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This finely woven prayer rug depicts the typical tree-of-life motif on a camel hair ground. Five stylized flowers are strategically placed, one on the top of the tree, two at each side of the arch and two at the bottom of the field. Numerous eight-pointed stars fill the voids of the field. The intricately woven kilim ends are also indicative of a master weaver's work.
Baluchi people number about 1.4 million, and most reside in Iran and Pakistan, and some live in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The majority of the Baluchis still remain nomadic or semi-nomadic; however, in the northeastern part of Iran, they have long been settled and live in villages.
Only small portions of the Baluchi people weave rugs. The most distinctive feature of a Baluchi rug is its colors. Rich and brilliant dark shades of blue, red, brown and black highlighted with small amounts of ivory, and fine workmanship, set these rugs apart from other tribal weavings.
Women and girls weave most of the rugs using lustrous wool to create the pile. Flat woven (kilim) bands at each end are also distinct features of these rugs. The Baluchis use a variety of designs; the tree-of-life motif, peacocks and other types of bird designs and the eight-pointed star in octagon, are prominent Baluchi motif that appear frequently on their rugs.
The Baluchi weavings represent an artistic tradition perfected over hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. However, the social, political and economic changes of the 20th century have resulted in the loss of many of these centuries-old traditions.
In 1996, the IMA received the fine collection of Baluchi weavings amassed over a period of forty years by the late Colonel Jeff W. Boucher of Alexandria, Virginia. He collected rare Baluchi rugs "... in the hope that they will bring pleasure and inspiration to others interested in those tribal weavings of the past which will soon be available for study only in museums and a few specialized collections."