The Golfarang Design in Antique Rugs
Meanings of Golfarang Design in Antique Rugs and Carpets
Beautiful, and often ornate, Persian rugs have been amazing and enchanting historians, art patrons and consumers for many generations. Even today, it is hard to walk through a chic and well-appointed home or a lavishly decorated historic building without seeing an authentic Persian rug or at the very least, a rug inspired by Persian design.
Golfarang is the name of a particular antique rug design. The word “golfarang” can literally be translated from Persian to English as “foreign flower. This phrase aptly describes the composition of these beautifully crafted and ornate rugs. The design features a floral motif. These floral elements are displayed in a repeating pattern over the face of the rug. Often, the design features the flowers in a vase. Occasionally, the flowers are arranged in a bouquet or are shown in bunches. The edge of these types of rugs are often trimmed by a lined border. The inside of the border is usually filled with a decorative leafy vine motif or an elaborate floral band.
The Golfarang design was mostly used in Persian weaving and became prominent during the Qajar period. The monarchs of the Qajar dynasty focused on reviving ancient traditions from Persian monarchical history, including the arts of weaving and rug design. The Qajar dynasty also fostered a boom in all types of artistic expression. The area, which we now know as Iran, was in a period of peace after the bloody turmoil that had consumed much of the 18th century. This era of peace allowed artists and craftsmen the time that they needed to focus on the arts and to embrace ancient cultural traditions. For instance, weavers, during this period, integrated elements of their Persian culture with some European references.
One of the European references and symbols that is often used in Golfarang rugs is the rose. Roses were a part of Persian culture too, but were not a prevalent symbol. However, there are a few exceptions. For instance, the Damask Rose is known as the Queen of the Arabian Garden. This species of rose is very fragrant and was used to create rose water in ancient Persian culture. It was also used as a motif in decorative rugs too and symbolized love, beauty, and unity. Even though this flower was a part of the native culture, floral motifs, particularly the use of roses in rug designs, was probably a response to the melding of the Persian culture of the weavers and the aesthetic preferences and culture of the European customers.
During this time period, demand for Persian rugs grew in Europe. European designers had been using floral patterns for years in various capacities, including interior decorating and fine arts. For example, the French used flowers effectively in their Aubusson and Savonnerie rugs. This familiarity to the symbol and trend of using roses and other flowers in design was likely the reason, at least in part, that this group of consumers gravitated toward the Golfarang design. The demand for these types of rugs in European countries escalated when the upper-class in this region begin to use them to adorn their ornate homes.
This beautiful floral motif is not confined to just the Golfarang designs. Similar styles were also used in Kurdish Senneh and Bidjar weaving. Though the floral theme is similar in these pieces as it is to the Qajar period rugs, the designs were more stylized and the flowers had a more geometric shape.
Today, these beautiful rugs can be seen in many castles and museums around the world. They are still highly sought after by the modern consumer and are truly fine examples of remarkable craftsmanship and ornate designs.