This is the face of a half khorjin, i.e. one half of what was a double saddle bag with flatwoven back. These bags with their colourful diamond or lozenge lattice design as seen here are commonly attributed to the Jaff (Jaf) Kurdish tribe that lived during summer in the Zagros mountains in western Iran near the Iraq border, and migrated to winter pastures in the Mesopotamian plain. Based on the excellent dyes and the uncommon structure I would date this at the end of the 19th century. Jenny Housego leaves it open whether such pieces originate with Jaff or the Sanjabi Kurds. There are many bags of this type but few old ones in such excellent condition. This one is in addition a structurally very interesting and highly unusual piece (see section on structure). The border is very simple, showing a row of rosettes separated by striped bars, surrounded by an narrow outer border showing white rosettes (x-shapes) alternating with red dots (or quares with dark central knot). Jenny Housego, in her book Tribal rugs, shows in Plate 82 a Kurd Veramin rug with a band of plain weave that is very similar to the outer border in this bag face. May be the unusual depressed weave in the centre of field (see section on structure) and this outer border pattern coincidence is not sufficient, but a Veramin origin might also be considered.
Often in this type of Jaff bag, one finds the half-knot stepping technique where each row of knots in the field is offset by one warp to produce more regular and steeper diagonals than would result from the normal stepwise progression in a non-depressed weave. Looking at the back of this piece, it becomes apparent that the bottom and top show a normal non-depressed weave (i.e. all warps are on the same level), but as the diamond lattice field begins, the weave switches to a fully depressed type, using much heavier using thicker pile yarn (or double the amount) - with the result that the central field is thicker and stiffer than the lower and upper border area. So no half-knot stepping here. A close look at the detail image of the back shows the transition. I have never come across anything like it.
The size of the face is ca. 21.5in. x 22.5in. (52 x 55 cm). Warps and wefts are off white wool. The knot density is ca. 7.h, 9-11.v = ca. 70 kpsi—in other words, vertical density changes within the field. Some of the diamonds are therefore flatter than others. The knots are symmetrical, not depressed in the upper and lower border area and nearly fully depressed in the central area.
Simply excellent, velvety soft and sumptuous. No wear apart from a light corrosion of the brown in the rosettes o fthe upper border. The bagface is clean, has been carefully washed. No holes, tears, cuts, repairs, stains, not any other defects. Simply perfect. The ends are secured. Sides show vry minor wear some with some loose threads.
The best dyes imaginable, all natural, glowing and deeply saturated. The bag face has a lustre which makes it very hard to photograph—the colours appear darker or lighter according to the viewing angle and direction of light. The palette contains two shades of madder red, medium and dark indigo, dark brown, various shades of blue-green, off-white, a simply wonderful saturated honey-yellow.
Back side detail, change from non-depressed to depressed weave