What are Tribal Rugs – Brief History
Tribal rugs, as it is suggested by the name, are made by different tribal people. They are largely hand woven by nomadic and tribal women. Tribal area rugs could come from hundreds of different tribes in many different countries. These rugs include Persian, Afghan, Indian, Pakistani and Turkish variations.
Each tribe uses its own tribal symbols and sometimes female weavers include their own love story or drama. Almost all the material used to produce these beautiful tribal rugs are naturally driven from their animals, plants and minerals in the soil. The patterns and designs are usually inspired by nature immediately surrounding these tribes, therefore often each rug is unique and most probably one of a kind despite the similarities with other rugs.
Earlier tribal rugs of most tribes were made for the personal use of tribal people as an item of necessity to protect the people from harsh weather and cover their tents or homes, therefore were very simple both in terms of design and diversity of colors. Tribal rugs and carpets were made by nomadic or pastoral tribes mostly on a flat wooden looms, which made transportation easy as these tribes travelled in search of more accommodating environments in different seasons of the year.
As the relation with other tribes and people grew and cultural exchanges expanded, the cultures of rug weaving too influenced one another and tribal weavers learned technique from each other about spinning the wool, dyeing and weaving. On the other hand the need to buy and sell created a market for the rugs woven by tribes, further advancing the rug weaving tradition.
Different Designs and Dye Materials
The readily available variety of plants, roots, flowers, and mineral materials in different area paved the way for tribal people to dye their wool and create more vibrant and colorful rugs. Because many of tribal people were not settled in one particular location and most of the time were on move, they would discover more divers dyeing material and were exposed to more cultures and learned from them and discovered their needs and demands so they would improve their rug weaving art day by day. As a result now one can find tribal rugs ranging from simpler rugs that are weaved from undyed natural wool which may contain black, white, gray and brown wool, to the most colorful and vibrant colors in tribal rugs. Also in terms of designs tribal rugs may include from a few small symbols of animals, birds and plants to very sophisticated geometric motifs.
Tribal Rugs from Different Regions
Tribal rugs are produced in almost any country that has a tradition of rug weaving, and each country may have tens and sometime hundreds of different tribes that are involved in rug weaving. Though, these tribes share many similarities with each other, there is always something that makes a rug weaved by one tribe different from another. These differences could appear in the type of weave, type of knots, dyeing the wool, spinning the wool, color combinations used in their hand made rugs, or their designs and motifs.
The distinctive characteristics of Tribal rugs are the sharp and colorful geometric patterns and designs that run through the entire carpet. Generally speaking, Tribal rugs have lower knot count per square inch.
Popular Tribal Rugs
Some of the most popular tribal rugs are, Ghashaghei, Bakhtiyari or Bakhtiyar, Baluchi (or Baluch, Balochi), Hamedan, Kazak, Khan Mohammadi, Turkman, Mussel, Bukhara and Yalameh. There are, however, many more tribal rugs from smaller regions that are not famous and they are often sold under the name of the main region they are produced in, for example Baluchi rugs themselves have many sub categories and all have their own names and identities.
A special Note on Heriz, Serapi, Kazak and Gabbeh, Area Rugs
Some rugs such as Heriz, Serapi, and Kazak rugs although they are originally tribal rugs with geometric designs, but now they are far more advanced and sophisticated to be categorized under tribal rugs. Nevertheless their tribal signatures would never be missed. Thus Heriz and Serapi rugs, in particular are now decorating some of the most formal rooms in American and European homes blending well with the finest traditional or neutral settings.
Kazak rugs too, are gradually getting very refined and sophisticated and are becoming floor decorating items of choice in many formal/semi-formal rooms, play-rooms and family rooms.
Gabbeh hand knotted rugs, which are originally tribal rugs, had a dramatic shift all the way from tribal to modern. As the demand for Gabbeh rugs in the West grew, weavers made it finer and finer using very modern designs or just a plain rug often totally plain with abrash touch and sometimes inserting one or two little symbols to assert its original identity. However, Gabbeh in its more tribal look too continues to be weaved.
Kilim Flat Woven Tribal Rugs
One of most popular type of tribal rugs are the Kilim rugs. Kilims are flat woven rugs that, unlike most hand knotted rugs, do not have a pile; they are almost always with geometric designs and are simpler to weave than knotted pile rugs. Most tribal kilims are woven with wool over a cotton foundation. However there are some finer flat-woven kilims made in Iran and turkey that are weaved from silk on cotton, or silk on silk.
Sizes and Shapes
Tribal rugs are weaved in many different sizes from the smallest decorative items as small as 1 sqft, 2x3, 4x6, 5x7, 6x9, 8x10, 9x12,10x14 and more. But generally speaking, tribal rugs often made in smaller sizes. Most common shapes in tribal rugs are rectangular, and square.
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