In my continual quest to find beautiful and unusual oriental rugs, I very occasionally came across a type of cotton double-sided kilim with striking and simple designs that I loved, but whose origin completely mystified me. Most peculiarly these flatweaves were made to be completely reversible, with the inverse colours on the flipside. So a white kilim with red motifs would, when turned over, be a red kilim with white motifs.
I loved the simplicity of the designs, and I thought the fact that you could turn them over would give them an added interest amongst my clients. I was right, and the very few that I managed to find sold almost immediately…
Initially, I think because of the fact that these kilims were made of cotton, and often contained a cochineal red, I described them as ‘Indian, probably Agra’ and a couple of other dealers who I showed them too thought that was as good a guess as any. However, I was not convinced. Structurally they were very different from the mainstay of Indian flat-woven rugs, the well-known dhurry.
It was only when my former restorer, Naghi Bakshi (who moved back to Iran several years ago) came to see me in Kent, that the mystery was solved. He knew exactly what these flatweaves were and had seen them from time to time on his trips around the bazaars of central Iran. Made in the city of Yazd, one of the hottest places in Persia, they were used as summer carpets, often placed on top of woolen carpets, during the warmest months of the year. Their cotton construction made them cool underfoot and as a result they offered some comfort from the unrelenting heat of July and August. He promised, on his return to Iran, to find me some.
After an exhaustive search, and after following many blind alleys, Naghi managed to find me three. One of these, in particular, was outstandingly beautiful with a design of stars on a simple, abrashed ground; off-white on one side, and variegated grey on the other. Naghi and I both felt that this rug was a one off; neither of us had seen anything like it.
These three rugs proved an instant hit at The Battersea Decorative Antiques Fair, selling within minutes of the fair opening. The grey one, in particular, caused quite a stir and several interior designers gave me their details in the hope that I could find another.
‘Help, Naghi, help!, the call went out to Iran, and he set off on another search. But this time, no luck. The few that he managed to find were badly damaged; and none were anything like as beautiful as the grey and white piece.
So, the decision was made, to try to get some contemporary rugs made, inspired by this small and elusive group of kilims. This process has proved to be a whole other story … details of which may follow … but we are finally very excited about our new kilims and hope that you like them too!