This wonderful antique Bolesht demonstrates the great Baluch weaving traditions and excellencies. It has a classical prolonged rectangular shape with the right balance between the size and the layout of the inner four cross shaped ornaments and the outer rectangular border frames.
The Bolesht bags (also known as Balisht or Pushti in the lingo of Afghan carpet traders) were used as cushions and pillows in the nomad and semi-nomad Baluch's tents as well as storage bags when the tent was dismantled and the family moved to another location. The head pillow Balisht with pile-woven front is a specific Balouch product which was unknown among the Turkomans.
כרי ה-Bolesht או Balisht (שפירושו כר בפרסית) היו פריטי הריהוט הדקורטיבי העיקרים באוהלי הנוודים בבלוציסטאן, טורקמניסטן ואפגניסטאן - כרי הסבה, ששימשו כ"מסעד הספה" והונחו על שטיחי הרצפה ב"פינת הישיבה" בחדר האורחים באוהל. לכן השקיעו טוות השטיחים הבלוצ'יות Baluch את מיטב יכולותיהן האמנותיות והמקצועיות באריגת ה-Balisht: הצמר היה רך יותר, המגע נעים, הדוגמאות מיוחדות והצבעים עמוקים - את האורחים יש להרשים! כאשר הוחלט לעבור דירה, הפך ה-Bolesht לשק אחסון, דחסו בו בגדים וכלי בית קטנים ויצאו לדרך. אין דברים כאלה באיקאה.
A beautiful Baluch motif in the border of the balisht - a inner diamond crowned by two pairs of bright white jugged triangles which form a sharp contrast with the predominantly dark tones of the rug
Note the interesting pattern of the inner border - it is typical to Khorasan Baluch pattern from late 19th century, and is comprised of recurring motif which has an inner diamond divided into two pairs of opposing triangles (pale red-brown and dark blue). Each diamond is crowned by two pairs of bright white colored small jugged triangles made of bleached sheep's wool as demonstrated in plate 60 in Oriental Rugs, Antique and Modern by Water A. Hawley and in page 123 in The Colour Treasury of ORIENTAL RUGS by Stefan A. Milhofer which depict two beautiful antique Baluchi prayer rugs. The Baluchi weavers used these white touches to create a beautiful artistic effect.
The beautiful complete dark colored Bolesht presented here measures 98cm x 50cm and has a soft knotted and piled face and a wonderful unique Kilim flat woven back which is decorated with colorful bands of Chevron pattern or the "Shark Jaws" motif (a term which was first presented by Amir Aharon - a veteran oriental rug and textile collector) inlaid with narrow "black and white" geometrical patterns. The opening of the bag is at the top and the horse hair loops around the mouth of the bag were used for fastening the stuff inside the Bolesht.
The Chevron motif in Turkmen weaving
Intricate pattern woven in deep dark indigo - a look in bright sunlight;
No other rugs have a surface with more lustrous sheen, due to the soft, fine wool of the pile, which is closely woven, giving a play of colors and velvety appearance unsurpassed by any other nomadic rugs. I owe many thanks to Chuck Wagner who published an invaluable and very simple tip on how to view Baluchi work which was woven with a dark palette of colors. This is a citation from his post in Turkotek salon in 2003:
Here are a couple of pieces that demonstrate why viewing Baluchi work in sunlight is sometimes more than just beneficial, it's occasionally required... even in bright sunlight this thing is dark - you have to hold it at just the right angle to see that there's an intricate pattern woven in deepest indigo on VERY DARK PURPLE...the next is a bolesht piled with extremely thick velvety wool, with some very well done kilim decoration. I'll show you a couple more later, when I find the images... this is the one with the darkest palette, again very difficult to make out in interior light...
So I followed Chuck's advise and took my Bolesht to the sun and to my surprise, I discovered very deep dark lines of indigo blue in the contours of the diamond shapes which surround the hot red "cross with arrows" motif in the inner part of the Bolesht front face (as you can, not so easily, see in the close-up above) - what a beautiful demonstration of the "Baluch Style" which is quite unique among the Turkmen weaving groups - using a sparing color punctuation to add vibrancy and interest within the scope of the somber palette they used.
The face of the Bolesht has another infrequent feature - a line of fringe set in between the first and second decorative panels at the top of the bag. Thanks Chuck.
A fringe set with phosphoric red spots in between the first and second decorative panels at the top of the balisht
The rare side of the Bolesht - the back, is also unusual in its beauty and high level of weaving aesthetics. The flat woven stripes are decorated with colored geometrical arrow heads pattern and inlayed with magnificent Kilim panels - you are invited to enjoy the zoom view of the back side of the Bolesht.
Size: 3' 2.6" x 1' 7.7" -
cm x 50 cm - 38.6 in in x 19.7 in
Face thickness: 8 mm approx
Origin: Tribal groups of Afghanistan and Iran - Baluch
Weaving technique: Combined knotted and piled and Kilim flat hand weaving
Age: more than 100 years old (late 19th or early 20th century).
Item: R1004/20 - Antique Baluch Balisht Pillow Bag