A Guide to Rugs & Carpets
Made exclusively in the town of Abadeh in Iran, Abadeh or Abaadeh carpets are a type of Persian carpet. The creation process of these rugs have changed over time; women began using larger and superior looms, which lead to increasing the size and quality of the rugs. The knot density / knot count was upgraded significantly, the sides of the carpets became straighter, and cotton, which makes for a better rug, was introduced.
Arak rugs are made exclusively in the province of Arak, Iran; fundamentally, all rugs from Arak are thought of as Arak rugs, though a few differences in quality can be found between the general term of “Arak” and Sarouk, which is also produced in Arak. Though their designs are very similar, Arak rugs are much more coarsely knotted and generally display bold, floral medallions set against open fields.
The Bakhtiari tribe, based in Chahar Mahaal and Bakhtiari, have been weaving rugs exported around the globe since the early 19th century. Most authentic Bakhtiari rugs are woven in Bakhtiari settled communities in west central Iran southwest of Isfahan, Chahar Mahaal and Bakhtiari and parts of the provinces of Isfahan, Lorestan, and eastern Khuzestan, though they were originally woven by nomadic Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari carpets are based on a cotton foundation (warp) with a wool weft and are taken from the herds belonging to the particular tribe; this leads to unique carpets that differ depending on the characteristics of each tribe’s wool – raging from dull to extremely glossy, clipped medium to high. The same can be said about the colors used; generally they feature shades of white, reds, browns, greens, and yellows, though blue does not appear in the designs. Bakhtiari carpets are widely considered to be among the most durable Persian carpets and the larger rugs tend to be very rare and harder to come by.
Bijar (or Bidjar) Kurdish rugs are woven by Gerrus Kurds in the Bijar area while a finer copy of Bijar carpets are woven by Afshar weavers who live in the Tekab and Tekkenteppe Area in Gerus. Bijar is a town in North-West Iran,approximately 45 km from Senneh (Sanandaj, known for their own Persian rugs), and are often referred to as the ‘Iron Rugs of Iran’; the Bijar rug tends to be of a finer, thinner, more Sarouk like rug and can be put into three main categories:
- Traditional Bidjars/ Bidjars with rose motifs.
- Halvai and Tahjavi-Bidjars
- Afshar Bidjars
The differences between antique Bidjar rugs and newer Bidjar rugs are quite significant. While newer rugs are of a finer material, antique rugs are quite coarse; the warp and weft are incredibly durable and carpets of a heavier weft are both thick and straight. Antique rugs are made with wool, more often than not, but cotton is also used at times.
The term Gabbeh refers to long pile tribal and village rugs and means “unclipped”. They got commercially popular in the 1980s; the oldest of the commercial array were simple, geometric shapes in un-dyed wool. They generally lend themselves well to today’s minimalistic modern interiors – the soft gradation of colors that is often found in many pieces is once more sought after among interior designer.
- The knot counts are low
- More often than not, the design is less commercials and the pile is longer.
- Weavers would often weave long pile coarser rugs for their own use and fine tribal rugs to sell.
The Iranian city of Isfahan, also spelled Esfahan, produces what many consider to be the most consistenly fine wool pile rugs in the world currently. Though their quality rugs can be matched by other rugs produced by other Persian areas, Isfahan rugs are rarely considered to be of poor quality.
Rug Weaving in Isfahan blossomed in the Safavid era but the practice lay dormant once the Afghans invaded Iran, sufficiently ending the Isfahan dynasty.
Isfahani rugs and carpets generally have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs, as well as a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos. Additionally, they often have very symmetrical and balanced designs and routinely are of premium quality.
Facts about Persian Isfahan rugs
- Isfahan rugs are knotted on cotton or silk foundations
- Have up to 400 knots/inch
- Often Kurk wool, which is clipped quite low, is used for the pile
- The technical details of contemporary Isfahan rugs are of a greater importance to the weaver than artistic flair
- The palette is usually more pastel, as the removal of strong reds makes the rugs more compatible with Western world’s decor
- Certain Isfahani rugs became known in Western Europe as ‘Polish rugs‘, referring to carpets specifically made in Persia, woven with gold, silver and silk threads during the 16th to 18th centuries; they were then exported to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth where the rugs were decorated with their distincitive coat of arms.