Mashahir Rugs: Antique Persian Carpets Of Noblemen and Kings
In the world of antique Persian rugs, one can certainly find some examples of exquisite beauty that stand out from the rest. Among these are some that are even more special rugs. Those produced by Persia’s famous master weavers such as Ustad Mohtasham, Aboul Ghasem Kermani and Haji Jalili combine intricate designs with breathtaking color combinations to create masterpieces that stand in the art world as treasures. However, even among these antique carpets is a group of exceptional rarity and value. These are the Mashahir Rugs.
Let’s learn more about the these rare Pictorial carpets of kings and noble people.
The Meaning of Persian Mashahir Rugs
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The meaning of the word in Urdu, which is mostly spoken in Pakistan, Mashahir translates into noblemen. In Arabic, the word can be translated to mean famous, a world celebrity, or prince of this world. Mashahir is also the name of a small village in Azerbaijan and a family surname. It is also used to describe something or someone of the noble lines. For example, Mashahir horses are the lines of horses of the noblemen. The word is associated with something of exquisite taste, beauty and wealth.
Mashahir rugs are a special class of Oriental carpets. They feature the faces of noblemen and kings of the Persian Empire. Sometimes, they have the names of the noblemen written on them, and other times they do not. Some of them may be recognizable to modern eyes, awhile others may be lost to antiquity. Some of these faces have been recounted in documents throughout history that provide a glimpse into the world of the noblemen and kings throughout the history of the Empire.
Mashahir carpets hold a special place in the history of the Persian Empire and are a rare find. One can often see the progression of the rulers by their various styles of clothing. Some of the carpets tell the history in chronological order. Others seem to present them without any attention to linearity over time. Some make it appear as if all of the rulers are standing together in one place at the same time. Other Mashahir rugs feature certain noblemen and kings in prominent places in the design to make them stand out. Often, symbols and iconography are used to make some figures recognizable and to relate the subject to a certain story in Persian history.
Makers and Weaving Methods of Antique Mashahir Rugs
Aside from the subject matter, Mashahir carpets are special for other reasons too. Many of them are the works of master Persian rug weavers who must be skilled enough to carry out the intricate designs. To produce these fine rugs is an amazing feat of design and skill to able to make the figures come alive.
The ability to create a pictorial carpet with a level of detail that allows a portrait to be recognizable and to allow the writing to be readable requires finely spun materials, masterful carpet dye techniques and a high knot count. The knot density required to produce these carpets is exceptionally high. Weaving rugs with such designs requires a detailed pattern that must be followed with careful precision by the weaver.
These masterworks were often designed by the master weaver and then carried out by a crew of carefully supervised craftsmen. The high knot density means that this carpet took a long time to weave. Sometimes with exceptional carpets, the weavers can only produce up to one half inch in an entire working day. These carpets can take crews of weavers working long hours several years to complete.
What is amazing about these artistic carpets is the level of detail. The designers created recognizable portraits and rendered them in a way that gives them expression that seems to reach out and connect with the viewer. One can see the fine details, such as the drape of the clothing they are wearing, buttons and insignia on some figures. It is like looking at the details that one would expect to find in a fine painting. The designs of these breathtaking rugs as art is such that every square inch of the carpet is filled with fine detail.
The skill that it took to design and carry out the Mashahir rugs demonstrates a level of mastery in the art of Persian rug weaving that is comparable to that found in a fine art painting. The high level of detail, complexity of the design and mastery of the skills of carpet design and weaving is showcased in these carpets in a way that makes them an exceptional rarity in the world of Persian antique carpet collecting.
The Mashahir carpets are a rare group of carpets that one does not often have the pleasure to experience first-hand. Few of them exist in the world today, and there are even fewer antique ones. They are a world treasure to behold and have a special place in Persian history and art.
Occasionally, we are fortunate enough to have a Mashahir carpet in our collection. Even if you are not a collector of Persian carpets, you can appreciate their place in history and the masterful skill that it took to create them. Feel free to explore our small, but exquisite collection of Mashahir carpets. You just might find the crowning piece of your collection.
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