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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.

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Shaggy Long Pile Tribal Nomad Rugs

Filtering by Category: Posteen

Bandit Robber Nomads

Robert Cobcroft

Next comes creeping along a small caravan of camel-mounted Mongolians or Tibetans, clad in their ugly sheepskin gowns and big fur caps........

Primitive Skin Coats

Four men in costume outside tent March 1892

It's as if Dr Susie Rijnhart knew this photograph by William Woodville Rockhill intimately, when she wrote about the nomad caravan in 1895 - Next comes creeping along a small caravan of camel-mounted Mongolians or Tibetans, clad in their ugly sheepskin gowns and big fur caps........Noted as "Chinese who left Lusar with me" The skin jackets and hats worn by each of these men are another version of nomadic tailored animal skins. Previous posts on this blog have shown images of Afghan men cloaked in animal hides. This happy band of hide wearing men were photographed by William Woodville Rockhill probably near Lusar Tibet (Also noted as possibly China / Qinghia Province / Gansu Province)

First account with bandit robber nomads

Near Lusar Tibet 1895 - " Mr. Rijnhart threatened to shoot if they laid hands on a thing. After some further altercation we gave them some cash for catching our mule – Ishinima gave them a mani, or rosary, of great value, and the entire band rode off. Ishinima declared that the Tibetans who had just left us were Tangut robbers, and that they would most assuredly return presently with reinforcements to attack us "1

Dr Susie Rijnhart spent four years with the Tibetans between 1895 and 1899, she is scathing in her description of the Camel Caravan of Mongolians or Tibetans. "The western portion of the province of Kansu, variously denominated by geographers as part of Chinese or Outer Tibet, is known to the Tibetans as Amdo, and the inhabitants are called Amdo-wa. According to Chinese ethnographers the foreign population of Amdo may be divided into two great classes, the T'u-fan, or "agricultural barbarians," who have a large admixture of Chinese blood, and the Si-fan, or "western barbarians," who are of pure Tibetan stock. The Si-fan live, for the most part, a nomadic life and are organized into a number of bands under hereditary chiefs responsible to the Chinese at Sining, to whom they pay tribute. Chinese authors further say that the present mixed population of Amdo is the progeny of many distinct aboriginal tribes, but there are some elements of it that must be accounted for by later immigrations.  On the road one meets groups of merchants, partly Chinese, but bearing a strong resemblance to the Turk and distinguished by a headdress which seems to be a cross between a Chinese cap and a Moslem turban. These are Mohammedans going down to trade in Sining. Next comes creeping along a small caravan of camel-mounted Mongolians or Tibetans, clad in their ugly sheepskin gowns and big fur caps, on their way to see the Amban of Sining, or perhaps going to Eastern Mongolia or Pekin; or one may meet a procession of swarthy faced Tibetan pilgrims returning single file, with slow and stately tread, from some act of worship at Kumbum, to their homes in the valleys north of Sining. The entire western portion of Kansu, so far as its inhabitants are concerned, marks the transition between a purely Chinese population and a foreign people, the Chinese predominating in the larger centers but the villages and encampments being made up largely of foreign or mongrel inhabitants."2

Susie Rijnhart's account and William Woodville Rockhill's image of the men in skin jackets complete another piece of the puzzle of the Primitive Skin Rugs and clothing of Central Asia. So far we've identified the use of Pashmani as shoulder covers, simple skin rugs as used by Kutchi nomads, animal hides used by the hearth fire in Kirghiz yurts, Kirghiz Postak produced for the dowry of the bride, simple shoulder covers from the 19th Century as worn by the horse traders, and the more tailored solution shown in Rockhill's photograph. The use of primitive softened skins covered a wide geographic area and was manifested in many varied forms.

1 Carson Rijnhart M.D.S With the Tibetans in Tent and Temple Fleming H. Revell Company Chicago New York and Toronto 1901 27

1 Carson Rijnhart M.D. loc. cit.

Photographer, William Woodville Rockhill. DOE Asia: China: General: Rockhill Collin 04487900, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

Primitive coats, what's in the bag?

Robert Cobcroft

Shepherd Samarkand Circa 1910 Prokudin-Gorskii A shepherd Circa 1910 with long coat and sheepskin lining in the hood. Complete with rolled up rope and tools of the trade. The early studio photograph of the Afghan horse traders gave us a view of Afghan sheepskin covers in use in the 1860's. The shepherd's coat indicates the requirement for an all weather solution, the afghan horse traders no doubt would have faced similar circumstances,their long sheepskin covers providing a warm alternative.

Two more images a "Bashkir" horseman and traders with their camels in the mountains near Samarkand Circa 1910. There are animal hides on the backs of the camels. Life outdoors in Central Asia requires warm clothing, covers and rugs for insulation against the cold.

"Bashkir" Man seated on a horse on the outskirts of Samarkand - ice cold wind off the mountains.

Samarkand Traders and Camels

Shepherd: Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-prokc-21878  Bahskir: Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-prok-02317 Camel Traders: LC-DIG-prok-21754Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington

Primitive Skin Posteens Afghanistan 1868

Robert Cobcroft

More Primitive Skins from the Stone Age A Kakur draped in sheep skin cover

An albumen print titled "A Kakur"contained in The People of India, Volume Six depicts a man draped in a bear skin posteen. A second image titled "Afghan Horse Dealers" from the same collection shows three men, two with sheepskin or bear skin posteens over their shoulders. Recently in the post on this blog Primitive Skins from the Stone Age Part 4, the use of these covers was discussed. "They are used as covers during the night or even folded on the shoulders when seated in either the tent or the house."

Dated 1868 these images are an early record of primitive skin posteens or covers in daily use in Afghanistan. Sunni Hazara Muslims have been mentioned in connection with the two piece shaggy rugs from Central and West Afghanistan. The Kakur and Afghan Horse Dealers are noted here as "Soonnee Mussulmans".

Images contained within the collection: The People of India, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.  "A Kakur" Local number: PoI6.322  "Afghan Horse Dealers" Local number: PoI6.332

Other related posts Kirghiz Skin Covers Kirghiz Pieced Skin Covers

Afghan Horse Dealers, Draped in sheep skin covers The People of India