Shah Abbas premium quality Carpets of Iran

"Shah Abbas really revived the carpet-production industry"

Shah Abbas Persian Carpets

While Alexander the Great may have burned to oblivion many of those soft rugs when he torched down Persepolis, the Persian rug — like many other aspects of Iranian art and architecture – not only survived, but thrived, too.

Fine example of a Shah Abbas Carpet

In the centuries that followed, rugs continued to be associated with luxury, as well as indigenous folk culture. But it wasn’t until the ‘golden age’ ushered in by Shah Abbas the Great of the Safavid dynasty in the 17th Century that the Persian rug truly became the Persian rug.

These exquisite carpet pieces are called “Shah Abbas” carpets after the Iranian monarch of that name who reigned during AD 1587-1629. Shah Abbas was the 5th Safavid king of Iran, and is generally considered the greatest ruler of the Safavid dynasty. He left far-reaching mark on the society and artistic heritage of Iran, renovating the country’s spectacular shrines and transforming its trading relations with the rest of the worlds. He was very fond of the arts and specifially hand made carpets.

When discussing fine Persian rug patterns, it helps to be familiar with the Safavid Dynasty in Iran, especially the era when the Great Shah Abbas was king. He is the one that springs to mind as the inspiration for various patterns, all of which feature the lily in an isolated central position linked only by delicate tendrils.

Shah Abbas was responsible for a large portion of the Persian rug industry by setting up royal rug factories all over Iran and making Isfahan the country’s capital. This typically Persian style carpet widely influenced carpets in Kurdistan and the Caucasus and also Indian court carpets. The term Shah Abbas is also used when referring to a pattern style in which the central patterns are made up of arabesque motifs, palmettes and lotus-motifs in elegant shapes which demand a high knot density. This carpet pattern is usually found in carpets such as the Keshan, Isfahan, Mashad and Nain. It is also found in carpets produced in China, India and Pakistan, that replicate the Persian style. Today, a Shah Abbas carpet is amongst the finest Persian rugs available.

Prior to his reign, many of Europe’s carpets came from Ottoman Turkey due to its proximity, but, as a result of various reforms and treaties brought about by Shah Abbas (r. 1588 – 1629), as well as Western colonial interests, the textiles industry was given a much-needed jolt, and began operating on a scale as never before seen. “Shah Abbas really revived the carpet-production industry,” says Dr. Aimée Froom, curator of the forthcoming Bestowing Beauty exhibition of Iranian artefacts at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

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