5.0 Tribal


A country with an ancient history of rug production and the homeland of many immigrants to Canada since the 1970s, Afghanistan has been the main source for Canadian collectors of Turkmen, Uzbek, Kirghiz, Kazakh and Baluch rugs – generally called tribal rugs. Although the nomadic people of Central Asia were settled during the radical economic and social reforms of the twentieth century, in Afghanistan some of them held to their nomadic traditions and continue to produce traditional rugs and textiles.

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Interview with Max Allen

Collector and Textile Museum of Canada co-founder.

“The first war rug that I saw, in person in Toronto in a dealers store, and I was astounded by it, imagine a rug with weapons in it?”


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War rug; Afghanistan, 1980s; Wool

Gift of Max Allen, TMC T02.13.15

The images of weapons on these war rugs from Afghanistan reflect the country’s turbulent history in the late twentieth century and document the dramatic transformation of the ancient tradition of rug weaving at the time of the Soviet invasion (1979–89) and the American invasion that started in 2001. The donation of this significant collection reflects Max Allen’s passion for textiles as documents of social history and political events.

Click here for a written transcript of the Max Allen interviews


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Interview with Terry King

Toronto rug collector and member of the Friends of Oriental Rugs.

“The thing about Oriental rugs that has really been an attraction for me is the sort of mysterious background pieces being created and utilized by nomadic tribes.”


Click here for a written transcript of this Terry King interview

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Bag; The Taimuri of Iran, 19th century; Wool

From the collection of Terry King, Toronto, Ontario

Lustrous wool and a dramatic juxtaposition of scarce white motifs on the red and blue ground make these bags typical examples of the Taimuri, a small tribe of Turko-Mongol origin within the large Baluch group. Taimuri rugs feature geometric designs typical of the Baluch group but with a distinctive palette – a deep red and blue in several shades, and a striking white in smaller details.


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Interview with Shir Paiwand

Rug collector and dealer based in Oakville.

“By that time also the road, the border opened between central Asia and the other worlds, so people could go inside and bring these pieces.”


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Horse cover; The Yomud Turkmen of Central Asia, late 19th century; Wool

From the collection of Shir Paiwand, Herat Carpets, Oakville, Ontario

Among the Turkmen, horses always received more care and attention than other animals – felted and woven blankets kept them warm, and on special occasions they were decked out in especially fine woven covers fixed on the chest with a silver fibula. This cover shows a high level of workmanship both in the dense and even weaving and in the palette featuring three shades of red, two shades of blue, brown and white.

Click here for a written transcript of the Shir Paiwand interview 


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Interview with Peter Haley 

President of the Calgary Rug and Textile Club.

“Because of my background as an architect….the appeal of the geometry, the rigor, the structure, and the connection to the cultural background is perhaps what underlies my personal interest.”


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Rug; The Ersari Turkmen of Central Asia, 19th century; Wool

From the collection of Peter and Eryka Haley, Calgary, Alberta

This classical Ersari main carpet has a typical coarse structure and features three rows of large octagonal well-proportioned göls. The size and configuration of the göls, as well as the narrow border, speak to the comparatively early date of its production, as do the colours. The wine red with two shades of blue and greenish-blue and the small details in yellow suggest a date before the 1870s, when commercial production started in the Amu Darya River area where the Ersari Turkmen migrated and were partly settled in the late nineteenth century.

Click here for written transcripts of the Peter Haley interviews 


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Interview with David Anderson 

Supporter of the Textile Museum of Canada, donor to the TMC’s collection, and member of the Museum Acquisitions Committee.

“I grew up with a thousand National Geographic’s in my bedroom, and my joy was to get up and look at them every day, and look at all the exotic places in the world.”


Click here for written transcript of David Anderson Interview