Talking 'Baluch' with Jerry Anderson: part 2
!HALI: Are you familiar with current books on Baluch rugs, such as Jeff Boucher's Baluchi Woven TreasuresJA: I corresponded with Boucher, but I haven't seen the book. I gave him many of the tribal names he used
I was also in touch with McCoy Jones before he died. I was a member of the International Hajji Babas and they used to send me copies of what they were working on. And also Schuyler Cammann. He had interesting ideas on design sources, on cosmic symbology, but he made far too many mistakes, attributing too much to Chinese sources when it was the Indo-European steppe people who were the inspiration for much of the Chinese design pool.
HALI: You know Black and Loveless's Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi. Would you comment on some of the pieces. For example what type is plate 10, sometimes referred to as 'Dokhtar-e-Ghazi'?
JA: It's Taimuri, from Ghurian near the Irano-Afghan border (1), but the name
is commonly misspelt 'Timuri'. And it's Dokhtar-e-Qazi", not Ghazi, meaning 'daughter of the judge'. There is a beautiful legend, part of the oral tradition, from the times of Queen Bilkish of Sabzevar, known as the Bahluli-e-Dana. As the story goes, about 150 years ago the daughter of a Taimuri qazi was wooed by a dervish shaman of the Bahluli tribe. Her father disapproved and attempted to chase him off with threats of death. So he performed all sorts of miracles to impress the qazi and was allowed to marry her. But the Bahluli had their own rug designs, and those woven by the judge's daughter are the only true Dokhtar-e-Qazi rugs, twenty-three in all. Her daughters also wove rugs which may be included in thisgroup, perhaps seventy altogether. But in the true sense of the word, there are no others aside from these original pieces which we may call by that name. The rest are merely Taimuri of Ghurian. I once had a chance to buy an original Dokhtar-e-Qazi rug. There was a guy named Gordon Tiger with the American Consulate in Karachi in about 1971. He took it out from under my nose in Quetta. It was being repaired. I had reserved it, offered to pay in advance. The rafurgari in the Suraj Gunj bazaar assured me I had nothing to worry about, the work would be done and I could pick it up in the morning. In the meantime, the owner leaves and his servant is there and in walks Tiger, asks how much, and purchases it from the boy. I was so upset. Since then I've seen two cushions (balisht) and a saddlebag that I thought were also woven by the 'daughter of the judge'
The principal motif on the rugs is the mirah boteh design. It looks like a Christmas tree with a bent over paisley design. It has a flat bottom to it. So many of the boteh designs on these rugs have a bottom which resembles an arrow head. That is not the design on the original rugs. Those with the arrow head bottoms I associate more closely with the Taimuri of Ghurian rugs, a group which predates the Dokhtar-e-Qazi rugs
2. Salar Khani rug, north Sistan, early 20th century. 1.12 x 1.85m (3'8" x 6'1"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, on one level; weft: 2Z, green-brown and brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool with traces of magenta silk and blue, white and yellow cotton, AS open left; sides: 6 cables (Z2S)2Z overcast with goat hair; ends: traces of plain tapestry; colours: 7. Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi, pl.25. Courtesy David Black & Clive Loveless, London
HALI: Who are the Bahluli?
JA: The Bahluli have an interesting history. They are descended from the Afsar, not Afshar as we mistakenly refer to them. Around the 11th to 12th century, the Afsar and the Arsari (Ersari) split and the Afsar came into Afghanistan. Soon after, the bulk of the Afsar moved into the Kerman region of Iran. One group, the Istajlu, remained in Afghanistan, and it is from them that the Bahluli are descended. They are part of the Baluch confederation and
From the Horses Mouth
Original text & photos appeared in HALI 76, © 1994.