Persian rugs are known for their richness and beauty. The characteristics and quality of rugs differ frequently particularly when created in different areas. Persian carpets usually have floral patterns while Turkish carpets are usually coarser and have jagged geometric designs and brighter and wilder colors. Quality Persian carpets use fine highland knotting and feature compact knotting. Some have 500 knots per square inch. Carpet designs vary from region to region and often village to village. Many have floral designs with roaming tendrils and come in wide variety of colors. Other time-honored Persian motifs include bold medallions, spandrels, repeating arabesques, dramatic borders often utilizing repeated Herati patterns of flowers centered within diamonds, with four curled leaves that resemble fish issuing from each diamond.

According to Doris Leslie Blau In Persia, each region, and sub-region, has its own unique design iconography that has been handed down from one generation to the next ensuring that each is distinct and special despite a basic commonality of construction. The type of material used, the method of tying knots and the density of knots per inch, combined with specific design schemes all give a unique cultural fingerprint to each carpet or rug. These distinctions make the search for an antique Persian rug an exciting romp through Persian culture and history. Antique Persian carpets and vintage Persian carpets, among all the antique Oriental rugs available, are notable for their wide variety of styles. An antique Persian rug’s price can vary tremendously depending on the quality of the original craftsmanship (looking at things like the complexity and importance of the design, the material used, the number of knots per inch, the current condition of the rug, etc.). [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

Carpet-making is a big business in Iran. Many of the carpet weavers in Iran are village girls who drop out of school after the fifth or sixth grade and devote their time to making carpets to make money for their families. The carpets typically take several months to make and bring in several hundred of eve several thousand dollars, a considerable sum for a rural family. Describing teenage sisters at work in the oasis town of Khvor, Fen Montaigne wrote in National Geographic, “Sitting erect behind the vertical frame, Tahereh—who has been weaving since she was 11—deftly threaded wool through the string guides and fired off instructions to her sisters.

Book: Bier, Carol, ed. Woven from the Soul, Spun from the Heart: Textile Arts of Safavid and Qajar Iran, 16th–:19th Centuries. Exhibition catalogue.. Washington, D.C.: Textile Museum, 1987.

History of Persian Rugs

Marika Sardar of New York University wrote: “In Iran, the carpet and textile industries formed part of Shah Abbas’ (r. 1587–1629) program for restructuring the economy and attracting European merchants to the country. He transferred silk merchants and weavers to the new capital of Isfahan and signed trade treaties with Spain, England, and France. Of the scores of carpets exported abroad at this time, the "Polonaise" type was the most popular; over 300 of them are in foreign collections, and many bear the coat of arms of the family that commissioned them. Vase and garden carpets were among the other common types. In each of these, vegetal motifs replace the figural ones of the previous century. [Source: Marika Sardar, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, Metropolitan Museum of Art \^/]

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “The Golden Age of Persian carpet weaving occurred during the Safavid dynasty, when Shah Tahmasp (1524-1587) began establishing court factories for carpet production. Prior to this time, the production of rugs in the region was primarily a village craft, defined by use of simple rectilinear patterns. Following the Afghan invasion in 1722, there was a significant decline in Persian carpet production until the late nineteenth century when European demand for Persian rugs contributed to a major revival in the art form. Persian carpet designs can be divided into two main categories - city (formal) rugs, which were made in workshops, are known for their finely-woven and often intricate designs, and village rugs (informal), which are widely varied in their unique blends of city and nomadic motifs and techniques. The most important formal rugs come from Tabriz, Kashan, Kirman, Doroksh, Khorassan, Meshad, Tehran, and Sarouk and the most well-known villages included Malayer, Sarab, Bakhtiar, Bakshaish, Sultanabad, Bibikabad, Senneh, Fereghan, Heriz, Hamadan and Shiraz. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

Traditional antique Persian carpets have remained essentially unchanged for centuries with the earliest classical oriental carpets created for the 16th century Safavid Court. Appropriating design principles from Persian book bindings and miniatures, the existing decorative repertoire consists of central field patterns with endless or centralized repeats using cartouches or floral ornamentation. Famous carpet-making areas include Mashhad, Tabriz, Arak, Isfahan, Kashon and Kermon. The “Chelsea Carpet” is a famous 16th-century Persian carpet now at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It features intricate motifs of lions on the hunt.

Different Kinds of Persian Rugs

Famous carpet-making areas include Mashhad, Tabriz, Arak, Isfahan, Kashan and Kirman. Well-known varieties of Persian rugs — some from the afrementioned towns — include the Khorassan, Meshed, Herat, Shiraz, Korman, Tabriz, Senna, Sarouk, Heraz, Hamadan, Sultananabad and Ispahan. Among some other rug-making towns and regions are Bakhtiar, Bidjar, Bakshaish & Heriz, Fereghan, Bibikabad, Tehran, Qum, Joshegan, Malayer, Sarab, City carpets from Turkey and Iran are known for their formal, dense curved floral patterns. They traditionally have had a higher knot count.

According to Doris Leslie Blau: The designs of these antique Persian Kashan rugs and carpets successfully combine the ubiquitous central medallion with pendant systems, enhanced by corner spandrels and repeating floral compositions. Based upon an underlying grid system, antique Persian carpets are composed of spiral arabesques ornamented with floral and foliate motifs. Western Persian centers such as Malayer and Senneh developed a reputation for complicated repeats of floral boteh while the finest traditional antique rugs of the nineteenth century were woven in the sophisticated city workshops of Kashan, Malayer and Senneh. Kashan became the center of the Persian silk industry its artisans renowned for the silky quality of the wool rugs produced by them. The finest of antique Kashan rugs and carpets are known as Mohtashem, named for the most famous weaver from that city. The marvellous symmetry of such intricate rugs can only be fashioned by experienced artisans carefully following sophisticated cartoons.” [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

Joshegan rugs are famous for their tapestries. “They range in size most are four by six feet, but some exist in larger dimensions. Some of the largest Persian rugs are Joshegan rugs. The colors used in the weaving are generally natural dyes, and they blend beautifully together. The designs and patterns are generally quite intricate, which is also typical for Persian rugs. Another traditional Persian feature is the lack of empty color in the rug itself. Intricate design covers each Joshegan rug. The weaving technique used in these rugs is also Persian, which uses hand-made asymmetrical knots. The qualities of Joshegan rugs vary depending on the materials, age, and knot per square inch of the individual carpet.” ~

Tabriz Rugs

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Tabriz, the capital of the northwestern Iranian province of Azerbaijan, has for centuries enjoyed a great reputation as a center of Persian culture. Under the benign patronage of Shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629), artists and artisans designed illuminated manuscripts, embroidered silks, painted miniatures and fabricated metal work in the Safavid style. It was in this fertile, creative atmosphere that the weavers of Tabriz rugs for the Court were inspired to reach for new artistic heights and created exceptional oriental rugs and carpets. The art of carpet-weaving was handed down from generation to generation and considered a family treasure, allowing artists to ply a respected trade. The early eighteenth century saw the end of the Safavid Empire and the decline of the town of Tabriz with its legendary craftsmanship falling into disuse. Under the Qajar Dynasty (1786-1925) the workshops of Tabriz were gradually revived and by the 1880's another golden age was underway and Tabriz again began to reestablish its position as the center for the export of Persian rugs to the West.[Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“Designs of antique Persian Tabriz rugs can vary widely. Some feature medallions, hunting scenes, flowers, and gardens Others prayer and pictorial rugs interpreted in a curvilinear manner. An antique Tabriz can be made of cotton or silk and woven as a pile carpet or flat-weave. A refined palette reliant on copper tones, terracotta and ivory, with shades of blue and subtle touches of gold, green and salmon are prevalent in antique Persian Tabriz rugs. Some extremely luxurious antique Tabriz rugs and carpets were woven in silk. Haji Jalili, master weaver of the Qajar era is renowned for producing some of the most superlative oriental Tabriz rugs. Within the span of nineteenth century decorative arts, it is still generally acknowledged that the finest antique Tabriz carpets and rugs are unsurpassed for both quality and beauty.” ~

Tabriz rug expert Nader Bolour was quoted in CJ Dellatore’s blog as saying: "While many Tabriz rugs have central medallions with symmetrical designs - and typical coloration based in reds and blues, this rug is woven quite differently. It's a true work of art. The muted rose background, and range of colors, coupled with the asymmetry of the gardens, borders, poems and prayers amalgamated within make it a remarkable specimen. It's subtle, and exceptionally sophisticated."

Shiraz Rugs

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Antique Shiraz rugs come from the south western region of Iran in the village of Shiraz. Shiraz is a city in the province of Fars where tribal weavers create Shiraz rugs. The main draw to this type of Persian rug is the absence of factory creation. They are largely hand-woven on looms by tribal weavers. This fact enhances the artistry and uniqueness of each antique Shiraz rug. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“The creation of Shiraz rugs by hand affects the composition of the rug. Sometimes these rugs can be distorted, but this distortion does not necessarily affect the quality of the rug. The materials composing the rug are often coarser than other styles of Persian rugs the threads are of strong wool. The pile height may be slightly higher as well. The colors used are generally red and brown, and the designs are frequently geometric. Other designs may include focal points including a central diamond shape, a depiction of Cyrus' horse, or nightingales which represent contentment and happiness. The border of the rug is often a band of pine and palm leaves surrounded by a smaller band. The weaving technique used for antique Shiraz rugs is the asymmetrical Persian knot, and the knots per square inch vary from 100-300. The quality of these rugs may be evaluated based upon the tightness of the weave, the level of distortion caused by the loom process, and the consistency of the pile height. ~

Fully hand-made Persian rugs may be rare however, antique Shiraz rugs are fully created by hand. The uniqueness of each piece is assured because the piece is not made in any factory. This authenticity can be sure to over-ride some imperfections in appearance. The tradition of Persian tapestry creation lives on in the village of Shiraz where tribal weavers continue to create Shiraz rugs. ~

Sultanabad Rugs

According to Doris Leslie Blau: Antique Sultanabad rugs are among the most desirable Persian antique rugs to be produced in the late 19th and early 20th century. Characterized by their subtle color palettes and trellis designs, antique Sultanabads are frequently the choice of designers in search of allover rugs to serve as a more subtle complement to a design scheme. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“The appeal of Sultanabads to Western eyes is not the result of random chance. In 1883, Ziegler and Co. of Manchester, England, an Anglo-Swiss manufacturer, importer, and distributor of Persian carpets, established a Persian carpet workshop in Sultanabad, Persia, an area now known as Arak. Intending to export to Europe and the United States of America, Ziegler & Co. employed designers from major Western department stores, such as B. Altman & Co. of New York and Liberty of London, to adapt traditional sixteenth and seventeenth century Safavid designs by making the designs larger in keeping with the style of the early Arts & Crafts movement and made the rugs themselves larger to fit Western-sized rooms. For the more restrained Western taste, traditional designs were recolored to be more subtle and obliging. Traditional local dying techniques were improved and brought up to the standards of the latest methods of the time, creating new possibilities of color and tonality. With bold, allover patterns and softer palettes than their vibrant Persian counterparts, antique Persian Sultanabad rugs and carpets attracted an immediate following leading to high demand for Oriental carpets from the Sultanabad district. Appealing to everyone from aristocrats to the newly-moneyed industrialists who sought to emulate them, a large number of oriental rugs were exported from Persia to both Europe and the United States up until the early twentieth century. ~

“Sultanabads are similar in design to Heriz and Serapi rugs which is reflected in their magnificent graphic character. Yet within this similarity, the line work of the Sultanabads are always less curvilinear and classical than the Heriz and Serapis. As with many other Persian rugs, Sultanabads feature all-over designs of palmettes and vinescrolls, but they use a larger, more supple weave, and the designs in a Sultanabad tend to be larger as well. Antique Sultanabad rugs are still regarded as the most appealing to European and American tastes. To this day, the term Sultanabad or Ziegler rug denotes an outstanding antique Mahal rug or carpet from the late nineteenth century. ~

Sarouk Rugs

According to Doris Leslie Blau: Sarouk rugs derive their name from a village found twenty miles north of Arak, Iran. From the late 1800s to early 1900s, weavers in this village in the southwestern portion of Iran, weavers created Sarouk carpets. While production lasted only a few decades, the weavers were extremely productive, and the rugs remain notable for their luxury and excellent quality. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“Antique Sarouk rugs have a high pile and are generally at least two layers thick. This thickness contributes to the rugs unusual durability, which can be perfect for anyone searching for a highly durable antique carpet. These rugs were typically created with blue weft thread. Coloring of these rugs usually consist of a blue background in most cases, with cream, bright blue, pale red, orange, green, or brown creating the details and patterns. Many of these rugs have a focal, central design and a Herati pattern. The designs are usually curvilinear. Most of these rugs are large, and are frequently referred to as room-size rugs. Interestingly, the weavers of the rugs most often used Persian knotting, which is asymmetrical, but occasionally some Sarouk carpets employ Turkish knots, which are symmetrical. The quality of each rug may be considered by the tightness of the weaving and the knots per square inch. As the a general rule, the more knots the higher the quality. ~

“While Persian rugs are known for beauty and opulence, antique Sarouk rugs stand out as examples of the best in the category. The rugs are thick enough to endure much abuse and you can rest assured there rarely will be damage or ware. The demand for these rugs is quite high as buyers appreciate the beauty, comfort, and durability of Sarouk carpets. These rugs are also an object of interest for museums and collectors.” ~

Hamadan Rugs

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Hamadan is an ancient city in the area formerly known as Persia and now Iran. The history of the city may even be traced to the Biblical story of Esther. Today, Hamadan is a large city west of Tehran. Antique Hamadan rugs come from the area around this city. As with most rug production, the name of the rug generally refers to the city of sale rather than the city of production. The Hamadan region actually consists of over one thousand villages. Many of these villages welcomed refugees and served as homes for different ethnicities and religious variations. This diversity promoted the creation of tapestries that reflected the same level of diversity. Hamadan rugs feature different designs, but they all enjoy excellent quality and value. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“Antique Hamadan rugs were created with thick wool with coarse weaving. One cotton weft served the entire rug. Overall, the construction results in a rug that may be rough in texture, but high in quality. The coloring of these rugs includes deep blue, deep red, off-white, and soft neutral tones. The colors consist of natural vegetable dyes. Most of the designs in antique Hamadan rugs are geometric, mostly angular however, some rugs feature curvilinear designs and arabesques. Another interesting aspect that may indicate the cultural influence of refugees includes the knotting used in the weaving. Turkish knots, which are symmetrical, are used in antique Hamdan rugs. Even though created in Persia, Turkish ethnic groups are part of the weavers who created the rugs. Antique Hamadan rugs reflect, with their design and construction, the diversity of ethnic groups within the region over time. These rugs are some of the oldest articles of Persian tapestry, as well as some of the most beautiful and durable. Their designs stand the test of time in terms of brilliance and strength.

Turkish-Style Persian Rugs: Malayer and Bibikabad Rugs

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Malayer rugs come from the city of Malayer. This city lies between Hamadan and Sarouk within Iran. Antique Malayer rugs were created by individual weavers during the 1800s and early 1900s for the most part. These rugs display uniqueness in the broad range of designs and choice of colors” and have a “diversity of design and color that is somewhat atypical for other styles of Persian rugs. Some of the many designs include the sprouting seed, which represents rebirth birds and diamonds surrounded by flowers and vines. Rather than two or three colors within the design of a rug, antique Malayer rugs generally contain a deep blue background with the design created by multiple colors including sage green, red, light blue, pinkish brown, gold, tan, and brownish red. This diverse palate of colors is not typical for other types of Persian rugs, and this diversity sets antique Malayer rugs apart from other Persian tapestry styles. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“The tribal weavers in Malayer were often Turkish, and they employed the Turkish knot, Gourde, to weave these creations. The Gourde is a symmetrical knot, as opposed to the asymmetrical knot of many traditionally Persian creations. Additionally, antique Malayer rugs regularly enjoy a low cut pile. Weavers trimmed the pile in order to enhance the appearance of the design. In addition to a broad range of design and color, these rugs were designed technically to enhance the artistry of the woven design. Antique Malayer rugs are hand-woven however, their level of originality does not end with hand craftsmanship. The color and design are also incredibly unique, and the weaving technique is unusual for Persian rugs. The weavers of each rug highlighted the artistic nature of the tapestry, and the value of the artistry remains today. ~

“Bibikabad rugs hail from the village of Bibi Kabad within the Hamadan region. Bibi Kabad means “the village of grandmother.” The name itself reflects the importance of cultural heritage to the creation of the rug, and this importance is evident in the composition and artistry of each rug. But while the name and appearance reflect its geographic and cultural origins, the weaving technique used shows a kinship with Turkish culture. Persian artistic design is evident in antique Bibikabad rugs. These rugs display an intricate design covering it entirely, with little solid color. Small, paisley patterns cover each rug, typical of Persian-style rugs. Additionally, bold colored threads compose the rug itself, and these bold colors are also typical for Persian rugs. The color and design of the rugs demonstrate Persian influence and origin. ~

But while the artistic design of the rug is distinctly Persian, the technique used to create each rug incorporates Turkish techniques. The weaving is gourde style, similar to Malayer style weaving. This style of weaving uses hand-tied, symmetrical knotting of thick, high-quality wool threads. Each rug is painstakingly created and reflects a tradition of pride and attention to detail in workmanship and heritage.

Persian Rugs from Northwest Iran: Senneh, Bijar Heriz and Bakshaish

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Senneh rugs come from the northwest region of Iran. The weavers who created Senneh rugs speak the Senneh dialect, and this language identity provides the classification for the type of rugs. Created by hand, these rugs exemplify tapestry as artistic artifacts. These Persian tapestries are some of the most beautiful in existence, and they are also one of the easiest types to identify. Antique Senneh rugs have a lengthy history. Documentation proves that these rugs were produced as early as 1870 and probably earlier. In fact, the Persian knotting technique typical of Persian rugs is also referred to as Senneh knots. These antique treasures provide a link to cultural history and artistry by their beauty, design, and originality in weaving technique and materials.[Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“The construction of antique Senneh rugs provides insight into the elegance of the tapestries. These rugs are the thinnest of Persian rugs, often with a single layer. They range in color from brilliant to muted, and they also range in design from a central focal design to intricately patterned types. While the design and color are always beautiful and painstakingly created, the unique aspects of the weaving process make Antique Senneh rugs different from other types of Persian rugs. The threads used in the process of weaving are ultra-fine. Created from fine wool, the threads are spun very tightly and thin. Antique Senneh rugs are also easily identifiable due to the difference in texture between the front and the back. The front pile is silky and smooth, but the back is coarse and scratchy. ~

“19th century Heriz and Bakshaish rugs are among the most striking and recognizable oriental antique carpets within the Persian repertoire. Familiar configurations of powerful flower head medallions, complementary spandrels and borders with angular stylized vinery, floral infill and bold palmettes rendered in an inimitably geometric fashion, have a charming simplicity of line. Despite their origins in fairly sophisticated workshops, a strong tribal quality exists in these particular antique Persian rugs. Both Heriz (sometimes known as Serapi) and Bakshaish rugs may be found with all-over designs and abstract interpretations of willow trees or ascending shield palmettes. In all but scale, these room sized carpets are redolent of the small antique Kazak rugs made by the Caucasian villagers to the north. Robustly constructed with large knots and often on a grand scale, the colors range from jewel tones of cherry red, navy blue and saffron yellow, to pale terracotta, sea foam, powder blue and ivory. ~

Bijar rugs (or Bidjar rugs) are named for the area in which they were woven. Bijar is a small city in Northwestern Iran about 150 miles south of Tabriz. The town of Bijar and surrounding countryside are mainly populated by Kurds. Kurdish culture and artistic ability are clearly visible in the quality of the region’s antique carpets. Though a small town (population 20,000 in 1900), Bijar was at the center of a major weaving area that became well-known throughout the world for the very high-quality rugs produced in the small workshops of Bijar and often in homes throughout the surrounding countryside as a family undertaking. Somewhere between the sophisticated city rugs and the more primitive village and tribal rugs, lie the rugs of Bijar. Westerners and Persian nobility have commissioned the Kurdish weavers of the Bijar region for the last several hundred years to produce these almost magical carpets, the finest of which are called “Halvai.” ~

“Antique Bijar carpets have an unusual feature that few other rugs can claim. The heavy, densely-packed wool pile is so tight that it cannot lay down. Because the fibers are constantly held erect, when you step on the rug, it has a cushioned feel that is incredibly luxurious to walk on. For those of whom sensuousness is important, this is a unique and compelling feature. This extremely tight weave of antique Bijar rugs also makes them exceptionally strong and durable. Robust and resilient enough to be used in heavily trafficked areas, it is known as the 'Iron Rug' of Persia. Newer Bijar rugs, sad to say, do not offer this same unique level of cushioning or durability. ~

Southern Persian Rugs from Kirman and Bakhtiari Region

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Since the thirteenth century, when Marco Polo admired their skill while traveling through South-Central Persia, the Persian carpet weavers of Kirman have been highly respected. Blessed with an ample supply of very high quality local wool, known as Carmania wool, the craftsmen of Kirman have been weaving their way to the top of the carpet world by virtue of their craftsmanship, wide range of designs, broad palette of available colors, immense tensile strength, abrasion resistance, and expert color combinations. Colors can range from ivory, blue and magenta to a more golden and saffron cast. As unique as their designer, no two Kerman rugs are precisely alike. Because of the tremendous demand for Kirman rugs, and because of the complex demographics of those generating the demand, a surprising variety of styles and designs were produced. While some Kirman rugs were woven explicitly for moneyed buyers from the West, there were also local consumers which only added to the diversity of the Kirman rugs. This diversity is seen in the range of motifs which can range from well-known and original Persian motifs to western motifs; striped and repetitive motifs, vase, Toranj (Citron), symmetric, garden, animal shapes, and pictorial rugs. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“During the sixteenth century, Shah Abbas I reportedly gave antique Kirman rugs embroidered with gold and silver thread as tribute to the Ottoman Court. The fame of these oriental weavings rapidly spread across Western Europe. From the mid sixteenth century through the eighteenth century, the city of Kirman was celebrated for 'vase' carpets, a term deriving from the depiction of vase motifs in many examples woven there. By the nineteenth century, Kirman was recognized for exceptional oriental rugs in the best Persian tradition. Antique Persian Kirman carpets of this period, especially the Lavar group woven in the town of Ravar, are known for their fine weave, delicate drawing, incomparable range of color, and are still much in demand today. Very advanced relative to their fellow countrymen, Kirman weavers had learned to set their looms so that the cotton warps were on two different levels. They then threaded the wool wefts, leaving some tight and others sinuous, giving an immediately recognizable wavy finish to the carpet. The design patterns were also distinct. Vase carpets, unique to Kerman in the 16th and 17th centuries, were characterized by an allover pattern of stylized flowers and oversized palmettes with vases placed throughout the field. ~

“The Bakhtiari, a colorful nomadic tribe from South Central Persia, migrate in summer with their herds from the plains near the Persian Gulf on the east of the Zagros Mountains, to the more mountainous pastures in the west, and then back again in winter. To the east of the Zagros range is Chahar Mahal, the area where the bulk of antique Persian Bakhtiar rugs and carpets were produced. Here, the weavers are a mixture of Kurds, Lurs, Armenians and even Turkmen tribes people. In the early nineteenth century, some of the Bakhtiari leaders settled in the Chahar Mahal region, where their relative wealth gave them the status of 'gentry' thus the Bakhtiari name was appended to the region and its substantial carpet and rug production. These distinctive antique Qajar carpets are among the boldest and most dynamic of antique Persian rugs, and are distinguished by the liberal use of blue-black or charcoal, both as an outline of the individual design elements, or as the field color. ~

Tehran and Qum Area Carpets

According to Doris Leslie Blau: “Tehran rugs set the standard for quality and workmanship. In the late 1800s, the art of Persian weaving experienced a revival of popularity, and Tehran became the locus for Persian rug production. Antique Tehran rugs are not only high quality, they are also rare. Most high-quality Tehran rugs pre-date 1945. Newer, high-quality Tehran rugs are generally only produced in very small numbers by master-weavers. These rugs represent the ultimate beauty and quality considered an essential aspect of Persian carpetry. [Source: Doris Leslie Blau ~]

“The artistic aspects of Antique Tehran rugs pay homage to Persian cultural tradition. The patterns are curvilinear in nature, and they are composed of deep reds, bright blues, with contrasts of ivory. The rugs range in size from four by six to eight by ten. However, some larger rugs are available as large as ten by eighteen. The composition of the rugs also demonstrates Persian tradition. These rugs are woven with Persian knots, which are asymmetrical, with soft wool thread. Thin, tight piling creates the rug. The quality of the rug largely depends on the tightness of the weave. Most Antique Tehran rugs have an average of 120 knots per square inch. Quality rises with the number of knots per square inch. The tightness of the weave is often indicated by the clarity and sharpness of the rug's design. In terms of size, color, and quality of weave, Tehran rugs display the ultimate in Persia’s culture and history of tapestry. ~

“The Feraghan district located south of Tehran, encompassed the cities of Arak, Qum and Kashan, an area with a long and illustrious history of rug and carpet weaving. In the nineteenth century, many British companies opened oriental carpet factories and began to produce fine Persian Feraghan rugs and carpets for export to Europe. Antique Feraghan carpets and rugs are prized for their sturdy construction and their quiet, all-over patterns. Dense floral motifs, drawn with an angular and slightly quirky hand, give them a less feminine floral quality than the antique rugs and carpets from neighboring towns. Antique Persian Feraghans are celebrated for the liberal use of a splendid green color produced by copper salt. Wool dyed with this agent tends to wear more rapidly than portions dyed in other colors, resulting in a sculptured surface effect. The superb quality and closely sheared lustrous wool of the finest Persian antique Feraghan and antique Sarouk Feraghan rugs, long thought as being equal to the famed antique 'Mohtashem' Kashan carpets. ~

“The Qom province of Iran, 100 kilometers south of Tehran produces the finest Persian carpets available today. Antique Qum Rugs may not necessarily be as old as expected. The highest quality of these rugs are less than sixty years old. In fact, these types of rugs were not produced until the early 1900s. Most in existence today have a production year prior to 1940. These rugs may not be as old as other types of Persian tapestry; however, the quality of Qum rugs, in terms of material and construction is outstanding. Qum rugs have many names. They are also be referred to as Qom rugs, Ghom rugs, or Ghum rugs. These carpets are typically smaller in size. Many are hung decoratively on walls because of their small size. ~

“Antique Qum rugs generally contain silk and high quality wool. In fact, some contain two layers of silk. The pile height for the rugs is very thin, and the knot count is higher than other kinds of Persian rugs. Often, Antique Qum carpets have 400-860 knots per square inch. The rugs are woven with jewel-toned colors. Many times they are weaved with red, blue, and ivory shades. The designs of the carpets vary. Frequent choices include tree of life and medallion motifs. Other designs may include landscapes or depictions of historic events. The lines composing the designs are typically curvilinear. “

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated April 2016

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