Persian (Iran) & Oriental Carpets are made in 'the Orient' meaning countries East of Europe to the Far East
Where Are Oriental & Persian Carpets Made?
Where Are Oriental & Persian Carpets Made?
Persian carpets originate from Persia (Iran), and Oriental carpets come from different regions and include Iranian carpets - these being Romania, Bulgeria, Turkey, Iraq, The Causasus, Afghanistan, Turkerstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal, Tibet, India and China. However, Persian carpets are also Orientals.
A Persian carpet or Persian rug (Persian: قالی ايرانى qālī-ye īranī), also known as Iranian carpet (Persian: فرش ايرانى farsh, meaning "to spread"), is a heavy textile, made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purpose, produced in Iran (historically known as Persia), for home use, local sale, and export. Carpet weaving is an essential part of Persian culture and Iranian art. Within the group of Oriental rugs produced by the countries of the so-called "rug belt", the Persian carpet stands out by the variety and elaborateness of its manifold designs.
Persian carpets and rugs of various types were woven or hand-knotted in parallel by nomadic tribes, in village and town workshops, and by royal court manufactories alike. As such, they represent different, simultaneous lines of tradition, and reflect the history of Iran and its various peoples. The carpets woven in the Safavid court manufactories of Isfahan during the sixteenth century are famous for their elaborate colours and artistical design, and are treasured in museums and private collections all over the world today. Their patterns and designs have set an artistic tradition for court manufactories which was kept alive during the entire duration of the Persian Empire up to the last royal dynasty of Iran.
Carpets woven in towns and regional centers like Tabriz, Kerman, Mashhad, Kashan, Isfahan, Nain and Qom are characterized by their specific weaving techniques and use of high-quality materials, colours and patterns. Town manufactories like those of Tabriz have played an important historical role in reviving the tradition of carpet weaving after periods of decline. Rugs woven by the villages and various tribes of Iran are distinguished by their fine wool, bright and elaborate colours, and specific, traditional patterns. Nomadic and small village weavers often produce rugs with bolder and sometimes more coarse designs, which are considered as the most authentic and traditional rugs of Persia, as opposed to the artistic, pre-planned designs of the larger workplaces. Gabbeh rugs are the best-known type of carpet from this line of tradition.
The art and craft of carpet weaving has gone through periods of decline during times of political unrest, or under the influence of commercial demands. It particularly suffered from the introduction of synthetic dyes during the second half of the nineteenth century. Carpet weaving still plays a major part in the economy of modern Iran. Modern production is characterized by the revival of traditional dyeing with natural dyes, the reintroduction of traditional tribal patterns, but also by the invention of modern and innovative designs, woven in the centuries-old technique. Hand-woven Persian carpets and rugs were regarded as objects of high artistic and utilitarian value and prestige from the first time they were mentioned by ancient Greek writers, until today.
Although the term "Persian carpet" most often refers to pile-woven textiles, flat-woven carpets and rugs like Kilim, Soumak, and embroidered tissues like Suzani are part of the rich and manifold tradition of Persian carpet weaving.
Where do Persian carpets come from?
The countries where Persian and Oriental carpets come from
Here is a Google Map to give you a better geographic concept of these areas, courtesy of Little-Persia. To zoom into an area, simply hold your Control button down and roll your mouse wheel in or out.
Located to the northeast of Iran, Afghanistan shares a rugged terrain similar to that of northern Iran. Because of this Afghan rugs tend to be hard wearing and robust. Afghan rugs are similar to Caucasian and Turkish designs, using only a few vivid colours and often with geometric patterns.
The rug weaving industry has been effected by the political instability and trade restrictions on the country in recent years, export has become difficult and as a result many Afghan rugs are exported from the bordering countries of Iran and Pakistan.
Rug weaving was introduced in India in the 16th century by the Persian empire. During the Safavid Dynasty the Persian government set up professional workshops with Persian master weavers overseeing the looms and training the Indian weavers. Because of this background in rug weaving almost all Indian rugs are imitations of famous Persian designs such as Kashan and Tabriz. This is not to say that because they are imitations they are inferior in some way, the only thing that sets them apart from their Persian counterparts is the the type and wool, cut of the pile and the weave. There are good and bad Indian rugs just like there are good or bad Persian rugs. The design, dye, quality of wool and knot count are all important.
Indian rugs sometimes use coarser wool than Persian rugs which leads to them being heavy. It is often more difficult to fold Indian rugs due to the thickness of the pile making the rug stiff, however, as a result of this they sit nicely on the floor and are very durable.
Turkey has been famous for its carpet weaving since the early 17th Century when Venetian traders introduced Turkish rugs to the European market. Town rugs with medium weave and wool pile come from areas like Milas, Dosemealti, and Malatya. Fine wool rugs on cotton and even silk rugs are woven in Kayseri, and Hereke has a reputation for producing some of the finest silk carpets ever made.
Much like the history of rug making in India, Pakistan began making rugs under the influence of the Persian government during the 16th century.
Most rugs made in Pakistan utilize very few colours, preferring the designs of Afghan and Persian Turkoman and Caucasus Bokhara. The Pakistani Bokhara and Jaldar (often made by Afghan refugees or Turkmen origin) is made using very soft and lustrous wool (sometimes using art silk or mercerized wool) to obtain a simple yet stylish tribal design. The colours used in these rugs are generally a solid or rustic red, blue, green, beige or gold and darker details and octagonal gul motifs or diamond shaped motifs often referred to as butterfly prints.
Pakistan is the 4th largest producer of Oriental rugs.
Nepal has origins in tribal rug weaving however today they specialize in modern hand-knotted rugs. Many of the hand-knotted contemporary rugs found in retailers across the country are sourced from Nepal or Tibet. These rugs are often made to a custom design from a western designer or even a customer. Nepal rugs use thick knots and are not of the same quality as Persian or many of the other Oriental rugs but are excellent for those looking for a quality modern rug, one which will last more than a few of years.
China has become the biggest exporter of Oriental rugs. The crafting of pile rugs using wool is a relatively new practice in China, their culture and availability of silk meant that they looked down on wool as a crafting material and were more attuned to flat-weaving decorative silk rugs. While silk rugs have been made in China for 4000 years it wasn't until the 13th century that pile rugs started to be knotted.
However, as a growing industrial country China has focused on retail demand and now craft mass market designs in large quantities.
After the Iranian Revolution, little information could at first be obtained about carpet weaving in Iran. In the 1970s and 1980s, a new interest arose in Europe in Gabbeh rugs, which were initially woven by nomadic tribes for their own use. Their coarse weaving and simple, abstract designs appealed to Western customers.
In 1992, the first Grand Persian Conference and Exhibition in Tehran presented for the first time modern Persian carpet designs. Persian master weavers like Razam Arabzadeh displayed carpets woven in the traditional technique, but with unusual, modern designs. As the Grand Conferences continue to take place at regular intervals, two trends can be observed in Iranian carpet weaving today. On the one hand, modern and innovative artistic designs are invented and developed by Iranian manufacturers, who thus take the ancient design tradition forward towards the twenty-first century. On the other hand, the renewed interest in natural dyes was taken up by commercial enterprises, which commission carpets to tribal village weavers. This provides a regular source of income for the carpet weavers. The companies usually provide the material and specify the designs, but the weavers are allowed some degree of creative freedom. With the end of the U.S. embargo on Iranian goods, also Persian carpets (including antique Persian carpets acquired at auctions) may become more easily available to U.S. customers again.
As commercial household goods, Persian carpets today are encountering competition from other countries with lower wages and cheaper methods of production: Machine-woven, tufted rugs, or rugs woven by hand, but with the faster and less costly loop weaving method, provide rugs in "oriental" designs of utilitarian, but no artistic value. Traditional hand woven carpets, made of sheep wool dyed with natural colours are increasingly sought after. They are usually sold at higher prices due to the large amount of manual work associated with their production, which has, essentially, not changed since ancient times, and due to the artistic value of their design. Thus, the Persian carpet retains its ancient status as an object of luxury, beauty, and art.