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In this blog, we're covering all things Persian Rugs: from what they are, how they're made and all the different styles you can find them in...
What are Persian Rugs? and why are they different from other hand made rugs and carpets?
Persian carpets, also known as Iranian carpets, are renowned for their intricate designs, exceptional craftsmanship, and rich cultural heritage. They are handwoven carpets that originate from various regions in Iran, which has a long and esteemed history of carpet weaving.
What sets Persian carpets apart from other handmade carpets is a combination of factors:
- Design and Patterns: Persian carpets are renowned for their elaborate and intricate designs. They often feature floral motifs, geometric patterns, or pictorial scenes inspired by nature, history, or mythology. These designs are meticulously handcrafted and passed down through generations, reflecting the region's artistic traditions.
- Materials and Dyeing: Persian carpets are typically made from high-quality materials like wool, silk, or a blend of both. The wool used is often sourced from local sheep breeds known for their fine and durable fibres. Natural dyes derived from plants, insects, and minerals are traditionally used to achieve a broad range of vibrant and long-lasting colours.
- Weaving Techniques: Persian carpets are woven using traditional techniques passed down through generations. The most common technique is known as the "hand-knotting" or "pile" method. Skilled weavers tie individual knots onto the warp threads, creating a dense and durable pile. The density of knots per square inch contributes to the carpet's quality, intricacy, and value.
- Regional Styles: Iran is geographically diverse, and various regions have developed their distinctive carpet styles over centuries. Each region has its unique weaving techniques, designs, and colour palettes. For example, carpets from Tabriz are known for their intricate floral patterns, while those from Isfahan often feature intricate medallion designs.
- Cultural Significance: Persian carpets hold deep cultural significance in Iran. They are regarded as not only functional floor coverings but also as works of art and symbols of prestige and craftsmanship. Persian carpets are considered an integral part of Iranian culture and are often associated with luxury, beauty, and tradition.
The combination of exquisite designs, meticulous craftsmanship, high-quality materials, and cultural heritage contributes to the distinctiveness of Persian carpets and sets them apart from other handmade carpets worldwide.
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A brief history of Persian Rugs
The beginning of carpet weaving remains unknown, as carpets are subject to use, deterioration, and destruction by insects and rodents. However, it seems rugs were initially woven to cover the floors of nomadic tribesmen, giving them protection from the cold and damp.
The oldest known carpet in the world is the Pazyryk carpet, excavated in 1949. Radiocarbon testing indicated that the Pazyryk carpet was woven in the 5th century BC. The advanced technique used in the Pazyryk carpet indicates a long history of evolution and experience in weaving which is really knotting.
Throughout history, Persian rugs have been influenced by the rulers of the country (Iran) as techniques, designs and colours all evolved over time.
Today, carpet weaving is the most widespread handicraft in Iran.
What is a Persian Knot?
A Persian carpet knot, also known as a Persian or Senneh knot, is the primary knotting technique used in the creation of Persian carpets. It is a hand-knotting technique that plays a crucial role in the carpet's structure, durability, and design.
The Persian knot is a symmetrical knot, meaning the yarn is wrapped around two warp threads and then pulled back through the middle of the two threads, creating a loop. The ends of the yarn are then secured by the weaver, forming a knot. This process is repeated row by row, tightly packing the knots to create the carpet's pile.
The distinguishing feature of the Persian knot is that the yarn passes over one warp thread and then under the adjacent warp thread. This technique allows for greater precision in design, as it provides more flexibility in creating intricate patterns and curvilinear motifs.
The Persian knot is known for its durability and ability to produce a dense pile, resulting in a carpet that can withstand heavy foot traffic and retain its beauty over time. Additionally, the knot's symmetrical structure allows for even wear, making it highly desirable in terms of longevity.
It is worth noting that Persian carpets can have varying knot densities, typically measured in knots per square inch (KPSI). Higher knot densities generally indicate more intricate and detailed designs, as well as finer craftsmanship. However, it also means a longer weaving process and potentially higher cost.
The Persian knot technique has been perfected and passed down through generations of skilled artisans in Iran, contributing to the reputation and excellence of Persian carpets worldwide.
Different Types of Persian Rugs
Persian Rugs are generally named after the place they’re made, meaning they’re split into three main categories: city, village and tribal.
City rugs are high quality rugs, produced in workshops throughout Iran's towns and Cities. They may occasionally be woven by ‘master weavers’ - these are usually men who weave full time and may even sign their work, treating their rugs like art pieces. The main cities famed for carpet making would include Isfahan, Mashad, Kerman, Qom, Tabriz and Nain to name a few.
Village and tribal rugs on the other hand, may be woven by a family, more often women who work the wool; spinning, dyeing, and weaving. They usually repeat designs from memory that have been passed down through generations. Often rugs will incorporate symbols inspired by their life and travels.
Different kinds of rugs use distinctive colour palettes, symbols or motifs which help us to identify where, and how, they’ve been made.
Where city rugs and village rugs blend is their use of cotton for the foundation of a piece. Few villages and the majority of tribal rugs will incorporate a 100% wool construction, as the wool will be the only material that they have access to.
We aim to put out a range of blogs with more information about different types of Persian Rugs. Today, we will focus on Gabbeh Rugs.
Gabbeh rugs are honest unsophisticated practical pieces, mainly woven by the nomadic tribe’s people in Southwest Persia. The oldest record of Gabbeh rugs dates back to the 16th Century A.D.
Gabbeh rugs are generally coarser with a much longer pile than most other hand knotted pieces: the term Gabbeh translates to ‘unclipped or unfinished’ in Farsi.
The designs woven by the mainly female weavers are often taken from surroundings, with basic animals or stylised people, block colours or simply stripes.
Gabbeh rugs were introduced to the Western World in the 1980s - it was initially thought that they were too crude to trade but in recent years, their artistic value and stylised figures has been recognised.
Gabbeh rugs are extremely durable due to their thickness and come in a range of colours and designs, making a great addition to any contemporary home.
Next time we will look at another category of Persian rugs...
Why should I choose a Persian Rug?
Persian rugs are not an investment in the conventional sense, as it is unlikely that they will be appreciated in most instances, of course we see them as an investment because they bring art into your home and will serve you well for a generation or two... if cared for! Not that it is onerous, an occasional vacuum front and back and perhaps eventually a professional clean.
How can Jennings help?
Jennings have over 60 years of experience in sourcing and trading Persian rugs and are incredibly passionate about rugs in all shapes and sizes.
With close personal relationships with their suppliers, Jennings seeks out the highest quality rugs and always sources them sustainably.
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You can learn more about Persian Rugs in our informative video from Wictor Wyszynski below.
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