Modern and Vintage Persian Rugs
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Modern Persian Rugs and Vintage Persian Carpet Collection – For centuries now Persia has been synonymous with the very notion of fine oriental rugs and carpets. But what precisely is it that constitutes a ‘fine’ vintage Persian rug? The answer has to do with various aspects of design, weaving technique, color, and wool quality, all of which are closely interrelated.
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The fineness of vintage Persian rugs emerges most immediately in their design no matter how small or large the carpet may be. Since the beginning of the Safavid period some five centuries ago, fine Persian rug designers strove for an almost magical standard of subtlety and delicacy, one that would allow them to produce oversize palace carpets with the minute precision of the finest embroidered court textiles and miniature or manuscript painting.
The secret of their success lay not only in the superior level of draftsmanship required to produce the drawings or cartoons that guided the weavers, but also in the demands that they imposed upon the weavers, who were required to use the most minute rug weaving technique possible. The foundations of the vintage rugs were comprised of extremely fine-spun closely set warps of cotton or silk in conjunction with the thinnest, most closely set warps of the same materials. This in turn facilitated the use of very small knots for the pile of the carpet, knots so small that they could be woven with upwards of 350 knots per square inch.
To insure the maximum density of weave, the horizontal rows of knots were compressed vertically with the aid of weavers’ combs and mallets. The modern equivalent of this level of resolution would be a high definition big screen television with over 1050 pixels per square inch. The ultimate effect the design also requires the pile to clipped with perfect uniformity to a very low level so as not to blur the sharp-edged crispness of the patterning.
One might expect to see such high standards for carpets that were produced largely in royal court workshops and urban commercial manufacturies catering to the Persian elite. But it is truly remarkable that when Persian carpet manufacturing was revived in the later nineteenth century, especially given the large scale of this revival, that the same standards of design, pattern and production were revived as well, along with the commitment to use only the finest carpet dyes and wool. This demonstrates that the objective then was not simply to imitate the masterpieces of the past, but literally to recreate the standards and techniques of their production perfectly, so that the tradition of fine Persian rugs could truly come to life once more and preserve its superior quality down to the present time. This why there still remains in Persia a grand tradition of carpet production guided by great masters as it was in the Safavid period.
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