Understanding Peshawar Rugs
PESH-awar or Pe-SHA-war, or however you want to pronounce it – it could be tomato or tomato, I’m not sure what the correct word is – I always called it Pe-SHA-war. Peshawar is a little town in the Northwest border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was a refugee camp. It was a refugee for the Afghans leaving Afghanistan when the Taliban came and settled in to a safe haven or a camp into a little town called Peshawar in Pakistan. So naturally, like anything, you come to a foreign country, you have no skills, you really don’t speak their language, you have to develop what you know, and what they knew was how to weave. Weaving along the silk road in the silk belt was a very popular thing, and Afghan rugs have been around since the beginning of mankind, so it was natural for them to start weaving rugs.
One of the nice things about that, they were influenced by their old techniques of weaving which is the Turkish knot which is very unique about it, and then also hand spinning wool, veg dyeing wools as well. So you have some very unique things. Hand carding the wool, which means you paddled the wool and made it smooth and straight before you spun it. So they have a lot of, really, what I call the way a rug should be made.
Then they simplified designs, which I thought was unique. They took traditional Persian and Turkish designs and modified them, opened them up, simplified them, put less colors into the rugs the majority of the time, and they came out with a very distinctive rug. They would shear it all the way to the back with different washing and finishing techniques that give it a real worn out or washed out look as well.
It was amazing how this product exploded onto the market. It’s been it the market now for about, let’s say about 25-30 years at this point and it is still as popular today as it was when it first came out. Now the designs and colors have changed of course because trends have changed. The greys and the neutrals, the more washed out, more what we call the whitewashed look, has been very popular.
They use a lot of old Turkish designs so to get a really kind of a nubbiness to the texture sometimes and they weave in all different types of densities of knots You get some really fine, what we call 14-14 weaves which are the number of knots per square inch and they go all the way down to like a 5-5 type of weave. There’s very big, huge differences in the type of qualities that are available in the Peshawar rugs. But very, very popular, great rugs. I absolutely love these rugs and it’s one of the most popular items that we sell today in hand knotted rugs. And I think for good reason. A lot of people try to mock what these things are, but they just have that natural thing that they do that nobody has been able to duplicate.