The finest antique Camelhair rugs are rare collector-caliber Oriental carpets. They are the highly original creations of mostly tribal and village weavers in mountain areas of Northwest Persia, such as Bijar, Malayer, Serab and the deeply treasured Bakshaish Camelhairs. Many undyed camel hair rugs were woven by Kurdish tribes people. “Runners and keleges made in the village of Sarab and the surrounding area are highly prized by collectors…. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Western tastes favored strong, deep colors, quite alien to the weavers of Sarab, who were partial to a soft palette, with camel as the primary color. As a result, only a handful of these …. pieces appear on the Western market.” (Middleton, Michael, Rugs & Carpets: Techniques, Traditions & Designs. Mitchell Beazley, London, 1996, p. 81).
Today, 19th century undyed camelhair rugs of the highest caliber use either a series of diamond medallions on a latticework field or eccentric, sparsely ornamented geometric motifs. The best Camel hair rugs are extremely rare and widely sought after. Most pieces are runners and keleges (i.e.: wide runners) from 9ft to 16ft long. Room size and even oversize Camelhair carpets are very occasionally seen.
Camelhair yarn produced particularly luminous, gentle earth tones and was frequently spun from camels belonging to the village and tribal weavers. Gradations of color, generate an unexpectedly variety of earth toned colors, ranging from walnut to blonde to wheat to chocolate brown. The intentional use of varying color hues, called abrash, significantly enhances the beauty and originality of antique camelhair rugs. Antique Camel hair carpets are exceptionally durable, their wool resilient like top quality sheep’s wool.
Although most camelhair rugs were woven in the small villages and tribal encampments of Persian Kurdistan and Azerbaijan, other locales that also seldomly produced rugs using undyed camel hair and undyed sheep’s wool include the Persian town of Senneh, the Afshar tribe of Southeast Persia and locales such as Kuba and Daghestan in the Caucasus Mountains. Antique Camelhair rugs that were woven in the vast wilderness between Heriz to the north and Bijar to the south are referred to simply as “Northwest Persian” rugs, as their provenance cannot be further narrowed down.