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Kurdish Rug Fragment with Affronting Birds

Tribe Dynasty


Country Of Origin



19th century




Knotted pile


Its a fragment but what there is, is in fair condition

This very unusual and archaic fragment must fall into the Kurdish realm somewhere, probably Southern Kurdistan (See Jim Burns) or possibly beyond the “borders” of Kurdistan proper. Perhaps it is ‎from somewhere west of Hamadan (one of the most ancient cities in Persia and Xerxes's capital) as the minor meandering floral border on an intense yellow ground may suggest. But it is single and double wefted (brown) so ‎it's not strictly what we would call Hamadan.

It has intense saturated colours, 11 in all, and the rustic nature of the weave as best seen on the back, and ‎the remarkable design point to it being a very old thing. Conventional wisdom would not dare date it earlier than the earlier than the 19th century but my hunch is that it could be quite a lot older than that, but who really knows.

What was the original size? I have no idea but my sense tells me that it was not a runner; ‎the iconography suggests something more culturally significant. This is no commercial production ‎which most runners tend to be and it is clear from the construction of the piece that it is a purely ‎domestic weaving.

The design and iconography of the rug is astonishing to me because the only thing I can easily relate it to is the bird rugs (and textiles) of the medieval period. I am thinking primarily of the two 14th/15th century Bird Rugs in the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin.

The idea of a central column with columns of affronting birds on either side of it is a very old and symbolic idea. The drawing and scale of the birds while less integrated than those on medieval rugs still retain their essential elements and character. I am particularly struck by the backward-turend heads of the avians which is a feature almost only ever found on very early rugs and textiles. Furthermore, while there are all sorts of quadruped and avian forms to be found on a wide array of NW Persian weaving (pile and sumakh) I have never seen any examples which relate so closely to the medieval archetypes as they do on this fragment and none with tned-backward-turned heads.

I find this a most interesting and remarkable piece which has somehow retained the iconic ‎spirit and design characteristics of rugs of a much earlier period.‎


Price on request

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