Handmade rugs made almost exclusively from handspun wool and often on a wool base, warp and weft, as well. These rugs are almost all made by settled tribes now, whereas most of them used to be mobile bands of subtribes allied to a larger confederations living off the land with their flocks of sheep and goats and using camels, horses, yaks etc. for transportation.
The rugs would be woven on horizontal looms pegged out outside the tents and would be made for internal decoration of the walls and floor- providing comfort, insulation, colour and imagery. Rugs would also be woven to trade for those staples and luxuries they could not garner from their animals or the land they passed through; items such as clothes, tea, salt, tobacco and sugar as well as the guns, bullets and knives with which to protect themselves (and raid others!) and kill for the pot. The best examples of tribal rugs used to be the rugs woven by a girl as part of her dowry which would encapsulate all the skill of her weaving which started at her mother’s knee.
The border and medallion designs are distinctive to each tribe but the beauty of tribal rugs lies in the fact the infilling motifs are from the weaver’s imagination and will be stylized flowers, animals and symbols. The materials used to be wholly from their flocks, as well as goat, camel and yak hair, and was always hand spun and full of sheen and life from the natural oils. The dyes were extracted from minerals, plants, trees and vegetables and so were wholly natural. Now the people are settled, but often preferring to live in tents in their courtyards or compounds, the old qualities have been discarded and very little of this still applies. The best ones are still excellent and beautiful but the market is submerged in second and third rate goods so great care must be taken when purchasing.