Afghan Rugs

(Posted on 05/08/14)

Afghan Rugs

Country: Afghanistan

Category: nomadic, village and workshop

Price range: low to low/medium; older items may be higher

General details The term 'Afghan' is normally applied to any traditional item made in Afghanistan that has not been classified as belonging to one of the major Turkoman or Belouch groups (Beshir, Bokhara, etc.); these contemporary Afghans, in combination with Beshir and Bokhara, constitute the major sources of the famous 'red carpet' of Central Asia. Originally they were the sole preserve of nomadic groups, but today they are also made in villages and craft centres.  Regardless of where they were made, they retain the same designs, colours and general characteristics of the nomadic originals.  Afghan rugs are normally woven on woolen foundations, with between 30 and 160 Persian knots per sq inch, using good quality, often lustrous wool which is clipped to form either a low/medium or medium pile.  They are traditionally composed in either the 'Elephant's foot' or hatchli design, although a number of variant geometric scheme are now employed.  The principal colours are red and blue, with white and yellow ochre as secondary tones; the reds are sometimes subjected to gold washing in order to produce paler, more rosy shades.  Some deep yellow ochre (or 'gold') Afghans are also found.  Most are simply marketed as Afghans, but they are sometimes given the name of a specific village, region or tribe (Andkhoy, Kundous, Ersari, etc.), particularly those made in Dauvalatabad, in the north-east of the country; these rugs are renowned for their hard-wearing properties and are generally regarded as the best quality - and consequently most expensive - items made in Afghanistan today.  Occasionally, pure silk Afghans come onto the market.  They usually employ traditional designs, although the colours tend to be more subdued, and are both extremely attractive and good value.  Afghans are made in a wide range of sizes, but rarely in excess of 13' x 10' (3.96 x 3.05 m).

Resale value There is no doubt that Afghans represent good value for money, but their investment potential is less assured.  The better items, particularly those that can be definitely attributed to an important tribal or village group, are likely to maintain their value over the longer term.