Kurd tribes and Kurdish rugs in the Khorasan Province of Iran

Category: General

by Ehsan Afzalzadeh Naini, Iran Rug Company
Translated from Persian by Fereidoun Haghighi
15 February 2005

Kurd tribes who live in various regions of Iran are the biggest and oldest Iranian tribes of Arian race who established the “Mod Dynasty” in the mountainous west where Iran is today, and for many centuries they lived with dignity and in prosperity by defending their motherland and have never faltered in their path and more importantly, they left behind a rich cultural background that is recorded in history and their traditional way of living has been continued by younger generation up to now.Today, many Kurds live in small villages and engage in raising livestock and agriculture. Their chief manufacture is finely woven rugs. The Kurds speak Kurdish, a language which is practiced in Western part of Iran. In the mid 1990 the Kurd population was estimated at nearly 26 million (source Microsoft Bookshelf) of those more than half lived in Turkey, the rest of them in Iran, Iraq, Syria and in the commonwealth of Independent states (CIS) from the former (USSR).

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Iranian Kurds and their historical migration to the Khorasan Province of Iran

Kurdish tribes moved to Khorasan region during Safavian Dynasty and the reason for that was pour political. They were sent to Khorasan in order to defend the province from attacks by Uzbek and Mongolian worriers. Kurds who are considered to be very determine and jingoistic people by nature did the job and push the worriers back to where they belong to and consequently the politic of Shah safavi had worked to its perfection by using Kurds in order to keep the integrity of the country intact.

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Kurds in Bojnourd, a city in northern part of Khorasan Province

Bojnourd is located in the northern part of Khorasan Province and in the northeast of Iran. Bojnourd city covers an area of 935,114 square kilometers and is the main rout to connect the province to the northern part of Iran and its distance to the center of province is 244 kilometers. Bojnourd city from north borders Turkmenistan, a neighboring country, with a boundary of 971.1 kilometers, from east the city of Shirvan, from west the city of Golestan and from south the cities Esfarain and Jajarm.
According to the findings of the archeologists and based on the historical documents left behind the oldness of the city goes back as far as 500 years.

Hand-knotted carpets of the nomadic Kurds in Bojnourd

Hand-made rugs that are woven in the villages around Bojnourd such as Jargalan, Maneh and Samlaghan are mostly Turkmen style rugs which sometimes pure Turkmen designs could be seen in those carpets and in addition, the knot style of Bojnourd carpets are symmetrical or it is known as Turkish style knot.
The loom that is used to wave the carpets is horizontal one, as it is shown in the picture below, and very suitable for the nomadic tribes, and it is the simplest form of a loom and very easy to disassemble and assemble while they move around in the region as their way of living.

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Carpet weaving tools in Bojnourd

Weavers in the region use Dafeh, Scissors and Hook for rug weaving; however, Kilim weaving and round carpets have their own specialty tool in which only Dafeh is used. The warp and weft which are fastening on the loom for carpet weaving is usually hand-spun seven times twisted wool thread.
The twisted threads of wool are colored in two ways Chemical and Vegetal; however the vegetal dyeing is the order of the day and most rugs are vegetal dyed.

Carpet sizes 

Carpet sizes measured in metric system which are practical in the region are as follows:

2.20 X 2.00 m, 1.20 X 1.80 m, 0.70 X 1.00 m, 1.00 X 1.00 m, 0.80 X 1.00 m, 0.60 X 1.00 m

In addition to the Kurds carpet sizes, there are some colors that are more noticeable than others and they are as follows: red color 35%, dark blue 35%, white, yellow, blue and green colors 30%.

Bojnourd Hand-Crafted carpets are categorized as the followings:

Kurdish Small rugs (Ghaliche), Pa-Dari, Prayer Rugs, Pushti, Nomadic Socks, Square Kilims, Square Sofreh (silk woven, cover of dinning table), Knee Pad (often made of silk), Bags, Sacks

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Hand-knotted carpets of the nomadic Kurds in Ghochan

Ghochan with an area of 533,849 square kilometers is situated in the Khorasan province and from northeast is in vicinity with Darghaz city, from south the city of Nishabour and Esfaraien, from west the city of Shirvan and from east the city of Mashhad.

Ghochan also borders Turkmenistan, a neighboring country, from the north with some 75 kilometers common borders.

According to the archeological research performed in Ghochan and its suburbs, it was concluded that because of the Atrak River next to the heights of Hezar Masjed Mountains near the city, in the past, it was a perfect place for the cultivation of the crops and with its adequate climate it was a perfect ground for development of early civilizations which dates back to an era before Jesus Christ, B.C.

In the old days the city was called “Asak” and “Ashak”.

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Handicrafts of Ghochan

Ghochan is famous for its wool coats, felt carpets, pottery and most importantly for weaving kilim carpets which was and still is very popular among villagers and traditionally it is woven by the housewives in the Kurd families.

Art in nomadic families

Art in Nomadic families can be divided into two distinctive categories: Carpet and Kilim weaving and  Decorative items for clothing

Carpet and kilim weaving

There are some very important steps taking in the production of Kilim and carpets in the Ghochan region in a way that the right wool, from the spring sheep pasturing in the open areas on the hills near mountains with their best quality ivory white wool, is obtained meticulously and after hand-spinning the wool hand spun yarn is used for weaving carpets and kilims.

Here how it is done, the ivory white wool must be washed with fresh clear spring water which is considered by locals as a very important step to take and the washing is usually done in the Spring Rivers or near the Spring Wells.

After the washing is completed, the next step is to spinning the wool into wool yarn and makes it ready for the natural dyeing. Spinning of the wool is done with the help of the entire family and once the wool yarns are ready vegetal dying form the local plants will take place.

Here is a list of some plants that the natural colors obtained from them:

Madder – Red and orange color, Indigo – Blue color, Nettle – yellow and greenish color, Sumac – brown and grayish color, Hazelnut – light, dark brown and black color, Blueberry – grayish color, Saffron – golden yellow color, Onion – copper and orange color

Vegetal dyeing is applied on wool yarns and the dye remains superbly permanent and does not fade easily over the years and give special shinning quality to the carpet after it is finished.

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Carpet designs

There are a good variety of designs that are very interesting for outsiders and in many areas Kurds have their own patterns and motifs which the most important ones are listed below:

Jalili Design, Feelpa Design, Shir & Khorshid (Lion and sun) Design, Ghabi (Frame) Design, Dourkhani Design, Emamgholi Design, Bazobandi Design, Boteh Jegheh Design


Kurd carpets are woven in various sizes shown in metric system:

1.00 X 2.00 m, 1.50 X 2.00 m, 1.50 X 3.00 m, 2.00 X 3.00 m, 2.50 X 3.00 m, 3.00 X 4.00 m

Kurds utilize wooden and Iron looms in a horizontal position to weave their carpets of different sizes and shapes since as it was mentioned previously it makes it easy for them to assemble and disassemble the horizontal looms with ease in times when they have to move into other locations if needed.

Kilim weaving in Ghochan

Kilims are woven with two different designs for different purposes and applications in Ghochan; one is so called half pattern design and the other one full pattern one in sizes of 1.00 X 2.00 m, 1.50 X 2.00 m, 1.50 X 3.00 m, and 2.00 X 3.00 m which they are listed as follows:

– Carpet- or as it is locally called “Farsh” it is woven to cover the floor

– Large woolen Sack- locally called “Javal”, it is used to carry things with it and it is traditionally woven so artistically by newly brides and it is considered as an item of their dowries when they get married. Its popular dimension is 0. 80 X 1.20 m.

– Feed bag- locally called “Toubreh”; it is usually woven in dimensions of 0.40 X 0.40 m and 0.40 X 0.50 m. the main users of feed bags are shepherds who carry bread and food with it to the pastureland.

– Woolen container to keep utensil- kitchen tools and utensils are placed in it

– Silique bag- locally called “khorjean”; it is used to carry things on the back of a horse or a donkey which it hangs on the sides of their trunk.

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Characteristics of Kurd carpets

Patterns and motifs in Kurd carpets are geometrical with angles which make Kurd rugs distinctive from others in a way that at the first glance one could easily figure out all the main geometrical designs which are created by Kurd weavers subjectively (not designed in advance), just as a painter would paint a magnificent painting without any models.

Kurd carpets each with its unique characteristic which reflects the personal flair and birth place of a weaver and they are woven within a person’s mind expressing into prominence; however, quite logically, sometimes there could be lack of consistency in some patterns and/or in some cases the pattern is not so symmetrical as one could see in other pre-designed hand-woven carpets, but all those so called imperfection do not mitigate a bit the fact that Kurd carpets and rugs are purely artistic and beautiful.

Ehsan Afzalzadeh Naini, Iran Rug Company  15 February 2005

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