Archive for December, 2013

Persian Rugs: Qum (Quom)

Persian Silk Qum

Persian Silk Qum

Qum is located only about 75 miles south of the capital city of Tehran. Even though some of the finest Persian rugs are woven in Qum, the history of weaving does not go back farther than 70 or 80 years. However, the city of Qum has become an important center for the Persian rug industry. Qum rugs have immensely improved in quality over the past few decades. There have also been great innovations in design, to the extent that even some Caucasian patterns are being produced in Qum. Rug production started with a wool pile and silk highlights, but is today mostly concentrated on pure silk. Since around 1921 to 1941, European markets have shown an increasing demand for rugs with a finer weave and more delicate material. This gave way to production of higher quality rugs with silk highlights. As stronger demand emerged, weavers began to make pure silk rugs around the same time. The imagination of artists as well as the strong support of buyers produced some luxurious and attractive city-made rugs enjoying a unique character compared to their rivals produced in other Persian cities. As a matter of fact, no other material has the ability to produce such elegant, delicate rugs, displaying a particular charm in different lights, and depending whether you are looking at the rug with or against the nap, as silk does. From surrounding cities and nearby villages, designers and producers rushed into the city of Qum to intensify the production of these wonderful pieces of art. The innovative success of emigrant master weavers and designers who had mainly come from Arak, Isfahan, and Kashan, in combining their local patterns and creating new harmonious styles led to the appearance of extremely rich, extraordinary designs in rugs of Qum.

The dominant designs in these rugs include the traditional “Shah Abbasi” corner and medallion, the “tile” (Kheshti), daste gol (bouquet of flower), and a variety of other beautiful patterns. The palette of colors Qum weavers take advantage of is as rich as the range of designs. In fact, most experts believe the volume of innovative designs and bold choice of colors used in recent production of Qum rugs is more than all other types of Persian rugs put together. Rug weaving in Qum seems to have extended towards West and Southwestern parts of the region from Zanjan and Bijar to Qazvin and small communities to the West of Qum. Some famous weavers of Qum carpets enjoy an international recognition and are normally under the obligation of delivering every piece of their production – due to long-term contracts – to one or two importers for the Western markets. A higher quality silk Qum usually has the signature of either the workshop or the master weaver displayed either on the top or the bottom border. If the pile is wool, then it is always Kurk (wool from lamb’s neck) which makes the rug much softer. In such rugs, the foundation is normally cotton, but silk rugs almost always have a silk warp, and sometimes the weft may also be silk, making them even more valuable. Two shots of weft are inserted over each row of knots. Qum rugs come in all sizes, and use traditional colors of red, dark blue, and ivory. Tightly woven Qum rugs are magnificent pieces of art, and last forever. Knot count varies between 150 to over 1000 KPSI.

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Persian Rugs: Isfahan

Typical Persian Isfahan rug

Typical Persian Isfahan rug

The city of Isfahan is the capital of Isfahan province located about 200 miles south of Tehran known to have once been one of the largest cities in the world. It is one of the most famous cities in the Persian rug industry, a major producer of all types of handicraft, and also a major tourist attraction for the country. If there has been any Isfahan rugs produced before the Safavid dynasty, they are no longer in existence. It is believed that the popularity of Persian Isfahan rugs has its roots in the lost and forgotten art of rug weaving in Qazvin. During the Safavid era, many Persian artisans gathered in the new capital of Qazvin for a short period of time. As the capital was later moved to Isfahan, the glorious epoch of Isfahan art began. Rug weaving was definitely a considerable part of this movement. The establishment of royal carpet workshops during this time is an indication of the king’s special concern for Isfahan. Many pieces of Isfahan rugs produced in these workshops can now be found in museums and private collections. Many motifs found in Isfahan rugs have been inspired by decorative tile works of ancient monuments, to the extent that most researchers believe that the rug industry in Isfahan has always been influenced by the city’s historical buildings. This is perhaps why their production is often referred to as the most vivid example of classic “city carpets” within the Persian rug industry.

 

Pictorial Isfahan Rug

Pictorial Isfahan Rug

Some of the best master weavers, designers, and artists belong to this region. Isfahan rugs have a very traditional Persian design: a single medallion in the field, surrounded by “Shah Abbasi” flowers, and a border of a strong contrasting color against the field. Isfahan rugs come in all possible sizes. Quality of the wool is excellent, the warp is silk, and the weft is either silk or cotton. In some older pieces, cotton warp is more common. The pile usually consists of Kurk wool. Knots are compacted very tightly, and two shots of weft are inserted over each row of knots making them very durable pieces of floor covering. In Isfahan rugs, colors are also very traditional: different shades of red, ivory, and royal blue, with beige and soft green in recent production. Isfahan rugs are very durable, and a relatively large number of antique pieces can be found in many famous museums around the world. Unlike some other weaving centers which have very many neighboring villages producing similar rugs, Isfahan is not surrounded by any major rug producing communities. However, there are some rugs woven in neighboring cities (such as Najafabad and Shahreza) and called Isfahan by a common mistake. Isfahan rugs come in different qualities with the number of knots per square inch ranging from 150 up to over 800 KPSI.

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