CARPET CENTERS OF IRAN
About twenty years ago largcSedjades from Abadeh began to find their way into the market. As to their wool and the style of weaving, they are not unlike fine Afshari carpets; while in their small, rather realistic floral patterns they closely resemble certain Saidabad- and Niris- Afsharis. The ground is usually blue or off-white (ivory). Where red is employed it is a rust-red.
Thc Afsharis are a nomadic tribe from the Dschesireh (the region between the Trigris and the Euphrates). But when they disputed with the Turkish Sultan over their taxation, Shah Abbas the Great invited them to move into Persia, where they have since been domiciled, either as a nomadic or a semi-nomadic population, especially in the region between Shiraz and Kerman.
The Af shar i rugs are brightly coloured. The predominant hues are commonly blue, red, or ivory, in a number of small patterns with infinite variations between stylized and naturalistic floral motives.
Besides rugs of coarse texture, for which the so-called Tabachi (The wool of the fleece removed from dead sheep with lime) is employed, there are specimens of the very finest quality, for which a silky, glossy wool has been used. The finest are made in Saidabad, a largish town of the semi-sedentary Afshars.
The backs of the Afshari rugs often have a ribbed 1 appearance, and sometimes (for example, in
many of the carpets coming from saidabad) a coarsely woven four dation.
The Afshari rugs are mostly of Sed jade size; that is, from 3 feet 4 inches to 4 feet 8 inches wide and from 6 to 8 feet long, but there are isolated specimens of about 6 feet 8 inches by 13 feet.
Coming from Hamadan, the ancient Ecbatana, to Sultanabad, one is greatly struk by the difference between the two cities. Whilst in lIamadan traccs of the past are seen at every step, Sultanabad, in its nco-Persian style, seems almost modern. Though a very old settlement, its antiquity is disguised by the houses and other buildings which date from the last three decades of the nineteenth century.
This city of Central Persia, owes its importance mainly to the carpet industry. As the largest town in the Maha llat, in all parts of which carpets are made, It is the Function of Sultana bad to supply the surrounding countryside with yarn requirements and very often to produce the dyes; also to distribute the orders which come from far and wide to the various individual weaving establishments. Since Sultanabad , as a city, offers many facilities beyond the reach of the surrounding villages, the region's best and finest carpets are woven in the city itself. These are the most carefully worked Saruk-Mahals, a quality of carpet whose name is intended to convey the fact that one is referring to Mahals, but Mahals which are like Saruks; and also the so-called Saruks, those closely knotted and closely clipped products of the Sultana bad countryside, made exclusively with vegetable dyes, which, despite their short depth of pile, are, on account of the great excellence of their wool, practically indestructible. Recently Sultana bad has also been making a greet many Mahadshirans-a kind of Saruk, very finely knotted, and with a thick pile-for export to America.
In the 1860's the prominent and well-established Manchester firm of Ziegler, in addition to its many other activities in Persia, began to collect and export rugs and carpets; finally, the firm decided to organize a carpet-making industry of its own. As its centre Sultanabad was selected. Beyond dispute, the Ziegler concern brought new life into the city, though one may perhaps fairly reproach it for setting a bad example by introducing artificial dyes into the carpet-weaving industry.
During the first world war Sultana bad suffered a certain decline. This was mainly because many of the merchant firms-(mostly Armenians) with one partner working in Sultanabad and the other (perhaps a brother) living in London or New York, were much too accommodating to the prevalent taste for chemical washing, making carpets alien to the traditional Persian idiom.
In 1920 several European firms set themselves the task of reviving the pre-war traditions. To do this, they had to buy old type rugs and carpets in other Persian cities, and give them to the weavers so that they might see at first hand specimens worthy to be reproduced. They had also to search throughout Persia for craftsmen, happily still to be found in country districts, who were acquainted with the art of vegetable dyeing and they established dye-plants of their own where yarn could again be dyed with natural colours. In Sultana bad they were thus able to effect a genuine renaissance, that is of the Saruks and Mahals, so that up to the outbreak of the last war it was possible once more to obtain from this neighbourhood, in addition to the long-piled rugs and carpets manufactured for the American market, the comparatively close-cut carpets made with genuine vegetable dyes characteristic of this important centre, and which were again produced in the native patterns and designs, including the Mahi, the palmettes of various dimensions, the little Serabend pattern, the Gul-Hcnna, etc.
The Bagshaish district runs from west to east, from Lake Urmia to the neighbourhood of the city of Heriz. Two kinds of carpets bear this name. The older carpets arc distinguished by their glossy wool and their rich vegetable dyes; they often display variants of the different Fcrahan designs, and are usually about 6 feet g inches by ] 3 feet 4 inches. The more recent specimens are like Gravan carpets, with more or less geometrical patterns, but distinguishable by their glossier wool. They arc coarsely knotted.
Baktiari rugs are large rugs made by a tribe of that name living to the south of Mahallat, bet ween Hamadan and Ispahan. They are dyed almost exclusively with vegetable colours, and are of medium quality. In the poorest quality Tabachi is used a rather dry wool, which is seldom glossy.
During the last twenty years there has been a revival of this industry, which may be attributed to the foresight of the wife of a tribal chief, who was the victim of a political intrigue. She had realized that the tribe's welfare could be promoted by the production of good rugs or carpets and did her utmost to encourage the industry by the adoption of such measures as, for example, finding for copying good-specimen rugs produced in the past. There are really only two sizes in Baktiari rugs: the Scdjade, and a larger size, about 6 feet 6 inches by 9 feet 9 inches.
Baluchi carpets are dark and often dull in colour. They are not made in Baluchistan, but produced by the Baluchi nomads of the eastern parts of Khorassan, who sometimes even cross into Russian Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Of Baluchi carpets there are the Meshed-Baluchi, the finest quality from the neighbourhood of the city of Meshed, the Kudouanis, and the Arabs, etc. The Arabs are the coarsest, though occasional specimens are remarkable for their fine wool and their pleasing design. Naturally, nomads do not find it possible to produce large carpets like those made in workshops. The dimensions of their rugs range from 2 feet 3 inches to 2 feet 7 inches wide by 3 feet 11 inches to 4 feet 3 inches long, and up to 3 feet 11 inches by 7 feet 6 inches. Single specimens may be as much as 6 ~eet 6 inches wide and 10 feet or even II feet long. Their colours are always dark red and deep indigo, and vegetable dyes are used almost without exception. Occasional specimens may include white or cream, but more frequently light fawn or camel-hair brown. For the latter colour undyed camel's wool is often, though not invariably, employed.
Kuduani is a well-known kind of carpet, dark in colour, produced by the Baluchi tribes. In contrast to another kind of carpet knotted by Baluchis-namely, the "Arab," which has a ribbed appearance on the reverse side-the backs of the Kuduanis are smooth and they are generally so smoothly shorn that they are almost velvety. In pattern and colouring they resemble the other so-called Baluchi carpets, and like these are made in saddle-bags, square and oblong in size, as well as in small and large Sed jade size. Individual specimens are larger still.
Bidjar describes those Persian carpets which are immediately distinguishable from others by the thickness of their pile. They have long been manufactured in the city of Bidjar and its environs. To some extent the term is applied also to carpets produced in the surrounding district of Gerus, but whereas the genuine Gerus carpets almost always display the same pattern (the so-called Do-Gule, a design of rosettes and palmettes, endlessly repeated) the pattern of the Bidjars is hardly ever geometrical, but marked by great diversity, ranging from the smallest Herati pattern to very large palmettes, like those in the "vase carpets." The background may be uniform, or covered with a design of corners and medallions; or without medallions.
Bidjar, a large city to the north-west of Hamadan, has long been important as a carpet-making centre. It also keeps Gerus supplied with patterns and orders.
The characteristic of the Bidjar carpet is a comparatively long pile on a twofold warp. The lengths of yarn so protrude from the foundation that a Bidjar carpet can scarcely be folded in the usual manner, with the back outside. To do so might easily break the warp and weft threads. Bidjar carpets should therefore be folded face outwards.
The weft threads are comparatively numerous, and strong; the carpets are indeed often so made that in addition to the weft threads which run in and out of the warp there is at intervals a thicker and more loosely twisted intermediate weft which docs not run in and out of the warp.
Bidjars are made in Sedjade sizes, and also in bigger sizes, up to 13 feet by 20 feet or even larger, while the old Gerus carpets are almost always Keleis,
Borchalou is a small district of only a couple of dozen village. Sittuated east of Hamadan. The carpet woven there are the only products in great Hamadan area to display the curvilinear pattern of more cultivated carpet.
Especially beautiful carpets were once produced in Djoshegan. Those dating from the eighteenth and the
beginning of the nineteenth century were so like the Herat carpets that it is natural to assume that Nadir Shah, after the conquest of Afghanistan, may have transferred some of its carpet-makers to the city of D joshegan, which lies not very far from Ferahan. The prevailing patterns of the old Djoshegan carpets have as their motifs the different varieties of the palmette: the wreathed palmette, the fanpalmette, and the flowering palmette. These are worked in detail, with an extremely pleasing effect, but in the D joshegan carpets they arc never connected by tendrils, as in the "vase carpets." The D joshegan carpets often have Herati borders of exceptional beauty. According to older authors, the city of D joshegan is supposed to have been destroyed by the earthquakes of 1848, while others say it was deserted by its inhabitants on account of a famine (or lack of water?) which may have been caused by an earthquake. At all events, no Djoshegan carpets arc known to have been produced in the second half
of the nineteenth century:
In examining one D joshegan carpet a method of knotting not found in any other Persian carpet has
been detected: the yarn embraces not two warp threads, as usual, but four.
Two sorts of carpets are known as Ferahans. The district of Ferahan lies between the cities of Kum and
Kashan, extending westwards almost as far as the township of Sultanabad, while in the south-west it meets the Mahallat. To the south-west lies the city of Djoshegan, famed for the beauty of its carpets. While Kclcis of exceptional quality, and occasional Sed jades, were formerly made in Ferahan, to-day many carpets come from the Ferahan district which in Europe and America are known as Mahals.
Apparently, after the conquest of Afghanistan by Nadir Shah, carpet-makers from the conquered city of Hcrat were moved to Persia, where they settled; for after the decline of carpet-weaving in Herat the Herati design (known also as the Mahi design) and the Herati borders were reproduced in Ferahan and the neighbouring city of Djoshegan. The earlier Ferahan carpets found their way more especially to England, where the type was greatly esteemed as a "gentleman's carpet". The peculiarity of the Hcrati design as produced in the Ferahan district-a small pattern, endlessly repeated, consisting of a roselle with two lanccolatc \caves, which point in various directions-is that on account of the disposition of the pattern distinct though not unduly obtrusive lines appear, vertical, horizontal, and even diagonal. The Herati border which usually surrounds this design-in contrast to the carpets formerly produced in Herat itself, in which the ground was dyed with surmey (that is, a dark indigo bluer-is almost always a stone-green in colour. The Persians call this green Ab-i-sangacr. The greenish tone was formerly obtained with Isperek (Persian "wolf's milk" = spurge) and sulphate of copper. This, however, produced a tone so light and misty that the Herati border contrasted strongly with it, while a mixture of indigo and a yellow dye gave too crude and heavy a tone. Sulphate of copper has the disadvantage that it gradually attacks the wool, though its action docs not penetrate so deeply as to result in the disintegration of the knots; it does, however, attack the pile rising from the warp and weft. The result is that in many of the older Ferahan carpets the palmettes, and the two lanceolate leaves depending from each of the tendrils proceeding from these palmettes, stand out in relief from the green background, which produces a very beautiful plastic effect.
The first Ferahans date from the second half of the eighteenth century. Excellent examples have survived from the first half of the nineteenth century, and some are even more recent.
The industry which was revived in Sultana bad and the Mahallat in the 'eighties produced extensively for export, in contrast to the old Ferahan workshops, which were primarily employed in satisfying home requirements. The revived industry owed its existence to the old carpet-factories and has much in common with the old product as regards the type of knot, the material, the dyes, and the depth of pile. The thick carpets more recently made in Sultana bad for the U.S.A. in particular, with a pile sometimes as much as 2.2 cm deep, first came into fashion about 1910, after the Americans had begun to wash their Oriental carpets chemically, which is more easily done when they have a deep pile. With the very short pile of earlier Ferahan carpets there was some danger in chemical washing to the wool forming the knots. The American quality of Sultanabad carpets is called Mahadshiran.
The carpets produced to-day in the Ferahan district, the Mahallat and Sultanabad are of all sizes.
Fortunately, they are coloured almost exclusively with vegetable dyes. Only the Mahadshirans are occasionally coloured with synthetic dyes. Why this should be so is obvious: these dye-stuffs are more
An important city of Khorassan, lying between Bircdchend and Meshed, which produced great numbers of carpets at the close of the eighteenth century and especially during the first half of the nineteenth century. The Narnase or Sed jade sizes are comparatively rare; most of the Ghain carpets are Kcleis, from 6 feet 6 inches to 10 feet wide and 13 feet to 20 feet long. The Ghain carpets have a very short pile and are rarely of more than medium-fine quality. Since they are made entirely of the very lustrous but unfortunately very soft wool of Khorassan, which would not wear well under local conditions though trodden only by unshod feet, these carpets are often found worn out, though only a few decades old. Our hard foot wear would have played havoc with them.
Cream, dark blue, medium blue, and occasionally madder-red are the most usual colours of the ground. A comparatively large number of carpets occur with medallions and corners, in which the ground between the medallion and the corners is plain. In addition to these widespread designs the Herati design is also found, and very often rows of more or less stylized palm-leaves run across the carpet or its diagonals; animals, too, usually in almost natural but often also in stylized form are not uncommon. In the older Ghain-Kelcis a pattern is found in which the branching tendrils forming the corners take the form of a bird's neck with head and bill. (A swan's neck")
To the south of the Caucasian province of Gharabagh (black garden) and south of the River Aras lies
the Persian district of Gharadagh (Black Mountain). In all these mountain valleys between Tabriz and the Caspian Sea carpets of varying quality are made. Almost every village has its own pattern, composed generally of ornaments representing flowers or plants, often in geometric forms and frequently combined with stylized animals. The sizes are nearly always, but not exclusively, Kcnares, which range between 3 feet 4 inches by 10 feet and 3 feet 4 inches by 18 feet to 20 feet.
In the trade the finer qualities are usually described as Gharadjas, which is merely a dialect form of Gharadaghs, just as the city of Tabriz is often called Tarbiz by the inhabitants. Among traders, too, these carpets also pass by the name of "Ardebils," because the city of Ardebil is the centre where most of the Gharadaghs are collected for the Tabriz bazaar.
(see Gharadagh). Recently the name Karadja has been applied to a variety of Gravan and Heris
carpets-two places which lie in this locality. With typical rectilinear designs, Karadjas occur as Narnases and also as comparatively wide Sedjades. They are also made in sizes ranging from 6 feet 3 inches by 10 feet to 13 feet by 20 feet.
The Ghashghais, one of the largest Persian tribes, partly nomadic and partly sedentary or
semi-sedentary inhabit the region north-west of Shiraz extending to the border of the Mahallat province.
Their immediate neighbours on the north-west are the Baktiaris, another important tribe. Together with certain neigh-bouring tribes known as Arabs or Torkis, the Ghashghais are the principal manufacturers of the carpets known to the trade as "Shiraz carpets." The Ghashghai carpets are sometimes even called "Meccas," though not in Persia. They exhibit the features typical of nomad carpets: that is, they consist entirely of wool, which is of the highest quality, very springy and with a silky lustre. Vegetable dyes are used exclusively, and even among the most recent productions it is rare to find one in which artificial dyes have been used. The sizes in which these carpets are made are: Pushtis, Narnases, comparatively wide Sedjades, carpets of from 3 feet 4 inches by 10 feet to 8 feet by 11 feet and, of course, Keleis, In many the ground is dark blue, probably so that the dark wool of the sheep can be used in their manufacture; a reddish-brown is also used. As to the patterns, a somewhat compressed form of the Ferahan design is often seen, while floral ornaments and representations of plants or shrubs are frequent. In former times the ornaments often included the Indian leaf, and small stylized domestic animals, apparently dogs, sheep, fowls, etc. Some decades ago a design not infrequently used was the so-called Ashkali pattern. While the basis of the main Ashkali design consists largely of geometric rosettes, the border often has a pattern of rosettes separated one from another by a sloping line. Between each pair or rosettes lie two comb-like formations in a slanting position. In the author's opinion the Ashkali border is merely a very primitive and geometric form of the Herati border. In the Ashkali border also one often finds small stylized animals.
Gravan carpets are the coarse or medium-fine carpets woven in the Bagsheich district; they are made mostly with vegetable dyes, madder-red, dark or medium blue, and cream predominating. Not all the Gravans are produced in the village of that name which is near the city of Heris. In the trade the coarser qualities of this type of carpet are described in general as Gravans. Their design is in most cases the medallion with corners, though individual specimens have a repeating pattern.
They are made as wide Sedjades and in all sizes between 6 feet 8 inches by 10 feet and 13 feet by 20 feet and even 16 feet by 25 feet.
A Persian city, lying at an altitude of 6,500 feet, and an important centre of the carpet industry. Since carpets are woven in the whole of the surrounding region, it is not surprising that in the city itself a great number of accessory industries are established. The wool is often spun in the city, and is then sent into the country, where weaving is carried on as in Hamadan itself. Hamadan is also a centre for the dyeing of yarn. Though carpets have been produced there for centuries, not all those described as Hamadans come from the city itself, but from the surrounding districts. The older Hamadan carpets were coloured exclusively with vegetable dyes, but in the city itself, since the 1880's, the industry has gradually adopted the use of aniline colours. It is principally the red which is an aniline colour, vegetable dyes being employed for the other colours. Formerly madder was used for all tones of red, and also a dye which is very seldom met with elsewhere in Persia (its use is known only in certain of the older Shiraz carpets, or saddle-bags), namely, Laqi or Shellac, which comes from India.
The stuff is produced by an insect that lives under the bark of the banyan tree. The insect makes the tree exude a gum-shellac. This is used in the manufacture of varnishes and lacquers. The residue yields a dyestuff from which a red like cochineal can be obtained. In India it is often used for the finest carpets. The Indians call the colour "laq" and the Persians "laqi."
Most of the smaller sizes of carpets or rugs described as Hamadan-that is, the carpets of Namase and Sedjade size-are produced not in the city itself, but in the surrounding district. This is quite understandable, for even the nomads would experience little difficulty in dismantling and transporting the small looms required. Formerly, Hamadan carpets seem to have been made chiefly in Ghalidshe and Kelei sizes-that is, in widths varying from 7 feet 6 inches to 8 feet and lengths of from 20 to 25 feet, and the usual pattern in proportion to the size consisting of a long diamond, often with a plain red ground. The knotting of the Hamadans is not very fine, and Tabachi is often used. Of recent years large carpets of from 6 feet 8 inches to 10 feet wide and 13 feet to 20 feet long have been made in Hamadan, mostly with a deep pile. The older Hamadans are characterized by patterns in different shades of the same colour, but the common belief that any carpet which has a number of tones of camel-brown in it is a Hamadan carpet is erroneous.
Dowletabad, a small town in the neighbourhood of Hamadan. Until quite recently very closely woven carpets were produced there which in pattern and fineness of knotting are very similar to those coming from the Mahallat district known as Saruks. The chief difference IS that they are made of rather softer wool. In size they vary from 6 feet 8 inches by 10 feet to 13 feet by 19 feet 6 inches. HERIS
Formerly Keleis were produced in and around Heris, the capital of the Bakshaish territory. The most usual size was about 6 feet 6 inches by 13 feet. Even then the Keleis produced in the city itself were of better quality and more exact design, the reason being that in the city it was easier to obtain the better wood for the looms than in the country, and that the weavers had greater technical facilities at their disposal. The older Heris and Bakshaish carpets can be distinguished from the Keleis of other parts of Persia by their remarkably soft colouring, due probably to the local water. Elsewhere we find this peculiar softness only in the Caucasus, in the so-called Chilas, produced in East Caucasus; and there the phenomenon is attributed to the water.
Since the 1880's great quantities of carpets have been produced in the Bakshaish region and in the city of Heris itself; not only Narnases and Sedjades, but also carpets of from 6 feet 7 inches by 9 feet 10 inches to about 16 feet 6 inches by 26 feet. They soon found their way into the Istanbul market, but they were mainly sold in London and Vienna. As one may conjecture from the sizes, they were intended primarily for export, for they satisfied Western requirements. Dealers are accustomed to call the coarser varieties Yoraghans and occasionally even Bakshaishs, and the finer specimens Heris, while the very finest and most closely knotted pieces are called Peshm-i-Meshed, which simply means "meshed wooL" The real Bakshaishs have a foundation of warp- and woof-threads which are nearly but not quite equal in thickness. The Heris and also the so-called Peshm-i-Mesheds, on the other hand, have a ribbed or corrugated back, because stout warp-threads are used with a comparatively fine yarn for the weft. The pattern of all these carpets is very geometrical and the designs are large. The designing tends towards a scheme of medallions and corner devices and produces very fine specimens, in which occasionally the ground between the corners and the medallion is not filled with scattered flowers, but is left plain, generally madder-red or, in isolated cases, dark blue, and more rerely cream. The so-called "Allovers" come from this district, but not nearly as many as the West could use.
Fortunately, the whole of the district surrounding Heris until quite recently refrained altogether from the use of artificial dyestuffs.
Heris carpets were formerly known in the Vienna market as Iris carpets, Iris being, of course, a corruption of Heris.
A large village about twelve miles from Sultanabad, where many of the carpets known in the trade as Mahal carpets are made. In addition to more boldly conceived patterns, recently introduced, the late classical Persian designs of the Mahis and the Gul-Hennas were mostly made, in Ibrahimabad carpets, which are mainly of medium quality.
Ingelas is a small town 6 miles outside Hamadan. It is known for good carpet at a relatively low prices. these carpet have only one pattern, the Hcrati, This travels fram to border, without variation. Never an improvised detail, only rarely a medallion.
Ispahan, under Shah Abbas the Great, was the Persian capital and possessed a famous royal carpet factory. The favourite designs, apart from the familiar animal patterns and hunting scenes, were the richly decorative ones of the Safavid period. Thus the well-known Austrian Emperor's Carpet may have been made in Ispahan. During the reign of Shah Abbas, Ispahan was, of course, in close touch with Herat; undoubtedly, Chinese artists also influenced the designs of the royal factory, although it is conceivable that the Chinese emblems which appeared in the carpets of the sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries-such as banks of clouds, Chintamani, bats, etc.-were borrowed by Persian designers from Chinese porcelain. Herat's influence at Ispahan seems apparent in the motifs of the Herati design and the Hcrati border which occasionally are traceable in late Ispahan carpets. In addition to this kind of pattern is found a preference for the traditional palmcucs, whose origin can be traced to the late classical period. The arabesque, also, which had appeared in the East in the Middle Ages, was revived in Ispahan, and with it, of course, its components, the forked tendril and the everted calyx. It is uncertain when the court factory ceased production, but it was certainly before the beginning of the eighteenth century.
Although the city of Kashan lies to the north of Ispahan, to the north-east of Djoshegan and to the north-west of Yczd-and therefore in the centre of a great carpet-producing region-it cannot be proved with any certainty that carpets were produced in Kashan in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. If the inscription on the Ardebil or Holy Carpet states that it was made by Maksud Kashani-that is, a man called Maksud from Kashan-this proves only that the maker was born in Kashan, not that the carpet was made there. It is much more probable that the Ardebil carpet was made in Tabriz, which in near Ardebil and better placed to produce such extraordinary works of art in a comparatively large size.
While no carpets of the classic period are known to have been produced in Kashan, we have carpets of the first half of the nineteenth century which were certainly made there. These are noted for their exceptionally fine knotting. Until quite recently the Kashan carpet-makers remained faithful to their tradition of very close knotting, but the very short pile which it was thus possible to obtain was partly abandoned in favour of the demand for a longer pile, in order that the carpets might stand up to chemical washing.
Kashans are made in Sed jade size and also in all sizes from 3 feet 4 inches by 10 feet to 13 feet 4 inches by 18 feet 4 inches and upwards. The design most in favour is the medallion, very definitely arabesque in form, with appropriate corners; but we find also a repeating pattern with large rosettes and palmeucs and other floral designs.
A great city of southern Persia and the source of attractive and finely woven carpets. The colour combinations of Kermans, together with those of Tabriz, are perhaps the lightest of any in Persia. It seems that the carpet-weavers of Kerman were subject to English influence from a very early period, and their products are therefore suited to English taste.
No antique carpets are known which can definitely be regarded as Kermans, and the oldest which can with any certainty be ascribed to Kerman date from the second half of the eighteenth century. Of course, only a few individual specimens of this period exist. Some of these early carpets already show the arrangement which we find to-day in the so-called "medallion carpets," that is, a medallion, often arabesque in form, with corners, for the design of which the four quarters of the medallion were used. The so-called Eski-Kermans in particular have this kind of design-arrangement. At the same time, in the eighteenth century comparatively small, symmetrically arranged floral ornaments made their appearance in what is commonly called the "mille f leurs'' pattern; not infrequently the design has European and especially French influences.
The colours of these early carpets were already very light. Even the purple, which is supposed to have been obtained partly by the use of cochineal, is never found in a 100 per cent intensity, but generally in light or at all events medium tints. Only the blue, as a contrasting colour, has all the depth of the so-called Surmey, and is exclusively the natural indigo.
The carpets recently produced in Kerman follow the above tradition, although one cannot fail to recognize a decline in the purity of design. However, even among the very latest achievements of the Kerman craftsmen some extremely pleasing colour-schemes are found. Apart from a few excursions into fantastic designs, we find natural shoots and leaves, often rather Indian in style, together with the palm-leaf pattern, on a larger or smaller scale, which is seen in the "Allover" carpets. The medallion-and-corners arrangement does not differ greatly from other Persian designs of this nature. Even to-day the weaving of the Kerman carpets is for the most part extremely fine. The depth of pile, mainly to allow for chemical washing, is greater than in the second half of the nineteenth century, though the clarity of the design is practically unaffected because of the close knotting. The wool is generally of good quality. The light colouring alone would forbid the use of Tabachi (tannery or dead wool), as this does not take the lighter dyes well.
The dimensions most in favour for Kerman carpets, apart from the Namascs and Sedjadcs, are from 6 feet 8 inches by 10 feet to about 13 feet by 20 feet.
Not all Kerman carpets are made in the city itself, many being produced in the adjacent countryside. In the trade, however, they are all described as Kermans, with the exception of the carpets woven in Raver, a city lying south of Kerman.
The province of Khorassan is one of the most productive regions of Persia. Carpets are made not only in the capital, Meshed, but also in Kain, Biredchend, and Turshis, and in the country districts. But while nearly all exhibit features indicating that they are carpets produced for export-which the weaver has reproduced in accordance with the demands of the West-there comes to us also from this province another type of rug of great originality and without doubt produced for the home market. These are known to the trade as Beluchi carpets, being made by the Baluchi nomads who inhabit the eastern portion of the province.
An important city of south-western Persia, on the great caravan route to Baghdad. It is not and has not been itself the home of any considerable carpet-making industry, but in the past the products of the surrounding regions of Kurdistan and of the Kurdish nomads often found their way to the Kermanshah bazaar. It became customary to describe as a Kermanshah a certain kind of carpet, especially Kelei, containing a comparatively large amount of moss-green and copper colour, not unlike the Ferahan carpets. Together with flowers, always combined in groups of five, they often have lanceolatc leaves in the design, and also forms which some authors interpret as vases, and others as crudely drawn banks of clouds.
Carpets are woven in almost every part of Persian Kurdistan. It will suffice to say, speaking quite generally, that Kurdish carpets are usually made with woollen warp-threads, and in other respects also resemble carpets made by nomadic tribes. Only in towns with large Kurd populations are they occasionally made with cotton warp-threads. They are mostly Namases, Sed jades, Kcnares (or "Galleries"), and occasionally Kelcis. The design is often geometric, although palm-leaves in rows, clusters of stylized flowers, and even crudely elaborated Herati patterns are also found. The wool of the Kurd carpets is generally very lustrous. Savodsche-bulaghs come under the heading of Kurdish carpet; Bidjar and Gems are likewise often regarded as Kurdish, though actually neither type of carpet is made in Kurdistan. Even today the Kurd carpets are made almost exclusively vegetable dyes.
What has been said of Kurd carpets can be applied almost literally to the carpets produced by the Lours, the inhabitants of Louristan.
In Central Persia, in the region between Ispahan and Kermansha h to the south-west of Sultanabad, lies the great pastureland of the Lours. These tribesmen make a thick rug, about 3 feet 4 inches by 6 feet 8 inches and also in all the Ghalidshc and Kelci sizes. The colours are usually dark, but the wool is extremely lustrous and very hard-wearing. The patterns are small, consisting generally of flower- and \caf -ornaments; sometimes they include palm-leaves and the Mahi pattern is often employed. Small stylized animals do not occur so frequently as in the so-called Shiraz or Kashkai carpets, though they are found in isolated specimens. For the borders, various kinds of sinuous and intermittent sprays are used. Often on the narrow sides of the carpet, or at least at one end, the Lours make a cleverly woven selvedge. The stitch may be coarse or fine, but never very fine, and the carpets are mostly of medium quality. The ground colour is often a deep indigo, with which a madder-red is used, while almost every Lour carpet has conspicuous in the colour-scheme a luminous, satisfying golden-yellow, tending towards orange. Among the colours green is sparingly found, varying from the green of a lichen-covered rock to "Prophet-green" (cucumber). Vegetable dyes are used exclusively and they are often very vivid. Dead wool is only used in Lour carpets made in the city of Chorcmabad,
Ispahan Lours are simply Lours; they are so called if they have passed through the hands of
A carpet of medium quality, resembling the Ferahan carpets, produced in the neighbourhood of Sultana bad. Mahal is derived from Mahallat, as this region is called.
A region of Persia, south of Hamadan, with Burudschird to the south and Kangaver to the north-west. Here knotted carpets are produced which closely resemble the Hamadan carpets. They are of good and even of outstanding quality, some being as finely knotted as the Saruks, produced in the Mahallat, not far away. In colour and design they often follow the old traditions, although, in order to meet the wishes of foreign customers, fanciful designs and synthetic dyes have begun to invade this household industry.
A large village in the Bagshaish district. Carpets of qualities ranging Il1 stitch from inferior to medium-fine and resembling the Heris and Gravans are woven there. The design is often a medallion or medallions with corner-pieces, but linear designs of the Djoshegan type have also been introduced. The colours are good and mainly vegetable. Madder-red and Surmey, the darkest blue, predominate. MESHED
The capital of Khorassan is an important centre of the carpet-weaving industry. Almost all the carpets produced in the province are marketed there, with those, of course, which are made in the city itself and those made by the beloutchis who are nomadic in the eastern part of this region, whose products are known by a name which misleads one into assuming some connection with the country of Beloutchistan. The Meshed carpets are made of the wool peculiar to the whole province of Khorassan: very soft and very lustrous, though perhaps rather less hard-wearing than other Persian wools. Formerly the palm-leaf pattern in various sizes was much used, as it was for other kinds of Khorassan carpets; the Herati design was used, too, which made its way into Khorassan at a comparatively early period owing to the proximity of Herat, To-day, besides these patterns, which are being used less ferquently, a well-drawn design of artfully entwined arabesque medallions with corner-pieces is particularly noteworthy. Carpets with a plain ground of dark red or, more rarely, of dark blue-are also produced. The Herati border is frequently employed. Apart from synthetic indigo, which has all the advantages of the natural dye, one rarely meets with artificial colours.
The dimensions of the Meshed carpets range from Namases and Sed jades to larger sizes of from 3 feet 4 inches by 10 feet to 13 feet by 19 feet 6 inches.
This not unimportant city lies on the old route from Tabriz to Teheran. Undoudbtedly the name derives from the fact that it is half-way between Sendjan and Tabriz, for Mianeh means "the half." At the foot of the Kafflankuh, it is reached by the camel backed bridge over the Sendjantshai, quite a wide river. It is famed throughout Persia for its venomous bugs as well as for a particularly beautiful kind of carpet which was made there until the beginning of the nineteenth century. These carpets are mostly Kclcis, They have a comparatively thick pile, a ribbed appearance on the back, and are rather finely knotted. The favourite design is a small floral pattern. The colours are soft and generally bright. The red Lones have a purplish tinge, probably produced with cochineal.
The name given to the finest quality of the older Serabends (q.v.). While the ordinary Scrabcnds were made with a very close-cut pile, in order the better to portray the details of the little palm-leaves in the pattern, the type known as Mir carpets have a rather deeper pile, though by reason of the very fine stitch they none the less show up the finer details of the design clearly enough. In the Mirs as distinct from Serabends, in which it is often found that the wool is rather dry, the yarn is extremely lustrous. Apparently a white wool was used for the yarn dyed madder-red, since this is particularly lustrous. Also, in order to obtain a full and even a slightly purple tone, the red yarn seems to have been dyed exclusively with ripened madder-roots-that is, with roots seven years old.
Why the Mir carpets are so called is not quite certain. There are two possibilities. In the Sera bend district there is a large village, Mirabad, from which the carpets might have taken their name. But the palm-leaf bent over at the tip, which was originally the main feature of a pattern well known in Herat, whence it found its way through the Khorassan province to the rest of Persia, is known in Persian as "Miri." Since the Mir carpets always have this repeated device as the background design, one is rather tempted to connect the name Mir with the Miri. The author suggests that since Serabedn carpets with the pattern of little palm-leaves were undoubtedly produced in Mirabad, the village itself may perhaps have taken its name from the pattern-that is, from the Miris, But whether the carpet takes its name f rom the village or from the pattern is really of no actual importance.
The author has found Mirs in three different colourings: namely, with a red ground, with a dark blue ground, and (very rarely) with a cream ground.
In order to emphasize the little palm-leaf motif the makers of particularly good specimens, instead of using single-ply yarn with one or two stitches, used two-ply for the outline of the vertex of the palm lea ves (usually tilted to the left) which is generally worked in a natural brown wool. (It was Karl Hopfwho drew attention to this dctail.) The Mirs hardly ever occur other than as Scdjades. Isolated examples of Namases are known, and of Keleis, about 6 feet 8 inches by 13 feet 4 inches.
The very finest qualities of Khorassan carpets are known to the trade as Mud. They have a very close-cut pile, and the pattern often consists of little palm-tree tops. They are rarely ever seen in sizes larger than 6 feet 8 inches by 10 feet. The ground is generally madder-red. The gauge of the stitches is from 40 to 50 raghs (40 to 50 knote in 7 em).
The least costly and most coarsely knotted qualities of carpets coming from the neighbourhood of Sultanabad (ARAK) are known as Mushkabads. They are made exclusively of Tabachi (The wool of the fleece removed from dead sheep with lime). It is natural to assume that they are made in the large village of Mushkabad, which is not far distant from Sultanabad, but this is not so; apparently the name was applied to these inferior carpets in order to make them more marketable, while Mushkabad actually produces very much appreciated, closely-woven carpets of the Ferahan type, distinguished for their good and lustrous wool. The same thing happened when, after the first world war, the poorest quality of carpets produced in Tabriz were suddenly marketed under the name of Petags, while the carpets actually produced in Tabriz by Petag (an abbreviation of "Persischen Teppich-Gesellschaft'') were unquestionably some of the finest that Tabriz had to offer.
A locality in the south of the Khorassan district which produces a very fine, closely knotted quality of carpet, light in colour. In their patterns and in the softness of their wool the Nains remind one of good Khorassans, but they bear a certain resemblance to the recent products of Ispahan.
An holy city south of Tehran, it produces very high quality carpets, finely knotted. They closely resemble Isfahans and Na'ins and it often takes an expert to tell them apart. Striking blue, green and red shades are used on an ivory background with various designs, sometimes copying Ardebil, Herati and Josheghan Patterns, while others use vases, flowers and the tree of life. One type also features animals.
To the south of Kerman, between this city and the port of Banderabas, lies the not very important town of Raver. There, in the eighteenth century, carpets were already being produced which in colour closely resemble the Kerman carpets, but are rather more coarsely woven. Raver is inclined to favour, even more so than Kerman once did, a purple shade, together with its complementary colour, a sort of Nile green. Raver carpets include floor-carpets as wall as small bedside rugs and Sedjades, Production was never on a very large scale, so that Ravers have always been rather rare.
A locality in the Bagshaish district. In the whole of this region carpets are made resembling the Gravan and Heris carpets. As a rule, the Sarabs can be identified by their longer pile and the excellence of their wool. Sedjades are made, and small floor-carpets.
A large village in the neighbourhood of Sultana bad where Sed jades are made and little else. They are close-cut and finely drawn. All the floor-carpets referred to in the trade as Saruks are not produced in this village, but in Sultanabad. It is possible that these carpets were originally described as Saruks, instead of Sultanabads, in order to conceal the precise place of their origin from competitors, the very opposite of what was done in the case of the Mushkebad carpets.
A district to the north-west of the holy city of Kum, where carpets have been produced for some decades, very attractive though rather dull in design. It seems that carpet-making has not long been established here and so no age-old traditions have been perpetuated.
A smallish city, lying between Bidjar and the upper course of the Tigris. Of all the Persian carpets, perhaps the Sennes have the finest stitch. They are mostly Sedjades, are very closely clipped and are woven as fine as good weavers can make them. On the other hand, the patterns are small, even trivial, consisting of floral ornaments or the Herati design on a tiny scale, and often also a miniature version of the Serabcnd pattern.
In addition to the usual designs, Sennes have richly decorated medallions with comparatively large corner-pieces, so that only a small space is left between medallion and corners. This space is often plain. As the design often includes a number of dark shades the ground, for contrast, is sometimes very light in tone, generally cream or pistachio-green. These carpets are seldom larger than Sed jades, but Drujas are often made in a size useful for covering divans.
In Central Persia, not very far from Hamadan and Sultanabad, is a mountainous countryside known as Sera bend. In this district carpets are made which once seen can always again be recognized. All Serabends have one and the same pattern of plamleaves tilted sideways, each of them only a few inches long. These appear in contrasting colours on a background which is usually madder-red, but often dark blue; cream grounds are rare. The comparatively narrow borders consist almost entirely of dark lines on a cream ground, lines which run parallel along both edges of the border and then, after a short interval, intersect, describing cartouche-Iike figures in which leaf-buds or little palm-leaves are worked. The main border is flanked by two very narrow parallel borders or guards which almost always contain a pattern of undulating shoots or tendrils. Beyond the outer guards there is often a narrow outer edge consisting of the triangular or crenellated pattern.
The Sera bend stitch is meduim-fine, the back has a corrugated appearance, and the pile is cut as close as possible. The surface feels slightly harsh. Nevertheless, the wool is very hard wearing, as is proved by the well-preserved state of older specimens. The finest Sara bends-with the pattern which has just been described-are known in the trade as Mirs. The Mirs are quite as fine in texture as the Sera bends, but the pile is not cut so close, and the wool is generally of exceptional quality and lustre, so that they have a fine, glossy surface (see also MiT). Sara bends are made as Namases and Sedjades, but most of them are Keleis: they may be anything up to 16 feet long and 7 feet to 7 feet 6 inches wide.
While the threads protruding from the narrow ends of a rug or carpet are worked into a fringe or woven selvedge, on the longer sides two or three warp-threads are bound with wool, usually of a neutral shade. This finish is known as Shirazi.
Of this large Persian city, it is recorded that there were important carpet-factories at work even when the Genoese were active in Persia. But we have no specimens of Tabriz carpets of this period, though the Ardebil Carpet in the Victoria and Albert Museum is not much later in date. If carpets made in Tabriz about the middle of the nineteenth century be compared with the Ardebil Carpet, a definite relationship is to be noted in spite of the great difference of period; the relationship is visible not only in the even and close-cut pile-for one finds this in the products of other places-but above all in a certain dullness and dryness of the yarn which in the case of the Ardebil Carpet has not, in the Courseof the centuries, become shiny, although it has acquired a certain dull sheen, which is uncommonly attractive. Now the author believes that nothing in the East has changed so little as the composition of the flocks. For the carpet intended for the adornment of the Ardebil mosque the very best wool obtainable would have been used. A few centuries later one would have obtained this from the celebrated flocks of the Sardar of Maku; equally good wool could have been obtained in the sixteenth century. He docs not believe that the Tabriz carpets owe their dullness and dryness to the use of insufficiently glossy wool, whether Tabachi or fleece wool, but to the use by the local dyers of the briny water of the city, the "Ab-i-shor." The author has had wool dyed with madder in Tabriz and has then sent samples of the same madder and skeins of the same wool to Sultanabad and had the wool dyed there. The result was that Sultanabad produced a much fuller, brighter tone of red, with a purplish tinge, and the wool dyed there was glossy; the wool dyed in Tabriz was, as always, dull and with a tired appearance.
From a bout 1900 a certain deterioration of design and colour occurred in Tabriz. It was not only that the dyers were already beginning to use artificial dyes, but also because new designs of outside origin were finding their way in. During the first world war the mistake was made of abandoning the short pile in deference to the chemical washing processes introduced in the West. On this account the Tabriz carpet has suffered more than other types, losing much of its characteristic quality. As the old designs, most of which were finely constructed and tastefully and delicately drawn, lost their purity of line when reproduced in too thick a pile, they were gradually discarded.
At this time, in Tabriz itself, European manufacturing companies were established which resolved to check the period of decline and to return to the methods of Persia's classic period. They had sketches made of Persian carpets of the very best periods in all parts of the world, and these were drawn in colour on the spot. They then procured the best obtainable materials for the warp and weft and dyed their yarn exclusively with vegetable colours, having discovered the recipes after years of research. These efforts were rewarded with success-but in the last war much of this work was destroyed.
Tabriz was always able to produce rugs and carpets of any desired dimension. In this large city it was possible to set up even the most gigantic looms. Carpets of no less than 30 feet to 35 feet wide and 60 feet to 70 feet long, executed in the finest stitch, were produced. In Tabriz, with its great slaughter-houses, it was unfortunately possible to obtain quantities of Tabachi, or dead wool, and this is often found in Tabriz carpets, at least in the lower qualities. Again, with its great bazaars, where all the products of East and West were bought and sold, Tabriz offered carpet-manufacturers the synthetic dyes of the West. Since these arc easier to usc than the vegetable dyes, and since the modern carpet-weaver is not always very intelligent, it is not surprising that only few carpets made with fast vegetable dyes arc produced in Tabriz to-day. Formerly, very beautiful silk carpets were made in Tabriz; most of these were prayer-rugs, but others were produced as large as 9 feet by 12 feet.
Even the capital of Persia, a city without carpet-making traditions, has recently begun to produce rugs and carpets, with very creditable results. However, their manuafcture is carried on without much enthusiasm, although the excellence of these finely knotted products enables them to rank with the recent Ispahans, Kashans and Kinnans. One feels that the industry there is not in its true home. The designs often consist of rather playfully interlaced shoots or tendrils, with which such ancient ornaments as arabesques, palmettes, and forking branches arc combined. The Tcrh-Mustuphi pattern predominates. The Teheran carpets arc usually very close-cut, so that the details of the designs are clearly perceptible. As in the Tabriz carpets, the wool is inclined to be dry. The finest examples corne from the Shah's factory. In artistrv t hr-v :lre capable of some improvement. The fineness of stitch is often overdone.
The Tekc tribe produces what are perhaps the finest so-called Bokharas made by any Central Asiatic
Apart from the great Turcoman tribe of the Tekes, the Yomuds, a related tribe, make the finest
carpets in Central Asia. They too favour the polygon, but the ground-colour of the Yomud carpets is not the cherry-red or the Tekinese but a brownish-red, often with a tinge of violet. Besides the polygons one often finds a design of crocheted lozenge-shaped figures.
Bedside rugs often have a design of a correspondingly small octagon, or they are Hatschlous.
Otherwise the favourite sizes are about 6 feet 8 inches by 10 feet or 6 feet 8 inches by 15 feet. Strip or stair carpets are hardly ever made, since they would hardly be required in tents; and the Yomuds have not as yet seriously produced carpets for export markets.
Very beautiful rugs and carpets come from the town of Veramin, a little to the south-east of Teheran and a short distance from the' caravan route to Meshed. They are mostly large rugs, Kcnares, about 3 feet 4 inches wide and 10 feet to 11 feet long. They are made of a very lustrous wool and the pile is of medium depth. In colour they are sometimes so dark that they often remind one of the Savodjbulaghs. Small flowers and leaves form the patterns. These carpets should properly have a splendid and often a purplish red (madder from a ripened root); also for their deepest tone Surmey, and their lightest a parchment-white.
From time immemorial carpets have been knotted in Yesd. The Yesd carpets are mostly room-carpets of the usual sizes. Runners are also made. The Yesd carpets have some resemblance to the older Kirmans, and both kinds have a rather purplish red in common. The designs are medallions with corners and patterns of flowers, among which we find a rather elongated and somewhat enlarged Herati.
In and around Yesd, a knotted carpet is woven of cotton yarn for domestic use but rarely for export, the patterns being simple and mostly geometric. The colours, curiously enough, are mainly blue and white. The result is very pleasing, but perhaps a little too vivid for Western furnishing taste. On the other hand, they would be very suitable for verandas, loggias, winter gardens, etc. In size the cotton carpets from Yesd vary from the smallest bedside rugs to about 3 feet 4 inches by 10 feet.
A largish city, which owes its importance to the fact that it is prominent warehousing centre and resting-place for caravans on the ancient route from Teheran to Tabriz. Many industries are established there, carpet-making among them. But the rugs are restricted almost exclusively to Namases. Their patterns have the usual Persian flower and leaf ornaments, in a rather diminutive form; they bear some resemblance to Hamadans, but are of rather cheaper quality. The backs have a more corrugated appearance than those of other carpets of this neighbourhood. The Zanjan are not very noteworthy, especially as their weavers began to use aniline colours at a comparatively early date, in particular a harsh and ugly red. But they are cheap.