Learn More About Antique Persian Rugs
Entering the world of genuine Persian rugs is a unique journey. Exploring this world reveals hidden histories and ancient traditions passed down for thousands of years and transported across cultures. In the antique Persian rug world, the mundane becomes the mysterious: flowers and geometric figures are imbued with deep symbolism, and colors and shape carry deep meaning.
What Are Antique Persian Rugs?
The term “Persian Rugs” refers to those rugs that were made in modern day Iran. For a Persian rug to be classified as “antique” it would need to be at least 80 years old.
Are Persian and Iranian Rugs The Same Thing?
Yes, when talking about rugs, the terms “Iranian” and “Persian” are practically interchangeable.
What Are Some Of The Patterns and Designs That We Can Expect To See In Persian Rugs?
According to ancient traditions and beliefs, geometric figures and symbolic motifs protect the Persian rug’s owner from evil and misfortune. In the case of tribal Persian rug designs, such as geometric animals, people, and everyday objects, antique hand made Persian rugs are a classic example of art imitating life and life imitating art, as the design-rich repertoire of Persian rug weavers continues to inspire artists and designers the world over.
With innumerable Persian designs and traditions developed and maintained by weavers in any one city or cultural group, limitless permutations are possible when regional designs and minute variations in techniques and materials are melded together. The antique Oriental rugs that were woven prior to the 1920’s, from Persia, represent an unfathomable range of rug patterns and styles with an enormous breadth of influence from semi-nomadic tribes to imperial weaving traditions established by the Safavid and Mughal empires.
The international trade of traditional Oriental carpets and Persian rugs established thousands of years ago has resulted in a fascinating interchange of designs between East and West. Although antique rugs are one-of-a-kind works of art and luxury design pieces that make a house feel like a comfortable home, each Persian carpet also contains its own story. Each Persian rug completes the intricate history of all rugs woven before and since.
What is the difference between a Persian rug and an Oriental rug?
In rugs, the term “Oriental” refers to the location where the rug was woven, in this case it means Asia. So, in a nutshell, all Persian rugs are also Oriental rugs. That said, not all Oriental rugs are Persian as many were woven in other places outside of Persia.
Decorating Your Home With Persian Rugs
In terms of universal decorative appeal, authentic Persian rugs, as far as their visual impact in home design, are unbeatable. These remarkable show rugs and carpets have a timeless, classical elegance that’s right at home in Western interiors. For centuries, hand woven Persian rugs with their elaborate patterns have been the gold standard in traditional rug design. The handsome colors, lush botanical figures and tasteful embellishments are carefully balanced according to long-standing rules.
Designs featured in antique rugs made in Iran are prized for their flawless proportions, effortless fluidity and timeless style. Ancient geometric principles that dictate form, proportion and the angles of spiraling curves are followed strictly without seeming stiff, rigid or uninspired. Even today, antique and vintage Persian carpets are prized for their durability, sumptuous textures and strong colors, but the lavish botanical designs and perfectly proportioned patterns are the true secret behind their eternal popularity and ageless elegance.
Intro To Persian Carpet History
In Persia, the largest carpet producing centers that flourished were in Tabriz (1500-1550), Herat (1525-1650), Kashan (1525-1650) and Kerman (1600-1650). Perhaps the most important cultural contribution to the world of art that was given by the people of Persia is the Persian Rug. These rugs are those that were woven in Persia (modern day Iran). For a Persian rug to be considered “antique”, it would have to be at least 80 years old. These rugs represent some of the very finest examples of textile art to ever be produced. The complex methods and high-quality materials used, ensured that each piece was a beautiful and unique work of art. Natural dyes, silk, cotton and/or wool yarn were used extensively. Woven by hand, each piece (of the antique rugs) was like no other and weavers dedication would ensure that their creations would last for decades, and in many cases, centuries.
Historically, nomads, clerics and kings alike utilized the rugs from Persia as floor coverings and decorations. Today, these carpets are appreciated as artworks as well as investment worthy pieces. They are also appreciated around the world for their fine quality of weave, beautiful colors and artistic patterns. Simply standing in the same room as a genuine antique Persian rug can be a powerful experience. These gorgeous works of art have the unique ability to instantly transport the onlooker through time and space. Their presence takes us on an exhilarating journey to the exotic, faraway lands, of bygone eras. These rugs have an essence to them that is truly one of a kind.
This trend is fueled by an ever-expanding number of collectors and scholars. The inherent beauty of an antique Persian rug, it’s unique compositions and rarity make it extremely desirable. The sheer variety of these carpets, made over the centuries, is a strong testament to the rich cultural tradition from which they have emerged.
Handmade Persian Rugs in Modern Day Iran
Hand knotted Persian rugs are an important part of the modern Iranian culture. Passed down from ancestors and representing a dying skill set, these rugs are priceless heirlooms, cherished more than any other possession. The intricate designs and colors are exotic to say the least. They represent the rich history and origins this art form has evolved from over the past two thousand years. Not only is each rug unique, but each region has its own color palette, recurring themes, and weave pattern stemming from a mixture of its indigenous and nomadic ancestry.
The History Of Rugs And Carpets From Persia:
Persia, now modern day Iran, was an ancient and powerful empire which stretched from Africa to India. During the Safavid period, (the time period between 1500 and 1736 A.D.) was considered by many to be its artistic pinnacle, similar to the European renaissance. The modern day cities of Tabriz, Kerman, Herat and Isfahan became major producers of fine carpets. The ruling class at the time, referred to as the Safavid Dynasty, encouraged arts of many kinds, including paintings, calligraphy and intricate weaving.
Hand-made rugs with intricate designs inspired by Persian culture were so well crafted and cherished, that many have survived for hundreds of years. Passed down from generation to generation, these rugs have become a living history. Evidence of a rich heritage and culture, each antique Persian rug has its own story.
During the 16th century these carpets were exported to aristocratic and high-end consumers from all over the world. During the 1850’s, the biggest consumers were the European countries like England and Germany. These countries encouraged the development of additional rug producing factories in the major cities of Tabriz, Kerman, Mashed and Sultanabad. Because of this, the ruler at the time, Reza Shah Pahlavi, built royal carpet and rug factories to produce the highest quality rugs in the region.
How were the Persian carpets made?
The construction of Persian rugs varies based on the city, region or village where they were woven. The “traditional” Persian carpet is tied with a single looping knot, known as Persian or Senneh knot. The vertical strand of thread in a Persian carpet has one loop. This use of a single knot is essential in establishing the identity of the place where the rug was made and can sometimes help in identifying the artisans who made it. When comparing carpets, the way to identify the knot used is to splay open the pile by bending the rug against itself and looking at the base of the knot.
Are the Persian carpet designs unique to that region?
The design of a rug can be misleading. Some rugs may feature a ‘Persian design’ but were woven elsewhere. An example of this convention would be Indo-Persian rugs. These rugs were woven in India with Persian design and construction elements. Surprisingly enough, despite the tribal wars, migrations, commercial influence and rebellions – the methods of rug construction used by different cultures has changed very little over time.
Many of the older Persian carpets from Tabriz have a central medallion, quartered corner medallions appearing over a field of scrolling vine ornaments, accented with single animals or birds, animal combat scenes and mounted hunters. Carpet grounds were red, blue and sometimes white but colors tended to be muted, partly because the sheep in the Northwest have coarse wool but mainly because of the salt quality of the water used in the dyeing process. Persian rug patterns are recognizable to the trained eye and have existed for many generations.
When did the carpet production in Persia begin?
Among the carpet producing regions of the Middle East, none is as varied and extensive in its output as Persia. It is possible that fragments of 9th century pile carpets discovered at Fostat near Cairo were imported from what is today the country of Iran. There is evidence that carpet weaving in Iran really began during the Mongol or Ilkhanids period c. 1300, as well as for the subsequent Timurid period up through the late 15th century. Major centers of production took place (and some still are) in the cities of Tabriz, Kerman, and Isfahan. That said, there is no firm historical documentation for attributing carpets to the last site during the early years of rug production.
However, the “golden area” of Persian carpet weaving really began after 1500 with the foundation of the Safavid dynasty by Shah Ismail. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Persia produced many of the great masterpiece carpets that are still in existence today.
During these periods Persian carpets were exported all over the world, from Japan to Western Europe. It is perhaps as significant that the lavish carpets captured, as booty, from the Ottoman Turks, after the Battle of Vienna in 1683, consisted primarily of Persian rugs… even though the Turks were themselves major producers of hand knotted pile carpets.
What would be considered the peak of the Persian carpet production?
The carpet production in Persia peaked during the late 19th century. By this time, these carpets had become virtually synonymous with the concept of the “Oriental rug”. During this time, the Persian rug weavers recaptured much of the range and quality of their predecessors. This holds true for both the older weaving centers like Tabriz and Kerman, as well as in many new areas of production like Sultanabad or Kashan. Since that time, Persian carpets have been made in an almost dizzying array of styles from the finest urban productions to the boldest village and nomadic pieces.
How did the rugs from Persia make it to other countries and the rest of the world?
Following the Silk Road, the rugs from Persia also made their way west to Europe. In Spain, the Islamic insurgence brought rug weaving traditions from Northern Africa and Morocco to Southern Europe through the Mediterranean trade routes. They transported rugs from the Caucasus and Transylvanian Balkans to the Renaissance painters and Italy’s upper class.
In the Caucasus, the bottleneck of rug weaving traditions intensified as displaced ethnic groups from Romania, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia shared cross-cultural designs that were transported north to Eastern Europe. With various points of entry, including longstanding Viking trade routes, through the harsh Arctic Sea, these carpets as well as the actual weaving techniques thrived throughout Europe, Scandinavia and Great Britain.
What is considered the most famous carpet from Persia?
As many authorities believe, the most famous Persian carpets came from Tabriz and are referred to as the twin Ardabil carpets. These carpets are in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Los Angeles Country Museum.
What are some of the best styles and types of Persian carpets?
Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, an importer of merino wool conceived the notion of re-launching the rug making industry. The greatest Ustadan (weaver) Mohtashem, is responsible for these finely woven carpets made in both wool and / or silk. There are three main styles of Persian rugs:
- Mohtashem Kashan rugs are characteristically known for their purple or less often ruby red silk bindings used for the selvages and pretty much all were woven using blue wefts. These are the most highly regarded of all the Kashan weavings.
- Kerman carpets, have a unique structure called the ‘vase technique’. The earliest examples, especially the vase carpets, have been escalating in value and interest at an unbelievable rate.
- Garden design carpets, (ornamented with formal gardens and water channel) and ogival lattice carpets are examples of this technique. Designs of fantastic complexity were executed.
Are all Persian rug designs essentially the same or do they vary?
Overall, Persian rugs are among the most diverse and beautifully designed of all antique >Oriental rugs. The rich story of the cultural and historical background of Persian rugs is one of the most interesting in all of art history. There is a Persian carpet out there for anyone who seeks one. That quest is sure to be an exciting and edifying experience.
Another less known but interesting fact is the story of the 16th century Shah, named Humayan. During his 10 year exile, he happened upon two artists. When he returned to India and regained power, he directed weavers to translate the painters’ style into rugs.
These rugs can still be found today. Their unique beauty and inherent history is a paradigm example of what makes antique Oriental rugs so valuable.
What makes Persian Rugs so valuable?
The number of antique Persian rugs will only decrease over time. This is one of the reasons why they are of such great value. While today there may be a lot of rugs available on the market, very few are considered by the trade to be “good examples”.
What Type Of Persian Rug Is The Most Expensive?
As time goes on, less and less of the true antique Persian rugs will survive. As the number decreases, the value of the earliest examples will rise. Today we are in the midst of an escalating interest in these works of art. This is why the best and earliest examples have been consistently selling for, what would be considered, only a few years ago, unfathomable amounts, with the most expensive Persian rug selling for $34,000,000 (You can read more about this rug here: most expensive rug sold at auction).
Why have the designs in Persian carpets changed over time?
As Western influence expanded across the Middle East throughout the 20th century, primary cultures began to lose their self defining attributes (since they began weaving based on the current market trends and demands). People’s abilities to sustain traditional crafting techniques faded and original motifs were slowly lost. The divide between antique carpets and all those that follow shows, over time, that the quality of these pieces diminished on all levels.
Are the older rugs from Persia considered works of Art?
There are few avenues in the art world that offer as much rich cultural and historical context as those found in the antique rugs from Persia. The rugs that were woven in Persia were literally woven with the aesthetic and cultural ideals of an entire people, and perhaps most importantly, rug-making was the art form that the people of Persia took more seriously than any other.
The Persian people took much pride in the textile art they created. Thus, it is in the antique carpets from Persia that we find the very finest and the most important examples of Persian textile art in general. To know the Persian rugs is to know a people and a culture in a way that is rare in the art world. Persian Rugs are regarded as one of the highest levels of artistic sophistication accomplished by humankind. As such, designers, artists and rug collectors covet these masterpieces.
Today, Iranian carpets, both modern and antique, have found an ever expanding home within the art world. Jason Nazmiyal, says, “These rugs seem to me, to focus most effectively on the convergence of color, texture and design in perfect balance and harmony.”
There is no doubt that Persian rugs are among the most beautiful and enduring artistic creation ever crafted. The beauty and complexity of Persian carpets that are antique, is timeless, inspiring, exciting and edifying. Like the feeling of intimacy that one experiences when one sees the brush strokes in a painter’s finest work, so too does one feel a connection to the master rug-makers of Persia when one sees up close the meticulous weaves of a gorgeous rug. Persian carpets and rugs are a great treasure of humanity, and to know them as such is to know the limitless nature of fine art.
Would Persian Master Weavers Sign Their Carpets?
Sadly, most rugs, even those woven by master weavers, were not signed. A master weaver’s signature and method can help in determining where the carpet was made. It can also assist with what style the carpet exhibits, and naturally, who the weaver was. Urban cities have traditionally facilitated Persian rug weaving as a commercial industry.
Any manufacturer’s production would have been greatly influenced by the market demands of the time. At the helms of such production companies were the master rug-weavers.
These individuals were the ones who chose the colors and organized the weavers. These master weavers designed with a personal identity that superseded group identity. Therefore, in such instances, the vernacular craft gave way to conscious visual art form. Today these masterworks can be found in museum collections such as The Metropolitan Museum. They can also be found in the inventories of fine antique carpet galleries.
Are Persian Rugs a Good Investment?
In addition to being beautiful works of art, the best examples of Persian carpets have been collected throughout history. They are also collectible today by individuals as investments. Historically, the rugs from Persia have been referred to as ‘Iranian stocks and shares’. Iranian market places are full of underground vaults where businessmen keep their precious pieces. Persian carpets of museum quality would be considered on par with the investment potential of a master painting.
That said, they are relatively less expensive and can serve a more practical use. Today, Persian carpets still remain a viable commodity.
*Note: Relative to market demand, unless damaged, the best Persian rugs will not, for the most part, depreciate in value; therefore making them valuable investments. Prices will reflect and fluctuate with market demands.
What do the names that dealers use for Persian carpets mean?
With the introduction of varying cultures’ commodities and art (in all its varying forms) at the market place, came the inevitable copying and constant modifications of designs and motifs.
A rug’s design, in and of itself, does not necessarily identify where it was made. Nor does it tell us who the people who authored it were. In general, Antique rugs from Persia receive their names from either:
- The tribes or people that wove them. Example: Kurdish rugs are those rugs that were woven by Kurdish people. Since they were mostly nomadic, they are not assigned a specific city or region.
- The region (city, district, town, villages) in which they were crafted. Example: Tabriz rugs are those rugs that were woven in the Persian city of Tabriz.
- In rare instances, the weaver’s name will be given to a specific production. Example: Ziegler rugs are Persian area rugs that were designed and manufactured by Ziegler & Co.
However, there are exceptions to this general rule, as is the case with Serapi Rugs. In this case, the term Serapi refers to the older and “better” rugs that were made in the city of Heriz.
What dyes were used to make rugs in Persia?
The rug color dyes used when weaving Persian rugs were generally natural. This served to create lustrous, animated works with great depth of field. The recipes used to dye the fibers were commonly comprised of berries, insects, minerals and seeds. The combinations were unique to each tribe, city and/or region. The weaving techniques they employed as well as the dye recipes were guarded as precious tribal secrets.
As a side note, the first chemical dyes were introduced to the rug markets during the mid 1800’s. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see such dyes in late 19th century rugs.
Are the Persian rugs woven as a family business? Would the designs be passed down from generation to generation?
Design styles were passed down through long lineages of craftsmen within a tribe or group. Family members wove alongside one another. Weaving first for the household then for the market. For the common designer, individual identity was not important. What was important, was to accurately execute the traditional style. Thereby ascribing the signature patterns and motifs of the “tribe” to each carpet.
How long does it take to weave a Persian Rug?
Typically, a single carpet could take months and even years to create. The actual time depends on the size and quality of the carpet. The finer the carpet, the more KPSI (knots per square inch) it has and therefore the longer it takes to create. This is often times why many people would work side by side on the same carpet. All of this partakes in the deep appeal and timeless quality of antique Persian carpets!
What are the different Persian rug knotting techniques?
Knot types used in Persian rugs most often include:
The two most commonly used knots in Persian weaving are the Turkish (used in the Caucasus, some Turkish and Kurdish areas of Iran, Turkey and East Turkmenistan) and Persian knots (Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, China and India).
- The Turkish knot is made by passing between two neighboring warps, looping under one, wrapped around both, then pulled through the center. Both ends will come out between the two warps.
- The Persian knot is commonly used when weaving finer rugs. Simply because it is generally a much smaller than its counterparts. Wrapping around one warp, then passing behind the neighboring warp so that it divides the two ends of yarn, makes the knot.
- Double Knotted: The second knot sits in front of the first knot. With the double knot technique, the second knot is not visible from the back.
It is important to note that if a rug is machine made (including hand tufted), it is not a genuine antique Persian rug!
Do the designs and patterns of Persian rugs have meaning?
The older Persian rugs will mainly feature abstract pictures of geometric and/or floral shapes. This is a result of the fact that many of the Persian people are Muslim and Islam does not allow living beings to be duplicated through imagery and art.
But what may seem like random shapes and abstract designs, are, for the most part, anything but! These rug patterns and designs have been passed on from one generation to another and many of these motifs have pretty profound meanings (such as lucky charms, wishes and messages).
Who is the best dealer that has handmade Persian rugs for sale?
Naturally, we believe that Nazmiyal is the best dealer for Persian rugs. That said, we urge you to do your due diligence. However, the more antique rug galleries people visit, the more educated they become and we believe that an educated consumer is the best buyer.
Why decorate a home with Persian rugs?
If someone wants to decorate the interior of their home or workplace, these rugs should be placed high on the list of items to purchase. The best antique Persian rugs are timeless. They fill a room with a beautiful combination of old world tradition and style. Many of the major taste makers as well as the biggest names in the field of interior design incorporate them into their projects. The rugs are a unique manifestation of the rich Persian culture and art which date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years to as far back as the Bronze Age. By incorporating these rugs in interior decor, they add color, depth and excitement. No room is complete without a beautiful piece on the floor!
However, purchasing an antique Persian rug is much more than just a pretty decorative piece for the home. The better and more rare examples, offer great investment potential which usually grows as the rugs age.
Needless to say, the rugs add a classy and an exquisite touch to any project.
Decorating Your Home with Beautiful Antique Persian Rugs
The delivery men have left. You’re standing alone in your apartment, hands on hips, brow furrowed. You look around the empty room and you ponder your next move. You notice how nicely the sunlight pours through the large window on the far wall, how nicely it lands on the floor. You nod to yourself, knowing that you’ve made the right choice, that this is the perfect room for it. But still you cannot help but feel intimidated by the task before you.
It may seem difficult to do it justice, to place it properly, to arrange the furniture properly around it. After all, you’ve never owned anything quite like this. Your antique Persian rug is more than 80 years old (how old a piece has to be to be considered an antique rug) and beautifully done with a gorgeous design and brilliant colors.
Knowing that this piece was hand-woven and dyed with natural ingredients, you know it is an impeccable masterpiece. And now it is your job to make sure that this beautiful piece of art can be appreciated by all who see it, and you are more than slightly apprehensive about the task before you. But relax – there’s no need to work yourself up over this seemingly daunting task. After all, decorating with antique rugs is a tradition as old as antique rugs themselves, and there is a wealth of information on the subject.
For instance, it is an established rule of thumb that if you’re going to place your antique carpet on a nice floor, then it is more than acceptable to leave some space around the carpet. You can even use the carpet to define spaces – for instance, you might want to place a sofa on the carpet to create a living room space whose borders are articulated by the rug.
Of course, that brings up the question of furniture placement, a potentially sticky wicket. But again, there are established do’s and do not’s. For example, your rug – which has an all-over, repetitive design – is perfect for furniture placement.
If you find that your rug is too beautiful of a piece to totally cover with your large sofa, you should know that it is perfectly acceptable to place just the front two legs on the carpet. That way, you get to define your living room space with the carpet and the furniture without having to worry about obscuring the beauty of the piece.
It is your personal taste and judgment that led to your purchase of this piece, and it is that same personal taste and judgment that should ultimately dictate the placement of the piece and the subsequent feel it brings to your room. So relax! At the end of the day, the beauty of the piece will speak for itself. You’ll be the envy of all who set eyes on it. Just remember to enjoy it and good things will follow!
Persian Rug Weavers from Two Different Worlds
The beauty and artistry of Persian rugs add style and sophistication to any room. The Persian rug colors and designs created by some of the great Persian rug weavers have a sublime quality that goes beyond their function, but what makes them even more special is the knowledge that each one of the rug knots was hand tied by the Persian weaver him or herself.
This is even more impressive considering level of detail that can be found in many of the pieces. You may be wondering, who are the Persian rug weavers whose hands masterfully created these works of art?
Early Tribal Persian Rug Weaving
Rug weaving as an art began in Persian, now Iran, approximately 2,500 years ago. They were originally woven by nomadic tribes as protection from the cold and wet environment. Eventually, they began to develop into traditional patterns and became a work of art that was also utilitarian.
The development of carpet weaving as the art that it is today was the work of several great leaders in Persian Oriental rug history. Cyrus the Great was struck by the beauty of the Oriental rugs being produced in Babylon when he conquered it in 539 BC. The oldest carpet in the world today was unearthed in an archaeological find in the Pazyryk valley and dates to 5 BC.
Development of Persian Carpet Weaving as an Industry
When the Seljuk Turks conquered and ruled Persia during the 11th and 12th centuries, they brought with them rug weavers who were highly skilled in the Turkish rug knot. This influence was strongest in Azerbaijan and Hamadan where the Turkish knot is still often used in these areas.
The Persian rug weavers in major cities such as Tabriz developed highly skilled weavers and became centers of carpet production. During the Mongol period of rule in Persia in the 14th century, these now antique rugs began to line the floors of palaces and had developed into a highly sophisticated art form. It was during the Safavid period from 1501 to 1732 when things began to change and the nature of the area rugs themselves began to change. Up until this point, the rug weaving traditions were passed on from one generation to another and the weaver was also the artist and designer.
By this time the trade routes along the Silk Road were well established and goods were traded from east to west, opening up new possibilities for wealth, and the Safavids knew that they had an opportunity. Carpets became an important cargo for caravans. There are very few of these early carpets surviving today, but they began to appear in miniature paintings and in artwork throughout Europe, so we know that the traditional patterns had been developed by that time. Cities located along the route began to develop carpet weaving as a formal trade.
In the late 15th century, a new rug designs and patterns began to appear in the miniatures. The large, formal central medallion designs began to appear, surrounded by layers of elaborate, curving geometric shapes. Large flowers and vines began to appear in a way that gave the rugs harmony and rhythm. These complex designs began to require a rug designer to create the designs and a weaver to transform them into a carpet.
The pattern of the carpet was laid out on what is known as a “cartoon”. The weaver would place the rug cartoon behind the warp and follow the design. The miniature painters designed carpets that they wished to appear in paintings. Formal schools began to develop. The weavers were now the craftsmen who created the rugs, but they were no longer the designers these pieces.
City Carpets vs Tribal Carpets
In the large metropolis carpet weaving centers, such as Tabriz, Kerman, and Isfahan, weavers were removed from the design process. They were given a pattern and they were expected to follow the design without any deviation. As a result, the actual weavers lost the creative input. But this was not the case in the small villages where the Persian rug weavers were still the designers and weavers of the carpets.
During the Safavid period, many times court artists designed the carpets and the weavers produced them. They also began to produce “standardized” designs to be replicated and sold in the European and Asian markets. In 1722, the Afghans invaded Isfahan, creating several years or turbulence where the great carpet manufacturing centers stopped producing. There were still rugs being produced by village tribes, but the manufactured designs stopped.
Under the reign of Shah Qajar in the last quarter of the 19th century, carpets regained their importance as a trade commodity and the rugs began to be exported to Europe and America. During this time, several American and European companies set up shops in Persian and organized formal production for export. During the 19th century Qajar period, the Persian rug weavers became even further removed from the artistry and design of the carpet.
Those 19th century carpets that were made from factories located in the larger cities, produced standardized designs that are easily recognizable. One can distinguish most of the Persian carpets made in Tabriz, Kerman, Hamadan, Khorassan, or Heriz by the design, colors, materials, and the carpet dyes that were used. One thing to be clear about is that when we talk about “factories” or the industrialization, it does not mean mechanization. There was still a men or women weavers who sat on the floor or a bench and hand tied every single knot in the carpet. The only difference is that the weaver did not have control over the design.
This is not the case in the smaller villages and rural areas. In these villages, the Persian rug weavers were still the designers and the weavers. Often, they were a storyteller too. They would use design symbols to tell the story of their tribe, their family, or perhaps to convey a certain concept. For instance, the boteh is a symbol that later became known as the paisley. It represents eternity or a flame among other meanings. Even though many symbols have become a part of rug weaving tradition, they can have different meanings to different tribes and in different areas. The classic traditional rug weavers in the villages use color to convey a specific meaning too. The tribal rug weaving in the villages is still a personal and highly individualized art.
You can read more about the city carpets vs the village rugs here
Qualities of the Tribal vs. Industrialized Persian Rug Weavers
Whether you prefer the formality of the Persian city rugs produced in the weaving centers, or the rustic charm of those produced in villages is a matter of preference. Both of them have their own qualities that make them a treasure to own. One can easily spot a Persian rug that was woven in the city as opposed to one produced in the small villages, or “tribal” rugs.
The Persian rugs woven in the city will typically be divided into four quadrants, or sometimes only two, that will be executed perfectly. The design will be symmetrical, regardless of the direction that you turn the rug. In some cases, as directional design it used, but the rug will still have symmetry along the vertical axis, as if the rug can be folded in half exactly. The rugs woven in cities also often have more uniform colors too. This is because the weavers have access to larger amount of high quality natural dyes and follow a strict process to produce consistency in the colors.
This is not the case with the tribal rugs produced in the villages. Even when the rug has a repeating motif, often the repeats will have slight variations. The lines of the design may not be straight, or the colors may shift from one end of the rug to the other. Sometimes it may appear as if the weaver changed their mind and went off on a different thought process. The colors may shift, a phenomena called rug abrash, because the weaver ran out of that color of wool, or perhaps it was completed by several different weavers.
Tribal rugs may have bolder, more geometric designs and lack the intricacy of those produced in the cities, but not always. There are fewer rules for tribal rugs. This does not make them inferior to the standardized designs produced in the cities. To the contrary, it makes them even more special. Each one is individual and the product of the mind of the weaver. It is a like a painting and has an individual character all its own.
Meet the Master Persian Rug Weavers of the Late 19th Century Persian Rug Revival
The artistry of Persian carpets makes them a special addition to any interior design. The beautiful colors and patterns are steeped in traditions. The origins of these traditions have been lost in time. For the most part, the artists and creators of these master artworks are unknown. The hands that spun the wool and silk, dyed the threads, and hand tied every single knot have faded into obscurity. We know the quality of the rug by its color, pattern, the number of knots and the type of knot used. We can pin the rug to a certain region, tribe, or at locale by its style, but the names and faces associated with these works have been lost. Yet, there are a few masters whose names we do know, and these carpets hold a special place as world treasures.
Master Persian rug weavers such as Ziegler Sultanabad, Mohtashem, Haji Jalili, and Aboul Ghasem Kermani produced masterpieces that find their way into exquisite collections and museums around the world. A rug designed by one of these Master weavers is a rare and highly-prized addition to any collection. They stand out in their quality and design in a way that is mesmerizing, touches the viewer and connects them to the sublime.
Now, let us meet a few of the Master Persian rug weavers
Weavers Of Persian Ziegler Sultanabad Rugs
The rugs of Ziegler Sultanabad were created around the last quarter of the 19th century. These creations were part of a revival in interest in Persian rugs. They became an iconic part of Victorian interior design, which expanded the market for them and inspired designers to create rugs that were more appealing to western tastes.
Ziegler began producing his rugs in Sultanabad, a small town located in the northwest corner of Persia. His designs were distributed by the Ziegler & Co., which was based in Manchester, England. A trade network was set up that led to exporting rugs from Persia to England and America where consumers could not get enough of them.
Ziegler’s designs were less dense than those of other rug producers at the time. They were often on a grand scale and used soft colors, sometimes in pastel. These lighter, colors complemented Victorian design sensibilities and gave the interior design a delicate and refined quality.
As with many of the Masters, Ziegler Sultanabad began producing carpets in the late 1870’s on a commission basis. They were later sold through exclusive retailers such as Liberty & Company and Harvey Nichols.
It may be noted that Ziegler carpets became a term that is used to refer to the style of carpet produced by them and modern-day carpets are still being produced in this style. An original Ziegler carpet is a highly valuable and collectible investment piece.
Master Persian Rug Weaver Mohtashem Kashan
Ustad Zufilkhar Ed Din Mohtashem is another weaver whose carpets are associated with the revival in interest in Persian carpets during the late 1800’s. Ustad is a term of honor used for the most respected designers and producers of Persian rugs. His works were produced in the town of Kashan, which is in central Persia near the carpet weaving centers of Isfahan and Tehran. These masterpieces were produced continually for about 30 years. They are considered some of the finest and most delicate rugs of the time.
These rugs were woven of wool and silk. One of the things that stands out about a Mohtashem rug is the brilliant use of purple and ruby red silk bindings on the edges. They used imported merino wool, which can be spun into fine threads and is known for its exquisite softness. If you are fortunate, you may even find a rug that is signed by Mohtashem. These are some of the most valuable carpets in the world. Even if the rug is not signed by the master Weaver, it is still considered a rare find.
There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding Mohtashem. The name is well known, but there are rumors that it may be a trade name and that the actual person did not exist. However, there is a story involving an actual person by this name. Prior to the time when this legend supposedly took place, the Persian carpet industry had been almost nonexistent since the fall of the Safavid Dynasty in 1723.
The story goes that at the time when these carpets first began to be produced again, they faced competition from machine-manufactured textiles from Europe. In an attempt to revive the business, it is said that Mohtashem married a woman from Sultanabad who brought with her the traditions of weaving a hand knotted carpet.
They began to import wool from Manchester, England. People fell in love with these hand-knotted carpets. In 1890, there were only 3 looms operating in the city, but by 1900 there were 1,500. By 1949, there were 4,000 operating looms in Kashan.
Mohtashem carpets are known for their vibrant colors and graceful, sweeping designs. Those produced before 1900 are rare and if you are fortunate enough to find one, it would make an excellent addition to an exclusive collection.
Master Persian Rug Weaver Haji Jalili
Haji Jalili is a carpet Weaver from Tabriz. Once again, he is part of the revival that took place in the latter part of the 19th century. Tabriz was a traditional carpet weaving center during the Golden Age of the Safavid Dynasty. It had a tradition of producing some of the most highly desirable carpets in the world. However, it too lost the industry when the Safavid Dynasty fell in 1723.
The works of Hajji Jalili are known for unusual, distinctive color combinations and design elements. He too produced carpets that appealed to the Victorian sensibilities and that are often in gray, pink, and gold tones. This color combination makes them stand out from more traditional Persian carpets that were being produced at the time. It also gives them a softer look and feel.
Another unique feature about Haji Jalili carpets is that many of his works were produced in silk. Silk carpets have a shimmer that lasts throughout the years, and retain their original colors. They are often found in excellent condition, a testimony to the quality and craftsmanship that went into them. They were often commissioned pieces and used in the homes of wealthier clientele.
Some of his most famous Haji Jalili pieces include floral rugs that feature central medallions, as well as Garden of Paradise and Tree of Life patterns. They often include it cypress trees, gazelles, peacocks, willow trees, deer, and other flora and fauna. Another thing that makes them stand out is the use of subtle tones to create fine details and shading within the design. His rugs often have an earthy quality and a connection to the natural world.
Master Persian Rug Weaver Aboul Ghasem Kermani
No discussion of the great Master Persian rug weavers would be complete without a mention of the master Weaver Aboul Ghasem Kermani. He was often called a Master of Masters and also produced rugs between 1880 and 1900. The designs were often woven in wool and silk using contemporary designs of the time that included paisleys, pictorials, densely packed floral patterns, and medallion rugs. The designs were also known for their complex and extravagant borders.
The designs of Kermani were often carried out using vibrant, high contrast colors and densely packed designs. They are some of the most unusual designs in the world. They are easily recognizable for their outstanding use of color that differentiates them from other fine Persian carpets that you find in the marketplace. They are a real treasure for your collection.
One of the things that makes rugs produced by the Masters so important as collector’s pieces is that only a limited number of them exist. They were produced for a short amount of time and then there were no more. Rugs produced by the Master Persian rug weavers are also important investment pieces because of their rarity, quality, and the reputation of the artisan.
If you are fortunate enough to find a work by one of these Masters, you have stumbled upon a rare find. Due to their high demand among collectors, it is difficult to find a piece by one of these master weavers. They are available at times, and sometimes, we are fortunate enough to acquire one and are able to offer it to you. Look around at our collection, and you will see why the works of these Masters are truly an artistic masterpiece.
Introduction to Weaving Persian Rugs and Other Carpets
Weaving Persian Rugs
Weaving Persian Rugs – From the earliest times Persia has been famed as a major center of Oriental rugs and carpet weaving. The ultimate origins of the woven carpet remain a subject of debate, but all the evidence points to Persia as the cradle of ancient rug production from the earliest times. Indeed, Persia has been a fountain of oriental art and culture not only in antiquity, but down through the centuries. By Islamic times, Persia had established the standards of architecture design, miniature painting, and textile production emulated by the rest of the Middle East.
In the Safavid period beginning around 1500, when we finally have a substantial body of surviving carpets, it becomes ever clearer that Persia constituted the heartland of Islamic rug production, providing inspiration for the rug weaver in the neighboring regions of Turkey and India from the 16th century on.
And since the great revival of Oriental rug weaving in the later nineteenth century Persia has continued to maintain this central role right down to the present time. No other oriental rug producing region can offer the range and quality of design, the superior wool and dyes, or the highly refined weaving techniques that still distinguish Persian rugs as the finest work of its kind.
History of Major Persian Carpet Making Regions
Persian carpet weaving, in modern day Iran, has long been known for its exquisitely beautiful and sumptuous handmade carpets. Carpet weaving in Persian is so deeply ingrained in the culture and traditions of this ancient land that Iranian rug weavers have elevated it into an art form using a wonderful mix of colors and patterns.
Although Persian carpet weaving take place made all over Iran today, the major Persian rug weaving centers include Tabriz, Heriz, Kerman, Sarouk and Sultanabad.
Persian Tabriz Rugs:
Tabriz is a city with a long and colorful history. Once the capital of a succession of khanates, including the Safavid Iranian Empire; it is now the capital of East Azerbaijan Province of Iran. To carpet and rug lovers, its significance lies in the fact that it is one of the oldest rug weaving centers in the Middle East. While the period between the 12th and the 16th century is considered the golden age of rug weaving in Tabriz, the city is still an important center for rug weaving and a huge variety of antique carpets and rugs are made here.
Click here to view Nazmiyal’s Collection of antique Tabriz Carpets
Persian Rugs Woven In Heriz:
Heriz is a city in the East Azerbaijan Province of Iran, situated not very far from the city of Tabriz. This small city is well known for rugs and carpets made of tough and durable wool of the finest quality. The wool’s toughness is attributed to the fact that the city sits on a major deposit of copper on the slope of Mount Sabalan. Traces of copper found in the drinking water of the area makes the local sheep’s wool tougher than wool found in other areas. Because they are so tough and mostly come in larger rug sizes, Heriz rugs are suitable for dining rooms and hallways.
Click here to view Nazmiyal’s Collection of antique Persian Heriz Serapi and Bakshaish Carpets
Persian Rugs Woven In Kerman:
Kerman, once the capital of Iran and currently the capital of the Kerman Province of Iran, is the largest and the most important city in southeastern Iran. Boasting a long and colorful history, the city is home to many historic mosques and Zoroastrian fire temples. The city has been a major center for high quality carpets for several centuries. Among antique carpets, Kerman carpets are considered to be among the finest. They are highly prized by collectors for their beautiful designs, broad pallet, use of natural fibers and dyes, impressive tensile strength and abrasion resistance, and expert color combination.
Click here to view Nazmiyal’s Collection of antique Kerman Carpets
Persian Rugs Woven in Sarouk:
Sarouk, also spelled as Sarouk or Saruq, is a town in Markazi Province in northwestern Iran. The town and the nearby city of Arak, along with the surrounding rural areas (together known as the Arak weaving district), are famous for the Sarouk carpets, which are made of tough and durable high quality wool.
Sarouk rugs are considered among the finest in the world. American customers of the 20th century were so enamored by the curvilinear and floral design of these rugs that America has its own version of Sarouk rugs. Today, the finest Sarouk rugs come from a small town called Ghiassabad.
Click here to view Nazmiyal’s Collection of Antique Sarouk Carpets
Whether you choose one of the formal designs of the carpet weaving centers, or a more rustic, tribal rug depends on the look and feel that you want for the room. Be sure to browse around and see our fine selection of both city and village produced rugs for your next design inspiration.
Here are some beautiful rugs that were woven by Persian rug weavers:
Nazmiyal NYC is the Global Leader for Persian Carpets
Many times we associate Persian rugs with magic carpet rides thanks to the likes of Disney blockbuster hits such as, Aladdin, Aladdin 2: Return of Jafar and Aladdin 3: The King of Thieves. Fortunately, you don’t have to search far and wide to find one of these magical treasures. Though it is not a guarantee that every Persian rug will make you an aviation specialist, it is a guarantee that one of these remarkable finds will bring your home true richness of historical quality.
The Nazmiyal Collection has been a global leader in the antique carpet trade for the latter part of the century and into the new millennium. As such, the rugs offered are hand-picked to ensure the utmost quality and textiles enriched with history and tradition.
Similar to our posts on Sultanabad rugs or Tabriz carpets, the Persian rug is a rare find of a gem to the home accent world. Yet, differs in its earlier historical relevance, making Persian rugs one of the most sought after textile in the rug industry. When one sees one of these rugs, there is a a journey into the majestic world of ancient civilizations over 2,500 years ago.
Persian rugs are essential statement pieces for the true antique aficionado and connoisseur of crafty finds. These treasures from the Orient are full of geometric shapes, floral designs, and bold color palettes that will best suit your home’s needs in order to create a den of true beauty and antique rug history.
Whether you’re hanging a Persian rug as a decorative focal point on the wall or laying one down to enrich the ground in which you walk, these antique diamond finds will have you creating your own Middle Eastern getaway that your guests will truly be jealous of.
Nazmiyal is your clear choice Persian carpets
If you’re in the market for a rug, Nazmiyal Gallery is the best place to start. We have a vast collection of diverse Persian carpets and antique Oriental rugs in different sizes and styles, and you can look through this amazing collection of the Rugs and Carpets right here online. It’s a convenient way for you to find the next centerpiece to your room or a new addition to your collection.
In addition to displaying our extensive inventory of Persian carpets, our website also contains useful information regarding these works of art for people who are new to this market. At Nazmiyal , we want all of our customers to feel like they are making a truly informed decision when it comes to purchasing Oriental rugs.
You’ll find a lot of information on our site regarding the history of oriental rugs, maintenance guidelines and considerations to make when purchasing Persian carpets.
If you would like to talk with one of the experts at Nazmiyal, please feel free to give us a call at 877 784 3463. They’ll be able to guide you through our vast inventory of Persian carpets and help you find the type of piece you’re looking for. If you prefer, you can also contact us with your request by filling out the online form on the Contact Us page. We’ll promptly respond to your email with the information you’re looking for.
Click The Articles Below To Learn More About Persian Rugs
Pictures and Photo Gallery of Vintage and Antique Persian Rugs | Meaning and Significance Of Different Colors In Persian Rugs | Semi Antique vs Antique Persian Rugs | Iranian Textiles History | Antique Garden of Paradise Persian Carpet | Tragic Persian Love Story: Shirin and Khosrow | Nizami Tragic Persian Love Story: Layla and Majnun | Interior Decorating With Persian and Oriental Antique Rugs