This Red/Geometric Shekarlu design is inspired by a rug from James Opie’s collection that is an especially archaic example of one of southern Iran’s most traditional tribal sources, the Shekarlu tribe. While many designs that are considered “tribal” actually can be traced to urban rug precursors, in this case the designs are entirely “tribal.” Nothing here came from a source outside of this tribe. Formerly part of the widespread native Luri tribes, the Shekarlu joined the Qashqa’i tribal confederacy sometime in the 18th or 19th century. This tribal name is not an active one among south Persian tribal clusters today. The original rug in the James Opie Collection dates to the period from 1850 to 1875.
About James Opie James Opie’s career as a dealer and author in the oriental rug field began with his first trip to Iran in 1970. Driven by a strong interest in Persian architecture as well as Iranian tribal and village rugs, he visited urban, village and nomadic settings, spoke with weavers in remote areas, searched for dyers who still remembered old vegetal-dye formulas, and met scores of experienced rug dealers. From the beginning, indigenous weavings from the nomadic tribes were James Opie’s special interest. This interest matured throughout the 1970’s when the relaxed, pre-revolution atmostpheres of Iran and Afghanistan permitted an unrestricted style of travel to various carpet-making centers. In 1981 his study of south Persian folk-art traditions culminated in the publication of his first book, Tribal Rugs of Southern Persia, documenting the work of five major tribal groups. Numerous articles on a variety of tribal rug themes, including the origin of tribal woven motifs, lead to prolonged work on a second book, Tribal Rugs, published simultaneously in London, England and Portland, Oregon in October of 1992. The book became an immediate best seller in the rug field, with Italian, French and German translations now in print. While making a living in the carpet trade, James Opie continues to lecture and publish. Past presentations include papers delivered to The International Conference of Oriental Carpets in London in 1983, in San Francisco in 1990, in Tehran in 1992, in Hamburg in 1993 and to The American Conference on Oriental Rugs held in Chicago in 1994. During the 1990 San Francisco International Conference on Oriental Carpets James Opie served as Chairman of the Exhibition of Carpets from Pacific Collections, the largest exhibition of its kind ever mounted. He also organized a private exhibition during that conference, under the title, “ Fragments of an Ancient Puzzle,” which explored a network of design-origins themes. An article on linguistic aspects of the “origins puzzle” appeared in February, 1996 issue of The Journal of Indo-European Studies. In 1992, James Opie became the first American since the Islamic revolution to travel to Iran with the approval of both the U. S. Department of State and the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Recent articles and interviews have been translated into Farsi, appearing in both academic publications and popular media in Iran. In 1993 Opie was awarded the Joseph V. McMullan Award from The Near East Art Research Center in Washington, D. C. This annual award is given for “Contributions to Scholarship and Stewardship in Islamic Textiles.” James Opie continues to write and to conduct business in the Oriental rug field in Portland, Oregon. He has two grown children, David and Alexandra. Opie and his wife Catherine reside in Portland.