Commercial Rug Weaving – Persian City Rugs vs. Village and Tribal Rugs
Persian City Rugs vs. Village and Tribal Rugs – From the earliest times, the motives or purposes, behind rug production, have been complex. As domestic home furnishings, woven area rugs and carpets must have originated for practical reasons. First for the purposes of comfort and then as decorative objects. Rugs served to embellish the home in decorative, functional and aesthetic terms.
Over time, the weaving techniques and designs of rugs, gradually became more sophisticated. As this trend continued, carpets gradually became objects of luxury and class, indicating the affluence and social standing of their owners. Once this had occurred, i.e. , once the rugs themselves began to function as valuable commodities and social status symbols, their production itself became a means of generating wealth for their manufacturers. Especially in Persian urban city centers of rug production.
The workshops of urban Persian city rugs that could produce the finest quality rugs could also command the highest prices. The Persian city rug producers, who designed the very finest rugs, acquired reputations of ‘master weavers’. Some of these master rug weavers even began to signed their work.
There has sometimes been a tendency, especially among collectors, to contrast commercial Persian city rug weaving with village or tribal and nomadic rug weaving. In this view, the commercial city rug weaving is seen to cater to commercial marketplace demands. In contrast, the work of village or nomadic rug weavers is assumed to have a more genuine cultural and / or aesthetic ‘authenticity’. This is mostly because the tribal village rugs are thought to have been made for the weavers’ own personal use; rather than for sale.
This is, however, somewhat of a false opposition, as commercial rug production, was, by no means, limited to cities. Village and tribal or nomadic rug weavers often traded or sold their work as a source of income. It also turns out, that nomadic and village rugs were not only produced by women in individual households. We now know that village tribal rugs were also produced in larger, organized workshops for the bigger, “outside” market orders.
Also, there is nothing particularly “authentic” about non-urban or village rug designs. Village and nomadic rug designs often turn out to be far less ancient or traditional than experts have supposed. The Persian commercial urban city rug designs, were, in fact, continually changing ‘improving’ or ‘tweaking’ designs `according to the weavers’ creative impulses.
The same holds true to the urban ‘commercial’ city rug designers. They too may have had long traditions behind them. This is despite them having to respond to the ever changing tastes of the marketplace. In the end, it was the commercial basis of rug production, its need to achieve a successful market share, that guaranteed its high technical and design standards. Only the finest, most creative commercial Persian city rugs could expect to dominate the marketplace.