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Antique Afghan Carpet - the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan

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Traditional designs of Afghan carpets are composed of large octagon shaped guls which are organized in a tiling pattern of one or more rows which dominate the field of the carpet. The common colors are usually dark reds and dark blues; the guls are usually larger than those of the Tekkes and Yomuds. The large size Afghan carpets that are mass-produced today in Iran and Afghanistan, with their deep pile and chemically derived ox-blood red, share only the design with the antique Afghan products made by the nomads at the end of the 19th century, which, on their close-cut pile, exhibit rich ornamentation in warm brownish red and a bit of deep green-blue colors - all derived from natural dyes which are best revealed in full sunlight.

The rare antique Afghan carpet presented here is a relatively small size piece (100 cm x 200 cm) made by the Ersari Turkomans of Northern Afghanistan by the end of the 19th century. The unique artistic approach of the weaver of this carpet preserves the vitality and the vivid colorization and stylization of the nomad weavers who occupied that area in that period. The coloring of this carpet is striking with its dominant red-brownish field, the dark-green-blue and pale-brown pink-salmon outlines and contrasting colors of the ornaments. 

Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק - Click to Zoom

Antique Ersari Afghan Carpet Central Asia Turkomen Nomad Rugs - Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק


לאספן ואוהב השטיחים הישראלי מתקשר המושג "שטיח אפגני אורגינל" לאותם מאות רבות של שטיחים בגוונים אדומים כהים שמציפים כיום את השווקים שבמקומותינו ומקורם בייצור המוני בבתי המלאכה הגדולים של קבול שבאפגניסטן או במחנות פליטים שבגבול פקיסטן. הסוחרים ובעלי חנויות השטיחים המקומיים מפלבלים בעיניהם, ממלמלים מושגים כמו "גול" gul ו"רגל פיל" Elephant Foot ומציגים את השטיחים המיובאים כפאר עבודת היד של שטיחי המזרח.

לדאבוני אין קשר בין השטיחים הללו לבין קודמיהם שיוצרו בסוף המאה ה-19 ובשנים הראשונות של המאה ה-20 בידי אורגות השטיחים המוכשרות של שבטי הנוודים התורקמנים שאיכלסו את האיזורים של צפון אפגניסטאן, למעט אולי היות החדשים העתקים חוזרים ונשנים ולאו דוקא מוצלחים של הדגמים והדוגמאות של פעם.

המיוחד בשטיחים הטורקמנים העתיקים בכלל, ובאלו שמידותיהם קטנות יחסית בפרט, הוא בכך שהם היו אמצעי מובהק לביטוי האמנותי של האורגת המומחית שארגה את השטיח ברוב המקרים לבדה או בעזרת בנות משפחה קרובות צעירות. הנולים הכפריים הקטנים והניידים יצרו סביבת עבודה מבודדת ואינטימית שאפשרה לאורגת לבטא את יחודיותה במסגרת התרבותית של סוג השטיח שארגה והז'אנר המקצועי המסורתי של השבט והמשפחה שאליה היא שייכת. האורגת של השטיח האפגני המיוחד שלפנינו אכן ביטאה את יחודיותה האמנותית ומיומנותה הטכנית במלוא עצמתה - הצבעים, שילוב הצבעים, יצירת הבוהק המרתק במסגרת הדגם המסורתי ובעיקר - הדרך שבה פתרה קשיים שהתגלו במהלך האריגה - ועל כך נספר בהמשך.

The field of this unique carpet is comprised of four instances of the Ersari main carpet octagon Taghan gul which is, to my opinion, the most beautifully balanced type of Afghan gul. The Taghan gul design combines triple-leafed floral elements with interesting and somewhat mysterious comb-like devices organized in the quarters of the octagon. The gleaming and warm chestnut colors make these guls lively and most attractive.

 

A schematic depiction of the Taghan gul - Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan

A schematic depiction of the Taghan gul.

The Taghan gul - Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק - Click to Zoom

Taghan gul in Antique Ersari Afghan Carpet Central Asia Turkomen Nomad Rugs - Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק


The lustrous beautiful brownish red pattern of the Taghan gul.

 

Antique Afghan Carpet - The floral motif element in the Taghan gul - Pointed clovers or trefoils

The floral motif element in the Taghan gul - pointed clovers or trefoils.

 

Antique Afghan Carpet - A delicate geometrical motif in the field - Dark green blue in full sunlight

A delicate geometrical motif in the field - dark green blue in full sunlight.

The border of the carpet encloses three interesting pink-brown rich coloring stripes which frame the field in a most powerful way. The outer border is a beautiful "running dog" border; the middle border forms a wave of Boteh creatures and the main inner border is made of a pair of vibrant diamonded zigzag lines which form a continuous wide row of rhombuses that surround the field. 

 

Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק - Click to Zoom

Antique Afghan Carpet - border of carpet with Ersari motifs Central Asia Turkomen Nomad Rugs - Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק


The border of the carpet is comprised of 3 strips with different Turkomen motifs.

Notice the mild and somewhat evasive change in the color palette of the borders of the carpet which begins at approximately the lower (and last in the order of weaving) third of the carpet. The use of the vibrant vegetable pink-salmon dye for weaving the highlighted motifs of the borders (the running-dog, the Boteh and diamond rhombus) is almost totally stopped and the pink-salmon is replaced with the common background brownish-red color.

 

Antique Afghan Carpet - Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - A mild change in the color palette of the borders - Click to Zoom

Antique Ersari Carpet - change in color Central Asia Turkmen Nomad Rugs - Antique Afghan Carpet - the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק


A mild change in the color palette of the borders in the lower third of the carpet.

Although minor points of pink-salmon appear here and there as a reminiscence of the color palette which dominates the border in the first two thirds, the only element which is not influenced by this change is the fourth and lower Taghan gul which carries the "right" vibrant background color in its upper-left and lower-right quarters.

This change of color palette is interesting - it may indicate that the weaver miscalculated how much pink-salmon weft wool material she needed and my guess is that she probably realized the shortage in material when she was two thirds partway through. Taking into account the isolated surroundings of the nomads' residencies, ordering additional quantity of pink-salmon threads from the local textile store was not an option.

Let us consider the solutions she could have taken:

What she did was to minimally change the scale of the colors in the borders and keep the precious pink-salmon thread for perfectly completing the fourth gul and make it look exactly like the upper three. That is, what was most important to her was the holistic look-and-feel and artistic beauty of the carpet, even if it meant simplifying the borders' color palette.

 

Antique Afghan Carpet - Extra two horizontal stripes in the lower inner border of the carpet

Extra two horizontal stripes in the lower inner border of the carpet - the one with a zig-zag Chevron pattern appears only here.

On her struggle for keeping the lustrous look-and-feel of the carpet and saving the run out pink-salmon material, this fantastically talented weaver took another creative and non-conventional decision. She broke the traditional symmetry in Afghan main carpet and eliminated the "running dog" stripe at the outer lower border. Instead she added to the inner lower border two extra stand-alone dark ornamented stripes (just below the fourth gul). This way she perfectly kept the planned length of the carpet without breaking the balanced proportions and harmony of this rare and unique Afghan carpet.

 

Antique Afghan Carpet by the Ersari of Northern Afghanistan - שטיח אפגני עתיק - Back to list of Antique Turkmen Carpets

Size: 6' 6.7" x  3' 3.4"  -  200 cm x 100 cm  -  78.7 in x 39.4 in
Warp: Wool
Face thickness: 8 mm approx
Pile: Wool
Origin: Tribal groups of Northern Afghan - Ersari
Weaving technique: Knotted and piled hand weaving
Age: more than 100 years old (late 19th or early 20th century).

Price: Call

References:
Turkmen Rugs - Terminology, Transcription, Pronunciation, Spelling and Nomenclature
Antique Ersari Kapunuk - a genuine Jallar Paidar with Tassels

Item: R1008/06 - Antique Afghan Carpet Ersari

 

 

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Dan Levy - Art Pane Home of Oriental Carpets and Rugs


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