Early Safavid Rugs and Period Carpets
Safavid Rugs - The Safavid dynasty produced an abundance of local arts during the 16th century. Classic Persian carpet weaving flourished in this period (from 1499 to 1722). Shah Tahmasp (1524-76) promoted the arts and was a painter, as well as a carpet designer. Under his tutelage decorative arts evolved. Shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629) continued this legacy. Design changed from curvilinear to rectilinear and new designs emerged. Intricate patterns were drawn on cartoons which the artists implemented into their weaving. There are only 2500 to 3000 carpets and fragments that have survived from the Golden Age of the Safavid dynasty. The most famous is the Aradil Mosque carpet dated 1539, which is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The four most important and prolific weaving centers were located in central Persia, Tabriz, Kerman, and eastern Persia. Oriental Rugs from central Persia were woven in Kashan and Isfahan. Kashan is noted for its use of silk pile. Shah Abbas moved his capital to Isafahan in the late sixteenth century and set up a factory to produce silk and metal brocaded carpets. Tabriz, the first Sefavid capital was also an important weaving center. Tabriz was ultimately overrun by the Turks during the 16th Century and the seat of government was moved temporarily to Kazvin and eventually to Isfahan. The Antique oriental rug production also existed in Kerman, where vase carpets are assumed to have been woven. Eastern Persia also produced rugs during the Safavid period. As an example, Herat was a major city in eastern Persia and many rugs are known by this name.