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Learn More About Bidjar Rugs from Persia
Antique Bidjar Rugs Bidjar is a town in Persian Kurdistan located in north-west Persia. The Bidjar name is also used to describe the antique rugs that were produced in the many villages in the surrounding vicinity. The Bidjar is noted as being the stiffest carpet made; they are very heavy in relation to their size, and very thick and durable. All of the knots are symmetrical and the rows are beaten down during the weaving process producing a dense compact fabric. Given their thickness and construction Bidjar rugs can be difficult to fold. The many designs depict the Kurdish influence of the area and often floral and classical geometric motifs are employed as well as the use of large, whimsical medallion designs. The color palate is rich and jewel toned making the Bidjar a highly desirable rug sought after by designers.
Bidjar rugs, produced in Northwest Iran are among the finest of Persian rugs by virtue of their design and technique. They cannot be identified readily by their patterns, for their repertoire is quite rich and varied. They are distinguished by primarily by their weave, which is perhaps the densest and most durable of all oriental rugs. Bidjar carpets were produced in a classical medallion format as well as in allover designs and pictorial or garden patterns. The quality of their wool is lustrous and soft, the drawing at times classically precise or wildly tribal. Some are attributable to Kurdish weavers living in the Bijar region.
Known for producing some of the most important Persian rugs, rug weavers in Bidjar have perfected a style of rug weaving that results in what are called “Iron Rugs.” Bidder weavers are also responsible for the so-called “Man’s Rug.”
The city of Bidjar is located in the province of Kurdistan in the heart of Northwest Iran. Bidjar lies between the city of Senneh or Sanandaj to the south and the legendary weaving center of Tabriz to the north. Kurdish tribes have traditionally been the region’s endemic people. However, the Afshari tribe also produced many Bidjar’s workshop rugs using patterns borrowed from Heriz, Tabriz and other great weaving centers of Northwest Persia.
Geography plays a tremendous role in the history of the production of antique rugs from Bidjar. Although the Kurdish tribes have always been a dominant group in the region, they are one of the few cultures in the world who have never had their own country.
Bidjar’s carpet weaving traditions were formed through a combination of cultural isolation and assimilation that is evidenced in the diverse range of designs used in the region as well as the continued use of natural dyes throughout the 1920s when many other regions adopted modern methods. The rugs of Bidjar encompass a broad range of styles and patterns that makes them difficult to define or distinguish from other regions.
Although Bidjar was first mentioned in the 1500’s when the region was annexed with Armenia by Safavid forces, archaeological evidence of domestic technology and weaving implements dating back approximately 10,000 years has been found throughout Kurdistan.
Situated in a corridor between the border of Persia, Anatolia and the Caucasus, Bidjar has been at the mercy of invading cultures for thousands of years. Military invasions from Russia and Europe have influenced Kurdish culture as early as 500 BC when Cyrus the Great launched a large-scale incursion into the region.
The turmoil across Northwest Persia and neighboring countries continued through the 1800s with ongoing fighting related to the Russo-Turkish War.
Over the centuries, Kurdish influence has waxed and waned as neighboring empires were distracted with their own wars. At the height of Kurdish power, the group claimed parts of neighboring Turkey and Azerbaijan. However, the Kurdish people had almost always been a subordinate tribal group that was part of a larger empire.
The city’s untimely establishment on the world’s maps coincided with the re-establishment of shipping ports and the gradual decline of the Silk Road. This shift changed the course of events in Bidjar and allowed the city to maintain its weaving traditions into the early 20th century.
Influences from Persia, Russia and the Caucasus can be seen in Bidjar’s diverse rugs, which include European roses, curvilinear arabesques, inset-lozenges featuring intricate Herati and Mina-Khani patterns, and Serapi-style medallions set on a stark background. The designs used on Bidjar rugs often include sophisticated patterns with small details that highlight their origin in the village workshops of tribal weavers.
Examples of weavings from Bidjar include small-format rugs as well as long corridor carpets. However, large-format pieces are relatively rare. Rugs from Bidjar are known for their durable construction and strong, raised pile. Weavers in Bidjar used double weft or double knot construction along with a number of implements to create an extremely firm pile using the symmetric Turkish or Ghiordes knot.
A small number of Bidjar rugs were also produced using the asymmetric Persian knot along with traditional curvilinear patterns from Persia. Goat hair is another fiber that is occasionally seen in rugs from the region. Weavers in Bidjar used a unique combination of yarns for the weft to create the signature look and feel of the firm pile. First, a dampened shoot of thick weft is inserted and tamped down with tools to secure the knots. The weaver follows this with a second shoot of finer yarn to secure the entire row in place.
Wool is the most common foundation found in antique Bidjar rugs. However, cotton was also used. Many of the oldest Bidjar rugs are extremely coarse and incapable of being folded while later pieces and rugs produced in the neighboring village of Halvai tend to be thinner and finer.
Rugs signed by the legendary master weaver Tajhavi (Taghavi) are among the finest and most prized carpets from the Kurdistan province displaying impeccable workmanship. Bidjar is a small city in a sparsely populated province with a rich carpet weaving tradition. The resulting pieces are as diverse as the groups who first created them and their varied designs make antique Bidjar rugs equally fitting for traditional and modern interiors.
History of Antique Bidjar Rugs
Bidjar is a town in Persian Kurdistan located in north-west Persia. The Bidjar name is also used to describe rugs produced in the many villages in the surrounding vicinity. The Bidjar is noted as being the stiffest carpet made; they are very heavy in relation to their size, and very thick and durable.
All of the knots are symmetrical and the rows are beaten down during the weaving process producing a dense compact fabric. Given their thickness and construction Bidjar rugs can be difficult to fold.
The many designs depict the Kurdish influence of the area and often floral and classical geometric motifs are employed as well as the use of large, whimsical medallion designs. The color palate is rich and jewel toned making the Bidjar a highly desirable rug sought after by designers.
Located about 150 miles south of Tabriz in northwestern Iran, the market center of Bijar is known for its grand antique carpets. The area’s flat geography and dusty weather make the town of Bijar an ideal place for the development of quality hand work. The people who live here are mostly of the Kurdish culture. Their artistic sense is clear in their woven carpets. At the turn of the century, Bijar was home to about 20,000 people. Even with this small population size, it became known around the world for its superbly crafted rugs. The rugs are produced in small workshops within the town.
The finest Bidjar rugs are called Halvai. Some of the best pieces of large antique carpets were commissioned by wealthy westerners and the nobility of Iran over the past few hundred years. These fine pieces of hand work feature asymmetric designs and the spontaneous use of color. Tribal patterns are also featured in these rugs. Each family created their own patterns and special touches for the rugs that they wove.
Bijar rugs that were crafted by the Kurds are known around the world for their superb artistry, attention to detail, quality materials and craftsmanship. The fine antique rugs are distinguishable from rugs made by other weavers because of their heavy wool foundations. Pieces made since the 20th century typically have a thick cotton foundation. The unusual technique that creates the strong and durable rugs involves making an extra weft. The weaver pounds the knots. This creates a thick fabric. Some antiques and textiles experts call these the “iron rugs of Persia.” The rugs are known to be fully functional for 200 years or more without becoming worn.
While there are several commonly used patterns in the antique rugs, the classic designs are often reinterpreted by modern weavers. Some of the highly detailed designs with repeats, including “Herati” and “Mina Khani” are still in use today, but the weavers may vary the number of repeats or change the color combinations for a different look. Some of the other popular motifs include diamond-shaped medallions and anchors. These are often used a the vertical ends of the rugs.
The rugs of Bijar also make use of nature motifs. Continuous flower and vine designs are found in the small and large carpets. Two of the rarest and most prized carpet designs from Bijar are “Garrus” and “Guli Farang.” The Garrus design uses a cobalt to midnight indigo blue background and a print of split arabesques and blossoming vines in a field. A ribbon-like cloud band repeats along the border. The Guli Farang design also has a continuous repeat. Some antiquities experts believe that the floral design represents cabbage blossoms or a formal English garden. The Guli Farang carpets woven before 1900 usually have a dark blue or ivory background.
The wide range of the color palette in Bijar rugs is a clear demonstration of the skills of the local dyers. Soft blue and green, jewel tone colors of red, blue and green and deep browns are some of the richest colors seen on any carpet in the world. The carpets are typically woven by Kurdish women out of locally harvested wool from the animals that the tribes herd. The wool is kettle dyed in a way that produces tonal changes within one hue. This gives each rug a unique look that cannot be duplicated.