Antique Kashan Rugs
Kashans Rugs are among the very finest Persian rugs and carpets. Kashan was a center
of silk production since Safavid times and some of the best classical Persian silk rugs have been attributed to Kashan. At the end of the nineteenth century the weavers there began to produce high quality wool rugs and carpets as well, which continued the high standards of design and technique established in the classical era. The very best Kashans carpets are known as Motashem. They often have medallion designs, but allover Kashans are not uncommon. The palette can be deep and rich in the classical tradition, or it can utilize softer hues appropriate to modern decor.
Though Kashan is now removed from the commercial trade routed of Persia, it used to be the largest city in the northwest, and virtually all traffic between Esfahan and the east passed through it. Because of this important location Kashan became the popular stop on a bustling trade route during the Safevid Era. In modern times, nearby mountain ranges prohibit trucks from traveling the route that caravans had so often ventured. During this era in which carpet weaving flourished in Persia, Kashan developed a reputation as one of the finest weaving centers of the east. Most books on Kashan, its history, its art and its artists, its architecture, ceramics, glass, metals, and its textile art and industry, mention a large number of masters and artists, but with regards to carpets, master weavers and laboratories there are only a few references. Signed carpets, for this reason, also become a key instrument of research. By analyzing the structure and decoration, it becomes possible to establish the characteristics of a specific production type. Once this has been identified, other non-signed pieces can be attributed with certainty. It is using this method that many carpets can be attributed to Mohtasham.
In modern times, the Mohtasham name is well known, but very little is known about his origins. It remained a mystery whether or not Mohtasham was simply a trade name, or whether he had actually existed.
There is a legend going around according to which Hadji Mollah Mohammad Hassan Mohtasham of Kashan was a well-to-do businessman, famous for his textiles. However, in the 1880s business was bad owing to the importing of machine-worked textiles from Europe. The story goes that Mohtasham had married a young woman from Sultanabad, who had brought with her from her city of origin the ancient tradition of the knotted carpet. In view of the fact that business did not seem to be picking up, his wife wove a carpet using merino wool imported from Manchester. Upon completion of the carpet, local merchants were so enthusiastic that they commissioned more similar ones. This drove Mohtasham not only to ask his wife to start weaving again, but also to train other weavers of Kashan to produce carpets using this model. Thus, according to the legend of the bazaar, the art of the carpet began again; it had been lost in Kashan since the fall of the Safavid dynasty in 1723. This sparked a revival of the art of the carpet in Kashan; in 1890 there were only three operating looms, and that these became one thousand five hundred in 1900 and four thousand in 1949.
This specific Mohtasham carpet exemplifies how art can influence the onlooker. To appreciate such a great work of art, no great knowledge is needed; all one needs to enjoy this carpet is mere observation and attention to detail. This Mohtasham, woven with high quality kourk wool and an extremely fine weave, is unusual with its all-over design of delicate scrolling floral vinery and palmettes in soft blues and ivory colors. The combination of the colors used coupled with the exceptional condition and the fact that Mohtasham rugs are never found in runner sizes make this a truly rare and magnificent work of art.