Archive for January, 2014

Persian Rugs: The Artistic Significance

Old Persian Yalameh Rug

Old Persian Yalameh Rug

For ages, Persian rugs have been a symbol of the art, history, and romance of ancient civilizations. In spite of so much improvement in technology used to produce machine-made carpets, hand-woven rugs have maintained their place as an attractive, masterful, and valuable product. The art of rug weaving has continued its rich and noble life as a symbol of the genuine heritage of the skillful Persian artisans. Hand-knotted Persian rugs satisfy aesthetic feelings as well as practical needs. Their merit as a gorgeous and decorative addition to the home is matched by their value as a safe and constantly increasing investment. Today, there are greater numbers of people who wish to own an authentic piece of Persian rug all over the world.

The popularity of Persian rugs, new or antique, remains undisputable. They will forever be prized for their individual and unique quality. Each rug is the product of a centuries-old cultural heritage particular to its originating village, district, or tribe. Due to the existence of so many diverse cultures, having their roots in the tribal and regional traditions, there are endless patterns and motifs used in Persian rugs. As a result, there has been a rising amount of rugs produced in other countries imitating Persian designs. In fact, such production has become a major occupation for so many weavers throughout the world. While the value of genuine pieces of handmade rugs tend to appreciate over time, poor imitations, like any other ordinary floor covering, lose their value over time.

The rich nature of the country has always provided the best quality of wool, cotton, and silk to be used by Persian weavers. The long-staple wool of the sheep raised in highlands creates unique qualities of spinnability, flexibility, and resistance against compression. The colors of natural material, such as insects and plants, enable Persian rugs to retain their brilliant shades as they age. The experienced dyers carry on the glorious traditions of the past in order to create magnificent and durable colors that will beautify any environment. Likewise, the weaving itself has been kept close to traditions of the past as the installation of a loom in private homes is not merely a means of providing financial profits, but is also aimed towards the enjoyment of the whole family. While large city workshops were an important factor in the past, much of today’s production of rugs is carried out along cottage industry lines in smaller villages and towns. The buyer of a Persian rug not only delights of its beauties on the floor, but also owns a treasured heirloom which can be passed down to the next generations.

Just to name a few of its numerous advantages, the rug industry adds an exceptionally high value to otherwise low-value materials, creates jobs for thousands of people in remote regions, promotes artistic works of art, improves quality of life in rural areas, and encourages exports to make a more self-sufficient population. Hopefully, the ever-increasing market demand for hand-knotted rugs will sustain the originality of this wonderful tradition thereby also supporting the livelihood of a large number of artisans in many different countries.

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Persian Carpets, Oriental Area Rugs: A Summary of Terms and History

Persian Rug

Persian Rug

Oriental and Persian rugs come in an enormously large variety of colors and designs piled up over the past few centuries. One of the main characteristics of handmade rugs to be examined is their age. Not only is it very difficult to determine the age of an Oriental rug or Persian carpet, it can also only be done approximately. As a general rule, any hand-knotted rugs over 100 years old are termed “antique”, those of between 50 and 100 years “semi-antique”, and those between 30-50 years are simply termed “old” pieces. The warp, in most cases cotton, runs vertically through the length of the rug and the weft, also normally cotton, runs horizontally across the rug. It logically follows that the fringe of a rug is actually the warp thread sticking out from either side of the rug and if you could pull it all the way out, you would end up with a missing thread of the fringe on both sides. The weft is inserted over each individual row of knots and pressed down with a special comb-like tool as the process of weaving the rug continues. There can be either one or two shots of weft on top of each row of knots. In fact, the number of weft threads as well as their color is a strong indication of its origin when it comes to Persian rugs which are always named after the city or village where they have been made.

In a simple form, the thickness of the warp and weft threads determines the fineness of the quality. The Thinner the warp, the smaller the knots tied onto them giving way to a higher number of knots per square inch enabling the weaver to show more detail and creating a more intricate pattern. Similarly, the thinner weft means less space between rows of knots making the rug more tightly woven. We need to keep in mind that for a weaver with average speed, the higher KPSI also means longer weaving time. It becomes obvious that the KPSI as well as the size of the rug to be produced needs to be decided before the work begins. Handmade rugs come in many different qualities and KPSI ranges from around 50 to over 1000. Designs can be categorized as either geometric or floral. In typical geometric patterns, as the name implies, a few lozenges and octagons surrounded by other geometric motifs generously cover the middle field framed by a similar, primitive-looking border. As for floral designs, an elegant center medallion is emphasized against a background of contrasting color, filled with decorative flowers and spiral-shaped tendrils forced together by four corners, and finally framed by a border with as much detail as the field itself highlighting symmetry in a strong form. Generally speaking, floral, city-made rugs are more suitable for formal settings whereas geometric, village-made carpets go well in more casual environments.

The rug weaving centers of Pakistan are concentrated around the cities of Lahore and Pishawar. As for Indian rugs, most are

Pakistani Rug

Pakistani Rug

produced around Jaipur. However, the more important rug making centers for Persian rugs are scattered around the cities of Tabriz, Isfahan, Nain, Qum, Kashan, Kerman, Yazd, Mashad, Hamadan, Bijar, Abadeh, Cahar Mahal Bakhtiari, Birjand, Malayer, Arak, Tafresh, Shiraz, and Ardebil, each with their unique color combinations and designs, excellent examples of the magnificent craftsmanship of their creators.

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