Sunday, September 25, 2011

Afshars, Afshar Kilims, Afshar Carpets and Rugs

Afshars are one of the several tribes in Iran who have beautiful tradition of rug and kilim weaving. Afshars are of Turkoman origin who migrated to Iran probably in the 11th century AD. They speak a dialect of Turkic. Afshars were very brave and powerful and did not get along with the federal government. That is why they were dispersed by the Safavid Shahs who ruled Iran from 1503 to 1722. They were forcibly deported to three regions in Iran, north east in Khorassan, north west in south Azerbaijan, and south central Iran to south of Kerman. There are also Afshars in Anatolia in Turkey.

Source: Tribal Rugs, James Opie

Afshars were pastoral nomads and their means of income was animal husbandry and since they had access to high quality wool, they made and to lesser extent still make beautiful pile rugs and flat weaves (kilims). They use both types of vertical and horizontal looms. They use symmetrical knots to make pile rugs. Usually, Afshars in Khorassan and Kerman make small rugs and kilims. Howevers Afshars of north west Iran who make Bidjar carpets make bigger sizes of carpets. They very rarely make kilims.

Nader a military genius (1698-1747) who became the Shah of Iran and ruled the country between 1736 to 1747 was an Afshar from north east of Iran. He established a great Persian empire and expanded his territory to what is now Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, parts of Caucasus, parts of Central Asia, and Oman. He even invaded and conquered India in 1739.


Portrait of Nader Shah Afshar in British Museum

The Afshars who reside in south central Iran, south of Kerman live in and around small towns of Sirjan and Shahr Babak. They make beautiful small pile rugs, kilims (sumac), bags/salt bags (khorjins and namakdans), soferh (bread or eating cloth), and saddle covers. The weaving is mostly done by Afshar ladies. Men help with wool production and dyeing. Afshar tribal rugs of prior to 1930 have wool foundation. In most of the cases these pieces have two oranges-red wefts. In newer pieces Afshar pile rugs have two blue cotton wefts. Afshar rugs and kilims of south central Iran are influenced by Kerman rug and shawl design and have adopted different types and versions of boteh designs. Red dye comes from cochineal in Kerman rugs, however the red of Afshar rugs and kilims come from root of madder which grows in the desert.

Here I am posting few exclusive pictures and a short video on Afshar weaving.









  Afshar pile rug
  Afshar pile rug detail
 Afshar pile rug
 Afshar pile rug detail
 Afshar rug detail showing the blue wefts from the back
Afshar rug detail showing the blue wefts from the back



Dr. Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay)
Certified Rug Specialist (CRS)
www.LosAngelesRugCleaning.com
www.RugIdea.com
Tel. 310-770-9085
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