Persian Bakshaish Rug, ca. 1885

Value (2009) | $8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

We had several rugs in my house when I was growing up. This is one of them. The rugs originally came from my paternal grandparents. They were in the house from about 1911 on, when they moved in that house that I grew up in. I think it's about 100 years or more old. I don't know much more beyond the fact that it's about trees, and I think it comes from Asia.

Okay, it's actually a Bakshaish carpet from northwest Persia, which is present-day Iran. It's probably about 110 to 120 years old. And the Bakshaish rugs were woven in very small villages by semi-nomadic tribal people. And they always wove these very geometric, very bold, what we normally would call a tribal rug. It's really more a geometric rug than an urban workshop carpet that you often think of as the oriental carpet, of something with a lot of very realistic flowers. Whereas here you have very abstract flowers. As you were saying, the tree motif, which many people would call a tree of life, but it's really just the weavers looking at their environment, which was the countryside of Iran. So they were copying that in this very abstracted, stylized manner. I was told, at one point, the little trees-- this one, I think I was told represented a weeping willow.

Right. And these over here are the cypress-- is that right?

Exactly. The cypress are the pink hue ones, and then also these red ones.

Oh, okay.

Any vacant area of field that wasn't covered with a tree design was covered with these little stylized human figures, horses, jewelry and things like that. And it's really the thing that gives Bakshaish rugs, and other village rugs, their charm. It's what's made them so desired by collectors today.

Is this camel hair?

It's dyed to look like camel hair, but it's not camel hair itself; it's actually just sheep's wool. This is vegetable dye, though. It is all vegetable dye from this period. You said it was coming from a house that was put together in 1911.


Were there other rugs in the house?

Many-- over 30.

At that time, when this rug would have been put in that house, it really would have been considered a secondary or a tertiary rug. It wouldn't have been one of the rugs they thought were very good or very expensive.


And then as markets have shifted, these sort of tribal or village rugs have become much more popular and are really sought after by rug collectors today. If this was to come up at auction in today's environment, which unfortunately is hurting a little bit, I would expect it to bring somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000. Whereas, a year ago, year and a half ago, it would have brought closer to the $10,000 to $15,000, maybe even $18,000 range.

Appraisal Details

Beauvais Carpets
New York, NY
Appraised value (2009)
$8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)

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