Monday, October 29, 2012

Luri chanteh front

This tiny bag, measuring 18 x 20 cms, also came to me from Lebanon. Its attribution to the Luri seems probable, given the coarse knotting and the flatweave panel at the bottom (actually the top, because it would have been made upside-down, judging by the direction of the symmetrical knots). It has a gabbeh-like charm, and may have been woven by a young girl, given its lack of technical skill. Note the 'wedges' inserted  about halfway up the bag, presumably added (by a mother?) to steady the shape.

Afshar pouch

This flatweave bag was sold to me by a dealer in Lebanon who described it as a 'tutundan' or tobacco/opium pouch. It looks a bit like a truncated salt bag, or 'namakdan'. So it's not a chanteh, strictly speaking, but it's close enough to be included here. It measures 19 by 34 cms, and it strikes me as being rather big for a tobacco pouch - but that's only my hunch. There would originally have been a cord attached to the top of the 'flap', which would have been turned over the back, keeping the contents safe. It has a cotton warp and a typically coloured Afshar back, so the attribution to the Afshar seems probable. I really like the embroidered blue flowers on the left side, which gives the bag a curious but appealing asymmetry. 

Luri double-fronted chanteh

Another purchase from Turkey - this time a bag that is far from being the most beautiful I've ever seen, but one that is full of interest. Double-fronted chantehs in pile are not very common, and this example, using a standard 'bird's-head medallion' motif that mirrors itself, shows the evidence of at least two changes of plan on the part of the weaver. The way the second image reads indicates the fall of the symmetrical knots, so the weaver started with the pile 'Qashqai frieze', which she didn't use at the other end. There is also a shift in the design of the borders. One of the things I like about this bag is the coarse repair - very probably a practical tribal effort, as no dealer or restorer would try to get away with anything so unskilled. It measures 49 by 29 cms, and is probably Luri.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Qashqai flatweave bag with tassels

A new purchase, from a dealer in Istanbul. Note the similarity between the back of this bag and that of the preceding chanteh, which was also recently acquired in Istanbul. A similar soft green dye is also evident in some of the details. (I sometimes wonder if sets of bags or rugs from a particular source are found by middlemen and then dispersed to various dealers. Frequently a batch of similar or comparable textiles comes onto the market at the same time; then you don't see their like again for quite a while). The front of this chanteh is unusual: a field full of 'figure' motifs, fairly irregularly dispersed, with some crudely embroidered upside-down animals at the top. The back, on the other hand, is very competently woven (as in the last bag, there is  'shift' in the field, this time about halfway down). A mother and child working together? I really like the irregular pile tufts on the front, which don't seem to be disguising anything at all. They are either simply decorative or, perhaps, are intended, like blue ceramic beads, to ward off the evil eye. It measures 13" by 12" (without tassels). 

Qashqai flatweave purse

A charming little purse with more green dyes and another white field. If the opening is kept at the top, as it is here, the boteh are upside-down, but the composition reads well nonetheless. The pattern on the reverse turns up on many South Persian flatweave bags and may be attributable to a particular tribe or sub-tribe, but if so I don't know which. Note the horizontal white 'line' on the back, a couple of inches from the top, which marks a shift or change of some kind. 8.5" by 9.5"; purchased from a collector/dealer in Istanbul.

Afshar 'nim-khorjin'

The Afshar must surely be the most inventive of all the South Persian tribes when it comes to the design of their bags; this is yet another interesting variation on a central medallion theme. I'm very fond of the asymmetrical composition on the white field (which you seem to find more often on Afshar bags than elsewhere), and of the uncommon green dyes. Fairly finely and densely woven, it measures 11.5" by 13.5" and was bought from a dealer in Holland.  

Qashqai double chanteh with medallion

Those who have seen the other bags in this collection will quickly realize that I am partial to this composition and colour scheme. This example, purchased from a dealer in England (via another dealer in Holland), shows subtle but clear variations on both sides, which gives it quiet vitality. The 'Qashqai frieze' is woven in pile, which is relatively uncommon. Each bag measures 10" by 13.5".

Luri or Qashqai 'cross' chanteh

Until recently bags with this cruciform pattern were considered very rare, and only one example had been published. Then they began to turn up occasionally, and at the recent auction where I bought the preceding double gabbeh there were a handful of fine versions, all attributed to the Luri 'Boyer Ahmadi' tribe. The knowledgeable American dealer from who I bought this bag had his own theory. It may have been woven, he said, as a Khan production piece, or perhaps woven by a tribal woman in an urban environment, where she had been employed for seasonal work. In any event, it is very densely and finely woven, with a deeply depressed warp. The unresolved crosses on the left suggest that whether or not the bag was made in a town or village, it is definitely not far from its tribal sources. It measures 11" by 11.5".

Qashqai double gabbeh chanteh

I bought this chanteh after a German auction of a very distinguished collection of South Persian bags and rugs: it didn't attract any bids and in the end turned out to be one of the cheapest items at the sale. Not surprising, really, as it breaks all the rules: vivid dyes, coarse construction, some tribal mending, and so forth. But I really like it: the strange pile tufts around the periphery of the central flatweave field, the crazy sense of order, the bravado... Each bag measures 9.5" by 10".

Afshar gabbeh purse

One of my earlier acquisitions (from a Dutch dealer on eBay), this little bag remains one of my favourites. There is no way of telling whether it was an adult or a child who wove it, but I'm inclined to suppose that it was the latter. You can just about make out a few flowers and botehs, but the rest of the markings are pure freeform and 'gabbeh'. Often Afshar bags of this shape and size (11" by 7") are folded across the middle and bound only on one side (such as the one posted recently), but this chanteh is bound on both.

Luri gabbeh

This unusually freeform composition, loosely centred on a flower medallion, was probably conceived the other way round (according to the run of the pile), but it reads best as it is shown here. Lots of spontaneity and abrash. Purchased from a dealer in England, it measures 9.5" by 12".  

Luri chanteh face with inscription

Probably Luri because of the coarse weave (although the warps, uncharacteristically, are cotton), this is another chanteh front that I bought because of the inscription. It measures 12" by 11.5", and according to the dealer in Spain from whom I acquired it, the writing says:'Karim Allah Muhammad Ali' (a religious invocation), and the date underneath seems to read '1914'.

Afshar fragment

Not really a chanteh, but the front of a small personal bag, so it is close enough to be included here. It measures 21" by 11.5", but the top and bottom are missing, and it would originally have been slightly bigger. Finely woven with a classic composition of two large boteh, I was drawn to it because of the inscription (which Parviz Tanavoli says is rare on Afshar bags and rugs). I don't know what it means. Bought on eBay from a dealer in Holland.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Qashqa'i flatweave chanteh

I like the restrained mood of this little bag, which may also stem from the Darrehshuri, who frequently used this pattern on their weavings. I particularly enjoy the small blank sections and short horizontal lines on the edges, which disrupt the regularity of the front. Open at the sides, the bag measures 8.5" by 9.5" and was purchased at an auction in Germany. 

Qashqa'i hunting bags

This is one of a pair of flatwoven bags, possibly from the Darrehshuri tribe, which each measures 8.5" by 9.5". The other bag, not visible in these images, is almost identical. According to the dealer in Spain from whom I acquired them, they were used as hunting bags - to carry cartridges. If so, this is a fairly uncommon instance of small chanteh definitely being used by men. 

Luri double chanteh with figures

This coarsely-woven chanteh in a 'gabbeh' style is unusual in as much as it is delberately humourous. Look closely at the shapes in the field and you'll see that they form two figures holding hands! On the other half, illustrated below, there are two animals, probably deer or gazelle. There are a few knots of 'hot' orange knots in the bags - always a favourite colour among the tribal women on South Persia, although much disliked by collectors these days. Purchased from a dealer in Turkey; 10" by 11" each bag.

Bakhtiari double-fronted purse

The English dealer from whom I bought this purse (which measures 6.5" by 8") told me that it was made by the Bakhtiari, so this is the attribution I accept, although it could have come from several other South Persian tribes. It is dense and inflexible, curiously thick for a weaving so tiny. I'm very fond of the way in which the weaver has taken such a simple design and, by changing colours and altering the borders, has created a personal object with two quite different moods.

Since I made this post, months ago, I have come across images of a chanteh that is very similar - in texture, size, and borders - to this one. The dealer attributes it to the district of Nasrabad, in NE Iran, a place that she describes as being well-known for its good colours. This shows, once again, how difficult it is to be accurate with attributions.

Small 'tile' bag with dramatic back

The 'tile' pattern on this flatwoven bag will be familiar from two examples already posted, and the front panel is in some respects rather ordinary (apart from the occasional shifts and slips in the border). But when you take into account the extraordinary kilim back, the piece really turns into something remarkable - every time I look at it I wonder about the sensibility of the weaver who wished to juxtapose such order with wildness. The bag was attributed to the Kurds when I bought it from a dealer in America, but it is more likely to be from South Persia - probably made by a Qashqa'i woman. It measures 13" by 14". 

Khamseh small bag with boteh

Here is another small bag that was once half of a double. I really like the dramatic contrast between the rather fussy treatment of the boteh and the coarse horizontal chevrons (typical of one of the Khamseh tribes) on the kilim back. It measures 12" by 13" and was acquired from a dealer in England. The small Afshar boteh bag that was posted earlier provides an interesting contrast. 

Chanteh with stepped diamond motif

Half of a double chanteh (it was once common for dealers to cut them in two, as the value of separate bags was often higher than that of a double), this little bag was attributed to the Qashqa'i when I purchased it from a dealer in Scotland. This may be correct, but I've always had my doubts. I really like the striations in the field, the odd cross motifs in the corners, and the curious mark on the back. One of the more mysterious bags in my collection, it measures 8" by 8.5". There are a couple of synthetic dyes in the mix - for example, the bright orange dots in the white squares in the field.

Afshar flatweave purse

When I bought this bag from a German dealer a couple of years ago it was the first time I'd seen a chanteh made in this way (folded in the centre and joined at the edge); since then I've come across several others. It appears to be characteristic of the Afshari. Flatwoven in earthy colours, the chevron pattern may be a distant echo of the 'tree of life' motif. Vertically shaped bags such as this one are sometimes described as 'spindle bags', but this is too small for that, and was almost certainly conceived as a purse or container for small personal articles. It measures 9" by 7.5". 

Another Afshar chanteh

A typical Afshar inner border accounts for its attribution; otherwise, with the 'Qashqa'i frieze' running across the top of the back and the extra pile border spanning the lower edges of the front and the back, one might have looked elsewhere for its source. The composition, focussed on the cruciform birth motif in the centre of a tiny blue/black field, is cramped, but this gives the bag a certain intensity. It measures 9.5" by 11" and was purchased from an American dealer.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Afshar 'nim-khorjin'

To include this in a collection of chanteh is stretching the definition of the term, because it measures 19" by 18" and is really a 'nim-khorjin', a small bag that was used by tribeswomen for their personal possessions - just as chanteh were. But I want to include a few anomalies to demonstrate the fluidity of the genre (and, besides, I've also seen one or two much smaller bags with very similar patterns on the front).  The outside border is woven in pile, as is the tiny central motif, which may be a device to avert the 'evil eye'; the bright white areas have been made with cotton. The rather attractive back, woven entirely with wool, has cream-coloured areas instead of white. Purchased from a dealer in America. 

Afshar bag with boteh

Apparently the Afshar have a name for small bags that are not exactly chanteh: 'nim-khorjin'. This could justifiably be called either. I very much like the way the top row of boteh are 'hidden' under the border, and the way that empty space in the field has been filled with a scattering of small flowers. The colours in the back section are especially attractive, particularly when seen in conjunction with the pile face. It measures 10" by 14" and was purchased from a dealer in Holland.

Afshar 'Banbazari' chanteh front

I've seen several versions of this small Afshar chanteh, all woven without much finesse, so it is possible that it was a pattern that Afshari girls occasionally tried their hand at when they were very young. This is the only such bag I've come across with an inscription, which more than makes up for its awful condition. According to the auction catalogue (I bought it in England), the text reads 'Banbazari', which may be a name - but there does appear to be more than one word in the inscription. It measures 9" by 10", and was attributed to the Luri at the auction. The back is missing, but there is about an inch of the madder flatweave still extant below the pile border.

Bakhtiari double chanteh

The pattern on this double chanteh (both sides are almost identical) is ubiquitous on large Bakhtiari khorjins, but it is rare to find it on small bags such as these. Just visible on the front, more obvious on the back, is a small section of pile weaving, which the Bakhtiari commonly add to their bags to strengthen the ends. There has obviously been some wear on the flatwoven section between the two pockets, because it has been irregularly joined and mended - this is clearly visible in the photo of the back. Each bag measures 9" by 9", and they were acquired from a collector in America.