The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Baluchi, 19th century AD
Storage on the move
The Baluchi are a nomadic people, and consequently their belongings are largely portable. They weave different kinds of bags for various uses, including the storage of salt, spoons, dried fruit and valuable items. The purpose of different bags often dictates their shape. This bag was used to store salt. It is made of wool in the shape of a small bottle, with patterns in white, green and orange. The tassels in green, red and black are decorated with multi-coloured cotton bindings, bone and shell ornaments. Bags for salt and other valuables are often decorated with tassels and pendants of cowrie shells (from the Arabian Sea) and beads made of glass, clay or bone. To make these additional decorations requires great skill and some individuals have acquired the reputation of experts.
The Baluchi are famous for their rugs but weave many other objects for their own use, including saddle-bags used for general storage. These are made in pairs to spread the weight over the back of a pack animal while on the move, but are also used as cushions once the tent has been put up. As the Baluchi become more sedentary, some types of saddle-bags are now rare, while smaller bags continue to be made.
J.W. Boucher, Baluchi woven treasures (Laurence King Publishing, 1989)