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Alluring Luris, Denizens of the Zagros
Improvisational approach to patterns…is a frequent feature of Luri work. Irregular design features are consistent with nomadic Luri work. Human figures are common in their work. The irregular shapes of the medallions and relatively loose weave are typical Luri features.” Regarding the kilim in plate 7.14 of Tribal Rugs, Opie notes “the dark warps and the more primitive treatment of patterns point to a Luri source. ... “It is possible to distinguish rugs woven in Luristan proper, where dark-brown undyed wefts are the rule from Boyer Ahmadi and Mamasani Luri rugs, which feature red or red-orange weft ...symmetric knots are the overwhelming rule in pieces of nomadic origin…”
Housego: “The Lurs have never been prolific weavers of pile rugs, and are often credited with pieces that do not fall readily into other categories. Their rugs tend to be thick and heavy; in quality they are more like those of the Kurds, with whom they have ethnic links, than those of the Turkic Qashqa’i. ... Authors of a catalogue on Luri and Bakhtiyari weaving have noted the common consensus in Iran that the Lurs of Fars favour large, uncluttered designs of medallions, lattice or striped patterns. Qashqa’i gelims, although using a similar basic format, are more busy in pattern and minute in detail.”
Oriental Rug Review, volume 9, #6, August/September 1989 (19) includes an article by Thomas D. Cook, reviewing John Collins’ third South Persian Exhibition. A Luri rug from the Veramin region is shown, of typical long, narrow size. It has the dark blue field of Veramin bags, latch hook diamonds familiar from Luri weavings and dark warps. Mr. Cook says: “Except for works by Tschebull and Opie, Luri weavings have been largely ignored in the rug literature. Hence, it was unusual and exciting to find nine Luri rugs and bags on display. They covered a wide array of types. One was from the Veramin region, as was a soumak saddlebag. Another looks as if it were from the more southerly area of the Luri range, closer to Fars, as did another rug with white warps, fine shiny wool, and a lighter color palette reminiscent of the Qasqa’i. There was also one piece that in design and knotting looked as though it had been subjected to Kurdish influences, and Collins labeled it Luri/Kurd. Finally, there were several rugs that Collins designated as Luri/Bakhtiari. I do not take exception to any of his attributions and would have given the same ones myself. ... What makes us designate as Luri these rugs from such a large area, for there is now considerable reliability in their naming, though of the validity of these attributions we must be silent? We use the Luri label when certain elements occur in combination and form a network of probabilistic cues, none of which would be inadequate by itself to justify the classification. Premier among these cues are sizes twice as long as wide, darker warps and wefts, little warp depression, sides wrapped in goat hair or with a barber’s pole in a wider range of colors than one finds in Fars rugs, symmetric knots rarely finer than 80 knots or so per square inch, and a handle that is loose but chunky. The end finishes are likely to be of several kinds, perhaps depending on the region: with wefts braided and folded over, wefts simply interwoven but also containing one or two lines of colored wool, or pile checkerboard in a greater range of colors than is found in Fars. The designs are likely to be simple, with a distinct preference for fields with three to five large angular medallions or flower urns.”
“Alternately, the fields can have smaller and evenly spaced design elements repeated throughout. There is also more open spacing between the major field elements than we usually find with Fars pieces. The main borders are likely to contain distinctly separated design elements in a repeat pattern, while the minor borders have diagonal stripes in usually two different colors. The pile is clipped long, the color palette tends toward the more somber, and aniline dyes are frequently found in later 20th century pieces.” Cook goes on to say: “But to make the attribution clearer would logically require information we cannot obtain. We would have to interview older Veramin weavers from different tribal backgrounds who would have to claim that (the Veramin Luri rug) or rugs similar to it in structure, color and design – was made around Veramin and by Luri but not Kurdish or Qashqa’i weavers. We would also have to interview older Luri weavers from Luristan who would have to assert that rugs like the one in question had to their knowledge never been woven in Luristan. These logical requirements for valid classification present too tall an order by far, and so we will have to rely on reliable rather than valid regional classification of Luri rugs.”
As for interviewing older Luri weavers as suggested by Thomas Cook, this insight from the pioneering 1976 book, Lori and Bakhtiyari Flatweaves, by Amedeo de Franchis and John T. Wertime (20) is a conclusion from actual field research and interviews: “The nomads themselves, as it was possible to verify in the course of interviews conducted in the tribal areas, are often at a loss to identify pieces only fifty to one hundred years old.”
Here is a three medallion rug with an infinite repeat design, fulfilling most of the requirements of Luri rugs. In describing the rug on page 117 of Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia, James Opie comments that it is “…one of the few three-medallion Lori pieces that I located.”
Here is a detail of its back.
It has softer, somber colors, dark warps and a simple, less cluttered design of diamonds on a field of rosettes. It has a low knot count of 6x6, 36 per square inch. It measures 8.5’ x 4.5’, approximately twice as long as wide. It also has a few other characteristics common to Luri weavings.
Notice the two shots of pink wool wefts and some supplemental wefts, probably inserted to even up the length from one side to the other. The warp is only moderately depressed. One thing common to many Luri weavings is a considerable abrash (21). In this rug, it is an abrupt change from a corroded brown to a medium blue in parts of the rug.
In this photo you can also see that the white ground border design changes dramatically from a steady repeat of a wave with interspersed dots to something akin to a genetic defect. We will see this transition from regularity to chaos frequently in Luri weavings. On the picture of the whole rug, you will notice that the design is not regular and geometric. It has a design of diamonds on a pole, with arms sticking out from the diamonds.
The edges of the field have half-diamonds with arms poking into the areas between the central pole diamond arms. This is an attempt at an “infinite repeat” design. However, the small diamonds at the ends of some of the arms just do not seem to be properly aligned. They are like a melting marshmallow drooping from the stick into the fire. The spacing of the diamonds is not anywhere near regular. Even the width of the pole changes from one end to the other. Notice the main blue border design. It is rosettes along the bottom. It changes to rosettes alternating with “X” motifs, then morphs into the “X” alternating with a device that looks something like a DNA chromosome (22).
Were the Lurs actually the worlds first genetic scientists??? This rug may be from the Boyer Ahmadi or Mamasani Luri area, due to the reddish wefts.
Now, take a look at this rug.
It has 7 x 7, 49 knots per square inch, well under the up-to-80 suggested as common to Luri weavings. It is 8’8” x 5’, not quite twice as long as wide. It has a four-diamond field with rosettes scattered about. The diamonds and the rosettes within them are not identical, but each is different in coloration and design. As James Opie notes in Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia, describing the three diamond Lori rug, on page 117, “Medallions of such differing sizes would certainly never appear in a Qashqa’i rug. This piece serves as evidence that Lori rugs were woven for use within the tribe. The contemporary tastes and styles had limited impact on them.”
It is a lot more colorfully dyed than the previous rug, has brown and white wool warps and two shots of reddish pink wefts for most of the rug, but also has sections of yellow wefts, blue wefts and blue/red wefts, too.
The selvedge is overcast with black goat hair. It, too, has significant abrash, from dark to light blue, almost like a striated summer sky.
Here is the top diamond, from the front and from the back.
This rug, too, has some chaos in the border regions (almost like the tribes themselves).
Is this an Internal Elem or just typical Luri Internal Chaos? This indecisiveness only occurs on one side of the rug, suggesting a correction rather than a purposeful idiosyncrasy. Note that the outer and inner major borders of a wavy line incorporate significant color changes in numerous areas around the rug. Is this just haphazard weaving, or intended?
With the permission of TurkoTek
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