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rug not in my possession Small Kurdish Hamadan with interesting white ground border w animals

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Kurd Hamadan animal border—click to see enlarged view


A small Hamadan with a strange medley of design features that look mostly Kurdish, especially in view of the form of the three medallions extending squashed and irregular double hooks or anchor shapes, and the Kurdish rosette meander in the outer secondary border. Clearly not a rug made under controlled village workshop conditions, the wobbly execution of the medallions, crammed in the field and surrounded by secondary serrated medallions, has an improvised, some may say clumsy, feel to it. Maybe one of the first works of a girl learning the ropes? Kurdish horror vacui has crammed birds, serrated leaves and leaf fragments, blossoms and s-shapes into every free area of the midnight blue ground.

What attracted me particularly despite the rather poor condition was the white ground meander border which is a variant of a border often used in the so called Mir Serabend carpets and, according to P.R.J. Ford, also in some Hamadan villages (compare fig 96 in his book Oriental Carpet Design)—an narrow example is the Khamseh Hamadan rug shown as fig. 92 in Cecil Edwards' The Persian Carpet. In this particular variant, cute small red animals with green eyes and a merry tail (dogs?) can be seen facing each other across the main meandering stem. The meander encloses several vegetal or animal forms, the largest, upright one resembling a red-blue, vertically striped chili pepper, boteh or poppy seed; another one a strangely irregular flower with a checkerbord filling; still another looks like a long-legged small animal in profile or alternatively, an irregularly shaped frog seen from above. Since both shapes appear connected to the meandering stem, they are likely to represent plant elements, however. Nevertheless, I find the border design puzzling and intriguing. I'd be interested to learn if any of you have seen comparative examples. The corner spandrels enclosing the hexagon-shaped field contain irregular blossoms and botehs at the bottom, and rows of rosettes (or stems with small round leaves) at the top, the latter design reminiscent of elements used in Mazlaghan rugs.


The rug measures ca. 108 x 169 cm (3ft.8in. x 5ft.6in.). Hamadan weave, no depression, strongly twisted off-white cotton wefts, fat, irregular and loosely (hand)spun cotton wefts sometimes two in one shed. The weaving is coarse, the horizontal knot count is h.23/10, the vertical knot count is v.27/10, which means roughly 621 knots/dm2 (or, converted to to inches, h.5.5,v.7 = ca. 38 kpsi) This results in a V/H ration of 1.17. Some extra wefts have been inserted near the top right corner to counter distortion. One-cord selvedges wrapped in cinnamon wool, probably not original. No kilim ends remain. The weave pattern dominated by the fat wefts and the occasional double weft in one shed is a bit similar to Willborg's No. 37 which he tentatively attributes to Senjabi. Willborg's example is a bit finer but has nearly the same V/H ratio.


Not so good. Except for a few rows of knots missing from the outer border at the lower end, the rug is complete apart from missing end kilims. Someone has secured both ends with coarse whip stiching. The pile is very low though, with foundation visible in places. I have hand-washed the rug with a neutral detergent, so it is now clean. In the blue parts of the central medallion, a misguided soul has at some point in time applied blue tinting (felt pen?) to the while foundation to make wear less obvious, this is now a light blue after the wash. I seem to remember some slight orange colour bleeding in places but on inspection I can't find it now.


A pleasing and seemingly all-natural palette (were it not for the orange bleeding that I remember occured during the wash, of which I can now find no trace) sporting a warm medium madder red, light, mid and dark indigo blue, two shades of a madder-based rose, off-white (mainly in the main border ground), dark brown (for outlining), light and medium green mainly in the border meander, a medium greenish brown in the centres of the medallions, and small amounts of a good yellow mainly in the triple outlining of the hexagon bue field.

More images

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - top half

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - border left side

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - border right side

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - border right side 2

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - bottom half

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - bottom half closer

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - border close-up

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - field closer

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - lower left corner

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - border and mid ground closer

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - pile 1

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - top half

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border - topleft corner

Kurdish Hamadan w animal border -  border wear

Hamadan Kurdish rug w animal border - back side weave pattern

Last update: 11 September 2008 | Impressum—Imprint