Nomadic tribes, village and urban workshops and royal court factories are all responsible for parallel Persian rug weaving of diverse varieties. As a result, they represent diverse, concurrent lines of tradition and reflect Iran’s history and varied peoples. Rug weaving in Persia dates back to 3000 BC – 1200 BC, when the remarkable skill of rug weaving first began. There are different types of Persian rugs. The most famous are Tabriz, Heriz, Kashan, Gabbeh, Isfahan, Nain, Sarouk, Mashad, Balouchi and Qum. Persian carpets can be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks, according to documents. Homer (who composed the epic “Iliad” in 850BC) was the one who spoke of enchanted regions and “splendid carpets.”
In historical terms, this was sometime during the Bronze Age. And, as a result of this long and rich history, the styles of middle eastern carpets have changed dramatically over time. From humble beginnings (where Persian rugs were woven out of necessity to keep mountain people and travelling tribes warm and out of the wind) to the royalty of Persia demanding to see these majestic and “Splendid Carpets” adorn their floors and walls, all the way to the palatial homes of Kings and Queens in Europe and even further into the White House in America.
Some of the most important cities and regions for Persian rugs in Iran (former Persia) are Tabris (Tabriz), Qum (Qom), Isfahan, Kashan (Keshan), Shiras (Shiraz), Kerman and Mashhad.
There are three different types of Persian rugs:
This is what distinguishes the types of Persian rugs available today. On the one hand, they’re all from Ancient Persia (modern-day Iran), which makes the bulk of them quite coveted, yet there were three separate “types” of fabrication. There are three lines of tradition running concurrently, which means there is a colour, pattern, style and type for practically everyone.
Every handmade rug is a piece of art and reflects the skill of the artist. Master knotter Akbar Mahdie’s carpets have a knot density of 1.2 to 1.8 million knots per m2. Obtaining such a density necessitates a tremendous amount of labour, patience and talent, all of which are in short supply. Furthermore, only the best wool and pure vegetable colours are used, and the material is chosen according to precise criteria. Mahdi’s autographed carpets are made in his studio, where he and his three sons create the highest-quality Isfahan rugs in the world. This city, which is famed for its excellent Persian rugs and is located in northern Iran, has a population of roughly 1.6 million people.
Tabriz silk rugs from master knotter Shirfar. Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan are all close to Tabriz, a major trading hub until a few decades ago. This city produces the most magnificent Persian silk rugs. The blue mosque, the statue of the great poet Khaqani, and the colourful mountains in front of the city are all highlights of the city and surrounding area. A central medallion is usually encircled by floral embellishments and patterns from Persian gardens in most Tabriz rugs. Because the city has a rich history of poets and artists, carpets may include an excerpt of a poem instead of a signature.
The Iranian city of Qom is located around 150 kilometres south of Tehran, on the banks of the same-named river, which has a dried-up riverbed. This town, however, does not have a long-standing carpet-knotting heritage. In the 1930s, the first knotters arrived in the city from Kashan and established themselves. After a few years of incorporating themes and qualities from various carpet locations into the Qom carpets, they have developed their distinct style. Silk carpets from Qom are currently recognised worldwide as among the best and highest quality oriental rugs available.
Many master knotters, for example, don’t manufacture anything less than 1,000,000 knots per m2 and create the finest works of art from pure natural silk and plant colours. Although such premium carpets are incredibly pricey, the natural silk and dense knotting allow the carpet to be set out with ease at home. In addition to silk rugs, professional knotters in Qom manufacture exceedingly high-quality wool rugs. These are frequently embellished with silk. Some of the carpets are also knotted using rare cork wool. Jamshidi, Erami, Kazemi, Mohammadi and Djeddi are some of Qom’s most prominent masters.
Birds, flowers, other garden motifs and intricate mosaic patterns are featured in their works, which are all signed by the master knotter. Nain is a desert city in Iran, located in the country’s centre. The carpets knotted here have distinct qualities that set them apart from rugs from other parts of the world. They all have a central medallion surrounded by flowery decorations, almost without exception. The old town of Kashan is located south of Tehran, on the edge of the enormous Dasht-e-Kawir desert.
This city had a golden age of rug commerce and weaving as early as the 16th century. It is also stated that this was the first time natural silk was used in manufacture, and merchants later transferred the knowledge to Qom. Kashan carpets, formerly regarded as the most delicate Persian rugs, have lost some of their lustre and beauty over time. Unique pieces by well-known masters, such as those by Mohtesham, are exceptionally valuable collectors’ goods. His rugs are now on display in museums and private collections across the world.
Here you can find samples of rare Persian carpets with exceptionally fine knotting and a density of almost 1,000,000 knots per square metre, which are manufactured by skilled knotters. For a single very experienced and skilled knotter, such carpets can take over a year to make. As a result, they have a high rarity value.
Old Persian and oriental rugs that had been in use for at least 20 to 50 years were then extensively refurbished to get a modern vintage look. They do not attempt to restore antique or semi-antique Persian carpets to their original state but rather design a new style. Oriental old carpets, for example, have been revamped and are nearly entirely discoloured. This reduces the pile to a bare minimum. After that, the carpets are dyed in modern new colours and patterns. As a result, an old hand-knotted oriental rug with a rich history has been transformed into a completely new carpet in the current vintage design.
Persian rug patterns are made with Symmetrical (Turkish) and asymmetrical (Persian) knots.
A rug’s knotting is built on centuries of practice. As a result, distinct knotting styles have emerged in different parts of the world. Four main types of knots can be distinguished. The symmetrical knot is a strong knot that originated in Turkey. The asymmetrical knot, commonly known as the Persian knot, allows for more dense knotting. There are also Jufti and Tibetan knots, but they are less common nowadays.
On average, an expert knotter creates 10,000 knots every day. The knotting is mainly done at home by women who weave on their looms.
Thus, a beautiful carpet with 500,000 knots per square metre and a 6 square metre (3x2m) size takes approximately 300 working days to create. This illustrates the amount of manual labour necessary to make a handmade carpet.
The most popular colours are red, blue, black or green, sometimes paired with beige and grey.
Because carpets are prone to use, deterioration and destruction by insects and rats, the origins of carpet weaving are unclear. Woven rugs are thought to have evolved from older felt floor coverings or a technique known as “flat weaving.” Flat-woven carpets have no pile and are created by closely interweaving the warp and weft strands of the weave. The process of weaving carpets evolved further into loop weaving. Weft strings are pulled over a gauge rod to create loops of thread facing the weaver in loop weaving.
The rod is then removed, leaving the loops closed or cut over the protective rod, resulting in a rug resembling a real piled rug. Hand-woven piled rugs are made by individually knotting thread strings into the warps and cutting the thread after each knot.
During the sixteenth century, the carpets woven in Isfahan’s Safavid palace manufactories were known for their ornate colours and artistic design. They are now prized in museums and private collections around the world. Their patterns and designs established an artistic legacy for palace manufactories, carried on throughout the Persian Empire and up to Iran’s last royal dynasty.
Carpets woven in Tabriz, Kerman, Neyshabour, Mashhad, Kashan, Isfahan, Nain and Qom are distinguished by their unique weaving techniques and use of high-quality materials, colours and designs. Tabriz’s town manufacturers have played a key historical role in resurrecting the carpet weaving heritage after decades of decline. Fine wool, vibrant and intricate colours and specific, traditional patterns differentiate Iranian rugs woven by communities and various tribes.
In contrast to the creative, pre-planned designs of larger companies, nomadic and small village weavers often produce rugs with bolder and sometimes rougher motifs, regarded as the most authentic and traditional rugs of Persia. Gabbeh rugs are the most well-known carpets from this genre.
During periods of political turmoil or under the influence of commercial demands, the art and craft of carpet weaving has declined. During the second half of the nineteenth century, it was notably harmed by the introduction of synthetic colours. In modern Iran, carpet weaving is still a significant element of the economy.
The rehabilitation of traditional dyeing with natural colours, the return of ancient tribal patterns and the invention of modern and unique designs woven in the centuries-old technique characterise modern manufacturing. Since ancient Greek writers first mentioned hand-woven Persian carpets and rugs, they have been recognised as items of high artistic and functional worth and reputation.
Although pile-woven textiles are most commonly associated with the name “Persian carpet,” flat-woven carpets and rugs such as Kilim and Soumak and embroidered textiles such as Suzani are all part of the rich and varied history of Persian carpet weaving.
The Pazyryk carpet is the oldest pile-woven carpet in the world. It was discovered in 1949 in the Pazyryk Valley of the Altai Mountains in Siberia, in the grave of a Scythian lord. The Pazyryk carpet was woven in the 5th century BC, according to radiocarbon dating. This carpet features 36 symmetrical knots per cm2 and measures 183 by 200 centimetres (72 by 79 inches) (232 per inch2). The Pazyryk carpet’s advanced method reflects a long history of weaving progress and experience. It is thought to be the world’s oldest carpet. It has a deep red central field with two animal frieze borders that run in opposite directions and guard stripes.
The core organisation of what would become the traditional oriental carpet pattern can be seen in the carpet’s design: a field with repeating patterns surrounded by an ornate main border and many subordinate borders. The inner area is made up of four and a half similar square frames organised in rows on a red background, each filled with identical star-shaped ornaments made up of centrally overlapping x- and cross-shaped patterns. A procession of deer is depicted on the inner main border, with men riding horses in the foreground and men leading horses in the rear. Saddlecloths for horses come in a range of patterns.
Sergei Rudenko, who discovered the Pazyryk carpet, assumed it was made by the contemporary Achaemenids.
It’s unclear whether it was made in the place where it was discovered or created by the Achaemenids. Its excellent weaving and intricate graphic design suggest that it was made at a time when carpet making was at its pinnacle.
Rugs are our speciality at London House Rugs. We’ve spent more than four decades honing our method and cultivating long-term, ethical connections with weavers all around Asia. A London House Rug goes through rigorous sourcing, manufacturing and finishing operations to ensure quality and beauty.
We spend a lot of time in the Middle East looking for the most beautiful carpets and developing long-term ethical relationships with weaving cooperatives. In our store, we have a huge assortment of new and old carpets in various sizes.
We design, manufacture and install carpets for individuals and companies in a range of settings. Please take a look at some of our recent projects to get a sense of the wide range of services we provide, including everything from a single hearth rug for your house to a hundred handcrafted carpets for a hotel rollout.
Because we have over 40 years of experience, we can assist you in selecting the best rug for your space.