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South Persian Rugs, Bags and Saddle Covers

20th FEBRUARY 2019 at 7pm

Khamseh Bird Rug
Professor Paul R. Benjamin Collection

The ethnic diversity and inter-mingling of nomadic tribal and village groups in the huge area covered by the Fars and Kerman provinces of South-West Persia, has resulted in a remarkable range of designs and delightful use of colour that has continued to stimulate my interest and somewhat obsessive collecting over the last 25 years. I was keen to get examples of Qashqa’i Shekarlu rugs because of their unusual and exotic style, composed of an assortment of abstract geometrical motifs with a distinctive white comb motif and a variety of totemic emblems. Ben Evans in Hali described one of my Shekarlu rugs as attractive with a brilliant range of colours and ‘bizarre’ because of its rather random organization compared with other rugs of its type. I am particularly interested in Khamseh bird rugs and saddle-bags and will consider whether it is possible to attribute their specific origins to one of the various Turkic and Arab tribes that formed the Khamseh confederacy. I will also show examples Khamseh saddle covers that match the rugs in their high level of interest. ‘Afshar’ weavings are well-known but it may be that many that many of those given this label were not made by this tribal group. I will discuss this in relation to recent early 19th century fragments I have acquired that are known in the trade as ‘Kermanshar’ (eg Kerman-Afshar).


1. Purdon, R. In Search of Neyriz (2009) Hali 161, pp 82-88. A stimulating discussion of all things South Persian.

2. Evans, Ben (2012) A wild Shekarlu Qashqa’i rug. Hali 174, BACK PAGE. Referred to above.

3. Benjamin, Paul R. South Persian Rugs, Bags and Saddle Covers (2014), second edition pp 1-114. Fully illustrated in colour (available from

3. Benjamin, Paul (2015) Anatomy of an object. A South Persian bird rug. Hali 185, pp 44-45. Can Khamseh bird rugs be given a specific attribution?


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