TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Are Belouch balishts woven in pairs?
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  06-18-2000 on 11:22 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear People, Patrick notes that his Belouch pillow is woven from the top rather than from the bottom, and asks if this indicates that they were woven in pairs. I've checked the only Belouch pillow I own that might plausibly be called "antique" anywhere besides eBay, and it is woven from the bottom. Do any of you have specimens? Which end was woven first? Some time back Yon Bard led a similar survey with Turkmen juvals, with some surprising results. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Are Belouch balishts woven in pairs?
Author  :  Mark+Hopkins
Date  :  06-20-2000 on 10:11 p.m.
I currently have five old Baluch balischts and one of them is woven "upside-down"; i.e, with the pile pointed upward toward the closure panel. However I would question whether this suggests that the piece was woven as one of a pair. Instead, what's to keep the weaver from deciding whether to start with the flatweave back panel or the pile front panel? Starting by weaving the closure panels first, then the pile, then the back, would make the pile "upside-down". So who said she couldn't? Who says that suggests she wove a pair?

Subject  :  RE:Are Belouch balishts woven in pairs?
Author  :  Patrick+Weiler
Date  :  06-21-2000 on 09:59 a.m.
jpweil00@gte.net Dear Mark, When I noticed the "upside-down" characteristic, my first thought was that this balisht may have had two pile faces, one of which would have been woven "upside-down". Your explanation makes sense, that the weaver started with the closure panel and worked her way through the face of the balisht then the flat-weave back panel. The same explanation applies to a balisht as it does to some prayer rugs: They may have been woven upside-down so that the mihrab comes out even. This way the weaver is sure to get things spaced properly at the top where it is more noticeable. There is a photo of a full balisht, opened up, in the book Tribal Rugs, Treasures of the Black Tent, plate 166. This may help visualize the process. It does not say whether both faces are in pile, though, and it is not possible to tell just by looking at the photo. MacDonald goes on to say that a pair of balishts were woven by each girl for her dowry. I suspect that, as much use as they got, balishts were woven frequently. Some of the romanticism that these were all dowry pieces may go a bit far. The opened-up balisht is six and a half feet long. This is a fairly big weaving. I recall having seen Baluch weavers using a horizontal ground loom that would accommodate weavings of greater length, nonetheless, a "double-balisht" would be twelve feet long. That is quite a handful. And, while we are at it, is "Balisht" a Baluch word, or was it something the market made up for these things? I do not remember seeing any etymology on this word. For some unknown reason it does not show up in my Random House..... Researchingly yours, Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  What does
Author  :  Steve Price
Date  :  06-21-2000 on 10:54 a.m.
sprice@hsc.vcu.edu Dear Patrick, According to Peter Stone's Oriental Rug Lexicon, "balisht" is a Farsi word meaning "pillow, or bolster". I don't know whether the same word with the same meaning exists in Turkish, Belouch, or any of the other languages of the area. One of the guys who auctioneers at Skinner's clearly loves the way the words "Belouch balisht" sound and roll off the tongue, as anyone who's been to their sales has probably noticed. It really is fun to say. I need to get out more. Steve Price

Subject  :  RE:Are Belouch balishts woven in pairs?
Author  :  Stephen Louw
Date  :  06-21-2000 on 05:08 p.m.
I have a first quarter twentieth century balisht. Although not antique, to add to the informal "survey", the pile on mine points away from the closure panels, i.e., in the opposite way to Steve's (not that this means anything necessarily). slouw@global.co.za

Subject  :  RE:Are Belouch balishts woven in pairs?
Author  :  Mark+Hopkins
Date  :  06-21-2000 on 09:35 p.m.
Dear Patrick: Those doublesided pile balishts are curiosities, aren't they? I've only seen a few, and they all impressed me as being quite young, stiff, and uninteresting. I haven't seen the one in Brian's book that you mentioned, but it strikes me that there's something very "touristy" (commercial; un-tribal) about it. Who knows what it's about. Maybe some weaver invented the double pile jobs as a way of having her choice of everyday decor or special occasion elegance at the flip of a pillow. Maybe it was Martha Stewart's Baluch grandmother, who knows. Re origin of the word, my understanding is that "balisht" is the Persian equivalent of the Turkish "yastik". (That's confirmed by both Pete Stone's book and by my Farsi speaking friend Julia Bailey, whose dictionary says "pillow or cushion.") The only difference between the two nationalities, other than design and color, seems to be that the Baluch pieces sometimes appear with split closure panels, something I have never seen on an Anatolian yastik. MH

Subject  :  RE:Are Belouch balishts woven in pairs?
Author  :  Patrick Weiler
Date  :  06-23-2000 on 12:03 p.m.
jpweil00@gte.net Mark, You have observed that some balisht' have split closure panels but this type of closure system is not found on yastiks. I suspect that this is because the yastik has been used exclusively as a pillow, but the balisht can also be used for transport or storage. This multiple use would require the ability to open the balisht easily. I have attached a photo of the back of first balisht showing the closure loop. I have not figured out what the other face of the balisht used to complement this closure system. The loops are not "loopy", but are more stretched fairly tight. Patrick Weiler

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