Iran produces the best hand-made carpets in the world. The designs are exquisite and intricate, and the workmanship is awesome, requiring a good deal of patience.
Carpet weaving in Iran is an ancient craft. The earliest woven rug, known as Pazyryk Carpet is thought to be of Iranian or Armenian origin. Both nations have traditions of carpet weaving spanning thousands of years, according to persiancarpetassociation.com.
Several Iranian travel agencies offer Persian carpet tours, but visit the grand bazaar of any great Iranian city, and it is impossible to avoid enthusiastic carpet merchants inviting you to see their beautiful and varied collection of carpets piled up to the ceiling. Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to find a guide that will invite you the hospitality of carpet weaving families in the area, where you can witness weavers busy at their looms.
Persian carpets are usually made from sheep’s wool, and sometimes camel’s wool. The more finely knotted carpets are of silk. Some carpets are as delicate as painted pictures. Carpets can have as many as 900 knots per square inch, but a figure between 500 and 700 is more customary. The design, color, and theme of the carpets differ in each region of Iran.
Kashan is considered to be the Persian carpet capital and traditionally produces carpets of brick red, ivory, and beige with dark blue medallions and borders. Soft shades of green and blue are introduced to the newer carpets.
Kashan carpets are made of soft wool. They have the greatest curvature and visibility among those of the cities in the center of the country. There is a single medallion in the center, and a dense population of arabesques, flowers, stems, palmettos, rosettes and leaves all around.
Rugs from Isfahan have very recognizable patterns. They often have very symmetrical and balanced traditional designs: a medallion, surrounded with vines and palmettos; or a tree of life.
Isfahani carpets are wool and silk on super fine silk foundations. The background is usually ivory, with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Modern carpets feature more pastel colors.
Since the weaving workshops of Isfahan are usually supervised by ‘usta’s or masters of the craft, carpets of fine quality are often found in the city. They are among the most wanted in world markets.
The background of Tabriz carpets is mainly cream. Red and navy blue are also widely used. ‘Lachak toranj’ carpets are the most typical of Tabriz school. They have the famous motif of toranj, something in the overall shape of a blossoming bergamot orange, in the center field and at the four corners.
Falcons and ferocious lions can also be found in Tabriz carpets, along with palaces, mosques, and battle scenes. Many of the designs are inspired by the hand-painted illustrations of historical books.
The carpets, produced in Naeen and the vast surrounding region in Isfahan Province, have between 300 and 600 knots in each square inch. Naeen carpets are usually closely clipped for a slick look. Cream, red, and green are dominant colors in Naeen carpets.
Some have silk warps running in the middle of the wool. A touch of silk around the flowers and arabesques is common.
The rugs of Bijar, Kurdistan Province, are woven inside the houses. Their designs are a combination of curvilinear and geometric patterns. Navy, cherry red, brown, light blue, pink, yellow, ocher, orange, beige, and ivory are present in Bijar rugs. They are usually symmetrical, with a flower in the center, enclosed within a diamond.
Rugs from Heris, a town in East Azerbaijan, near the Mount Sabalan, are extremely durable. They age well and become more beautiful for generations to come. This is attributed to the high amount of copper deposits in Sabalan region. The copper in the drinking water reportedly makes the sheep wool more resilient.
Heris carpets are adorned with bold, geometric designs. A large medallion covers a great part of the carpet. The designs are traditional.
Bakhtiari rugs are made in a few villages southeast of Isfahan. They are symmetrically knotted on a foundation of cotton. The coloring and patterns are bold. The field is usually divided into rectangular or ogival compartments. Occasionally, trees or medallions are among the motifs.
The palette tends to be darker than that of other Iranian rugs. Among the colors, yellow stands out and draws the attention.
Baluch rugs are collectible examples of nomad art in southeastern Iran. Each rug showcases the individuality of the weaver. Baluch rugs are small in size, with creative design and weaving technique, quite different from larger rugs. They make a good sofa cushion or a wall hanging.
Turkmens, living mainly in northern and northwestern Iran, make their rugs for various purposes: tents, cushions, carpets, door hangings, and bags. They are made entirely from wool, with geometrical designs that varies from tribe to tribe.
There are lots of fake Turkmen rugs made in Iran and Pakistan. They have little in common with the original Turkmen tribal rugs.