Bijar Rugs/Carpets the O'Connell
Bijar RugsThese rugs fit into my "Persian Rugs the O'Connell Guides" section grouped with the rugs of Cesme Bijar and the surrounding area. These rug are predominantly woven by weavers who speak Garrusi/Bijari Kurdish and who are Shia Moslems.
Bijar rugs are often called the Iron Rugs of Persia. The Bijar is a heavy durable rug that has been very popular in the United States. Most Bijar carpets are woven by Kurds in the Gerus area while some British rug merchants have claimed that the finest Bijar carpets are woven by Afshar weavers who live in the Tekab and Tekkenteppe Area in Gerus.1
It i important to remember that Gerus and Bijar are both names for a Kurdish people and the language that they speak.The Gerusi/Bijari people are ethnically Kurdish but are of the Central Kurdish group and are ethnically and inguistically distinct from their Eastern Kurdish neighbors.
Rugs are three dimensional and here I look at two very popular high end carpets at The Nazmiyal Collection New York City's top Oriental Rug Dealer.
Bijar Rugs are from the Gerus Area
Design is almost useless in attribution. Repeating Herati are common but so are florals, arabesque, and medallion format. The barberpoled twining in the Kilim is often a clue but too often the kilim is gone. The key to attribution is handle and structure. The Bijar carpet weave causes the rug to have a very heavy stiff handle. The Bijar carpet weave is unique in Oriental Rugs and quite distinctive. Sizes:
Pushti, zarcherek, zaronim, dozar, kelleyis (not as common), and carpets of virtually any size. Wagireh:
One unusual variation of Bijar that is popular at auction is a Wagireh or sampler. These are often about 4 by 5 feet and have a sampling of various designs common to Bijars.
|A look at a mid 20th century Bijar Rug from Herat Oriental|
The Late George Washington O'Bannon cites the secondary oak leaf and rosette border as "Bijar Property".3 The main Herati border is also very common with Bijars. However a Bijar may have any of a large number of borders of which these are just a sample.
This is also a detail of a typical Bijar. Please note how different this is from the one above.
One of the first revelations to me when I started studying rugs was the almost complete lack of absolutes. The minute you say a Bidjar is, or a Bidjar has, you begin to hear refinements and exceptions as well as differences in opinion. There is a wealth of knowledge that helps us to navigate that course. I will include as much of this discussion as I can.
Hratch Kozibioukian (A West Coast Carpet Restorer) Wrote:
I will try to add some technical analysis: What really gives the "Bijar" Rugs their nickname "Iron rugs" is, (aside from the fully depressed foundation (which is called "Dorokhsh")and the very well packed knots) is... the spin and ply technique of the yarn--tight spun and very well plied used for: 1-the warp, 2-the first shoot cable cable weft that depresses the warp and 3-the spin of the yarn used for pile, The Kurds that weave these rugs believe that " a well made rug begins with very well spun yarn" Also, The given name "Herati" is Persian. Kurds call that design "Mahi" which means fish.
A well known Boston Collector wrote:
Barry, in your description of Bijars you say that they are two-wefted. However, when John Collins gave a talk on Bijars to our society he stated that they were three-wefted, and this is confirmed in Eiland's book. Here is a portion of Jim Adelson's write-up of that talk (NERS Newsletter, 10/15/97) which qualifies some of assertions usually made about these rugs:
Daniel From Belgium Wrote:
My basis reference book for this is the outstanding book of William Eagleton "An introduction to Kurdish Rugs and other weavings" and the well-known Cecil Edward's book "The Persian Carpet"
It must be acknowledged that there is no homogeneous depressed warp weaving Bidjars type (sometimes labeled Sarakhs or Lulas). First of all the Gerus (greater Bidjar region) is a non tribal region with a mixture of ethnic groups which is reflected in the variety of designs and weaves, and twice dimensions and designs were subject to the outside Persian design influence and the Western rug trade in the late 19th who created a market for large weavings.
1/ they use the symmetric knot and the pile is short (in place of a normally high or medium pile in Kurdish rugs). Wool often coming from the Western Mountains is of high quality.
2/ to obtain a tough fabric they use a very thick and straight weft in the construction in addition to one or two thin sinuous one. This thick and very straight weft depresses alternate warps forming longitudinal ridges at the back. The knots appear as the large bead on the ridge and a small one almost concealed between the ridges. When the warp is completely depressed only one bead for each knot is found. The best manner to see it is to search a place in the rug where the color changes. If there is only one knot for each color it means that the second part of the knot is inside the rug. The weft is usually tan; beige but is sometimes colored. More recent rugs have a more flexible fabric. When rolled it's better to roll them with the pile upside
3/ to obtain a great density of knots the woolen wefts must be vigorously pounded in. They used therefore a special steel comb-like instrument and they bring it down hard upon the weft at close intervals to get a high number of rows of knots per inch.
Cecil Edwards suggested that the depressed warp technique of the Bijars be borrowed from the Azerbaijani Turks.
4/ the wool is tightly spun counterclockwise (Z) and almost two strands (rarely three) are twisted together clockwise (S) to produce the Z2S yarn used in warp, weft and pile. In more recent rugs cotton foundations can be found.
5/ Selvedges: Are usually overcast and as other Southern Kurdish rugs they don't have coloring bands.
6/ Ends: Bidjar rugs have a small kilim with two colors twinning to fringe with knots every ½". This feature is also found in other area as the Western Kurdish Mountains
7/ Village Bijars rugs are often crooked because they are often made on primitive looms where the beams are bent ore uneven.
I had a chance to examine an antique Bijar that was awaiting repairs today (3/28/98). Since it was badly worn I was able to get a close look at how it was made. In this case we had two wefts. First weft was 2 singles very heavy Z4S wool. These were straight and rigid. The second weft was one or two much thinner Z2S wool. I found it interesting that in this rug the straight wefts were thicker and straighter than the warps. This rug is but one sample and I invite anyone who has the opportunity to examine a Bidjar as I have done and let us know the result. How many wefts and what are they like structurally. Since not everyone knows let me mention that two singles running together are only one weft even though they are separate. JBOC
1. Ford, P. R. J. Oriental Carpet Design. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981, paperback 1993. page 88.
This guide is still in development and I hope to cover all types of rugs in much greater depth. Any thoughts, suggestions, or corrections would be appreciated.
Thanks and best wishes,
J. Barry O'Connell Jr.