The Iranians were among the pioneer carpet weavers of the ancient civilizations, having achieved a superlative degree of perfection through centuries of creativity and ingenuity. The skill of carpet weaving has been handed down by fathers to their sons, who built upon those skills and in turn handed them down to their offspring as a closely guarded family secret. To trace the history of Persian rugs are to follow a path of cultural growth of one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever seen.
The art of carpet weaving in Iran originated more than 2,500 years ago. Persian rugs and carpets were initially woven as articles of necessity to cover the floors of nomadic tribesmen, giving them protection from the cold and damp. The natural progression of the skill and craft involved in the creation of these works of art has been passed down from generation to generation over the centuries throughout periods of peace, invasion, and war. As international trade developed, the variety of patterns and designs grew.
Different Kinds of Knots
- Rug makers in the Persian Empireused two kinds of knots that reflected the areas from which they came. The Turkish or Symmetrical knot, also known as the Ghiordes knot, is made by taking yarn twice around two warp threads and then leaving the outer ends loose in a symmetrical pattern. Then, one or more weft threads are woven between the row of knots. The Turkish knot creates a strong, thick carpet.
- The Persian, or Asymmetrical knot, known as Senneh knot, use a wool thread and loops it once around a warp thread. The other end remains loose, creating an asymmetrical pattern. Then one or more weft threads are woven between the knot rows. More Persian knots fit in an area of carpet and this knot is used for more elaborate designs. Both types of knots are still in use today.
Persian Rugs Pricing
When it comes to pricing a Persian rug, several factors are at work.
The first is, of course, whether or not they are handmade. Machine-made rugs are predictably cheaper than the hand-made ones, but they are not comparable in terms of quality and endurance. While machine-made rugs drop in value over time, handmade rugs, if kept properly, get more and more valuable over the years. That is why handmade Persian rugs have been traditionally seen as profitable investments, not to mention valuable legacies.
Another factor affecting the price is the material. The most common materials used in weaving Persian rugs are wool, cotton, and silk. Although the use of silk will result in a fine and wonderful texture, the pricing will rise dramatically. What’s more, silk rugs are comparatively less durable than wool and cotton ones and are used more commonly for decorative purposes like hanging from the wall than covering the floor. Another option you might face would be a rug which is basically made of wool or cotton but has some silk embellishments. This would result in a balanced price and quality.
Finally, another important factor in pricing Persian rugs is the number of knots per square meter, or in Persian term “Gereh”. The knots can be clearly seen and counted by turning the rug over. However, there is usually no need for doing so, because the stores will provide you with this information. Basically more knots mean more expensive because obviously, the texture is smoother as a result of the more delicate and arduous work put into it. The most common knot counts you will probably face when buying carpets are 10,000, 40,000, 90,000, 160,000 and 250,000.
Persian Rug Maintenance
The Persian rug is a beauty, and like any other beautiful thing, it needs the care to keep in good shape.
There are some simple tips for buyers to keep the good quality of their purchase and prevent it from wear and tear.
- First of all, try to use furniture slides if you have to put it on the carpet. Persian rugs are to a large extent resilient to pressure, but a little care never hurts, especially if the furniture is supposed to remain there for months and years.
- Next comes rug pad which goes under your rug and prevents it from direct contact with the harsh surface beneath. They also help keep your rug in a fixed position.
- Finally, to save your rug from dust and dampness, make a point of vacuum cleaning it regularly, and make sure you air it at least once a year in the sun.
Many cities around Iran are recognized for their rugs. Tabriz has long been known as the center of rug production, and the city’s rug bazaar is a particularly fascinating locale where visitors can witness the trade, transport, and mending of rugs. Kerman is known for its finely knotted rugs, and Kashan for its silk rugs as well as being the oldest rug-producing city in central Iran. In fact, the “traditional skills of carpet weaving” in the Fars province and Kashan were inscribed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010. Rugs woven by nomadic tribes, such as the Qashqai and Bakhtiari, are particularly noted for the variety, bold colors, and elaborate designs. Because different groups throughout various time periods have woven Persian rugs, they are a reflection of both Iran’s history and its people. The Carpet Museum of Iran provides a fascinating history and details of this Iranian handicraft.
Today, Carpet weaving is by far the most widespread handicraft in Iran. Persian rugs are renowned for their richness of color, the variety of spectacular artistic patterns and quality of design. In palaces, famous buildings, mansions, and museums of the world, a Persian carpet is amongst the most treasured possession.