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Kilim All May 10, 2006

Posted by KG in FS Life, Islamabad, Pakistan, Photos, Shopping.

To bring things back to a more positive note, I thought I'd share my latest and greatest purchases here in the IRP. My usual channels for spending money (or, more affectionately, "Jinnahs") are largely unavailable here, and quality antiquities, handmade crafts, and various textiles are far easier to obtain than Oregonian microbrews. The end result? Lots of good decorations for what will one day be a cluttered, schizophrenic home, and a smaller gut (inshallah).

Uzbek KilimOne of my rug-selling friends knows that I'm headed to Uzbek-land eventually, and thought it prudent to tell me he had obtained an Uzbek tribal kilim, an item I haven't seen much of here. Now it graces my entryway, where I see it and often think "I could probably have bought this cheaper two years from now." Still, its unique and I've not seen many other people with them, and that alone makes it a good purchase.

Lonely ChobiThe same dealer sold me this "chobi," a smaller rug that has yet to find its final resting place here. The dealer that sold it to me is a booster of locally made rugs, and this comes from his family's own production line. The cool thing about this rug is that there are no dyes in it. Instead, its all made of different colors of wool (presumably from different sheep, though maybe there's some sort of psychedelic multicolored sheep out here), and these colors will never run.

Old SaddlebagsRug in my Foyer

I've got two pieces I think are nomadic Baloch in origin: a pair of stuffed saddlebags (or probably more exactly, camelbags) and a rug that may or may not hail from Afghanistan. To tell the truth, I'm not sure of the origins of the one on the bottom, as it was a total on-a-whim purchase. Its in my house where a runner should be, since I haven't gotten around to buying one. I haven't found any runners that really catch my eye. Surprising, considering that most everything I've seen has caught my eye here.Prayer Rug

I couldn't resist this prayer rug, which is also Baloch. The pattern is meant to mimic the traditional Muslim prayer posture, and in deference to that, this rug has to be somewhere where I can have the head and hands westward, towards the Kaaba. Most Baloch prayer rugs seem to only have a central line of symmetry, but this is the only one I've seen to actually have the shadow of the body as its pattern. Oddly enough, my definitely Moslem housekeeper doesn't seem to get this fact, and whenever he vacuums he gets the placement of the rug wrong.

Ganesh, Teapot, FlaskFinally, a few things that are not meant for (as the good lady pointed out) my still very empty floors. In the back left, a British flask from the WWII era and an Egyptian teapot that from the style and workmanship is at least 50 if not 100 years old. No, neither will be used, but they are nice little additions to my tchotchke collection. In the foreground is my good friend Sri Ganesha, who has been traveling with me since my last trip to the Mother Country. He's sitting on an antique Kashmiri shawl, a piece I still regret showing my friends. Authentic ones are fairly tough to find here and now everyone knows where to get them.

Not pictured here is the rosewood chest I'm having custom made. Its on its way down from Peshawar and should be arriving any day now, secret drawers and all. There's still more furniture to buy, as well as more suits and shirts from my local guy — all with only 10 months left. Sigh. Whenever will I find the time?

Free advice for those who like that sort of thing (free advice, that is): cheap local crap is easy to find, but avoid it. You are far better off with a few beautiful things than a gaggle of cheap knick knacks. The exception is anything that can be classified as disco-esque. More on that to come (ooh, foreshadowing!).


1. serena - May 11, 2006

cool stories, strong opinions, sassy talk, and that cultural and aesthetic sophistication–you haven’t changed a bit! just wanted to say hi and i’m happy you’re well. keep safe!

2. Melissa - May 11, 2006

Dang! I didn’t think anyone except family and a few college friends were reading my blog. Gah. So now you know my secret: I like blogs! I’m hopelessly behind the trend, since I only discovered blogs recently, and only started one for Benny and myself in order to hop on the cool-blog bandwagon (yours included, by the way). Oh well, it’s out. And thanks for posting a comment 🙂 p.s. love the rugs! Also, Kingston? Not nearly as exciting as Islamabad, I can assure you. 152 interviews today (for me alone). We should run out of Jamaicans soon, don’t you think?

3. Nina - May 12, 2006

Shaka. beautiful carpets…shawls, and teapot, flask, stuff. You and I should be credited for significantly contributing to Pakistan’s GDP. Transformational diplomacy through consumption. Sweet.

4. Sarah in DC - June 15, 2006

I was looking around for other sites on kilims and found your blog– funny to discover that you’re also from around here, and also a traveller! I’m an ex-expatriot for the moment, but hope to escape again in the next couple of years.

I’ve been interested in traditional rugs for many years, but since discovering a couple of non-profit projects– one in Turkey and one in Afghanistan, the center of that interest has shifted away from the Americas and more toward the Middle East and Central Asia.

Thanks for an interesting blog! I’ve bookmarked it and put it in my ‘international’ file for inspiration!

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