Tribal Carpets

A Collector’s Viewpoint

By Michelle Lambros

Not long after arriving in Kuwait, I found a small carpet shop in Souq Mubarakiya that sold tribal carpets.  These carpets come from Afghanistan, Turkey, and parts of Iran, mainly.  But the carpet dealers named them by their traditional region of origin such as Turkistan, Kazakstan, Shiraz, Beluchi, Mushwani and so on.  Over time, I began to recognize the regional symbols, motifs and artistry of each, as the dealers have taught me.


For me, the kilims and kilim and carpet mix that are traditional tribal carpets, with their signature geometric patterns and symbolism are what are most attractive to me.  There are many more traditional carpets, mainly from Iran, that are made at village factories that bear more traditional patterns.  But for me, it’s the kilims that stand out.


My passion lies with the patterns that have been passed down over the centuries, representing the tribe and family motifs that have been woven by hand loom and used as blankets, doors for the tents, and of course, floor coverings.  I think that the stories behind the carpets make them also very attractive, and I always look forward to shopping for carpets and hearing about who made them, as well as the significance of the symbolism as well.  Often these tribal carpets are made by women as the traditions that are passed down include weaving for their dowries, for example, and not made for commercial purposes but as family heirlooms.


Although keenly aware that as modern technology and the advance of local economies will make this art form, in its traditional sense, a thing of the past, I am glad to support the local economies and people by investing and promoting their handicraft.  


My appreciation for these carpets is due in large measure to the carpet dealers I purchase from, Mohammed, Hussein and Ali.  Their two shops are located in Souq Mubarikiya.  It is best to phone ahead for directions and store hours.  They can be reached at 6651 3364. 










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