For the Oriental rug collector the size and use of a weaving is frequently as important as any other feature. Size and use play a role in determining whether a rug is considered commercial or collectible. The term commercial means that a rug was intentionally made for sale, particularly for the Western market. Collectible implies that the rug was made mainly for use by the weaver to satisfy a need of her lifestyle. The assumption is that it was not made primarily with a foreign buyer in mind.
Carpets are usually larger than 275 X 180cm (9 X 6ft) in size. Very few people collect carpets but have them for decorative purposes.
Rugs are usually smaller than 275 X l80cm (9 X 6ft). Some of these are considered to be commercial and some are collectible. Rugs from all countries are collected by many people.
Runners are usually 90-12Ocm (3-4ft) wide and 245-6lOcm (8-2Oft) or more in length. Generally they are treated as commercial weavings in view of their specific use.
Prayer rugs are typically 60-120 X 120-245cm (2-4 X 4-8ft). They are one of the more popular types with collectors. A variety of terms for prayer rugs is found in rug literature, including sejadeh, namazlyk and joi namaz. Some prayer rugs were made for use by more than one person; the term for such rugs is saph.
Donkey bags, about 60 X l20-l5Ocm (2 X 4-5ft) in size, are utilitarian weavings for carrying goods. They are one of the most popular types for collectors. Most older donkey bags were cut apart and sold as small rugs,known as bag faces (in Persian. khorjin).
Juvals are single bags made in many different rectangular sizes: 30-90 X120cm (1-3 X 4-7ft). Juvals were typically made in pairs. As with donkey bags, the backs of these were cut off and sold as small rugs. Other terms used for juval-type weavings in other sizes are tobra and mafrash.
Other utilitarian weavings were made for specific daily and festive needs. Some of these are tent bands, animal trappings for wedding ceremonies, coverings for animals such as horses and camels and other specialized functions. These weavings are among some of the most desired by collectors.
Flat weaves are made in all of the above sizes and with the same utilitarian functions. Since 1970 very few Oriental rug collectors paid any attention to these weavings, but today they are avidly collected. With the exception of how they are woven, all of the information given so far about pile rugs applies also to flat weaves; the latter differ in their construction in that they do not have knotted pile, except in certain instances. Flat weaves have a warp and a weft, but the number of techniques employed in their construction is much more varied and diverse than in pile carpets. Identification is by technique, the two most common types being kelim and soumak.
Kelims are the simplest of these constructions. Here the warp is the foundation and the weft is dyed and woven over the warp to create the pattern. In their purest form kelims are reversible and usable on both sides.
Kelims are a tapestry weave. The most common techniques are called slit weave and dovetail. Slit weave results in short vertical slits in the kelim and dovetail kelims do not have slits.
Sumaks are more complex and are not reversible. An extra welt of dyed wool is used to create the pattern. These pattern wefts are wrapped around the warps in a regular sequence. They are cut and hang loose on the back of the
rug. Soumaks are a brocade weave.
Other flat weave techniques are used which employ different methods of inserting pattern warps and weft. Among them are cicim, zili and verneh.They are known as compound weaves.
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