Baluch Rug, NE Persia(?) or Central Asia(?), late(?)19th century, 3' 9" x 5' 3"
Needless to say, this rug does not incorporate any known design elements familiar to the Baluch design pool. It is an anomaly, but not unique by any means as I have seen photos of at least three others of this design type, one more readily associated with Turkmen weaving, but it is rare.
Ostensibly, this is an 'engsi' design, a weaving that would be used to cover the door of a yurt, possibly that belonging to a khan or shaman/seer. But why do we see one made in the Baluch style, but clearly after a Turkmen prototype. The double niche is suggestive of the funerary function, one upon which there has been some speculation but with no clear documentation.
The palette is akin to that seen among the Arabatchi, a group of uncertain origins, and one most commonly assoicated with Ersari groups. Their rugs exhibit some charactertistics of the Ersari but this may be due to geographic location rather than ethnic affinity.
It may have been woven by Baluch groups located in Turkmenistan, outside of the NE Persian sphere in terms of both palette and design. There has been no study done on rugs of this design type and the only other known Baluch weavings from Turkmenistan seem to be camel ground prayer rugs (see Baluch Style, fig. 8)
The colors are all derived from natural dyes. The condition is ok, there are two holes in small holes in the rug (see detail image), and some corrosion as well as wear patterns evident. There are no repairs or re-weaves.
For further information on this piece, you may contact Thomas Cole