Fabulous antique Turkoman Beshir carpet with bold reds and yellows on a black field. The intricate repeating central motif is an imaginative rendition of the Herati design. It is framed by multiple borders, including a chain of connected boxes containing vivid octagonal stars.
A good deal of even wear across the rug with some corrosion in the browns and blacks, most likely from the natural mineral dye, iron oxide. This is a typical phenomenon in many antique Baluch and Turkoman rugs that employ this dye.
Exact size is 11 ft. 2 in. by 8 ft. 6 in. Natural wool — including warp and weft structure.
The ends of the rug have been professionally ‘end-stopped’ and there is no sign of end loss. (Close up photo of the back of the rug, the last photo, shows the end-stopping.) Side cords are in good condition and appear original. Despite the wear, no holes or weak spots.
The rug was washed after the photos were taken, mainly to remove some accumulated dust. No signs of dye bleeding during the wash, and the wool now displays a bit more luster although there was no change in colors, etc.
Most likely a large room-sized rug that is fairly wide, such as this one, would have been woven in a carpet workshop on a hand loom. True nomads confined to tents do not usually carry looms wide enough to produce these large carpets.
The Beshir are usually considered a sub-group of the Ersari Turkoman although the ethnography of the Turkoman people is highly nebulous. Most of these large Beshir rugs are woven in and around Bukhara, which is a large city in Uzbekistan. With an age of late 1920s to late 1940s, this is a Soviet era carpet as Uzbekistan was the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic from 1924 until 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Unlike other Turkoman tribes, the Beshir have created a highly distinctive weaving style. Featuring bright colors and fewer simple geometric designs, the Beshir tribe features intricate motifs and stylized floral patterns. Because of their distinct style and vivid colors, Beshir rugs are heavily sought after by collectors.
The Beshir tribe inhabit parts of Uzbekistan, especially around Bukhara, the Amu Darya Valley in Turkmenistan, and small areas in Afghanistan. While some Turkoman tribes entered these regions as early as the 11th century A.D., some ethnographers believe that the Beshir were a much later group that settled in the region in the 17th century after being forced out of their homeland in the Balkans by political turmoil.
Because their origin is distinct from other peoples in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the rugs the Beshir weave have a unique aesthetic. While there is variation among Beshir rugs, their style is so distinct that attribution is seldom a problem.
Beshir rugs are finely knotted, typically in the range of 60 to 160 knots per square inch. The foundation is usually wool, though some of the Afghan Beshir use a mixture of wool and goat’s hair. In contrast to other Turkoman groups, the Beshir do not use guls (tribal emblems) as the foundation of their designs. Instead, Beshir rugs feature all-over repeating patterns with images taken from nature, such as leaves, vines, stars, and sometimes animals.
Beshir rugs are also distinct in coloring. While Turkoman rugs generally are dominated by deep reds and blues, Beshir rugs often place these shades alongside lighter and brighter colors such as reds and yellows. The result is a vital, exuberant appearance that contrasts to the somber tones of some other Turkoman rugs.
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