Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Barry O'Connell's Oriental and Persian Rug Notes

Hagop Manoyan Antique RugsNazmiyal Antique Rugs

Kurdish Rugs: Notes on Kurdish Rug Weaving

These rugs fit into my "Persian Rugs the O'Connell Guides" section and are grouped with rugs woven by people who speak Kurdish rather than the weavers of a particular area.

Kurds are an ancient Indo-European language group of Southwest Asia. Kurdistan spans the junction of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. The "Kurdish" language has two main branches Kurdish and Kurmanji.

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Antique Qazvin Kurd Animal Bag
Antique Qazvin Kurd Animal Bag

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Haliden Northwest Kurdish Mafrash Panel
The Haliden Northwest Kurdish Mafrash Panel

Population distribution among the Kurds. Total population of about 16 million

  • Turkey - 43%

  • Iran - 31%

  • Iraq - 18%

  • Syria - 6%

  • Caucasus - 2%

Source Izady, The Kurds. Pg. 3.
Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: CIA Map of Kurdish Areas
CIA Map of Kurdish Areas

  • Alevism is one of the three Kurdish religions commonly called the Cult of Angels. The are also called the "deifiers of Ali" and suggest that Ali and Mohammed were temporal manifestations of the same spirit being which they refer to as Alimohammed. Shah Ismail would refer to himself as Alimohammad suggesting his own . Izady, The Kurds. Pg. 150.

  • The Yezidi cap is the same as the Mithras cap. Izady, The Kurds. Pg. 260

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Antique Karabagh Kurdish Runner
Antique Karabagh Kurdish Runner
  • Kurdistan was split in the Sixteenth century into approximately the borders of today. Izady, Mehrdad , The Kurds. Pg. 8.

  • Wing bones from large birds have been found in Archeological digs in Kurdistan dating back 10,800 years. Izady speculates a connection to the Cult of Angels religions of the Kurds. Izady, The Kurds. Pg. 21.

  • Since Peacocks are not native to Kurdistan or the Caucasus Izady speculates that the so-called Peacocks are actually the Great Bustard once found in the region. The great bustard had multicolored tail feathers but shorter than a peacocks and more like a Turkey's. Izady, The Kurds. Pg. 156.

  • Yezidism is one of the three Kurdish religions commonly called the Cult of Angels. Malak Tawas or Lucifer as we know him was the first Archangel of the Great Creating Spirit or God as we know him. Malak Tawas was given dominion over earth. He is often represented as a great bird usually called a peacock but Izady speculates the bird is actually a great bustard. Izady, The Kurds. Pg. 156.

First Day of Migration

Migrating on camel back. A Kurdish woman of “Qahremânlu” clan on the path of “Jargalân” region, at autumn migration.

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: First Day of Kurdish Migration
First Day of Migration

Old and Antique




Northwest Persian


Kurd Bidjar

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Kurdish Northwest Persian Shrub and Medallion Carpet late 18th c. Sotheby's lot 186
Kurdish Rugs: Kurdish Northwest Persian Shrub and Medallion Carpet late 18th c. Sotheby's lot 186

Caucasian Kurd

In the lesser Caucasus the Kurds tended to be the people of the high country. At this point I suspect that many of the so-called Northwest Persian are actually Caucasian Kurds.


Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Caucasian Kurd runner

Northwest Persian

Kurdish Dragon Bags

Pseudo-Turkmen Gul

Kurdish Rugs: Songhor Kelley Rug dated 1800 Rippon Boswell Lot 133

Rare Kurdish Wagireh from Rippon Boswell

Shrub Carpets

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Sautchbulag Rug dated 1845 Rippon Boswell
Kurdish Rugs: 1845 Sautchbulag Rug Rippon Boswell


Alberto Levi in articles and lectures over a number of years delineated a cohesive group of Kurdish rugs. It is not truly Proto as in coming before because the weavers were Kurdish and there were generations of Kurdish rugs before this group. what is interesting about these early Sauj-Bulagh type rugs is they are the first rugs from this Kurdish group after they were driven out of the Caucasus by the Russian and resettled in the Sauj-Bulagh/Mahabad region.

Sauj-Bulagh type

Warps: wool, natural off white.

Wefts: wool, 2 shoots, rust red.

Weave: fine with little or no warp depression (flat back)

Handle: soft, pliable.

Colors: yellow, red, light and dark blue and aubergine often on a dark brown background, more rarely on a yellow background and very rarely on an ivory background.

The wool is invariably long and silky and the colors brilliant jewel tones.

Persian Rugs/Kurdish Rugs: Alberto Levi "Proto" Kurdish Rug
Kurdish Rugs: The Alberto Levi "Proto" Kurdish Rug


Rippon-Boswell Jaff Kurd Bagface Late 19th lot 168
Rippon-Boswell Jaff Kurd Bagface Late 19th lot 168

Sauj Bulaq

Rippon Boswell An early Sauj Bulag lot 76


Quchan is an important collection point for Kurdish and Afshar tribal and village rugs. The rugs share designs with Northwest and Caucasian Kurds and Afshar.

Abbas Safavi Shah ruled Iran from 1588 - 1629 at the beginning of his reign Persia was in serious trouble. The Ottoman Turks had taken Tabriz and most of Northwest Persia. Abbas Safavi Shah made a treaty with the Ottoman and Persia was forced to pay tribute. While on the eastern front the Uzbek came as far west as Mashad. Abbas used Kurds and Afshar to retake Mashad and gave those Afshar Turks and Kurdish mercenaries land in the Quchan area  as a reward for service and as a line of defense against the Uzbeks and their Turkmen vassals. The descendents of those Kurds and Afshar live in the Quchan area and produce rugs.


A YÜRÜK RUG, East Anatolia, late 19th C.


W&W Kurdish Hamadan Rug C. 1900 lot 129


W&W Jaf or Sanjabi Kurd 19th-early 20th lot 311
W&W Jaf or Sanjabi Kurd 19th-early 20th lot 311

Newer Pieces

Old Kurdish Grain Bag
Old Kurdish Grain Bag

Kurdish Rugs: Kurdish Khordjin with Videos - I am tying a new format with the videos. There seems to be a good bit of interest in in-depth looks at pieces so I grouped 4 videos together with some still pictures as a start.

Kurdish Khordjin Saddlebag

This is the first and second part of a look at an Kurdish saddlebag. This is also a series that my son Mickey assists me with.

Interesting Structure:

Pile and Flatweave Salt Bag

Thanks and best wishes,

J. Barry O'Connell Jr.

Copyright Barry O'Connell 2004 - 2006.
Last revised: March 20, 2009.

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