Price range: low to low/medium
General details: Inexpensive, well made rugs, produced in a wide variety of designs, that consistently combine tribal authenticity with a delightful, if somewhat primitive, decorative charm. The Belouch are a large tribal grouping who roam the vast border region between eastern Persia and western Afghanistan – and not, as the name would imply, the province of Baluchistan in south-east Persia = although some tribes been known to drift into Pakistan. The vast majority of Belouch rugs are made by the nomadic tribesmen, but a small number are woven in the villages around Firdaus in central Khorassan, by people of Arab extraction. However, all Belouchs are produced in the same way and can justifiably be referred to as nomadic rugs. They are normally woven on woollen foundations with between 60 and 100 Persian knots per sq inch, the pile wool, although not particularly lustrous, is generally of excellent quality. Belouch designs are usually confined to prayer rugs and repeating allover geometrical motifs, although some figurative compositions, often referred to as ‘figurative’ or ‘presentation’ rugs, are sometimes produced. Within this limited repertoire, a wide variety of motifs and decorative schemes may be found. In prayer rugs, the most common field decorations are highly stylized tree-of-life, leaf, vegetal and geometric schemes, but architectural boteh and gul-like patterns are also employed. In repeating allover compositions the motifs may be either vegetal-inspired or entirely geometric, but they are nearly always highly abstracted. The Belouch palette is dominated by shades of red and blue; camel and beige are also employed, either as pigments or by using natural, undyed wool. Most Belouch rugs are sold as either Meshed or Herat Belouch. The former are made in Persia (Meshed being the principal city in the region) and are characterized by their stiffer ‘feel’, more sombre colouring and use of allover repeating designs. Herat Belouch are made in Afghanistan and are generally softer, floppier and more brightly coloured then those made in Persia; they normally employ prayer-rug designs.