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Structure, design and dyes suggest that this tribal Khamseh rug was made in the last quarter of the 19th century (compare James Opie's 'Tribal rugs of Southern Persia' on page 93.) Opie atributes the rug on p.93 to 'Khamseh (Baharlu or Ainalu)'. I certainly don't know any better...
The striped so-called 'cane pattern' fills the entire field in the Opie rug (p.93) and the so-called pomegranate motif features in the main border. (BTW, Stone calls this striped pattern the 'Vertical wine stipe'.) In our rug, the cane pattern fills the spandrels and comes in sidewards, more so in the centre, to form the wavy hourglass shape of the dark blue field which itself carries two oblong white-ground medallions with lancet-like extensions at top and bottom. The two medallions are linked in the centre.
The serrated medallion shape and the internal layout of the pattern is somewhat similar to Stone's Khamseh floral medallion (P-30, Tribal and Village Rugs - the Definitive Guide to Design, Pattern and Motif).
Inside the medallions we find a great richness of forms, broadly symmetrical on the vertical axis. A vertical stem links a series of small design elements (nested diamonds, rounded triple bar shapes with vertical stripes) that function as nodes form which horizontal stems extend - some with a thin red vein on light green, others showing a red-green barberpole design. Some horizontal stems have side branches some of which rejoin the main stem, Other stems bend upwards or downwards at their end. Tiny blossom, diamond or hexagon motifs and many elements looking like tweezers or spacecraft float like seeds in the space between and behind the elements of this angular lattice.
The four large orange kidney-shaped forms arranged around the medallion centre in Stone's P-30 medallion are here dark red rectangles (none like any other) sitting at the end of horizontal stems. They are adorned with tiny yellow C-shaped forms and carry irregular pencil-, tent-, wheel- or hook-shaped extensions upwards and downwards. While the floral provenance of the motif seems likely, it is not clear to me what (if anything) the weaver was depicting here.
Two pomegranate motifs proper sit on the horizontal stems emanating from the small red octagonal medallion centres which are adorned by small diamonds with long blue hooks.
The main border seems fairly unusual, haven't seen it anywhere else so far. A wine scroll with forked leaves links hourglass elements, the lower end of them winged, which contain lancets, the lower lancet ending in an arrow. This border element seems to pick up the overall shape of the linked medallions. To both sides of it we find strange angular elements (fruits?) and above and between, quartered cloverleaves or rosettes. Very strange.
The rug measures 9ft.6in. x 4ft.8in - 5ft. (290 x 147-155 cm). All-wool construction, very regular and tidy weave. Warps are brown, tan and off-white wool, the double wefts are various shades of brown. Very nice, shiny wool.
The weave is non-depessed. The knot count is h.32/dm, v.34/dm = 1088 kpdm, or transölated to knots per inch, roughly h.8 x v.8 = 64 kpsi. The handle of the rug is soft and flexible.
The selvedge is a single cord wrapped in blue wool, does not look original, has probably been rewrapped at some point in time.
A truly beautiful, rich and saturated all organic palette with 10 colours (if I counted correctly): a light madder red, a darker - nearly maroon -madder red, a beautiful golden yellow rarely found this clear, a clear light green sometimes playing into a greyish green, a darker teal green, the very deep indigo blue of the ground, medium blue, light blue, brown, and off-white.
Very decent condition for a rug of this age. Overall good, fairly even, short pile, a couple of old repairs in the border (see images) a new repair (a long gash with missing pile across the left side of the top medallion running into the left border) that I got done by Walter Brew of Harleqin Thunderstrand. Ends are complete and secured but no skirt is left on top and bottom.
All photos are taken outdoors in full sunlight.