In some cases, you see a combination of knotting and weaving in the same carpet. These are called Nim-baft carpets. ‘Nim’ means half and ‘baft’ means knotted. There are thus areas of the carpet's surface that are plainly woven, made with kelim or the soumak technique, and knotted areas with a pile. They have a special relief effect and can sometimes be very decorative and artistic.
Most Nimbaft crafted originates from the area around Sirdjan to the south.
Read more about Sirdjan:
In and around the town of Sirdjan, many carpets are being made today using the soumak technique. They are flat-weave carpets that look like fine kelim. However, they are not identical on both sides. They are made with a different weaving technique, which leaves many loose thread ends on the backside of the carpet. I have had the pleasure of visiting the area in connection with the recording of our documentary and information videos. I visited Mr Saleri in the small town of Darestan. He makes many of the so-called Sirdjan-soumak, and he allowed us to film while he showed us how he burns the loose threads on the backside of the carpets and then hand-washes them. His wife had prepared a true banquet for us, and we were given a tour of his property where he dyes yarn for the production of Soumak carpets. Mr Saleri was also nice enough to take us to one of the women who was sitting at a horizontal loom and carrying out the slow process of weaving. Even though her fingers moved so fast the eye could barely follow, progress was painstakingly slow nonetheless. Mr Saleri works exclusively with natural dyes in his production of Sirdjan-soumak. It is easy to wrongly assume that these Sirdjan-soumak are not very strong because they are thinner than knotted carpets. However, they are surprisingly durable and stay beautiful even after many years of everyday use. This is in part because the weave is very firm thanks to the good raw materials. You can find antique carpets on the market that are very beautiful.
Read more about Afshar and Sirdjan:
Afshar Shar-Babak, shahrbabak
If you drive south-east from Yazd towards the town of Kirman, you will arrive at the town of Shar-Babak. The carpets made here are denser than other Afshar carpets, and the dyes are better matched. The patterns often have large, stylised medallions filled with, e.g. Miribota or stylised flower, animal or bird motifs. The knotter may also have knotted his/her name and the year into the carpet or perhaps a line from a verse. The carpets are made on cotton with Senneh knots and with knot densities of 14,000-33,000 knots per ft2. One of their characteristics is that they usually have an edge stitching made of cotton instead of wool, as with most other carpets. These carpets are only rarely seen on the market today, and they are significantly better and more valuable than the other Afhsar carpets. The Afshar area stretched from Kirman in the north-east to just north of Shiraz in the south. The Afshari are of Turkish origin and were forcefully relocated from Azerbaijan by shah Tahmasp (1524.1587) because they were warriors. Today, they live as nomads and as peasants in small villages and they produce many carpets. A lot of them have retained their Turkish traditions. The nomads have kept the Turkish language and knot carpets with Ghiordes knots (Turkish knots). Even though they are nomadic carpets, you can often find them knotted on cotton. This is because the Afshari go to Kirman to sell their carpets and receive cotton as part of the trade.
From time to time, you will hear the name Kirman-Afshar on the market. These are almost always carpets with contrasts, consisting mostly red and blue colours. They typically have stylised medallions and flowers with large patterns on a unicoloured base. The quality varies greatly, so don’t expect this kind of Afshar carpet to last 30 years. However, they are charming carpets at very affordable prices. They are knotted from wool on cotton with Senneh knots (Persian knots) by resident peasants. Dyes are usually synthetic.
Sirdjan-Afshar carpets are also knotted by resident Afshars in and around the town of Sirdjan. Here too they use Senneh knots on a cotton warp, and the dyes are blue, red and cream. The quality in this area varies greatly, and the carpets fall on the cheap end of the scale. The knot density can be as low as 7,000 per ft2. During my apprenticeship in Hamburg, I sold hundreds of these kinds of carpets, in particular to Scandinavian carpet merchants. However, they are no longer available in such large quantities as back then.
You are reading an extract from the book ‘Oriental Carpets, Knottet with Love’ by Martin Munkholm.
This extensive book about all that is carpets can be borrowed in Danish libraries or be bought following this link: http://www.belle-rugs.dk/dk/ekspertise/taeppebog/
The book is published by Muusmann Forlag.
For more info: muusmann-forlag.dk
You can find our selection of Nimbaft carpets underneath.