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Sep 4, 2009

The below text is provided by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur


Original text & photos appeared in HALI 76, © 1994
The study of so-called ‘Baluch' tribal weaving has reached a watershed. While on the one hand Baluch rugs have cast aside their misleading stereotyped image as derivative Turkoman bastard cousins, on the other we still find in the marketplace the promiscuous use of little understood attributions and terminology founded upon ‘scholarship' that too often fails to rise above the level of dogma. Loosely based on the sometimes unreliable accounts written by European travellers in the region during previous centuries, or drawing on subjective interpretations of Asian myth and ethno history, such popular ascriptions are seldom grounded in properly conducted research or first-hand experience of eastern Iran and Afghanistan. During the past two decades a number of well-known tribal rug writers, dealers and collectors, both American and European, have sought, if not always heeded, the views of a man who has become something of a legend in his own lifetime. Now 62 and living in Karachi, Pakistan, Jeremy (Jerry) Wood-Anderson is, in his own words, “second generation old India born and bred”, the grandson of a Scottish officer who served in the last Afghan campaign. Fluent in several local languages, since the 1950s Anderson has travelled widely throughout the region, on occasion as a zoological surveyor and collector for Western museums, and has lived among the tribes in fixed settlements and nomadic camps in Baluchistan, Seistan, Khorasan and Afghanistan.

Jerry Anderson

Anderson's avowed passionate interest lies in “the ethnography behind tribal rugs, the ancient ethno genesis of those great Steppe land nomads who gave rise to the piled rug concept, and particularly the cosmic symbology of motifs and designs”. His views of the Baluch pile-weaving tradition, as yet unpublished, include some ideas which are simple, others extremely complex, with far-reaching implications. His exposure to the conventional wisdom of rug scholarship has been limited, but together with his field experience, this very isolation has afforded him a fresh and, at times, thought-provoking perspective.
Ultimately it is on this extensive field experience that his knowledge of Baluch rugs is based. He has had the opportunity to see certain specific design types associated with specific tribes, and of purchasing rugs from the families whose women had woven them. During his travels Anderson observed ‘old' rugs being used (or, in the case of treasured heirloom pieces, stored in wooden chests) by the tribal people who offered him hospitality in their tents and houses as a 'maiman' or honoured guest. While such observations in the second half of the 20th century do not necessarily reveal what was being woven in a particular place at an earlier time, or by whom, they should not be discounted. We therefore commissioned contributing editor Tom Cole to interview Jerry Anderson during a recent trip to Pakistan.

What follows is an abridgement of a wide ranging two-day discussion that took place in April 1994 at Anderson's house on the shore of the Arabian Sea, during the course of which he offered his attributions, based mainly on aspects of design, for a number of ‘Baluch' rugs published in HALI, as well as in familiar sources such as David Black and Clive Loveless's Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi (1976), Michael Craycraft's Belouch Prayer Rugs (1982), and Murray L. Eiland's Oriental Rugs from Pacific Collections (1990).

HALI: What are the origins of the Baluch people of Baluchistan?
JERRY ANDERSON: They are Assyrian, of Assyro-Arabic ethnic origin. Their own legends and ballads claim Aleppo in present day Syria as their original home. There were two waves of migration, one with the Arab invasion a millennium ago and another about five to six hundred years ago. Those who came in the second wave settled near Zahidan in Persian Baluchistan, and their tribal names are derived from the names of the mountains nearby. Some of them came through into Sind Province of what is now Pakistan. Most of this second wave speaks Rakshani Baluch, totally different to Makrani Baluch, the original ‘pure' Baluch language. But these people have nothing to do with weaving rugs.

HALI: Who then are the carpet weavers of Khorasan and Seistan?
JA: They are of Indo-European origin, all of them. Most of the indigenous peoples of this area do not weave pile rugs, as the Baluchs of Baluchistan do not. There was a Baluch confederation based upon language, which stretched across Khorasan, through Seistan and into trans-Indus Baluchistan. So in a sense the name ‘Baluch' is not a generic misnomer. The political and cultural centre of this confederacy is located in Seistan, originally referred to as Sakastan, the land of the Sakas or Scythians. It was these people, the descendants of the weavers of the Pazyryk, who populated the area of Seistan. At the time of the Arab invasions, the name was changed to Sijistan (‘sand country'), and from that it eventually evolved, over about a thousand years, into the name we know today. The weavers of these pile rugs are ethnically a Scythian people. They are not the Baluch. The word ‘Baluch' is only about 300 years old and refers only to a linguistic confederation. The Seistan empire, stretching from Kerman to Karachi, from Sabzevar to the Makran Plateau, was a political federation, under the rule of a long line of kings.
1. Taimuri prayer rug, Ghurian area, west Afghanistan, early 20th century. 1.18 x 1.37m (3'10" x 4'6"). Warp: Z2S, ivory or mixed ivory and brown wool, on one level; weft: 2Z, brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool, with small amounts of silk and mercerised cotton, AS open right; sides: goat hair selvedge wrapped around paired 4ZS cables; ends: missing; colours: 7. Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi, pl.10. Courtesy David Black & Clive Loveless, London.
HALI: Did your father collect rugs?
JA: Not purposely, they were just used in the house. My father was born in Quetta, his father served in the British Army in the last Afghan campaign. My grandfather settled in Quetta when he left the army. So I am very familiar with the territory. I am literally blood brother with the brother of the Brahui chieftain Zaggar Mengal. Mengal is the original name of the Brahui Sistanis.

HALI: Doesn't Konieczny mention the Mengal in his Textiles of Baluchistan?
JA: Mustapha Konieczny was a colleague of mine, a very nice fellow, a doctor of literature whose brother was a rug dealer in Berlin. Like me he was a herpetologist, and we were in constant competition. He used to travel through the desert on camel and by bus, and I used to pass him in my Land Rover. A lovely man.

HALI: But you called his book useless.
JA: It is full of nonsensical things, giving functions for some weavings like nose cover and Qur'an bag! No self respecting Brahui would put his Qur'an in such a bag. He would use a nice silk bag with embroidery. Not something like this shepherd's bag. He would put his rations in this and go into the hills while his goats and sheep grazed. These people are loath to tell the truth to outsiders. They are masters of disinformation! Poor Konieczny only spoke Farsi, but the people he was studying spoke Brahui, Baluch and some Urdu. He believed them! I tried to tell him. He was so often wrong, but he only repeated what he was told. And they lied to him. Constantly!
HALI: Are you familiar with current books on Baluch rugs, such as Jeff Boucher's Baluchi Woven Treasures?
JA: 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.
The Khan of Kalat, with his sons. Baluchistan, 1919 Photo Courtesy of Baloch Circle
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 adherents to Sistani culture. They always weave using the symmetric knot. They are the ones who weave the true, small burial rugs, called kaffani. These are more elongated than the average prayer rug, and usually not as wide, with opposing niches that resemble those on prayer rugs.
HALI: And the Mushwani?
JA: They are the Sarabani Mushwani, a huge group who came from Caucasia after the fall of Khazar, a Turkic state which converted to Judaism. The Sarabani left after the Swedish Vikings ransacked that area. They escaped into what is known today as Afghanistan. Now the Mushwani are just one subgroup of the Sarabani. They are located in various places. There are some near Quetta and some in southeast Afghanistan. There are even some in the vicinity of Islamabad here in Pakistan. Depending on where they are located they speak different languages, including Farsi, Pushto, Brahui and Rakshani Baluchi. But the rug weaving groups called Mushwani are located near Adraskand in western Afghanistan and in Seistan.
3. Shahraki Sarbandi rug, Sistan, late 19th century. 1.07 x 2.18m (3'6" x 7'2"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, alternate warps slightly depressed; weft: 2Z, brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool, AS open left; sides: missing; ends: traces of plain and weft-float tapestry weave; colours: 8. Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi, pl.37. Courtesy David Black & Clive Loveless, London.
HALI: What about plate 37 in Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi? Some people call this type Mushwani.
JA: This is a Sharakhi, one of the twin tribes of the Sarbandi from Sistan (3). Today all the cloth weavers in Zabol are Sharakhis.
HALI: It has been suggested that this group of rugs was woven by Hazaras near Bala Murghab in northwest Afghanistan.
JA: How can anyone say that? Did the person ever go to Afghanistan?
HALI: Did the tribes copy designs from one another?
JA: Not until recently, never. Copy artists in the Baluch confederation began to work after about 1945. Up until 1940 or so, the traditional system of tribal identity among the Baluch tribes in Seistan, Khorasan and Afghanistan remained intact. Of course intertribal marriages did occur, and a blend of design and styles naturally ensued. The woman would weave her tribe's or clan's border design around her husband's tribe's field design. Among adherents, defeated clans or tribes who adhered to a dominant tribe, weavers would put their border around the field design of the dominant tribe.

The Shia Hazaras were copy artists, or they wove rugs for sale on a commission basis, principally in the Mashad area, including those red prayer rugs with the hands in the hand panels. But in Afghanistan they do not weave pile rugs. Some Hazaras were employed around Herat as copy artists in workshops. The same is true of the Jamshidi and Firozkohi, who were only copy artists in workshops and did not traditionally weave pile rugs. Now the Hazaras also inhabit other parts of Afghanistan, including central Afghanistan, ranging all the way down almost to Kandahar, and also the mountains near Ghor. There they do weave beautiful jagged kilims, blankets with lightning-like designs, but not piled rugs. The Hazara are a beautiful people, whose social groups are dominated by their womenfolk. It is very difficult to get into these areas. In 1968 or ‘69 I tried to get in there, about sixty miles southwest of Kabul, in my Land Rover, but I was stopped by Amazons with rifles.
Huts composed of reeds, a common material used throughout Seistan in SE Persia. The reeds are taken from local lakes.

HALI: Who are the Taimani and do they weave piled rugs?
JA: The Taimani are a totally different people. Taimani is a very old name and they are a proud ancient nomadic tribe. I think they move all the way down to Farah and Chakhansur. I don't think of them as an integral element of the Chahar Aimaq confederation. They weave those very large pushtis (chuval-like bags for storage and transport) with large-scale designs that one sees in Afghanistan. Woven in pairs, many of them are cut and separated, then they are mistaken for rugs. I've seen them published as rugs in some of these magazines.
HALI: Some people call this type of rug, from an American collection, Taimani?
JA: I think this is Sarbandi (20). Some of these tribal people live in fixed settlements, others of the same tribe are nomadic. There is a fixed settlement of these people in Zabol itself and they make beautiful rugs which are very different to these other ones. This rug probably comes from Afghan Sistan, from the Chakhansur region, Nimruz.
HALI: What kind of rug is Black & Loveless's plate 30? Michael Craycraft calls the type ‘Karai'. Certainly they are a specific group, defined by depressed warps and four cord selvedges in addition to the frequent use of the mina khani design.
JA: Wasn't this one of Ian Bennett's rugs? It is Jehan Begi, one hundred per cent Jehan Begi (6).
HALI: And Black & Loveless's plate 25?
JA: Salar Khani from northern Sistan (2).
HALI: To what extent have you been concerned with structure in the years you have been interested in rugs?
JA: I've tried to be. I've at least noticed structure, but have never thought of it as the only criterion as to who made a rug. You have to understand, I have been all over the tribal areas in Khorasan, Sistan, Baluchistan, Afghanistan. I speak some of these languages, including Brahui, Baluch and Urdu. I don't speak Farsi.
5. Salar Khani/Jehan Begi carpet, Torbat-e-Heydariyeh area, Khorasan, first half 19th century.. 1.09 x 2.18m (3'7" x 7'2"). Warp: Z2S, white wool, on one level; weft: 2Z, brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool, AS open left; sides & ends: missing; colours: 8. Black & Loveless, Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi, pl.39. Private collection, UK.
HALI: What about Black & Loveless's plate 3?
JA: Another Jehan Begi (7). I believe it might have had a funerary function, to be placed over the bier – a kaffani.
HALI: And plate 39?
JA: Again, wasn't this Ian Bennett's rug? It is a hybrid Salar Khani/Jehan Begi from the Torbat-e-Heydariyeh area (5). It was woven by a Salar Khani woman married to a Jehan Begi man. It's a wonderful rug, and very old. Notice the cock's comb, Herati-style, border; this is a Salar Khani motif, the Jehan Begi never do this on their own.
HALI: What of this opposing niche ‘prayer' rug which was illustrated in HALI 54, attributed to the Quchan Kurds, and later sold as an Aimaq at auction?
JA: I think it may have been made by a Bahluli woman who married a Mushwani (9). It is a burial rug. I believe all piled rugs owe their origins to their sacred function as a burial shroud with star map designs to guide the departed soul to heaven. Gradually, over centuries, the by-products of this tradition began being produced in every imaginable and functional form to which, these days, there is virtually no end! Witness bicycle seat covers and the like.
HALI: Who are the Aimaq tribe, as opposed to the tribes of the Chahar Aimaq?
JA: They are a division of the Hazaras, or at least a people related to the Hazara groups. They are called Chengezi Mongols and still speak a Mongol language. There are deposits of them in northern Afghanistan as well as near Haripur on the east bank of the Indus River. Those in the Indus Valley are Sunni as far as I know. They only make flatweaves.

HALI: What function do prayer rugs serve in the context of Baluch weaving? Are they a traditional art form?
JA: The mihrab form is Zoroastrian, not Islamic. The word literally means ‘sun-water' – in other words the life-giving rays of the sun. The so-called tree-of-life we see on so many Baluch prayer rugs is not a tree at all. It is a representation of the rays of the sun, a central part of the Zoroastrian tradition. Fire temples used to have splayed bulls' horns mounted on their spires, and this symbol appears in some prayer rugs, particularly those from Sabzevar and Adraskand, as well as Turkestan. The Sistanis were the last to be fully converted to Islam and the Baluch and Brahui tribal structure is so strong that these latter groups remain less ‘religious' than others such as the Turkoman and Pashtuns.
6. Jehan Begi rug, Khorasan, late 19th century. 1.00 x 2.20m (3'3" x 7'3"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, alternate warps deeply depressed; weft: 2Z and 4Z, brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool and goat hair,AS open left, some SY knots at edges; sides: 4 6ZS cables wrapped with goat hair; ends: plain, interlocked and weft-float tapestry and brocade; colours: 8. Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi, pl.30.. Courtesy David Black & Clive Loveless, London
HALI: What is plate 28 in Michael Craycraft's Belouch Prayer Rugs?
JA: Perhaps Bahluli, and also in the burial format (11). I'm looking for loops or tufts in the corners, which they used to fasten the rug to the bier, which had four legs, something like a charpoy. A very interesting rug, very beautiful.
HALI: What do you make of no.4 in the Baluch poll, published in HALI 59? Jeff Boucher has referred to this type as Baizidi, Michael Craycraft tentatively calls it a Kizil Bash Turkoman.
JA: It appears to have been made by a Jehan Begi woman married to a Salar Khani man (10). This central field is classical Salar Khani. There is nothing Baizidi about it at all – the Baizidi are only copy artists.
7. Jehan Begi funerary (?) rug, Khorasan, 20th century. 0.80 x 1.55m (2'7" x 5'1"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, alternate warps deeply depressed; weft: 2Z, natural brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool and camel (?) hair, some faded violet silk, AS open left; sides: 4 cables (Z2S)4Z individually wrapped with goat hair; ends: plain and slit-tapestry, weft float brocade; colours: 6. Rugs of the Wandering Baluchi, pl.3. Courtesy David Black & Clive Loveless, London.
HALI: Look at these Anne Halley Collection rugs in the Baluch section of Murray Eiland's 1990 catalogue Oriental Rugs from Pacific Collections, which includes some very specific attributions, labelled ‘challenging' by the editors of HALI.
JA: Plate 93 (“Torbat-e-Haidari, possibly Karai”) looks like a Jehan Begi (21). Plate 95 (“Arab, probably Qainat, Iran”) is Arab Baluch (15) – Miri Arabs who settled in Sistan at the time of the Arab invasions. There is no question of Arabs in Firdows weaving rugs of this type. Those Arabs, and those in the Tun area, do not weave Baluch type rugs. They are copy artists who weave Persian type rugs. The Arabs in Qain are Miris and weave these Baluch style rugs.
Plate 96 (“Mahlavat or possibly Turshiz”) is Salar Khani, I think (14). It could be from Turshiz. This design type is rare; one weaver in a hundred will make such a rug in a lifetime. Plate 99 (“Baluchi type, Turkic tribes”) is very strange (13). These piled ends are very peculiar. It might also be a kaffani. As it is symmetrically knotted it must be Bahluli, possibly from the Adraskand Valley. A very rare rug.
Plate 98 is a Taimuri from Khorasan (22). What has he written here, “possibly Jamshidi”? Traditionally the Jamshidi don't weave knotted rugs in their tents. They weave Baluch rugs and Turkoman rugs commercially in workshops in Herat. Both the Jamshidi and the Firozkohi originally came from the Elburz Mountains in Iran, but they were forced to leave Persia due to their different religious beliefs. They believe that their messiah fled into the mountains long ago and will return.. They are classiffied as Sunnis but they are actually Shiite. They needed a place to go where they would be free to worship. The word ‘Firozkohi' means blue mountains, Firoz is the word for turquoise and kohi is mountain.
Baluch nomad caravan in Baluchistan (SW Pakistan)
HALI: Have you visited their camps?
JA: Yes. It's a dead end road to get there, you have to turn back once you reach them, they are at the end of the line. There were no pile weavings in their tents. Some of them lived in yurts like the Turkoman, most of them lived in huts like the Hazaras of the area. Some of the tribe tended flocks and moved with their herds, but they were essentially an extension of a fixed settlement, some of whom also engaged in sparse agriculture – like the Jamshidi.
HALI: What do you think of Eiland's plate 97 (“Aimaq or Baluch”)?
JA: This is a very interesting rug (25). It's a Rukshan Baluchistan carpet, from the area of Nushki. It was made by the Baddini. They are an ancient tribe, mentioned by Herodotus in the 6th century BC as being a Scythian royal tribe. These people make salt bags and saddle bags, flatweaves. They do not weave many knotted rugs. It's a very rare thing.
9. Bahluli/Mushwani (?) funerary (?) rug, Afghan Sistan, mid 19th century. 0.95 x 1.68m (3'1" x 5'6"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool; weft: 2Z, natural brown wool, 3 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool, SY, 6H x 7V = 42/in2 (650/dm2); sides: 3 cords wrapped with natural brown wool; ends: missing; colours: 12. Private collection USA, courtesy Skinner, Bolton, Massachusetts.
HALI: But we thought that no piled weavings were made in Baluchistan.
JA: Rukshan, which is today referred to as the Chagai District of Baluchistan, was the easternmost part of Sistan and was only annexed by the British in the late 19th century.
HALI: How do you account for the use in this region of a design which most of us would associate with the Turkomans or the Uzbeks?
JA: There is nothing Turkoman about this design. You must understand that Sistani culture is basically the same as that of the Turkomans. So why is it unusual to see this design on this very rare, very beautiful, rug? Had it not had this kilim end, it would have bamboozled me. Its size is typical of weavings from the Nushki area. Their houses are elongated mud dwellings that you have to step down into.
HALI: And this one, plate 8 (“Aimaq”) from the Baluch poll article?
JA: The format is pure Salar Khani (27), typical for this group.
HALI: What do you think of this prayer rug from an American private collection?
JA: Very unusual, must be a Sharakhi from Sistan (17).
10. Jehan Begi/Salar Khani khorjin face, Khorasan, second half 19th century. 0.79 x 0.81m (2'7" x 2'8"). ‘Baluch Perspectives' , HALI 59, p.115, attributed to the ‘Kizil Bash Turkoman, Mahavalat region', subsequently reassigned to “possibly Bayat, Nishapur or Turshiz district”. Anne Halley Collection, courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California
HALI: And no.30 (“Turkestan, Timuri-Belouch” ) from Belouch Prayer Rugs?
JA: Looks like a Kurd, certainly is not a Taimuri (18). The innermost border is a Sangchuli idea. The camel wool is undyed, but the Sistanis always dye theirs. This rug is made by some copy artist, some Kurdish group. And this one, no.28, is from the Torbat-e-Heydariyeh area, not Turkestan (23). Possibly Jehan Begi, they do use that design. And no.22 appears to be Sangchuli, a very nice example from Zabol (19).
HALI: And no.2 in the HALI Baluch poll article?
JA: Arab, just like he says, but from Firdows (26). I'm sure it is woven on a cotton foundation. It's more Baluch than most rugs from Firdows. As I said before, they are usually a Persian type of rug. What is this about a woven date here? I really doubt it – for a start most Baluch have no concern for dates and when they do, the inscribed dates in what are normally workshop rugs are usually placed in or near a corner, not floating freely in the field. I used to buy fragments of rugs which had woven dates, just to get some idea of how to date rugs in general. I had a whole collection of Turkoman and some Baluch fragmented prayer rugs with dates. But they're all gone now.
11. Bahluli (?) burial (?) rug, Sistan, late 19th century. 0.66 x 1.32m (2'2" x 4'4"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool, alternate warps deeply depressed; weft: 2Z, olive green wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool, AS open left, 9H x 11V = 99/in2 (1,535/dm2); sides: 2 cords of 2 cables of Z5S goat hair, each pair overwrapped with goat hair in figure-8; ends: bands of plain tapestry; colours: 12. Belouch Prayer Rugs, pl.26, attributed to “Farah or Zurabad”. Courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California.
HALI: Can you comment on the omnipresent mina khani design. It occurs in so many different places. Is it a tribal design which moved to the towns or vice versa?
JA: Definitely from the tribes to the cities. It pops up in geographically disparate regions because it is basically Indo-European, and the weavers of all these rugs are descended from the same original Indo-European tribes. Many people might argue with the theory of diffusion, but with the question of carpets, it is all true. It all fanned out from Balkashia to various locales in Central Asia, Afghanistan, Khorasan, Persia and Anatolia.
HALI: What accounts for ‘Seljuk' iconography on so-called Baluch rugs?
JA: Are you following what I am saying? They are the same people. What's the big surprise? It is the dissemination of a single culture, from the Lake Balkashia region, and eventually to Sistan. Why not a continuation of design? In that vein, the Persian word for carpet is ghaleen, derived from the ancient Indo-European word gaalee, which means language! The carpet was an ancient representational form of language, of religious significance, depicting the cosmic symbology.
8. Village near Zabol, Sistan.
HALI: Why is the wool in Baluch rugs so soft and shiny?
JA: They use lambs' wool, and the wool from the throat and belly, the best wool on the animal. The animal is unwashed and the wool therefore retains all the lanolin, the wool has so much natural oil.
HALI: Did the Baluch weave dowry pieces?
JA: Yes, the bride made all these things herself, receiving no help from other women in the household. These dowry rugs consisted of a 4' x 6' rug, a prayer rug, a pair of balisht, khorjin (saddle bags), a salt bag and a shepherd's bag (showandan) The dastarkhan or sofreh were woven by married women, as were many other functional pieces. Khorjin (donkey bags) are also made for dowry. Sistani khorjin have a piled shoulder on both sides, while those from Afghanistan are open across the middle, plain flatweave with no piled shoulder connecting the two bags.
HALI: What accounts for the dark, ‘sombre' tonality of Baluch group rugs?
JA: Maturity. Seistan had a very developed culture. The Turkoman used to be like that, but then they began raiding northern Iran, rampaging, pillaging and looting, showing off. Thus they made these strongly coloured rugs. The redder the better, very immature.The Baluch, who live in the desert, like the darker colours, and of course the dyestuffs available to them yielded those shades. There were exceptions among the groups located further north where Turkoman influence was greater, thus the rugs are sometimes redder, as in the Salar Khani rugs of northern Khorasan.
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.
16. Anderson the herpetologist demonstrates how a snake will not cross a cord made of goat hair.

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.
The Bahluli are another relatively large adherent group to Sistani culture. They are very easy-going people – very gentle, very liberal in a sense. And certainly not very religious. I've never seen a Bahluli pray. The Sarbandis and Sharakhis are very arrogant, closed minded people, proud also, but respected. I bought one of the best rugs I ever had from a Sarbandi.
Sistani tribal lifestyle was essentially intact until about 1980, nomads moving around in the same locales as they had for centuries. But then the Sarbandi and many other Sistanis were displaced during the Islamic Revolution. Before 1979, they were not here in Pakistan and these weavings, salt bags, shepherds' bags and the like, were just not available.
17. Shahraki Sarbandi prayer rug, Sistan, late 19th century. 0.74 x 1.07m (2'5" x 3'6"). Warp: Z2S, ivory wool; weft: natural brown wool, 2 shoots; knot: 2Z, wool, AS open right, 9H x 8V = 72/in2 (1,116/dm2); sides: not original: ends: weft-float kilim at top, weft-faced plainweave at bottom; colours: 11. Private collection, USA.
The Sarbandi and Sharakhi rarely sold such salt bags and rugs before – these were dowry items, not for sale at any price! But when they were forced out of Sistan, they had no choice but to sell, and that is why you find them in the marketplaces – Quetta, Karachi, the markets were flooded with all sorts of weavings from these Sistan groups. They are a very nationalistic people, the Sistanis, and when they left Iran, most of them settled near Nushki.

18. Kurdish (?) prayer rug, north east Iran, 19th century. 0.67 x 0.99m (2'3" x 3'3"). Warp: Z2S, natural ivory wool, slightly depressed; weft: natural brown wool, 2 shoots, loosely packed; knot: wool, AS open left, 10H x 12V = 120/in2 (1,860/dm2); sides: 2 cords 3Z(Z2S) ivory wool overwrapped in figure-8 with continuous wefts and overcast in wool chequerboard pattern; ends: weft-float and dovetail tapestry at top, similar plus stepped discontinuous weft-float and slit-tapestry at bottom; colours: 8. Belouch Prayer Rugs, pl.30, attributed to “Turkestan, Timuri Baluch”, subsequently reattributed to “Jamshidi, Pende”. Private collection USA, courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California.
19. Sangchuli prayer rug, Zabol area, Sistan, late 19th century. 0.84 x 1.57m (2'9" x 5'2"). Warp: Z2S, natural ivory wool, slightly depressed; weft: natural brown and dark brown wool and camel hair, 2 shoots; knot: wool, AS open right, 10H x 11V = 110/in2 (1,705/dm2); sides: 2 cords 3Z(Z2S) and 4Z(Z2S) ivory wool overcast in alternate lines of natural brown and plum red wool; ends: missing; colours: 7. Belouch Prayer Rugs, pl.22, attributed to “Herat”, subsequently reattributed to “Hazara, Murghab”. Courtesy Adraskand Inc., San Anselmo, California.
The Sasouli and the Sanjaranis are very hospitable people. If you get into their clutches, you cannot continue on your safari. They will keep you. I used to travel throughout these areas by Land Rover in my work as a herpetologist. I would sometimes stop for water and they would insist on throwing their hospitality upon you. They would lay out all the carpets, give you this and that, and you were stuck! For at least 24 hours! Wonderful people, really.
20. 'Baluch' carpet, probably Sarbandi tribe. Chakhansur, Minroz area, Afghan Sistan, mid(?) 19th century, 1.57 x 2.64m (5'2" x 8'8"). According to Jerry Anderson, rugs of this type, sometimes attributed to the Taimani in the literature, are the work o fthe Sarbandi tribe of the Sistan region, which straddles teh modern Iranian/Afghan border. Warps: Z2S, ivory wool; Weft:2Z, light brown wool, 2 shoots; Knot:2Z, wool, AS open left, 6H x 7V=42/in2 (650/dm2); Sides: traces of 3-cord ivory wool overcast with light aubergine wool; Ends: plain weft faced flatweave; Colours 9. Private Collection, USA