Friday, March 28, 2014

The Good Stuff #1. An Antique Persian Bidjar. By Bruce McLaren

This is the first in a series of blogs about some of the more exotic and rare carpets that we have here in the store. First up, this extremely nice and collectable Persian Bidjar.

1920's Persian Bidjar

To quote that great wordsmith and poet, Meatloaf:

I know you're looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks,
But there ain't no coupe de ville,
Hiding at the bottom of a cracker-jack box...

Well, it is a bit like that when it comes to oriental rugs. There are a lot of them out there but you have to search high and low to find the good stuff. Fortunately, over the past 40 odd years we have accumulated some gems when it comes to Persian Carpets. First off the bat is this 9x12 foot Bidjar from the 1920s, all vegetal dyed and in immaculate condition. This sort of rug sells in the $20000 range.

But hang on a minute. Where is Bidjar? Bidjar is a city of 50000 people in Kurdistan Province in northwestern Iran. The tern "Bidjar" actually means "city" in Kurdish, which most likely explains the origin of the name. 

Location of Bidjar
Bidjars are often referred to as "iron rugs" due to their firm construction. This is due to the weft being compressed using iron combs which are run between the warp strands and hammered down tight. Occasionally even three wefts are also used in this process, making for a sturdier rug, yet two wefts is the norm. On top of this, the weft strands were often put into place when damp, which further strengthened the rug.

Bidjars are made using the typical Turkish knot, illustrated here...

The Turkish Knot
Here are some closeups of the back of our Bidjar...

Now one may be forgiven for asking "what are Kurds doing using a Turkish Knot"? Well, it's a valid question. The answer is most likely found in that traditionally the eastern part of Kurdistan has been ruled by Turkish chieftains who required carpets made according to their own traditions - using the double-weft and the Turkish knot. It is of no small interest that the construction of a Bidjar is exactly the same as that seen in Ushak Carpets from Western Turkey.

Bidjar Carpets usually have a knot count of 50 to 100 knots per square inch. Our Bidjar here has a count of around 130 knots per square inch and is finer than usual and more rare. High detail in design is dependent upon a high knot count.This feature is seen in the detail of the central medallion.... 

And also in some of the border design elements...

As with most things when it comes to Persian Carpets, the key to the origin of the piece is found in the construction rather than the design. This is never more true than with a Bidjar, which has utilised most common designs in the past few hundred years. That being said, some design motifs appear more commonly than others.

The most common motif is that seen throughout the field of our Bidjar, a small diamond shaped design known as a Herati.

As you may tell from the name the Herati is thought to have originated in the vicinity of Herat in western Afghanistan. Here it is in closeup.

So there you have it. If you feel the need for an (almost) antique collectible Bidjar then simply call me. It's easy...

1 comment:

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