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Woollen floor rug (sofreh)
Baluchi, Angaria, 19th century
Spreading a cloth before a meal
This type of rug, called a sofreh, comes from Baluchistan in Pakistan. It is red, orange, green, white and black with the patterns in the same colour also appearing on the reverse. Sofreh are rectangular flat woven rugs which are spread on the floor at meal times and serve as table cloths. Finer sofreh are brought out when entertaining guests.
Most weaving is done by the Baluchi women. They do not use sketches when planning patterns for woven items; instead the weaver usually keeps in her mind the pattern she has learned to weave and wishes to recreate. Designs are sometimes copied from old fragments of cloth that have been kept for reference.
The majority of Baluchi continue to lead a nomadic lifestyle, and rugs of various kinds provide essential furnishings for their tents and huts. The Baluchi are Sunni Moslems and today live in Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan and the Baluchistan region of Pakistan. Centuries of migration and of contact with sedentary populations provided outlets for woven products and sources of new dyes and designs.
J.W. Boucher, Baluchi woven treasures (Laurence King Publishing, 1989)
M.G. Konieczny, Textiles of Baluchistan (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)