Geography & People
The lifestyle of each weaver is influenced by his or her geographic surroundings and local customs, and this has a big impact on the handmade area rugs that they produce. For example, tribal weavers such as the Turkomans and Baluchis produce distinctive work, but city weavers who are found in China, India and Pakistan alter their style to meet specific demands from the Western market.
Turkoman handmade area rugs are distinctive because they are always made with 100 percent pure wool, and the weavers utilize geometric shapes. Additionally, the majority of Turkoman rugs feature a red or reddish-brown background. The rugs that are produced by Turkoman tribes are often referred to as Turkmen rugs, and they were historically known as Bukhara or Afghan rugs.
Turkoman weavers are nomadic, and they live in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, northeastern Iran and Uzbekistan. There are many Turkoman tribes in these countries, including the Ersari, Salor, Chodor, Saryk, Arabchi, Youmut and Tekke.
These handmade area rugs feature a unique octagonal motif that is called a gul. Each tribe has a gul that they were very protective of several centuries ago, but now all Turkoman weavers are allowed to freely use any gul in their rugs. The Turkomans also use the hatchli design when they make Ensi rugs.
The Baluchi tribes trace their origins back to at least the 10th century, and they can currently be found in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The majority of their population lives and weaves in the Baluchistan territory, and making rugs is one of their primary sources of income.
The women of the Baluchi tribe do most of the weaving, and their families live in either tent-like structures or actual tents. In addition to making small handmade area rugs, the Baluchi tribes also create saddlebags, pillow covers, salt bags, sofrehs and ru-korsi. The sofreh is a cloth that is used as a placemat for food, and the ru-korsi is a tablecloth for tables that have a heater underneath them.
The majority of Baluchi created handmade area rugs are geometric. These tribes are well known for their tree-of-life prayer rug. Baluchi rugs are marketed under several different names, including Herat Baluchi and Mashad. It is also common for the specific tribe's name to be utilized for marketing purposes such as the village of Chichaksu, Nishapur, Koudani and Haft Bolah, Mushwani and Dokhtar-e-Ghazi.
Nomadic rugs typically come from sheep herding tribes who live in tents and migrate throughout the year. Weaving is a tradition for these tribes, and they create rugs for everyday usage. Women are the only members of nomadic tribes who weave, and their skill level helps to determine their social ranking. In fact, most of their weavers will showcase their work to prove that they are eligible for marriage.
Nomadic tribes are found in many areas, including Afghanistan, Iran, northwestern China, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The rugs that they create are typically very small because they utilize horizontal looms that can be taken apart quickly. A nomadic rug will usually feature geometric patterns, and the colors will be limited because these weavers only utilize natural materials. Each of the rugs that end up in the Western market was originally created for personal use, and this makes them even more desirable to many collectors.
villagers who work out of their home weave Village handmade area rugs. Unlike the nomadic tribes, village rugs can be created by both women and men, and many families work on rugs together. Most of the contemporary village rugs are woven in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.
One of the most interesting things about village weavers is the fact that they take inspiration from nomadic tribes and nearby cities. This enables them to produce a very diverse selection of rugs, and it also makes it easier for these weavers to make a good living with their hands. Although many village weavers were originally from nomadic tribes, they have now branched out into accepting orders from rug dealers. Additionally, they will choose their patterns to meet the demands of nearby city markets. Therefore, many village area rugs feature complex and elaborate motifs.
Workshops employ both women and men, and the settings are much more sophisticated than those that are used in villages and nomadic tents. For example, handmade area rugs that are created in a workshop will benefit from the availability of a large quantity of different dyes. Additionally, weavers work from a design plate or the direct instructions of a master weaver, and this enables them to create work that has a very exact size and pattern.
In order to make large area rugs, workshops utilize large permanent vertical looms. It is common for weavers in a workshop to make several different types of rugs, including styles that are suitable for the local area and the worldwide market. Working at a workshop can be very lucrative for skilled weavers because they have the opportunity to eventually become master weavers.
Some of the most unique handmade area rugs in the world are woven in master workshops. These specialty shops are run by well-known designers and artists, and they employ the most talented weaving students to bring their vision to life. Master workshops create abstract and traditional Persian schemes, and some of their rugs feature a combination of these two styles. Master workshop area rugs often look like a painting, and they can include designs that depict contemporary life.
Handmade area rugs that are woven in a master workshop are considered to be technically perfect. They feature the best materials, exact patterns, very fine knitting and uniform color tones. Unlike the majority of other commercial weavers, master workshops do not create rugs based on the demands of the market. Instead, they focus on creating works of art. As a result, many master workshop area rugs are currently hanging in museums and galleries around the world