Persian rugs with names like Arak, Ardebil, Ahar, Bijar (or Bidjar), Bakhtiary, Ghoum (or Qum), Herez, Hamedan, Maymeh, Mashad (or Mashhad), Kashan (or Keshan), Malayer, Kerman (or Kirman), Qazvin, Tabriz, Weramine, Zanjan, etc., like fine wine, come from every region in Iran, but unlike fine wine, only one country can produce these masterpieces.
Often copied but never duplicated, these rugs are made from the finest wool in the world. The wool has a more durable and soft texture because of the amount of minerals in the water that are absorbed by the lamb. The coats of the lamb experience four full seasons and very cold temperatures in more mountainous areas which all contribute to fineness of the wool.
The mineral rich water inherent to the region also helps produce a natural silk quality that cannot be replicated. The Mulberry tree is grown using this water and the leaves digested by the silk worm. The silkworm is the little crawler that we owe gratitude for making what we know as today as the silk rug. Please be aware when shopping for your silk rug that there is a difference between naturally produced silk and artificial silk, which both highly differ in their quality and value. Adabi’s Oriental Rug Gallery carries only the highest quality naturally produced silk.
Lucky for us, traditional rug making has changed very little over the centuries. One of the few changes that have significantly occurred, though, is dye used in the process. In the old days dyes were produced using vegetable dyes. The vegetable dyes created reds, blues, and other very earthy tones. Today weavers use synthetic dyes in the process, which in turn gives us all of our traditional colors. In addition to some more modern colors broadening our palette. Do not worry though there is very little monetary difference in the value of rugs with synthetic vs. vegetable dyes. Make sure though you do not fall into buying a rug simply because you were told that vegetable dyes were used. Yes, there are some vegetable dyes still on the market but most are found in real (not semi) antique rugs.
Centuries of weaving have created the greatest masterpieces in the world handed down from generation to generation. Some of these rugs have taken countless days to multiple years to complete by weavers. It is artwork at its finest, encompassing tradition, creativity, hard work, and skill. We highly recommend that the rug is the first purchase that you make when designing your home; furniture and fixtures are much more accommodating while the rug is a timeless unique classic.
- Isfahan and Nain
The Isfahan and Nain rugs are named after their respective cities. The two cities have a very short distance of separation and share the reputation of creating the world’s most famous Persian rugs. Both cities began their weaving with use of vegetable dyes and eventually switching to synthetic.
The city of Isfahan flourished during the 16th century under Shah Abbas the Great. Isfahan is notorious for using a silk foundation in their weaving as compared to Nain which uses a cotton foundation. Isfahan has been weaving their masterpieces for centuries while Nain has only decades of experience.
The city of Tabriz is best known for producing the Tabriz Persian rug for many centuries. Weaving silk pile on silk foundation, silk pile on wool foundation, and wool pile on cotton foundation. This part of Iran has been full of strife with war and earthquakes thus rugs from this region are more valuable especially the rare older ones. Tabriz rugs can be identified for their beauty as well as their durability (some containing as much as 500,000 knots per square meter). Even the city Marand which is next to Tabriz has famous master weavers, like Hajji Jallie; his rugs typically have his signature woven in. A Hajji Jallie sold on December 1, 1973 for $42,000 at Sotheby Parke Bernet. Tabriz is still making beautiful rugs and durable rugs, including 80-70-60 linear on silk and cotton.
Ghoum (or Qum) rugs are woven in a holy city described by some as the “Vatican” of Iran. Ghoum did not start weaving rugs up until the last 80 years. In the beginning Ghoum rugs were mostly done with a wool pile woven on a cotton foundation, later wool on silk, and currently world renowned for their pure silk pile on silk foundation (aka silk on silk or 100% silk). The rugs are positively beautiful with a softness and shine that cannot be duplicated. Both the quality of silk and wool used in weaving the Ghoum rug can be only attributed to the mineral rich water in the area. Other countries have tried to duplicate this Persian rug but simply cannot because of the lack fine silk and wool. Ghoum does not have their own unique traditional design but they do use inspiration from other cities; such as a tree of life, four seasons design, pearl (boteh), etc. However, this may change in the future because new talent and design emerge from this city every day. The “Adabi” signature is woven onto these authentic silk rugs woven in the heart Ghoum.
In a Kurdish town in the Northwest part of Iran the Bijar (or Bidjar) is woven. These exquisite rugs are best known for their durability over design. The Bijar design pattern is often copied by others but the craftsmanship and durability cannot be imitated. The mountains in this region have produced wool so durable that the Bijar rugs woven have become known as the “beast of burden.”
The process of weaving a Bijar is very tiresome. The weaving process begins with wetting the wool, the wet wool is then extremely thin once soaked, thus allowing more room for weaving. When the rugs are taken off of the loom, oftentimes, they need straps (usually made of leather) sewn on the sides to make the rug lay flat. A traditional Bijar will have red, blue, and a mostly earth tone hue. Even though most rugs are made with synthetic dyes today, the weavers of Bijars are steeped in tradition and will only use vegetable dyes on the wool. Anyone who has ever had a true Persian Bijar knows that these rugs hold up under a lot of use. Two hundred years is the average life for this rug. These rugs have often adorned children’s playrooms and been handed down from generation to generation. War and strife has unsettled this peaceful region of Iran though no fault of the people of the region. Even though Bijars are not as abundant as they used to be, we only hope that the people of the region continue their rich tradition.