Baluchi rugs are hand knotted Persian rugs originally woven by the Baluchi tribe living near the border between Baluchistan, Northeast Iran and Afghanistan. They are also called Beluchi or Baluchi rugs.
Because of the nomadic lifestyle of the tribe, the designs of the rugs were constantly changing, resulting in many hybrid styles.
However, despite the differences in style amongst the different tribes, all Baluchi rugs retained certain characteristics.
These rugs are defined by their exceptional wool quality, coarsely woven structure and their unique color combinations. The tree of life motif remained a constant feature in all of the rugs woven in this area.
Old Baluchi Rugs vs New Baluchi Rugs
Old Baluchi rugs were not very popular mainly because of their liberal use of darker shades of purple, red, brown, and blue.
Moreover, the black outlines and black shading gave the rugs an even darker look, which was not appreciated amongst collectors who preferred rugs in lighter shades.
Recently however, more and more collectors have come to appreciate the skill and artistry of the weavers and are buying Baluchi rugs despite the darker colors.
In recent years, as Baluchi weavers create more rugs for commercial purposes instead of for their own use, they have started using lighter shades in their designs in keeping customers’ preferences.
Common Uses Of Baluchi Rugs
Baluchi rugs are woven by tribal weavers who are primarily nomadic. The type, size, and patterns of rugs produced by these weavers are heavily influenced by their nomadic nature. Originally, the Baluchi weavers produced rugs for their own use.
The rugs are relatively small in size because their nomadic lifestyle made it difficult to set up sophisticated looms. Instead, they used a basic style of horizontal loom that restricted the size of rug that was produced.
Weavers found great use for the small-sized Baluchi rugs that they created both, in their homes as well as while traveling.
Inside their homes, Baluchi rugs were used as cushion covers, window coverings to keep out the cold, and ground covers to serve their meals. While traveling the rugs were used as saddle bags and saddle covers.
In the winters, they doubled up as horse blankets, protecting the horses from the biting cold. Very small sized Baluchi rugs were often woven to be used as blinders for the horses, camels and donkeys.
Afghan Baluchi War Rugs
Afghan Baluchi war rugs refer to specific rugs that were woven by the Baluch, Turkmen, Afghan, and Uzbek ethnic nomadic groups that occupied the areas around northern Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and western Turkestan.
These rugs were originally manufactured to be given to Russian soldiers as souvenirs during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
What sets Afghan Baluchi war rugs apart from other rugs is their unusual motifs. These rugs are typically dominated by military motifs such as gun carriers, tanks, armored vehicles and grenades.
Interspersed between the military motifs are Baluchi stylized geometric medallions and assorted botanicals.
Traditional Baluchi Rugs
Baluchi rugs are generally small in size, measuring about 2 to 5 feet by about 3 to 9 feet in dimension. The finished rug is almost square in shape.
One of the reasons why the weavers of this region preferred to weave smaller rugs is because their nomadic nature did not allow them to own larger or more sophisticated looms. All Baluchi rugs are woven on rudimentary horizontal looms, usually under primitive conditions.
Weaving larger sized rugs on these looms was not possible. Also, from the practical viewpoint, carrying large rugs as they roamed from one settlement to another was just too cumbersome.
What they compromised on size however, these rugs make up for in design and colors. One of the outstanding features of these rugs is their deep, dark, rich colors and their bold, fascinating designs.
The main colors that used in these rugs are rich burgundy red, very dark navy blue, black and dark chocolate brown with accents of ivory, orange or white.
The small amounts of ivory that were used in the weaving helped make the patterns stand out from the dark background.
Weaving Techniques Used
Baluchi weavers used the asymmetrical knot also known as the Senneh knot in their creations. In this weaving technique, the yarn is wrapped around one warp thread in a loop formation.
The yarn remains loose under the other warp thread. The weft is then placed in one or more rows between every row of knots.
This style of weaving allows weavers to tie a relatively high number of knots within a square inch.
Design And Size
Most of these rugs have an Allover pattern with a few having a prayer rug design. The designs used were bold and prominent.
In addition to the tree of life motif, two of the common motifs that can be seen in many Baluchi rugs are the pear shaped medallion and a highly stylized camel’s foot.
These motifs were typically used in a repetitive pattern and surrounded by geometric borders on all four sides. Every rug produced in this region is one of a kind.
If you own a Baluchi rug, you know there will definitely not be another rug with the same pattern and coloration anywhere in the world.
In the older rugs, the warp was made of wool or a combination of wool with goat hair. In the newer carpets, the warp is made of cotton. The weavers almost exclusively used the asymmetrical Persian knot in their weaving.
Baluchi rugs are known to be of excellent quality and very durable. They last for many years, a quality that has found favor amongst serious collectors as well as those looking for a family heirloom that can be passed down through the generations
Baluchi Rugs Most Popular Sizes
Baluchi rugs tend to be smaller in size. It’s very rare to see a large Baluchi rug. This is because the nomadic lifestyle of the Baluchi weavers make it impossible for them to set up larger more advanced types of looms.
These rugs are typically produced on small, basic looms that were easy to take down and set up every time the tribe moved to another settlement.
Most popular sizes of Baluchi rugs are 3×5, 4×6, and 5×7 feet.