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 Warp Loops

The simplest warp-end finish for a rug consists of warp loops-- the uncut warps that encircled a bar lashed to the lower (or front) loom beam.  After the weaving is taken from the loom, this thin bar is merely slipped out. The tightly plied warp yarn loops usually re-ply, twisting together automatically in the direction opposite their ply.

Warp loops appear ONLY at the LOWER END of a weaving, because at the upper end (back end on a ground loom), extra warp length is needed to accommodate the heddles and shed stick, as well as space for opening a shed. Thus at the upper end, the warp yarns are cut, and another kind of finish is required.  To discover the presence of warps loops, it is necessary to look very carefully:  the warps may have frayed so that only a few actual loops remain, and when twisted they may not be obvious.

Occasionally we find quite long warp loops on a rug-- perhaps as long as 3 or 4 inches.   We can then assume that the warp was wound directly on the loom itself, and that each warp yarn encircled both of the large, sturdy loom beams.  Short warp loops are a sign that the warp was prepared separately and then transferred to the loom--small bars lashed to the large beams, as in the first drawing.

Several alternative ways of warping a loom result in cut warps at the lower end as well as the top.  If warp ends are tied onto a bar at the front beam of a roller-beam loom, those yarn ends become the fringe.  If the weaver works on the front set of yarns on a continuous, circular warp, and pulls the rug gradually around the loom and up the back, the warp yarns must of course be cut. This is the way many large workshop looms are set up, but so are some tribal looms.   

Since warp loops are so common on Middle Eastern rugs, we will include only unusual examples in this section of our data base after the initial illustrations. The presence of warp loops, however, should be carefully recorded in all analyses, where their correlation with other features can be considered.

Northwest Persian Knotted Rug
4'4"x 10'10" (132 cm x 330 cm)

STRUCTURE:  Symmetrical knots,  H: 6, V: 8, 48 per square inch (H: 24/dm, V: 32/dm, 768 per square dm.) Warp depression ranges from none to moderate.
WARP:  2-ply ivory wool.
WEFT:  Primarily wool singles, but some pairs of singles; brown, pink, tan or gray. 2 picks, crossed between sheds.
PILE:  2 wool singles.
SELVAGES:  4 warps, reinforced in 2 groups (2,2) with variously colored 2-ply wool.   The interlacing occasionally extends one warp pair into the knotted field.

UPPER END FINISH:  Very sturdy 3 cm-wide 2-pick obliquely interlaced band. (See the Oblique Interlacing page for photo.)
LOWER END FINISH:  Short warp loops.

[AA-3224.  Allan Arthur]

The warp loops on this rug are of average length:  about an inch long (2.5 cm).  Each loop has twisted together automatically in the direction opposite the yarn's ply.  Often the artisan starts her weaving with a heavier weft yarn or two; here there is one such light-colored shot.  Frequently a weft-faced plain weave loosens a bit toward the end, exposing the warps. 

Occasionally the warps are not  picked up in order, and so may cross erratically at the beginning of the weave.  Such crossings are merely  weavers' errors, and have no diagnostic significance. 
Western Anatolian Rug.
4'2"x 6'7" (127 cm. x 200 cm.)  Second half, 20th century.

STRUCTURE:  Symmetrical knots, H: 5.5, V: 7, 38 per square inch (H: 22/dm, V: 28/dm, 618 per square dm). Severe warp depression and ribbed back. 
WARP:  3-ply ivory wool.
WEFT:  2 dark brown wool singles; 2 shots.
PILE:  2 thick wool singles; height: 1 cm.
SELVAGES:  1 warp (free floating) and the first pair of integral, knotted warps, are interlaced by red wool singles.

UPPER END FINISH:  Plain weave;  narrow band of oblique interlacing (with heavy groups of 5-6 warps), finished with a thick heavy three-strand braid. (See the Oblique Interlacing page for a photo.)
LOWER END FINISH:  Plain weave; 2/1 soumak; long warp loops.

[DD-104.  Daniel Deschuyteneer]

The long warp loops suggest that this warp was  wound directly on the loom--around the heavy loom beams themselves--and not prepared separately.  A lease cord kept the yarns in order, and remains within the loops.  In this photo you see the back of a row of tan soumak that was used to start the weave.  This is less secure than twining, which is often used to pull the upper and lower parts of the warp together. 
South Persian Moj
6'4"x 8'8" (190 cm. x 259 cm.)

STRUCTURE:  Double-interlocked twill tapestry.
Woven in two vertical panels.
WARP:  2-ply wool, 22 per inch.
WEFT:  2-ply wool.
SELVAGE:  6-7 warps overcast with three blue or red 2-ply wool yarns.
ATTACHMENTS:  Remnants of hanging loops along one side.

TOP END FINISH:  On one panel, overhand knotted fringe; on the other panel, 3-strand braided warp fringe.
LOWER END FINISH:  On one panel, warp loops; on the other panel, a band of obliquely twined warp loops (illustrated below). 

HANDLE:  Heavy and rigid.
[TKG-106. Mehmet KiliÁ, Tribal Kilim Gallery
                  Analysis:  Daniel Deschuyteneer]

Long warp loops have been treated in an unusual way on one panel of this twill cover. Three warp loops have been opened, then worked together, with each group twined sideways to enclose the downward warps. 

The photos show first the slanted starting point, and then the ending point of the band.

A diagram showing warp loops twined obliquely appears as Figure 13.38 of WOVEN STRUCTURES (page 123). Examples showing this technique employed by SW Anatolian  Fethiye area weavers and Tibetan weavers are shown in the book. 
Bedouin Tent Wall Panel. 
Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Syria
2'6" x 11'6" (76 cm. x 345 cm.)
STRUCTURE:  Warp-faced plain weave combined with twined tapestry. (Each weft twist encloses 4 warps.)
WARP:  Heavy 2-ply wool, natural brown and dyed colors, 26 per inch.
WEFT:  Heavy 2-ply wool, 6 per inch.
SELVAGES:  No special treatment.

END FINISHES:  Warp loops, chained in thick groups.
[DD-144.  Daniel Deschuyteneer]

Groups of several warp loops have been combined, then chained across the heavy tent panel's width.  This works much as do series of closure loops on some saddlebags:  one loop is pulled through another, then that one through the next, etc.  Here, however, several warps loops function together as a thick unit.  On the far left, where the finish has come apart, we see a few individual, self-plied warp loops.

In this close-up detail, about four warp loops have been  pulled together through a previous heavy loop. The large needle shows the new combined set of loops. The bunch of warps marked with a red arrow will then be pulled through the loop secured on the needle;  loops sorted out from among this twisted mass will be combined to continue the chain.  
Since the structure in this Bedouin tent panel is so unfamiliar to collectors of Middle Eastern rugs, we have included some close-up details.

Twined tapestry, with countered rows of twining, forms the patterning in the lower part of this photo.  The heavy pairs of twining yarns enclose four of the heavy warps that form the vertically-striped warp-faced weave.  
Simple diamond shapes form crosswise  ornamental bands in the twined tapestry section at the top of this photo.  The warps are so closely spaced and "sticky" when on the loom, that twining around groups of them is much more practical than trying to open conventional tapestry sheds.  A diagram of this structure appears in Figure 4.6 of WOVEN STRUCTURES (page 62). 

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