Baluchi Woven Treasures: Rugs from the Boucher Collection of the IMA, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Columbus

February 23-May 5, 2002

rug, Baluchi people, late 1800s (1996.28)

Baluchi Woven Treasures: The Boucher Collection showcased the late Colonel Jeff W. Boucher’s collection of Baluchi rugs and weavings donated to the Museum by Shirley Boucher, Colonel Boucher's widow in 1996. This collection was later augmented by eleven pieces, making it the largest and most comprehensive in the United States, on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Columbus in 2002.

The weavings are made by the nomadic Baluchi people of Iran and Afghanistan. Baluchi weavings are known for their distinctive designs and colors, and the soft, lustrous wool from which they are woven.

The Boucher Collection weavings represent hundreds, if not thousands, of years of the perfection of the art. Most were created on simple horizontal looms that could easily be dismantled and transported. The nomadic weavers used their own high quality wool and occasionally incorporated cotton and silk, obtained though trade, for special details.

Although the Baluchi people were dispersed over a wide geographical area, their weavings are stylistically cohesive and easily recognizable. In recent times, their weavings have become increasingly popular with collectors as a distinctive art form. Unique combinations of motifs, superb craftsmanship, weaving techniques, and use of colors and materials distinguish fine Baluchi textiles from those of other rug-producing peoples. The weavings that are considered the finest and most characteristic examples were created from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries in northeast Iran and northwest Afghanistan. This is precisely the time period and region to which most of the Boucher Collection works are attributed.

Weaving continues to be an essential skill that has an important social and economic role, but methods and motives are changing. These weavings are no longer created primarily for the Baluchi's own use but are developed for trade purposes. Much of the creativity and uniqueness has been lost to the introduction of new technologies and use of synthetic materials. The Boucher Collection enables museum visitors to view this art form at its peak, before advancing commercialization changed the nature of textiles.

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