The Beauty of Serapi Carpets - Lavender Oriental Carpets

The Beauty of Serapi Carpets

The Beauty of Serapi Carpets

As perpetually fashionable as they are collectible, traditional Heriz luxury handmade rugs are skillfully woven in vibrant colors and emphatic geometric designs. Serapi carpets are a quality designation for Heriz pieces of a firmer weave, shorter pile and finer quality. There is no village of Serapi among the thirty-odd towns in the Heriz weaving district. The simplicity and striking character of these carpets, along with their basic two-dimensional flat patterning and primary colors has made then almost like room sized Kazaks and they have always been popular in the company of Caucasian scatter rugs. The overall tonality of this highly decorative carpet instead verges on the neutral and as a result it works in almost any furnishing context. This carpet enhances both formal and more rustic decorative schemes, and it works especially well in contemporary settings. Colors: light copper pink/ivory/green

The term “Serapi” (or “Sarapi”) first appeared in American auction catalogues in the 1920’s.The origin of the term is obscure, but there are several possibilities. It may be a corruption of “Sarab”, the camel border runners and long rugs from Sarab town, at the southeast corner of the Heriz district in NW Persian Azerbaijan. A more fanciful derivation is from Saltillo Sarapes, the blankets of 19th century Mexico which have vaguely similar central medallions.  There is no village of Serapi and the term is probably a carpet trade confection. The proximity of the Caucasus to the north accounts for the stylized, geometric drawing of both major and minor elements.

It is a general grade of Heriz carpets. Some have depressed warps, short and erect pile and leathery textures. Others are single wefted with flat backs, pliable handles, and more recumbent piles. Regardless of weave type, the excellent dyes are all of natural origin.

Sizes are generally of carpet dimension, 9’ x l2’ to 12’ x l8’, with 10’ x l4’ particularly popular. There are virtually no runners, very few dozars (4’ by 6’), and only an occasional piece 8’ by 10’ or under. As with most Heriz carpets, they were woven primarily for export to America and Europe. There are no Serapi’s before 1890 or 1895 and none postdate WWI. There were numerous very high quality Heriz carpets woven in the l900-l9l4 period, some signed and dated, but these are never called Serapi’s.

As for designs, like the majority of room size Heriz carpets, they   are in versions of the medallion and corners pattern. Some examples are more curvilinear, approaching a Fereghan-Sarouk, while others are bolder, less elaborate and more geometric. Many pieces are unique and are artistic creations of the master weavers. A   few are in allover patterns with angular split arabesques or classic Persian repeats. The borders are usually creative variations on the ever popular “turtle” palmette design.

Colors are frequently madder red for the field, ivory corners, and dark blue central medallions. There are examples with ivory or navy fields and red borders. Pistachio green is encountered both as a field and as a border tone.

In all likelihood, these ever-attractive carpets were all made for the local Tabriz carpet traders working against orders from Western importers. Very few Serapi’s went to the domestic market and any now in the local Persian trade are re-imports from the West.

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