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Bijan's Oriental Rug Gallery

Bijan’s Oriental Rugs
Hand-made Oriental Rugs, selected with care and sold with Integrity.

Oriental Rugs - A buyer’s Guide

Oriental Rugs Weaving Groups

  • Beshir
    Country: Afghanistan, Tutkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
    Category:  Nomadic, Village, and Workshop
    Price range: Low/medium to medium
  • General details:
    Extremely attractive and sturdy originally made by Turkoman nomads who roamed the border of regions of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The name was probably derived from a small town to the south of Bokhara, in the west of Turkmenistan (Previously a republic of former Soviet Union), which is believed to have been the majot marketing center for their rugs. Beshir rugs are produced by nomads and villagers in Afghanistan  and in former state controlled workshops in the soviet Union.  Both nomadic and workshop Beshirs retain their essentially tribal characteristics; in fact, Russian Beshir are generally considered the finest and most traditionally authentic rugs produced in the Soviet Union, and Afghan Beshirs are among the very best contemporary tribal rugs.  All Beshirs are quite finely knotted for essentially nomadic rugs, with between 60 and 160 Persian knots per square inch, and the pile wool, normally clipped low/medium to medium, is generally of good quality.  Woollen foundations are common in both countries, although some Afghan tribesmen use a mixture of wool and goat’s hair.  A range of traditional designs are employed. Unlike the majority of Turkoman nomads, the Beshir do not use guls as their dominant motif; instead they employ a variety of highly stylized leaf, frond and other vegetal (and occasionally animals) forms in allover repeating patterns.  The palette is also somewhat innovative; although dominant by the typically Turkoman deep reds and blues, it is often enlivened by paler, more joyous shades. This vital yet dignified combination of color and form makes Beshirs among the most aesthetically satisfying of all Turkoman rugs.  They are normally made in large  rug and small carpet sizes, usually longer than they are wide, and in runners of various dimensions. Indian weavers also produce a few rugs in Beshir designs.
  • Resale value:
    Beshirs are generally good buys, both because of their quality and appearance; and the nomadic rugs in particular should make sound investments.  Old Beshirs are very collectable and expensive.
  • Bidjar
    Country: Persia (Iran)
    category: Village
    Price range: Medium to high
  • General details:
    Superb rugs woven in a small village about 30 miles from the town of Senneh in Kurdistan, and often referred to as the “Iron rugs of Persia” because of their strength and durability. The knotting on Bidjar rugs is not specially fine, with between 100 and 200 Turkish knots per square inch, but the bidjar weavers use a special tool, not unlike a huge claw, to beat the weft strands together until they form an exceptionally compact foundation for the pile. This makes the rug extremely dense and heavy, and one should never fold a Bidjar because the warp and weft are so tightly pressed together that they could easily break; it also makes them among the most hard wearing rugs produced anywhere in the world.  Bidjars are usually woven on cotton warps, although wool is not unknown. For the pile good quality lustrous wool is used and may be clipped low/medium to medium/high. A number of designs are employed, but floral Herati and Mina-Khani schemes, with or without a central medallion, are those most frequently encountered. The palette is essentially rich and penumbral, with dark blues, cherry red and bottle green  providing the most common ground colors, and ivory, ochres and turquoise dominating the motifs; the finest rugs are as aesthetically satisfying as they are structurally sound. Bidjar designs, particularly floral medallion and Herati schemes, are copied by Indian weavers, but are easily distinguished from the originals by their paler, more pastel colors; Indo-Bidjars possess none of the structural qualities of Persian Bidjars. Both Indian and Persian sizes, form small mats to room size carpets.
  • Resale value:
    Bidjars represent excellent value and are one of the safer investments.  Not only are they extremely durable, but due to the very small numbers produced each year, they are also becoming increasingly rare.
  • Bokhara
    Country: Afgahnistan, Persia (Iran), Former Soviet Union, and Pakistan
    Category:  Nomadic, village, and workshop
    Price range: Low/medium to medium
  • General details:
    Bokhara is am major city in Turkmenistan, formerly Turkestan ( a former republic of Soviet Union), which occupied a strategic position on the ancient silk route to the East.  It acted as an important marketing and religious center, the name is derived from the Sanskrit word for monastery, and a number of Turkoman tribes, mainly the Tekke, traditionally used it as a center for purchasing and selling their rugs.  Originally, the term “Bokhara” was applied to any rug marketed in the town, but today it refers only to those rugs which employ the traditional tribal gul motifs in their design.  Contemporary Bokharas are made by a number of nomadic and semi-nomadic weavers in Afghanistan and north east Persia (and more recently, by Afghan migrants in the border country of west Pakistan) who belong to the tekke, Yamut, Saryk, Ersari and other Turkoman tribes. In the former Soviet Uion, the majority of Bokharas are woven in state controlled workshop in Merv, Ashkabad and numerous small villages stretching all the way to the Caspian Sea.  They use both the guls of existing tribes and modern variations which, despite authentic sounding names (e.g., Penjdeh) do not relate to a specific tribe.  Afghanistan also produces rugs with both authentic and modern guls, but te guls in Persian Bokharas are usually confined to those of the Tekke and Yamut tribes.
    There are some broad differences between the rugs produced in each country, as well as by individual tribes, but there are no overall disparities in quality, and all Bokharas are justifiably regarded as among finer examples of tribal textile art. They are normally woven on woollen warps, with between 160 and 320 Persian knots per square inch and the pile wool, which is generally clipped low, is extremely silky and very hard wearing. The palette is limited to deep reds and blues, with ivory and yellow ochre highlights, but the variation in tones , ranging from rose to deepest madder, adds significantly to the variety of their visual appeal.  Bokharas are usually fairly small but runners and some carpet sizes are occasionally made.
    Pakistani weavers have successfully adapted the gul design to Western demands, but these rugs belong to an entirely different category of rug, see Mori Bokhara.
  • resale value:
    Bokharas have been collected consistently over the years and there is no reason why their popularity should change; they can therefore be considered sound investments, particularly those which have a distinct tribal origin.
  • Dobag
    Country: Anatolia (Turkey)
    Category:  Village
    Price range: Low to low medium
  • General details:
    Dibags are not made by any specific weaving group; the name is an acronym for a project sponsored by the Turkish government, which sought to reestablish the traditional methods and materials of Anatolian weaving and ensure that all rugs conformed to strict criteria.  The most important aims were to reintroduce natural dyes, to regularize the fineness of the knotting into specific grades and to control the quality of the wool. Unfortunately, these grades are often ignored by retail outlets, and potential customers have to assess the varying qualities for themselves.
    However, all Dibags use natural dyes wherever possible, and are generally attractive and well made.  They employ a wide variety of traditional Anatolian, and to a lesser extent Caucasian inspired designs, and their color schemes range from rich, almost primary shades to delicate pastel, depending on the washing process. because Dobags are not made by any one identifiable village group (a number villages participate in this scheme) they may be marketed under a variety of names (Dobag or Avajack, etc.) or simply referred to as Turkish or Anatolian rugs.  If the name of a particular rugs is unfamiliar ask the dealer whether it is a Dobag, or simply a rug belonging to one of the less well known weaving groups. It is also important to find out the particular quality or grade, as these are not usually implied in the name.
  • Resale Value:
    Dobags are relatively new innovation, and it is therefore impossible to predict their investment potential with any certainty. However, they are generally attractive and durable, and have the added visual appeal of natural dyes; provided over production is avoided, they should retain their value reasonably well.
  • Dosemealti
    Country: Anatolia (Turkey)
    Category:  Village
    Price range: Low to low/medium
  • General details:
    Exceptionally attractive rugs woven in and around the village of Dosemealti. They are not specially finely knotted, with 70 to 120 Turkish knots per square inch, but the knotting is regular, and thick yarns of good quality wool, normally cropped to form a medium pile, are used in conjunction with the traditional woollen foundation.  Dosemealti designs are closely related to those of the Luri nomads and focus on two broad compositional schemes; the first is based on a central row of three cruciform motifs, and the second features large repeating frond forms, which resemble vegetal candlesticks; both schemes are normally contained within an elongated hexagonal double ended prayer rug format. Reds, blues and warm bottle green, with hints of ochre, are the dominant colors; these can be either rich or muted, depending on the type of wash. out they are usually well balanced  and harmonious.  Dosemealti rugs are made in a number sizes. Dosemealti weavers also produce rugs in Caucasian designs which tend to be their traditional rugs.
  • Resale value:
    Excellent value; although they are not considered to have a high investment potential, they should keep their value to an acceptable degree.
  • Hamadan
    Country: Persia (Iran)
    Category:  Village
    Price range: low to medium/high
  • General details:
    Made in dozens of small villages in a wide radius around the west central Persian city of Hamadan, they constitute some of the shoddiest and most unattractive rugs made anywhere in Persia. However, there are also some well made and visually exciting examples produced in the region, and even the poorer examples possess a certain primitive charm and village authenticity which is often the focal point of collectable appeal.  Each village or small group of villages has its own distinct variations, but there are a few overall characteristics that unify them into one relatively cohesive group. The Hamadan palette is dominated by reds, blues and whites, with greens, gold and yellow ochres as subsidiary hues; the design repertoire is based on geometric medallion and corner, Herati and Boteh schemes, and those which employ detached floral spray in allover arrangement, similar to those employed in the nearby village of Sarough.
    The Sarough scheme is mainly produced in the villages of Dergezine, Kabutarhang, Mehriban, Ghazvin and Injelas, and by the Mongol Borchalu tribesmen, who occupy a small group of villages in a remote valleyeast of Hamadan and northwest of Sarough.  With the possible exception of Ghazvin, and to a lesser degree Kabutarhang, these villages also produce rugs in Herati, Boteh and sometimes medallion and corner schemes.  In terms of quality, Injelas, Borchalu and Ghazvin (although this village now produces very little) are generally regarded as the best, and their finest rugs can be excellent.  Reasonable quality medallion schemes are made in the village of Tuisarkan.  The village of Khamseh (not to be confused with nomadic federatio of the same name, who live in the Fars province of southern Persia) produces basic but quite attractive medallion and Herati schemes, and the unmistakable Mazkaghan rugs, with their famous zig-zag or “lightning” design are made in the villages of Mazalaghan, Norberan and Kerdar. Another distinctive rug woven in the region, which usually features a Herati scheme either with or without a central medallion, is known as a Bibicabad and is one of the least attractive Hamadan rugs. The poorest quality rugs from the region are often referred to as Mosuls.
    All Hamadan rugs are woven on cotton foundations, with 30 to 100 Turkish knots per square inch, using good quality pile wool, sometimes mixed with camel hair, which is clipped medium to medium/long.  They are made in a wide range of sizes, though very large rugs are rare.
    A number of Hamadan are now copied by Indian weavers in qualities that often compare favorably with the originals, if lacking their aesthetic panache.  (The Hamadan village of Mehriban should not be confused with the village of the same name in the Heriz region.)
  • Resale value:
    The overall investment potential of Hamadan has tended to be rather low, but the finer examples, in particular older Injelas and some Borchalus, have always been collectable. The growing commercialization of rug making in Persia may result in the more distinctive and authentic village products increasing in value over the longer term.

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