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Antique handmade, long piled nomad rugs are rare and unique. Primitive Rug reveals the stories of the nomadic people who wandered the deserts and mountains of Central Asia and beyond, leaving behind these woven works of art. In our store you will find an exclusive selection of old, nomad made rugs. 

These primitive hand woven rugs are from the Amu Darya in the north of Afghanistan, Samarkand in Uzbekistan, the Afghan Pamirs, eastern Turkey, Iran, Spain, eastern Europe, and the mountainous regions of central Afghanistan.

Uzbek Rugs.jpg


Shaggy Long Pile Tribal Nomad Rugs

Filtering by Category: Julkhirs

Julkhyrs – minimalist aesthetics in steppe art

Dr. Elmira Gyul

Julkhyrs – minimalist aesthetics in steppe art. Originally posted on Jozan 05 October 2011 - shared here with thanks to Dr. Elmira Gyul, Fine Arts Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Julkhyrs – the traditional Uzbek long-piled carpets – are popular among connoisseurs of Oriental art. Unlike the refined decor of Iranian carpets, the appearance of Julkhyrs are extremely laconic, strict, even brutal, both on drawings, and on colours. Their appearance surprisingly correspond to the style of modern minimalistic interiors, which has given a second life to these unique carpets.

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Samarkand Uzbek Julkhirs Primitive Rug

Robert Cobcroft

Chest Vendor seated on Uzbek Julkhirs, primitive rug, Samarkand Zaravshan District Between 1865 and 1872 Chest Vendor seated on Uzbek Julkhirs, Julkhyrs primitive rug Samarkand Zaravshan district between 1865 and 1872 from the Turkestan Album.

The high pile of the Julkhirs was favoured by some nineteenth Century merchants of Samarkand, the obvious attraction being a more comfortable rug  for the long hours seated at the market place.

Variations of the motifs woven into this Julkhirs were repeated up to the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century. Some examples which followed were created with wool dyed in extremely bright and garish synthetic dyes, including a dazzling bright yellow, ultra bright deep green representative of a Christmas tree gone wrong, a dark cherry red and super saturated crimson plus an overwhelming bright pink.

Images from The Turkestan Album and those created by Prokudin-Gorskii give us a snapshot of life in Samarkand between 1865 and 1910, backing up Moshkova's 1. observations in Carpets of the People of Central Asia.

Below are all of the images published so far on this blog of Julkhirs in use in Samarkand during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century.

Julkhirs in Samarkand

1. Moshkova, V. G.  Carpets of the People of Central Asia. George O’Bannon,  Arizona Lithographers Tucson, Arizona, 1996. 83

Image Attributions:
Courtesy of the Library of Congress,
LC-DIG-ppmsca-14869, LC-DIG-prokc-21725,
LC-DIG-prokc-21753 - LC-DIG-prok-11753,
Illus. in: Turkestanskīĭ alʹbom, chastʹ
1871-1872, part 2, vol. 2, pl. 144.

Darya Uzbek Julkhirs

Robert Cobcroft


"Darya Uzbek" Julkhirs one - piece long shaggy rug.

OXUS UZBEK JULKHIRS FRAGMENT Northern Afghanistan “Amu Darya.” This Julkhirs is different, the knots are visible on the back and the rug is one piece not several. Usually Julkhirs are warp faced and the knots are either completely or partially hidden by the warps.

"Darya Uzbek" Julkhirs fragment Back

Julkhirs were woven in narrow long strips usually comprising of three to five strips stitched together to form one piece. Technical constraints dictated the width of the strips, keeping an open shed was difficult for the Bearskin weavers. 1

Some Julkihrs were woven as one – piece. Three Central Asian types exist and possibly more.

1. Nurata Turkmen Julkhirs  from the Nurata basin in Uzbekistan, these are early and good luck finding one, Moshkova found that they were almost non existent when she visited the Nurata basin Turkmen Uzbeks in 1944 and 1946. 2 None that I have found fit Moshkova's description.

2. A second group which appear to be more recent and woven in Afghanistan by Kuchi Pashtun nomads – sometimes referred to as “Maldari”. Occasionally attributed to Uzbeks. They are large coarsely woven nomad rugs and will be the subject of an upcoming post.

3.  “Amu Darya” Julkihrs from the north of Afghanistan bordering Tajikastan. The subject of this post.

Geroge O’Bannon first brought “Darya” Uzbek one – piece rugs to our attention in his mongraph Kazakh and Uzbek Rugs from Afghanistan, O’Bannon presented two examples - and called them Kazakh rugs. 3 In the following decades these “Kazakhs” became more popular. In From Desert and Oasis O’Bannon tentatively referenced them as “Darya” Uzbek and published a further example.

Kuchkorak "Darya Uzbek" Julkhirs fragment

On his blog Detlev Fischer published an example – I’ve include an image here. The knotting and colours are the same.

Detlev Fischer Uzbek Julkhirs

In appearance all of these rugs are shaggy with long pile and woven in one piece. They also differ in that they are all approximately 183 cm x 122 cm (6’ x 4’) and sometimes even a little wider – 183cm x 137cm (6’ x 4.5’).

This fragment is much narrower and fits the proportions of the longer “pieced” Julkhirs yet it was woven in one long continuous piece. The warps are of brown goat hair and wefts of dark brown wool. The weave balance is more precise than in the other examples. Similarities with other “Darya Uzbek” examples are the Kuchkorak or latch hook polygons and colours.

O’bannon describes “Darya Uzbek” Julkhirs as having Kuchkoraks which are “wider horizontally than vertically”. 4 Our rug has vertically longer Kuchkorak’s and is only 1040 mm (40.94”) wide, a standard width for three and four piece Julkhirs. Unfortunately our fragment has been cut into small sections and only one third of the rug remains. The original full length Julkhirs would have been approximately 289 cm (113”) x 104 cm (40.9”) wide this ratio precisely fits measurements of what was standard length for many Julkihrs. I’ve used an image of the fragment to recreate a montage of how the rug may have looked in original form.

Description:Proportions are that of normal Julkhirs made in strips, not like other “Darya” Uzbek Julkhirs which were wider and probably shorter. Abrashed Madder red field plus yellow, blue, indigo, undyed white and brown.

Original size approximately 104 cm (3.4’ ) x 289 cm (9’6”)

"Darya Uzbek" Julkhirs

Current Size 104 cm (3.4’ ) x 145 cm (57”)

Each Kuchkorak approximately 208mm (8.1”) vertical x 203mm (7.9”) horizontal

Wefts: 4 shots brown wool

Warps: Goat Hair

Pile: Wool, symmetrically knotted no warp depression

I gratefully acknowledge the enthusiasm shared by others for these shaggy nomad rugs, many thanks to Milton Cater for answering my many questions and helping keep me focused and motivated.  "Darya Uzbek" fragment sourced for this project by Milton Cater


1 Mallett. M Woven Structures A Guide To Oriental Rugs and Textile Analysis Christopher Publications Atlanta 2000. 58

2 Moshkova, V. G.  Carpets of the People of Central Asia (George O’Bannon,  Arizona Lithographers Tucson, Arizona, 1996) 112,120

3 O'Bannon G. Kazakh and Uzbek Rugs from Afghanistan. George W. O'Bannon. 1979 No 1 page 10 and No 2 page 11

4 O'Bannon G.From Desert and Oasis Arts of the People of Central Asia. Georgia Museum of Art University of Georgia. Exhibition Catalogue 1998 21 -22, 67

"Darya Uzbek" Julkhirs fragment detail

"Darya Uzbek" Julkhirs fragment

Uzbek Julkhirs

Robert Cobcroft

  Uzbek Julkhirs Circa 1900

Uzbek Julkhirs  probably from Northern Afghanistan or Southern Uzbekistan, woven in the first quarter of the twentieth Century. There is some tip fading, the original dye colours are more vivid at the base of the knots. The probable use of synthetic dyes and subsequent fading has resulted in a muted colour range. The lightest wool colour is natural undyed camel hair. Use of the rhombus as a design element was common in Julkhirs in this rug delineated by the dark brown sheep wool, diagonal lattice design.  This example shows particularly poor rendering of the rhomboid shapes creating a primitive rug with naive qualities.

The warp faced back is typical of julkhirs rugs, this one woven using a common method, wool warps and wefts are paired singles.


Julkhirs Bearskin Rug  Knots