- As with many other elements of their history and culture, Kurdish rugs (carpets) and kilims are often subsumed in the popular culture under Turkish and Persian headings. This, of course, ignores the rich Kurdish contributions in yet another area.Many travelers during the 19th century wrote about the beautiful colors and high quality of Kurdish rugs they saw. Most were woven by nomadic women from sheep wool. Kurdish rugs usually are woven on a rather narrow loom of three to four feet and are often twice as long as they are wide. They usually have only one or two borders, as compared with the three borders of Persian and Turkish rugs. Their multicolored side selvedges also distinguish them. The end finishes of Kurdish rugs contain excess warp length at their fringes that to some gives a wild, barbaric, or rustic and bold appearance. The high pile of many Kurdish rugs and their shagginess may be the origin of the somewhat pejorative term bear rugs that others have given them.Typical designs in Kurdish rugs include the eight-pointed star, crab, turtle, fish and lotus, latch-hooked diamonds, squares or crossroads, roses and lotus, and pine cones. These designs are often stylized and talismanic. Older Kurdish rugs used strong natural dyes that improved with age.With the decline of the nomad tradition in Kurdistan, the quality of Kurdish rugs has also steadily declined. Cheap synthetic dyes and the unwillingness to spend the necessary time to produce the finely knotted pieces of the past have also contributed to this situation. Nevertheless, their simplicity, multitude of colors and motifs, and even mistakes in design execution have all helped make Kurdish rugs popular. William Eagleton, An Introduction to Kurdish Rugs and Other Weavings, 1988, is a beautifully illustrated study of Kurdish rugs in English.
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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