Antique northwest Persian Tabriz rug circa 1890

 

Tabriz is the capital of one of the most famous provinces of Iran, The Azarbaijan or Aturpatgan. It is the land of Azargoshnasp temple; The fire temple of the Kings and the Nobles of Iran. It is perhaps the birth place of Zaratushtra.

Persian rugs (from Iran) are considered to be the best handmade rugs available anywhere in the world and we are very proud of our extensive range of Persian rugs. Unfortunately, the price of rugs in Iran has increased exponentially in the past five years as the trade has become less mainstream. It has become increasingly difficult to source rugs that are affordable for ourselves and for our customers.

Although good rugs from Iran are still considered the ultimate, Oriental rugs from India, Turkey and Afghanistan also offer excellent quality, durability and design that often equals if not out-shines many of their Iranian counterparts and they provide value that may not be possible to procure from Iran today.

Each country has their own strengths. It is important to note that all rug weaving countries can produce excellent carpets, but all also produce poor ones, it is good to do a bit of research or use a trusted dealer. Origin does not provide a guarantee of quality, only one indication of potential value.

 

A brief history of Persian Carpet and its patterns


The history of Persian Carpet -a culmination of artistic magnificence- dates back to 2,500 years ago. The Iranians were among the pioneer carpet weavers of the ancient civilizations, having achieved a superlative degree of perfection through centuries of creativity and ingenuity. The skill of carpet weaving has been handed down by fathers to their sons, who built upon those skills and in turn handed them down to their offspring as a closely guarded family secret. To trace the history of Persian carpet is to follow a path of cultural growth of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen.

From being simple articles of need, floor and entrance coverings to protect the nomadic tribesmen from the cold and damp, the increasing beauty of the carpets found them new owners - kings and noblemen, who looked upon them as signs of wealth, prestige and distinction.

The first documented evidence on the existence of carpets came from Chinese texts dating back to the Sassanid Dynasty (224 - 641 CE). In 628 CE, the Emperor Heraclius brought back a variety of carpets from the conquest of Ctesiphon, the Sassanian capital. The Arabs also conquered Ctesiphon in 637 CE, and among the spoils brought back were said to be many carpets, one of which was the famous garden carpet, the "Spring time of Khosro". This carpet has passed into history as the most precious of all time. Made during the reign of Khosro I (531 - 579 CE) the carpet was 90 Feet square. The Arab historians' description is as follows: "The border was a magnificent flower bed of blue, red, white, yellow and green stones; in the background the colour of the earth was imitated with gold; clear stones like crystals gave the illusion of water; the plants were in silk and the fruits were formed by colour stones" However, the Arabs cut this magnificent carpet into many pieces, which were then sold separately.

The Persian carpet reached its zenith during the reign of the Safavid Dynasty in the 16th century. Indeed the first concrete proofs of this craft date back to this period. Approximately 1500 examples are preserved in various museums and in private collections worldwide. During the reign of Shah Abbas (1587 - 1629), commerce and crafts prospered in Persia. Shah Abbas encouraged contacts and trade with Europe and transformed his new capital Esfahan, into one of the most glorious cities of Persia. He also created a court workshop for carpets where skilled designers and craftsmen set to work to create splendid specimens. Most of these carpets were made of silk, with gold and silver threads adding even more embellishment. Two of the best know carpets of the Safavid period; dated 1539 come from the mosque of Ardebil. Many experts believe that these carpets represent the culmination of achievement in carpet design. The larger of the two carpets in now kept in London's Victoria and Albert Museum while the other is displayed at the Los Angeles County Museum.

The court period of the Persian carpet ended with the Afghan invasion in 1722. The Afghans destroyed Esfahan, yet their domination lasted for only a short period and in 1736, a young Chieftain from Khorasan, Nader Khan became the Shah of Persia. Through the whole course of his reign, all the country's forces were utilised in campaigns against the Afghans, the Turks, and the Russians. During this period, and for several turbulent years after his death in 1747, no carpets of any great value were made, and solely nomads, and craftsmen in small villages continued the tradition of this craft.

In the last quarter of the 19th Century and during the reign of the Qajar rulers trade and craftsmanship regained their importance. Carpet making flourished once more with Tabriz merchants exporting carpets to Europe through Istanbul. At the end of the 19th Century some European and American companies even set up businesses in Persia and organised craft production destined for western markets.

Today, Carpet weaving is by far the most widespread handicraft in Iran. Persian carpets are renowned for their richness of colour, variety of spectacular artistic patterns and quality of design. In palaces, famous buildings, mansions and museums the world over, a Persian carpet is amongst the most treasured possession.

 

Major Weaving Centers:


Arak, Ardebil, Bijar, Hamadan, Esfahan, Kashan, Kerman, Mashhad, Nain, Qom, Sanandaj, Shiraz, Tabriz, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan.

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