During much of the history of the Mongol Empire, Agra was its capital city. Architects and artisans, including many carpet weavers, were brought here from all over the Muslim world to enhance the city’s beauty. The remarkable architecture of Agra still exists today, along with a treasury of wonderful carpets woven by the skilled artisans of this ancient city. In the late 19th Century the majority of carpet weaving took place within the jails with the long-term prisoners being used for this activity.
Situated on the banks of the River Creuse in France Aubusson had been well known for producing tapestries for centuries. It is claimed that they were weaving in Aubusson as early as the 8th century but it was not until 1743 when the Kings Council decided to establish a carpet factory in the town that the style we now know as Aubusson came into being.
ARTS & CRAFTS
The Arts and Crafts movement was started in England during the last half of the 19th century. The style was taken up by American designers, where it was also known as the Mission style. The English Arts and Crafts movement stressed craftsmanship at the expense of mass market pricing. Famous designers who created carpets were William Morris, probably better known for their textiles and wallpapers. However, some of the most stunning design work to come out of Morris & Co has to be from some of the large, luxurious carpets they produced. C.F.Voisey, perhaps more famous for his wallpaper and textile designs also created wonderful designs for rugs Alexander Morton who around 1900 set up a factory in Donegal Ireland to hand weave rugs. He was heavily influenced by the designs of William Morris.
Bakshaish is the old name of the area of the province of Azerbaijan and very near to Heriz in N.W.Persia. It was really not until the mid. 19th century that rugs were produced of top quality. The styles are very similar to Heriz with the use of geometric patterns.
Baktiari an area in central Persia near Isphahan. Often woven by nomad tribes, they have been producing rugs from the 14th century. The rugs mainly have a central motif or all over pattern and often contained within a square lattice.
The tradition of weaving carpets in Donegal goes back for over a century. During the last part of the 19th and early 20th century it reached its height. They were mainly producing carpets with a thick pile and their designs were influenced by Persian or Turkish patterns. They are very popular now on both sides of the Atlantic.
The name of Donegal has been highly regarded in the carpet world since the end of the 19th century. The achievements of Morris & Co. inspired copy-cat operations throughout the British Isles. The only one of these enterprises to be successful was the carpet weaving business developed by the Scottish textile firm of Alexander Morton & Co. In the 1890`s, the village of Killybegs on the rugged Atlantic coast of Donegal, Ireland, was chosen as Morton`s headquarters. The organisers of this project were quick to recognise the popularity of inexpensive carpets from the Ushak region of Turkey, and realised that their designs could be adapted to great effect for weaving Donegal carpets.
Fereghan in west Persia came to prominence in the 18th century under the rule of Shah Nadir who exerted an influence on its weaving and production. The carpets from this area were prized even at this time. The patterns derive from the weavers of Herat who settled here in the early 19th century adding colour and harmony.
Gabbeh rugs, are woven by the Qushgai (Ghashghaie) tribes from Southern Persia. They are Turkish tribes and the most important, most advanced and most prosperous tribes of Fars. They are also the best weavers. They are almost completely nomadic. During eight months of the year they inhabit, in their black goat’s hair tents, a high belt of country which extends for about 150 miles northward, and in the late Autumn they move from the highlands to the warmer coastal country which lies west, southwest and south of Shiraz. In the olden days, the Gabbeh rugs, were only produced by them for their own domestic use. During the 1980`s the western dealers discovered these simple rugs with abstract designs which were ideal for accompanying the new and modern furnishing and decor. During the last part of the 20th century these rugs were the best sellers, worldwide. Although the Gabbeh’s have been in production for centuries they were almost unknown to the outside world. They have thick pile, with very simple designs. They are, a perfect companion with modern furnishing and one can use them almost anywhere in the house, from the children’s room to sitting rooms. They are very hardwearing, with unusual colouring.
The history of this 2500 year old town in west Persia stretches back into pre-Christian antiquity. Although the earliest known Hamadan carpets probably date from about A.D.1800 carpet weaving in the town probably has a much longer history.
A town in Turkey around 40 miles from Istanbul producing the finest of silk rugs. It is believed that the Imperial looms were established in Hereke around 1840. These finely weaved rugs are still produced in the town to this day.
The small town of Heriz in North West Persia is the centre of one of the most important weaving areas in Azerbaijan and has given its name to one of the most distinctive styles with its geometric patterns. Heriz carpets are prized for their robustness and resilience and their charm lies in a characteristic balance of color and design. Serapi is the name given to the finest rugs from this area. Serapi is not a place or tribal name; rather it is a market term derived from Serab-i, meaning “of Serab”. Serapi’s are a distinct Heriz region style, with more large-scale designs and most importantly, they are more finely woven, often in lighter tones.
Serapi’s combine design elements borrowed from many traditions. The bold geometric designs are probably connected to the tribal Caucasian traditions across the Aras River to the north. The elegant court carpets of Tabriz to the west certainly would have influenced the weavers’ understanding of balance and the central medallion format.
Serapi carpets were woven on the level of a family or small workshop with multiple weavers working several years to complete each rug. The weaving was done almost exclusively by women. Highly skilled artisans, they continually reinterpreted the design as they wove, creating highly spontaneous and inventive artistry. The women of this area were master dyers able to deeply dye the superb, silky, local wool with a great range of soft-shaded or “abrashed” color. The Serapi muted tones are renowned by collectors and interior designers around the world.
Since Shah Abbas 1 (1587 – 1629) established looms within the Imperial palace to weave exceptional carpets this central Persian town has been well known for the quality and style of its output. The town today with a population of over 400,000 is the heart of the country and was chosen by several ruling dynasties as the centre of their empire.
Joshagan is situated about eighty miles along the road from Isfahan in Central Persia. This small mountain province is important in the history of carpet production and as early as the 16th century carpets and exquisite silk pieces were being exported to India. The town suffered from an earthquake in the mid.19th century and stopped production of carpets until the early 20th century.
Situated on the caravan route to India in central Persia is the town of Kashan famed as one of the top quality production areas. They have been producing and exporting carpets of the highest artistic craftsmanship over several centuries. The famous Ardabil carpet in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the silk carpets in the Metropolitan in New York are the best known surviving pieces. Mohtashem signifies the name of the master weaver whose works belong at the top of the highest category of carpet weaving. Using only the very best wool’s and made to the highest finish these pieces are truly works of art.
A Town in N.W.Persia bordering on Caucasia well known for the significant use of the cochineal dyes reds and violets used in their design. The designs of Karaja’s are influenced by the Caucasian styles and designs rather than traditional Persian motifs.
KHOTAN – SAMARKAND
Now in Uzbekistan, Samarkand was once the gateway to China. It was one of the principal cities, if not the very pivot of the Silk Route. The principal production areas were Khotan and Yarkand and this whole area of East Turkistan produces very distinctive styles the most common design is the pomegranate tree stemming from a vase, an ancient symbol of fertility in the Far East.
Kirman is the capital of the province in south Persia of the same name. Situated 2000 meters above sea level. As elsewhere in Persia carpet weaving declined during the 18th century and was revived during the second half of the 19th century, since when Kirman carpets have enjoyed a considerable reputation. From the town of Ravar just north east of Kirman come some of the finest examples, which are known as Kirman Lavar carpets.
Situated in the west of Persia and to the south of Arak is the area of Mahallet within the larger province of Kurdistan. From this area come Mahal and Sultanabad Carpets famous for their floral designs and following the influence of the Ziegler Company in the late 19th century they improved the quality and designs to match the European taste of the time.
Malayer rugs comes from west Persia near Hamadan woven in a range of medallion and all over designs , they have a wonderful style that makes them excellent decorative pieces so suitable for today’s designs and themes.
Produced in China by the Nichols Company of the USA. They started producing rugs just after the end of World War One. It was Nichols who started producing the thick Chinese rugs we know so well today and his production was always of the top quality. The company and production came to an end at the outbreak of World War Two. Today Nichols Chinese Rugs are increasing sought after and are now in demand with Interior Decorators, for there contemporary feel and style.
Oushak Rugs originate from the small town of Oushak in west central Anatolia, approximately 100 miles south of Istanbul, in Turkey. It is believed that Oushak’s were first woven during the 15th and 16th century
Peshwar is the capital of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 weavers from Afghanistan came and settled here and started producing fine reproductions of classical Persian rugs.
Resht is the capital of state of GILAN by the Caspian Sea in Persia. This area is well known for it’s textiles . They are finely embroidered on felt in various colours.
Sarouk rugs are from the village of Saruk about 25 miles north of Arak, in west Persia. Sarouk rugs have been produced for much of the last century. Sarouk’s are normally a very thick and dense heavy rug and are known for their exceptional quality and ability to withstand decades of wear.
A small village in N.W.Persia very near to Heriz. Producing rugs similar in style to Heriz with geometric patterns. The rugs of Serab are normally of a light color and this town is particularly proud of the many fine and famous runners they produce.
The city of Sivas is in West Turkey and is well known for weaving fine rugs often with a classical Persian design. Appreciated for there decorative style and using the best of materials.
These Caucasian rugs come mainly from East Caucus and the Soumak rugs are the most grand and distinguished of all eastern flat-weaves. In the Soumak weaving technique the wefts pass over two warps and back under one. In most examples the weft threads are left hanging at the back, rare examples which have a finished pattern on both sides are called ‘reverse soumak’ these are normally found on small pieces such as bag-faces.
Sultanabad was the capitol city of Arak Province and is now called Arak. It was the site of the principle Ziegler weaving site in the 1880s. Famous for their floral designs and following the influence of the Ziegler Company in the late 19th century they improved the quality and designs to match the European taste of the time. Adapting the traditional patterns for use in European houses producing highly decorative carpets using the best of materials having a lighter feel and a more vivid contrast with repeating patterns within an open design.
Silk on linen. This kind of embroidery comes from places along the ancient silk routes, where there is a long tradition of embroidery and floral decoration. Normally embroidered by the women of a family traditionally offered to the bride’s family at the wedding or betrothal.
Tabriz is the capital of the north-western province of Azerbaijan in Northwest Persia and for centuries has enjoyed a great reputation as a centre of Oriental culture. Genghis Kahn conquered the town in the beginning of the 16th century, but it was Shah Abbas in the late 16th century that added culture and style to the town’s craftsmanship and his name is still used in describing the best carpets from the area. In the 18th century the town saw a decline in the standards and it was not until a citizen of Berlin Heinrich Jacobi in the 19th century set up his company in the town that a renaissance started.
In the latter part of the 19th Century Hadji Jalili rugs were woven, with a fine weave and of the best quality they normally have a distinct coloration of burnt oranges, ivory, blacks and gold’s. It is not known if this was a specific workshop or a dealer commissioning weavings, Hadji Jalili rugs are sort after.
Edward E Benlian was an Armenian who lived in England in London and died in 1973. Upon his death, there was an estate auction by Phillips Son & Neale in London. His company produced rugs in Tabriz from the 1900’s onwards and his master weavers included Javan, Amir, Kizi and Mahmud Ghalicheh
The Ziegler Company from Manchester was one of the earliest dealers and manufacturers of carpets operating in Persia and commissioning these carpets. They were active in Persia between 1870 to 1920 establishing offices and a dyeing workshop. Based in Arak formerly called Sultanabad in west Persia they controlled about 2500 looms in the surrounding areas. Their main influence on design was in adapting the traditional patterns for use in European houses producing highly decorative carpets using the best of materials having a lighter feel and a more vivid contrast with repeating patterns within an open design.