Breathtaking Antique Persian Mohtasham Kashan Rug, Country of Origin: Persia, Circa date: 1880 – This exquisitely detailed carpet was one of many designed in honor of weaver Hadji Mullah Mohammed Hassan Mohtasham from the ancient Persian village of Kashan. Inhabited for over 9,000 years, Kashan later become known for distinctive tiles, pottery and silks. The iconic antique Persian Mohtasham Kashan carpets are among the finest of their genre. Usually characterized by a central dark blue medallion and an intense color palette, they often featured botanical motifs and other curvilinear shapes in astounding detail.
This work incorporates two outer guard borders, a blue-dominated main border studded with medallions, and a variety of inner borders. In addition to four blue-based triangular corner emblems, the field of pale terra cotta offers birds and flowers that you’ll want to examine with a magnifying glass to fully enjoy.
The weaver Mohtasham prided himself on using silk along with first-shearing lambswool to produce Persian rugs of extraordinary density, distinctive softness, and handkerchief-like texture. His natural dyes included not only indigo for midnight blue but cochineal and madder root for intense reds, and onion skin and chamomile for yellows. Because no consistently colorfast green dyes were readily available, indigo was combined with turmeric and other plant products to produce variations of yellow.
You’ll always want to feel a fine Persian Kashan rug by master weaver Mohtasham. One of the features that connoisseurs of fine antique rugs enjoy checking is the “handle” or “hand,” referring to the tactile sensation. You experience the handle by touching the textile with your fingers and thumb; the hand, by running your palm over the surface. A high density of 350 to 400 or more knots per square inch makes these Persian Kashan rugs high-collectibles: flat, flexible, and so detailed that the rich images can be viewed even on the backside. Understanding the meaning of knots per square inch means picturing an area of carpet the size of a dime as a miniature mosaic. It contains approximately 375 uniformly hand-tied knots. Counting the knots in a rug might reveal hundreds of thousands.
About Hadji Mullah Mohammed Hassan Mohtasham himself, he was named after an ancestor who was a well-loved poet living 300 years earlier. Mohtasham’s workshop in Kashan was an artisanal center frequented by royal and wealthy patrons who loved luxury. The scene comes alive to us today from a 17th-century German librarian describing dark, winding alleyways hung with brightly colored skeins of wool drying in preparation for weaving.
Although this pleasing piece of art is large, you don’t want to cover it with furniture. The gentle colors allow this spectacular area rug to blend comfortably in formal or informal rooms alike. As Spanish art historian Mercedes Palau-Ribes observed, “Only poets could have designed it, and only angels could have woven it.”