A large central stepped medallion with corners or an all over design of highly stylized floral motifs is quite typical. Repeating patterns are less common. The pile is thick and heavy and the color palette is rich and varied. Older Heriz rugs had madder grounds and medallions mostly of indigo. The finer rugs use the technique “double outlining”, where the design of the rug is separated from the field by two lines in different colors. This design element sets the gold standard for the best Heriz designs.
Originating in Northwest Persia and the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, Heriz Oriental rugs from Persia include regional patterns created in several dozen towns and villages in the area. These Azeri-Turkish groups from the Caucasus were pushed south by invading Russian and Soviet forces, and the area was subject to turbulent political influences that continued through the 20th century. Turkic nomads have produced fine carpets for export and resale since the 1700’s, and antique Heriz rugs continue to enjoy great popularity in Europe and the U.S. The Heriz moniker is applied to regional rugs originating in Ahar, Gorevan and several other prominent villages. This has lead to some confusion about these trade terms.
The city of Heriz is located roughly 60 miles from the legendary carpet-producing city of Tabriz. Although they are closely related in some respects, their styles remain distinct. Antique Heriz rugs are known for their thick, strong and durable structure. Unlike many areas of Persia, rugs from Heriz are made with the symmetric Turkish or Ghiordes knot, which is attached to a specially woven foundation that includes a thick cotton warp and weft. The structure is only one factor that contributes to the durability and stability of antique rugs from Heriz, which differ from their cousins, the Serapi Rugs and the Bakshaish rugs. Further, some carpets from this region are referred to as Heriz Serapi rugs. Tucked into the foothills surrounding the historically active volcano Mount Sabalan, Heriz sits on top of rich mineral reserves and some of the largest copper deposits in the world. Pastoral nomads known as the Shahsavan migrated across the area moving closer to Mount Sabalan in the summer and further away during the harsh winters. The result is extremely durable wool containing trace amounts of copper that act as a natural mordant and dye fixative.
Since the early 19th century, Heriz has been producing European-sized carpets that define the angular style of northwest Persian rugs. These classically colored carpets, including Serapi Heriz rugs, often feature a traditional pairing of crimson red and clear Persian blue, which are combined with varied neutrals. Heriz rugs often feature dense allover patterns and angular octofoil medallions surrounded by rectilinear vine-scrolls decorated with a rich variety of contrasting colors.
Both the “Serapi” and Heriz rugs tend to have strong medallion designs accented through the use of color. That said, allover design Heriz rugs are not that uncommon. Heriz carpets rely on floral inspired patterns with sharp strap-work vines and grand palmettes with zig-zag contouring.
Where other antique rugs from Persia would utilize a curved form, antique Heriz rugs will apply series of angular twists and sharp straight angle turns, imparting an emphatic geometry to the rug design.
Heriz rugs have glorious color, with rich reds, blues, greens, and yellows resonating against ivory. Much of the formal vocabulary, drawing, and color sensibility of these rugs is traceable to the classical antique Caucasian rugs of the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Since the Heriz region of northern Perisa is not far from the Caucasus, it is not surprising that Heriz carpets have preserved so much of the classical Caucasian tradition. Some antique Heriz rugs , however, especially those produced in silk, display a different drawing and design vocabulary linked to other types of Persian carpet. They are identified as “Heriz” rugs primarily by their weave.
Just west of Tabriz lies the village of Heriz, located in the Iranian part of Azerbaijan. Herizes are mostly distinguished by their rectilinear designs, a departure from the traditional arabesques and scrolls typical of Persian manufactory. A large central stepped medallion with corners or an allover design of highly stylized floral motifs is quite typical. Repeating patterns are less common.
The pile is thick and heavy and the color palette is rich and varied. Older Heriz rugs had madder grounds and medallions mostly of indigo. The finer antique carpets use the technique “double outlining”, where the design of the rug is separated from the field by two lines in different colors. This design element sets the gold standard for the best Heriz designs.
The Heriz style of is a paradigm for the traditional geometric designs of Northwest Persia. These distinctive rugs are woven with tribal weaves which accentuates the angles and boldness exhibited in the highly stylized floral motifs.
Typically these Oriental rugs carry a masculine aura to them. As far as interior design goes, this feature makes them perfect options for libraries, studies, and other rooms rich with wooden or earthy accents though they are also popular in living rooms both formal and non.
History of Heriz Rugs From Persia
The tradition of Persian rug weaving dates back more than 1,000 years. According to written records, the King of Persia commissioned an unprecedented carpet decorated with crystals, gemstones, and precious metals in the 6th Century.
However, the tradition of Heriz and Serapi rugs is relatively recent. Heriz rugs were produced during 19th Century primarily as exports to Europe and Britain. Historically, it was common for traders of antique rugs to market carpets produced in neighboring villages, responsible for Bakshaish rugs, as Herizes.
However, not all villages were able to match the quality of the native Heriz weavers, creating distinct styles of antique rugs. Although the cities of Heriz and Sarab are both located in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, which is also home to the city of Tabriz, Heriz and Heriz Serapi rugs are totally unlike those produced in Tabriz.
Where designs from Tabriz used flowing curvilinear figures with ornate decorations, carpet weavers in Heriz used bold geometric and tribal motifs with angular lines that bear little resemblance to the flowers and objects they represent.
Carpet trade and production were thriving industries in the 19th Century. European and foreign firms like Ziegler & Company made extensive investments in the Persian carpet industry to gain control over all aspects of rug production from the resources and raw materials to the weaving process. Management firms held land, controlled grazing rights, and contracted workers to manage herds, operate dyeworks, and weave carpets.
In 19th Century Heriz, villagers adapted their own designs from traditional patterns influenced by Tabriz, Genghis Khan, the Safavid dynasty, and Shah Abbas the Great centuries before. Designs for carpets, which could be more than 10 feet long, were traditionally planned on handkerchief-sized swatches showing one quarter of a symmetrical carpet design.
Under the control of foreign management firms, Heriz carpets from the late 19th Century became standardized, and carpet designs were increasingly prepared using graph paper cartoons, carpet samplers, and patterns that reduced intuitive weaving techniques and off-the-cuff creativity.
Because most Heriz and Serapi carpets were produced by foreigners for a foreign market, the size of Heriz carpets tends to be wider and larger than most traditional Persian carpets. Classic Heriz and Serapi carpets combine geometric flowers and palmettes from the Caucasus as well as Shah Abbasi flowers, floral elements, and Islamic arches similar to those used by the legendary Safavid weavers.
To highlight elaborate medallions and floral centerpieces, weavers from Heriz used a combination of fawn, buff, and camel colored backgrounds along with contrasting outlines. Colors used in traditional Heriz rugs include natural black fleece, ivory, muted green, sky blue, and red from the madder root.
Antique Heriz carpets also known as Serapi carpets are known for their unique shade of blue, which often resembles turquoise or teal. Early Heriz and Serapi carpets age gracefully; brilliant colors fade and carpets take on a refined appearance as the bright madder dye slowly dulls to muted sandstone and brick-like reds.
Older Heriz and Serapi carpets were knotted over a wool fiber warp while carpets made later in the 19th Century used cotton for the warp, weft, and fringe. Weavers in Iran and Heriz used the symmetrical Turkish or Ghiordes knot to produce thick-pile carpets with as many as 100 knots per square inch in wool carpets and more than 1,000 knots per square inch in silk carpets.
Heriz rugs as well as those produced in the neighboring cities of Ghorevan and Ahar are known for their geometric figures, unique colors, high-quality construction, and attention to detail. Despite a 13-year embargo on Iranian Heriz rugs imported into the U.S., which ended in 2000, Heriz carpets remain one of the most iconic styles of Oriental rugs.