Nain High Quality Persian carpets, usually of silk or part-silk

Nain carpets are distinguished by their high quality and fine knots and are sought after by "those in the know"

Nain Persian Carpets

Originating from the picturesque city of Nain, 200 kilometers east of Isfahan, Nain rugs have long maintained a high reputation, and are immensely popular. Constructed using the Persian knot, Nain rugs are generally made with a cotton foundation with a very soft woolen pile.

Fine example of a Tabriz Persian Carpet

The city of Nain has earned a reputation around the world for producing some of the finest hand made rugs. The special feature of Nain rugs is the high percentage of silk that is used in making the rugs. In addition to the high quality of the material itself, the designs and the color combinations that the weaver use in their rugs is simply magnificent.

All Nain rugs are knotted by hand using asymmetrical Persian knots and wool pile on a cotton warp. The rugs are then clipped closely so that the design stands out more sharply in focus.

Patterns of Nain Rugs

Nain weavers primarily used the Shah Abbas design to create their patterns. Nain rugs typically feature very elaborate and finely detailed curvilinear floral patterns with forked leaves, which is reminiscent of the arabesque style. Animal motifs were often interspersed in between. Another motif that can often be seen in Nain rugs is the Islimi motif, which is made up of multiple star medallions.

Colors of Nain Rugs

The colors of Nain rugs too have been influenced by Isfahan rugs. Every shade of blue is used in these rugs along with beige, gray and brown on ivory or cream backgrounds. White silk is used for outlining the motifs. Green, yellow and orange are not commonly seen in these rugs but they are used occasionally to highlight certain design aspects.

Construction of the rugs was done using the Persian knot and a higher knot count density. Most Nain rugs have about 300 to 700 knots per square inch. The pile, which is made up of very quality wool or sometimes silk, is clipped short for better design definition. The high knot count means that these rugs took not just months but sometimes several years to complete.

It is relatively new to the carpet world compared to ancient weaving centres such as Kashan, Isfahan and Yazd. Although it started out producing Isfahan carpets, in the mid 1930s Nain began developing its own style. Very fine and precise designs were created due to the high quality of the workshops in the area. Fathollah Habibian (1903-1995) ran one of the most famous Na'in workshops and is widely regarded as 'the father of Nain rugs'. Producing fine carpets with his brother Mohammed since his school days Fathollah Habibian is responsible for the design and weaving of some of the world's finest Nains.

Close to the western edge of the great desert Dasht-e-Kavir, 200 kilometres east of Isfahan is the picturesque city of Nain. In the city one can see the characteristic clay buildings and one of the oldest mosques in Iran with remains from the 10th century.

Carpets from the city have a high reputation and are very popular. Material as well as the workmanship is of highest class and the knot density is high; often more than one million knots per square meter. The material in the more exclusive carpets consists of wool on a silk warp or silk in the warp as well as in the weft and pile.

Patterns with a medallion in the middle together with arabesques and floral motifs are common. The similarity to carpets from the nearby city of Isfahan is remarkable. One of the rarer type of Nain carpets on the market is the "Nain Tuteshk" and with an incredibly refined craftsmanship, they are much sought after. It sometimes occurs that carpets of slightly lower quality, with similar patterns and colours, are sold as Nain carpets.

In connection with Nain carpets some denominations occur; 4La, 6La and 9La, where "La" in farsi means "layer". This denomination is used to decide the quality of a Nain carpet and it refers to the number of layer of threads that have been used in every warp-thread at the manufacturing of the carpet. The lower the number the finer and higher density the knots the carpet has. It is possible to check how many layers have been used in a carpet by counting the number of threads in one of the fringes of the carpet - if you can see 3 pairs of thread (see pictures below) then it is a Nain 6La carpet.

Nain Persian carpet Thread quality

Left: An example of 9La, 400 000 - 500 000 knots per square metre. Center: 3 pair of threads are visible = 6La, 850 000 - 1 000 000 knots per square metre Right: ...and here 2 pair of threads are showing = 4La, 1 000 000 - 1 300 000 knots per square metre.

In other words: the lower La-number the finer and more expensive carpets, see the following enumeration.

4La = exclusive quality - 6La = extra fine quality - 9La = good quality

Nain rugs usually have a cotton foundation with a very soft wool or wool & silk pile. The majority of Nain rugs have at least some silk detail. Quality is measured not only in knots per square inch (KPSI) which averages about 300 but also in LAA. LAA is a Farsi term referring to the number of threads that make up each fringe. A Nain with a LAA of 9 is considered a good quality rug (yet is the lowest quality of true Nains) while a LAA of 4 the best. LAA is related to KPSI as it allows tighter knotting.

Persian Nain Oriental rugs, unlike most of the Persian rugs we study, are a relatively new phenomenon. Before the advent of the 20th century, the city of Nain had been world known for the manufacture of high quality woolen cloth for centuries. Around the 1920s, the decline in the handmade cloth business forced the authorities to turn to another form of manufacturing. Rug weaving became the viable replacement.

Because of Nain’s close proximity to the city of Isfahan, the first rugs manufactured in Nain were Isfahan rugs. By the 1930s, Nain weavers began to produce their own style of oriental rug in workshops (which also extended in surrounding areas outside the city). The close proximity of the 2 weaving centers explains the noticeable similarities between Isfahan and Nain rugs.

The most famous of the Nain workshops was Habibian, run by Fathollah Habibian (sometimes called the ‘Father of Nain rugs’) and his brother, Mohammed, until their deaths. The workshop is now run by the son of Fathollah's daughter.

The foundation of Persian Nain Oriental rugs consists of depressed warps* (up & down cords) made of cotton and 2 shoots of cotton wefts (side to side cords). *Depressed warps occur when the wefts are pulled tightly from either side, displacing the warps into 2 levels.

The pile is wool, woven with an asymmetrical (Persian) knot and the pile is clipped short, sharply defining the design elements. The wool used in Nain rugs, known as kork wool, is usually finer than the standard Persian wool.

Like high end Isfahan rugs, it is possible to find some Nains woven with silk, rather than cotton foundations. Most Nain rugs will almost certainly have ivory silk outlining design motifs, such as flowers and birds.