Islamic Carpets in European Paintings


The popularity of what we call oriental carpets—pile-woven carpets from the Islamic world—in Europe from the fourteenth century onward is reflected in their frequent depiction in European paintings. Indeed, European paintings are a primary source for scholarship on early carpets, and many groups of Islamic carpets from the Middle East are today called by the names of European painters who depicted them: Lotto, Holbein, Ghirlandaio, Crivelli, and Memling are among the artists whose names are now used to describe certain groups of carpets woven in Ottoman Turkey.

From biblical times onward, the concept of having an expensive textile underfoot has been associated with wealth, power, and sanctity; when the Sienese painter Duccio depicted the story of those who spread their garments under Christ’s feet on Palm Sunday, he was simply renewing an age-old cultural concept. By the time Sir Walter Raleigh put his cloak on the ground to help Queen Elizabeth over a mud puddle, the mystique of textiles underfoot had been around for millennia.

A fifteenth-century painting by Giovanni di Paolo, Madonna and Child with Two Angels and a Donor, depicts under the feet of the Virgin Mary one of the earliest and rarest types of carpets from Turkey to be exported in quantity to Italy; the design consists of highly stylized animals in octagons (41.190.16). By the sixteenth century, carpets were frequently depicted in portraits as a signifier of sophistication, education, and high social and economic status; an anonymous portrait by Moretto da Brescia shows at the very bottom a minor border of a contemporary Anatolian rug from Ottoman Turkey; the design of the rest remains an enigma (28.79).

By the seventeenth century, depictions of carpets were widespread throughout Europe. The Museum owns several Lotto carpets; the earlier and larger examples have a border of stylized strapwork recalling squared-off kufic Arabic writing (08.167.1), while borders of later examples have small medallions, such as those shown in the painting by Jan Brueghel and Peter Paul Rubens entitled The Feast of Acheloüs (45.141). Here, we see a story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses portrayed as a contemporary Flemish outdoor banquet, with a beautiful Lotto carpet with red and yellow arabesques from central Turkey shown on a table partially protected by a linen tablecloth. The pattern was a favorite in Europe; the seventeenth-century painter Nicolaes Maes depicted a young girl peeling apples, seated next to a table covered with a sumptuous Lotto carpet (14.40.612).

Carpets woven in Syria were extremely rare in Europe: a painting by Gabriël Metsu entitled A Musical Party shows a so-called chessboard carpet with a design of geometrical stars from early seventeenth-century Syria over a table (91.26.11); the Museum owns an actual carpet of this design, given by Joseph V. McMullan (69.267).

Medallion carpets woven in Ushak in west-central Turkey were also depicted frequently in European paintings. Metsu’s sumptuous Dutch interior scene The Visit to the Nursery shows a large Ushak medallion carpet draped over a table (17.190.20). The Metropolitan has several Ushak carpets of this type in its collection (08.173.13). The attractive genre scene by Gerard ter Borch, the Younger, entitled A Woman Playing the Theorbo-Lute and a Cavalier depicts a small west Anatolian medallion carpet with an unsual design on the table in front of his musical couple (14.40.617).

Although Johannes Vermeer‘s lifetime output of paintings was very small, a large portion of them contains depictions of oriental carpets. Two in particular feature carpets prominently: the famous A Maid Asleep depicts two different seventeenth-century Anatolian carpets (14.40.611), while Young Woman with a Water Pitcher shows a soft and thickly textured Persian carpet, again on a table, with a design of floral arabesques on a red ground (89.15.21). The tradition of showing carpets on tables in upper-class interiors continued well into the eighteenth century; Pietro Longhi’s The Visit shows a West Anatolian prayer carpet from the Gördes district draped over a table in an elegant Italian interior (14.32.2).

As carpets became more affordable in Europe, very large examples were imported for use as floor covering. Francis Wheatley’s The Saithwaite Family, for example, presents an aristocratic British couple and their daughter on a very large eighteenth-century carpet from Ushak (2009.357).

In early nineteenth-century France, Jean August Dominique Ingres, a great admirer of Italian Renaissance art, self-consciously referred back in time to earlier portraits in his well-known portrait of Jacques-Louis Leblanc (19.77.1). The carpet-covered table shown with books, a handwritten letter or manuscript, and an inkwell (a concept that horrifies today’s textile conservators) refers to a long tradition in European painting, in which carpets are associated not only with economic and social status in general, but also with learning and literacy. The small carpet on the table, of a well-known eighteenth-century type from Anatolia, is strikingly similar to an actual example from the McMullan collection in the Metropolitan (1974.149.15).

Depictions of carpets in European and American paintings continued throughout the twentieth century, in works as diverse as the Orientalist paintings of Matisse or American interiors by artists such as William Glackens; the colors, textures, and patterns of carpets continue to fascinate patron and painter alike into our own time.

Walter Denny
Department of Islamic Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

October 2011



Kilim Motifs


Indigo - Indigofera Tinctoria

Motifs are derived from symbols that were used in ages gone by to inform, communicate and to convey ideas. Over time, some of these signs merged with myths, acquired hidden significance and moved into the world of esoteric symbolism. In this context, their use may not be limited to decorative purposes. Due to the hidden forces they are believed to imply, their primary purpose may well be psychological rather than aesthetic. Here is a comprehensive list of commonly used motifs.

Please click on the links for variations of each motif and their meanings.

Hands on Hips – Elibelinde

Although the basic design is a stylized female, this pattern is known by various names in Anatolia. Some of which are gelin kiz, cocuklu kiz, aman kiz, karadoseme, seleser, kahkullu kiz, cengel, sarmal, cakmakli, eger kasi, turna katari. It is the symbol of motherhood and fertility.

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Ram’s Horn – Kocboynuzu

This motif is used as a symbol of fertility, heroism, power and masculinity. It is also called boynuzlu yanis, boynuzlu, koclu yanis, gozlu koc basi.

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Fertility – Bereket

Hands on hips and ram’s horn motifs used together denote a man and a woman. The fertility pattern is composed of two ‘elibelinde’ motifs indicating the female and two ‘kocboynuzu’ motifs indicating the male. The eye motif in the middle of the composition is used to protect the family against the evil eye.

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Hair Band – Sacbagi

Anatolian women express many of their feelings by their hair style. The newly married young women plait their hair and tie threads of different colors at the end of each plait called ‘belik’. Hair band motif indicates the desire to get married. If the woman uses some of her hair in weaving, she is trying to express her desire for immortality.

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Earrings- Kupe

Earrings are indispensable as a wedding present in Anatolia. A girl using this motif is trying to inform her family that she wants to get married.

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Fetter – Bukagi

Fetter is a sort of cuff placed on the front legs of horses to keep them from running away. The cuffs are connected to each other by a chain of 60 centimeters. It is also called ‘kostek’.

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Chest – Sandikli

This motif in general, symbolizes the trousseau chest of a young girl. Since the material in this chest is to be used in the husband’s house, the expectations and hopes of the young girl are reflected in the pieces she has woven, knitted and embroidered.

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Love and Unison, Ying-Yang – Ask ve Birlesim

This is a symbol of dualism, inherited from the Far-East and imported to Anatolia where it suggests the harmony between a man and a woman.

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Star – Yildiz

The star motif on an Anatolian weaving generally means happiness and does not imply heaven for which a cloud, a dragon or a phoenix is used in many works including miniatures and other textiles.
The six pointed star generally known as the Solomon’s Seal is being used in Anatolia since the time of the Phrygians who lived long before the time of Solomon.

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Running Water – Su Yolu

Since it has a great importance for mankind, the theme of running water is widely used on works of art. The pattern varies according to the material on which it is applied. When carved on stone, it assumes an angular shape, while it is curvilinear or triangular on weaves.

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Burdock – Pitrak

Burdock is a plant with burrs which stick to the clothing of people and the hair of animals. It is believed to be capable of warding off the evil eye. On the other hand, the fact that the term “like a burdock” means full of flowers, accounts for the use of this motif on flour bags as a symbol of abundance.

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Hand, Finger, Comb – El, Parmak, Tarak

The number of fingers on the hand, which is five, is used as a protection against evil eye.
In Anatolia the concepts of fertility and motherhood which implies birth are closely related. This relation can be traced back to Kybele and Virgin Mary. During the Islamic period it was symbolized by the name of “Mother Fatma” or “Mother Fadime”. The motif called “Hand of Mother Fadime” is widely used in Anatolian weaves.

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Amulet, Evil Eye – Muska, Nazarlik

It is believed that some people possess a power in their glance which causes harm, injury, misfortune and even death. Evil eyes are various objects that reduce the effect of evil glance, thus protecting the ones who carry them. Blue beads, wild mustard, garlic, sea shells, old coins, lead, mercury, the shell of a small turtle, silver and gold ‘Masallah’ motifs (inscription of the word meaning ‘God save him’ on gold or silver) are used with this purpose.

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Eye – Goz

The source of an evil glance is the human eye. It is believed that the harms it may cause can best be prevented again by a human eye. A diamond divided into four is quite a common representation of the eye as used on weaves. A triangle is a stylized form of the eye.
Some eye motifs are formed of squares and rectangles.

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Cross – Hac

Another motif used against evil eye is the cross formed of a vertical and horizontal line.
According to the Anatolian belief the cross reduces the power of the evil glance by dividing it into four pieces. The motif dates back far before Christianity. There are crosses in the wall painting of Catalhoyuk. A variation of the cross, known as swastika is also being used since very early times.

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Hook – Cengel

Another Anatolian motif used against evil eye is the hook. It is also called “cakmak”, “egri ala”, “balik” and “kucuk kara balik”.
The variation called “gonul cengeli” is mostly used on stockings and implies marriage.

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Snake – Yilan

The history of mankind is closely related with snakes. All the stories of existence include the theme of a serpent offering Eve the forbidden fruit. Black snake is the symbol of happiness and fertility.

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Dragon – Ejder

Dragon is a mythological creature whose feet are like the lion’s, whose tail is like a snake and who has wings. The Turks of Central Asia stylized the dragon with a beak, wings and a lion’s feet. The dragon is the master of air and water. The fight of the dragon and the Phoenix is believed to bring fertile rains of spring.

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Scorpion – Akrep

Due to their fear of its venom, people used to carry jewelry in the form of a scorpion or decorated with the tail of a scorpion in order to protect themselves against this animal. The scorpion motif used on weaves, illustrated below, seek the same purpose.

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Wolf’s Mouth, Wolf’s Track – Kurt Agzi, Kurt Izi

Kurt agzi, also known as dove tail, is a term used in joinery to indicate the triangular fittings connecting the corners of various woodwork. In this context, the motif expresses, like in the fetter motif, the wish for solidarity. But its use on weaves serves a different purpose.

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Tree of Life – Hayat Agaci

The tree is the common theme for all religions believing in a single god. Its fruit which is believed to bring immortality, is forbidden to all mortals when the serpent waiting the tree had convinced Eve to eat it. Mankind, unable to eat the fruit of immortality, put all their hopes on the life after death symbolized by a tree of life.

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Family Signs – Im

Throughout the history, Turks have used specific figures as a family sign. They have used their mark on their weaves as well as their grave stones.
Mogul historian Residuttin, in his book Cami-ut Tevarih and Kasgarli Mahmut in his dictionary Divanu Lugat-it-Turk state that each Oguz tribe had a different sign. Those tribes should have continued to use their sign even after migrating to Anatolia, because many of the weaves bear motifs similar to those signs.

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Bird – Kus

In Anatolia there is no other motif carrying so many different meanings than the bird motif. While birds like owls and ravens imply bad luck, doves, pigeons and nightingales are used to symbolize good luck. The Bird is the symbol of happiness, joy and love. It is the soul of the dead. It is longing, and expectation of news. It stands for power and strength. It is the imperial symbol of various states founded in Anatolia.

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Oriental Rug Glossary

Abrash: Tonal variations that is characteristic of vegetable dyed rugs. This is a very desirable characteristic for collectors. Today, Oriental rugs have Abrash deliberately woven into their rugs.

All-over pattern: A term used to describe a rug that has an even repeating design throughout the field and does not have a central medallion.

Antique Wash: A chemical or natural process that tones down colors to simulate aging.

Arabesque: An ornate curving design of intertwined floral and vine figures often seen in intricate workshop rugs.

Asymmetric Knot: Persian or Senneh knot. A pile knotting technique where only one or the two warps is completely encircled.

Aubusson: Fine flat carpets woven in France from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The Aubusson rugs feature designs of central floral medallions, lovely floras, and graceful scrolls throughout. The designs of these rugs have also been adapted to pile carpets and are now woven in India and China.


Bakhtiari: The Bakhtiari confederation of tribes covers much of central and southwestern Iran. Small rugs and trappings are woven by migratory Bakhtiari, while large carpets of great magnificence are woven in the settled villages. The most classic pattern is the garden design of repeated squares or diamonds, each of which encloses a tree or blossom motif.

Baluch: A nomadic tribe living in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Baluch weave many types of small rugs, animal trappings and tent furnishings. They favor deep tones of blue, dark brown, earthy red and touches of natural ivory.

Bergama: Bergama rugs are divided by Kazak type and Turkish type. Kazak type rugs have big geometrical designs. Turkish type usually have designs are very floral and embroidered with leaves of pine trees with evil eyes at the edges.

Bessarabian: Designs usually feature curvilinear floral patterns that are sophisticated and elaborate.

Bidjar: For many decades, the Bidjar has been called the “cast-iron rug of the East”. This style of weaving, combined with excellent, lanolin-rich wool, creates a rug of almost unbelievable durability.

Blocking: Stretching flat and tacking down a wet rug to bring it back to its original shape.

Bokhara: The capital of Uzbekistan and the traditional trading center for Turkmen tribal carpets. The pattern most associated with Bokhara rugs is that of rows of repeated geometric motifs, or Guls, woven on a red background.

Border: Bands of varying widths that runs around the perimeter of the rug.

Botech: A motif representing a pine cone, a palmetto, the sacred flame of Zoroaster, an ancient Persian prophet or a Cypress tree. Botech is sometimes called a Paisley Pattern.


Carpet: Any rug that is larger than 9 foot by 12 foot.

Cartoon: A diagram of design and colors drawn on paper used as a guide to weave a rug.

Carving: Handheld carving tools are used to accentuate details of hooked, tufted and hand knotted rugs, or to create a 3-D effect on solid color rugs.

Caucasian: A generic name describing boldly colored geometric designs originating from the Caucasus Mountains in Southern Russia.

Chobi Rug: Chobi refers to a rug whose color resembles wood. The majority of the Chobi rugs and carpets have light brownish color. Chobi rugs usually are chemically washed to achieve an antique look.


Derakhti: Iranian rug featuring a tree symbolizing life, wealth, health and Heaven.

Dhurrie: A reversible, flat-woven rug that is usually woven in India with either cotton or wool.

Donkeybags: Utilitarian Oriental rugs sewn onto bags used for carrying goods.

Dorokhsh: Rugs with floral motifs and medallions. Older rugs have wool foundations while newer ones have cotton.


Embossing: Carving around a design or symbol to enhance the look of the rug. This process is commonly used on some Chinese and Tibetan rugs.


Farahan: A region in Iran that is known for finely knotted late 19th century rugs. Most rugs have cotton foundation with wefts dyed in either blue or pink. Green color is commonly used. The rugs usually have a tight all over field pattern of tiny floral motifs.

Field: The main section of the rug that is surrounded by the border.

Foundation: The strands of warp and weft which make up the base of the rug.

Fringe: The excess warp threads extending from the end of the rug sometimes finished in a macramï style knotting.


Gabbeh: Thick, long-piled rugs produced by the tribes of Fars.

Genje: Long rugs, mostly 3ft or 4ft by 9ft or 10ft depicting diagonal and colorful bars throughout the field.

Ghiordes: A town in western Turkey where small prayer rugs were woven. The rugs have small geometric and pointed mihrab surrounded by three or more borders.

Gul: Octagonal or angular repetitive medallions usually elongated and divided into four. The word means “rose or flower”.


Hali: A Turkish word for rug.

Halicilik: A Turkish word for rug merchant.

Hamedan: Rugs made in Hamedan, one of the oldest cities in the world. Hamedan rugs have a geometric pattern with a single-weft medallion.

Handle: The weight and stiffness or flexibility of a rug.

Hatchli: An old rug design where the field is divided into sections by stripes or bars. Hatchli rugs were originally used to cover the entrances of Turkoman tents.

Herati Design: A design featuring four leaves woven around a diamond. This design is sometimes called the Fish design although it has no resemblance to a fish.

Hereke: The finest contemporary Turkish rugs are still made in Hereke. Wool, silk, and metallic threads are all used.

Heriz: Large bold geometric designed rugs that are firmly woven.


Inscription: Script which is woven into an oriental rug. The script can be a date, name or initials of a weaver, some religious or poetic quote or a name of a religious donor.


Kilim: A flat woven rug.

Kolyai: Rugs that have bright and lively colors, usually with a large central medallion in a hexagonal Herati diamond design. Many Koliai carpets are runners of great length, 20 to 40 feet being.

Konya: A famous Turkish city of rug production. Prayer rugs with red backgrounds are popular as well as Yastiks and mats.


Ladik: A famous Turkish carpet production area that is known for small prayer rugs primarily in red and blue with mihrab depictions.


Mafrash: Large bags used by nomads.

Medallion: A large design found in the center of some Oriental rugs.

Melas: Melas is a small town in Turkey. Melas rugs are very finely woven commonly found with the mihrab design.

Mihrab: A typical design in a prayer rug derived from the niche or chamber in a mosque.

Mina Khani: A rug with a design field that is covered with daisies and connected together with lines that form diamonds or circles in an all-over pattern.

Mordants: Metallic salts, generally of iron, tin, copper or aluminum, used to attach certain natural dyes to wool fibers.

Motifs: Single or repeated design elements found throughout a rug.


Namakdan: A woven salt bag used by nomads during their travels.

Navajo rugs: Navajo rugs are very famous for their unique flat woven design.


Oriental rug: A handmade carpet. Rugs that are Oriental design made by machine or any other method other than hand-knotting or hand-weaving are not considered authentic Oriental rugs.


Panderma: Panderma rugs have beige, coral and or light green coloration.

Pile: A rugs surface, formed by the creation of knots in the foundation.

Prayer Rugs: A small Oriental rug typically 2 -4 feet wide and 4-8 feet long.

Pushti: A small mat measuring about 2 x 3 feet.


Quashqai: A confederacy of tribes known for high quality antique tribal rugs.

Quatref: Round symmetrical ornaments with four lobes.


Raj: Number of knots per 7 cm.

Reciprocal design: A motif in contrasting colors but a consistent repeating pattern.

Rosette: A circular arrangement of motifs radiating out from the center of a rug suggesting the petals of a rose.

Runners: Rugs that generally measure not more than 3-4 feet wide and 8-20 feet in length.


Sardinian Rugs: Very precious rugs from Sardinia, Italy with the central section depicting figures or geometrical patterns.

Serapi: Serapi carpets are best known for their large, bold geometric patterns.

Sofreh: A small flat woven rectangular cloth used as a tablecloth.

Soumak: A flat-weave rug with a herringbone effect. This rug appears to resemble embroidery work.

Spandrel: An ornamental treatment located at the corners of a field.

Strap work: An interlacing design resembling straps.


Tabriz: Tabriz weavers are known to copy many designs that include medallions, hunting patterns, prayer and pictorial rugs.

Tapestry: A hand woven wall hanging with a flat weave.

Tea Wash: A procedure used to give an antique appearance to a rug.


Ushak: Ushak rugs generally have a medallion design or an all over pattern design.


Varamin: Persian carpets decorated with flowers in vases. Many Varamin rugs can only be viewed from one direction.

Vase carpet: A group of Persian carpets decorated with flowers in vases. Many Vase carpets can only be viewed from one direction.

Village rugs: Rugs that are made in villages or small workshops.


War rugs: Rugs woven during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. These rugs depict weapons of war, including tanks, guns and helicopters.

Warp: The lengthwise or vertical threads of yarn on which the weaver ties the knots.

Weft: Threads of yarn that run the width of the rug. The thread inserted across the width of the loom after each row of knots to hold them in place.


Yalameh rug: Village rugs typically with diamond medallions that are surrounded by geometric and animal motifs.

Yastik: A 3 x 1 foot Turkish rug usually used as a pillow or cushion cover.

Yomud: Yomud rugs are more colorful than any other Turkoman tribal rugs. Main field color is reddish brown while borders are frequently in ivory.

Yuruk: Turkish term for a nomad living in Turkey.


Zoroaster: An ancient Persian prophet.



Prayer rugs


Prayer rug, Arabic sajjāda, Persian namāzlik, one of the major types of rug produced in central and western Asia, used by Muslims primarily to cover the bare ground or floor while they pray. Prayer rugs are characterized by the prayer niche, or mihrab, an arch-shaped design at one end of the carpet. The mihrab, which probably derives from the prayer niche in mosques, must point toward Mecca while the rug is in use.

Mihrabs may appear in a variety of forms. Those on the prayer rugs of Anatolia, where the greatest number of these rugs have been made, are usually pointed and often have a step motif along their sides. Mihrabs on Persian rugs, however, are characteristically curvilinear and elegant, while those on Caucasian and Turkmen rugs are invariably rectilinear. Some prayer rugs have two or three mihrabs side by side and are known as “brothers’ rugs.” Ṣaffs, or large prayer rugs used simultaneously by a large number of persons, are subdivided into many small compartments, each of which has a mihrab.

Prayer rugs are often decorated with religious symbols that serve the worshiper as aids to memory. Lamps, for example, recall the lamps of mosques, and the comb and water pitcher are reminders that the Muslim is required to wash his hands and comb his beard before prayer. Often Caucasian rugs also show stylized hands on both sides of the mihrab to indicate where the hands are placed during prayer.

The Importance of Natural Dyes

From Bohmer (2002) Source:
One must accept that all dyes, with the possible exception of chrome (chemical) dyes, have a tendency to fade with time and the prevailing ambient conditions.
What is so attractive, in the antique carpet, is that its natural colors tend to be modified with the years and, for instance, what seems to be a solid blue at the first superficial glance will, upon closer and careful scrutiny, reveal many nuances and shades of blue!  This is what gives the textile its “surface interest” and makes it come alive.  The finest of new carpets with the best chrome dyes can never achieve this miracle!  The colors of the antique rug also have a glow, called patina, which beggars description!  Only the experience of inspecting many of these antique rugs in person can grant one the necessary appreciation of this phenomenon!!

Traditional Dye Processes
There are three main different processes used to dye wool.

Direct Dyeing:
This is the oldest method of dyeing fibers. Some examples are purple dyeing as carried out on the coast of Mexico using purple shells and some methods of indigo dyeing.
Mordant Dyeing:
This method was discovered sometime between 4000 and 3000 BC in Mesopotamia. In this method, the wool is previously treated with certain salts, so that the dyes would bind to the wool fibers, resulting in a more-or-less colorfast dye. Some examples of mordants are alum, iron salts, copper salts, and tin salts. The type of mordant also affects the intensity of the colors.
Vat Dyeing:
This is the method used with indigo, discovered in the third or fourth millennium BC. It is debated whether this technique was discovered in Mesopotamia, India, and Egypt independently. It was also independently discovered in South America. This method is a combination of a reduction and oxidation process. The water insoluble blue dye from the indigo plant is extracted through a fermentation process. Then, it undergoes oxidation, converting the blue to a water-soluble, yellow dye. This is placed in a vat with the wools. When the wool is pulled out of the vat, it undergoes oxidation and again produces the water-insoluble blue indigo. Since the blue indigo dye is not chemically bound to the fibers, it is not very resistant to abrasion, especially on cotton.

After the wool is dyed, it is the tradition in Turkey to immerse the freshly dyed wool into an alkaline ash solution. Generally, this darkens the colors and adds a gloss to the wool.

Long ago dyers realized that as more wool was dyed in a single dyepot, colors became weaker and weaker. Dyers use this notion of depleated dyes to their advantage. The first dyeing produces a deep, strong color. Subsequent dyeings in the same dyepot produce lighter, softer colors. Such changes can often be observed in handmade, hand-dyed rugs in a phenomenon called abrage.

Some Examples of Traditional Natural Dyes
Rubia tinctorum (Common madder)
Red and Violet
Red and violet dyes can be obtained from both plants and insects.

– Common or Dyers’ Madder (Rubia tinctorum)
Turkish Name: Kök, Kökboya, Yapişkan otu
The finger-thick roots of this shrub is used for the dye. It is believed to have originated in Anatolia, but it is found in the Caucasus, Iran, and western Central Asia. Various hues from red to violet can be obtained.

From Bohmer (2002)
Kerria lacca (Lac)
Roots of the madder plant
– Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
Turkish name: Aspır
The yellow dye from this plant was considered useless, but the red dye was valued, despite its poor lightfastness. This can be seen on the 16th&17th century “Polish” carpets (really Persian), although the red is completely faded.

– Also others such as Lady’s Bedstraw, Dyers’ Alkanet, Pokeberry

Red is also often obtained from dye-insects. Some of the most famous textiles in the world contain this kind of red. For example, the Pazyryk Carpet has a red dye from the Polish kermes, the Safavid prayer rug from Persian in the Topkapı Museum has a lac red, Roman textiles from Palmyra has red from the Ararat kermes, and Ottoman sultan silks and many later Oriental rugs and kilims have a red dye from the cochineal.

– Mediterranean Kermes (Kermes vermilio)
This is a parasite of the kermes oak that is common on the Mediterranean coast and also probably in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Females filled with their unborn larvae are collected, killed in vinegar, and dried. Now, it is mostly replaced by cochineal. It provides a bright red with a light yellow tinge, similar to madder red.

– Ararat Kermes or Armenian Kermes (Porphyrophora hameli)
This is a parasite that lives on the roots of two varieties of grass that grow in salt marshes on both sides of the Araxas river. On silk, it provides a medium pink and on wool, it provides a darker red.

– Lac (Kerria lacca)
This insect is native to India and other southeast Asian countries. Wingless, fertilized females settle on young twigs of a plant and begin to suck the sap. They then secrete a resin-like material that eventually covers the whole colony and forms a mass around the twigs that enclose the insects. These twigs are gathered and treated to obtain a red dye.

– Cochineal (Dactylopius coccus)
This insect is native to Central America and lives on cactus. The sucking female lice becomes covered with a white substance. When pierced, they secrete a dark red drop. The cochineal red has taken over the Old World dye-insects mentioned above in the volume of the dye and the brilliance of the color. Cochineal red is a dark red with alum mordant and violet with ferric mordant.

Dactylopius coccus (Cochineal)
Distinguishing Insect and Madder Red
Although distinguishing the different reds is difficult for the untrained eye, there is a distinct difference in the colors. Madder red is a warm red with a red tinge and can even tend toward orange. In contrast, reds from insects are cool reds with a touch of blue. Differentiating between cochineal and lac reds are more difficult. However, in general, cochineal red is more brilliant and luminous than lac red, which tends to appear matt and dark.
Hexaplex trunculus (Purple snail)
– Purple Snails
Purple dyeing can be done through the use of purple snails, mainly Bolius randaris and Hexaplex trunculus. Often specified as Tyrian purple, in ancient times, it was highly desired, very prestigious, and expensive. The method was probably discovered in the 12th century by the Phoenicians on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and eventually spread to Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the purple dyeing with the use of snails dyed out in the Mediterranean. Now, it can be seen only in the Pacific coast of Mexico. In ancient times, snails were removed from their shells, the hypobrochial gland was cut out, salted, and then processed. In modern times, a more humane process is used, which does not require the killing of the snails.
Yellow and Orange
There are numerous plants that dye yellow, although many of them tend to fade.

– Dyers’ Weed or Weld (Reseda luteola)
Turkish name: Muhabbet çiçeği
All of the above-ground plant parts, fresh or dried, gathered shortly before it stops blooming in June is used. It provides an intensive yellow color with very good lighfastness. The plant is native to western Asia and the Mediterranean area. It was preferred by the Romans and also found on the Uşak carpets and 16th-century “Lotto” carpets. This dye plant stopped being used in Turkey and Europe toward the end of the 19th century due to the introduction of synthetic dyes. However, since the 1980s, they are being increasingly used again due to the reintroduction of natural dyes in Turkey.

Varieties of Chamomile (Just in Turkey at least 50 species are known)
– Anthemis chia
Turkish name: Beyaz papatya
The flowers are used to obtain a yellow with sufficient colorfastness. Found in western and southern Turkey and southern Europe.
Anthemis tinctoria (Yellow chamomile)
– Golden Marguerite or Yellow Chamomile or Dyer’s Chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria)
Turkish name: Boyacı papatya, Sarı papatya
Flowers are used to obtain a yellow with sufficient colorfastness. Found in Turkey, Europe, and southwestern Asia.

– Chrysanthemum coronarium and other varieties of Chrysanthemum
Fresh or dried flowers are used to obtain a orange-yellow with good lighfastness. Found in the entire Mediterranean region, as far east as Iran.

– Barberry (Berberis crataegina)
Turkish name: Karamuk
The fresh or dried roots and bark from this plant has been repeatedly mentioned in Turkey as a dyeplant. However, the yellow obtained from this plant tends to turn brown with exposure to light. The plant is found throughout southwestern Asia on stony slopes. During WWI, Turkish army tents were dyed with barberry.
Puica granatum (Pomegranate)
– Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
Turkish name: Nar ağacı
The fresh or dried peels of the fruit are used. Yellow with adequate lighfastness can be obtained with an alum mordant and a yellow-brown to black with good lightfastness can be obtained with a ferrous mordant. The plant is native to southwestern Asia.

– Saffron (Crocus sativus)
Turkish name: Safran
The stigmata of the flowers are used and its price is close to that of gold. The robes of Persian kings were dyed with saffron, which gives a light yellow color, but with inadequate lightfastness. Saffron is known primarily as a spice, medicine, and for perfumes. It is believed that the Asia Minor was the original home of the plant, but has been cultivated for over 3000 years.

– Inula viscose
Turkish name: Güve otu, Bit otu
The flowers, leaves, and stems, preferably fresh, are used to obtain an intensive yellow that can change to brown-yellow due to the influence of light. The plant is found throughout the Mediterranean area and this dye has been identified in several antique carpets from Bergama.

– There are also numerous other plants such as Three-leafed sage, Strawflowers, Chaste Tree or Monks’ Pepper Tree, Yarrow, Thyme, Verbascum, Foxglove, Daphne oleoides, Sorrel, Dyer’s Sumac, Sicilian Sumac, and Anatolian Buchthorn.
However, these tend not to be as lighfast as the ones mentioned above.
Juglans regia (Walnut oak)
There is only one significant dyeplant for brown, the walnut family.

– Walnut Tree (Juglans regia)
Turkish name: Ceviz ağacı
Fresh or dried leaves and the husks of the nuts are used to produce a brown dye with excellent lightfastness. The walnut tree is native to the Balkans, Asia Minor, and the Middle East. Interestingly, classical Turkish carpets from the 15th to 17th century do not have walnut brown, although Persian carpets from the same time period do.

Black dyes are possible when tannins combine with iron. However, this causes the corrosion of the wool. Use of ferrous mud and salts are less harmful. In addition, a black that is totally free of corrosion can be produced through a triple dyeing process. First the wool is dyed blue with indigo, followed by yellow from dyer’s weed, and finally dyed red with madder. Black seen in classical Persian carpets were made this way.
Quercus ithaburensis (Walloon oak)
– Walloon Oak (Quercus ithaburensis)
Turkish name: Palamut meşesi
The acorn caps from this tree native to the open forests of western Turkey, southern Italy, and southern part of Balkans are used. First a lightfast, yellow-brown color is achieved by boiling the wool with the acorn caps and leaving them soaking for several hours, followed by a rinse and dip in alkaline water (mixed with ashes). In order to make this turn black, a hot mordant bath with ferrous salts is used.

– Quercus infectoria
Turkish name: Mazı meşesi
These are gallnuts, a cancer-like growth on trees, produced by gall wasps on some species of oak.

– Also other plants have suitable amounts of tannin such as Sicilian sumac and Mullein (Verbascum)

Indigo produces a beautiful blue that is lightfast, has been used for four thousand years. It has no natural competitors, although now synthetic indigo, which is virtually indistinguishable by just looking, is made. However, indigo does not chemically join with the molecules of the fibers. It is only attached by a mild adhesion to the surface of the wool. This is why it is not resistant to abrasion. Vat dyeing is the usual method, but direct dyeing is also used in some areas such as northeastern India, Laos, Malaysia, and Indonesia (see top of page for details on various dyeing methods). There are many species of plants that contain the preliminary stages of indigo, but only a few from the Indigofera family are used for dyeing.
Indigofera tinctoria (Indigo)
– Indigo Shrub (Indigofera tinctoria)
This plant is the only member in the Indigoferafamily that is indigenous worldwide in tropical and subtropical areas. First, shortly before the plants blossom, they are cut above the ground before sunrise. Then, after the branches are bundled, they are weighed down with tree trunks and covered with water. Fermentation starts at temperatures greater than 86 degrees F (30 degrees C), which cause the enzymes in the plants and bacteria to break down the indicant in the leaves into a soluble yellow indoxyl and glucose. Fermentation continues for over 12 hours. When the resulting yellow indoxyl comes in contact with oxygen on the surface of the water, an iridescent layer of indigo forms. When the fermentation is finished, the liquid and plant materials are separated. Then, the long oxidation process follows. The yellow liquid is stirred so that oxygen comes in contact as much as possible to form the insoluble indigo. This sinks to the bottom and forms an indigo slurry, which is then strained. The remaining water is then removed, either by boiling or straining over a finely woven cloth or bed of sand and formed into clumps.

– In addition, Dyer’s Woad (Isatis tinctoria), Dyer’s Knotweed (Polygonum tinctorum), and Marsdenia tinctoria are some other plants that are used to produce blue dyes. 

How to Calculate Carpet Density



The density of a carpet is one of many factors that determine a carpet’s quality and overall performance. Despite a common misconception, carpet density and carpet face weight are not interchangeable terms that mean the same thing, although face weight is one factor used to calculate density.  Face weight and density are two entirely different components when it comes to evaluation of the quality of a carpet.


  • Carpet face weight refers to the weight of the fiber found one square yard of carpet. the standard is measured in ounces.
  • Carpet density refers to how closely together the fibers are tufted into the carpet backing.

How to Calculate Carpet Density

Carpet density is calculated using the following formula:

  1. Carpet face weight multiplied by 36
  2. divided by carpet pile height
  3. equals density, measured in ounces per cubic yard

The pile height is the length of the carpet fibers from their end tips to the point where they reach the carpet backing. In the above formula, pile height should be represented as a fraction of an inch, reflected in decimal format. For example, a pile height of one-half of an inch would be represented as 0.5, while a pile height of a one-quarter of an inch would be 0.25, and so on.

The number that results from the above density calculation will be a four-digit number. For example, a carpet with a 50-ounce face weight and a pile height of half of an inch would have a density of 3600 ounces per cubic yard (50 x 36 / 0.5 = 3600).

Judging Carpet Quality

Don’t use one factor alone as an indicator of a carpet’s overall quality. All factors (density, face weight, twistfiber type, etc.) all work together in a carpet to determine how the carpet will look and perform overall. Each of these factors must all be taken into consideration when making a decision on the appropriate carpet for your home.

However, all other things being equal, the higher the carpet density, the more durable the carpet will be, and the more pleasing it will be underfoot. Just as lawn of turf grass is more luxuriant if the grasses are thick underfoot, a carpet with higher pile density will feel plusher and will hold up better under wear.

Minimum Density Values

For optimal performance in normal household conditions, a density value of 3000 or higher is ideal. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, extra heavy traffic conditions (such as are found in heavy commercial use) require a minimum density of 5000.

Carpet Weaving in Iran



“All around the world, Iranian carpets are the symbol of poetical luxury”

A. Pope

When we talk of carpets, involuntarily, the name of Iran comes to mind. The great art experts of the world believe this fact. The 2 words of carpet and Iran are synonymous in any language, therefore, carpets being the obvious symbol of the Iranian talent in art.

We can positively affirm that the finest and the most sumptuous carpets of the world are woven in Iran. The art of carpet weaving in Iran is deeply connected with the culture and the customs of the people of this land and it sources from their instinctive feelings. Iranian skillful carpet weavers mix wonderful patterns with admirable colors, an art which is only expected from outstanding painters. Art experts in the world compare the Iranian carpet to a multicolored pleasant garden, full of flowers, vegetables, birds and beasts and terrestrial and legendary creatures. Everyone can possess this little charming garden in his house.

Prof. Pope States: the priceless historical carpets of Kashan are symbol of the Iranian genuine art. The different phases of perfection in this industry show the life and the culture of Iranian people.

The Iranian carpet in an image of the time spirit of this country’s various arts. It is not clearly known, where the very first carpet was woven. Archaeologists and chronologists of the history of art believe that carpet weaving was invented by the people who’s main line of occupation was cattle rising.

Agriculture and cattle rising were among the first occupations of the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau. These people, who were in contact with domestic animals, gradually became familiar with the utilization of wool and its properties. Garment making was the first step and gradually a sort of weaving was established for covering the floor.  These primitive rugs replaced the hides of animals, formerly used as floor coverings. Considering this process, it is acceptable that those inhabitants of the Iranian plateau, whose occupation was cattle rising and agriculture, are the first weavers of carpet and the inventors of this art.

The most ancient Iranian carpet adorns one of the halls of the “Hermitage” museum in Leningrade. This carpet which is partly intact was accidentally discovered by Prof. Rodenko, in the border of Moqolestan, a region called “Pazirik”, under piles of ice.

This Pazirik carpet was placed in the large sarcophagus (coffin) of a Satrap (Hakhamaneshian governor general, 33~35O BC) near his mummified body. Thus carpet weaving has been common in Iran since at least 25 centuries ago. The Pazirik carpet was used to cover horses and according to Rodlenko’s statement, was made by Mad, or Pars (Hakhamaneshian) artists. The measures of this carpet are 2xl.83 meters, and its exact copy has been reconstructed.

From the blooming period of the art of carpet weaving in Iran, relatively numerous samples are being preserved in the world’s greatest museums and private collections. Art experts in Iran and around the world have published numerous books and essays about the most outstanding carpets of Iran. These carpets are the reminiscence of the golden age of carpet weaving in Iran.

The “Ardabil” carpet preserved in the museum of “Victoria and Albert” in London, from the viewpoint of design and weaving is one of the world’s most famous and precious carpets. This carpet was woven in 1539 AD, and its warp and woof is of silk.

The “Hunting Ground” carpet preserved in the “Art and Industry” museum of Austria is also among the most sumptuous and precious carpets of the world. Images show hunters, while hunting different sorts of animals. This carpet was woven in the 16th century and is entirely made of silk. Other samples of the ‘Iranian famous carpets are preserved in the museums of Paris, Metropolitan, Iran-e-Bastan and Astaneh-Kodseh Razavi in the city of Mashhad. In 1601 AD, also several pieces of costly silken carpets were woven in Kashan by the order of Sigmond Vaza, King of Poland.

The artists of the Safavi era have created the world’s most magnificent masterpieces, and the Safavi reign is considered to be the brilliant era of this art. The painters of the Safavi era comprised a deep transformation in the patterns and designs of carpets. And skillful weavers using the choicest kinds of wool and silk gave life to their imaginations.

The carpets of this era are generally in silk. The subject of their patterns is: cypress trees, floral designs, scenes of hunting grounds and patterns. The main part of the carpet is the context; and the patterns in the margins help reveal the beauty of the context. Iranian carpets are of 3 kinds: carpets, rugs (small carpets), and side carpets. Rugs are smaller than carpets and side carpets are used to cover the corridors and the margins of a room. The designs and colors of Iranian carpets are unique and very diverse. Now a day, the patterns of superior carpets borrow inspirations from those of the Safavi era.

The art of carpet weaving is common almost in all the cities and villages of Iran. Cities, villages and rustic regions are major centers of carpet production. The cities of Kashan, Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashhad, Kerman, Qom, Nain, Sanandaj, Arak and Hamedan are the main centers where costly carpets are woven. Rustic people use agreeable styles in weaving carpets. From the old times, women and the youth, girls and boys are the best carpet weavers in Iran. The out of designing carpets has always instinctively existed in their hearts. Through time, the designs of these carpets have been prepared by great masters.

Today, outstanding designers have set forth innovations. Iran is the birthplace of wonderful designs for carpets. The patterns of Iranian carpets are mostly inspired from those of the unique Iranian tile-works and miniature. Images of gardens, full of flowers and trees, different types of birds and animals, legendary creatures, scenes of hunting grounds and design, bestow a paradisiac beauty to Iranian carpets. Iranian carpets possess at once the 3 qualities of fineness, elegance and durability, and for these reasons are unique in the world. The skillful carpet weavers are anonymous artists. Only a few weavers of carpets left behind from the past are known. Carpet weaving is a complicated art, showing at the utmost level the talent, taste, perseverance and the creativity of Iranian artists. In addition, it requires months of ceaseless effort, work and high costs.

The examination of the art of carpet weaving requires an elaborated and detailed chapter in the history of arts in Iran. From a certain point of view this chapter seems endless….!

Iranian People and Tribes: Baluchis


The Baluchis are the ancient genuine Iranians who have their exclusive and special celebrations and feats.

Basluchis first moved to the region in the twelfth century. During the Moghul period, this territory became known as “Baluchistan.”

Their name, “Baluch/Baloch,” is shrouded in controversy. Some say it means “nomad,” while others claim that it is an Aryan (Old Persian) word meaning “the cock’s crest.”

Balochi language is spoken in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, the Persian Gulf Arab-States, Turkmenistan and East Africa. It is classified as a member of the Iranian group of the Indo-European language family which includes Kurdish, Persian, Pashto, Dari, Tajik, Ossetian. Baluchi is closely related to Kurdish and Persian.



There are two main dialects: Eastern and Western. It is difficult to estimate the total number of Baluchi speakers, but there are probably around six million, most of whom speak Western Baluchi, which is also the dialect that has been most widely used in Baluchi literature. Within the Western dialect are two further dialects, Rakhshani (in the northern areas) and Makrani (in the south). The areas where Eastern Baluchi dialects are spoken (the north-eastern areas of Pakistani Baluchistan, Punjab and Sindh) are in many ways less developed, especially when it comes to education, which accounts for why it is little used in the written form.

For a curious visitor who arrives in ancient province of Sakestan, or today Sistan va Baluchistan, the first interesting issue that attracts the attention most is the way Baluchis are dressed up. Baluchis have preserved their way of clothing with a slight change.

Men wear long shirts, loose pants resembling Partho-Sasanid outfits, added by a turban around their heads while women put on loose dress and pants with needle works that are special of the people of the area and is not common in other parts of the country.

The upper part of the dress and sleeves are decorated with needle works, an artistic work that is specific of the clothing of the women Baluchis. They cover their hair with a scarf that is called `Sarig’ in the local dialect.

Baluchi women usually put on gold ornaments such as necklace and bracelet but their special jewelry is `Dorr’ or heavy earrings that are fastened to the head with gold chains so that their heavy weight will not cause the tearing of the ear. They usually wear a gold brooch called `Tasni’ that are made by local jewelers in various shapes and are used to fasten the two parts of the dress over the chest.

Apart from the dressing style of the Baluchis, there are interesting points in the way they live and in their traditions and customs that this article tries to illustrate in parts. Indigenous and local traditions and customs were of greater importance to the Baluchis in the past as apparently up to about half a century ago when the central and provincial government of the chieftains were imposed as the individual dictatorships.

Therefore, it can be concluded that there were no formulated laws and regulations in order to regulate social behaviors. Under such circumstances, traditions and customs in fact filled the vacuum caused by the absence of laws which were used in the regulation of many social relations and therefore enjoyed special credit among the Baluchi tribal people.

Abdolghaffar Nadim in his book `Gashin’ that is written in Baluchi language says: “The Baluchi folklore is being inspired by the Baluchi way of life and, therefore, could have addressed many needs of the tribal people who were forced to settle their disputes on the basis of their traditions and customs in the absence of a powerful central government.”

Here, it is only enough to review the Baluchi traditions within the two categories of cooperation and feasts:
1. Beggari: This is a custom specific of the time when the Baluchi youth reaches the age of marriage but apparently his family cannot afford the marriage expenses due to their economic condition. Under such circumstances, the youth would go to his relatives and friends and would discuss with them his decision about marriage and would ask for their `Beggari’, or in other words, their contribution.

Such a tradition is so strongly respected that even the poorest member of the family cannot remain indifferent towards such a demand and feels obliged to pay a certain amount of money in cash or offer material aid. Lack of participation in such a benevolent affair will cause humiliation and disgrace. Therefore, although Beggari is a voluntary contribution, however, a social compulsion can be traced in it somehow. Even in the case of those who have no children and cannot benefit from the advantages of Beggari in future, participation in this benevolent act guarantees further social credit. As a result of this, marriage is being made more easily among Baluchis as the community is meeting the cost.

2. Hashar: This is a custom that is applied when an individual cannot perform a task alone and needs help of the others.

Traditionally, working for money is not customary, and those who need help would go to their relatives and friends and would inform them of their decision to do a special job on a specific day and for that purpose they need a certain number of work force. Under such circumstances, as many volunteers may join the collective work without being paid.

If the work is accomplished within a day, the only thing that the employer has to do is to prepare lunch and dinner for the workers by usually slaughtering a sheep for making the required food. If the work takes longer, more preparations will be made and new volunteers will substitute the previous ones.

However, there would be enough volunteers to complete the work through collective cooperation, as it is not customary to give a negative response to the call for contribution.

Such a habit is mostly customary in rural areas where people are mainly engaged in agriculture where Hashar is being practiced in various stages of the work from cultivation to harvest. It is also widely practiced in building rural houses and bridges and in collecting dates. Such a habit is still practiced given its positive social effects despite the fact that paid work is gradually established.

3. Bagi: This custom was widely practiced in the past while these days it is losing importance in areas going through the trend of urbanization.

In the practice of such a tradition, people are used to cook extra food and would distribute it among needy people in their neighborhood. Those who were well off and could have better nutrition would carefully observe this.

The positive social impact of such a tradition has removed the negative feeling of humiliation as receiving Bagi is not tantamount to receiving donations but rather is some sort of contribution among neighbors and is not limited to a specific person or a specific family.

Bagi is not merely confined to consumption but is performed in a wider dimension that forges greater convergence among neighbors and minimizes probable disputes. At the meantime, it helps fair distribution of limited facilities.

4. Divan: Settlement of disputes in their everyday life is of great importance. In order to solve problems, people would gather in a place and while studying various aspects of disputes, they try to find the best possible solution in an effort to secure satisfaction of the parties involved. The place in the local dialect is called `Divan’ and is normally a house that belongs to the eldest member of the community.

Of course Divan is not merely exclusive for the settlement of disputes but is also used for exchange of information and consultations for the coordination of affairs. However, the significance of Divan at the time of the settlement of disputes lies in the fact that although decision-making at Divan is not legally valid, however, it is applicable and is rarely ignored by the parties to the dispute.

The reason is that presence of the gathering at the place is to some extent the executive and moral guarantee for the parties to the dispute and if one party for any reason ignores the agreement reached at Divan, in fact it would damage its own social credibility. If Divan fails to settle the dispute, the case will be solved on the basis of the rules of the religion.

The tradition of Divan is being gradually forgotten in both rural and urban areas but it is still being enforced among some tribes. A unified Judicial system in fact have substituted traditional Divan and the elderly people are still settling regulations in rural and urban areas but not completely as in primary stages attempts are made to resolve the disputes through local traditions and at the Divans of the elderly.

5. Mayar: The habit is inspired by a social reality and need for the support of the oppressed against the oppressor. When a powerful individual is oppressing a powerless person for any reason, the former can seek help from a stronger person who has enough power to defend his right. Given the undertakings that the host feels towards the person who seeks help as `Mayar’, he is free either to accept the demand or deny it.

But, as soon as he accepts, the social tradition puts the responsibility of the Mayar’s defense on the shoulder of the host. Of course, the importance of the tradition becomes further evident when the person who seeks help is not guilty and whose rights have been trampled upon. However, when the person seeks help according to the tradition of Mayar, he becomes a member of the family and tribe of the host and can enjoy his support until his problem is solved.

Sometimes the situation will remain unchanged forever and the person who seeks help will remain in the new condition. Therefore, it will become part of the responsibility of the host to find a job for the person who seeks help and puts enough capital at his disposal. This will help enable the powerless people to defend themselves against the oppressors.

6. Karch-va-Kapon: This tradition is practiced when a person for any reason kills someone else, either intentionally or unintentionally. Under such circumstances an unreasonable feeling of revenge will afflict the Baluchi tribes to the extent that no matter to what tribe the murderer belonged, if he is out of reach, a member of his family or one of his relatives can be killed in his place or, in other words, take revenge.

Under these circumstances many innocent people will become victim of such a revenge merely for belonging to a certain family or tribe. At this moment, in an effort to prevent further bloodshed, the elderly members of the family resort to the custom of `shroud and knife.’ They send the murderer together with a knife and a piece of white cloth to the family of the person who has been killed and they are free either to punish him or forgive him.

However, punishment of the murderer is not a proven act from social and scientific points of view while forgiveness is the manifestation of generosity. For this reason, the murderer will be forgiven and returned to his family.

Sometimes it may happen that in order to remove all the hostilities and misunderstandings, the two families prepare marriages as a means to put aside differences. Of course, sometimes ransom would be demanded. In that case the family of the murderer or the tribe to which he belongs will pay the money.

Although prosecution of the murderer falls within the authority of the law, however, there are still evidences indicating that tribal people are willing to safeguard the tradition of `shroud and knife’.

7. Patardeyag: This tradition is practiced when there is a quarrel between two or more members of a tribe. The side that is guilty of fomenting the quarrel accepts to apologize but not verbally rather through a mediator who is usually an elderly of the tribe. No matter how deep the difference, the other party usually accepts the apology, as its rejection will cause criticism of others.

Following the acceptance of the apology, the side that had fomented the quarrel will invite the other party to a dinner party through the mediator and a sheep is slaughtered on the occasion. There is no need for verbal apology and normally no word would be said about issues causing the dispute. Holding the Patardeyag ceremony implies acceptance of the apology and removal of all differences.


1. Mangir: The important Baluchi traditions are mainly in connection with their ceremonies and feats.

The marriage ceremony stands prominently among such festivities as it goes through different stages starting from engagement to the wedding ceremony. Public participation in the wedding ceremony is normal as in other parts of the country but with slight differences. But there is one exclusive difference in the wedding ceremony and that is the Mangir ceremony.

It seems that the ceremony is a custom acquired by the Baluchi tribes from other customs. Mangir is the ceremony for the simultaneous mass marriage of several couples for various reasons, notably economic considerations.

What further supports the idea is the holding of mass wedding ceremony among lower class people of the society. This would not only reduce the costs but would also economize in time as in the past wedding ceremonies used to last for seven days.

2. Sepat: Festivities that are held in Baluchistan at the time of the birth of new babies are called Sepat. Some parts of the ceremonies are influenced by superstitious presumptions believing that both the baby and the mother are threatened by a genie called Aal as it awaits the opportunity to seize and swallow the liver of the baby and the mother.

Therefore, in order to prevent such a happening the relatives of the mother and the baby stay awake for several nights and pray to God and seek His help in order to protect the mother and the baby against the genie.

However, there are good and bad customs among the Baluchi tribes that demand more research works and studies.

The Baluchis same as other Iranians are known for their cultural specifications such as hospitality, bravery, generosity, faithfulness, and moral commitment and mostly Iranian nationalism.

“Abrash” Imperfections in Tribal/Nomadic Rugs

Many hand-made rugs and carpets feature blemishes and imperfections that will seem unique and charming to a seasoned rug enthusiast.  One might think that a hand-woven rug with a clear flaw manifestly demonstrates a break from industrial consumerism, and so some carpets become sought after precisely to display this down-to-earth human quality.  Indeed, for some time during the Persian empire, the best artisan weavers and workshops would intentionally include an imperfection of some sort hidden somewhere in the work, as a nod to the philosophical impossibility of reaching perfection here on Earth – a quality thought only be to obtainable by divinity.

One kind of these imperfections is a discoloration known as a “Abrash,” where large fields of differing color patterns will stand out with unusually hued striations or bands of color.  It is a surprisingly common feature in handmade rugs, especially among those which are older or when the wool was spun and colored by a nomadic tribe.  Because their yarn is hand-spun rather than machine-made, these abrashes will come up quite commonly.

A typical abrash discoloration will often be seen within one specific color in a carpet.  For example, a carpet might have a wide red field, and a third of that field might be shaded or hued slightly more dark.  Notice in the following images the distinct discoloration effect:


Some machine-made imitations of handmade oriental rugs will even include a false abrash to give the effect of nomadic authenticity!

An abrash can have a variety of causes.  The dyeing process used by carpet-weaving nomads is not an exact science, so when one tub of dye is used up, the next tub might contain a dye that is more or less strong in vibrancy, though approximately similar.  This is by far the most common cause of an abrash.  However, they can also be caused by natural aging of a carpet or due to colors fading with too much direct sunlight over time (especially if the sun only partially hit the carpet from, say, a window).  In these cases, the abrash is accidental.  Carpet-weavers from far away are not entirely ignorant of Western preferences, though!  Vintage-looking, over-dyed carpets, and carpets with clear imperfections have become quite popular in Europe and North America, so be mindful that some carpet-makers have opted to intentionally include abrashes in their designs to give them an even more authentic vibe (and thus increase their value).