Archive for July, 2013

Persian Rugs: The Azerbaijan Province

Although there are so many regions that produce different types of Persian rugs in a variety of qualities, the province of Azerbaijan is definitely one of the most important centers of rug weaving. The Eastern and Western Azerbaijan provinces are located in northwest Persia with many important cities and villages in the rug-production industry; such as Tabriz, Heris, Mehravan, Gorevan, Bakhshayesh, Khoy, Mianeh, Hashtrood, Meshkin, and Ardebil, just to name a few. Antique Azerbaijani rugs are in The White House, The State Department, and many important museums of the world. With exception of some Meshkin and Hashtrood rugs, most rug production of Azerbaijan has cotton foundation, and bold colors of red and royal blue, with a variety of patterns: from informal, tribal, and village rugs to formal, floral and city rugs.

Old Persian Tabriz Rug

Old Persian Tabriz Rug

High quality dyes and workmanship is typical of the Persian rugs woven throughout the district of Azerbaijan. The work is mostly done at leisure, with little pressure to speed up the process, and very much in the old fashion. The pattern and style is greatly influenced by that of the Kurdistan province, located to the South and known for the best rugs of tribal manufacture. Its population, while for the most part Turkish, is diversified by strong representation of other races. Weaving in Azerbaijan is as old as the province itself. However, it was not until the vast trade sprang up in Tabriz that the Azerbaijan rugs became known as such. The rug industry has practically been developed since 1890 in this region. Prior to that, the city of Hamadan was the marketplace for the rugs of all Western Persia, and this is why rugs of Azerbaijan were classified as Hamadan carpets. Merchants who made their way to Tabriz in hopes of finding beautiful pieces at bargain prices always came back empty-handed.

But gradually, more for convenience in the conduct of money transactions than anything else, the trade of the districts to the South and East began to go to Tabriz, and the rug industry began its new life there. The rug production of the province is now very large, not only for the rugs woven in the villages, but also for the high volume of hand-knotted carpets made in and around the city of Tabriz, largely the result of Western influence. Under the supervision of the most skilful loom masters, some Persian rugs of amazing workmanship are produced throughout the province of Azerbaijan. Due to migration of some expert rug weavers from “Kerman” to Azerbaijan (initially to oversee the growing rug production), it is not difficult to realize that the model on which Tabriz rugs are designed is in fact the ornamental and richly colored fabrics of Kerman. A wonderful harmony of color combination and perfect compactness of the weave are the major characteristics of Azerbaijan rugs, also seen in rugs of Kerman.

At first, the weaving was carried out in houses, but as Tabriz began to take the place of the then scarce carpets of Kerman, factories with a great number of looms were established in the Azerbaijan province, taking advantage of a large population of talented and skilled weavers scattered throughout the region. A favorite device for borders in Azerbaijan rugs is repeated small medallions containing inscriptions in the Persian alphabets, most often displaying verses from well-known poets. The foundation – warp and weft – are usually cotton, but for some pieces with a relatively higher number of knots per square inch, the warp can be silk. Further examination of recent rug production in this region shows a lot of creativity and innovation by combining colors and designs typical of other districts in order to achieve unique pieces, some of which have come out unbelievably beautiful works of art. This is the result of bold and daring yet simple thoughts of some of the world’s best carpet weavers.

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