Antique Persian Rugs
Antique Persian Rug Information & Guide - Their History & Manufacture
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antique persian rugs

Antique Persian Rug Types

The production of Persian rugs covers the whole range of sophistication in manufacture, style and design and is roughly divided into the coarsely woven village or nomadic types called Kilim and the more finely made and larger city types. Through the intermingling of clans and tribes, the designs and weaving charateristics underwent changes over time.

Some Village & Nomadic Rug Types:

Bakhtiyari

Produced by the Bakhtiyari nomads in the Zagros mountains of south west Iran, these types are made of thick wool on very sturdy cotton warp which makes them heavy and hardwearing. The predominant design elements are derived from the garden motifs with trees, flowers and animals though they can also include very sophisticated medallions that are classically Persian. The Bakhtiyaris have begun to give up their nomadic lives and settle in larger towns. This is why some of their carpets are quite large, which unusual for nomadic tribes because they are more difficult to transport and handle. But this is also why the Bakhtiyari rugs are considered to be unique in that they include elements of both the "nomadic" and "city" types.

Baluchi

The Baluch tribes of south eastern Iran that border Pakistan and Khorassan near Afghanistan have woven rugs for thousands of years mainly to express themselves while also providing an object of great practical utility to their families. The patterns are usually geometric, the most dominant being a stylized camel's-foot-shaped medallion. Usually small, their main colors are rich burgundy and deep navy blue. The pile is usually sheep wool but can also be camel hair and goat hair. The warp is usually wool too except in Meshed-Baluh where it is likely to be cotton.

Qashqai

The Qashqai are migratory, Turkic-speaking sheep and goat herders. They were forced to settle down like the other nomads by the Shah in the 1940s but after his exile, they resumed their nomadic ways. Their rugs and runners vary in quality, the older ones being the better generally because the newer ones are made with synthetic rather than vegetable dyes. The older rugs got their blue from indigo and their red from madder. The designs are usually geometric with animal and bird drawings with the borders having floral designs. Warps are mostly cotton and the wefts either cotton or wool, the weave being finer with a tight ridged back construction. A drawback for these rugs is considered to be the fact that they use the looser Turkish knots.

Some City & Town Rug Types:

Isfahan

This old Persian capital was a center for rug production and its ruler Shah Abbas had sent many carpets to the rulers of western countries. It is believed that this is perhaps why they might have been the first Persian carpets to be recognized in the west. These rugs are consistently of the finest quality and design and that is why the Isfahans are also among the most desired rugs in the west. They typically have an ivory background with blue, rose and indigo motifs in symmetrical designs and a single medallion surrounded with vines and palmettos. They are still among the best Iranian carpets in production and command a premium in the world market.

Tabriz

The second largest city in Iran, Tabriz is situated in the south. Its carpets come in many sizes and the patterns could be of trees, teardrop medallions, hunting and flowers in one of the most diverse displays of design. The pile is wool or silk-wool blend and the warp is cotton or silk. These are extremely high quality carpets and constitute the highest grade of antique Persian, being found mainly in elite collections and museums.

Kashan

An indurstrial city in North Central Iran, it was one of the centers of silk rug manufacture and the location of the Royal carpet workshops in the 17th and 18th centuries which ceased production after the Afghan invasion. Silk rugs, being the most expensive and least durable, were the rarest and therefore often displayed on walls like tapestries rather than being used as floor coverings. Kashan was also the source of many high quality wool carpets because it started out as a fine wool garment center and converted its industry to fine wool carpets in the late 19th century.

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