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Extremly Fine Antique Persian Rug Tehran, Hand Knotted, Circa 1920
Persia has a global reputation for its rugs, which are an integral part of the Iranian culture. It seems almost ironic that they are thrown on the floor and walked on, considering the time-consuming, labor-intensive nature of this art form. Here, Culture Trip explores this centuries-old tradition with a brief history of Persian rugs.
The process of creating a Persian rug starts with the grazing of sheep. Persian rugs are traditionally spun from sheep’s wool, the quality of which varies depending on the breed of sheep, climate, pasturage, and time of shearing. Women then turn the wool into thread by hand and boil the threads with natural dyes from plants and insects. For example, madder roots, cochineal, chamomile, grape leaves, pomegranate rind, and indigo produce reds, yellows, and blues. Only after the threads have dried does the weaving begin.
Weavers spend anywhere from several months to several years, depending on the size and quality of the rug, hunched over a loom creating thousands of knots. The rug often conveys the weaver’s character or mood, much in the same way an artist portrays their mood or views in a painting. Many rugs also contain intentional mistakes, symbolic that human beings are imperfect and perfection can only be attained by the creator. The rug is finally cut from the loom, washed, and dried in the sun. Although wool is the most traditional material, silk is also an option, but because it is a fine material, it doesn’t tolerate stress as well; therefore, silk rugs are ordinarily displayed on walls instead of on the floor.
Due to their susceptibility to deterioration and destruction, the exact origin of Persian rugs is not known. This art form, however, dates back at least to 500 BC with what is considered to be the oldest known carpet, the pile-woven Pazyryk carpet discovered in Siberia, said to have been a product of the first Persian Empire.
Antique Tehran Rugs – Rugs began to produced in Tehran, the modern Persian capital, in the late nineteenth century to early 20th century. They tended to be made with classical Persian designs of medallion and allover type and sometimes with pictorial motifs. There are Tehran prayer rugs as well.
Most Persian Tehran rugs were mid- sized rugs, and they were woven with asymmetrical knots in a variety of grades ranging in knot density from the low one-hundreds to over eight hundred. The Tehran production may claim at least one famous master weaver, Seyd Abolfat-Rasam Arabzadeh. From the outset Tehran rugs established a reputation for good quality, but in the last sixty years their quality has actually improved under the direction of new master weavers, causing them to be more and more sough after.