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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