Posted by George Potter on 03-18-2005 11:41 AM:

A Baluch pile carpet from two halves

Is it common to have pile carpets of Baluch type that are sewn together from two halves? I have an antique carpet of this type with a Mushwani pattern, 1.5 m by 2.5 m. It has been made in two halves and sewn together to form one carpet. Why is this? Is it just about loom size and nomadic life, or is it something to do with not having enough resources? Who could have made this carpet, is it common for a certain tribe to produce this type? Another question I have been pondering is why was it made, for use or sale? Does this kind of carpet have any special function for those who made it?

Any thoughts?

Here is some pictures of it:

Best regards,

George Potter

Posted by Vincent Keers on 03-18-2005 12:36 PM:

Dear George,

Think your rug is old. Not antique.
Think you got two old rugs. 2 x old = antique.
And maybe, maybe the left one has the piles pointing down and the right one has the pile pointing up? Or the other way around but this is hard to see on my screen.
Don't think this is original.

Why it is done? Half rugs don't sell.

Best regards,

Posted by Steve Price on 03-18-2005 12:55 PM:

Hi George

Lots of kilims made in rustic settings are woven in two lengthwise halves, then sewn together. The reason, presumably, is limitations on the width of the looms.

Some central Asian sleeping rugs (julkhyrs) are woven that way, too - usually in more than two lengths. But I don't think this is a common practice in Belouch weaving.

My guess is that you rug had some serious damage that covered much of a narrow strip down the center, and that the rug was "cut and shut" to eliminate that area.

An alternative explanation that might appeal to our structure trumps design adherents is that it is actually a julkhyr with a Belouch design.


Steve Price

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 03-18-2005 12:57 PM:

Hi George,

Yes, Vincent is right, half rugs don't sell. It's highly likely that there was some structural damage to the original piece, possibly as a result of folding too tightly, that was easier to cut out than to repair. So, the rug was cut and patched back together. It is definitely not the original state of the rug, or the intended product of the weaver. It may have been cut and sewn by the original owner, but more likely by some enterprising individual in the rug trade.

This design is typical of products from Baluchi tribes in the Adraskand region of western Afghanistan. It is often attributed to a specific tribe, the Mushwani. There is some disagreement amongst the experts as to whether Mushwani is the appropriate term, however.

Here's an image of a similar design, so you can see what's missing:

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-18-2005 01:01 PM:

Hi George.

The images you posted from your website were too wide. I took the liberty to resize and upload them to our server so we can see the page without having to scroll it horizontally.
I had a look also to the other images of the same rug on yours site, and found this one very telling:

So I did the same with it: resized and uploaded (hope you don’t mind).
It shows that – as Vincent said – your rug was created assembling the halves of two similar but not identical rugs.



Posted by George Potter on 03-18-2005 01:04 PM:

Dear Vincent,

The Pile points the same way, the colours are the same on both halves, so I am quite sure it was deliberately made like this. If it is old or antique I am not sure, I assumed it to be antique because of the border, which I have only seen on antique Timuri carpets.

Best regards,

George Potter

Another picture:

(Note: I replaced the image to which George linked with this one, which is the same image, but resized to fit the width of most monitors. Steve Price)

Posted by George Potter on 03-18-2005 01:48 PM:

Hi all,

Here are some more pictures of the carpet. Feel free to adjust them to fit this forum.

It is only the end border of one half that has a different pattern, the other three quarters have the same pattern. It is as if the weaver decided on one end border but forgot or changed her mind in the process. The pile slants in the direction of that differing border. I am convinced that the carpet was made in this way. If it was damaged in the middle and cut and sewn together it would have been disproportionaly wider, squareish like some Afshar carpets.

Best regards,

George Potter

Posted by Vincent Keers on 03-18-2005 04:59 PM:

Hi George,

I presumed a different pile direction because I looked at left and right corner design solutions in
the first image. But now I see the vertical borders get into the horizontal borders at three corners.
So I jumped to a conclusion.
Maybe you can fold the rug in vertical direction and look it the wefst turn back around the warps (at the cut)
as if one half has two original sides. If so, it's original. If not, it's cut.
The more images you post, the better the colours. The greyish/black gets blue but the red stays difficult.
Maybe next image.

Best regards,

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 03-18-2005 05:02 PM:

Dear George,

Do you see any indication of a selvedge on the sides that were sewn together?



Posted by Unregistered on 03-18-2005 11:29 PM:

analogous piece

check out the very similar aimaq rug in the sotheby's catalogue of the jon thompson sale in 1993 - in the catalogue it is noted that there are selvages on both sides of each of the two halves

(Thanks for this contribution. Would you be kind enough to send me your name (by email) so I can add it to your post? Thanks.
Steve Price

Posted by Jerry Silverman on 03-19-2005 04:38 AM:

Good call, "unregistered".

Here is the piece from the Sotheby's Thompson auction of 12/16/93. It is very similar, indeed - especially the field. The borders differ, but are similar in size, number, etc.

So, George, did you ever look to see if your rug has selvedges on both edges of both strips?



Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-19-2005 05:31 AM:

Very interesting, thanks to “unregistered” and to Jerry.


Posted by Chuck Wagner on 03-19-2005 08:46 AM:

Hi all,

I have to admit that it's the first time I've seen that sort of construction documented for a pile rug. It's quite common for Baluchi kilims to be built this way, but not pile rugs.

So, George, I think we'd all appreciate a cloesup look at the back of your rug showing the join. Also, I'll note that the center isn't missing from the Sothebys example. I'm not quite ready to buy into the current configuration of George's rug as the "original" configuration. BUt it's plausible.


Chuck Wagner

Posted by George Potter on 03-19-2005 12:00 PM:

Dear all,

Thank you Jerry for the Sotheby's Thompson auction information, fascinating. I believe the carpet has had a different end finish; it has clearly been cut and sewn with modern blue wool, maybe it had a similar kilim end as the Sotheby's example.

Here is a close up of the join seen from the back:

Here is a picture where I have folded it to show the end borders (used a macro lens, so the back is a bit out of focus). It shows the variation of the pattern.

Best regards,

George Potter

Posted by Ed_Krayer on 03-21-2005 07:57 AM:

Here is another piece I believe is Aimaq. It is very thick and heavy, and appears to have longer pile than the ones illustrated. The wool is very glossy and produces quite a reflection, so the patterns are a bit hard to read on the larger images. I found this a couple of years back on the south central coast of Turkey. No Turkish rug nuts with me seemed to know exactly what it was, or where it came from, but they were sure it was "very unique and valuable."

The pile portion is 64" X 82." I would say it is first Q 20th. There are two selvages joined in the middle, and the two parts were clearly woven in an attempt to make one complete continuous design when joined. You can see some wear to the central portion of the left, larger half, only, where the lighter diamonds are. It's as if it was folded along the selvage, and used as a divan cover, and the owner sat in this same spot all the time. Or, perhaps it was a sleeping rug and the poor woman's husband rarely came home! That's my version of CSI. I call it RUF. It stands for "rug use forensics!'

I've seen two others: one owned by a dealer in FLA, who was at first told his was East Anatolian, but who later told me he learned it was Aimaq, and a second, newer one, last year in Istanbul. Both had seen considerable use and were a bit tired. Apparently they were seen, with some regularity, coming out of NW Afghanistan in the 70's, but their appearance has now dwindled, of course. Kind of like all of us who passed through the 70's!

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 03-21-2005 11:13 AM:

Thank you Mr. Krayer, and welcome to Turkotek.

When I first saw George’s rug I ruled out the fact that it was woven in two halves then sawn together. I rather thought it was reduced in size to hide a structural damage.
Looking well at the pictures, though, I changed my mind and went for the “two different rugs assembled” explanation.

After seeing the two Aimaq examples above and George’s close-up of the join, I think that the every explanation is plausible now.
I even venture formulating a “jointed” hypothesis: perhaps the two halves were actually woven for each other and it is possible that later the assembled rug was damaged in the middle and reduced in size…



Posted by Cevat Kanig on 03-21-2005 12:31 PM:

Hi Ed,

After your post images, i check the George's rug close up, it seems to me to the rug woven two halves and attached together, there is be a big posibilaty the rug was reduced and sewn together, i am agree with Filliberto and also you.


Posted by George Potter on 03-21-2005 05:52 PM:

Thank you Ed, for the pictures of your carpet.

I found two articles on the net, one by Tom Cole, called From the Horses Mouth - Talking 'Baluch' with Jerry Anderson, and The Story Is Free
by Andrew Hale, same link:

At the end of 'The Story Is Free' there is reference to carpets sewn together, but I can not make out if the sentence “They are very common in Afghanistan though they are not popular in the West.”, refers to the kilims or pile woven carpets.

In the first article there is also a similar carpet, no. 20, with a greater width but not sewn up the middle it seems.

If you look at the medallions on my carpet; there does not seem to be any attempt at making a coherent pattern, as if the weaver new that would not work, and instead made the curvilinear pattern more confused. This to me seems to indicate that the carpet was intentionally made like this. And then having another similar carpet made in the same way, the Sotheby's one, strengthens the theory that they are (were) made like this.

But looking closer again, and if I bend the carpet at the back of the middle seam, I can see that all the brown wefts have been cut, and do not go round the last warp. This to me strengthens the theory that it is not original, but reduced like this from damage to the middle. Or might this be done to avoid a gap in the pile, seen from the front?

Best regards,

George Potter

Posted by Detlev_Fischer on 03-28-2005 04:36 PM:

A similar one

Hi everyone,

I recently came across a Taimani Rug, of similar construction --- just to build up the evidence:

here, the kilim ends are quite different. I like the effect, bu I am not sure whether this would have been done on purpose.


Note: For convenience, I have added the image itself. Steve Price

Posted by George Potter on 03-30-2005 10:57 AM:

Thank you Detlev,

I can also add some info on these carpets. I was reading in Eiland, Murray L. and Murray Eiland III, ORIENTAL CARPETS: A Complete Guide, on page 138 about the Dohktor-i-Ghazi Baluchi, it reads; “Apparently these same nomadic Baluchis also produce the curious two-piece Baluchi rugs, woven in narrow strips and sewn together along the vertical axis. Some of these resemble Mushwani work, but it is likely they are woven by a number of nomadic groups, whose looms are too small to accommodate a large rug”

I feel that I have got the answers to the questions about my rug. My carpets is much more enjoyable now that I know more about it. Thank you every one.

Best regards,

George Potter

Posted by Andy Hale on 04-02-2005 08:45 PM:

In Afghanistan, back in the 70s, these(pile) rugs were fairly common. They weren't imported into the US too much because they didn't lie flat sometimes and people thought they had been cut and sewn back together. They were woven in two pieces, however. Some of them are identical to one piece "Mushwani"rugs while others had brighter colors and a looser weave : Aimaq. Aimaq-at least in Central Asia-is not exactly an ethnic group though. My guess was an Arab group for the looser ones.
Back in the 60s, Henry Kissinger was quoted as saying "I wouldn't recognize the Baluch problem if it came up and hit me in the face". For once, I can agree with him! IMHO, most "Baluch rugs " were not woven by Baluch. Some of my thoughts on the matter were in "The Story is Free" article in Hali mentioned below.
Andy Hale

Posted by George Potter on 04-04-2005 08:58 AM:

Dear Andy,

Thank you for the clarification. In your experience do you have an opinion on how long this way of weaving was practised? Where pieces still made in this way up to the 70s?


George Potter

Posted by Andy Hale on 04-04-2005 05:50 PM:

Two piecers

Yes, absolutely, they were still being made in the 70s. Most nomads seem to like to use bright textiles to offset the often drab colors of the country. Interesting to see how dark the tonalities in the Mushwani type rugs sometimes are. I imagine that the practice of making rugs in two (or more) pieces is ancient for techical reasons alone. Also, Central Asians seem to like textiles made in narrow strips-ikat, suzanis, julkhair rugs. ghajeri kilims, etc all are assembled out of narrow panels.

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 04-04-2005 11:29 PM:

Hi George, et all...

I don't know how I missed this; I've been through this book dozens of times. (Arrgh. The aging process is going to be the death of me...). Anyway, in Richard Parsons' "The Carpets Of Afghanistan", he shows what he describes as a Farah rug (Farah is a small village in western Afghanistan, south of Shindand), which was made in two pieces.

He notes that the back of the rug has a very different and rougher feel than typical Adraskand pieces, due to "the use of overspun yarn, a characteristic of the Farah production". It's interesting that he classifies this piece by location rather than by tribal attribution, as he has done with other Afghan Baluchi and Baluch-type production.

Here's the image:

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by George Potter on 04-12-2005 02:41 PM:

Dear All,

Thank you Chuck for the information.

Is there anyone that has seen one of these carpets made from three or more pieces?

Here is another one I can show made from two pieces. This time in a prayer rug design variant.

Close-up of the join:

Full view:


George Potter