Behind the actual weavers in every rug weaving country from Morocco in the west to China in the east there is an army of skilled artisans who make the items they need.  Other equally skilled workers make or process the materials such as looms, dyes, wool, silk, cotton and goat hair.  In the major cities designers work on graph paper to out-create each other to draw magnificent intricate designs for both carpets and ceramics.

Other artisanal workshops make or repair furniture, ceramics, leather work and utensils and tools for houses, huts and tents. 

I have been fortunate enough to travel many times in Morocco and Central Asia seeking out rugs.   I also learned from restorers but I could never resist spending time looking for unusual artefacts.

Use one as a unique item in your decor.


RARE BERBER ARTIFACT - Berbers of the High Atlas love wild honey - the problem is finding the colony, stealing their honey and getting away before being attacked by a swarm of very angry bees. This primitive, hand made, unfired bowl is the answer. It is held in the left hand and a very smokey fire of green grasses lit inside the bowl. It is then plunged into the nest and the acrid pungent smoke drives the bees away just long enough for the honey to be stolen. Then it is time for a very quick getaway. Reference 3418. Length 21 cms., or 8 inches. Euros 75.

ANTIQUE WOODEN PRINTING BLOCKS FROM NORTH WEST INDIA. The combination of the hardest wood, the sharpest fine tools and the skill of the carpenter all play a part in the creation of one of India`s oldest weaving tools -- the printing block. Each can be used for decades to create the beautiful curvilinear designs in many colours which make up fabrics for all uses in Indian society. Use them as very efficient stylish paper weights, or simple decorative items with an evocative past. References (Left to Right) 3454. 3452 and 3453. Each euros 18.

A COLLECTION OF CARPET WEAVING TOOLS, old and antique and all used in the preparation of wool and other material prior to actual weaving. They are from Turkey, Persia and Morocco. Reference 3418. Euros 125 for all.

COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE CARPET WEAVING tools from 6 countries. They are from Persia, Turkey, Morocco, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Spain. Reference 3419. Euros 140.

ANTIQUE MOROCCAN SHOES hand made by a skilled shoemaker circa 1890/1910 probably in the city of Fes. Fes was the centre of artisanal work (and still is today). The soft, supple camel leather tops are embroidered in silk and the soles are also made with camel leather. Reference 2578. Length 25 cms., or 10 inches. Euros 175.

CLOSE UP of the camel leather soles.

ANTIQUE OTTOMAN EMPIRE EMBROIDERY. The Ottoman empire with its hub in Constantinople finally crumbled in 1920 after a 500 year monopoly over vast areas of South East Europe, the Near East, parts of North Africa and Turkey itself. Sadly, it caused the demise of the beautiul array of silk embroidered textiles which the empire was famous. They survive, but in diminishing numbers, and are keenly sought after today. This decorative towel is from the Greek Islands, probably Crete, and dates from the late 19th century. Reference 8007, Size 52 x 39 cms., or 20 x 23 inches. Euros 120.

CLOSE UP of displays of hyacinths and carnations, two of the flowers used frequently in Ottoman designs.

ANTIQUE OTTOMAN EMBROIDERIES. When joined together with one end left open these two panels formed a tube which was probably used to store and convey important documents. They are extremely fine with a delicate linen foundation on which graceful floral forms have been embroidered in silk. Such pieces can have great age because of their comparatively little use. Reference 3366, Size 56 x 12 cms each, or 22 x 5 inches. Euros 120 complete

CLOSE UP of the delicate floral design.

OLD MOROCCAN WORRY BEADS, found in Essaouria on the west coast of Morocco. The beads are hand made and taken from a large sea shell. They have been polished smooth after decades of gentle use. Reference 3505. Length is 38 cms., or 15 inches long. Euros 35.

OLD ANATOLIAN WORRY BEADS, each one has three sides and each side shows a depiction of the evil eye. The superstitious reason for this is that they deflect and penetration of an evil eye aimed at the owner and therefore ensure his safety. Each bead is a slightly different shape and design which indicates early work made by hand. Reference 3506. Length 46 cms., or 18 inches. Euros 48.

ANTIQUE OTTOMAN EMPIRE EMBROIDERY. This is a long sash which has silk embroidered panels at each end. Traditionally these sashes were worn around the waist and covered the layers of clothing underneath. Men favoured designs featuring Bosphoros scenes with boats and buildings while women preferred portrayals of fruits, flowers, garden scenes and delicate pottery. Reference 8045. Size 76 x 38 cms., or 30 x 15 inches. Euros 120.

CLOSE UP shows the hanging bunches of grapes in the vines and hyacinths flowering below.

THE DAY STARTS EARLY. This is the Sukharb 6 refugee camp just a few kilometres from the Pakistan border with Afghanistan. The huge rounds of bread cost 6 centimos each and are cooked on a flat stone in an oven which is just a hole in the ground. The kilim which is the table cloth was my bed cover last night. Nothing is private and the number of guests is only limited by the size of the room.

THIS IS A "CHAIKHANA" or tea room. The larger ones have a communal eating room and several sleeping rooms where the bedding consists of woven bags as pillows and rugs for sleeping on and under. It serves as a road side inn or hostal.

CARPET WEAVER`S BEATING COMB. Berber work from the High Atlas. The metal bridge between hard wood handle and metal teeth is decorated with hand drawn Berber motifs. They are so strong that they last for years and can spend their life with one owner. Reference 3574. Euros 85.

ANTIQUE INDIAN ELEPHANT hand crafted in the north west state of Rajasthan. The model is brass upon which copper and various semi precious items have been added. The Elephant is clearly dressed in his ceremonial coat and trappings and dates the period 1890 to 1920. Reference 3592. Size 24 x 32 cms., or 9 x 13 inches. Euros 110.

HIGH SECURITY - BERBER STYLE. In this village in the foothills of the High Atlas we were told that the owner of this small holding always has a few rugs. He had. For once a rumour was true. He kept them in a mud walled room the door of which was held in place by wire. He then produced this key WHICH, UNBELIEVABLY, WORKED. The handle is decorated in superstitious motifs and collectively they have scared evil people away, so he told us. I bought two rugs and the key. Euros 25.

RARE BERBER ARTIFACT - This is security, High Atlas Mountain style. A primitive hard wood handle and pieces of a metal rod cut to size form a key which I found near Ouazazate. It was still in the lock of a long derelict hut used to store animal fodder. Reference 2589. Euros 25.

ANTIQUE CERAMIC TILES FROM KUTAHYA IN WESTERN ANATOLIA. This small panel of 4 tiles is part of a large cache of others from the same workshop we discovered in a derelict warehouse in Malaga where they had been left for 45 years. Please see the page for El Baul antiques on this site for the full story. They are loose laid which makes them easier to ship. Reference 3507. Size 43 x 34 cms., or 17 x 15 inches. Euros 75.

ANTIQUE INDIAN HORSE STATUE, skillfully hand made from brass and copper. The horse is cloaked in his jewelry adorned saddle cover. The whole ststue is very graceful. It dates from the period around 1900 and was made in Rajasthan in north west India. Reference 3593. Size 27 x 28 cms., or 11 x 12 inches. Euros 115.

ORIENTAL RUG REVIEW - 28 COPIES - of this great monthly magazine from the late 1980s to the 1990s. Sadly it is no longer published and is missed by rug enthusiasts world wide. Please ask for edition numbers and postage rates. Euros 5 a copy.

ANTIQUE SILVER ROSE WATER SPRINKLER from the Ottoman period of about 1850 in Constantinople. These delicate silver vessels were filled with rose petal scented water which was poured on the hands of guests by a maid servant prior to meals. The silver grade is 925/1000 which was the grade used in the city at this time. It is displayed here on a selection of hand woven Ottoman silk embroidered towels. The bowl stores the water which sprinkles over the hands when poured. It is a delicate and finely made piece and now very rare. Reference 3479. Height 20 cms., or 8 inches. Euros 685.

The traditional welcome carries on today.

SOVIET MILITARY CHAPKA, which I found in the morning market in Quetta, a town in the North West of Pakistan a couple of kilometres from the Afghan border in 1983. The Mujahadeen carried out retribution on the Soviet invaders nightly and brought their loot to the Quetta market most mornings. You could buy anything from a tank to a trinket. Reference 3400. Euros 48.

CHINESE ABACUS. Reference 3579. The city of Guangzhou in southern China used to be called Canton and dates from around 400BC. It is now one of the largest seaports in China. I watched the hotel receptionist do all her calculations on her abacus. We had a competition and wrote about 10 twenty digit equations involving the four possibilities of adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying to see which was the fastest solver -- her abacus or my calculater. We played for three mornings. She won everytime. Before I left I bought this model and a 50 page english language instruction book on "Bead Arithmatic". Give it a try - if it does not work you still have a fascinating decoration. Euros 55 (book included).

SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR USING YOUR ANTIQUE INDONESIAN TEA WOOD BENCH: They range from using just one old rug, kilim or textile as a "throw" over the back to submerging it in luxury with cushions, pillows and smaller pieces.

ANTIQUE TEA WOOD BENCH. The tea bushes of north east India and Indonesia are severely pruned after 30 years of providing leaves from the tips of their branches, but are pulled out and replaced every 90 years. The mature wood is then used in the making of chairs, benches, bed frames and tables. They make fascinating stand alone items in a hall or covered terrace. Find your own corner. Reference 3594. Size 114 x 95 x 43 cms., or 3ft. 9ins. x 3ft. x 1ft. 6ins. Euros 385.

VERY OLD HAND MADE WOODEN ANDALUCIAN DOOR which still has its original closing sliding bolt handle. The design is largely made up of wooden squares fitted into a wooden frame. It is traditional, and still copied, in the Ronda region of the Sierras above the coast in my adopted Andalucian home town. Add two wooden trestles (euros 12 each locally) and make an innovative table for a covered patio, or inside as a table or top for displaying treasures. Size is 173 x 73 cms., or 78 x 29 inches. Euros 70.


LARGE TERRACOTTA UNGLAZED WATER POT. Reference 3578. Much of the deep south of Spain and its neighbour, just 13 miles away, northern Morocco, share things -- climate, agriculture, fishing, architecture, artizanal skills and both unglazed and glazed pottery for examples. The Andalucian inland province of Jaen has been described as one giant olive plantation but there are two towns which specialize in unfired and glazed pottery. This pot is hand formed on a wheel. It makes a great decorative item and looks even bettter when it contains a large dry display. Size is 92 cms. or 36 inches high, with a diameter of 33 cms. or 13 inches wide. Euros 85.

TALL AND ELEGANT. It looks wonderful under spotlights.


POTTERY STUDIO - MOROCCAN STYLE. The road side is his shop and showroom combined. This one is on the road east of the city of Tanger on the way to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.