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Talking 'Baluch' with Jerry Anderson: part 6

HALI: Some Baluch rugs have very coarse goat hair selvedges, others don't. Why this disparity in rugs that essentially come from the same culture?


JA: The goat hair acts as a shield against snakes. They will not cross it as it is like barbed wire on their skin. Therefore rugs used in a nomadic context will always have the coarse goat hair selvedges, while those used in a sedentary environment will usually have wool selvedges.

HALI: We have heard that during the recent troubles the Baluch peoples in northern Afghanistan were either killed or driven out by the local population, who resented them. Who are they?
JA: They are a mixture of Baluch and Arabs, and also Lokharis, who do not weave piled rugs but instead make those dark, dark kilims which often have tufts of wool inserted on the flatweave, and are woven in two pieces and joined in the centre. There are also Brahuis in that area who are called Baluch. There is a book written by a Russian that tells of the whole distribution of the .
Brahuis in Khorasan, Transcaspia, the Bukhara area and the Mazar-i-Sharif area. So many different peoples are called Baluch, or call themselves Baluch. In Farsi, the word means beggar. It also has the sense of nakedness, a person living in a tent and clothed in rags. Now the word -luch means a parasitic type of person. Ba means 'from' or 'of', so the name Baluch has bad connotations in Farsi

13. Bahluli funerary (?) rug, possibly Adraskand Valley, west Afghanistan, second half 19th century. 0.94 x 1.52m (3'1" x 5'0"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, slightly depressed; weft: olive green and dark brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2ZS wool, SY, 9H x 9V = 81/in2 (1,255/dm2); sides: 1 cord over-cast with goat hair; ends: bands of weft-faced plainweave at bottom; colours: 15. Eiland, Oriental Rugs from Pacific Collections, pl.99, attributed as "Baluchi type", subsequently reassigned to "Aimaq, Ghurian". Anne Halley Collection, Courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California.

HALI: The names you use for the weavers of Baluch rugs, Salar Khani, Jehan Begi, for instance, where do they come from?
JA: The original rug weaving tribes of Sistan are the Dobash twin tribes of the Joteg and Sangchuli, the Khakka religious clan, the Kamali and Jamali (these two weave only kilims), the Mengal Sanjarani Barohis and Sasoli Narohis. ('Narohi' means people from the plains, 'Barohi' is the opposite, people of the hills.) From these groups came all the splinter groups or sub- tribes and clans of the Jehan Begi, Jehan Mirzai, Ali Mirzai, Ali Akbar Khani, Khurkheli, Salar Khani, Yaqub Khani, Madat Khani, Rahim Khani, etc. The Sarbandi, Sharakhi and Sarabani Mushwani are later additions to Sistani culture, adherents who weave knotted rugs. But the Karait Nakabundi tribe of Turko-Mongol origins (the Karai) do not weave pile rugs at all. They are a proud people and want nothing to do with the other tribes and groups who do weave pile rugs.

14. Salar Khani (?) rug, Khorasan, late 19th century. 0.89 x 1.52m (2'11" x 5'0"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, moderately depressed; weft: olive grey wool, natural camel hair, dark brown goat hair, 2 shoots; knot: 2ZS wool, AS open left; sides: 2 cords overcast infigure-8 with goat hair; ends: bands of weft-faced plainweave, weft substitution, double interlocking and slit-tapestry; colours: 8. Eiland, Oriental Rugs from Pacific Collections, pl.96, attributed to "Mahvalat or possibly Turshiz", subsequently reassigned to "Kizil Bash Turkoman, possibly Bayat, Nishapur". Anne Halley Collection, Courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California.


15. Miri Arab rug, Sistan, second half 19th century. 0.84 x 1.37m (2'9" x 4'6"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool; weft: 2ZS, 2 shoots; knot: Z3 and Z4 wool, with some magenta silk, AS open right; sides: natural ivory wool cables overcast with goat hair; ends: bands of plain tapestry; colours: 7. Eiland, Oriental Rugs from Pacific Collections, pl.95, attributed to "Arab Baluchi, probably from the Qainat, Iran". Anne Halley Collection, Courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California.

From the Horses Mouth

Original text & photos appeared in HALI 76, © 1994

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