55 York Street
Morningside, QLD, 4170

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.

Nomads The Authentic Makers of Primitive Woven Art

The arcane world of the primitive nomadic rug weaver belongs to another age. Through timeless centuries of nomadic existence the patterns colours and repetition of the seasons were gradually impressed deep into the collective nomadic psyche. A symbiotic rhythm playing out between nomads, their animals and nature set amongst vast untamed landscapes. These rhythms, patterns and repetition were indelibly transposed into the coloured knots of the nomad’s primitive hand woven rugs. A way of life now almost vanished, a casualty of globalisation. The old and rare nomad rug examples that remain provide a tangible link to a tradition which began with the stone age and ended at the close of the twentieth century.

Each of our hand woven rugs are unique examples of this now unrepeatable nomadic rug makers art. No workshop or rug making collective in modern cities and towns can replace the accumulated nomadic experience instilled into the fibres of old nomad woven rugs. Workshop made rugs were always different woven mainly for commerce. These town and city rugs influenced by other cues and imbued with their own desirable attributes. Access to a wider range of options for design, collective labour and equipment, produced town made rugs with more consistent results. Leaving the nomad made rug in a special class of its' own, sought after by those with an appreciation for an irregular expression of humanity. 

Nomad rugs were woven mainly for personal use using primitive horizontal looms, wooden looms made from readily available materials. Constructed from logs or poles propped up on rocks, tins or any convenient object, this equipment produced uneven edges, especially when being picked up and moved to the next location where the weaving would begin again. Weaving was performed in tents, yurts or out the front of the portable dwellings under the open sky. 

Variations in colour known as “Abrash” was a result of using natural or dyed wool colours of different shades, seen in subtle colour shifts in adjacent areas along the length of the rug. Patterns, motifs, designs and symbols were remembered and passed down through generations, each tribal group with their own specific versions and each weaver with their own signature variation. Some of the earliest tribal designs, like rams horns and saw tooth borders were in use 2,500 years ago by Scythians and these same designs were still being woven into recent nomad made examples. 

Wool was spun by hand often using no more than a rock or a stick, yet the dexterity and skill of the spinner using only this primitive equipment was masterful. 

Animal fibres from the nomads own sheep and goats was sometimes mixed with fibres from other animals like horse, camel or yak, especially in the foundation of the rug to which the knots were tied. One account tells of Arab nomad children, cutting the wool from the family camels while the caravan meandered its' way through the mountains of Badakshan in the north of Afghanistan.  The camels made bald by the time the children exchanged their wool with mountain Tajiks for other goods. (Barfield, T. 1981) Some nomad rugs have camel wool woven in alongside the wool of sheep, often left in its' natural colour. This use of readily available fibre resources influenced the size and design of tribal rugs, for example some rugs were woven using only natural goat hair for the pile, something you wouldn’t find in a workshop made rug.  

When the first primitive needle was used to stitch together stone age animal hides, a way of rug making was awakened that would continue in traditional form almost to the present day. Well into the twentieth century Central Asian nomads were piecing together animal hides using a needle and thread,  and today some isolated nomadic groups may still be threading together the tanned skins of animals from their herds.  Alongside these pieced and stitched rugs, nomads also wove shaggy rugs resembling animal pelts, probably taking their cues from the hand stitched versions. 

Long out of production and representing the oldest form of making a facsimile animal pelt, the hand knotted shaggy rugs in our collection were woven by nomads wandering the plains and mountains of Central Asia, present day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey.