The Kilim and Tribal Rug Book
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
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.