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.

Qashqa'i flatweave with long tassels

This bag may have been woven by a woman of the Darrehshuri tribe - the pattern on the front is often associated with that section of the Qashqa'i confederacy. The back, with its apparently random constellation of marks, is less skilled than the front, but it is charming nonetheless. The tufts on the front and back appear to have been added to repair and cover up small areas of wear. Measuring 12" by 11", it was acquired at a German auction.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Luri (or Kurdish) flatweave

I'm not sure whether this bag is Luri or Kurdish, but it has a coarse vigour that appeals to me - probably because of the strong central band and the two blue/green stripes with 'chain' motifs running on top of them. It is open at the sides, has a couple of disreputable dyes (including the purple on the reverse), and measures 8" by 9". It was bought from a dealer in the USA.

Qashqa'i flatweave with 'tile' motif and long tassels

This is another common 'tile' design, this time in fine flatweave. In the centre of the diamonds there is a tiny 'swastika', or sun, motif. Although the colours have become mellow and harmonious with fading and age, the inside of the bag (and one of the tassels) reveal that the orange dye is almost certainly synthetic. No matter - it is a bag with definite style and class - even with the ink stain on the reverse! Acquired at an auction in Germany, it measures 11" by 11" and was probably made in the first quarter of the last century.

Luri with 'tile' motif

The 'tile' motif is fairly common in South Persian bags; it may have been inspired, at some distant point, by a classical urban design. Here the tiles are almost unrecognizable as such, but if you look carefully at the central field you'll see the interlocking hexagonal shapes. I'm very fond of the way the borders shift, both in design and colour, while retaining overall shape and order. Coarsely woven, as is typical of Luri pieces, it measures 9" by 9.5". The blue ceramic bead (there were probably others that are now missing) is a traditional decoration that was reputed to help stave off the evil eye. Purchased from dealers in Italy.  

Qashqa'i Stripes

I've never seen another chanteh like this one. It has a couple of faded synthetic dyes in the mix, which means that it was probably made in the early decades of the last century - a date that chimes with the overall feel of the design. Although South Persian often used stripes in their rugs and bags (often referred to as 'cane' motifs), the diagonal segments give this small purse an oddly western and 'modern' sensibility. The bright whites in the pile front are cotton highlights. It measures 7.5" by 8" and was purchased from a dealer in Scotland. I've never been sure of the Qashqa'i attribution, but that was the name it came with.

Qashqa'i or Luri Flowers and Gazelle

The central flower motif turns up from time to time on South Persian khorjins; it has been interpreted as a sun symbol. Measuring 9" by 7", this small bag would actually have been used the other way round - but the image shows the way it was woven. I like the two cramped rows of flowers and the strange mixture of botehs and gazelle: the best South Persian pieces often have a strain of intuitive informality held in tension with a more classical composition. Open at the sides, coarsely woven, and purchased at an auction in Germany.