rugs are often called the Iron Rugs of Persia. The Bijar is a
heavy durable rug that has been very popular in the United States. Most
Bijar carpets are woven by Kurds in the Gerus area while some British
rug merchants have claimed that the finest Bijar carpets are woven by
Afshar weavers who live in the Tekab and Tekkenteppe Area in Gerus.1
It i important to remember
that Gerus and Bijar are both names for a Kurdish people and the
language that they speak. The Gerusi/Bijari people are ethnically
Kurdish but are of the Central Kurdish group and are ethnically and
inguistically distinct from their Eastern Kurdish neighbors.
Bijar Rugs are from the Gerus Area
Design is almost useless in attribution. Repeating Herati are common
but so are florals, arabesque, and medallion format. The barberpoled
twining in the Kilim is often a clue but too often the kilim is gone.
The key to attribution is handle and structure. The Bijar carpet weave
causes the rug to have a very heavy stiff handle. The Bijar carpet
weave is unique in Oriental Rugs and quite distinctive. Sizes:
Pushti, zarcherek, zaronim, dozar, kelleyis (not as common), and
carpets of virtually any size. Wagireh:
One unusual variation of Bijar that
is popular at auction is a Wagireh or sampler. These are often about 4
by 5 feet and have a sampling of various designs common to Bijars.
The Late George
Washington O'Bannon cites the secondary oak leaf and rosette
border as "Bijar Property".3 The main Herati border is also very common
with Bijars. However a Bijar may have any of a large number of borders
of which these are just a sample.
This is also a detail of a typical Bijar. Please note
how different this is from the one above.
Weft: Wool prior to W.W.II cotton after, 1st weft is
very heavy, thick and straight 2nd weft is thin and sinuous. Later rugs
the two wefts are the same size.
Pile: Wool, symmetrical knot
Density: 50 to 100 knots per square inch is common
with the Afshar Bijar aprox. 175 kpsi (2800 per sq.Decimeter)
Sides: Single color overcast wool often brown.
Ends: Kurd Bijars often have a row of white and dark
twinning in the kilim.
Handle: Bijars have a very heavy handle and are the
most rigid Oriental rug. The handle is so tight that if folded there is
a chance that they will break(always roll them if necessary).
One of the first revelations to me
when I started studying rugs was the almost complete lack of absolutes.
The minute you say a Bidjar is, or a Bidjar
has, you begin to hear refinements and exceptions as well as
differences in opinion. There is a wealth of knowledge that helps us to
navigate that course. I will include as much of this discussion as I
Hratch Kozibioukian (A West Coast Carpet Restorer) Wrote:
I will try to add some technical analysis: What really gives the
"Bijar" Rugs their nickname "Iron rugs" is, (aside from the fully
depressed foundation (which is called "Dorokhsh")and the very well
packed knots) is... the spin and ply technique of the yarn--tight spun
and very well plied used for: 1-the warp, 2-the first shoot cable cable
weft that depresses the warp and 3-the spin of the yarn used for pile,
The Kurds that weave these rugs believe that " a well made rug begins
with very well spun yarn" Also, The given name "Herati" is Persian.
Kurds call that design "Mahi" which means fish.
A well known Boston Collector wrote:
Barry, in your description of Bijars you say that they are two-wefted.
However, when John Collins gave a talk on Bijars to our society he
stated that they were three-wefted, and this is confirmed in Eiland's
book. Here is a portion of Jim Adelson's write-up of that
talk (NERS Newsletter, 10/15/97) which qualifies some of assertions
usually made about these rugs:
"Bijars are renowned for specific structural characteristics, but the
stereotype does not accurately reflect the weavings’ diversity.
Conventional wisdom has it that older Bijars have wool foundations and
later ones have cotton foundations, but the transition was very slow.
People associate stiff, heavy handle with Bijars, but again there is
more diversity, with some Bijars having a loose, floppy handle. The
stiffest Bijars have a lot of cotton and not much wool, but this is not
necessarily an advantage. The one consistent structural element is
three wefts, with one particularly large -- even pencil-thick!"
Daniel From Belgium Wrote:
My basis reference book for this is the outstanding book of William
Eagleton "An introduction to Kurdish Rugs and other weavings" and the
well-known Cecil Edward's book "The Persian Carpet"
It must be acknowledged that there is no homogeneous
depressed warp weaving Bidjars type (sometimes labeled Sarakhs or
Lulas). First of all the Gerus (greater Bidjar
region) is a non tribal region with a mixture of ethnic groups which is
reflected in the variety of designs and weaves, and twice dimensions
and designs were subject to the outside Persian design influence and
the Western rug trade in the late 19th who created a market for large
Turkish Afshars living in the village North of the town
The outstanding characteristic of Bidjars is that they have a hard and
dense fabric and are very rigid in handle.
1/ they use the symmetric knot and the pile is short (in
place of a normally high or medium pile in Kurdish rugs). Wool often
coming from the Western Mountains is of high quality.
2/ to obtain a tough fabric they use a very thick and
straight weft in the construction in addition to one or two thin
sinuous one. This thick and very straight weft depresses alternate
warps forming longitudinal ridges at the back. The knots appear as the
large bead on the ridge and a small one almost concealed between the
ridges. When the warp is completely depressed only one bead for each
knot is found. The best manner to see it is to search a place in the
rug where the color changes. If there is only one knot for each color
it means that the second part of the knot is inside the rug. The weft
is usually tan; beige but is sometimes colored. More recent rugs have a
more flexible fabric. When rolled it's better to roll them with the
3/ to obtain a great density of knots the woolen wefts
must be vigorously pounded in. They used therefore a special steel
comb-like instrument and they bring it down hard upon the weft at close
intervals to get a high number of rows of knots per inch.
Cecil Edwards suggested that the depressed warp
technique of the Bijars be borrowed from the Azerbaijani Turks.
4/ the wool is tightly spun counterclockwise (Z) and
almost two strands (rarely three) are twisted together clockwise (S) to
produce the Z2S yarn used in warp, weft and pile. In more recent rugs
cotton foundations can be found.
5/ Selvedges: Are usually overcast and as other Southern
Kurdish rugs they don't have coloring bands.
6/ Ends: Bidjar rugs have a small
kilim with two colors twinning to fringe with knots every ½". This
feature is also found in other area as the Western Kurdish Mountains
7/ Village Bijars rugs are often crooked because they
are often made on primitive looms where the beams are bent ore uneven.
I had a chance to examine an antique Bijar that was awaiting repairs
today (3/28/98). Since it was badly worn I was able to get a close look
at how it was made. In this case we had two wefts. First weft was 2
singles very heavy Z4S wool. These were straight and rigid. The second
weft was one or two much thinner Z2S wool. I found it interesting that
in this rug the straight wefts were thicker and straighter than the
warps. This rug is but one sample and I invite anyone who has the
opportunity to examine a Bidjar as I have done and
let us know the result. How many wefts and what are they like
structurally. Since not everyone knows let me mention that two singles
running together are only one weft even though they are separate. JBOC
1. Ford, P. R. J. Oriental Carpet
Design. London: Thames and Hudson, 1981, paperback 1993. page 88.
2. Message posted on RugNotes Discussion Board March 26, 1998 at
http://earth.oconnell.net/RugNotes/wwwboard/messages/350.html ) from
3.Message posted on RugNotes Discussion Board. Posted by Daniel DSD on
March 29, 1998 at 13:03:50:
4. O'Bannon, George W. Oriental Rugs. Philadelphia: Running Press,
1995. page 23.
This guide is still in development
and I hope to cover all types of rugs in much greater depth. Any
thoughts, suggestions, or corrections would be appreciated.