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The Kilim and Tribal Rug Book

Decorating with Fired Earth

Published by Pavilion

 

This book is special to me because, as part of the research, I travelled to Iran and saw all the elements that go into making a tribal rug or kilim. Best of all, I travelled out into the mountains near Shiraz, a city in southern Iran, and visited one of the tribes of nomads who make these beautiful things, spending a night in a Kashgai tent made from woven goat’s hair and reeds. I saw how the Kashgai tribeswomen (it’s always the women) spin the wool, weave the rugs, all the different styles and types of rug and cloth, and how they use them in their own homes. They place them on the ground, of course, but they also use kilims and jajims (patterned cloths) to cover their possessions piled up at the back of the tent during each day. Bags, saddlebags and straps with decorative tassels are woven by them from the wool of their sheep and goats. Twice a year they pack everything up onto donkeys (and now, occasionally, a truck) and travel long distances to their summer or winter pastures. Their way of life may not last much longer, which makes these richly patterned rugs seem even more precious.

I took plenty of photographs on my trip, which was made possible by Fired Earth (the company which sells such lovely tiles, rugs and paint, among other things) who also sponsored this book. Many of my pictures are in the Kilim and Tribal Rug Book. But the book’s not all about the history of rugs and how they are made. It is also a highly practical guide to how you can use these heirlooms to bring fabulous colour and pattern into your home, by hanging them on walls, using them to cover tables, doors and windows, not only by laying them on the floor.

The Kilim and Tribal Rug Book explains the basics, including the difference between a  rug and a kilim, and explores the reasons for the use of colours and patterns. It has chapters organised into three sections:

Section One: History and Context

§         Rugs Through History

§         In a Nomad’s Tent

§         Making a Tribal Rug

§         Colour

Section Two: Decorating with Rugs and Kilims

§         Rug Patterns

§         Kilims

§         Floors

§         Walls and Elsewhere

§         Outdoors

Section Three: Practicalities

§         Laying, Care and Repair

§         Cleaning and Storage

§         A Note on Buying Tribal Rugs

   

 

 

This spread shows some typical Kashgai tribespeople in Iran (on the right). In the towns, women are mostly dressed from head to toe in black, but the Kashgai women love colour and pattern and dress accordingly, this young woman in a brilliant red gown. The old man is wearing a typical felt hat and a big smile – everyone I met in the tribe was courteous and welcoming.

The page opposite shows a brightly coloured rug on the floor of a tent, with a jajim covering piled-up possessions behind, at the back of the tent. The rug shows that not all the tribe’s creations are the dark, rich blues and reds we think of in a typical Persian rug. They also make vibrant, sometimes garish pieces that never reach the western market because they aren’t what dealers think will sell.

The Kilim and Tribal Rug Book is the second in the ‘Decorating with Fired Earth Series’ (The first being The Tile Book). There are plans to produce two more, one on fabric and one on paint (Fired Earth sell the V&A historic colours as well as some glorious modern shades, and other paint ranges – but the book will be about bringing luscious colour into your home using paint, not just about Fired Earth products). Dip into my NEWS & VIEWS page to find out the latest on these two forthcoming publications.