                                  { Niris[37]
           {                                                { Karadagh.
  Woolen   {                                                { Suj-Bulak
  Warp,    { Each of the two threads of warp to a knot      { Kurdistan.
  Ghiordes { equally prominent at back, or one slightly (H) { Afshar.
  Knot.    { depressed                                      { Mosul.
           {                                                { Shiraz.[38]
           { Quincunx effect of weft at back            (I) { Karaje.[39]

With reference to size, these rugs may conveniently be divided as

                                                   { Gorevan.
                                                   { Mahal.
  Rugs invariably of carpet size                   { Muskabad.
                                                   { Serapi.
                                                   { Sultanabad

                                                   { Bijar.
                                                   { Herat.
                                                   { Kermanshah.
  Rugs frequently, but not always, of carpet size  { Khorassan.
                                                   { Meshed.
                                                   { Sarabend.
                                                   { Tabriz.

                                                   { Hamadan.
  Rugs frequently seen as runners                  { Karaje.
                                                   { Kurdistan.
                                                   { Mosul.

Of the sub-groups represented on Page 284, “A” includes those that have
the closest and finest woven texture. In this respect the Kashans,
Sarouks, and Kirmans are, in the order named, superior to the others;
and the Kermanshahs are the coarsest and the least evenly woven. In
sub-group “B” the Tabriz are the best woven and have the shortest nap.
The Gorevans and Serapis have several concentric medallions, in which
are designs of archaically drawn leaves, and have generally the
so-called turtle border. The Herats have the typical Herati border. Of
the classes of sub-group “C,” the Royal Sarabends are the closest woven.
The Feraghans are slightly coarser and the Mahals and Muskabads are much
coarser and have longer nap. The Luristans, Joshaghans, and Gulistans
are the best woven of sub-group “D.” At the back of Luristans each half
knot is distinct from the other like a separate bead; and in a few
Joshaghans each half knot is almost as distinct. Both Irans and
Sultanabads are coarsely woven. Comparing sub-groups “E” and “F,” the
weave of Sehnas presents a file-like appearance at the back; and in
Hamadans the weft is of much coarser diameter than in the other two
classes. The Bijars of sub-group “G” are much stouter than the Niris and
have one of the two threads of weft to each knot more completely doubled
under the other. The webs at the ends of the Niris are very much longer
than those of Bijars. Sub-group “H” contains the Kurdistans, Suj-Bulaks
and Mosuls, all of which are woven in territory where for generations
the Kurds have held sway, and show Kurdish characteristics. The Western
Kurdistans may easily be distinguished by their brown colours, nomadic
character, and coarse warp and weft. The Persian Kurdistans are very
stoutly and firmly woven, and usually have one of the two threads of
warp encircled by a knot depressed below the other. The Mosuls have each
of the two threads of warp encircled by a knot equally prominent at the
back; and a characteristic feature is the coloured, crudely spun yarn of
weft, which on account of the size of its diameter stands up as high as
the yarn of the knots at the back. In a typical Suj-Bulak the alignment
of knots at the back appears uneven or serrated. The Karadaghs have
Caucasian characteristics; the Afshars have coarse, wiry wool for the
weft, and threads of warp strung so that each half knot is distinct.

Although the technicalities of weaving are the most reliable evidence
for determining the class to which a rug belongs, the patterns are
important guides. It will be well, therefore, to remember that:

A Persian rug is probably a Shiraz, Karadagh, Karaje, Mosul, Kurdistan,
or Afshar, if the pattern is partly geometric.

If the field has concentric medallions, the rug may be a Kermanshah,
Sarouk, Kashan, Sehna, Gorevan, Herez, Tabriz, Mahal, Muskabad, or

If the field is covered with pear designs, the rug may be a Sarabend,
Burujird, Khorassan, Shiraz, Niris, Iran, Joshaghan, or Luristan.


If the field is covered with small Herati designs, the rug may be a
Feraghan, Sehna, or an Iran.

If the field is covered with small designs of the Guli Hinnai plant, the
rug may be a Feraghan.

If the field is covered with the Mina Khani pattern, the rug may be a
Persian Kurdistan.

A Persian rug is usually a Shiraz, Niris, Mosul, or Kurdistan if the nap
is long.

It is almost invariably either a Shiraz or a Niris if the webs of the
ends are long, and the overcasting of the sides has a barber-pole design
or has short lengths of different colours. The Niris resembles the
Shiraz; but one thread of warp to each knot is more depressed, the ends
generally have longer webs, and the field is more frequently covered
with large pear designs. It is a Shiraz if short tassels or tufts
project at regular intervals from the ends; and it is probably a Niris
if it has a long end-web of different coloured stripes.

It is probably a Karadagh, Gorevan, Serapi, Herez, or Tabriz if the
sides are finished with a selvage.

Many of these classes have features by which they can be distinguished
at once from all others. For instance:

The Sarabend has a field completely covered with pear designs of
moderate size facing in opposite directions in alternate lines; borders
of several stripes, of which one or two are ivory white with an angular
vine from which are suspended mechanically drawn pear designs, and one
or two narrow stripes with reciprocal trefoils. Only two other classes
are similar: the Iran copies, which are always woven more coarsely and
have the Ghiordes knot, and the Burujirds, which are rarely seen.

Most Feraghans have fields that are completely covered with small Herati
or Guli Hinnai designs, and have the turtle pattern in the border. The
only other rugs that are similar are the Iran copies, which have the
Ghiordes knot and are more coarsely woven.

Almost all Hamadans may be distinguished at once by the broad band of
camel’s hair surrounding the border, and the coarse weft crossing only
once between two rows of knots so as to give a quincunx effect at the

Gorevans are invariably of carpet size. They have fields almost covered
with central medallions on which are archaically drawn leaves, and a
broad central border stripe with a large conventionalised turtle
pattern. They have usually the same colour tones, which once seen are
not forgotten. The Serapis are similar to Gorevans but are usually older
and of better colours.

The Kermanshahs have tones of ivory, pink, and light green, that are
softer and lighter than those of almost any other rug. The fields have
concentric medallions with dainty floral forms that are rarely seen in
other classes except the Sarouks and Kashans; and the borders, that
correspond in drawing and colouring with the field, have an outer edging
that is almost invariably of pink, but sometimes dark blue. The drawing
and colours, which are not easily described but quickly learned, at once
distinguish these pieces from all others.

Some Mesheds resemble Kermanshahs, but the nap is more silky, uneven,
and lustrous. The texture at the back is finer.

The rugs of Tabriz, which are usually made in carpet sizes, may be
distinguished by their linen nap hanging in a short fringe at the ends.
They are not likely to be confused with any classes but the Mesheds,
Khorassans, and Kermanshahs; but the nap is shorter, and harsher to the
touch; the knot is Ghiordes, and the drawing more formal.

Almost the only Persian rug that has small, geometric, adventitious
designs and latch-hooks is the Shiraz. It is the only one that has small
tufts of wool projecting from the sides; and with the exception of the
Niris is the only one that, as a rule, has a barber-pole overcasting and
a long web at the ends. It is also one of the most loosely woven.

The Sarouk and Kashan may be distinguished from all others by their
short velvety nap; dark rich colours; fields of graceful foliated stalks
and floral forms resting on concentric medallions; and the fine, firm,
texture of the weave. A carefully drawn design of the running latch-hook
appears in the borders; and the weft is usually some shade of blue. The
Kashans are almost the same as Sarouks but have closer weave and finer
texture. They very rarely come in large sizes.

Muskabads and Mahals are invariably made in large carpet sizes. Their
texture is firm; they are very coarsely woven; and there is great
irregularity in the size of the knots as shown at the back. Of the two,
the Mahals are the better grade.

A large rug with woollen warp and with one thread of warp to each knot
doubled under the other is almost always a Bijar.

Sehnas are always very thin rugs and of small or moderate size. With few
exceptions the field is covered with Herati or pear designs. They can
be identified by the quincunx appearance of the fine cotton weft at the
back and the file-like feeling of the weave.

The only Persian rug that has a side selvage and also shows evidence of
Caucasian influence in the geometric drawing of the patterns is the

The Gozenes may be distinguished from other classes by their dull
colours. In many of them each thread of warp is encircled by the right
half of some knots and the left half of others.

The Asia Minor rugs have so many features in common that they cannot
conveniently be divided into sub-groups. For instance: almost all have a
coloured weft, a coloured web with fringe at the ends, and a selvage at
the sides; all, excepting the Ghiordes and a few modern pieces, have
woollen warp and weft; and all have the Ghiordes knot. To be sure, a
distinction may be made in the length of the nap, since as a rule the
Bergamo, Rhodian, Karaman, Yuruk, and some of the Anatolians have a long
nap; and the remainder usually have a short nap; and also in the
weaving, as in the Bergamo, Ghiordes, Karaman, Kulah, and Ladik, one
thread of warp to each knot is generally depressed, and in the remaining
classes all threads of warp are equally prominent; furthermore,
Anatolians, Bergamos, Karamans, Rhodians, and Koniehs, have rarely more
than three stripes to the border; and Kir-Shehrs, Kulahs, Ladiks, and
Ghiordes have seldom less than five; but these features are not always
constant and pronounced. The patterns, therefore, and those smaller
designs which frequently are peculiar to a single class are of
considerable assistance in distinguishing one from the other. The arch
of the namazliks is also an invaluable feature for identification since
its shape is different in each class as will be seen by reference to
Plates C and D (Pages 61 and 63).

Leaving out of consideration modern pieces, made to meet the demands of
exporting companies, the Bergamo and Rhodian have certain points of
resemblance. As a rule, they are almost square, and have long nap, long
webs with coloured bands at the ends, a side selvage, and coloured weft.
The Rhodian may generally be distinguished by their brighter colours and
their panels, suggesting windows, placed parallel to the length of the
rug. The Bergamos, which are more frequently seen, have rich, deep blue
and red colouring, and more devices to avert the evil eye than any other
Oriental rug.

Two panels, one above the arch and the other below the field, are
almost invariably seen in the Ghiordes prayer rugs and occasionally in
the Kulahs, but rarely in any other classes. The typical pattern of the
central border stripe of Ghiordes prayer rugs, consisting of most
conventionalised leaf and rosette, is not seen in any other rugs; nor is
the pattern of the broad border stripe of the odjaliks and sedjadehs,
consisting of an undulating band covered with small flecks and fringed
with latch-hooks.

The most characteristic features in the pattern of Kulahs are the
numerous narrow fleck-covered bands that occupy the centre of the
border, and the secondary stripe with design like a Chinese device
represented in Plate H, Fig. 10 (opp. Page 194).

The pomegranates at the end of the field, and the Rhodian lilies in the
main stripe of the border, distinguish Ladik prayer rugs from all
others. Figures of vandykes, which are seen in some Anatolians and
Mudjars, are also a constant feature of Ladiks.

A characteristic feature of Koniehs is the row of sprigs with three
triangular-shaped petals that project from the border against the field.

As a rule, the Kir-Shehrs contain in the field a larger amount of
grass-green colour than any other rug.

The narrow border stripe of thumb-like processes that fit one another
like cogs and the mauve or heliotrope colour are important aids in
distinguishing Melez rugs.

On account of their long pile and their patterns of latch-hooks and
other geometric figures, the Yuruks alone of all this group resemble the
Caucasian rugs. They may also be distinguished from other Asia Minor
rugs by the facts that the weft is of coarse, wiry wool, and the threads
of warp are not strung closely together, so that at the back each half
knot appears very distinct from the other.

A similarity prevails in the technique of most Caucasian rugs, as all
have the Ghiordes knot, and almost all have warp and weft of wool, sides
that are selvaged, and ends with a web and loose fringe. Moreover,
classes that are in a measure geographically related show resemblances,
as for instance: the Chichi, Daghestan, Kabistan, and Shirvan, which
have short nap; the Tcherkess, Kazak, and Genghas which have medium to
long nap; and the Soumak, Shemakha, and Kuba, which have a similar
selvage at sides and ends. The only classes in which one thread of warp
to each knot is depressed or doubled under the other are the Karabagh,
Shemakha, and Shusha, from the southeastern part of Caucasia, and the
Lesghian from the northern part.

[Illustration: PLATE O. No. 1, Shah Abbas design. No. 2, Mina Khani
design. No. 3, Guli Hinnai design. No. 4, Herati design. Nos. 5-a, b, c,
d, e, f, Swastikas. Nos. 6-a, b. c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, Pear
designs. No. 7, Cloud-bands. No. 8, Pitcher. No. 9, Motives of Asia
Minor and Armenian rugs. No. 10, Octagonal disc. No. 11, Combs. No. 12,
Motives of Melez rugs. Nos. 13-a, b, c, d, 14, 15, conventionalised
leaf-forms in Asia Minor rugs. Nos. 16-a, b, c, The lotus. No. 17, Knot
of destiny. Nos. 18-a, b, Motives of Daghestans and Kabistans.]

The Soumak with its flat stitch and with ends of yarn hanging loose at
the back is unlike all other rugs. At the sides is a carefully woven
selvage, and next to the nap at the end is a narrow selvage of fine spun
threads. The rugs of Shemakha, woven by some of the same tribes who
dwell nearer the mountains, have similar selvages at the sides of blue
or bluish green, similar ends of a narrow web of “herring-bone” weave
and one or more rows of knots, and a medium long nap of rich blues,
reds, yellows, browns, and greens. The Kuba rugs are almost identical
with them, except that each thread of warp is equally prominent at the
back, whereas in the Shemakhas one thread to each knot is depressed. When
once these selvages, the narrow end-webs of “herring-bone” weave, and
the particular tones of colour characteristic of these rugs have been
carefully observed, they are not forgotten. The well-known Georgian
stripe (Plate J, Fig. 9, opp. Page 228) is rarely found in any but these
three classes.

The Baku rug may be distinguished by its geometric-shaped pear designs,
and stiffly drawn birds. If modern, the tones are dull.

Long, shaggy nap, strong colours, of which red and green are almost
invariably present, and large designs surrounded by numerous small
nomadic figures are the general features of a Kazak. The Tcherkess has a
striking resemblance to it, so that they are constantly mistaken for one
another; but the Tcherkess is generally better woven and the pattern
usually consists of what is known as the “Sunburst” resting on a field
of dull red or a tawny shade. The border is almost invariably of three
stripes, of which the central has the tarantula design, and the two
guards have a reciprocal sawtooth design.

The field of the typical Chichi has an all-over pattern of small
geometric design; and its main border stripe has rosettes separated by
diagonal ribbon-like bars, as shown in Plate I, Fig. 6 (opp. Page 226).

Rugs from the Karabagh district may frequently be recognised by the
Persian influence in the drawing of their patterns.

Genghas may readily be distinguished from other classes of this group by
the fact that the weft crosses more than twice and frequently many
times, between every two rows of knots, which are not appressed, so that
the weft, as it encircles the warp, appears at the back like a narrow
beaded surface.

Daghestans, Kabistans, and Shirvans have so many different patterns that
it is not always easy to distinguish the classes; but it will be some
assistance to remember that the border design of wine cup and serrated
leaf (Plate I, Fig. 1, opp. Page 226) is found in about one half of the
Shirvans, and that the bracket design (Plate J, Fig. 19, opp. Page 228)
is peculiar to Daghestans and Kabistans.


The small Central Asiatic group is not only unlike other groups, but may
naturally be divided into three sub-groups, which are also distinct from
one another and contain well-defined classes, viz.:

   (_a_) Afghan, Royal Bokhara, Princess Bokhara, Tekke, Khiva,
           Yomud, and Beshire.

   (_b_) Samarkand, Kashgar, and Yarkand.

   (_c_) Beluchistan.

In the first sub-group the prevailing colours are dark reds and browns
with minor quantities of blue, green, and ivory. The Afghans are almost
always of large size, and may be recognised at once by the broad web of
the ends and the large octagonal shaped figures placed in contact in
perpendicular rows. The Royal Bokharas are smaller, the end webs are not
so wide, the octagons are never in contact and are separated diagonally
by diamond-shaped figures. The Princess Bokharas and many Tekkes have
the Katchli pattern. The Yomuds resemble the other classes of this
sub-group in colour; but in the fields, diamond designs have entirely
replaced the octagons.

The rugs of sub-group “b” almost always have cotton warp; whereas the
rugs of sub-groups “a” and “c” invariably have woollen or goat’s hair

The Samarkands are somewhat similar in colours and patterns to Chinese
rugs, but may be distinguished by the fact that they almost invariably
have three border stripes, whereas the Chinese usually have only one or
two. The Kashgar and Yarkand also show Chinese influence.

The Beluchistans with brown, blue, green, and claret colours may be
identified at once by their long embroidered webs at each end.

In the determination of the class to which a rug belongs, the pattern
first of all attracts attention; and if it be one peculiar to a single
class, it is an important guide. But in the great majority of cases,
this will not be sufficient. It is, therefore, desirable to observe if
the designs be floral or geometric, if the colours be subdued or
obtrusive, if the knot be Sehna or Ghiordes, if the warp be cotton or
wool. The variations in finish of sides and ends are also an index of
the class. The pattern and these few technical details are the only
characteristics by which most dealers attempt to determine the different
kinds of rugs. But in the case of half of them, such evidence is far
from conclusive. The back should be even more carefully examined than
the front; because here are shown those subtle, but nevertheless
positive distinctions, relating to the manner of tying the knot and the
treatment of warp and weft, which are the most permanent tribal
characteristics of Oriental weaving. It should be noticed, then, if each
thread of warp encircled by the yarn that forms the knot lies in the
same plane parallel with the surface and is equally prominent; or if one
to each knot be depressed below the other, or if it be doubled under the
other so as to be concealed. It should also be noticed if the weft be
coloured or uncoloured, of fine or of coarse diameter; and if a thread
of weft crosses only once or two or more times from side to side between
every two rows of knots. Furthermore, the knots themselves should be
carefully scrutinised to see if each row of them is firmly pressed down
upon the weft, if each knot has a length equal or exceeding its width,
if the yarn of which they are formed is drawn tight against the warp,
and if it is loosely or closely spun. Only by consideration of all these
different points, and sometimes even more, such as the nature of the
colours, the character of wool, and the manner in which it is spun, is
it possible to determine doubtful cases of identification.



AS those who have expert knowledge of the value of Oriental rugs are
exceedingly few, compared with those who admire and wish to own them,
the object of this chapter is to make suggestions regarding a proper
selection, when purchasing, and to point out some of the pitfalls that
beset the inexperienced.

In estimating the value of any rug, three distinct qualities are to be
considered: rarity, artistic beauty, and utility.

Rarity may depend on the age of a rug, the locality where it was woven,
or its type. In determining the age, which as a rule is greatly
exaggerated, a number of facts should be considered. One is the
condition resulting from wear; though at times this is misleading, since
of two pieces, one may have been handled with almost religious
solicitude and the other exposed to the elements and to hard usage.
Moreover, an artificial appearance of natural wear is sometimes
counterfeited. Another is the pattern, since, as has been shown in the
case of antique carpets, the character of drawing changed with
succeeding periods. Even when the patterns of old carpets are copied in
modern pieces, a distinction is usually discernible to a careful
observer. The colours, too, play an important part in determining age;
for not only are some characteristic of different periods, as particular
shades of yellow and green of Chinese rugs and the blue of Persian; but
the mellowing influences of time, acting through the agencies of
exposure and wear, cause effects that cannot be produced by any
artificial process.

Occasionally the time when a rug is made is recorded in Arabic numbers
woven above a word denoting “year.” If they are indistinct on account of
the length of the nap, they may be more clearly read in reverse order at
the back. In the following lines, each of them is represented below the
one in our own notation, to which it corresponds.

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

[Illustration: Arabic numerical symbols]

These numbers represent not the Christian but the Mohammedan year,
which, dating from the time of the Hegira, began about the middle of
July 622, or a little before the actual flight from Medina. It should
also be remembered that the lunar and not the solar year is considered
in Moslem chronology; which, according to our reckoning, gains about one
year in every thirty-three and seven tenths years. To calculate, then,
the year of our time corresponding with the year expressed in the rug,
from the number should be subtracted one thirty-three and seven tenths
part of itself, and then should be added six hundred and twenty-two.
Thus, if the year 1247 was woven in the rug, our corresponding year
would be A. D. 1247 less 37 (or 1210) plus 622, or 1832. When such dates
appear in old rugs, they are generally to be depended on, but in modern
ones they are more likely to be antedated to give the effect of greater

With reference to the time when woven, rugs may conveniently be divided
into three broad classes; Antique rugs or carpets made over two
centuries ago; old rugs made fifty or more years ago; and modern rugs
made since the introduction of aniline dyes, or within the last fifty

The number of antique carpets that exist is undetermined, as it is
impossible to estimate how many remain in Oriental mosques and palaces.
Nor has any complete catalogue been made of those that are owned in
Europe and America. They consist principally of the products of Persia,
Asia Minor, Armenia, and China. Many belong to the museums and the
remainder to sovereigns and wealthy collectors. Like rare porcelains and
old paintings, their value increases with each passing year; and the
prices received for them range according to the fancy and caprice of the
purchaser. They are the most valued and the most costly of all rugs.


The number of rugs over fifty years of age, but not belonging to the
previous class, is very large. A few are sufficiently prized to be
placed in art museums, some belong to collectors, large numbers
embellish the halls and drawing rooms of people of refinement, and
others are yearly brought from the Orient; but dealers and the public
already realise that their numbers are limited. Even now they are
searched for in the remotest corners of every rug-producing country; and
in a few years the last, now cherished as family heirlooms, will have
been exchanged for western gold. Almost all are well woven, though some
are too much worn to be trodden longer under foot. None are treated with
aniline dyes, but the colours mellowed by time are exceptionally good
and frequently contain rare tones characteristic of the first class.
Moreover, large numbers contain emblems of a symbolism still shrouded in
mysteries that increase their fascination. On the whole, this is the
choicest stock from which to choose elegant carpetings for luxurious
homes. When it is considered that rugs of this class are beginning to
disappear from the market, the prices at which they may be purchased are
moderate compared with the prices of more modern pieces.

The great majority of existing Oriental rugs have been woven within the
last fifty years. A few of them, including many of the newest, have
colours that compare favourably with those of older pieces; but a large
number show the effect of aniline dyes. Some woven by nomads or dwellers
in remote villages, without thought of sale, have designs and
workmanship such as have characterised the fabrics of these people for
past generations; but others, which are the products of the work-house
system, though well woven as a rule, lack the charm of spontaneous
individuality. Age alone has little influence in determining the value
of these modern rugs, since they have not yet become rare; yet even in
them the wear of time affects their other qualities. Other things being
equal, they cost less than the old and the antique rugs.

The locality where a rug was woven is also to be considered in
determining its rarity and therefore its value. Of the countless carpets
that once existed in Egypt, of the very early rugs of Caucasia and
Turkestan, not a piece remains; but if one were to be found it would be
almost priceless. The antique carpets of Syria, or of Kirman, Shiraz,
and Tabriz, woven over three centuries ago, are more valuable than
others of equally good workmanship, of which relatively large numbers
remain. So, too, of the rugs classed as old, but falling short of the
venerable age of the real antiques, those which are now difficult to be
obtained on account of their scarcity, are more valuable than those
which are being produced in larger numbers. Rugs such as the Joshaghan,
Tiflis, and many others of sixty or more years of age, are no longer
woven. Modern products from the same districts may adopt the old names,
but they are not the same. Accordingly, it will be only a short time
when they too will disappear from the market. Good examples of such
pieces should therefore receive more careful consideration on the part
of purchasers and collectors, as their value is increasing with each
passing year.

Furthermore, the rarity of an old rug is often independent of its age or
the locality where it was made, and is due to its peculiar type. For
instance, the Ming Rugs of China with silver threads and the so-called
Garden Carpets of Iran represent types rather than localities. Likewise
the Hunting Carpets of Persia, the Holbein Carpets of Asia Minor, and
the Dragon Carpets of Armenia, represent, as far as we know, the textile
craft of no well-defined district of limited area, as is the case of
modern rugs, but rather rare types. Such pieces are valuable, not alone
on account of their age, but also because they represent these rare

A rug is also valued for its artistic beauty. The innumerable rugs which
centuries ago were in daily use soon disappeared, and only those
intended for palaces or temples have been preserved. It is but natural,
then, that the antique carpets representing the highest art of their
time should be not only rare but also beautiful. Yet even in them is
often a distinction that affects their value. Fortunately, very many of
the larger number of rugs of less age, but classed as old, likewise
possess artistic beauty. This chiefly depends on the drawing and the

It will be noticed that almost without exception careful drawing
accompanies workmanship of a high class. This is partly due to the facts
that the more excellent the weave the easier it is to clearly define
patterns; and that on shortness of nap, which as a rule is found in
closely woven rugs, depends accuracy of delineation. The charm of rugs
often depends, also, on the graceful flow of lines, the careful balance
of different parts of patterns, and the proper co-ordination between
border and field. Careful attention should accordingly be given to the
drawing when selecting a rug.

The artistic beauty of Oriental rugs depends still more on the
colouring, since, as has been elsewhere expressed, drawing, which is
intellectual, finds its highest development in the Occident, and
colouring, which is sensuous, finds its highest development in the
Orient. It at once suggests sumptuous luxury. In all of the antique
carpets that remain and in very many rugs over fifty years of age, all
the colours employed in a single piece are in tones of perfect harmony,
and are so placed with reference to one another that the effect is most
agreeable. But in some of the modern pieces, such as are produced in
parts of Asia Minor and Caucasia, are colours which, like discordant
notes of music, grate harshly on the senses. The most pleasing effect is
when colours of border and field are complementary, yet so in harmony as
to accentuate the qualities of each.

There are also colours which, independent of their association, are in
themselves good or bad. The best are found in the antique carpets woven
when the art of the dyer was an honourable profession. The colours are
also very good in still later pieces; but for a century now some of the
finest have not been used, and even the secret of producing them has
been lost. Here and there dyers and weavers cling to early traditions,
so that among modern rugs are many examples of good colouring; but the
most recent pieces, excepting when softened by artificial processes,
often display harsh and garish colours. This distinction is in a measure
due to the fact that old colours were largely produced by vegetable dyes
and the modern are too often produced by aniline. Not infrequently both
vegetable and aniline colours are used in the same piece, and sometimes
the quantity of aniline colour is so small that it is scarcely
objectionable; but as a rule it is best never to purchase a rug that is
so tainted.

One objection to the use of aniline dyes is that by removing some of the
natural oil of the wool they are apt to make it brittle, so that it is
less able to stand wear. Another is that in time some of the dyes, which
have been applied collectively to produce a single colour, will fade or
even disappear, so that the final colour may be a most undesirable shade
not in harmony with those that surround it. If the fibres are brittle
and become harsher to the touch when wet with water, it is an indication
that aniline dyes have been used. Another test is the application of
weak vegetable acids, which will make the colour spread if produced by
aniline dyes, but are not likely to affect it if produced by vegetable
dyes. Many native weavers can distinguish by placing the wool in their
mouths, when they experience a sweet or bitter taste, according as
vegetable or aniline dyes have been used. It is a mistake, however, to
assume that the dyes are aniline because the wool has a brighter colour
at the surface of the nap than at the foundation; or because the colour
spreads when wet with water; since in time even some of the vegetable
colours will fade; and when fresh they will run during the first washing
in water, but afterwards they are little affected either by water or
weak acids.

Even when the same colours and the same kind of dyes were used, there is
a marked distinction in the appearance of old and of recently woven
rugs, which is due to wear as well as exposure to sun and weather. The
effect of time, imperceptible at first, is shown in rich tones of
remarkable softness and beauty, that add greatly to the value of a rug.
It accordingly happens that artificial processes are adopted to create
as far as possible the same results without the lapse of time. Some of
these are as novel as were the efforts of the distinguished viceroy of
King-te Chin, in the reign of Kang-hi, to produce antique
porcelains.[40] Henry Savage Landor says[41] that “to manufacture
‘Antique Carpets’ is one of the most lucrative branches of modern
Persian carpet making. The new carpets are spread in the bazar in the
middle of the street, where it is most crowded, and trampled upon for
days or weeks, according to the days required, foot passengers and their
donkeys, mules and camels making a point of treading on them in order to
‘add to age’ in the manufacturer’s goods. When sufficiently worn down
the carpet is removed, brushed, and ordinarily sold for double or treble
the actual price, owing to its antiquity.”


_This large Chinese carpet represents some of the best workmanship of
the Keen-lung period. In it are shown the graceful drawing of leaf,
fruit, flower, and butterfly, and the dainty colouring of blue, yellow,
brown, and apricot on a field of ivory that are so characteristic of
this time. The usual balance of designs throughout the field is
maintained with precision; but, as is not always the case, different
motives occupy corresponding positions. Thus a cluster of leaves and
fruit may be balanced with a cluster of leaves and flowers. The
conventional drawing of the corners and the somewhat formal panel that
surrounds the central medallion give to the pattern strength of
character while they detract nothing from its beauty._

  _Loaned by Mr. Nathan Bentz_]

Whatever may be their character, the methods employed to give softened
effects to the colours are known as “washing.” Most of those in vogue in
the Orient, such as washing with lime water, do little real injury. In
this country to artificially mellow the colours has become a regular
business of firms, who guard the secret of their different methods. Some
use ammonia, borax, and soap, which also do very little injury to the
rug. Others use chloride of lime, boracic acid, vinegar, or oxalic acid,
that remove some of the natural oils of the wool and accordingly impair
its qualities for wear. In fact, pieces are occasionally injured to the
extent that the wool has become brittle and may readily be plucked out.
Nevertheless, it does not necessarily follow that all rugs washed with
an acid solution have been seriously injured; but the colours never have
the same richness as those which have been softened by natural processes
operating for a long period of years. To be sure, rugs that have been
washed are often more attractive than they were in their raw colours;
but the older, more beautiful rugs with genuine tones mellowed by time
are always to be preferred. Over ninety per cent of the Kermanshahs,
Sarouks, Kashans, Tabriz, Muskabads, Mahals, and Gorevans, and a large
percentage of all other modern rugs sold in this country, have been
treated by some artificial process to soften their colours or give them
the appearance of age. It is generally necessary, when selecting a large
rug for a floor covering, to accept a washed piece; but when a smaller
rug or a runner will meet the requirements, it is preferable to choose
the older unwashed piece, which, as a rule, is more beautiful and costs
but little more. In the case of most pieces, the tones of colour are
sufficient to enable one who is experienced to distinguish between those
that are artificially aged and those that are not. In the case of
others, a simple test is to rub them thoroughly with a wet rag; when, if
acid or chloride of lime has been used, it can generally be detected by
the odour.

The artistic beauty of a rug also depends somewhat on the fineness of
the nap; as the soft, floccy fibres of some wools acquire a velvety
appearance, or give to the colours a sheen and a lustre compared with
which other rugs look harsh and coarse. For instance, the rugs of Shiraz
and Meshed, the Beluchistans, and many Bokharas are noted for the lustre
of their colours; but on the other hand many of the rugs of Asia Minor
and Caucasia have colours that are without lustre, and the rugs of India
which are made of dead or “Chunam” wool, seem lifeless.

When selecting any rug, then, the purchaser should carefully observe if
the patterns are well drawn and their different parts show a proper
balance. He should observe if the colour tones are harmonious with one
another, if each colour in itself is good, and if they have been
softened by natural processes acting for a long time. And he should
notice if the wool is coarse, dead, and lustreless, or if it has a sheen
and glint in the light of day; for these are the qualities that make up
the artistic beauty of a rug.

The utility to be derived from rugs that properly belong to museums and
collectors receives small consideration, though even with them the more
perfect their condition the more valuable they are. But in case of the
great majority of rugs, which are intended for use as well as for
ornament, their utility is an important consideration to the purchaser.
Rugs that have warp and weft of strong yarn and a close firm texture,
will wear better than others. Also, such rugs as Bijars, in which one
thread of warp to each knot is doubled under the other, will be found to
wear better than such rugs as Mosuls which have each thread of warp
equally prominent at the back. For durability, long nap is also to be
preferred to short, since it protects the foundations of the knots from
wearing and becoming loose.

Before purchasing an old rug, it should be spread on the floor to see if
it lies flat and if its shape is regular. It should be examined by
daylight and not by electric light, which gives a false impression of
colour and sheen. It should be held up with the back turned to the
purchaser, and carefully examined for weak spots through which the light
may pass; since, when so held, many pieces which seem in good condition
when lying on the floor, resemble a sieve. The foundation threads should
also be carefully inspected, as sometimes they rot and will tear with
slight tension. Moreover, as the selvage or overcasting of the sides and
the webs of the ends are intended primarily not for ornament but for
protection, it should be noted if they are in good condition. Sometimes
the webs of the ends are entirely gone, so that continual fraying of the
nap is prevented with difficulty. Sometimes the selvage or overcasting
of the sides is broken and some of the threads of warp are injured. Or
the sides may be well protected by a stout overcasting; but on
examination it will be seen that it is not the original finishing, and
that some of the border has disappeared. Again, it may have been
overcast too tightly, so that the sides curl and turn under, and thus
expose the border to injury when trodden on. Careful examination will
often reveal surprises. In many old rugs the field is full of rents,
that have been sewn together; in others entire pieces have been removed,
so that they are no longer of their original length; or parts of the
border are gone, or even the whole of it has been replaced by the
border of another rug; yet all so deftly done that the changes are
scarcely noticeable.

Nevertheless, old pieces, if otherwise meritorious, are not to be
discarded on account of a few imperfections, since what can be
accomplished in the hands of a careful repairer is remarkable. Broken
threads of warp and weft can be mended; missing knots can be replaced
with others of similar yarn; crooked pieces can be straightened by
loosening here and stretching there; borders that curl can be flattened
by removing the yarn and overcasting again more carefully. In fact, if
the nap be not so worn that the foundation of warp and weft is exposed,
it is far better to choose an old rug with some rents than a new one
with garish aniline dyes. Nor should a piece be slighted, because the
brownish black areas of wool dyed with iron pyrites are worn low; since
often the most beautiful effects are obtained by a surface of brighter
colours standing out in relief, on account of the worn blackish nap that
surrounds it. Now and then a bargain can be had by buying a rug which,
because of some imperfection that is not serious, has been passed by;
and now and then a piece reeking with dirt has proved, when properly
cleansed, to be a gem.

The foundation, consisting of the warp and weft, receives but little
consideration from purchasers; yet it is one of the most important
indices of the quality of a rug, and its strength is one of the most
necessary conditions for utility. The warp is best observed at the ends.
In most Chinese and Indian rugs and in some of the Persian, it is of
cotton; in others it is of wool or goat’s hair. In the Chinese rugs the
diameter of the threads of warp is much smaller than the diameter of the
threads of the weft, and has little strength, but in almost all other
rugs it is at least as large and as stout. The weft may readily be
observed at the back. In very many of the best rugs, it consists of fine
spun wool; but in many modern ones, it is of coarse wool or cotton. The
number of knots to the square inch does not of itself demonstrate the
quality of texture, since a rug may have only a few knots of coarse
diameter and be firmly woven, or it may have many knots of fine diameter
and be loosely woven; but in the same class the better rug has generally
more knots than a poorer one. When selecting a rug, then, the back
should be most carefully observed; for here may be seen if the yarn that
forms the knots is well spun, if the knots themselves are drawn tight
and well pressed down, and if the threads of weft are carefully
inserted and have a texture that indicates fine workmanship. Almost
invariably it will be found that if the back of a rug shows good
material, and has an appearance of firmness and skilful, painstaking
weaving, the front will correspond with good colours and careful

The value of antique carpets, which depends to some extent on their
size, and to a much greater extent on their rarity and character, is
constantly increasing; for the reason that their number is limited and
each year they are more highly appreciated. It is, therefore, impossible
to affix even approximate prices; but the sums paid at the Yerkes sale
in 1910, when some thirty pieces were sold at auction for an average of
about $9,400, will serve as a guide. The following are some of the
pieces sold and the prices realised:

  Carpet, size 7 feet 4 inches by 5 feet 4 inches, attributed
    to Western Persia, at end of XVI Century, and purchased by
    the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N. Y.                          $5,600

  Persian carpet, XVI Century, described on page 86                 5,600

  Polish silk carpet, XVI Century, size 6 feet 6 inches by 4 feet
    7 inches                                                        4,700

  Polish silk carpet, XVI Century, size 6 feet 6 inches by 4 feet
    7 inches                                                        3,500

  Polish silk carpet, XVI Century, size 6 feet 11 inches by 4 feet
    10 inches                                                      12,300

  Silk carpet, XVI Century, size 7 feet 2½ inches by 6 feet
    5 inches, stated to have belonged to the Ardebil Mosque        35,500

  Moorish carpet, XVI Century, size 10 feet 11 inches by 5 feet
    10 inches, stated to have belonged to the Ardebil Mosque and
    purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, N. Y.             15,200

  Hispano Moresque Mosque carpet, size 34 feet 5 inches by 16 feet
    8 inches, flat stitch                                           8,600

  Carpet attributed to Western Iran, size 16 feet 4 inches
    by 11 feet 2 inches, and purchased by the Metropolitan Museum
    of Art, N. Y.                                                  19,600

  Carpet similar to the Mosque carpet of Ardebil, XVI Century,
    size 23 feet 11 inches by 13 feet 5 inches                     27,000

The value of rugs over fifty years of age but not sufficiently old to
belong to the antique class also depends as much on the technique of
weave, drawing, colouring, and rarity as on the size; yet even this must
be taken into consideration. In proportion to their size the most
expensive of these rugs are the Kirmans, Sehnas, and Niris from Persia;
the Ghiordes and Ladiks from Asia Minor; the Daghestans and Kabistans
from Caucasia; and the Royal Bokharas and Yomuds from Central Asia.
Considering both utility and attractiveness the least expensive are
probably the Sarabends and Mosuls from the Persian group, the Yuruks
from Asia Minor, Kazaks and Tcherkess from Caucasia, and Afghans and
Beluchistans from Central Asia. As is the case with antique carpets, the
prices of all old rugs in good condition are steadily advancing.

There is likewise a tendency for the prices of modern rugs to increase
with each year, since on account of the gradual opening of Oriental
countries to the markets of the world, and the greater demand for rugs,
the wages of weavers are increasing. Some of them, as the Tabriz,
Gorevans, Kermanshahs, Muskabads, Mahals, Sarouks, and Kashans, are now
made almost exclusively under the direction of the work-house system,
and are sold at prices that fluctuate but slightly. But in a short time
the prices of all of them will doubtless be higher.

When a rug of carpet size is required, the Kermanshahs are generally
preferred on account of their soft colouring and refined patterns, that
harmonise with the furnishings of most reception rooms. Less expensive
and more showy are the Gorevans, which are suitable for halls or dining
rooms. In the Afghans, which are splendid rugs for a den, are combined
durability with a moderate price. Within recent years some of the Indian
rugs, as the Amritsars and Lahores, have been growing in favour, as they
not only have good colours, artistic patterns, and exceedingly good
texture, but are reasonable in price. Of smaller rugs required both for
ornament and use, the Shiraz, Feraghan, Mosul, Bergamo, Tcherkess,
Bokhara, and Beluchistan are desirable.

As is the case with other works of art, so much deception can be
practised in the sale of rugs that a purchaser cannot use too much
circumspection. Sometimes through ignorance or with intention, a dealer
will declare that the wool of a rug which has been coloured with aniline
dyes has been coloured with vegetable dyes only; that a rug washed with
acid has matured naturally; that a new rug which has been artificially
worn almost to the knot is an antique; or that a particular rug belongs
to the class desired, as where a Shirvan is offered for a Shiraz or a
Bijar for a Bergamo, which ordinarily are worth much more. It is,
accordingly, discreet to buy only of such firms as have a reputation
which is above reproach; and if for any reason it is difficult to learn
the standing of a firm, the purchaser would do well to make an effort to
test its reliability by inquiring about the qualities of some class of
rugs with which he is familiar before purchasing others; and if there
appears to be any intention to deceive, he should at once look
elsewhere. In any event, he should take a guarantee that the rug
purchased is as represented. Firms that have gained an honourable
reputation by honest dealing deserve the patronage of the public, and
will always be found ready to make restitution if any mistake has been

At times, the best rugs may be bought at auctions and at the fairest
prices. Auctions such as the Yerkes, where estates are being closed or
where firms are dissolved, occasionally occur, when every opportunity is
given the purchaser to thoroughly examine in advance pieces which are
sold without reservation to the highest bidder. On such occasions, rare
pieces are sometimes bought at very moderate prices. But as a rule,
unless the purchaser is a good judge and has previously carefully
examined a coveted piece in broad daylight, it is better not to buy at
auctions. During the sale it is impossible to properly examine a rug.
The glare of electric light thrown upon it gives a too favourable
impression of its beauty. The competitive bids of other real or
fictitious purchasers and the words of the auctioneer too often lead
beyond the dictates of good judgment. At such times one would do well to
remember the old words _caveat emptor_.


[1] The Yerkes sale.

[2] Stewart Dix, in “Arts of Old Japan.”

[3] The influence of the physical aspects of a country on its art as
expressed in architecture is nowhere more clearly shown than in Egypt,
and there is little doubt that, likewise, the character of the native
rugs was influenced by the spirit of the sluggish Nile and the boundless
desert wastes. But as Egypt long ago ceased to be a rug-producing
country, and none of its ancient rugs remain, it will only be briefly
referred to in this work, though symbolic designs which had their origin
there during the Caliphate or even earlier were adopted by foreign
weavers and occasionally appear with modified form in modern rugs.

[4] It is said that he carried Persian weavers as captives to Asia Minor
and Constantinople.

[5] This is a product of flowers of the genus _Delphinum_ that grows in
the Himalayas. It is also obtained as a powder from Afghanistan.

[6] In a few rare instances a knot is tied to four threads of warp.

[7] Most Sehna knots are right-hand knots, but the Sehna knots of a
large proportion of Khorassan rugs are left-hand knots.

[8] As far as the writer is aware, no one has hitherto called attention
to the many precise distinctions there are in weaving, and to the fact
that each class of rugs follows a distinct type of its own. For this
reason this branch of the subject is treated more fully than would
otherwise be necessary.

[9] A few of the weavers about Gozene in Asia Minor make rugs with a
double foundation, in which a single thread of coarse weft crosses twice
between parallel rows of threads of warp. Only rarely is this method
followed in other districts.

[10] Sir George Birdwood has made the statement that “A deep and
complicate symbolism, originating in Babylonia and possibly in India,
pervades every denomination of Oriental carpet. Thus the carpet itself
prefigures space and eternity, and the general pattern or filling, as it
is technically termed, the fleeting, finite universe of animated beauty.
Every colour has its significance; and the design, whether mythological
or natural, human, bestial, or floral, has its hidden meaning. Even the
representatives of men hunting wild beasts have their special
indications. So have the natural flowers of Persia their symbolism,
wherever they are introduced, generally following that of their colours.
The very irregularities either in drawing or colouring, to be observed
in almost every Oriental carpet, and invariably in Turkoman carpets, are
seldom accidental, the usual deliberate intention being to avert the
evil eye and insure good luck.”

[11] The equivalent of 106 feet square.

[12] See his work, “The Holy Carpet of the Mosque at Ardebil.”

[13] Ismael reigned, 1502-1524; Tamasp reigned, 1524-1576.

[14] 1586-1628.

[15] These will be considered in a later chapter.

[16] This group includes both antique and modern rugs.

[17] Robert Kerr Porter, a well-known traveller, stated that the floor
of the audience hall of the governor at Tabriz, whom he visited in 1818,
“was entirely overspread with Herat carpets, those of that manufacture
being the richest that can be made.”

[18] By “Type Characteristics” is meant the characteristics of such
types of the class as are most frequently seen. There are exceptions to
these types.

[19] As this is the case with most rugs, only the exceptions to this
feature will be noticed in the type characteristics of other classes.

[20] Ibn Batutah.

[21] Of modern Ispahans.

[22] “Burlington Magazine,” December, 1909.

[23] In “Industrial Arts of India.”

[24] Sidney Churchill in the Imperial Vienna Book says that “the dyes of
Sultanabad have perhaps the most extensive colour scheme in Persia.”

[25] “Industrial Arts of India.”

[26] Mrs. Elizabeth Bishop in “Journeys in Persia and Kurdistan.”

[27] Encyclopedia Britannica.

[28] It is also to be noted that within the last few years large numbers
of pieces bearing resemblance to old Oriental rugs have been woven about

[29] One of the most interesting is at Sivas, where are the remains of a
most beautiful Seljuk gateway, with architectural lines that might well
have been taken for a weaver’s model. As in many prayer rugs, the
engaged columns support a high arch over which a panel rests above a
figured spandrel. The outlines of each of these parts suggest most
forcibly the drawing of the prayer rug, and the resemblance is carried
even further; for corresponding with the border stripes is the chiselled
masonry that once rested above the panel and still extends to the foot
of the entrance at each side of the arch.

[30] One of these is represented in Dr. Bode’s “Knupfteppiche,” where it
appears as a secondary stripe.

[31] An intermediate pattern suggested by each is found in an old Asia
Minor piece owned by Dr. Bode.

[32] A. Bogolubow, in his excellent work “Tapis de l’Asie Centrale,”
divides the Transcaspian Turkomans into two principal groups, the Salors
and Yomuds, each of which includes sub-groups. These are again
divisible into many tribes, almost all of whom weave. As their rugs,
though resembling one another, show different characteristics, they
might properly be separated into numerous classes; but since only a few
of them are known in this country, they alone will be described.

[33] “Desert of Red Sands.”

[34] A tent in which an average of five people live.

[35] In “Industrial Arts of India.”

[36] Dr. Birdwood.

[37] Sometimes Sehna knot.

[38] Sometimes one thread of warp to each knot is doubled under the

[39] Rarely Iran, Feraghan, Mosul, and Kurdistan.

[40] It is stated that in the short space of a few weeks he created
valuable antique porcelains to present to his noble friends by placing
recent copies of old specimens in a vessel containing very greasy soup,
where they were duly boiled for a month, and after that placing them in
the “foulest drain of the neighbourhood,” where they remained until

[41] In “Across Coveted Lands, 1903.”

[42] All references of an unimportant character are indicated by the
page number only.



  Abbas, Shah, 88, 89, 169, 211;
    pattern named after, 105;
    sent artisans to India, 111;
    rug industry declined after death of, 112.

  Abraham, 23, 31.

  Acacia used as a dye, 40, 41.

  Accadians, 23.

  Adighies, 209.

  Afghan rugs, 293, 304, 305;
    geometric designs of, 62;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 53, 56, 57, 235.
    Rugs described, 243, 244, 245;
    border stripes, 251.

  Afghan tribes, 90.

  Afghanistan, 41, 103, 233, 243, 244;
    camel’s wool of, 82.

  Afshar rugs, 100, 286;
    technicalities in weave of, 51.
    Rugs described, 155.

  Aga Mohammed Khan pillaged Kirman, 113.

  Agamemnon, 166.

  Agra, 255, 257.

  Agra rugs described, 257.

  Akbar, Shah, 28;
    received assistance from Shah Abbas, 29;
    established rug weaving at Lahore, 94;
    imported Persian weavers, 253;
    carpet factory of, 256.

  Ak-Hissar, 175.

  Ak-Hissar rugs, 101.
    Rugs described, 175, 176.

  Ak-kal, oasis of, 238.

  Albana, 204.

  Alexander the Great, 169, 181, 246;
    destroyed Shiraz, 115;
    built walls at Derbend, 204.

  Alhambra, 25.

  Ali Riza, Imam, 110.

  Allahabad, 258.

  Allahabad rugs described, 258.

  Altai Mts., 29;
    original home of the Turks, 26.

  Altman, Benjamin, 85.

  Alum, used as a mordant, 40, 41.

  Amritsar, 255, 258.

  Amritsar rugs, 101, 257, 305.
    Rugs described, 255.

  Amu Daria. _See_ Oxus river.

  Anatolia, 163, 182;
    the “Land of the Rising Sun,” 187.

  Anatolian rugs, 101, 176, 190, 289, 290;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63.
    Rugs described, 187, 188, 189;
    border stripes, 195.

  Angora, 27, 185, 187;
    goat’s wool, 32.

  Anilines. _See_ Dyes.

  Animal carpets, 86, 87.

  Anjuman Industrial Art School, 259.

  Anoschar, 76.

  Anti-Taurus Mts., 140, 187, 190.

  Arabia, 24, 29, 32.

  Arabic features in rugs, 85;
    notation, 296;
    symbolism in Western Kurdistan rugs, 141.

  Arabs, in Persia, 103;
    overran Turkestan, 234.

  Ararat, Mt., 103, 219.

  Aras river, 151, 157, 224.

  Ardebil, Persian capital under Ismael, 28;
    mosque of, 82, 127.

  Ardebil carpet, 15;
    described, 83, 84.

  Ardelan district, 100, 129, 133, 153.

  Armenia, 209;
    origin of some Caucasian border stripes of, 226, 228, 229.

  Armenian rugs, 91, 170, 209, 220;
    designs derived from, 64, 65, 67, 209, 214, 215.
    Rugs described, 91.

  Armenians in Persia, 103;
    in Mosul, 103.

  Artaxerxes, 103.

  Aryan races, in India, 28;
    in Persia, 103;
    in Caucasia, 197;
    in Turkestan, 234;
    floral ornamentation employed by, 62.

  Asburg used as a dye, 41.

  Astrabad, 241.

  Astrakan, market for Bokharas, 235;
    for caravans from Khiva, 240.

  Auctions, 306.

  Ayyampet, 259.

  Azerbijan province, 26, 145, 147, 148, 149, 153.


  Baber, Shah, 28.

  Babylon, 23, 24, 74, 102, 103.

  Bagdad, 81, 138, 152;
    carpets covering the floors of, 25;
    captured by Tartars, 27,
    by Solyman the Magnificent, 28.

  Bajazet, defeated by Tamerlane, 27;
    Karaman subject to, 188.

  Bakshis rugs described, 148.

  Baku, 210, 214.

  Baku rugs, 101, 292;
    pear design in, 70, 129, 153, 198, 202.
    Rugs described, 210, 211, 212;
    border stripes, 229.

  Bangalore, 259, 261.

  Bangalore rugs, 101, 259.
    Rugs described, 261.

  Barbarossa, Frederic, 181.

  Bardini, Stefano, 85.

  Bastard teak used as a dye, 39.

  Bedouins, 103.

  Belshazzar, 24.

  Beluches, in Kirman, 113;
    untamed tribes of, 248.

  Beluchistan, 233.

  Beluchistan rugs, 205, 234, 239, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 53, 56, 57;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    geometric designs in, 62;
    S design in, 64;
    zigzag line in, 66;
    reciprocal trefoil in, 160, 230.
    Rugs described, 248, 249;
    border stripes, 251.

  Beni-Hassan, tombs of, 74.

  Bergamo rugs, 101, 289, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 50, 52, 53, 54, 57;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    prevailing colour tone of, 178.
    Rugs described, 166, 167, 168;
    border stripes, 193.

  Berlin gallery, 92.

  Beshire rugs, 101, 233, 293;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    S design in, 65;
    zigzag line in, 66.
    Rugs described, 243;
    border stripes, 251.

  Bibikabad, town of, 154.

  Bibikabad rugs described, 155.

  Bijar, 129, 136.

  Bijar rugs, 100, 153, 256, 286, 288, 302, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 52;
    compared with Persian-Kurdistans and Mosuls, 143.
    Rugs described, 136, 137;
    border stripes, 157, 159, 160.

  Birbul’s blue used as a dye, 40.

  Bird figures in rugs. _See_ Designs.

  Birdwood, Sir George, cited, 62, 70, 94, 122, 138;
    quoted, 59, 241, 253, 258, 259, 260.

  Birjand, 108.

  Bishop, Mrs. I. B., quoted, 138.

  Bode, Dr. Wm., cited, 79, 227, 228.

  Bogolubow, A., cited, 233.

  Böhler, J., cited, 79.

  Bokhara, 100, 110, 245;
    captured by Genghis Khan, 26;
    the “Noble,” 236.

  Bokhara rugs, 100, 243, 305;
    goat’s hair in, 32;
    technicalities in weave of, 50, 52, 53.

  Bokhara, Princess, rugs, 101, 233, 235, 293;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61.
    Rugs described, 237, 238;
    border stripes, 250, 251.

  Bokhara, Royal, rugs, 101, 103, 233, 241, 242, 243, 244, 293, 304;
    compared with Princess, 237;
    the arch compared with that of Tekkes, 239.
    Rugs described, 235, 236;
    border stripes, 250, 251.

  Border stripes, defined, 59;
    Persian, described, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160;
    Asia Minor, described, 192, 193, 194, 195;
    Caucasian, described, 225, 226, 227, 228, 229, 230, 231;
    Central Asiatic, described, 250, 251;
    Chinese, described, 273, 274, 275.

  Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 94.

  Brahoes, 248.

  British Museum, 82.

  Broussa, 181.
    Rugs described, 181.

  Buckthorns used as a dye, 39.

  Buddhism, influence on Asiatic art, 16;
    on symbolism, 58;
    the lotus an emblem of, 69.

  Buddhist emblems, 271, 274.

  Burujird, 131.

  Burujird rugs described, 131.

  Butea fondosa used as a dye, 39.

  Butti lac used as a dye, 39.


  Cæsarea. _See_ Kaisariyeh.

  Caïcus valley, 166.

  Cairo, Caliphs in, 25;
    Mecca rugs sold in, 118.

  Caliphate, 20, 76.

  Caliphs, 24, 25, 77, 90, 91, 115;
    prayer rugs in time of, 85;
    Ispahan under, 111;
    Kirman rugs in palaces of, 113;
    Tabriz rugs known in days of, 145.

  Caliph Hisham, carpet of, 76.

  Camel’s hair. _See_ Wool.

  Carduchis, 140.

  Caria. _See_ Melez.

  Chaldees, 23;
    symbolism derived from, 66.

  Chardin cited, 113.

  Charles Martel, 25.

  Chehel Sutoon, enormous carpet of, 112.

  Che-Hwang-te, 26.

  Chichi rugs, 100, 290, 292;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    Kazaks contrasted with, 220.
    Rugs described, 207, 208;
    border stripes, 226, 231.

  Chinese fret, 67, 165;
    influence, 293;
    medallions, 272, 273.

  Chosroes I, “Spring of Chosroes” carpet made for, 76.

  Chunam wool, 261, 301.

  Churchill, Sidney, A. T., quoted, 131.

  Cinnabar used as a dye, 40, 41.

  Circassians. _See_ Tcherkess.

  Clark, Sir Purdon, cited, 112.

  Clotilde Clam-Gallas, Countess, cited, 80.

  Coccus cacti used as a dye, 38.

  Coccus ilicus used as a dye, 38.

  Coccus lacca used as a dye, 38.

  Cochineal used as a dye, 38.

  Cochran, Wm. Alexander Smith, 86.

  Coconada, 259.

  Colour, the artistic value of, 18;
    the symbolism of, 59, 72.

  Cone design. _See_ Designs.

  Constantinople, 27, 98, 99, 118, 181, 197, 209;
    Persian weavers taken to, 28;
    silk carpets sent to Sultan of, 87.

  Conventions in art, 16.

  Cordova, 25.

  Cossacks, 218, 219.

  Cotton, used in weaving 30;
    mercerized, 30.

  Cow’s hair used in weaving, 30, 33.

  Crocus used as a dye, 39.

  Crœsus, 163.

  Crown jewel design. _See_ Designs.

  Ctesiphon, 76, 102, 103.

  Cufic lettering, in Altman carpet, 85;
    in borders of Asia Minor and Caucasian rugs, 92, 166, 202, 229;
    reputed inventor of, 183.

  Cupressus sempervirens used as a dye, 41.

  Curcuma used as a dye, 38.

  Cyrus, 24, 115, 181; Turkestan overrun by, 234.


  Daghestan, 198, 206, 214.

  Daghestan rugs, 205, 212, 213, 216, 290, 292, 293, 304;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 54;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    effulgent stars in, 91;
    Cufic borders of, 92;
    Bergamo prayer arch compared with that of, 167;
    weave of Kabistans compared with that of, 201;
    designs in, 211;
    colour scheme of Shirvans compared with that of, 214;
    mosaic drawing of, 220.
    Rugs described, 198, 199, 200;
    border stripes, 226, 227, 228, 229, 230.

  Daghestan, Royal, 216.

  Damascus, 17;
    antique carpets of, 95;
    Mecca rugs sold in, 118.

  Dari, 211, 257.

  Darius, 215.

  Dekkan, rugs woven in interior of, 259.

  Delhi, 28, 110.

  Demirdji, 164, 176.

  Demirdji rugs described, 176.

  Deodorus, 74.

  Dera Ghazi Khan, 280; Kilims, 281.

  Derbend, 199, 204.

  Derbend rugs described, 204, 205;
    border stripes, 230.

  Designs, geometric, 62, 64, 185;
    floral, 62, 64, 68, 185;
    almond, 70;
    animal, 89, 83, 91, 112, 114, 126, 137, 165, 200, 211, 213, 225, 248;
    antilope, 72;
    arabesques, 71, 79, 81, 83, 94, 104, 156, 175;
    barber-pole, 117, 118, 119, 153, 182, 200, 215, 229, 242, 246, 251;
    bat, 71, 266;
    birds, 71, 87, 91, 119, 114, 137, 165, 229, 246, 270, 292;
    bird of paradise, 71;
    butterfly, 71, 246, 266, 269, 270;
    camel, 72;
    chessboard, 271;
    chrysanthemum, 271;
    cloud-band, 67, 90, 106, 265, 274;
    cocos, 114;
    comb, 67, 208, 213, 221;
    conch, 274;
    cone, 70;
    crab, 71;
    cross, 67, 92, 236, 237;
    crown jewel, 70, 112;
    daisy, 64, 69;
    diamond, 91, 141, 145, 177, 200, 203, 212, 223;
    djinni, 72;
    dog, 72, 213;
    dragon, 71, 246, 266, 268, 273, 274;
    dragon and phoenix, 92;
    duck, 71, 81, 87;
    eagle, 71;
    Euphrates flower, 69, 189;
    fish, 165, 246;
    fung-kwang, 266;
    fungus, 269;
    gazelle, 95;
    goat, 72;
    Joo-e, 265, 274;
    key-pattern, 27, 267, 274;
    knot of destiny, 274;
    ky-lin, 265;
    lamp, 165, 170, 182;
    latch-hook, 67, 74, 117, 145, 155, 167, 169, 180, 182, 183, 184, 186,
      187, 189, 200, 202, 203, 212, 215, 220, 223, 225, 227, 228, 231,
      242, 249, 250, 251, 278, 282, 288;
    lily, 167, 170, 172, 184, 193, 230;
    lion, 72, 95;
    lion-dog, 266;
    lotus, 64, 68, 69, 89, 199;
    lozenge, 62, 91, 123, 141, 206, 220, 225, 249;
    lyre, 271;
    mango, 70;
    medallion, 60, 86, 87, 104, 106, 108, 109, 110, 121, 123, 126, 134,
      138, 139, 145, 149, 169, 183, 189, 200, 212, 214, 215, 220, 267,
      269, 271, 272, 273;
    moon, 65, 69;
    octagonal disc, 66, 92, 180, 200, 206, 213, 220, 275; palm, 70;
    palmette, 70, 71, 89, 90, 94, 106, 121, 177;
    peacock, 71;
    pear, 70, 106, 109, 110, 116, 129, 142, 145, 153, 165, 191, 200, 201,
      207, 218, 219;
    peony, 104, 270;
    phœnix, 72;
    pole-medallion, 117, 152, 179;
    pomegranate, 69, 167;
    reciprocal sawtooth, 78, 121, 130, 209, 221, 231;
    reciprocal trefoil, 121, 130, 160, 165, 208, 215, 221, 249;
    river loop, 70;
    rose, 62, 69, 139, 193;
    rosette, 70, 94, 104, 121, 188, 193, 201, 207, 208, 221, 226, 230,
      290, 292;
    running latch-hook, 67, 242;
    sacred mountain, 265;
    scorpion, 71;
    S design, 64, 91, 92, 170, 195, 206, 208, 211, 213, 220;
    serpent, 71;
    serrated leaf and wine cup, 64;
    shield of David, 66;
    Shou, 266, 272;
    star, 62, 65, 71, 93, 112, 183, 200, 203;
    effulgent star, 201, 211;
    eight-pointed star, 177, 179, 180, 182, 187, 193, 206, 207, 208, 210,
      213, 220, 236, 244, 246, 250;
    stork, 71, 266;
    sun, 65, 66, 69;
    sunburst, 209, 220, 292;
    sunflower, 69, 271;
    swastika, 64, 65, 194, 229, 246, 248, 271, 273;
    tarantula, 71, 209, 220, 221;
    tiger, 95;
    tree, 137;
    tree of life, 60, 68, 182, 186, 189, 219, 237;
    tri-cleft leaf, 78, 91, 184, 199, 208, 211, 215, 226;
    turtle, 71;
    vandyke, 179, 183, 184, 187, 189, 290;
    wheel of law, 266;
    zigzag line, 66, 67.

  Diaper pattern, 102, 263.

  Diarbekr, 141.

  Die Persische NadelmalereiSusandschird,76.

  Distaff, 36.

  Dix, Stewart, quoted, 16.

  Djinni. _See_ Designs.

  Djushaghan. _See_ Joshaghan.

  Domenico di Bartolo, painting of, 92.

  Dragon and Phoenix carpet, 65, 231.

  Dragon carpets, 91, 298.

  Dravidians, 28.

  Dyeing, 37; process of, 42, 43.

  Dyes, 30;
    of Sultanabad, 131;
    of Oushak, 174;
    of Amritsar rugs, 256;
    Aniline dyes introduced into India, 254, into China, 265;
    objection to, 299;
    how to distinguish, 299, 300.


  East India Company, 254.

  Ecbatana, 103, 122.

  Elburz Mts., 103.

  Eleanor, Queen, Spanish rugs sent to, 25.

  Elizabeth, Queen, 29.

  Elizabethpol, 224.

  Ellore, 259, 260.

  Ellore rugs described, 260.

  El Mirz li alla, Caliph, 77.

  Elwund Mt., 120, 122, 129.

  Encyclopedia Britannica quoted, 140.

  Ends, finish of, 57.

  Esther, Queen, 122.

  Evil eye, superstition of, 59, 168.


  Fairs, Oriental, 99.

  Farsistan, wool of, 31;
    antique carpets from Shiraz, capital of, 115.

  Fatimid Caliphs, 90.

  Feraghan district, 125, 129, 131.

  Feraghan rugs, 100, 132, 133, 142, 147, 153, 156, 285, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 55;
    small designs in, 60;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    turtle border of, 79;
    Guli Hinnai pattern of, 105;
    pattern of Herat rugs compared with that of, 106.
    Rugs described, 120, 121, 122;
    border stripes, 157, 159.

  Filling, 52.

  Firdousi, 110.

  Fish pattern. _See_ Designs.

  Flame design. _See_ Designs.

  Flax used in weaving, 30, 33.

  Floral design. _See_ Designs.

  Friedhofteppiche, 172.


  Gall nuts used as a dye, 39.

  Ganges river, 17, 258.

  Ganja. _See_ Gengha.

  Gehrous district, 136.

  Gengha, 224.

  Gengha rugs, 101, 290, 292;
    technicalities in weave of, 52, 53, 54.
    Rugs described, 224, 225;
    border stripes, 227.

  Genghis Khan, 26, 78, 198, 234.

  Geok Teppe, 238.

  Geometric pattern. _See_ Designs.

  Georgian pattern, 213, 215, 228, 230, 292.

  Ghiordes, 164, 168, 175, 176, 206.

  Ghiordes rugs, 65, 101, 183, 184, 191, 289, 289, 290, 304;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    Karabaghs compared with, 225.
    Rugs described, 168, 169, 170, 171;
    border stripes, 192, 193, 194, 195.

  Gibbon cited, 25.

  Gilan, cloud-band in antique carpets of, 67.

  Girdler’s Company, India carpet presented to, 94, 256.

  Goat’s hair. _See_ Wool.

  Gobi desert, 21, 26, 29.

  Goodyear, Prof., cited, 69.

  Gorevan rugs, 100, 285, 286, 287, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 51;
    turtle border of, 79;
    patterns of Muskabads resembling those of, 131;
    relation of Bakshis rugs to, 148;
    relation of Herez rugs to, 149.
    Rugs described, 146, 147, 148;
    border stripes, 157, 158.

  Gotcha lake, 224.

  Gozene, 156.

  Gozene rugs, 100, 154, 289;
      technicalities in weave of, 54.
    Rugs described, 54.

  “Grain of rice” pattern in Chinese rugs, 271.

  Granada, 25.

  Guebres, in Kirman, 113;
    temple at Baku of, 210.

  Guli Hinnai pattern, 104, 120, 121;
   illustrated, 291.

  Gulistan rugs, 100, 154, 286.
    Rugs described, 155.

  Gulistan treaty, 203.

  Gyze, Georg, 92.


  Hafiz, 115.

  Hair, of cow, 30, 33; of horse, 33.

  Hamadan, 122, 129, 136, 143, 155.

  Hamadan rugs, 100, 286, 287;
    technicalities in weave of, 52, 53, 54, 55;
    similarity of some Irans to, 125;
    similarity of Karajes to, 144;
    similarity of weave of Kara-Geuz rugs to, 155.
    Rugs described, 122, 123, 124;
    border stripes, 157, 159, 160.

  Hang Chow, 266.

  Harris, Henry T., quoted, 40, 260.

  Havell, E. B., cited, 260.

  Hegira, 296.

  Hemp used in weaving, 30, 33, 261, 263.

  Herat, 105, 110, 244, 285;
    captured by Nadir Shah, 29;
    so-called Ispahans probably made at, 89, 112.

  Herat rugs, 69, 89, 100;
    technicalities in weave of, 54, 55;
    cloud-band in antique rugs of, 67;
    ground colour of, 95;
    influence on Indian weaving of, 255.
    Rugs described, 105, 106;
    border stripes, 156.

  Herati pattern, 89, 94, 104, 106, 108, 109, 112, 120, 121, 129, 132,
    134, 142, 152,153, 157, 165, 170, 201;
    illustrated, 291.

  Hereke, 181.

  Hereke rugs described, 181.

  Herez, 149.

  Herez rugs, 101, 286, 287;
    technicalities in weave of, 55.
      Rugs described, 149, 150;
    border stripes, 157.

  Herodotus, 74.

  Herring bone weave, described, 47;
    in Shemakhas, 216, 217, 292.

  Himalayas, 41.

  Hindu Koosh Mts., 244.

  Hoa, 183.

  Holbein, Hans, 92, 93.

  Holbein rugs, 298;
    octagonal disc in, 66.
    Rugs described, 92, 93.

  Homer, 69, 74, 110, 163.

  Hulaku Khan, conquered Persia, 26;
    Mongolian capital established in Persia by, 78.

  Hunting carpets, 298;
    symbolism in, 72.
    Carpets described, 82.

  Hurst, Dr. John, quoted, 257.

  Hyderabad, 259, 262.

  Hyderabad rugs described, 262.

  Hyder Ali, 261.


  Ibn Batutah, Meshed visited by, 110.

  Iconium, 181.

  Imari ware, 17.

  Imeritia, 218.

  India Museum, 122.

  Indigo used as a dye, 38, 40.

  Indigofera used as a dye, 38.

  Indus river, 17, 24, 29.

  Irak-Ajemi, 124, 127, 129.

  Iran rugs, 100;
      similarity in some rugs of the Kara-Geuz district to, 155.
    Rugs described, 124, 125;
      border stripes, 157.

  Irtish river, 26.

  Isbarta, 178.

  Iskenderoon gulf, 163.

  Ismael, Shah, established capital at Ardebil, 82;
    Ardebil Mosque carpet made during reign of, 84;
    carpets made at Herat during reign of, 89;
    Ardebil Mosque carpet made by order of, 127.

  Ispahan, sacked by Tamerlane, 27;
    Shah Abbas transferred his court to, 29;
    probability that some of the so-called Ispahans were made at, 89;
    description of city, 111.

  Ispahan blue, 42.

  Ispahan rugs, lotus design in, 69;
      made at Ispahan, 89;
      sombre tones of, 90;
      red fields of, 95;
      blues and reds of the antique, 127;
      palmettes of the antique, 145.
    Modern rugs described, 111, 112, 113.


  Jahan, Shah, 28; builder of Taj Mahal, 94;
    Indian rug-weaving declined after death of, 253.

  Jail system of India, 254.

  Jaipur, 255, 259.

  Jaipur rugs described, 259.

  Japan, 17.

  Jhelum river, suggested as origin of pear design, 70;
    Srinagar on the, 255.

  Joshaghan district, 132.

  Joshaghan rugs, 100, 286, 298;
      technicalities in weave of, 50.
    Rugs described, 132, 133;
      border stripes, 157.

  Jubbulpur, 255, 258.

  Jubbulpur rugs described, 258, 259.

  Jute, used in weaving, 30, 33;
    in Kulahs, 174;
    in Vellore rugs, 261;
    in Bangalore rugs, 262.


  Kaaba, 117.

  Kabistan, 199.

  Kabistan rugs, 101, 204, 290, 292, 293, 304;
      technicalities in weave of, 54;
      illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
      effulgent stars of, 91;
      Cufic borders of, 92;
      patterns of some Shirvans similar to those of, 213.
    Rugs described, 200, 201, 202;
      border stripes, 226, 228, 229.

  Kain, 108.

  Kaisariyeh, 190.

  Kaisariyeh rugs described, 190, 191.

  Kaiser Friedrich Museum, 79, 92.

  Kang-hi rugs, 78, 101.
    Rugs described, 268, 269;
    border stripes, 274;
    medallions, 273.

  Karabacek, Dr., quoted, 74.

  Karabagh district, 222, 224.

  Karabagh rugs, 101, 290, 292;
      technicalities in weave of, 51, 53;
      illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
      Karadaghs compared with, 151;
      Shushas compared with, 224.
    Rugs described, 222, 223.

  Karadagh district, 151.

  Karadagh rugs, 100, 286, 289.
    Rugs described; border stripes, 157, 158.

  Kara-Geuz district, 155.

  Kara-Geuz rugs, 100, 154.
    Rugs described, 155.

  Karaje rugs, 100, 286;
    technicalities in weave of, 53.
    Rugs described, 143, 144.

  Kara Kum desert, 241.

  Karaman, 188.

  Karaman rugs, 101, 289.
    Rugs described, 188.
    Kilims, 278, 279.

  Kashan, 115, 127, 155.

  Kashan rugs, 100, 285, 286, 288, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 35, 51, 55;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    pattern of Sarouks like that of, 134;
    correspondence of some rugs of Tabriz with, 145.
    Rugs described, 127, 128, 129;
    border stripes, 160.

  Kashgar, 247.

  Kashgar rugs, 101, 234, 282, 292.
    Rugs described, 247, 248.

  Kashmir, 70, 255;
    goat’s wool of, 32, 114.

  Katchli, derivation of, 237;
    pattern used in Tekkes, 239, 293.

  Kazak rugs, 101, 290, 292, 304;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 53;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    Western Kurdistans compared with, 141;
    Afshars compared with, 155;
    Yuruks compared with, 191;
    Tcherkess compared with, 209;
    Kutais compared with, 222;
    Genghas compared with, 224.
    Rugs described, 219, 220, 221, 222;
    border stripes, 226, 227, 228, 229.

  Kazakje, 220.

  Kea-king dynasty, 272.
    Rugs described, 272.

  Keen-lung dynasty. Rugs described, 270, 271, 272;
    border stripes, 274, 275;
    medallions, 273.

  Kenares defined, 97.

  Kerim, Khan, 115;
    royal patronage of weaving at Shiraz under, 116.

  Kermanshah, 83, 129, 138.

  Kermanshah rugs, 134, 137, 147, 160, 285, 288, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 52;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    corners of Khorassans compared with those of, 109;
    Tabriz rugs compared with, 145, 146;
    Amritsars mistaken for, 256.
    Rugs described, 138, 139, 140;
    border stripes, 38.

  Kermes used as a dye, 38.

  Key pattern, 27.

  Khali defined, 97.

  Khibitkas, defined, 238;
    rugs made for doors of, 239.

  Khiva, 110, 240, 241, 244.

  Khiva rugs, 100, 233, 235, 242, 293;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61.
    Rugs described, 240, 241;
    border stripes, 250, 251.

  Khorassan, 107, 115, 127;
    wool of, 31;
    Herats made in, 106;
    Kurdistans in, 141;
    Yomuds in, 241.

  Khorassan rugs, 60, 100, 117, 288;
    left-hand knots in, 48;
    technicalities in weave of, 54, 55;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    resemblance of Mesheds to, 110.
    Rugs described, 107, 108, 109, 110;
    border stripes, 156.

  Khotan, 278.

  Kidderminster, 260.

  Kilims, earliest rugs similar to, 75;
    pattern in Shirvan, 227.
    Kilims described, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281.

  King-te Chin, 300.

  Kirghiz, steppes, 235;
    tribes, 240.

  Kirman, 113, 115, 203, 206, 248;
    wool of, 31;
    carpets made during Caliphate at, 90;
    early weavers taken to Asia Minor from, 181.

  Kirman rugs, 100, 285, 297, 304;
    technicalities in weave of, 50, 51, 53;
    resemblance of Kermanshahs to, 138;
    flowers in Tabriz rugs compared with those of, 145;
    some old Bergamos as valuable as, 167.
    Rugs described, 113, 114, 115;
    border stripes, 158.

  Kirmans, Turkish, 174.

  Kir-Shehr, 185.

  Kir-Shehr rugs, 101, 289, 290;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    prayer arches of Bergamos compared with those of, 167;
    prayer arches of Ladiks compared with those of, 183;
    often called Anatolian, 187;
    prayer arches of Mudjars compared with those of, 189;
    prayer arches of Tuzlas compared with those of, 190.
    Rugs described, 185, 186;
    border stripes, 193.

  Kis-kilims, 280.

  Kizil Arvat, 241.

  Kizil Irmak river, 185, 189.

  Kizil Kum, “desert of red sands,” 235.

  Knights of St. John, 28, 179.

  Knots, Ghiordes, 48;
    Sehna, 48;
    right-hand, 48;
    left-hand, 48;
    peculiarities of, 48;
    illustrated, 49.

  Konieh, 188, 190.

  Konieh rugs, 101, 289, 290;
    technicalities in weave of, 55;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    resemblance in pattern of Kir-Shehrs to that of, 186;
    prayer arches of Anatolians compared with those of, 187.
    Rugs described, 181, 182, 183;
    border stripes, 193, 195.

  Koran, 72.

  Kuba, 199, 202.

  Kuba rugs, 101, 290, 292.
    Rugs described, 202, 203, 204;
    border stripes, 228.

  Kublai Khan, 266.

  Kulah, 164, 171, 174.

  Kulah rugs, 101, 289, 290;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 52, 53, 54;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 64;
    lily pattern in, 167;
    Ghiordes rugs adopting border of, 171;
    geometric leaf of, 180;
    prayer arch of Koniehs compared with those of, 186.
    Rugs described, 171, 172, 173, 174;
    border stripes, 193, 194.

  Kur valley, 207, 214.

  Kurdistan, Persian, rugs, 100, 286, 287;
    technicalities in weave of, 51;
    Mina Khani pattern characteristic of, 105;
    Western Kurdistans compared with, 141.
    Rugs described, 142, 143;
    border stripes, 157, 159.

  Kurdistan rugs, 286;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 53, 57;
    Karajes compared with, 143;
    ground colour of some Mosuls similar to that of, 154;
    some Kara-Geuz rugs similar to, 155.

  Kurdistan, Western, rugs, 100, 286;
      described, 140, 141, 142.
    Kilims, 280.

  Kurds, 134, 136, 138, 140, 141, 145, 187, 191;
    located at Ak-kal by Shah of Persia, 238.

  Kutais, 218.

  Kutais rugs, technicalities in weave of, 53.
    Rugs described, 218, 219;
      border stripes, 227, 229.

  Kutayah, 176.

  Kutayah rugs described, 176.


  Lacquer, 17.

  Ladik rugs, 101, 167, 289, 290, 304;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    pomegranate design in, 70;
    border stripe of Melez rugs similar to that of, 177;
    vandykes of Rhodian rugs resembling those of, 179;
    nap of, 186;
    Kir-Shehr panels compared with those of, 187;
    vandykes in Mudjars borrowed from, 189.
    Rugs described, 183, 184;
    border stripes, 193, 194.

  Lahore, 255, 256;
    royal factory at, 94.

  Lahore rugs, 101, 305.
    Rugs described, 256, 257.

  Landor, Henry Savage, quoted, 300.

  Laristan border stripe, 157.

  Latch-hooks. _See_ Designs.

  Latimer, C., quoted, 281.

  Lattice-work pattern, 119, 121, 133, 134, 137, 204.

  Lemons used as a mordant, 40.

  Lesghian rugs, 101, 199, 290.
    Rugs described, 206, 207.

  Lesghian tribes, 206, 207.

  Limes used as a mordant, 40.

  Linen, in Sehnas, 135;
    in Tabriz, 146;
    in Ghiordes, 171;
    in Sarouks, 127;
    in Kashans, 128.

  Loom, described, 44;
    illustrated, 45.

  Lotus. _See_ Designs.

  Luristan rugs, 286;
    technicalities in weave of, 55.


  Madder used as a dye, 38.

  Madras, 259.

  Madras rugs described, 259, 260.

  Mahal rugs, 286, 288, 301, 305;
    similar to Muskabads, 131, 132.

  Maharajah, 259.

  Makimonos, 180.

  Makri rugs, 180.

  Maksoud, 84, 127, 128.

  Malek Shah made Ispahan the capital of Persia, 26.

  Malgaran, 246.

  Manchoos, 268.

  Mangishlar peninsula, 238.

  Marco Polo, referred to Armenian carpets, 91;
    referred to Kirman weavings, 113;
    visited Kashgar, 247.

  Marsulipatam, 259, 260.

  Marsulipatam rugs described, 260.

  Martin, Dr. F. R., quoted and cited, 74, 77, 79, 81, 82, 89, 90, 116,

  Maya ruins, swastika on, 65.

  Mecca, 77, 98;
    pilgrimages to, 99;
    bit of earth from, 221, 223.

  Mecca rugs, 117, 118.

  Medallions. _See_ Designs.

  Medes, 23, 24, 66, 234.

  Medina, 77, 296.

  Melez rugs, 101, 290;
    technicalities in weave of, 51;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    sometimes called Anatolians, 187.
    Rugs described, 176, 177, 178;
    border stripes, 193, 195.

  Mersherski, 88.

  Merv Kilims, 280, 281.

  Meshed, pilgrimages to, 99, 108.

  Meshed rugs, 100, 147, 217, 288, 301.
    Rugs described, 110, 111;
    border stripes, 158.

  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; rugs exhibited in, 78, 79, 80,
    82, 85, 86, 91, 93.

  Michelangelo, 16.

  Mina Khan, 105.

  Mina Khani pattern, 105, 142, 152, 249;
    illustrated, 291.

  Ming dynasty, 78, 81, 266, 268;
    coat of arms of, 92.

  Ming rugs, 101, 298.
    Rugs described, 266.

  Mirabad, 130.

  Mirror backs in Chinese rugs, 267, 272, 273.

  Mir-Sarabend. _See_ Sarabend.

  Mirzapur, 255, 258.

  Mirzapur rugs described, 258.

  Mohair, 174.

  Mohammed, 24;
    epithet applied to Guli Hinnaiby, 104.

  Mohammedans, 98, 103, 113, 237, 257;
    dominant in Southwestern Asia, 25;
    invaded India, 28;
    Meshed sacred to, 110;
    prejudice against depicting animals by Sunnite, 165;
    Caucasia invaded by, 198;
    influence on weaving by, 58, 270.

  Mongols, captured Bagdad, 26;
    gained foothold in India, 28;
    in Persia, 62;
    in Caucasia, 198;
    overran Turkestan, 234.

  Mordants, 40.

  Mordecai, 122.

  Moslems, 70;
    preserved art treasures, 76;
    green sacred to, 85.

  Mosul district, 152.

  Mosul rugs, 101, 286, 287, 302, 304, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 52;
    Western Kurdistans confused with, 141;
    Persian Kurdistan and Bijar rugs compared with, 143;
    resemblance of weave of some Gozene rugs with that of, 156.
    Rugs described, 152, 153, 154;
    border stripes, 157, 158, 159.

  Mt. Ararat, 103, 219.

  Mt. Ida, 163.

  Mt. Kazbek, 206.

  Mt. Olympus, 181, 191.

  Mudjar, 189.

  Mudjar rugs, 101, 290;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 63;
    frequently classed as Anatolians, 187.
    Rugs described, 189, 190;
    border stripes, 193.

  Multan, 255.

  Multan rugs described, 257.

  Mumford, John Kimberly, cited, v, 67.

  Musée des Arts Decoratifs, 79.

  Muskabad district, 131.

  Muskabad rugs, 100, 286, 288, 301, 305;
      turtle border in, 71.
    Rugs described, 131, 132;
      border stripes, 157, 159.


  Nadir Shah, Afghans defeated by, 29;
    influence of, 103;
    art decadence following capture of Herat by, 106;
    destruction of Herat by, 110;
    weavers removed to Northern Persia by, 113, 132;
    Shemakha almost destroyed by, 214;
    Shusha built by, 224;
    overthrow of Mogul dominion by, 254.

  Namads, 115, 122.

  Namazlik, 98, 150.

  Netsukés, 17.

  Nigde, 190.

  Nigde rugs, 101;
   classed as Anatolians, 187.
   Rugs described, 190.

  Nijni Novgorod, 235.

  Nimrod, 23.

  Nineveh, 23, 102;
    drawings on walls of, 74;
    Mosul near ruins of, 152.

  Niris lake, wool obtained near, 31.

  Niris rugs, 100, 204, 286, 287, 304.
    Rugs described, 119, 120.

  Nizami manuscript determining age of Hunting Carpets, 82.

  Nomadic influence, 106;
    characteristics in rugs, 134; rugs, 58, 153.


  Oak gall, used as a dye, 40.

  Odjalik, 97.

  Omar Khayyam, 108, 110.

  Onosma echioides used as a dye, 41.

  Orenburg, 235, 240.

  Oriental art, 16.

  Ottoman Turks, 27, 28.

  Oushak, city and district, 164, 176.

  Oushak rugs, type of modern, 94;
    evidences of Persian treatment in, 166.
    Rugs described, 174, 175.

  Outer edging in Kirmans, 114;
    in Hamadans, 123;
    in Sarouks, 126;
    in Bijars, 137;
    in Kermanshahs, 139;
    in Mosuls, 153.

  Overcasting of sides; weft overcasting described, 55, 56;
    illustrated, 49;
    double overcasting described, 55, 56;
    illustrated, 49.

  Oxus river (Amu Daria), 23, 24, 235, 238, 240, 243, 244.


  Palais de Commerce at Lyons, 80.

  Palm design. _See_ Designs.

  Pamir plateau, sheep of, 31;
    mountains of, 235.

  Paropamisus Mts., 235.

  Parsees, 103;
    symbolism derived from fire worship of, 58, 71;
    at Baku, 211.

  Parthians, 24.

  Patna rugs, 101.

  Paul, St., 166, 181.

  Pear design. _See_ Designs.

  Pergamus, 166, 168.

  Persepolis, 103.

  Phasis river, 197.

  Pile of rugs, 47.

  Pliny, 74.

  Polish silk carpets, reciprocal trefoils in, 65;
    Chinese cloud-bands in, 67;
    lotus in, 69.
    Carpets described, 88;
    bright hues of, 90.

  Polonaise carpets. _See_ Polish silk.

  Pomegranate. _See_ Designs.

  Pomegranate rind used as a mordant, 40.

  Porter, Sir Robert Kerr, quoted, 106, 138.

  Prayer arches, 60, 62;
    illustrated, 61, 63.

  Prayer rugs. _See_ Namazlik.

  Priam, 166.

  Prometheus, 197.

  Punjab, 255, 256, 257.


  Ratanjot used as a dye, 16.

  Rembrandt, 16.

  Rhodes, Isle of, 28, 178.

  Rhodian rugs, 101, 289.
    Rugs described, 178, 179, 180;
    border stripes, 193.

  Rion river, 218.

  River loop. _See_ Designs.

  Robinson, Vincent, cited, 80, 81, 86, 88, 254, 258, 259.

  Rubens, 16.

  Rubia cordifolia used as a dye, 41.

  Rubia tinctorum used as a dye, 38.

  Runners, 97.

  Ruskin, John, quoted, 18.


  Saadi, 115.

  Saddle-bags, 117, 135, 249.

  Safavid dynasty, 29, 81, 83, 84, 85, 89, 103.

  Saffron used as a dye, 39.

  Salors, 233.

  Samarkand, capital of Tamerlane, 27;
    the “Mirror of the World,” 245.

  Samarkand rugs, 101, 233, 265, 282, 293;
      technicalities in weave of, 50;
      swastika in, 65.
    Rugs described, 245, 246, 247;
      border stripes, 251.

  Samo-Kien, 246.

  Sarabend rugs, 285, 304;
    technicalities in weave of, 51;
    pear design of, 70, 116, 119, 144, 153;
    turtle border in, 71;
    pile of, 133.
    Rugs described, 129, 130;
    border stripes, 158, 160.
    Mir-Sarabends, 130.
    Royal Sarabends, 130.

  Saracenic art, 21;
    influence, 58, 80, 88, 166.

  Saracens, carpet weaving introduced into India by, 94;
    Persia under dominion of, 103;
    Baku in possession of, 210.

  Saraks, town of, 136, 238.

  Sarawan district, 129, 131.

  Sarouk, 125.

  Sarouk rugs, 134, 285, 286, 288, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 52, 53, 55;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    animal carpet with weave similar to that of, 86;
    corners of Khorassans compared with those of, 109;
    patterns of Bijars compared with those of, 137.
    Tabriz rugs compared with, 145, 146.
    Rugs described, 125, 126, 127;
    border stripes, 160.

  Sassanides, Kingdom of, 24;
    elaborate carpets made during rule of, 74;
    capture of capital of, 75.

  Savalans, 131.

  Sedjadeh, 97.

  Sehna, 48, 129, 133.

  Sehna rugs, 100, 286, 304;
    technicalities in weave of, 51, 54;
    medallions of, 60;
    turtle border in, 71.
    Herati design in Persian Kurdistans borrowed from, 142.
    Rugs described, 133, 134, 135;
    border stripes, 157, 158, 159.

  Sehna kilims, 278.

  Seljukian Turks, effect on art, 26;
    powerful in Asia Minor, 27;
    overthrow by Genghis Khan, 78;
    invasion of Southern Persia by, 90;
    monuments in Armenia of, 91;
    dominion in Persia of, 103;
    Konieh surrendered to, 181.

  Selvage, weft selvage described, 55, 56;
    illustrated, 49;
    double selvage described, 55, 56;
    illustrated, 49;
    mixed selvage described, 56.

  Serapi rugs, 285;
      turtle border in, 71.
    Rugs described, 148, 149;
      border stripes, 157.

  Shah Abbas pattern, 198, 206.

  Shemakha, city of, 214.

  Shemakha rugs, 101, 290, 292.
   Rugs described, 216, 217;
      border-stripes, 228.

  Shield of David. _See_ Designs.

  Shiites, 58;
    animal designs permitted by, 72;
    Meshed sacred to, 110.

  Shiraz, wool of, 31;
    city of, 115.

  Shiraz rugs, 100, 286, 288, 297, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 51;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    latch-hooks in, 67;
    resemblance of Niris rugs to, 119;
    pear design of Kabistans similar to those of, 201;
    wool of Tiflis rugs suggests that of, 217.
    Rugs described, 115, 116, 117, 118;
    border stripes, 158;
    saddle-bags, 117.

  Shirvan district conquered by Solyman the Magnificent, 28.

  Shirvan rugs, 101, 290, 292, 293, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 54;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    design of Shiraz rugs similar to that of, 117;
    weave of Kabistans compared with that of, 201;
    pattern of Chichis resembling that of, 207;
    geometric design of Bakus seen in, 211;
    some patterns of Genghas similar to those of, 225.
    Rugs described, 212, 213, 214;
    border stripes, 226, 227, 228, 229, 231.
    Kilims, 278.

  Shusha, 224.

  Shusha rugs, 101, 290.
    Rugs described, 224.

  Sides, finish of, 55; illustrated, 49.

  Silk, used for weaving, 33;
    indigenous to Asia, 33;
    cultivated at Kashgar and Yarkand, 247;
    used in Kirmans, 114;
    in Yezd rugs, 115;
    in Hamadans, 122;
    in Kashans, 128;
    in Sehnas, 134, 135;
    in Ghiordes, 178;
    in Hereke rugs, 181;
    in Kaisariyeh rugs, 190;
    in Royal Bokharas, 236.

  Silk carpets, sent to Sultan of Constantinople, 87;
    made at Kashan, 128.

  Sindh, 255, 259.

  Sindh rugs described, 259.

  Sirab, village of, 148.

  Sivas, Seljukian gate at, 170;
    city of, 188.

  Sivas rugs described, 188, 189.

  Smyrna, 164, 175, 176;
    Yuruks at, 191.

  Smyrna rugs, 101;
    Broussa rugs compared with those of, 181;
    Indian rugs compared with those of, 254.
    Rugs described, 176.

  Solyman, King, the ring of, 66;
    pomegranates cultivated in days of, 69;
    his emblem of an eight-pointed star, 158.

  Solyman the Magnificent, Iran threatened by, 28;
    weavers taken to Asia Minor by, 94, 175.

  Soumak rugs, 290, 292;
    weave of, 47;
    designs of cross in, 67;
    tri-cleft leaf in, 91, 209;
    Kubas and Shemakhas compared with, 203;
    patterns of Shirvans compared with those of, 213.
    Rugs described, 214, 215, 216;
    border stripes, 228, 230.

  Sousa, reciprocal sawtooth on monuments of, 231.

  South Kensington Museum, 15, 83, 259.

  Spanish rugs sent to Queen Eleanor, 25.

  Sparta rugs. _See_ Isbarta.

  Spindle, 34, 35.

  Spinning, 34, 35.

  Spring of Chosroes carpet described, 76.

  Srinagar, 70, 255.

  Srinagar rugs described, 255.

  Stebbing, Edward, cited, 82;
    quoted, 83, 84.

  St. Sophia, 19, 28.

  Star design. _See_ Designs.

  Stein, Dr. M. A., cited, 278.

  Strabo, 74.

  Stripes. _See_ Border.

  Suj-Bulak, town of, 150.

  Suj-Bulak rugs, 286.
    Rugs described, 150, 151.

  Sulphate of iron used as a mordant, 40.

  Sulphate of tin used as a mordant, 40.

  Sultanabad, 129, 131, 132.

  Sultanabad rugs, 286;
      Indian rugs compared with those of, 254, 256.
    Rugs described, 131.

  Sumach used as a dye, 38.

  Sumerians, 23.

  Sung dynasty, 266.

  Sunnites opposed to depicting animal figures, 58, 72, 91, 99, 165, 254.

  Swastika. Illustrated, 291. _See_ Designs.

  Symbols in colours and designs, 18, 19, 20, 58, 59, 72.


  Tabriz, 136, 145, 148, 151, 227;
    captured by Solyman the Magnificent, 28, 94;
    dyers from, 40;
    an important art centre, 89;
    a mart for rugs, 99;
    Herat carpets in hall of governor at, 106.

  Tabriz rugs, 286, 287, 288, 297, 301, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 53, 55;
    Chinese cloud-band in, 67;
    medallions of Herez rugs similar to those of, 149.
    Rugs described, 145, 146.

  Taj Mahal, 94, 257.

  Tak-i-Bostan, rock-carved sculptures of, 83.

  Tamara, Queen, 197, 198.

  Tamarind used as a mordant, 40.

  Tamasp, Shah, 28, 82, 169;
    Ardebil carpet finished during reign of, 84;
    silk rugs made during reign of, 87;
    Herat an important art centre during time of, 89;
    Tabriz carpets woven during reign of, 145.

  Tamerlane, 172, 254;
    Mongols united by, 27;
    Ispahan sacked by, 111;
    artists gathered at Samarkand by, 234;
    Samarkand made capital by, 246;
    Multan captured by, 257.

  Tang dynasty, 266.

  Tanjore district, 259.

  Taoist symbols, 271.

  Tao-Kwang, 272. Rugs described, 272.

  “Tapis de l’Asie Centrale” quoted, 233.

  Tartars, 26, 220;
    Turkestan conquered by, 234.

  Tartary, 31, 32.

  Tchechen. _See_ Chichi.

  Tcherkess (Circassian) rugs, 290, 292, 304, 305;
    technicalities in weave of, 54;
    tri-cleft leaf in, 91;
    long nap of Western Kurdistans similar to that of, 141;
    sunburst pattern of Kazaks similar to that of, 220.
    Rugs described, 208, 209, 210;
    border stripes, 227.

  Tcherkess tribes, 209.

  Teheran, 138;
    caravans to Meshed from, 110.

  Teheran rugs described, 154, 155.

  Tekke, derivation of name, 238.

  Tekke rugs, 101, 233, 293;
    illustration of prayer arch of, 61;
    S design in, 65;
    selvage at sides of Beluchistans similar to that of, 235;
    similarity in colours of Yomuds and those of, 242;
    designs in Afghans and Yomuds similar to those of, 244.
    Rugs described, 238, 239, 240;
    border stripes, 250, 251.

  Terek valley, 207, 208.

  Terminalia citrina used as a dye, 40.

  Tiflis, overrun by Seljukian Turks, 26;
    mart for rugs, 99;
    caravans from Tabriz to, 145;
    capital of Georgia, 217.

  Tiflis rugs, 298;
    technicalities in weave of, 53;
    resemblance between weave of Kutais and that of, 219.
    Rugs described, 217, 218;
    border stripes, 227.

  Tiger skin pattern, 267.

  Timurids, invasion of, 103, 136;
    designs due to, 80, 166.

  Titian, 16.

  Toledo, 17.

  Toon, 108.

  Trebizond, 145, 163.

  Turanian races, geometric designs among, 62.

  Turkish Kilims, 280.

  Turmeric used as a dye, 41.

  Turtle border, 121, 132, 157;
    probable origin of, 71, 79.

  Tuz Gul, lake, 187, 190.

  Tuzla rugs sometimes classed as Anatolians, 187.
    Rugs described, 190.

  Type characteristics, not invariable, v;
    term defined, 107.


  Urumiah lake, 150, 155, 224.

  Uzbeck Tartars, care of sheep by, 31.


  Valonia used as a mordant, 40.

  Value of antique carpets, 15, 16, 304.

  Vambery, Prof., cited, 241.

  Van lake, 141, 152, 224.

  Vandykes. _See_ Designs.

  Vellore, 259, 261.

  Vellore rugs described, 261.

  Victoria and Albert Museum, 93.

  Vienna publication of Oriental carpets, 80, 259.


  Warangal, 259, 262.

  Warangal rugs described, 262.

  Warp, arrangement on loom, 46;
    characteristics of, 51, 52;
    illustrated, 49.

  Washing, materials for weaving, 33, 34, 36;
    artificial, 300, 301.

  Weaving described, 46, 47;
    illustrated, 49.

  “Wedding of the Foundling,” 92.

  Weft, arrangement of, 47;
    technical characteristics of, 52, 53, 54, 55.

  Whirling Dervishes, at Konieh, 181.

  Williams, C. F., 78, 79, 93.

  Whistler cited, 17.

  Wise men of the East, 127.

  Wool, of the camel, 30, 32, 124, 153, 249;
    of the goat, 30, 31, 142, 241, 245, 249;
    of sheep, 30, 31;
    of the yak, 30, 33;
    spinning, 33;
    washing, 33, 36.


  Xenophon, 99, 140, 181.

  Xerxes, 115.


  Yak’s hair. _See_ Wool.

  Yaprak, 175.

  Yarkand, 247.

  Yarkand rugs, 234, 265, 282, 293.
    Rugs described, 247, 248;
    border stripes, 251.

  Yarn, 35.

  Yerkes sale, 15, 82, 86, 304, 306.

  Yezd, 110, 115, 222.

  Yezd rugs described, 115.

  Yomud rugs, 205, 233, 235, 293, 304;
    colour scheme of Beshires similar to that of, 243.
    Rugs described, 241, 242;
    border stripes, 250, 251;
    saddle-bags, 242.

  Yomud tribes, 235;
    robbed of their land by Tekkes, 231, 241.

  Yuan dynasty, 266.

  Yung-ching, 269.

  Yung-ching rugs described, 269, 270;
    border stripes, 274;
    medallions, 273.

  Yuruk rugs, 289, 290, 304;
    technicalities in weave of, 51.
    Rugs described, 191, 192;
    border stripes, 194.

  Yuruk tribes, 155, 163, 191, 220.


  Zabalpur rugs, 101.

  Zagros Mts., 21, 103, 140.

  Zarafshan river, 245.

  Zoroaster, 18, 58, 210.

  Zoroastrians, 69.

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