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Iran (Persia) was the oldest and once most powerful empire in the Middle East and is the home of the original oriental carpet and rugs. It was under the Safavid Dynasty (1502-1736) that Iran attained its artistic height. This era saw the development of highly qualified carpets rug factories in the cities of Kerman, Isfahan, Kashan, Tabriz, and Herat.
Iran is the home of most motifs, patterns and traditional colorations produced in rugs throughout the world today. Over the centuries, Persian hand-knotted carpets have become treasured heirlooms passed on from one generation to the next. Persian carpet exports began in the 16th century. Starting in the 1850s, American, English and German firms established new factories in Mashed, Tabriz, Kerman, and Sultanabad (now Arak), thereby ensuring the art form's continued development. Under Reza Shah Pahlavi, royal factories were established to utilize the finest materials and methods of manufacture.
Persian carpets continue to boast very high quality standards and command a very brisk interest in domestic and international markets. While large city workshops were an important factor in the past, much of today's production is fashioned along cottage industry lines in smaller villages and towns. Hand-knotted rugs are generally named after the village, town or district where they are woven or collected, or by the weaving tribe in the case of nomadic pieces. Each rug's particular pattern, palette, and weave are uniquely linked with the indigenous culture, and weaving techniques are specific to an identifiable geographic area or nomadic tribe. Popular rug styles today include Abadeh, Bidjar, Gabbeh, Heriz, Keshan, Kirman (Kerman), Mashad (Mashhad), Meshed, Nain, Tabriz, Kazak, Khan, Nahzat and Zeigler.
A Guide to translating traditional rug motifs
They say that the many design rudiments on traditional rugs can unfold into a story. In essence this is true, although the designs on a rug are more likely to symbolise a simple message of good will or celebration rather than an actual story. Because the ancient rug weavers were usually illiterate the messages woven into the rugs were reliant on symbols and motifs. I believe the woven motifs play like the lyrics of a song, sometimes they tell is a story, sometimes they’re just clever plays on words and others are simply words of love and devotion. Even today in the Middle East rugs are still a highly valued commodity and often given as gifts to newlyweds and new born babies and best not to forget they are used daily as prayer mats. Read the full article on the Rug Zone Blog
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