There are passages in all art that can exist independently as a meaningful aesthetic, functioning separately from the complete work they once belonged to. In these frames we see pieces from archaic rugs, fragments from their mother rug, which had over time been destroyed. Occasionally areas of these old surviving pieces can exist on their own, and still express spirituality, decoration, a sense of magic and what it means to live in a timeless culture. The events that have defined all human life are symbolically addressed here: giving birth, raising a family, tending to animals, accepting the inevitability of death and the absolute belief in the existence of an immutable godhead. These fragments express all that we look for in an art object: beauty, honesty and mastery of craft. These humble fragments establish a life of their own, one that takes us directly without distraction to the essence of rug art.

Showing 1–16 of 18 results

Antique Oushak fragment. C. 1885 (Western Turkey)

The Oushak region has been a major rug producing area since the 16th century. However the Oushak rugs and carpets that are associated with the 19th and 20th century import decorative trade are significantly different from their earlier antecedents. The popularity of these carpets in the West is easily understood after looking at the fragment featured in the box. This fragment reveals colors that are unlike any other rug type. This is not a trivial or superficial issue. Like other arts, rugs primarily use line and color to express their aesthetic. Oushak carpets are about color as it is expressed by light and its interaction with the western Anatolian landscape. These carpets investigate the nature of secondary colors and their relationships with each other. They generally use a citrus palette of lime green, orange, saffron, pink, sky blue, yellows, reds, the colors of the sea, the earth, the sky, and the very atmosphere of the Eastern Mediterranean

Standing alone this fragment softly baths its space with the ether of color. It is quite remarkable how the palette of this fragment floods our vision with an elusive blush of color. One can only imagine how beautiful its complete mother carpet must have been.

25″x31″

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Antique Sultanabad Fragment, c. 1870 (Persia)

This lovely rare piece provides us with an excellent glimpse of mid-19th century carpets. With its elusive color, faint whisper of design, and softest most inviting wool, one can imagine how this fragment’s mother carpet must have looked in its large original size and how it must have provided its room with a subtle atmospheric and subdued glow. These early 19th century Sultanabads were woven to decorate the floors of the grandest European and American mansions. This fragment’s mother carpet functioned as all great carpets were meant to, as the perfect foundation for living a life on.

However this Sultanabad fragment taken from the wide border of its mother carpet, informs the viewer there is more here than a beautiful decorative carpet. A closer look reveals a small cross surrounded by concentric eight pealed flowers. Enclosing this cross and flowers is the image of a large Armenian Christian cross. It appears as a secret embellished by and hidden with other floral elements, but close scrutiny reveals its outstretched pendants. Is it a prayer woven by the weaver? It remains a mystery muted by time.

25″x31″

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Chinese fragment, c. 1900

The density and thickness of wool in this fragment and its use of natural handspun undyed wool suggests either a Western Chinese or Mongolian origin. Aesthetically lean, simple and direct in both color and design, the fragment has an austere beauty. Its maze like reciprocal design refers to the idea of the endless repeat and an infinite world

16″x20″

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Eastern Anatolia, c. 1885

There are a group of rugs that come out of 13th century Seljuk Turkish rug weaving that are identified as “animal pelts”. These are knotted carpets that consist of the image of a splayed animal with outstretched legs, arms, and an abstract rendering of a head. This configuration is the same as we commonly see in bear rugs zebra skins or deer hides. Here in this fascinating fragment we see ochre outstretched legs and arms enclosing another pelt like image colored in light blue. A precise definition of this complete design is elusive, but it appears that the inner pelt may be a reference to some part of the animal’s anatomy, perhaps sinews or bones. It is not difficult to image that at the top of the pelt is an abstraction of a head with horns. In addition centered on the animal’s “back” is an x defined with serpentine drawing. Their heads are facing each other. These juxtaposed animals are stylized dragons. Dragon designs are prominently and somewhat realistically displayed in 16th Caucasian “Dragon Carpets” and the dragon figure was used in a variety of configurations as far east as Central Asia, Tibet and China This fragment has a rough character, big knots, and thick wool. Its palette is limited but extremely effective in expressing the piece’s power and muscularity.

16″x20″

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Fragment of the Main Border of an Old Baluchi Rug , c. 1900

The Baluchi are a tribal group living in southeastern Persia and western Afghanistan. They lived a nomadic life style existing in a harsh desert environment, raising animals as a source of food and building materials. Their old weavings generally used a dark palette with puntiuated undyed ivory designs that popped to the rugs’s surface. This interaction between ivory and the darker field colors created quiet an extraordinary and beautiful effect of a star filled night. This border fragment exists very successfully outside its mother rug. It is wide enough to contain its own story. These large alternating designs relate to fecundity and birthing. They serve as abstract representations of women giving birth. All the weavers here were women and of course, having children was essential to the survival of the extended family unit. This piece fills us with a sense of mystery and wonder, another example of the magic of authentic tribal weaving. Note that at the bottom of the frame and fragment the selvedge is made of goat hair. The wefts in this piece are also spun from goat hair.

10″x21″

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French Verdure tapestry fragment, 18th century

Tapestries are made using a warp wrapping technique known as slit weft tapestry. Their production was woven on a grand scale and required great skill involving many elements and materials. Weaving tapestries was big business in medieval and renascence Europe requiring highly trained artisans and engineers.

The scenes in Verdure tapestries were a departure from the biblical and mythological themes one encountered in earlier tapestry production. Their subject matter in keeping with the Rococo and Romantic style was landscapes, rendered with deep thick foliage, aristocracy enjoying nature, and pictures of indigenous wildlife. Castles were often depicted in the distance.

I regard this fragment as a botanical abstraction. Yes the fragment has obvious references to plants and flowers, but for me the image goes far beyond a piece of a romantic landscape. Just as its mother tapestry was composed of a variety of parts, each independently abstract but functioning as an essential part of the totality of the image, this fragment alone with its floral disc and jungle of green pleases me much the same as a Japanese textile would.

18″x22″

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Kazak Fragment, Southwestern Caucasus: 1885

Without equivocation, this is a fascinating and beautiful piece of Kazak weaving. The weaver plays with positive and negative space and creates a visual puzzle of interlocking forms. The viewer returns again and again to navigate and understand its complexity. What they will ultimately encounter is a compressed space with the drawing of juxtaposed stylized dragon images configured in layers that appear to move back and forth on the rug’s surface. The results are absolutely intriguing.

This fragment is framed on two sides by alternating green and red trefoil turret like forms. Each “turret” carries a small dot in its center. The palette of this piece is exquisite; its colors derived from plants and are perfectly married. This fragment is one of those art objects that sustain repeated viewing, as one strips away the piece’s secrets one layer at a time.

Kazak rugs were woven in the western mountains of the Trans Caucasus.

14″x14″

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Kilim apron from a NW Persian tribal rug, c. 1900

Flat woven kilim aprons like the piece in this frame served as decoration at both ends of various tribal and village rugs. The simple beauty of this kilim end demonstrates the weaver’s desire to complete her rug in a meaningful way. It indicates her care and artistic commitment to her work.

The horizontal stripes here have a distinctive modern look. The use of the brown stripe gives the other stripes room and space to articulate their colors.

12″x15″

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Kurdish Village Weaving, c. 1900

This charming fragment is from the main border of a 19th century Kurdish weaving. One can see in its two borders, design references to trees and a village orchard. The colors used in this piece have beautiful saturation and purity. Its use of green is adroitly handled. Green is a difficult and expensive color to make from vegetable dye sources and is rarely used. Note the raisin aubergine color used in the drawing of the trunks of several trees. Aubergine is another color that is difficult to make and is usually seen only in older pieces. The entire palette of this fragment is a tribute to the skill and artistry of the women who cooked up these dyes. This piece is simply a joy to view.

10″x14″

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Kurdish, c. 1900

Beneath this small enigmatic Kurdish fragment’s abstraction of design, are fascinating references to 18th century Caucasian dragon carpets. Note the sinuous raisen colored “S” form in this piece’s center. It bears a direct resemblance to the abstract dragon designs that were drawn in the later 18th century Caucasian dragon carpets. At the fragment’s top there is a light blue zoomorphic design, highly abstractly rendered, which depicts a side view of another dragon design. This fantastic creature displays a dragon with bifurcated horns and sinuous body. Particularly intriguing is the small red and gold square on the light blue field.

The colors in this piece are pure and outrageously beautiful. I decided to forego the use of the box’s glass cover in order to give the viewer a more intimate and immediate connection to this piece’s colors and wool.

12″x15″

No Glass in Frame

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Moroccan Fragment, c. 1930

Rough with a long shaggy pile and loud uninhibited color, this extraordinary fragment is about the relationship of wool with color. Its wool, coarsely hand spun and long fibered, stands on its own in describing this fragment’s aesthetic. Unsheared and shaggy, the pile shapes awkward and fuzzy designs which literally collide with each other.

Defiantly colorful, the fragment’s weaver skillfully orchestrates a myriad of colors into a statement that demands our attention. It is a risky business juggling these vegetable dye colors and fixing them to untreated wool. She is courageously successful and offers us an art object worthy of our sustained attention.

19″x25″

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North African, High Atlas Mountains, c. 1930

The Moroccan rugs of the Atlas Mountains form a category all their own. Their weaving techniques employ both symmetrical knots as well as flat woven warp wrapping. Goat hair is used to make the hand spun dark brown warps at each end of the fragment as well as the material for its wefts.

There is a certain magic about Moroccan rugs. Yellows, oranges, brown black, red create a joyful and primitive celebration of colors. Their rug’s designs contain a mysterious talismanic language evolved from sub-sahara tribes and individual tattoo body decoration. Moroccan rugs are fascinating in their technic, colors, and magical drawing. This fragment amplifies this extraordinary rug types’ beautiful enigmas.

17″x20″

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Northeastern Caucasian fragment, c. 1890

This fragment is taken from the main border of its mother rug. Visually it offers more than a cursory look reveals. At first glance we see a succession of eight pointed stars, still a meaningful image on its own. But a closer look shows that these stars are contained within larger ivory octagons and bracketed by some sort of abstract wine cup flowers. So here is where the fun begins. After our first glimpse of what appears as just a parade of stars, further looking reveals complexity and play with space. The image is transformed from a simple arrangement of forms into a intriguing display of interlocking images.

12″x15″

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Northwestern Persian, Kurdish, c. 1885

This large fragment has an authenticity one expects from the best of early village weaving. The fragment is a celebration of fertility and birth, an essential theme in village life. Here a woman weaver created a field of flowering pods or seeds. Within each of these large seeds incubates a smaller seed. This design is used in many variations and among many different rug types. The rug literature names it “the mother-daughter motif”. But this interesting fragment goes far beyond the usual design conventions one commonly encounters in rugs of this design type. The large scale of the forward seeds, and their intriguing detailed drawing dominates the weaving’s visual field. A man and a woman are drawn in the fragment’s center surrounded by tent like domiciles and a herd of wildly depicted animals. The weaver has created a naïve folk art depiction of her village life, one that is imbued with love and traditional historical connection.

20″x26″

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Oushak Fragment, Western Turkey, c. 1920

The colors in this Oushak fragment are unique to 1920’s Oushak production. Here the viewer encounters what I describe as a smoky palette. These colors appear to have an almost haze like quality to them. Greens, yellows, a pinky red, a deep purple red are typical colors one sees in Oushaks from this period. Additionally the wools in rugs like this fragment are dryer and contain less lanolin than earlier pieces typically do. Yet as evidenced by this fragment there is no doubt that these 1920’s rugs can be extraordinarily beautiful. One of the most interesting aspects of this piece is the drawing of successive crosses down its border. There is great controversy among rug scholars as to the role Armenians played in the weaving of village and workshop rugs.. One school advances as absolute fact that all Anatolian weaving was done by Turks. Turkish weavers were the creators of all the important village and workshop rugs and carpets. The appearance of crosses in Anatolian rugs served only decorative purposes and had no relationship to Christian iconography. Of course, this position by Turkish scholars is vehemently contested by Armenian experts. Their position is that the depiction of the cross in these rugs is irrefutable evidence that they were made by Armenian artisans. As one can imagine this clash of positions goes far beyond a mere academic disagreement. It is fueled by fierce nationalistic and historical circumstances that drive this dispute far into the political realm.

12″x15″

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Shirvan Fragment, NE Caucasus. 1885

This charming corner fragment of 19th century Northeastern Caucasian weaving was woven in an area known as Shirvan. As you can see from this example, Shirvan rugs were fine with crisp articulate design drawing. Here we encounter a simple glimpse of domestic village life. Yet the weaver has created an image that is endearing, funny, and artistically fascinating. She has an absolute command of the use of vegetable dye color as well as the mastery of the weaving craft. She has woven a picture of an ordinary chicken digging for grubs and we are enthralled.

13″x14″

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