Persian Carpets — Persian carpet or Persian rug also known as Iranian carpet, is one kind of heavy textile, made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purpose, produced in Iran (historically known as Persia). Carpet weaving is an essential part of Persian culture and Iranian art. Many times Persian carpets and rugs are regarded as works of art, representing inevitable aesthetic feeling by the expression of mathematical relations in the dyeing, design, style and weaving methods, and more important is that typically they are characterized by obvious features of their production areas. Therefore, within the group of Oriental rugs produced by the countries of the so-called “rug belt”, the Persian carpets and rugs stand out by the variety and elaborateness of its manifold designs.
Although “Persian carpet” most often refers to pile-woven textiles, flat-woven carpets and rugs like Kilim, Soumak, and embroidered tissues like Suzani are also the part of the rich and manifold tradition of Persian carpet weaving. But Rexrugs mainly provide pile-woven that’s say hand knotted carpets and rugs here.
The History of Persian Carpets and Rugs
Mysteries have remained about the beginning of carpet weaving, as carpets are easy to be destroyed by often use, deterioration, and destruction by insects and rodents. It’s said the earliest pile-woven carpet—PYZYRYK, which is the 2,500 year-old carpet with perfect condition preserved in State Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1949, Dr. Ludenko, a Russian archaeologist, fortunately found this well-preserved hand-woven carpet when he guided to excavate the grave of a Scythian nobleman in the Pazyryk Valley of the Altai Mountains in Siberia.
This carpet measures 183 by 200 centimeters (72 by 79 inches) and has 36 symmetrical knots per cm² (232 per inch²). The advanced weaving technique used in the Pazyryk carpet indicates a long history of evolution and experience. It is considered the oldest known carpet in the world. The central field of this ancient carpet is a deep red color background and it has two animal frieze borders proceeding in opposite directions accompanied by guard stripes. Its inner main border depicts a procession of deer, the outer men on horses, and men leading horses. The horse saddlecloths are woven in different designs. The inner field contains 4 x 6 identical square frames arranged in rows on a red ground, each filled by identical, star shaped ornaments made up by centrally overlapping x- and cross-shaped patterns. The design of this carpet already shows the basic arrangement of what was to become the standard oriental carpet design: A field with repeating patterns, framed by a main border in elaborate design, and several secondary borders. The discovery of this carpet demonstrates hand-woven carpet is an ancient work of art.
It was considered to be the artistic peak period between 1500 and 1736 A.D., similar with the European renaissance. And the Safavid Dynasty which is the ruling class at that time, encouraged arts development, including paintings, calligraphy and intricate weavings. During that period, some modern cities of Isfahan, Tabriz, Kerman and Herat became the major producers of fine hand-woven carpets. And the handmade rugs and carpets with intricate designs inspired by Persian culture were so well crafted and cherished, that many have survived for hundreds of years. Starting from the 15th century, hand-woven carpets and rugs were emerged into European aristocratic and high-end consumers. At the beginning of 20th century, oriental carpets and rugs were exported to the west rich family.
Hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs are an very important part of the modern Iranian culture, which are valuable heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. The special exotic culture endows the carpets and rugs unique meaning and charming.
Four Types of Persian Carpets and Rugs
Hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs are the related results of techniques, history, tradition and utilitarian, all features is determined by the process of carpet weaving. Gradually, there are four obvious types of carpets and rugs formed: Tribal, Village, City and Imperial Court.
- Tribal Carpet: Hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs are normal production activities of Nomadic, and also an integral part to their life. The design of this kind of carpet is based on simple geometric forms with contrast colors, representing natural and innocent to express the pride and bravery of the nomads and their original culture. Usually, the patterns were handed down orally by the tribal tradition, which were weaved by horizontal looms with small sizes.
- Village Carpet: Rural workshops have a fixed production area, mainly for their own use and small business, and these carpet designs tend to be more complex, more abstract patterns and formatting patterns with rich colors tribal carpet, but mainly based on geometric design. The hand-woven carpets are also small in size and are usually completed by housewives. Both horizontal and vertical weaving racks are used.
- City Carpet: The carpets produced in urban workshops are separated from the design and weaving sections. They are more complex and refined. And they are used to display formatting, geometry and fancy designs with harmonious colors. A series of varied patterns can be expressed. The colors are used, and the entire carpet is more rigorous, delicate and harmonious than the rustic carpet. Only vertical weaving frames are used for carpet weaving, the large-size carpets are manufactured with the appearance of urban factories, mainly aimed for commercial sales and exports.
- Imperial Court Carpet: In the past, the Persian carpets or Persian rugs produced by the large court workshops were a special area. They produced special carpets exclusively for the emperors, which were extravagant and expensive to be used in the luxurious court palaces. The designs are made by excellent artists, using highly complex geometric and curved designs, highly refined and unique. A large number of colors in the natural world are used. Sometimes dozens of colors are found on one piece of carpet, which are harmonious, rich, and full of appeals. Most of these carpets are now preserved in museums.
What Designs in Persian Carpets and Rugs?
The design patterns of hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs are usually presented in two basic forms: geometric patterns and curved patterns.
Geometric patterns apply straight lines, horizontal or vertical or diagonal arches, which is evenly distributed and traversed the entire carpet, forming a great variety of patterns. Carpets designed with geometric patterns are characterized by the preliminary, abstract, basic carpet features, which, in most instances, reflects that the simplification of the carpet work is the basic style of the craftsman and is also the style used most by the nomads. The geometric design style is passed down from age to age mainly by word of mouth and spread widely especially in Anatolia, Caucasus and Central Asia areas.
From the 15th century to the 16th century, it is the golden period for the development of oriental hand-woven carpets. The art of hand-woven carpet has reached its peak in the Persian Safavi dynasty. Many artists began to engage in carpet designing to create more elegant patterns of plants and flowers-curve patterns from existed straight geometric patterns. This pattern presents a more complex floral and Arabic design, sometimes with human and animal motifs.
The emergence of the curve pattern signifies that the development of carpet production has been divided into two stages, the planning stage and the implementation stage. Because the curve pattern can be presented on the carpet in a variety of flexible distribution, and the designer sees it as the best expression of the Persian carpet.
The Decorative Pattern of Persian Carpet
Most hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs are rectangular, and their decoration is laid out according to established rules. These layouts include each part of the surface of the rug, and the surface of the carpet is divided into central areas, or filed, corners and borders. These arrangements are divided into three categories: directional layout, non-directional layout, and central layout. These are the basis selection of the carpet design framework and decorative patterns.
- Directional layout: The pattern is arranged according to a single axis of symmetry, making the layout appear to start in a specific direction. The most representative is the prayer rug. The design of the prayer rugs helped Muslims find their position for the holy city of Mecca. For this the field of the carpet is designed as an niche in bowed shape. The prayer bends his knees to the inside of the bow, with his head on the top of the bow and his hands on the corners of the carpet.
- Non-directional layout: The pattern can be viewed from any direction. The decoration of the carpet field does not have a dominant point but formed by different elements, which patterns repeat but are independent to cover the entire field. This complete coverage of the central area is very common, but the arrangement of rectangles and diagonal lines, forming a grid or repeated repetitions often appear in the design.
- Central layout: The pattern also can be viewed from any direction, but its decoration is based on the center that reflects the elements of the secondary pattern. And this central element is usually a medallion-shaped circular ornament or a rose-shaped ornament, or a circle, or arch, or a star, or a sharp polygon. But at the end there are always two small, usually drop-shaped pendants. The medal-shaped layout is the most widely used and most famous layout in carpets.
The Symbolization of Oriental Persian Carpets and Rugs
Typically, the pattern and color of hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs embody their culture and spirit. Except the basic decorative feature, they have significant symbolic meaning. Along with the development of history, many symbolic decorative patterns lost their original shapes and meanings, or were converted into simple and abstract elements. For instance, many ancient emblems, totems, and indigenous shields were replaced by simple polygonal medallions. But many symbolic decorations that retain their original forms can still be identified.
Some Symbolic Patterns In Carpet:
Tree of life
Classic medallion design
Iselibe snake pattern
(more details about the symbolization, please check our blog: THE ART EMBEDDED IN HANDMADE SILK CARPET)
Do You Know Which Hand-woven Carpets Family in Persia?
With the disappearance of the imperial dynasty, the former luxury palaces have become memorial sites for later generations to recall the past. Those luxurious and expensive carpets that were once produced exclusively for the emperors have been collected by major museums and used to serve the outstanding artists of the palace factory and their descendants still continue the tradition of their ancestors, and always maintain their own vivid, rich cultural and emotional colors. But with the influence of relatively isolated, closed, old and natural unique fields, the palace factory will be evolved into a modern family factory. The highly complex, refined, and unique designs, as well as the harmonious, rich and infectious dyeing techniques, make each carpet like a beautiful work of art.
The leader of today’s family carpet is often the artist himself, and is an important mentor and supervisor of the preparatory phase and the knotting implementation phase. The design of patterns, the use of empty spaces, the matching of colors, and the perfect plan ensure the perfection of the unity in quality and design.
Iran’s most famous hand-woven rug family:
Main Carpets Production Areas in Persia
The main origin of Persian carpets
Various types of carpets and rugs produced in Iran, whether urban carpets or nomadic carpets, can be divided according to large geographical areas, including special geographical areas and centers.
According to their style and technical characteristics, they can be divided into 64 categories. The following is the production of Persian carpets and rugs in the main production areas and the most representative types of carpets.
Isfahan, Tabriz, Qum Nain, Kashan, Kerman, Bijar, Senneh Areas, Sarouk Areas, Hamadan Area, Mashad Areas and Baluch.
The old Persian proverb says: Isfahan is halfway down the world. Located on the Iranian plateau at 1,600 meters above sea level, Isfahan is a historic cultural city. In the 16th century, the Persian king Abbas moved to Isfahan and made Persian carpets and rugs enter the Golden Age. First-rate artists began to engage in carpet designing, sometimes signing important designs makes carpets from everyday objects which are closely connected with life into art works which is the symbol of social wealth and luxury goods. During this period, the emperors established the palace factory in the most important city. At that time, the best carpets in the world were from Isfahan and used in the royal palace of Persia. It was also taken as a significant gift and presented to several European countries. The royal family, the Holy See, and the aristocracy in Europe placed Persian carpets on the ground or hung them on the walls like precious oil paintings…. It confirmed the inevitable connection between nobles and the art of carpets. The prestige of Persian carpets today is largely due to the Isfahan rugs of that period.
Located in the northwestern Iranian plateau, the fourth largest city, Tabriz, is known as the hometown of Persian carpets and rugs and is one of the oldest carpet production area in Persia. The Tabriz carpets made outstanding contributions to the revival of the Persian carpets that were at a low tide in the 19th century. The particular attention to detail in samples of silk was used to highlight the style.
And Tabriz is the largest area where Iranian carpets are produced. It is centered on traditional patterns and includes almost all patterns of Persian carpets and rugs meanwhile owning many unique designs, such as the Mahi fish-shaped pattern, which is considered by many connoisseurs as the most elegant design in Persian carpets and rugs.
Qom is a holy city of Shia Islam, located at 150 kilometers far from the south of the capital Tehran. Kum area is the most famous production area of Persian silk carpets. Its unique design, delicate weaving and magnificent colors matching make it one of the best hand-woven carpets in the world. The most exquisite patterns we have seen on Chinese silk carpet are often derived from Qum. In addition to Qum silk carpets, the wool carpets are also renowned for their reputation with Isfahan, Nain and Tabriz.
Nain city is located about 150 kilometers far from the east of Isfahan City. Although it is not the earliest carpet weaving city, it is also one of the highest quality carpet production area. Because except absorbing most of the carpet weaving techniques in the neighboring ancient city of Isfahan, it also incorporated its own weaving features. Nain carpets are usually wool and silk with coordinated proportion. The outline of a floral pattern with white silk is a typical feature in Nain wool silk carpets.
Located in the middle of Iran, it is a famous production center during the Safavid period of the sixteenth century and also the birthplace of vase design. Now, Kerman is one of the most popular sources of Persian carpets, too. Kerman carpets are very easy to identify both in terms of weaving and style.
Kerman carpets use asymmetrical knots with very detailed and intricate curve styles. And there are many layouts in the center area: such as central medallions, trees, bushes, hunting scene, and various other human figures or movements.
Located in the northwest of Iran, the Bijar carpet is known as the “Persian iron carpet”, because Bijar is not only a beautiful place, but also produces the most durable hand-woven carpets. Such carpets are woven by Kurds living in the small town of Bijar, north-western in Iran. Bijar is known for its thick carpet with strong structure and heavy weight. Many people in other areas often imitate to weave Bijar carpet, but failed in that Bijar uses a very unique wet loom techniques. The so-called “wet-knotting technique” is to keep the knotted wool and warp and weft threads wet by spraying water during the weaving process. This will cause them to shrink temporarily so that they can be knotted very tightly, and the carpets will become more compact after drying with superior durability.
- Kashan Area
Kashan is an ancient civilization city located about 300 kilometers far from the south of Tehran. There is a long history of weaving for hand-woven carpets here which can be dated back to the 16th century Safavid period and become one of the most famous and popular carpet production areas. The “Adebirg Rug” currently preserved at the Victoria Art Gallery in London, England, is made here. Classic Kashan carpets are mostly designed with a diamond-shaped medallion matching with traditional red and blue colors. Some recent Kashan carpets also use light brown, grayish blue and palm green hues.
- Eilam area
Eilam is located on the western plateau of Iran with cold climate and barren mountainous. The buildings in Eliam are very famous because of its important strategic position in ancient times, and many medieval castles have been left behind, therefore, it has become a favorite sightseeing for architects and tourists today. The Eilam area has a history of carpet weaving for over a thousand years. The Eilam carpets are with rich exquisite designs and high quality. However, for the remoteness of the area, few their carpets are available in the international market. Only Iranian national carpet companies export a small amount of Eilam carpets each year.
- Senneh Area
Located in western Iran, Senneh carpets attracted the attention of the early Western markets due to its high-density knotting method and the city’s interesting name. The word “Senneh” also has the meaning of “asymmetric knot” in Persian. But ironically, Senneh carpets usually use symmetrical knotting methods and adopt their special techniques in knotting and trimming short suede. The design of the entire center area is extremely paid much attention to details and emerges. The main background colors are mostly blue, black and ivory.
- Sarouk Area
Located in western Iran, Sarouk carpets are commonly used for asymmetrical knots and easily identifiable by the straight lines of the Persian fancy decorations. These traditional Persian fancy decorations include vines, leaves and buds, which appear rigid in the carpet but are very effective. This highly innovative line character began in the late nineteenth century and slowly turned itself into a curve and natural style. This layout is most commonly used in the center medallion which can be a large hexagon, a small round or rhomboidal shape with pendants and triangle walls that extend outward on both sides. The Sarouk rug also employ the layout of decorative elements and prayer rugs. The background of the central area is usually ivory, beige, red, and blue colors.
- Hamadan Area
Also located in western of Iran, carpets in this production area are very easy to distinguish due to their technical and style characteristics. Hamadan carpets are made with a symmetric knotting method. The suede is trimmed very high, and there is also a compact structure, including alternately passing through the weft in each row of nodes. The most common layout consists of a medallion or an overlapping medallion. The rhomboid and hexagonal medallions are also characteristic of the carpets in this area which usually has two pendants protruding outwards, and its interior is decorated with a geometrical fret pattern. The general expression of these carpets is geometric and straight lines, so its boundaries are usually decorated with polygonal elements or patterned plant elements.
- Mashad Area
Located in the eastern of Iran, the Mashhad carpet can be traced back to the late 19th century, using asymmetrical knotting. The most common designs are medallion, usually round or elongated medallions, and they are embellished with pendants and decorated with fancy elements. The central area is again adorned with frangipani motifs and natural flowers and brown leaf decorations. It usually consists of a vortex-wrapped Eslimi pattern. The corners of carpets are usually light-colored, such as white or ivory backgrounds. They are decorated with pendants, both pentagonal and almond-shaped, often by an Eslimi motif or vines connecting them with the center medallion.
Baluch is a nomadic and semi-nomadic minority living in the area bordering Afghanistan and uses their name to name this particular carpet category. In Persia, the carpets produced by nomadic tribes have always been combined with traditional tribal life, maximally free from the commercial temptations created by domestic and export markets. Even though urban carpets have existed on a large scale, Persian nomad carpets are still the interest they have maintained and raised. For this reason, the Persians have continued to pay attention to their straightforward spirit. The main background color of Baluch carpet consists of red, brown and blue, purple and other dark colors. Its composition style is based on a design that fills the entire central area and can also exhibit decorative patterns that are affected by the surrounding area, such as rows of hook-like, polygonal, or rhomboid “gul” shapes.
Some Basic Knowledge of Persian Carpets and Rugs
Main materials for Hand-woven Persian Carpets:
For centuries, the basic materials for carpet manufacture have not changed. They are wool, cotton and silk. Wool is the most widely used carpet material. Cotton, as a material capable of maintaining its shape, is particularly suitable for supporting the internal tension of the carpet. Cotton is often used as a base for carpets. For the nomadic people, cotton is not a product that can easily be obtained unlike wool. Therefore, the basic structure of carpets is usually wool. Silk has been used in hand-woven carpet workshops in cities and courts all the time, and the best high-end luxury hand woven carpets are also made by silk as weft and warp. In the central region of Iran, Qom is a is very suitable place for sericulture for its climate, where the silk is good color and luster, soft and smooth, as well as strong toughness, being a representative area of hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs.
There are usually two weaving looms in use, vertical weaving loom and horizontal weaving loom, but all have the same weaving principle: the weaving loom tensions the warped strands and controls them in a fixed position in order to ensure that the weft strand can pass, so that we can weave a foundation.
Two kinds of knotting methods are mainly used in hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs.
Symmetrical knots: Also known as Turkish knots, widely used in Turkey, suitable for geometrically designed carpets.
Asymmetric knots: Also called Persian knots, are used most in Persia and adapt to the design patterns of the curves.
Technically, both knotting methods involve two tilted threads at the same time.
In addition, people also use other different knotting methods, in which the “Jufti” knot is famous. In this knotting method, the suede yarn is wrapped by four instead of two raised lines, and it is widely used in modern times to improve the speed of weaving.
Unique Plant Dyeing:
Early hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs were completely plant dyed. From the nomadic tribe’s invention, the dyeing process was very complex and time-consuming.
The impression of hand-woven Persian carpets or Persian rugs, in addition to the exquisite designs, is more related to the pleasing colors. The color of hand-woven carpets is rarely the same, various colors and full of charm. Especially in the production process of Persian carpets, dyeing is a very important part, and some methods of natural substance dyeing without formulas are used by different families in different regions. Traditional colors such as green, golden, brown, lake green and navy blue are difficult to imitate, with dozens of species.
Investment and Collection on Persian Carpets and Rugs
If you want to collect handmade Persian carpets or Persian rugs, learning to identify carpets is a key point. You should know the history and the age, and learn how to identify quality and weaving methods, and meanwhile you have to know some basic knowledge concerning to the regional traits, pattern classifications, and material types. Also you ought to read more books about handmade carpet, so that you can accumulate carpet discernment in short time with reference to classic patterns. Handmade rug is the inheritance of historical culture and traditional craftsmanship, containing a rich cultural background except the basic practical functions. The emergence of handmade rug features spontaneously decorative trait and significant symbolic meanings. It is a special one symbolizing the space of magical power of human area, the universe and the religion. The pattern and color of hand woven carpet represent the culture of the origin country and also their spirit. It is a manifestation and choice of cultural life.
Handmade carpets and rugs owns rich symbolic meanings and the imaginations of oriental culture. In today’s Western society, handmade carpet culture has soaked into everyday life and becomes an indispensable part of the home. A handmade carpet with a strong color not only has a high practical value, but also expresses the owner’s cultural taste and lifestyle.
Handmade carpets and rugs have always been the focus of auction houses and collectors, especially Persian carpets or Persian rugs. Due to the turmoil in the Gulf, the price of handmade carpets in Iran has increased year by year, and the price of carpet market has also affected by antique carpets. Many auction houses, such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Philip and Lu’ao, which have exclusive carpet auctions. Antique Persian carpets can reach high to a million dollars under the hammer, and Afghanistan handmade carpets can also take hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Chinese carpets also hold a collection value, such as the Tibetan carpet, whose unique national color and auspicious patterns of Lamaism are very popular in the West under its only six or seven hundred years of history.
Among them, silk carpets are the focus of collectors’ pursuit for their rare materials, high-quality trait, and low in inventory. And handmade silk carpets are known as soft gold, while antique silk carpets are the king of soft gold, a rare treasure that is highly collectible.
How to Clean and Maintain Your Persian Silk Carpet?
Here are some simple tips for carpet cleaning
1. To remove different stains such as coffee, juice, greasy substance, etc….. Firstly, you have to absorb the stain with a non-dyed cloth or a tissue paper. Sponging should also be done to wipe off the coloring substance.
2. Washing the most important factor to preserve carpets for a long time, keep them clean, take good care, wash them every 2 or 3 years, and restore them when damaged.
3. The rugs should be washed in specialized rug-cleaning stores, not in dry-cleaners, because dry-
cleaners ruin the silk, warp, and weft of the carpet.
Or if you want do it by yourself, you can send it to the professional carpet cleaning store.
Rexrugs Provides What for You?
Rexrugs has been in carpet business over 40 years, and only provides high-end hand-knotted orietnal silk carpets and wool carpets. All our carpets and rugs are 100% hand knotted with natural silk and wool consuming a few months to one year even decades of years from size 2x3ft to 14x20ft. What’s more, we own at least 5,000 pieces handmade silk carpets and rugs and 1,200 handmade wool carpets with thousand of exquisite designs ranging from vintage Persian style, classic Turkish style, contemporary types, some French styles to charming Chinese designs.
Even so if you still couldn’t find one piece you like, we also accept customized order with your special pattern even just one piece, just contact us to discuss.
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