Wednesday 30 January 2013

Ersari or Baluch ?

Fred Hazin recently published an interesting prayer rug on rugrabbit.


Mr.Hazin adroitly circumvented the direct localisation of this piece by describing it as a”Central Asian prayer rug with Baluch design”Technically,his carpet has all the attributes of a classic Baluch Prayer rug,with camel ground,goat`s hair selvedge and Persian knot open left.And yet?

The Hazin rug appeared at Nagels Auction in 2000,described as Ersari-Beshir.It also spent some time with the Swiss dealer Reto Christoffel

2-Nagels 16.May 2000-Lot 159

A piece of this type was published for the first time by Werner Grote-Hasenbalg,who described it as “Turkmen(Baluchistan)”which is certainly enjoying the best of both worlds

3-Grote-Hasenbalg III-96

Another Nagel`s rug from 1978 was catalogued as Baluch,with the white areas in the upper field highlighted in cotton,an “extreme rarity”in Baluch rugs(although not in Turkmen)

4-Nagels 6 May 1978-39a

Discussing a rug in his own possession,Brian MacDonald confused the Grote- Hasenbalg rug with the piece published in 1980(and in 1979)by Peter Bausback in his Baluch monograph

5-MacDonald,Hali 49,page 5

6-Bausback,Baluch Catalogue 1980,page 9

MacDonald`s letter to Hali(Hali 49,page 5)was actually sparked off by the sale of another group member at Werner Weber`s auction in 1989(May 22,lot 49,described as Ersari,see Hali  47.p.90),an atypical work  not woven on camel ground

7-Weber Auction 22 May 1989-Lot 49

Eberhart Herrmann entered the fray in 1987 with a sonorous example which he attributed to the Ersari.He remarked that the copying of Turkmen designs by the Baluch was a well-known phenomena;however the reverse case had not yet been investigated

8-SOT 9-88  Retail price: DM 7850

Not to be outdone,Peter Bausback published a further example in his 1987/88 catalogue.He cites the Grote-Hasenbalg piece,but categorises his own as Baluch,with an improbably early date of 1800.He notes”the many similarities to Beshir Prayer Rugs”

9-Bausback 87-88-page 173

Mangisch Auctions in Zürich sold another atypical rug in their 1990 auction.They came down clearly on the side of the Ersari,also commenting upon the singular copying of the Baluch by the Turkmen

10-Mangisch Auctions Zürich 9 November 1990-Lot 492

Priced at 21 English pounds,a piece of this type was published in Jekyll`s second catalogue of 1929,which later re-appeared in forlorn condition,in the fourth Catalogue of the late Hans Elmby.

11-Jekyll II-46

12-Elmby IV-59

Elmby(1998) had no trouble attributing it to the Ersari,remarking on the astonishing similarity to Baluch work,but also noting differences in structure(the lack of soumak twining in the flatwoven elem) and reverse side.He described the ground colour as being of “camel wool”

13-Fred Hazin

A last example was published by Taher Sabahi,from the collection of Siawosch Azadi

14-L `Arte del Tappeto,page 499

Two further examples are known,presumably early 20th century,which imitate the “architectural style” of certain Baluch prayer rugs with Mosque designs.One of these was attributed by the Hamburg Turkmen Koryphae M.Tehrani to the Ersari


A second,similar item was on offer from the Dutch ebay dealer groen7groen,with conclusively Ersari borders and "Turbe" design


It seems to come out at around 50-50 for Ersari or Baluch.The modern authorities(Herrmann,Elmby,Azadi,Tehrani)all side with the Ersari.It is true that Ersari-Beshir carpets with camel grounds are extremely uncommon.Perhaps a rug once in the possession of Theo Häberli can help us further

17-Elmby IV-23

It will not be the first time that the Masters have imitated their servants.


As often,more pieces have surfaced,sent in by Igo Licht

An example published by Peter Bausback in 1976,and again in 1978


Another example from Tom Cole

19-Tom Cole

A piece from Mr.Licht `s own collection

20-Igo Licht

And finally a foto of Brian MacDonald`s piece in colour,and a better picture of the Hans Elmby rug,which was once in the Licht Collection

21-MacDonald-Tribal Rugs 163


There was also a discussion on Turkotek:-



Quite by chance the Turkotek discussion started two days before this post- Thanks to Igo Licht for his contribution.

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