From Eurasia with Love

Antique Tribal Textile Art from Persia and the Transcaucasus


For this year’s Fall/Winter exhibition, I am very pleased to present you with a collection that I have put together over the course of many years of hunting and gathering. Persian tribal rugs have been my first love, as I was mesmerised with their abstract patterns and bold colour juxtapositions ever since I got involved with antique rugs. At first I was particularly enamoured with Kurdish rugs, but soon I learned to appreciate equally as much the work of the nearby Shahsavan tribes, together with that of their Caucasian neighbours. South Persian weavings became my next obsession, especially as they offer a varied iconographic perspective, ranging from impeccably executed and richly ornamented weavings to wild minimalist compositions. The latter aesthetic became particularly pronounced in my later choice acquisitions, as I simply couldn’t remain insensitive towards the modernist appeal of the many undiscovered antique tribal flat-weaves that began to appear on the market at the onset of the new millennium, ranging from highly graphic Kamo sofrehs to the spectacular Mazandaran kilims from the Caspian region.

Therefore this collection encompasses a counter-clockwise excursion across the various weaving cultures which populate the heart of Eurasia. As you will see, many of these examples share a vision which often transcends their immediate Persian origin, paying homage more to their proto-Iranic affiliations with Zoroastrian thought and also with Sufism, rather than strictly adhering to the dictates of Islamic art. Indeed, the mystical component of these weavings will become quite apparent, although we might perceive it with Western sensibility and connect it to more familiar grounds like modern and contemporary art.   

What brings together all the pieces in this collection is the fact that they were made with love, often just to prove her ability in weaving an object of vanity or simply to enrich her own dowry, creating a heirloom. It is my hope to be able to inspire you to start collecting these vanishing woven jewels, with the same passion with which they were conceived. It has been a never ending love story for me, and I trust that it will happen to you as well.

I would like to dedicate this exhibition to the memory of John T. Wertime. John was certainly one of the greatest textile art scholars of our time. His work has been a huge source of inspiration for the entire rug community. He has been one of my principal mentors throughout my career, always providing much encouragement and sound advice.

  Catalogue Reference Key and Bibliography

Black, Loveless 1979 – D. Black, C. Loveless, Woven Gardens. London: David Black Oriental Carpets, 1979.

Brüggemann, Böhmer 1993 –  W. Brüggemann, H. Böhmer, Rugs of the Peasants and Nomads of Anatolia. München: Verlag Künst & Antiquitäten, 1983.

Burns 2002 – J.D. Burns, Antique Rugs of Kurdistan. United Kingdom: James D. Burns, 2002.

Collins 2008 – J. Collins, Persian Piled Weaving. Newburyport: Walrus Press, 2008.

Cootner 1990 – C.M. Cootner, Anatolian Kilims. San Francisco and London: Hali Publications Limited, 1990.

Eiland 2003 – M.L. Eiland, Jr. (ed.), A World of Oriental Carpets and Textiles. Washington: ICOC 2003.

Herrmann 1998 – E. Herrmann, Seltene Orientteppiche X. München: Eberhart Herrmann, 1998.

Opie 1981 – J. Opie, Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia. Portland: James Opie Oriental Rugs Inc., 1981.

Rothberg 2021 – M. Rothberg, Nomadic Visions. London: Hali Publications & The Near Eastern Art Research Center, 2021.

Stanzer 1988 – W. Stanzer, Kordi. Wien: Im Eigenverlag, 1988.

Tanavoli 1985 – P. Tanavoli, Shahsavan. New York: Rizzoli, 1985.

Tanavoli 2002 – P. Tanavoli, Persian Flatweaves. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2002.

Tanavoli 2011 – P. Tanavoli, Undiscovered Minimalism. London: Hali Publications Limited, 2011.

Vok 1996 – I. Vok, Caucasus, Persia – Kilims and other Flatweaves. München: Ignazio Vok, 1996.

Wertime 1998 – J.T. Wertime, Sumak Bags of Northwest Persia and Transcaucasia. London: Hali Publications Limited, 1998.

Wertime 2016 – J.T. Wertime, Women’s Visions, HALI 189, Autumn 2016, pp. 76-89.

Wertime 2018 – J.T. Wertime, Woven Minimalism, HALI 196, Summer 2018, pp. 78-89.

Rugs from the Exhibition

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