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Characteristics Of Certain Persian Rugs

Bakhshis rugs are made in a small village in the district of Azerbijan, and in the neighborhood of Herez. Those of thirty years ago were excellent, but now the materials of which they are made are poor, the rugs badly woven and of indifferent coloring. They come in large sizes, usually having a medallion in the centre.

Bibikabad rugs are quite modern, and are supplied to the market at Hamadan. Aniline dyes prevail, and the rugs are of inferior design and texture.

Bear rugs of olden time were artistic; of those of today this statement cannot be truthfully made. The wool is still fine and silky, but there is an element of crudeness of design and a defiance of the laws governing color. A pronounced medallion in the centre is usually seen. This is set in a solid field of a strong contrasting color. Sometimes the field is of a bright red or blue, with the medallion omitted. The borders are generally in the same color as the field, or in camel's hair, sometimes covered with crude figures of human beings or animals, or decorated with flowers in vivid red, yellow, or green. The rugs are heavy, and in the American markets are known as Sarakhs.

Birjand rugs (so called) are woven almost exclusively in the village of Daraksh, about fifty miles northeast of Birjand. The weavers of these rugs came originally from Herat. The rugs are generally satisfactory, the weaving being fine, although the pile is often uneven.

Burujird rugs are made sixty miles from Sultanabad, and south of Hamadan. They resemble in their field and in the firm texture the Saraband rug, the palm-leaf design being arranged throughout the field. The border is mainly white, with minute variations of the palm design.

Djushaghan rugs are woven in a district south of Feraghan. They are durable and attractive. The Shah Abbas design is a favorite one in antique rugs of this kind. The field is generally of a rich red, and occasionally a rare sage green. Often there is a lighter shade in the border than in the field. Crosses with angular ends are a feature, and between these are floral designs.

Feraghan rugs of olden time are as satisfactory as any rugs handed down to us. They are so harmonious in coloring and design as to be most restful to the eye. They have a richness and sheen that make them most desirable, and when to the usual soft colors a deep violet is added the attractiveness increases. A distinguishing feature is the Herati design, covering a field usually of a rich deep blue. Sometimes the Guli Hinnai design is observed, with its more elaborate treatment. The border is often a light ground covered with a design in the form of rosettes and palmettes connected by a running vine. The main border stripe is frequently in a rich green and sometimes of a deep rose. When there are corner areas and a centre medallion they are arranged so symmetrically that the harmony is complete. The colors in these areas and the medallion are often in cream, light green, or red. At the present time Feraghan ex-ports annually a large number of rugs rather loosely woven, but soft and durable. These are made by the Bactrian tribes. The entire centre is often filled with rather small irregular figures on a dark blue field. Yellow is often employed in a modern Feraghan, both in the border and in the field. Quite an important feature of Feraghan and other places of high altitude is the rug-woven saddlebag. When stuffed, such bags make comfortable sofa-pillows, or they can be placed as seats on chairs. Throughout Asia, saddlebags are used for the transportation of household and personal effects and other goods, and by children for their schoolbooks.

Gorevan rugs are woven in the neighborhood of Herez. They are exported in large sizes, and are generally rather showy and elaborate. Quite firm and durable, they are popular for dining-rooms. As they are in great demand in the trade, they are turned out too rapidly, but careful selection brings happy results, for sometimes a truly beautiful rug, with rich warm coloring and a medallion not too pronounced, is found.

Hamadan rugs are generally of camel's hair, although sometimes goat's hair is added. The field is in the natural shade, as is the surrounding border. An elongated medallion appears in the centre ; this is ornamented with floral designs in red, blue, and yellow, as are also the corner areas. Antique Hamadans are very beautiful. Soft and silky, yet with firmness of texture, and in subdued coloring, they seem appropriate for any room. Some of them, with fine, delicate tracery, in soft shades, remind one of beautiful stained glass seen in the old cathedrals of Europe.

Herat rugs are now woven in Persia by tribes originally from Afghanistan. The old city of Herat was under Persian influence, which accounts for the fine character of its rugs. The modern Herat rug is of excellent quality and durable. The leading design is naturally the Herati, and again one sees the palm leaf with its apexes all pointing in the same direction. The field is generally a deep blue, although sometimes a rich red, and even ivory. Green is apt to be the main color in the border, and occasionally the butterfly motif is noticed. Some of the modern rugs have medallion centres, in which the wool is generally red or blue, and sometimes green or yellow.

Herez rugs are attractive, the chief color often being a fine blue, upon which rests a pronounced medallion. The corners are defined by serrated lines, and are in shades of the red in autumn leaves. Often these corners are decorated with small designs. The main border stripe is light in color often cream — with good-sized markings. Herez rugs are made in the province of Azerbaijan.

Iran is the official name for Persia, and when a rug is called by this name, the meaning is simply that it is a Persian rug.

Ispaban rugs are antiques. During the sixteenth century and the reign of the great Shah Abbas, and even earlier, these magnificent fabrics were woven. Superb in coloring, with beautiful designs and of superior workmanship, the examples still in existence are indeed precious. In these old rugs one finds a field of red that is rich and rare. It looks like carmine, and then again it seems as if one were looking into a goblet containing the choicest wine of past centuries. Once seen, the shade is not forgotten. So also with the wonderful moss-like green that occupies the main border and the running vines of the Ispahan rug. Black —the most corrosive of all dyes—although used, has disappeared, leaving only the foundation. A medallion, star-form in effect, often occupies the centre. Over the field are scattered palmettes and lotus forms, all connected by running vines. A wide middle border between two narrow stripes holds the rosette and palmette, and also the lancet leaf, in tiny form. When cloud bands are seen they show Chinese influence, as do the lotus forms.

Kara Dagh rugs are made by nomads who are called Aylauts, and who live in the mountainous region north of Tabriz. In appearance, as well as in texture and size, they resemble those produced in the Caucasian province of Karabagh on the other side of the boundary. The natural color of the camel's hair, and rose color too, are much used. Sometimes the camel's hair is mixed with goat's hair. The designs are floral and rather striking in effect.

Kermanshah rugs of modern make have usually a medallion with a lotus motif in the centre of the field. This is generally of ivory, ornamented in soft tones of blue, green, or rose. The usual light effect of the tug makes it rather more suitable for a reception room or a bedroom than for other places. There are, however, deeper tones in these rugs, and sometimes there are no medallions. Perhaps the rug is most pleasing with the palm-leaf design and that of the tree, or with many birds and various floral conceptions. The borders blend harmoniously with the rest of the rug. The finest rugs of Kermanshah were formerly made in the palace of the Governor, and many were presented to leading rulers.

Khorassan rugs are woven in the province of that name and are characterized by various forms. A long palm effect or floral design is apt to be in the borders of antique Khorassans ; and a prominent color in these rugs is magenta, which, though sometimes rather harsh in the modern rugs, is soft and beautiful in the antiques. Blue is also a leading color, and animals, including the lion and the gazelle; birds of several varieties; flowers symmetrically arranged, and geometrical forms, are all often seen. The Herati design is a usual one. When stripes occur in the field they are beautifully decorated with small floral designs or with the palm, and occasionally with that migratory insect, the locust. The rugs are unevenly clipped, which gives a soft, lustrous effect. Meshhed, the capital city of Khorassan, weaves rugs of fine colors ; the palm leaf when represented on this rug is very large and impressive, often on a deep blue field. Animals and birds are frequently seen on the Meshhed rug.

Kirman rugs, made in the province of Irak-Ajemi, frequently have a medallion in the centre, entwined with flowers. Sometimes the Tree of Life is represented, its branches bearing different fruits, and often there are symbolical little birds in the border. Sometimes a vase of flowers is the principal ornament, or several small trees either with or without foliage. Silk has often been introduced into the old rugs with charming effect. The Kirman rug is one of the most easily recognizable. It is of very fine quality, and is highly decorative. Antique rugs of this kind have the finest of wool, and, with the artistic arrangement of beautiful flowers, cypress trees, and palm effects, are most pleasing. One of the finest in this country is reproduced in this volume with a description accompanying it.

Kurdistan (the Persian portion) is a large region inhabited by the nomadic tribes called Kurds; and the sheep and goats belonging to these tribes furnish the fine wool that is woven into Kurdish rugs. The color effects are generally good. Often dark blues and reds form the groundwork, in the centre of which is a lozenge or large diamond form ornamented with small designs of the palm leaf. Then, again, a repeated design is laid out over the field. Designs of the tree, palm, and rosette, and various floral forms appear. By examining the web at one end, a design in colored wool is generally found. In one of these rugs in my own collection the centre contains twelve different symbolical designs, including the turtle, comb, star, and cross, while the corner areas and borders hold at least thirty-five others. All of them are so carefully woven that much thought must have been bestowed upon this very strong, splendid rug.

Laristan (see Niris) rugs.

Meshhed (see Khorassan) rugs.

Mir-Saraband (see Saraband) rugs.

Muskabad (see Sultanabad) rugs.

Niris rugs are made a little to the southeast of Shiraz, in the province of Laristan, and the latter name is that used in the Western markets. All around Lake Niris are pastured sheep with fine lustrous wool which is used in the manufacture of rugs. In the modern ones floral and geometric stripes often alternate through the field, or there is a medallion in the centre of a plain field, with corner areas. The border carries several designs. There is a checked effect in the webbing at the ends. The rugs are very strong and excellent for hard use. In the older ones blue was used in the field, with rather large forms of the palm leaf.

Oustri-Nan rugs have the palm-leaf design over the field, and a good deal of white in the borders. They are firm and durable.

Saraband (Serebend) rugs are woven in the district of Sarawan. They always have a distinct feature in the small palm leaves that fill the field. These leaves have the hook turned at the top from left to right in one row, and right to left in the next. Usually the field that these palm leaves adorn is soft red or rose in color. Again it may be deep blue, or occasionally ivory, in which case the palm design is in red or blue. The border is always harmonious, and there are many narrow stripes which form it. The widest one is generally in an ivory tone, while the undulating vine and small flower forms appear in some of the borders. Then, too, one finds the Caucasian influence in some of the borders, and the reciprocal trefoil is often seen. Occasionally a human figure is carefully outlined in the border, and this brings a personal element into the rug. Then again, the date is woven in. Mir is the name of the village in this district where the design had its source, and in the trade to-day the finest of these rugs is often called Mir-Saraband.

Sarakhs (see Bijar) rugs.

Saruk rugs are very closely woven in the hamlet bearing this name. The floral designs scattered over the field of rose, dark red, or blue show a spontaneity of workmanship that is not governed by Western enter-prise, though, curiously enough, aniline dyes prevail. The wool is very fine. The border is composed of a wide middle stripe, with a narrow one on either side.

Savalan (see Sultanabad) rugs.

Serapi (see Sirab) rugs.

Shiraz, the capital city of Fars, has exported some of the most interesting and exquisite rugs in existence. In the sixteenth century Shiraz was at the height of its prosperity, and all the neighboring country was noted for its flocks of sheep, which produced the finest of wool. Rugs were made at Shiraz for the reigning Shahs, who had palaces there, and the workmanship displayed in them was most beautiful. The city was visited by an earthquake in 1853, and since that catastrophe the manufacture of rugs has not regained its former prosperity ; yet great improvement has been shown in recent years, and the same vegetable dyes are still in use. The Shiraz is often called the Mecca rug, as it is the one frequently selected by pilgrims to that city. Deep rich blues are often seen in a Shiraz rug, and frequently stripes extend throughout the centre, as well as in the border, where diamond forms and crosses are also frequently seen. The medallion and the palm leaf are also found. Many Persian poets have sung of the wonderful rose gardens of Shiraz, and the rug weaver there has faithfully reproduced in glorious hues these beautiful flowers. Other flowers, too, decorate this rug. The webbing at the ends is embroidered in colored yarns.

Sinna rugs are made in the province of Irak-Ajemi. They have a very fine texture, and are greatly prized by rug-lovers. The pile is of the best wool, and very closely cut. The Herati design, minutely woven, often occupies the entire field. Again, a lozenge-shaped figure is in the centre, and covered with the most delicate tracery. The field of the rug is often in white or ivory, or in soft blue, red, yellow, or even peach-blow tint. Yellow is used frequently in the border and corner areas. Often the finest of these rugs will be puckered near the edges; that is because the yarn is so tightly twisted in the weaving. Owing in part to this firm twisting and also to the fine, close knotting, there is much durability in the best specimens.

Sirab rugs are woven in the village of that name in the district of Azerbaijan. In Western markets the name has been corrupted, and the rugs are there called Serapi. These rugs come in large sizes, and are of excellent colors. A medallion of good proportions occupies the field, and about this floral designs are arranged. Sometimes inscriptions are seen in the rug.

Sultanabad is one of the most important of the modern rug-producing regions of Western Asia. Factories are kept busy supplying the market, and in many cases excellent rugs are manufactured. This is especially true when old patterns are used, for no modern ones sent out by Western firms can be deemed worthy to take the place of original Oriental designs. Large quantities of rugs from this district are exported to the United States, and are then frequently called Savalans. The ground-work is generally light in color, and the designs are many, while the variety of brilliant hues is perhaps the largest in Persia. Muskabad is a trade name for a certain grade of rug from this district.

Tabriz rugs are now supplied in large bales to the trade from factories that are under Western jurisdiction. They are of well selected yarn, closely woven, and very durable. The weaving is faultless. The centre medallion is in a rich color, set in a field of ivory or other solid color, and decorated with floral forms. The sharply defined corner areas and the borders also contain floral designs in attractive colors. Sometimes cartouches with lines from a Persian poet or birds and animal forms are seen in the borders.

rezd, where the fire-worshippers live, furnishes rugs with a short pile, but these are used chiefly in mosques, and seldom leave Persia.

A fine Persian rug is valuable, even at the seat of manufacture. A small one, measuring three by four and a half feet, quite modern, but very fine and with splendid colors, has been sold at Teheran for eight hundred dollars.

( Originally Published Late 1900's )

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