4.8 x 7 Antique Bidjar Rug, Kurdistan Province, Northwest Persia, Circa 1895

Weaving centers in various areas of Persia often had satellite villages that supplemented the production of the main town or city. Frequently, these villages had their own clearly defining characteristics, for example the single knotted construction and triple medallion format seen in rugs from the Heriz area village of Karaja, which distinguished Karaja rugs from those woven in Heriz itself or other villages including Bakshaish, Goravan and Mehriban.

The antique Bidjar rug featured here presents an interesting question. Arguably, and this is conjecture on my part, the production in satellite villages would have started after a main weaving center was established and producing rugs with sufficient commercial success as to warrant additional weavers and looms to meet demand. In some cases, production might just be increased in the main weaving center but in others it might be added in satellite villages. Some of those satellite villages establish their own signature style, with motifs articulated in a certain way or frequent use of a certain color palette.

The format in this Bidjar is distinctive, especially the design used in the navy corner spandrels. The rug is more geometric than one might often see in a finely woven example from the late 19th century. On the other hand, it is more finely woven than many Bidjar rugs featuring more abstract, geometric aesthetics. Those might be as old as this example but they have a completely different character, often with larger scale motifs, a lot of open space between the designs and a coarser weave. The Herati design that decorates the light camel color field, a shade which is itself quite rare in antique Bidjar rugs, has its design antecedents in 16th century rugs from the classical Safavid Dynasty (circa 1501 – 1722) and is a mainstay in Bidjar weavings.

What makes this rug an interesting study piece, and of special merit to a collector, is that the general articulation of the design resembles rugs attributed to the Bidjar area village called Gogargin. And what makes that interesting is that Gogargin rugs are, in my experience, never as old as this example, most of them seeming to date to the 1920s and perhaps as early as 1910. I do not recall ever seeing a Gogargin type Bidjar with the characteristics that would date it to the 19th century. In this case, the combination of a fine weave on a wool foundation; the aubergine shade; the ample use of yellow, green and sky blue; the plain red interior band; the form of the anchor pendants extending vertically from the medallion; and the light camel color field.

Most Gogargin rugs have cotton warps (the vertical foundation threads), a much stiffer handle and almost invariably have red fields. They also tend to be aesthetically more mechanical than this Bidjar is.

This suggests to me that this rug was woven in Bidjar, rather than Gogargin, perhaps a full generation earlier than what might be considered a typical Gogargin, and perhaps served as a sort of “proto Gogargin” that was then replicated at a later time.

I have continued to appreciate this rug the more I look at it. The subtle palette and what is a fine but still somewhat folksy rendering of the motifs make it an excellent example of late 19th century Persian village textile art. Being a Bidjar, referred to as the “Iron Rug Of Persia” due to the dense weave and great durability, makes it suitable for floor use even in an area with considerable foot traffic.

Dealer Douglas & Helen Stock / Douglas Stock Gallery
Date: Circa 1895
Origin Bidjar, Kurdistan Province, Northwest Persia
Artist/Maker Kurdish weaver in the Bidjar area in northwest Persia
Measurements 4.8 x 7
Inventory View Dealer's Inventory
Website https://douglasstockgallery.com
Price Please inquire
Contact Helen or Douglas Stock, (781) 205-9817 or  douglas@douglasstockgallery.com

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