A Brief History of Bokhara Rugs
Bokhara is a term widely used in the West to refer to carpets and rugs made by various Turkmen tribes of Central Asia. Their history dates back centuries. The Turkomans were situated to the north of what is now called Afghanistan. During the early 1900s, the name of Bukhara, a city in Uzbekistan, was given to these rugs. In fact, few Turkmen live in or around Bukhara, which has a population made up principally of Tajiks and Uzbeks. The Turkomans were an industrious people who would barter their trade for food, clothing, etc. As a result, their weavings would invariably show up in bazaars (a type of market) in cities such as Bukhara, hence the name. The city did serve as a transit point for some Turkmen rugs on their way to the West.
Bokharas are considered among the finest carpets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, distinguished by their extra fine knots and soft, silky touch. They are also popular worldwide due to their suitability to almost any space. Their octagonal guls are sometimes referred to by industry experts as the 'elephant's foot,' in reference to the elephants that would traditionally transport Mughal Empire royalty on their journeys. Other industry experts claim that it represents jewels resembling those that adorned the palace walls and crowns of Mughal royalty.
Today, such rugs are mainly produced in Pakistan and Iran. In Pakistan, they are mainly produced in a region around the city of Lahore. To view more Bokhara rugs, please visit our Bokhara Collection page.
Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.