Persian Rugs

  • AHAR

    Ahar is a small town, north of Tabriz northwest of Iran, belonging to the Heriz group, but is the odd-man-out among Heriz carpets because it’s design is curvilinear. However, there is something courageous about the way villagers of Ahar cope with the technical limitations, therefore the carpets appeal is further Enhanced by the unbelievably tightly packed back of the piece, which gives the whole structure a feeling of immense strength and durability. The colours are very familiar to those of the rest of the Heriz area, perhaps a little lighter overall. There is quite a lot of yellow and white used in Ahar, and the red tends more to light madder, than to the deep chestnut encountered in some parts of the region. Contemporary rugs of Ahar have medallions and spandrels. The symmetric knot is used as a density of about 65 per square inch on cotton foundation.


    Alamdar lies to the south of Malayir in the direction of Borujird. In the Hamadan region proper there are several other villages that produce their own version of the Herati design. Typical of Alamdar are dozars and zaronims, with a blue ground and the rather angular version of the design. The colourings and weave remind us of the latter. The warps for example appearing as very prominent white specks on the back of the rug. The village is a source of rugs with a geometric Herati pattern on a blue field.


    One of the great versions of the Herati designs is that used in Bijar, the market for the first and best Kurdish carpets. In the Bijar carpet there Herati design provides a background dominated by a large floral medallion. This combination of a basically floral centre on an essentially geometric ground is characteristic of many Bijar designs. Bijar is one of the finest weaves of Persia. The strongly geometric style of the traditional Kurdish tribal designs always makes itself felt in Bijar carpets. Most of the production features a red ground, although blue and occasionally cream are found. The finest Bijars are woven not by the Kurds but by a small clan of Afshars who live to the north of Bijar Tekab. The Bijar Afshars produce carpets within the Kurdish Bijar tradition, but the Bijar version is unmistakable, mainly because of its more primitive execution. What is exciting about the best Bijar carpets is that this originality is coupled with the highest technical quality. They are seen again and again in prime positions in oriental carpet exhibitions because they combine all the qualities that we prize in this field of art: practically indestructible construction, magnificent colours, fine weave and unpredictable and deeply expressive independence of design. Bijars always have a density and thickness, which the central manufactories avoid. Bijar was the source of a group of fine arabesque (Garrus design) rugs woven in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Rugs with a stylised willow and cypress design were woven in Bijar in the early 20th century. Bijar kilims are woven with the slit weave tapestry structure. Designs of large Bijar kilims are sometimes similar to those of Bijar pile weaves. Warps are completely offset and the knot is symmetric at densities of about 100 to 160 per square inch.


    Assadabad lies at the top of the mountain pass on the road from Hamadan leading to the Kurdish area. Assadabad rugs mainly are dozars without a medallion, usually display a pleasant red, with a coarse but chunky weave. The design is rather open with the peculiarity that the diamond motif is not the central feature of the design, and therefore does not occupy as important a position as it does in rugs made elsewhere. The design shows Kurdish influence, as a comparison with Kakakeru and Kolyai designs will confirm. The town is a source of red, coarsely woven rugs with an open variation of the Herati pattern.


    A city of the Quainat region of eastern Iran. Rugs were woven on a factory basis in Birjand, and from the beginning of the 20th century. The finest rugs are from Birjand itself. The designs are all of the Herati all-over type converted into medallion and corner by the superimposed outline of the medallion and change of colour. In some cases the medallions are geometric. All-over pieces in one ground colour are also made. Cream and blue grounds predominate; reds also are made but are rarer. Birjands usually have an all-wool pile, but some pieces with part silk are also found. Most of the rugs produced before World War II were jufti knotted. The jufti asymmetric knot is used as a density of about 100 knots per square inch, on a wool foundation.


    A tribe of the Hamadan region of Iran. Borchalu is the name of the tribe centred on the villages of Khumajin and Kumbazan a remote area east of Hamadan and to the west of Ferahan. The Borchalus are a Mongol clan who formed part of the forces of Jinghis Khan’s successor. Most Herati Borchalus are on red grounds, but blue and some creams are also found. Borchalus are among the best rugs of the Hamadan region. The single wefted weave is fine and thick. They are single wefted and woven with the symmetric knot at a density of about 65 per square inch.


    Borujird is south of Hamadan and is the market centre for the Serabend. Typical features are a single wafted structure, coarse weave with thick grey or brown wefts, fine yarn and long pile. The rugs are often very sombre when new, but can be very attractive when made in softer or lighter colours. These rugs are single wafted with the symmetric knot. They have dark red designs on a dark blue field.


    People are sometimes surprised to hear of Persian rugs being woven by Arab tribes. This simply means that in various parts of Iran there are tribes of Arab origin, just as there are countless other ethnic groups. The tribes are fairly dispersed over a large area from Shiraz to Abadeh and beyond. One of their main markets centres is Bowanat that produces rugs in a rather distinctive design. The saw-tooth edgings to the medallions is a typical feature, and so is the way the subsidiary motifs are coloured with quite large blocks of single shades. The structure, too is different to that used elsewhere in the province, having a fairly widely spaced but quite distinct ribbing on the back, which looks very dark, owing to the almost black or dark brown woollen wefts. The pile is long and dense, the construction, although not as firm as that of Quashquai rugs, promises more wear than that of the run of the mill Shiraz village goods. These rugs have designs that are simplified versions of Quashquai designs.


    Chenar is a Hamadan village belonging to the Zagheh group, quite close to the edge of the Kurdish area. To complicate matters further, a fairly accurate copy of the Chenar runner is made in Pakistan. The Pakistan copies are usually fairly easy to recognise from their double weave construction. Chenar produces mostly zarchereks (4½’x2½’) and narrow runners, although other rug sizes are also found. It is a source of rugs and runners with vertically arranged, large diamond medallions, Also the name of the Asian sycamore tree and the name of the Turkoman design derived from the shape of the leaf, chenar gul.


    To the north of the Borchalu region, not far from the Hamadan Tehran road, lies the village of Darjezine. It is the centre of a large producing area with a huge output of rugs and strips. The standard grade is coarse, using a singularly undistinguished version of the American Sarug design. However the wool used is sound and the goods sell well because of the low price and shortage of small rugs and narrow runners in general. The same area also produces, at very high prices, a much finer grade of goods, also single wafted, the best of which are superbly woven. The designs are reminiscent of Jozan, but the rugs may be distinguished from the Jozan goods by the weave and from the Tuisarkans by the much denser pile and wider range of colours. In volume, this is the most productive of the rug weaving districts of Hamadan.


    A town some ten miles south east of Hamadan. Enjilas products have always been among the very best of all Hamadan rugs. Dark blue grounds are common, red is also found. The Herati design wherever it is made is almost always successful. A true Enjilas shows us just how much better perfection is than mere success. A considerable range of sizes exists. Villages in the area weave rugs with the symmetric knot, on single wefted, scatter size rugs with a cotton foundation. The knot density is from 130 to 160 knots per square inch. The designs are Herati pattern or all over botehs.


    The village of Everu, near Hamadan in north-west Persia, weaves rugs and runners of medium quality, using the small boteh designs. Everu rugs are often sold as Enjilas. Enjilas, a neighbouring village, makes pieces of very much higher quality. The design layout resembles that used in the Serabend region, but the Everu rug is easily distinguished because the former is a single and the latter double wefted. The border is also quite different. Other distinguishing features are the strong deep reds, rather heavy dark blues and bright greens and turquoise-blues. Everu’s have fine silky wool with quite a high pile. Most rug and runner sizes are made.


    A plains area north of the city of Arak in western Iran. One of the best known of all 19th century carpet designs is the Ferahan . It is no longer produced, but in it’s hey day it had a great reputation for quality combined with elegance and restraint . The type had two distinguishing features apart from it’s design , it always featured madder red, either as the ground colour or as the dominant subsidiary tone on the rarer cream or blue grounds. Many other carpets were also called Ferahan, these were made in designs and in fine double wefted construction which to avoid confusion, would be better described as Saruq . Today, the Ferahan area proper centred around the village of Farmahin has a significant production of single wefted rugs and runners in the Herati design. However, the new Ferahan Herati design is very distinctive and quite unlike the red mahi version found in so many Hamadan villages. To begin with , it is mostly found on a dark blue ground, often with rather sombre secondary colours which may tend to make the overall effect somewhat gloomy. Secondly, the motifs are rather larger than those used in other Hamadan villages, and thirdly the Ferahan Heratis are almost all without medallion. Vegetable dyes were used in their production. Green was more prevelant than most Persian rugs. Finely woven 19th century rugs of this area have all over patterns, such as the Herati, Mina Khani or Gol Hinnai. Most Ferhan rugs have asymmetric knots at densities from 60 to 160 per square inch.


    As in north west Persia and the Caucasus, the tribal weavers of Fars province produce a wide range of designs. Gabbah literally means unclipped, a reference to the shagginess of the pile. Rustic simplicity and indeed a certain wilfulness of design give the rugs an unaffected freshness which is most sought after, especially for use in a modern decor. Tree designs crop up time and again in nomadic weaves. Their form is never standardised. They may include birds, fruit, leaves, flowers – all of these elements or none of them. Each one is different as each tree is different. Asymmetric and symmetric knots are often used in the same rug. Usually there are 4 to 6 wefts between each row of knots. When taken from the loom, ends are folded over and hemmed, but this end finish may be altered. Some gabbahs woven by the Lurs have pile on both sides. These are used as blankets and known as gabbah patuee.


    A city and provincial capital in north west Iran, ancient Ecbatana. Hamadan is the collection and shipping centre of an important rug weaving area Hundreds of towns and villages in the region produce scatter size rugs and runners for export. Many of these towns and villages are populated by Kurds. There are many villages around the town of Hamadan. The town manufactory in Hamadan was set up in 1912 by A C Edwards of the OCM group. The manufactory was nationalised by the Persians over 40 years ago, and today produces the fine weaves and over ornate designs much loved in the middle- east but rarely sold in the west. In it’s hey day, however, Hamadan produced a huge quantity of goods. Many examples still appear on western markets as semi-antiques. Distinctive designs are associated with particular towns and villages in the region. The rugs of Hamadan are single wefted and most of them have a cotton foundation. Early examples may have a wool foundation and a camel coloured field. The rugs have symmetric knots and are coarsely woven with densities of about 40 to 100 knots per square inch.


    A mountainous area of north west Iran, south east of Tabriz inhabited by Kurds and Shahsevan. The Hashtrud (eight rivers) region lies east of Lake Urmia. From the mountainous Hashtrud region, on the northern edge of the Persian Kurdish area, reveals stylistic influence from the neighbouring Azerbaijan region. The leaf or fish motifs have become completely displaced and out of order. This in not uncommon feature of Kurdish Herati pieces. For example, an all over distribution of Herati leaves, but only with a hint of the Herati pattern. Some rugs with a highly geometric version of the Herati pattern are woven in this area. It has only a small output of rugs, which are sold in the Tabriz bazaar.


    The Heriz area, at the heart of Persian Azerbaijan, forty miles west of Tabriz, is important mainly as a producer of carpet sizes. Rugs woven in Heriz and the nearby villages maybe termed “Bakshaish”, “Mehraban”, “Serapi” or “Gorevan”, as well as Heriz. Heriz is one of the most important of all the carpet producing regions of Iran, and has a reputation for durability. There are in fact dozens, if not hundreds of villages in the Heriz region, and each has its own individual feature. The amazing thing is that for all the thousands of carpets produced, all in one basic design, one never sees two exactly alike: each piece is made individually by villagers working no more than with a snippet of material or a drawing, giving only a general indication of the required style. So the whole design comes from the weavers head, as she goes along. The principle guide is the local tradition. The most obvious feature is the dominant central medallion, which is often so large as to fill the ground almost completely. The bold corner motifs, related to the central medallion, but not exact quarters of it, are another perhaps most typical element, however, it is the very individual treatment of the oak leaves and other plant forms in the ground. The colouring is an important guide to origin with Heriz goods. The dominant factor is the rosy brown shade which is obtained from the madder plant, and is still used today in the rest of the new production. This rosy brown shade often has streaks or abrashes which may be attractive. The construction is very large, heavy cotton warps and wefts with a dense pile of thick, hard wearing wool. Although its weave is coarse, the Heriz is a very good carpet. The traditional Heriz design is a geometric lobed medallion with pendants. For most of the 1960’s prices remained steady, but in the 1970’s the weavers of Heriz realised how under valued their carpets were, and prices rose suddenly and sharply. One result of this has been that weavers of India have jumped in to fill the gap, and there is now a large output in Heriz designs from India. Most of the copies have a long way to go, before they can claim to be considered a replacement, or can match the variety or design and expressiveness that are to be found in the spontaneous Persian production. The symmetric knot is used at densities of 30 to 80 per square inch. The foundation is cotton.


    A village of the Hamadan area in north west Iran. The Herati design is used in a number of villages around Hamadan, especially in a cluster of places to the south east on the road to Malayir. The highest production comes from Husseinbad, and the name is often used to describe rugs in the Mahi design made throughout the area. Husseinbad goods vary in quality from medium to very good.


    A city of western central Iran and the capital of Persia under Shah Abbas and his Safavid successors. The spiritual home of the floral medallion Is probably Isfahan. It was here that Shah Abbas established his court in 1595. It is here that the magnificent mosques are adorned with brilliant blue and gold tiles that inspired the patterns for the covered grounds of floral carpets. Here to this day the most classical Persian carpet designs are woven. Finer pieces may be made in Nain but most carpet experts would agree that of today’s production the carpets of Isfahan are best. Many different grades are made, in an area embracing not only Isfahan itself but also the surrounding villages and towns within a radius of about 15 miles. The most striking feature of many Isfahan designs is the roundness of the medallion and it’s subdivision into eight or sixteen elaborate segments like a compass, rose or a star. This is one of the features the carpets share with the designs of the mosques. The second important point is the clear and well ordered layout of the motifs of the ground, leaves and flowers usually called Shah Abbas palmettes. These are borne on tendrils or stalks called “islimis”, which in a well designed rug arise from the ends or sides of the medallion or it’s pendants, and unfurl over the ground in a perfectly balanced and finely graduated stem and branch layout. Much skill is devoted by the Isfahan designers to maintaining the symmetry. An important element of the Isfahan style, is the coloration with it’s emphasis on light and medium blue, cream and vermilion. The finest Isfahans are usually woven on silk warps. One characteristic feature of Isfahan is the small panel added at the end of the rug to incorporate the weavers signature, and often the Iranian flag. Between the First and Second World Wars, carpets of fine workmanship and good design, but poor dyes were woven in Isfahan. After World War Two very fine rugs with designs of the Safavid period were woven there. Some notable 20th century weaver designers of Isfahan include Emami, Sirafian and Hekmet Nejad. The asymmetric knot is used and some later rugs are woven on silk warps or are entirely silk. These rugs have knot densities up to 750 knots per square inch.


    A town south of Hamadan in Iran. The Herati design is used in a large number of villages around Hamadan, especially in a cluster of places to the south east on the road to Malayir. These villages all have distinguishing features of weave and colouring which a trained eye can recognise. A Jokar piece is fine and neat. Jokar also makes a range of sizes. The distinctive medallion is similar to the one used in Husseinbad, but larger. The weave, too, is similar to that of Husseinbad, perhaps even neater, but not as fine. Jokar has, in effect, the same structure, with extremely good wool and a thicker pile than Husseinba


    One of the most interesting types of rugs from it’s Saruq region, yet independent of it, comes from a group of villages between Hamadan and Arak, near it’s town of Malayir. The best rugs from it’s group come from Jozan and this name is often used for rugs of the whole area. The most common ground shade is dark blue, but red and cream are also made. There is always a medallion and always the same distribution of flowers around it. Rugs from Jozan and surrounding villages are similar to early 20th century Sarouks in design. These are double wefted rugs of about 200 symmetric knots per square inch.


    To the south of the Mehriban region is a group of villages centred on Kabutrahang, which for a long time has made nothing but goods in the American Saruq style. The quality is coarse and rough, but the pile is very thick. Red grounds are most common. The design is almost identical to that of some of the Mehriban carpets. Like all Hamadan village products, Kabutrahangs are single wefted. The backs of the carpets have a knobbly effect similar to that found in Mehriban carpets. The colours are unremittingly strident.


    To the south of Bijar and Senneh there is a large Kurdish area in which many designs and styles are woven. The Kakaberu, are not strictly a Kurdish tribe, but nomads of the Senneh region who are given this name in the Senneh and Hamadan bazaars, where they are described as gypsies The Kakaberu piece has all the unmistakable features of this tribes work, dark, almost sombre colours, a medium coarse weave, but a structure as solid Often they make up rugs with one single medallion on a fairly plain field. What matters though, is that everything they touch the Kakaberu’s imprint their own unmistakable style.


    A mountainous region in northwestern Iran on the border of the Caucasus. With all its wealth of repeating geometric patterns, only Karaja produces carpets with all over repeating medallions. Karaja carpets are made mostly on red grounds, but blue and cream are also found. Rugs with the Karaja design maybe referred to as Karadagh when they are double wefted rather than single wefted.


    A valley of the Elburz mountains northwest of Tehran. This carpet comes from an isolated valley in the Elburs mountains north east of the Hamadan region. Little is known of the area or its weavers. Old goods were to be found on the market in some quantities ten years ago. Their discovery by western importers in the late 60’s, led to a great upsurge in the production which, regrettably swept away much of the established traditions of both design and quality. Being replaced with the rather bland, and not particularly well made designs. The output remains small, and the decline in quality has caused western interest to fade after initial enthusiasm. Only if one finds an old piece will one appreciate what it is that so excited the dealers when the goods were first discovered. Rugs of this valley have large red medallions of the Memling gul with stepped outlining in white. Knot density is about 65 symmetric knots per square inch.


    The town of Kashan, which lies between Qum and Isfahan on the old caravan route, has been famous for its outstanding handicrafts for almost 800 years. Before the second world wart, Kashan was one of the great manufacturing centres, producing rugs and carpets of the highest quality. Kashan also produced many exquisite pieces, with prayer designs, often with pillars supporting the mihrals, or else with elaborate vase designs. At the beginning of the 20th century, carpet weaving was started using merino wool from Australia that had been spun in Manchester. These “Manchester” Kashans had velvety, glossy wool. They were woven until the early 1930’s, thereafter, local wools were used. Designs are primarily intricate floral medallion and spandrel types or designs similar to Sarouks. Silk is produced in the countryside surrounding Kashan and some silk rugs are woven in Kashan. Some notable 20th century weaver designers of Kashan include Dabir Sanayeh, Tafazzoli and Madeh. Contemporary production is of double wefted carpets on a cotton foundation, with about 200 asymmetric knots per square inch.


    The town of Kashmar in Khorassan province, between Meshed and Birjand weaves carpets in a variety of styles. Kashmar carpets are not cheap and the design can often look wild, but once the crude new colours have been toned down by age or washing, the carpets have enormous appeal. The colours are an unmistakable guide, the ground is almost always dark blue, the border light in tone, giving a rich but not heavy overall effect. The weave is like that of Meshed, as fine and neat as Kerman. The structure is different from all three, being tight, firm, fairly flexible and with a short to medium pile. The central medallion and cartouches are filled with architectural views and images of ancient artifacts. The town is a collecting point for Beluch rugs. The asymmetric knot is used on a cotton foundation.


    To the south, outside the Hamadan region there is a group of villages known as the Kemereh. The two best known are Lilihan and Reihan, which have their own designs. The others produce single wefted rugs in the Hamadan mahi style. There is however, also a distinctive design feature by which one can identify Kemereh rugs, the shape of the medallion. Dozar(6’x4’) sizes predominate.


    To the east of the Kharaghan area are three villages Kerdar, Noberan and Maslaghan, which weave one particular design that is easy to remember, because of the ‘lightening’ pattern around the edges of the medallion and corners. The elongated shape of the medallion and the lattice flowers, or stars in the corners are further distinguishing features. The weave is single wefted, and shows the clear connection with the Kharaghan area. The rugs are known variously by the names of the three villages. The dozar(6’x4’) is the most common size, but zaromins(5’x3’) are also produced.


    n the northern part of the Hamadan region, on the edge of the Shah Savan tribal area, lies the Kharaghan group of villages which produce rugs and runners of all sizes, in designs which often look Kurdish in influenced. The single wefted weave, too, looks to the layman quite like that of Sonqur. Kharaghan makes every rug size except the kolyai kelleyi (a long narrow carpet in which the length is twice the width) format. Dark blue grounds predominate, but red is also found; birds and animals often feature as subsidiary motifs.


    Khamseh is an Arabic name for quintet or five. A Confederacy of five tribes inhabiting southwest Iran. They are the Ainalu, Baharlu, Baseri, Nafar and Arab. The Confederacy, originally formed in the 19th century as a political counterpoise of the Quashquai, was disbanded in the 1960’s. Generally, yarns used by the Khamseh are more coarsely spun than those of the Quashquai. Khamsehs are among the cheapest, most basic rugs of the Hamadan village area. More distinctive is the shape of the medallion and its hooked pendants. In colouring the Khamsehs often resemble Zenjan goods, but the general appearance is less imaginative. As in many Hamadan villages dozars make up the bulk of the production. Khamseh designs are often all over patterns of geometric florets and animals scattered in a random manner over the field. The Baseri rugs are woven with an asymmetric knot. The Baharlu weave some rugs with the asymmetric knot and others with the symmetric knot.


    A market centre in Luristan, in southwestern Iran. Moving further to the north west through the Zagros mountains, the next principal centre is Khorramabad. The products from this area are easily recognised, as they are generally one size 6’6” x 6’5”. Secondly, they have all cotton warps. Then there are the dark, gloomy colours of the rugs, which aspect even extends to the wefts, which are black, brown or dark grey. Thus giving a very dark look to the back of the rug. Khorramabads are at least hard wearing. They usually have those special features, such as embroidered kilims and plaited fringes which suggest the rugs were made for the weaver’s own use. Luri designs are used.


    To The west and north of Karaja is another region, known as Lamberab. The fabric feels very firm to handle, but on examining the construction, one discovers that the strength is ‘all in the back. Meaning that the warps and wefts are disproportionately heavy in relation to the pile, which is thin and whiskery. In this case the solid handle is deceptive, for the carpet will not give satisfactory wear. However, if Lamberans avoid this fault, and if the colours are well balanced, they can be a good buy. Various rug sizes are common, the runners are in the traditional width of one metre or so. Carpet sizes and narrow runners are not made.


    A city in northern Iran. It was formely the capital of the Safavid empire in the mid century. It was probably the design source for rugs such as the Sanguszko carpet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The city was a source, between the First and Second World Wars, of medallion rugs similar to Saruqs. It no longer produces carpets, but between the two world wars ther was a small output closely related to the Saruqs. Only experts can tell them apart, the main clue is a certain fuzziness in the overall appearance. From the point of view of design classification, they clearly belong to the Saruq group. Some features of the rug, such as the style of the vases in the ground, the flower clusters in the border and the broad edging to the medallion, and corners look like manufactured Malayir rugs than of Saruq. Since Malayirs have the Turkish knot a definite origin can be established, sometimes the knot is the only apparent difference. If it were single wefted there is no hesitation in assigning it to the same area. Being double wefted and made with the Persian knot, it is called a Saruq. Kasvin (Quazvin) is an American trade designation for rugs woven in the city of Hamadan. Alvand and Ecbetana are European trade designations for the same rug. Structurally, they are distinguished from the rugs of the Hamadan area in that they are double wefted, rather than single wefted. A wide variety of flatweaves are woven in the Quazvin and Saveh areas. These may be termed Zarand weavings by dealers. The foundation is cotton and the knot density is between 130 to 200 knots per square inch.


    `A tribe of the Kurds in the area of Sonqur in northwestern Iran, about fifty miles west of Hamadan. The Kolyai tribe whose goods are marketed in Sonqur, in the south of Kurdistan, weave their own version of the Bijar design, and, like all Kolyai tribal rugs, is single wefted. The carpet weaving of the Kolyais, centred around Sonqur between Hamadan and Kermanshah is more organised. This gives Kolyai rugs a little more elegance. Newer rugs have a cotton foundation and are single wefted. Older rugs have a wool foundation. Colours tend to be bright. Kolyais are a major source of Kurdish rugs. The Takht-e-Jamshid design is common. It is a medallion design with the outline of three narrow, vertically aligned and touching hexagons.

  • LURI

    An ancient people speaking an Iranian language, in the Zagros mountains of south western Persia. They are tribally organised and still to a great extent pastrol nomads. The Lurs, one of the oldest tribes in Iran, are spread over the whole western side of the country. The presence of the ‘latch hook’, in a design often indicates Luri influence in a particular area. Where the Lurs have emerged with the local population their carpets are generally known by their local name-Lori Pambaks. Where the Lurs predominate, there is still a big range of types, all of which may include tree designs. The Lurs tend to go for bold uncluttered designs. The southern most group of Luri weavers inhabit Fars province, in the region between the Persian Gulf, and the southern end of the Zagros mountains. Their carpets are marketed in Shiraz. The Lurs weave a variety of functional tribal pieces: saddle bags, salt bags, torbas(rectangular shallow bag, hung from tent struts), animal trappings and carpets, using different flatweave structures. Some of their bags combine soumak, tapestry weave and knotted pile within the same piece. Some rugs are woven with symmetric knots, while others are woven with asymmetric knots.


    Meshed, the capital of Khorassan province, has a very large number of manufactures. There is one Meshed village which has a distinctive style of its own, and that is Maharallat near Kashmar. In fact the products of this village are often among the best Meshed carpets of all. Maharallat weaves two individual designs. The first is a design also made in Meshed itself, but of a coarser quality. The Maharallat weave is finer, stiffer and firmer than that of Meshed. Maharallats are very similar to Mesheds.


    A town of north western Iran, south of Hamadan. One of the most interesting types of rug from the Saruq region, comes from a group of villages between Hamadan and Arak, near the town of Malayir. The modern Malayir design often has something of the American style about it, but the best pieces draw on the older traditions of the Saruq and Ferahan region, whose elements, however, are digested and transformed into a distinctive and finely balanced style, which is pure Malayir. Designs are geometric medallions, the Herati pattern or designs similar to Saruqs. The most common ground shade is dark blue, but red and cream are also made. Malayirs always have the Turkish knot. As a carpet name, Malayir is used mainly for double-wefted Saruq type pieces. Generally only dozar and zaronim sizes are found in this area. Rugs of Malayir and surrounding villages are single wefted and more densely knotted than other rugs of the Hamadan area. The symmetric knot at densities from about 25 to 130 knots per square inch is used on a cotton foundation.


    Mehriban is an administrative district north of Hamadan, incorporating a large number of villages, whose individual names are never used in the carpet trade. There are two district types of Mehriban, both single wefted with symmetric knots. The older style is more geometric, the newer style is based on the American Saruq style. The quality is good, fine, thick yarn, with great natural lustre, combined with a fine weave. The most common ground colour is dark blue, often with a medallion on a camel coloured field, but a whole range of other shades is readily available. The foundation is often cotton Mehriban also refers to a grade of Heriz rug between Heriz and Gorevan in quality.


    Oshtutinan is one of the important production centres of the area. Please refer to BORUJIRD.


    Mehrivan (Mehriban) is the name of two quite unrelated important carpet origins in Persia. It is a district north of Hamadan, famous for fine runners and carpets. There is also a village of the same name in the Heriz area of Azerbaijan. Mehrivan represents the second grade of Heriz carpets. Today, the name is more specifically applied to two distinct categories of newer goods. Firstly, medium coarse carpets with a typical squarish medallion and a brighter shade of red, than found in other Heriz goods. Secondly, the all over pattern. Red is typical, but cream grounds are also found. Most rug sizes are found in small quantities, but the vast majority of the production is in medium carpet sizes.


    A district located south west of Arak in western central Iran. The Serabend employs a fairly basic version of the motif, but at some point in the 19th century, a finer version was created, perhaps in villages nearer to Arak, using the Persian knot. This is called then Mir Serabend. The reason for this choice of name is uncertain, possibly it comes from the name of the village of Mal-e-Mir in the centre of the Serabend region. How the development of this finer version came about is shrouded in the mist of history. Another fine feature of the Mir Serabend is the wide border, consisting of a small main border, usually cream, surrounded by a large number of narrow guards. There is also quite a wide range of ground shades available including light blue, but the bulk of the production is in red or dark blue, and cream grounds are rather rare. Persian Mirs are made in all sizes from small mats right up to large oversize carpets, including runners and squares.

  • MOUD

    A village of the Quainat, near Birjand in north eastern Iran. The village of Moud, is just south east of Birjand in the region of Khorassan. The easiest way to recognise a Moud is not in fact from the design, which is of the standard central Persian medallion and Islamic style, but from the weave. The stitch is very fine, double wefted, but owing to a peculiarity of the structure the back is often covered with white specks of warp showing through. At first glance, you might think it to be a fine single wefted type, from Senneh. The fabric tends to be rather thin, but sells well enough because it is so fine in relation to the price. Dark blue and red are its most common ground colours, but dark green, plus light blue and cream, are also found. As with other places in Khorassan, rug sizes are rare. The asymmetric jufti knot is used at densities from 130 to 290 knots per square inch, on a cotton foundation.


    Nasrabad is an area south east of Isfahan, on the edge of the desert. Nasrabads are the most exclusive rugs, of the Luri group, with a very small output, which has eluded commercialisation. The prices asked, in fact reflect its demand for rugs with an unspoilt individual character. The colours are light and harmonious, with light red and camel or buff shades. The construction, though coarse, is much more tightly packed and robust than that of the Yalamehs. The warps are usually of goat hair, but cotton warped pieces can be found. Only rugs and runners are made, usually in the Luri medallion with pendants design.


    A town of the Hamadan region in north western Iran. An interesting characteristic of the whole Hamadan region is that the changes of style from one village to the next are rarely abrupt, as there always is a link, in the form of typical features. In the Hamadan region this sometimes makes recognition difficult, as there are hundreds of villages, and the changes in weave and design from one to the other are gradual. Therefore it is inevitable that some pieces seem to belong, half to one area, and half to another. However, Nehavend has a special design and style of its own. The design looks like a geometric version of the American Saruq. It is so thoroughly reconstituted that it may be seen as an independent in its own right. The town is a source of large rugs with geometric versions of Saruq designs. In some rugs the border design penetrates the field. A note worthy feature is the borders in which the flower groups break through into the ground of the rug, a rarely used but instantly recognisable feature. The structure is finer than the Borijird, and the wool silkier, with the sort of strong twist that is visible on the back of the knot. Making a connecting link with the Kurds, whose whole area begins immediately to the west of Nehavend. The colours of new Nehavends are rather strong, but the rather sparing used of white avoids the ‘busy’ effect seen in other new Hamadan rugs. Most Nehavends, are dark blue, but the red ground appears from time to time. Almost the whole production consists of very large, narrowish dozars, up to 4m squared in area, and rarely less than 3m squared. A few rare zaronims, (5’x3’) wide runners, and the occasional small carpet are also found. These rugs are single wefted with symmetric knot on a cotton foundation.


    On the edge of the Malayir Ferahan area lies the village of Nenej. Old carpets from this place are usually called Malayirs. This version of the vase design spread to the whole of central and north west Persia, in the same way as the Mina Khani and Herati designs did, and it may be found in several of the Hamadan village areas that produce carpet sizes. In Nenej there is a substantial output today, of medium fine, single wefted on cotton warps using the Turkish knot. The wool is thick and of very high quality. Most of the output is in large carpet sizes (9m squared to 100ft squared and over) with dark blue grounds. Some smaller carpets and rugs with some red grounds are also found.


    To the east of the Zagros mountains there are three Luri or Luri type groups, who produce a superior grade of goods. One of these groups are Owlad, a tribe located around the mountain village of Naghun, on the south western edge of the Bakhtiari province. Owlad also refers to a group of six Turkoman tribes: the Khoja, Shikh, Sayyid, Ata and Mujevur. When Owlad carpets first appeared on the market in Isfahan, foreign buyers did not know what their origin was, and the seller did not wish to reveal his source, so described the origin as ‘Pashkuhi’, a name which has stuck. However Pashkuhi could be translated as ‘over the hills and far away’. The name by which these rugs are more known is itself open to doubt, for the word simply means ‘tribe’. There are many Owlads in the Bakhtiar region. The one which we are concerned is a group of Lurs living near Naghun in the Zagros mountains, on the south western edge of the Chahar Mahal. The name Pashkuhi had an official existence in earlier times. In pre-Safavid Persia the peoples of the Zagros mountains were divided into the Great Lurs, in the south, and little Lurs in the north. The main tribes of the Great Lurs were the Bakhtiari, Mamassani and Kuhgalu. The northern group was divided into Pishkuki and Pushtikuhi. Owald designs show Bakhtiari influence, but it is easily distinguished from the Bakhtiar carpets of the Chanar Mahal, by the stiff simplistic design and gloomy blue and red combination from which all lighter rose, gold, cream and green shades of the Bakhtiar carpets are absent. Moreover, finely detailed geometric designs are very attractive in themselves. Like the Turkomans, the Owald Lurs can, with finesse and subtlety produce an infinite variety of permutations of the same simple geometric elements. The wefts are usually of red cotton, the warps of white cotton or black or brown goat hair. The bulk of the production is in carpet sizes between 4 and 7m squared.


    A town and lake of south west Iran. Halfway between Shiraz and Sirjand lies the village of Niriz, which is the production centre for a low-grade type of Shiraz rug. The town of Niriz is a minor source of rugs in the tree of life medallion design, woven in the style of Quashquai. The Niriz production is influenced by many different factors. The bulk of the production is in a medallion plain version of the Qashqai hebatlu design. Unlike these rugs from the Shiraz area, the warps and wefts of Niriz goods are of cotton, therefore the weave is very much like that of the cheaper Afshar types, such as Sirjand. Some of the more unusual designs show strong Afshar influence, and the colourings are more characteristic of Sirjand than Shiraz. The red is brighter than the Shiraz red. Another influence comes from the Arab Nomads living in the north. Within all these influences, Niriz, has a style of its own. Knot density is about 65 to 100 asymmetric knots per square inch on a cotton foundation.