R.D. Parsons’ Rugs


For all who are interested in carpets from Afghanistan, Volume 3 of the Antique Collectors’ Club Oriental Rugs series by R. D. Parsons is a must [1]. Parsons not only displays more than 150 color plates with beautiful examples but also provides the fascinated reader with most valuable information about the manufacture of carpets and the people of Afghanistan before and during the 10 years of war with the Soviet Union. Almost twenty years of the brutal regime of the Taliban and the war after 9/11 has, of course, devastated the country and the people further.

R. D. Parsons had published the third edition of his book in 1990. It has tremendously helped me in studying my own pieces over the years [2]. Many color plates had been added since previous editions and respective numbers have got letters, a, b, c. In the Acknowledgements section Parsons thanks Shir Khosrow Paiwand “whose superb collection of old Beluch rugs he so generously placed at my disposal.” These additional carpets have apparently been provided by Mr. Paiwand. Dinie Gootjes now reports on Turkotek that Mr. Paiwand and his younger brother have, as so many Afghans, moved in the meantime to Canada where they maintained their carpet business in Ontario. On December 5, 2009, they opened their new carpet shop in Mississauga in the Greater Toronto Area where they displayed a dozen of the rugs illustrated in Parsons’ book. According to Dinie Gootjes, the pieces have not been shown to the public since the 1980s.


In contrast to claims by Ms. Gootjes, the pictures in Parsons’ book [3] are of higher quality than those she took in Mr. Paiwand’s location. Nevertheless, some of her close-ups are marvelous and reveal the beauty of the pieces.


[1] A valuable source for the study of Iranian Baluchi carpets is, of course, S. Azadi’s Carpets in the Baluch Tradition, Klinkhardt & Biermann, München 1986.

[2] When living in Kuwait, my western friends and I loved to visit Hussein and Ali’s two-storey rug shop downtown, opposite Mubarakia Souk. Especially Hussein, a young lad from Afghanistan, a Shi’te, as he told us, was an eloquent and talented teacher who almost gave lectures on his main topic, tribal carpets from Afghanistan. He liked to distribute a copy of the map of Afghanistan which was divided into a northern and a southern half. Rugs and carpets from the northern part were called Turkoman, as he explained, while those from the south were Baluchis. He didn’t want to bother us further but rather elaborated his stories about young girls weaving beautiful carpets for their dowry. You may find similar stories in Parsons’ book about the beautiful works of art made by girls and women (p. 37):

“When a girl approached marriageable age – usually in her early teens – she and other women in her family would start to weave carpets, bags and other pieces for her dowry. If a would-be suitor was not considered acceptable, the girl’s father would answer that the dowry pieces were not yet completed. This tactful answer saved any loss of face. On the other hand, if the match was considered suitable, a tacit agreement was reached and the weaving of the pieces accelerated!”



[3] According to color plate 96a in R.D. Parsons’ book, the first rug is an “old TAIMANI rug from the Ghor region region of west central Afghanistan. This harmonious piece, dating from circa 1935, has a classical weaving structure and the colours that are found in the older Charchaghan kilims, i.e., madder, a soft olive green, indigo, gold and undyed brown wool. The upper kilim measures 18cm, the lower 14cm. (161 x 111 cm).”

The second is featured in color plate 95a. “An old FARAH carpet made in two pieces. Although depicting the owzi design which is associated with the Adraskhan production, the back of this carpet has a much rougher feel than comparable Adraskhan pieces, denoting the use of somewhat overspun yarn, a  characteristic  of the Farah production, which also gives the back a different appearance. A peculiar feature of this piece is its shape, which is almost square. The kilims are wide, the upper measuring 33cm and the lower 31 cm.” (Late 19th century; 215 x 191cm).”

The third piece can be seen in color plate 7a: “A striking example of a finely woven old TAGHAN JUWAL. One of a pair and now backless, this dowry piece is noteworthy for having pale green silk in the secondary guls and for the inclusion of kermes (cochineal) in the center of the primary gul. The light indigo of duck-egg blue colour of the double ram horn motif in the border suggests that this juwal was woven in Taghan-Labijar. (Circa 1920; 152 x 97 cm).”

Last update January 30, 2009

This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Art and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to R.D. Parsons’ Rugs

  1. Pingback: R.D. Parsons' Rugs « Freelance | rug repairs, rug cleaning

  2. Simon Cook says:

    Great pics of some very lovely rugs. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s