Persian carpet or Persian rug (Persian: قالی ايرانى
qālī-ye īranī), also known as Iranian carpet (Persian: فرش
ايرانى farsh, meaning "to spread"), is a heavy textile, made
for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purpose, produced in
Iran (historically known as Persia), for home use, local sale, and
Carpet weaving is an essential part of
Persian culture and
Iranian art. Within the group of Oriental rugs produced by the
countries of the so-called "rug belt", the
Persian carpet stands out
by the variety and elaborateness of its manifold designs.
Persian carpets and rugs of various types were woven in parallel by
nomadic tribes, in village and town workshops, and by royal court
manufactories alike. As such, they represent different, simultaneous
lines of tradition, and reflect the history of
Iran and its various
peoples. The carpets woven in the
Safavid court manufactories of
Isfahan during the sixteenth century are famous for their elaborate
colours and artistical design, and are treasured in museums and
private collections all over the world today. Their patterns and
designs have set an artistic tradition for court manufactories which
was kept alive during the entire duration of the Persian Empire up to
the last royal dynasty of Iran.
Carpets woven in towns and regional centers like Tabriz, Kerman,
Mashhad, Kashan, Isfahan, Nain and
Qom are characterized by their
specific weaving techniques and use of high-quality materials, colours
and patterns. Town manufactories like those of
Tabriz have played an
important historical role in reviving the tradition of carpet weaving
after periods of decline. Rugs woven by the villages and various
Iran are distinguished by their fine wool, bright and
elaborate colours, and specific, traditional patterns. Nomadic and
small village weavers often produce rugs with bolder and sometimes
more coarse designs, which are considered as the most authentic and
traditional rugs of Persia, as opposed to the artistic, pre-planned
designs of the larger workplaces.
Gabbeh rugs are the best-known type
of carpet from this line of tradition.
The art and craft of carpet weaving has gone through periods of
decline during times of political unrest, or under the influence of
commercial demands. It particularly suffered from the introduction of
synthetic dyes during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Carpet weaving still plays a major part in the economy of modern Iran.
Modern production is characterized by the revival of traditional
dyeing with natural dyes, the reintroduction of traditional tribal
patterns, but also by the invention of modern and innovative designs,
woven in the centuries-old technique. Hand-woven Persian carpets and
rugs were regarded as objects of high artistic and utilitarian value
and prestige from the first time they were mentioned by ancient Greek
writers, until today.
Although the term "Persian carpet" most often refers to pile-woven
textiles, flat-woven carpets and rugs like Kilim, Soumak, and
embroidered tissues like Suzani are part of the rich and manifold
Persian carpet weaving.
In 2010, the "traditional skills of carpet weaving" in
Kashan were inscribed to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
1.1 The Pazyryk carpet: Earliest pile-woven carpet
1.2 Early fragments
1.3 Early history: circa 500 BC – 200 AD
1.4 The Sasanian Empire: 224–651
1.5 The advent of
Islam and the Caliphates: 651–1258
1.6 Seljuq invasion and Turko-Persian tradition: 1040–1118
1.7 The Mongol
Ilkhanate (1256–1335) and Timurid Empire
Safavid Period (1501–1732)
1.8.1 The "design revolution"
1.8.2 Masterpieces of
Safavid carpet weaving
Safavid "Vase technique" carpets from Kirmān
1.8.4 Gallery: Persian carpets from the
Afsharid (1736–1796) and Zand (1750–1796) dynasties
1.10 The Qajãr dynasty (1789–1925)
Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979)
1.12 Modern times
2.5.2 Insect reds
2.5.3 Synthetic dyes
3 Techniques and structures
3.1 The process of weaving a rug
3.3 Horizontal looms
3.4 Vertical looms
3.7 Flat-woven carpets
4.1 Formats and special types
4.2 Field design, medallions and borders
4.3 Smaller and composite design elements
5.1 Nomadic/tribal carpets
22.214.171.124 Senneh carpets
126.96.36.199 Kurdish village rugs
5.2 Village carpets
5.2.1 Northwestern Iran
5.2.2 Western Iran
5.2.3 Southern Iran
5.2.4 Eastern Iran
5.3 Town carpets
6 Commercial aspects
8 See also
8.2 Related carpet
8.3 Popular culture
10 Further reading
11 External links
The beginning of carpet weaving remains unknown, as carpets are
subject to use, deterioration, and destruction by insects and rodents.
Woven rugs probably developed from earlier floor coverings, made of
felt, or a technique known as "flat weaving". Flat-woven rugs are
made by tightly interweaving the warp and weft strands of the weave to
produce a flat surface with no pile. The technique of weaving carpets
further developed into a technique known as loop weaving. Loop weaving
is done by pulling the weft strings over a gauge rod, creating loops
of thread facing the weaver. The rod is then either removed, leaving
the loops closed, or the loops are cut over the protecting rod,
resulting in a rug very similar to a genuine pile rug. Hand-woven pile
rugs are produced by knotting strings of thread individually into the
warps, cutting the thread after each single knot.
The Pazyryk carpet: Earliest pile-woven carpet
The Pazyryk Carpet. Circa 400 BC. Hermitage Museum
The Pazyryk carpet was excavated in 1949 from the grave of a Scythian
nobleman in the Pazyryk Valley of the
Altai Mountains in Siberia.
Radiocarbon testing indicated that the Pazyryk carpet was woven in the
5th century BC. This carpet is 183 by 200 centimetres (72 by 79
inches) and has 36 symmetrical knots per cm² (232 per inch²). The
advanced technique used in the Pazyryk carpet indicates a long history
of evolution and experience in weaving. It is considered the oldest
known carpet in the world. Its central field is a deep red color
and it has two animal frieze borders proceeding in opposite directions
accompanied by guard stripes. The inner main border depicts a
procession of deer, the outer men on horses, and men leading horses.
The horse saddlecloths are woven in different designs. The inner field
contains 4 x 6 identical square frames arranged in rows on a red
ground, each filled by identical, star shaped ornaments made up by
centrally overlapping x- and cross-shaped patterns. The design of the
carpet already shows the basic arrangement of what was to become the
standard oriental carpet design: A field with repeating patterns,
framed by a main border in elaborate design, and several secondary
The discoverer of the Pazyryk carpet, Sergei Rudenko, assumed it to be
a product of the contemporary Achaemenids. Whether it was
produced in the region where it was found, or is a product of
Achaemenid manufacture, remains subject to debate. Its fine
weaving and elaborate pictorial design hint at an advanced state of
the art of carpet weaving at the time of its production.
There are documentary records of carpets being used by the ancient
Greeks. Homer, assumed to have lived around 850 BC, writes in Ilias
XVII,350 that the body of Patroklos is covered with a "splendid
Odyssey Book VII and X "carpets" are mentioned. Pliny the
Elder wrote (nat. VIII, 48) that carpets ("polymita") were invented in
Alexandria. It is unknown whether these were flatweaves or pile
weaves, as no detailed technical information is provided in the Greek
and Latin texts.
Flat-woven kilims dating to at least the fourth or fifth century AD
were found in Turfan,
Hotan prefecture, East Turkestan, China, an area
which still produces carpets today. Rug fragments were also found in
Lop Nur area, and are woven in symmetrical knots, with 5-7
interwoven wefts after each row of knots, with a striped design, and
various colours. They are now in the Victoria and Albert Museum,
London. Other fragments woven in symmetrical as well as
asymmetrical knots have been found in
Dura-Europos in Syria, and
from the At-Tar caves in Iraq, dated to the first centuries AD.
These rare findings demonstrate that all the skills and techniques of
dyeing and carpet weaving were already known in western Asia before
the first century AD.
Early history: circa 500 BC – 200 AD
Persian carpets were first mentioned around 400 BC, by the Greek
Xenophon in his book "Anabasis":
"αὖθις δὲ Τιμασίωνι τῷ Δαρδανεῖ
προσελθών, ἐπεὶ ἤκουσεν αὐτῷ εἶναι
καὶ ἐκπώματα καὶ τάπιδας
βαρβαρικάς", (Xen. anab. VII.3.18)
Next he went to Timasion the Dardanian, for he heard that he had some
Persian drinking cups and carpets.
"καὶ Τιμασίων προπίνων ἐδωρήσατο
φιάλην τε ἀργυρᾶν καὶ τάπιδα ἀξίαν
δέκα μνῶν." [Xen. anab. VII.3.27]
Timasion also drank his health and presented him with a silver bowl
and a carpet worth ten mines.
Xenophon describes Persian (lit.: "barbarian", meaning: non-Greek)
carpets as precious, and worthy to be used as diplomatic gifts. It is
unknown if these carpets were pile-woven, or produced by another
technique, e.g., flat-weaving, or embroidery, but it is interesting
that the very first reference to Persian carpets in the world
literature already puts them into a context of luxury, prestige, and
There are no surviving Persian carpets from the reigns of the
Achaemenian (553–330 BC), Seleucid (312–129 BC), and Parthian (ca.
170 BC – 226 AD) kings.
The Sasanian Empire: 224–651
The Sasanian Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire, was
recognized as one of the leading powers of its time, alongside its
neighbouring Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400
years. The Sasanids established their empire roughly within the
borders set by the Achaemenids, with the capital at Ctesiphon. This
last Persian dynasty before the arrival of
Zoroastrianism as the state religion.
When and how exactly the Persians started weaving pile carpets is
currently unknown, but the knowledge of carpet weaving, and of
suitable designs for floor coverings, was certainly available in the
area covering Byzance, Anatolia, and Persia: Anatolia, located between
Byzance and Persia, was ruled by the Roman Empire since 133 BCE.
Geographically and politically, by changing alliances and warfare as
well as by trade, Anatolia connected the East Roman with the Persian
Empire. Artistically, both empires have developed similar styles and
decorative vocabulary, as exemplified by mosaics and architecture of
Roman Antioch. A
Turkish carpet pattern depicted on Jan van Eyck's
"Paele Madonna" painting was traced back to late Roman origins and
related to early Islamic floor mosaics found in the Umayyad palace of
Flat weaving and embroidery were known during the Sasanian period.
Elaborate Sasanian silk textiles were well preserved in European
churches, where they were used as coverings for relics, and survived
in church treasuries. More of these textiles were preserved in
Tibetan monasteries, and were removed by monks fleeing to Nepal during
the Chinese cultural revolution, or excavated from burial sites like
Astana, on the
Silk Road near Turfan. The high artistic level reached
by Persian weavers is further exemplified by the report of the
Al-Tabari about the Spring of Khosrow carpet, taken as booty
by the Arabian conquerors of
Ctesiphon in 637 AD. The description of
the rug's design by al-Tabari makes it seem unlikely that the carpet
was pile woven.
Fragments of pile rugs from findspots in north-eastern Afghanistan,
reportedly originating from the province of Samangan, have been
carbon-14 dated to a time span from the turn of the second century to
the early Sasanian period. Among these fragments, some show depictions
of animals, like various stags (sometimes arranged in a procession,
recalling the design of the Pazyryk carpet) or a winged mythical
creature. Wool is used for warp, weft, and pile, the yarn is crudely
spun, and the fragments are woven with the asymmetric knot associated
with Persian and far-eastern carpets. Every three to five rows, pieces
of unspun wool, strips of cloth and leather are woven in. These
fragments are now in the Al-Sabah Collection in the Dar al-Athar
The carpet fragments, although reliably dated to the early Sasanian
time, do not seem to be related to the splendid court carpets
described by the Arab conquerors. Their crude knots incorporating shag
on the reverse hints at the need for increased insulation. With their
coarsely finished animal and hunting depictions, these carpets were
likely woven by nomadic people.
The advent of
Islam and the Caliphates: 651–1258
The Arab conquest of Persia led to the end of the
Sasanian Empire in
651, and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Iran.
Persia became a part of the Islamic world, ruled by Muslim Caliphates.
Arabian geographers and historians visiting Persia provide, for the
first time, references to the use of carpets on the floor. The unknown
author of the
Hudud al-'Alam states that rugs were woven in Fārs. 100
Al-Muqaddasi refers to carpets in the Qaināt. Yaqut
al-Hamawi tells us that carpets were woven in Azerbaijān in the
thirteenth century. The great Arabian traveller
Ibn Battuta mentions
that a green rug was spread before him when he visited the winter
quarter of the Bakhthiari atabeg in Idhej. These references indicate
that carpet weaving in Persia under the
Caliphate was a tribal or
The rule of the Caliphs over Persia ended when the Abbasid Caliphate
was overthrown in the
Siege of Baghdad (1258)
Siege of Baghdad (1258) by the Mongol Empire
under Hulagu Khan. The Abbasid line of rulers recentered themselves in
the Mamluk capital of
Cairo in 1261. Though lacking in political
power, the dynasty continued to claim authority in religious matters
until after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt (1517). Under the Mamluk
dynasty in Cairo, large carpets known as "Mamluk carpets" were
Seljuq invasion and Turko-Persian tradition: 1040–1118
See also: Turkish carpet
Beginning at latest with the Seljuq invasions of Anatolia and
northwestern Persia, a distinct
Turko-Persian tradition emerged.
Fragments of woven carpets were found in the
Alâeddin Mosque in the
Turkish town of
Konya and the
Eşrefoğlu Mosque in Beyşehir, and
were dated to the Anatolian Seljuq Period (1243–1302). More
fragments were found in Fostat, today a suburb of the city of
Cairo. These fragments at least give us an idea how Seluq carpets
may have looked. The Egyptian findings also provide evidence for
export trade. If, and how, these carpets influenced Persian carpet
weaving, remains unknown, as no distinct Persian carpets are known to
exist from this period, or we are unable to identify them. It was
assumed by Western scholars that the Sejuqs may have introduced at
least new design traditions, if not the craft of pile weaving itself,
to Persia, where skilled artisans and craftsmen might have integrated
new ideas into their old traditions.
Carpet fragment from Eşrefoğlu Mosque, Beysehir, Turkey. Seljuq
Period, 13th century.
Seljuq carpet, 320 by 240 centimetres (126 by 94 inches), from the
Alâeddin Mosque, Konya, 13th century
Ilkhanate (1256–1335) and Timurid Empire
A Mongol prince studying the Koran. Illustration of Rashid-ad-Din's
Tabriz (?), 1st quarter of 14th century
Between 1219 and 1221, Persia was raided by the Mongols. After 1260,
the title "Ilkhan" was borne by the descendants of
Hulagu Khan and
later other Borjigin princes in Persia. At the end of the thirteenth
Ghazan Khan built a new capital at Shãm, near Tabriz. He
ordered the floors of his residence to be covered with carpets from
With the death of Ilkhan Abu Said Bahatur in 1335, Mongol rule
faltered and Persia fell into political anarchy. In 1381, Timur
Iran and became the founder of the Timurid Empire. His
successors, the Timurids, maintained a hold on most of
Iran until they
had to submit to the "White Sheep" Turkmen confederation under Uzun
Hassan in 1468; Uzun Hasan and his successors were the masters of Iran
until the rise of the Safavids.
In 1463, the Venetian Senate, seeking allies in the Ottoman–Venetian
War (1463–1479) established diplomatic relations with Uzun Hassans
court at Tabriz. In 1473,
Giosafat Barbaro was sent to Tabriz. In his
reports to the Senate of Venetia he mentions more than once the
splendid carpets which he saw at the palace. Some of them, he wrote,
were of silk.
Ruy González de Clavijo
Ruy González de Clavijo was the ambassador of Henry III of
Castile to the court of Timur, founder and ruler of the Timurid
Empire. He described that in Timur's palace at Samarkand, "everywhere
the floor was covered with carpets and reed mattings". Timurid
period miniatures show carpets with geometrical designs, rows of
octagons and stars, knot forms, and borders sometimes derived from
kufic script. None of the carpets woven before 1500 AD have
Safavid Period (1501–1732)
One of the "Salting" group. Wool, silk and metal thread. Safavid
period, about 1600.
The Rothschild Small
Silk Medallion Carpet, mid-16th century, Museum
of Islamic Art, Doha
Ardabil Carpet at the V&A. Inscription at the top of the field
close to the border.
The Clark 'Sickle-Leaf', vine scroll and palmette carpet, probably
Kirman, 17th century
In 1499, a new dynasty arose in Persia.
Shah Ismail I, its founder,
was related to Uzun Hassan. He is regarded as the first national
sovereign of Persia since the Arab conquest, and established Shi'a
Islam as the state religion of Persia. He and his successors, Shah
Tahmasp I and
Shah Abbas I became patrons of the Persian
Court manufactories were probably established by
Shah Tahmasp in
Tabriz, but definitely by
Shah Abbas when he moved his capital from
Tabriz in northwestern to
Isfahan in central Persia, in the wake of
Safavid War (1603–18). For the art of carpet weaving
in Persia, this meant, as Edwards wrote: "that in a short time it rose
from a cottage métier to the dignity of a fine art."
The time of the
Safavid dynasty marks one of the greatest periods in
Persian art, which includes carpet weaving. Later
carpets still exist, which belong to the finest and most elaborate
weavings known today. The phenomenon that the first carpets physically
known to us show such accomplished designs leads to the assumption
that the art and craft of carpet weaving must already have existed for
some time before the magnificent
Safavid court carpets could have been
woven. As no early
Safavid period carpets survived, research has
focused on Timurid period book illuminations and miniature paintings.
These paintings depict colourful carpets with repeating designs of
equal-scale geometric patterns, arranged in checkerboard-like designs,
with "kufic" border ornaments derived from Islamic calligraphy. The
designs are so similar to period Anatolian carpets, especially to
"Holbein carpets" that a common source of the design cannot be
excluded: Timurid designs may have survived in both the Persian and
Anatolian carpets from the early Safavid, and Ottoman period.
The "design revolution"
By the late fifteenth century, the design of the carpets depicted in
miniatures changed considerably. Large-format medaillons appeared,
ornaments began to show elaborate curvilinear designs. Large spirals
and tendrils, floral ornaments, depictions of flowers and animals,
were often mirrored along the long or short axis of the carpet to
obtain harmony and rhythm. The earlier "kufic" border design was
replaced by tendrils and arabesques. All these patterns required a
more elaborate system of weaving, as compared to weaving straight,
rectilinear lines. Likewise, they require artists to create the
design, weavers to execute them on the loom, and an efficient way to
communicate the artist's ideas to the weaver. Today this is achieved
by a template, termed cartoon (Ford, 1981, p. 170). How
Safavid manufacturers achieved this, technically, is currently
unknown. The result of their work, however, was what Kurt Erdmann
termed the "carpet design revolution".
Apparently, the new designs were developed first by miniature
painters, as they started to appear in book illuminations and on book
covers as early as in the fifteenth century. This marks the first time
when the "classical" design of Islamic rugs was established: The
medaillon and corner design (pers.: "Lechek Torūnj") was first seen
on book covers. In 1522,
Ismail I employed the miniature painter
Kamāl ud-Dīn Behzād, a famous painter of the Herat school, as
director of the royal atelier. Behzad had a decisive impact on the
development of later
Safavid art. The
Safavid carpets known to us
differ from the carpets as depicted in the miniature paintings, so the
paintings cannot support any efforts to differentiate, classify and
date period carpets. The same holds true for European paintings:
Unlike Anatolian carpets, Persian carpets were not depicted in
European paintings before the seventeenth century. As some carpets
Ardabil carpets have inwoven inscriptions including dates,
scientific efforts to categorize and date
Safavid rugs start from
I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold.
There is no protection for my head other than this door.The work of
the slave of the threshold Maqsud of
Kashan in the year 946.
— Inwoven inscription of the
The AH year of 946 corresponds to AD 1539-40, which dates the Ardabil
carpet to the reign of
Shah Tahmasp, who donated the carpet to the
shrine of Shaykh
Safi-ad-din Ardabili in Ardabil, who is regarded as
the spiritual father of the
Another inscription can be seen on the "Hunting Carpet", now at the
Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan, which dates the carpet to 949 AH/AD
By the diligence of Ghyath ud-Din Jami was completed
This renowned work, that appeals to us by its beauty
In the year 949
— Inwoven inscription of the Milan Hunting carpet
Shah 'Abbas I. embassy to Venice, by Carlo Caliari, 1595. Doge's
The number of sources for more precise dating and the attribution of
provenience increase during the 17th century.
Safavid carpets were
presented as diplomatic gifts to European cities and states, as
diplomatic relations intensified. In 1603,
Shah Abbas presented a
carpet with inwoven gold and silver threads to the Venetian doge
Marino Grimani. European noblemen began ordering carpets directly from
the manufactures of
Isfahan and Kashan, whose weavers were willing to
weave specific designs, like European coats of arms, into the
commissioned peces. Their acquisition was sometimes meticulously
documented: In 1601, the Armenian Sefer Muratowicz was sent to Kashan
by the Polish king
Sigismund III Vasa
Sigismund III Vasa in order to commission 8 carpets
with the Polish royal court of arms to be inwoven. The
did so, and on 12 September 1602 Muratowicz presented the carpets to
the Polish king, and the bill to the treasurer of the crown.
Safavid carpets made of silk with inwoven gold and
silver threads were erroneously believed by Western art historians to
be of Polish manufacture. Although the error was corrected, carpets of
this type retained the name of "Polish" or "Polonaise" carpets. The
more appropriate type name of "
Shah Abbas" carpets was suggested by
Safavid carpet weaving
A. C. Edwards opens his book on Persian carpets with the description
of eight masterpieces from this great period:
Ardabil Carpet - Victoria and Albert Museum
Carpet - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Carpet - Victoria and Albert Museum
Allover Animal and Floral
Carpet - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts,
Carpet - Victoria and Albert Museum
Medaillion Animal and Floral
Carpet with Inscription Guard - Museo
Poldi Pezzoli, Milan
Carpet with Animal and Flowers and Inscription
Border - Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 32.16
Medaillon, Animal, and Tree
Carpet - Musée des Arts Décoratifs,
Safavid "Vase technique" carpets from Kirmān
"Sanguszko carpet", Kirmān, 16/17th century. Miho Museum
Tiled arch with hunting scenes. Late 17th century, Isfahan/Iran.
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg
A distinct group of
Safavid carpets can be attributed to the region of
Kirmān in southern Persia. May H. Beattie identified these carpets by
their common structure: Seven different types of carpets were
identified: Garden carpets (depicting formal gardens and water
channels); carpets with centralized designs, characterized by a large
medallion; multiple-medaillon designs with offset medaillons and
compartment repeats; directional designs with the arrangements of
little scenes used as individual motifs; sickle-leaf designs where
long, curved, serrated and sometimes compound leaves dominate the
field; arabesque; and lattice designs. Their distinctive structure
consists of asymmetric knots; the cotton warps are depressed, and
there are three wefts. The first and third weft are made of wool, and
lie hidden in the center of the carpet. The middle weft is of silk or
cotton, and passes from the back to the front. When the carpets are
worn, this third weft evokes a characteristic, "tram line" effect.
The best known "vase technique" carpets from Kirmān are those of the
so-called "Sanguszko group", named after the House of Sanguszko, whose
collection has the most outstanding example. The medallion-and-corner
design is similar to other 16th century
Safavid carpets, but the
colours and style of drawing are distinct. In the central medallion,
pairs of human figures in smaller medallions surround a central animal
combat scene. Other animal combats are depicted in the field, while
horsemen are shown in the corner medallions. The main border also
contains lobed medallions with Houris, animal combats, or confronting
peacocks. In-between the border medallions, phoenixes and dragons are
fighting. By similarity to mosaic tile spandrels in the Ganjali Khan
Complex at the Kirmān bazaar with an inscription recording its date
of completion as 1006 AH/AD 1596, they are dated to the end of the
16th or the beginning of the 17th century. Two other "vase
technique" carpets have inscriptions with a date: One of them bears
the date 1172 AH/AD 1758 and the name of the weaver: the Master
Craftsman Muhammad Sharīf Kirmānī, the other has three inscriptions
indicating that it was woven by the Master Craftsman Mu'min, son of
Qutb al-Dīn Māhānī, between 1066-7 AH/AD 1655-6. Carpets in the
Safavid tradition were still woven in Kirmān after the fall of the
Safavid dynasty in 1732 (Ferrier, 1989, p. 127).
The end of
Shah Abbas II's reign in 1666 marked the beginning of the
end of the
Safavid dynasty. The declining country was repeatedly
raided on its frontiers. Finally, a
Ghilzai Pashtun chieftain named
Mir Wais Khan began a rebellion in
Kandahar and defeated the Safavid
army under the Iranian Georgian governor over the region, Gurgin Khan.
Peter the Great
Peter the Great launched the Russo-Persian War (1722-1723),
capturing many of Iran's Caucasian territories, including Derbent,
Shaki, Baku, but also Gilan,
Mazandaran and Astrabad. In 1722, an
Afghan army led by
Mir Mahmud Hotaki
Mir Mahmud Hotaki marched across eastern Iran, and
besieged and took Isfahan. Mahmud proclaimed himself 'Shah' of Persia.
Meanwhile, Persia's imperial rivals, the Ottomans and the Russians,
took advantage of the chaos in the country to seize more territory for
themselves. With these events, the
Safavid dynasty had come to an
Gallery: Persian carpets from the
Zayn al-'Abidin bin ar-Rahman al-Jami - Early 16th century miniature,
Ardabil Carpet at the LACMA
Carpet (detail), second half of the 16th century, Iran.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
"Vase technique" carpet, Kirmān, 17th century
Persian carpet "Mantes carpet" at The Louvre
Detail of a Persian Animal carpet,
Safavid period, Persia, 16th
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Detail of a Persian Animal carpet,
Safavid period, Persia, 16th
century: Lion and Qilin,
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Afsharid (1736–1796) and Zand (1750–1796) dynasties
North West Persian Runner (detail), late 18th century
Iran's territorial integrity was restored by a native Iranian Turkic
Afshar warlord from Khorasan, Nader Shah. He defeated the Afghans, and
Ottomans, reinstalled the Safavids on the throne, and negotiated
Russian withdrawal from Irans Caucasian territories, by the Treaty of
Resht and Treaty of Ganja. By 1736, Nader himself was crowned shah.
There are no records of carpet weaving, which had sunk to an
insignificant handicraft, during the
Afsharid and Zand dynasties.
The Qajãr dynasty (1789–1925)
Mohammad Khan Qajar
Mohammad Khan Qajar was crowned king of Persia, the founder
of the Qajar dynasty, which provided Persia with a long period of
order and comparative peace, and the industry had an opportunity of
revival. The three important Qajãr monarchs Fath-Ali
Shah Qajar, and
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar
Mozaffar ad-Din Shah Qajar revived the
ancient traditions of the Persian monarchy. The weavers of
the opportunity, and around 1885 became the founders of the modern
industry of carpet weaving in Persia.
Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979)
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, Persia had become a
battleground. In 1917, Britain used
Iran as the springboard for an
attack into Russia in an unsuccessful attempt to reverse the
Soviet Union responded by annexing portions of
northern Persia, creating the Persian Soviet Socialist Republic. By
1920, the Iranian government had lost virtually all power outside its
capital: British and Soviet forces exercised control over most of the
In 1925 Rezā Shāh, supported by the British government, deposed
Shah Qajar, the last
Shah of the Qajar dynasty, and founded the
Pahlavi dynasty. He established a constitutional monarchy that lasted
Iranian Revolution in 1979. Reza
Shah introduced social,
economic, and political reforms, ultimately laying the foundation of
the modern Iranian state. In order to stabilize and legitimate their
reign, Rezā Shāh and his son
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi aimed at reviving
ancient Persian traditions. The revival of carpet weaving, often
referring to traditional designs, was an important part of these
efforts. In 1935, Rezā Shāh founded the
Carpet Company, and
brought carpet weaving under government control. Elaborate carpets
were woven for export, and as diplomatic gifts to other states.
Pahlavi dynasty modernized and centralized the Iranian government,
and sought effective control and authority over all their subjects.
Shah was the first Persian monarch to confront this challenge
with modern weapons. Enforced by the army, nomadism was outlawed
during the 1930s, traditional tribal dresses were banned, the use of
tents and yurts was forbidden in Iran. Unable to migrate, having lost
their herds, many nomadic families starved to death. A brief era of
relative peace followed for the nomadic tribes in the 1940s and 1950s,
when Persia was involved in the Second World War, and Rezā Shāh was
forced to abdicate in 1941. His successor, Mohammed Reza Shah
consolidated his power during the 1950s. His land reform program of
1962, part of the so-called White Revolution, despite obvious
advantages for landless peasants, destroyed the traditional political
organization of nomadic tribes like the Qashqai people, and the
traditional way of nomadic life. The centuries-old traditions of
nomadic carpet weaving, which had entered a process of decline with
the introduction of synthetic dyes and commercial designs in the late
nineteenth century, were almost annihilated by the politics of the
last Iranian imperial dynasty.
Carpet in the Niavaran Palace, Tehran
Carpet in the Niavaran Palace, Tehran
Tabriz Lilac", 2010, by Hossein Rezvani
A modern gabbeh carpet
After the Iranian Revolution, little information could at first be
obtained about carpet weaving in Iran. In the 1970s and 1980s, a new
interest arose in Europe in
Gabbeh rugs, which were initially woven by
nomadic tribes for their own use. Their coarse weaving and simple,
abstract designs appealed to Western customers.
In 1992, the first Grand Persian Conference and Exhibition in Tehran
presented for the first time modern
Persian carpet designs. Persian
master weavers like Razam Arabzadeh displayed carpets woven in the
traditional technique, but with unusual, modern designs. As the
Grand Conferences continue to take place at regular intervals, two
trends can be observed in Iranian carpet weaving today. On the one
hand, modern and innovative artistic designs are invented and
developed by Iranian manufacturers, who thus take the ancient design
tradition forward towards the twenty-first century. On the other hand,
the renewed interest in natural dyes was taken up by commercial
enterprises, which commission carpets to tribal village weavers. This
provides a regular source of income for the carpet weavers. The
companies usually provide the material and specify the designs, but
the weavers are allowed some degree of creative freedom. With the end
of the U.S. embargo on Iranian goods, also Persian carpets (including
antique Persian carpets acquired at auctions) may become more easily
available to U.S. customers again.
As commercial household goods, Persian carpets today are encountering
competition from other countries with lower wages and cheaper methods
of production: Machine-woven, tufted rugs, or rugs woven by hand, but
with the faster and less costly loop weaving method, provide rugs in
"oriental" designs of utilitarian, but no artistic value. Traditional
hand woven carpets, made of sheep wool dyed with natural colours are
increasingly sought after. They are usually sold at higher prices due
to the large amount of manual work associated with their production,
which has, essentially, not changed since ancient times, and due to
the artistic value of their design. Thus, the
Persian carpet retains
its ancient status as an object of luxury, beauty, and art.
In most Persian rugs, the pile is of sheep's wool. Its characteristics
and quality vary from each area to the next, depending on the breed of
sheep, climatic conditions, pasturage, and the particular customs
relating to when and how the wool is shorn and processed.
Different areas of a sheep's fleece yield different qualities of wool,
depending on the ratio between the thicker and stiffer sheep hair and
the finer fibers of the wool. Usually, sheep are shorn in spring and
fall. The spring shear produces wool of finer quality. The lowest
grade of wool used in carpet weaving is "skin" wool, which is removed
chemically from dead animal skin. Higher grades of Persian wool
are often referred to as kurk, or kork wool, which is gained from the
wool growing on the sheep's neck. Modern production also makes use
of imported wool, e.g.
Merino wool from New Zealand, because the high
demand on carpet wool cannot be entirely met by the local production.
Fibers from camels and goats are also used.
Goat hair is mainly used
for fastening the borders, or selvedges, of nomadic rugs like Baluch
rugs, since it is more resistant to abrasion.
Camel wool is
occasionally used in Persian nomadic rugs. It is often dyed in black,
or used in its natural colour. More often, wool said to be camel's
wool turns out to be dyed sheep wool.
Cotton forms the foundation of warps and wefts of the majority of
modern rugs. Nomads who cannot afford to buy cotton on the market use
wool for warps and wefts, which are also traditionally made of wool in
areas where cotton was not a local product.
Cotton can be spun more
tightly than wool, and tolerates more tension, which makes cotton a
superior material for the foundation of a rug. Especially larger
carpets are more likely to lie flat on the floor, whereas wool tends
to shrink unevenly, and carpets with a woolen foundation may buckle
when wet. Chemically treated (mercerised) cotton has been used in
rugs as a silk substitute since the late nineteenth century.
Silk is an expensive material, and has been used for representative
carpets. Its tensile strength has been used in silk warps, but silk
also appears in the carpet pile.
Silk pile can be used to highlight
special elements of the design. High-quality carpets from Kashan, Qum,
Isfahan have all-silk piles.
Silk pile carpets are often
exceptionally fine, with a short pile and an elaborate design. Silk
pile is less resistant to mechanical stress, thus, all-silk piles are
often used as wall hangings, or pillows.
Hand spinning and Spinning (textiles)
S-twist and Z-twist yarns
The fibers of wool, cotton, and silk are spun either by hand or
mechanically by using spinning wheels or industrial spinning machines
to produce the yarn. The direction in which the yarn is spun is called
twist. Yarns are characterized as S-twist or Z-twist according to the
direction of spinning (see diagram). Two or more spun yarns may be
twisted together or plied to form a thicker yarn. Generally, handspun
single plies are spun with a Z-twist, and plying is done with an
S-twist. Like nearly all Islamic rugs with the exception of Mamluk
carpets, nearly all Persian rugs use "Z" (anti-clockwise) spun and "S"
Naturally dyed wool in a
Turkish carpet manufacture
The dyeing process involves the preparation of the yarn in order to
make it susceptible for the proper dyes by immersion in a mordant.
Dyestuffs are then added to the yarn which remains in the dyeing
solution for a defined time. The dyed yarn is then left to dry,
exposed to air and sunlight. Some colours, especially dark brown,
require iron mordants, which can damage or fade the fabric. This often
results in faster pile wear in areas dyed in dark brown colours, and
may create a relief effect in antique oriental carpets.
Traditional dyes used in Persian rugs are obtained from plants and
insects. In 1856, the English chemist
William Henry Perkin
William Henry Perkin invented
the first aniline dye, mauveine. A variety of other synthetic dyes
were invented thereafter. Cheap, readily prepared and easy to use as
they were compared to natural dyes, their use is documented since the
mid 1860s. The tradition of natural dyeing was revived in Turkey in
the early 1980s. Chemical analyses led to the identification of
natural dyes from antique wool samples, and dyeing recipes and
processes were experimentally re-created.
According to these analyses, natural dyes used for carpet wool
Red from Madder (
Rubia tinctorum) roots,
Yellow from plants, including onion (Allium cepa), several chamomile
species (Anthemis, Matricaria chamomilla), and Euphorbia,
Oak acorns, Tanner's sumach,
Green by double dyeing with
Indigo and yellow dye,
Orange by double dyeing with madder red and yellow dye,
Indigo gained from Indigofera tinctoria.
Some of the dyestuffs like indigo or madder were goods of trade, and
thus commonly available. Yellow or brown dyestuffs more substantially
vary from region to region. Many plants provide yellow dyes, like Vine
weld, or Dyer's weed (Reseda luteola), Yellow larkspur, or Dyer's
sumach Cotinus coggygria. Grape leaves and pomegranate rinds, as well
as other plants, provide different shades of yellow.
In Iran, traditional dyeing with natural dyes was revived in the
1990s, inspired by the renewed general interest in traditionally
produced rugs, but master dyers like Abbas Sayahi had kept alive the
knowledge about the traditional recipes.
Carmine dyes are obtained from resinous secretions of scale insects
such as the
Cochineal scale Coccus cacti, and certain Porphyrophora
species (Armenian and Polish cochineal).
Cochineal dye, the so-called
"laq" was formerly exported from India, and later on from Mexico and
the Canary Islands. Insect dyes were more frequently used in areas
where Madder (
Rubia tinctorum) was not grown, like west and north-west
With modern synthetic dyes, nearly every colour and shade can be
obtained so that without chemical analysis it is nearly impossible to
identify, in a finished carpet, whether natural or artificial dyes
were used. Modern carpets can be woven with carefully selected
synthetic colours, and provide artistic and utilitarian value.
The appearance of slight deviations within the same colour is called
abrash (from Turkish abraş, literally, “speckled, piebald”).
Abrash is seen in traditionally dyed oriental rugs. Its occurrence
suggests that a single weaver has likely woven the carpet, who did not
have enough time or resources to prepare a sufficient quantity of dyed
yarn to complete the rug. Only small batches of wool were dyed from
time to time. When one string of wool was used up, the weaver
continued with the newly dyed batch. Because the exact hue of colour
is rarely met again when a new batch is dyed, the colour of the pile
changes when a new row of knots is woven in. As such, the colour
variation suggests a village or tribal woven rug, and is appreciated
as a sign of quality and authenticity. Abrash can also be introduced
on purpose into a newly planned carpet design.
Rubia tinctorum) plant
Indigo, historical dye collection of the Dresden University of
Kermez (Coccus cacti) lice
Section (central medallion) of a South Persian rug, probably Qashqai,
late 19th century, showing irregular blue colours (abrash)
Techniques and structures
Oriental rug § manufacture
The process of weaving a rug
The weaving of pile rugs is a time-consuming process which, depending
on the quality and size of the rug, may take anywhere from a few
months to several years to complete.
To begin making a rug, one needs a foundation consisting of warps and
wefts: Warps are strong, thick threads of cotton, wool or silk which
run through the length of the rug. Similar threads which pass under
and over the warps from one side to the other are called wefts. The
warps on either side of the rug are normally plied into one or more
strings of varying thickness that are overcast to form the selvedge.
Weaving normally begins from the bottom of the loom, by passing a
number of wefts through the warps to form a base to start from. Knots
of dyed wool, cotton or silk threads are then tied in rows around
consecutive sets of adjacent warps. As more rows are tied to the
foundation, these knots become the pile of the rug. Between each row
of knots, one or more shots of weft are passed to keep the knots
fixed. The wefts are then beaten down by a comb-like instrument, the
comb beater, to further compact and secure the newly-woven row.
Depending on the fineness of the weave, the quality of the materials
and the expertise of the weavers, the knot count of a handmade rug can
vary anywhere from 16 to 800 knots per square inch.
When the rug is completed, the warp ends form the fringes that may be
weft-faced, braided, tasseled, or secured in other ways.
Looms do not vary greatly in essential details, but they do vary in
size and sophistication. The main technical requirement of the loom is
to provide the correct tension and the means of dividing the warps
into alternate sets of leaves. A shedding device allows the weaver to
pass wefts through crossed and uncrossed warps, instead of laboriously
threading the weft in and out of the warps.
The simplest form of loom is a horizontal; one that can be staked to
the ground or supported by sidepieces on the ground. The necessary
tension can be obtained through the use of wedges. This style of loom
is ideal for nomadic people as it can be assembled or dismantled and
is easily transportable. Rugs produced on horizontal looms are
generally fairly small and the weave quality is inferior to those rugs
made on a professional standing loom.
The technically more advanced, stationary vertical looms are used in
villages and town manufactures. The more advanced types of vertical
looms are more comfortable, as they allow for the weavers to retain
their position throughout the entire weaving process. The
of vertical loom allows for weaving of carpets up to double the length
of the loom, while there is no limit to the length of the carpet that
can be woven on a vertical roller beam loom. In essence, the width of
the carpet is limited by the length of the loom beams.
There are three general types of vertical looms, all of which can be
modified in a number of ways: the fixed village loom, the
Bunyan loom, and the roller beam loom.
The fixed village loom is used mainly in
Iran and consists of a fixed
upper beam and a moveable lower or cloth beam which slots into two
sidepieces. The correct tension of the warps is obtained by driving
wedges into the slots. The weavers work on an adjustable plank which
is raised as the work progresses.
Tabriz loom, named after the city of Tabriz, is used in
Northwestern Iran. The warps are continuous and pass around behind the
loom. Warp tension is obtained with wedges. The weavers sit on a fixed
seat and when a portion of the carpet has been completed, the tension
is released and the carpet is pulled down and rolled around the back
of the loom. This process continues until the rug is completed, when
the warps are severed and the carpet is taken off the loom.
The roller beam loom is used in larger Turkish manufactures, but is
also found in Persia and India. It consists of two movable beams to
which the warps are attached. Both beams are fitted with ratchets or
similar locking devices. Once a section of the carpet is completed, is
rolled on to the lower beam. On a roller beam loom, any length of
carpet can be produced. In some areas of Turkey several rugs are woven
in series on the same warps, and separated from each other by cutting
the warps after the weaving is finished.
Some traditional tools of the craft.
The weaver needs a number of essential tools: a knife for cutting the
yarn as the knots are tied; a heavy comb-like instrument with a handle
for packing down the wefts; and a pair of shears for trimming the pile
after a row of knots, or a small number of rows, have been woven. In
Tabriz the knife is combined with a hook to tie the knots, which
speeds up work. A small steel comb is sometimes used to comb out the
yarn after each row of knots is completed.
A variety of additional instruments are used for packing the weft.
Some weaving areas in
Iran known for producing very fine pieces use
additional tools. In Kerman, a saber like instrument is used
horizontally inside the shed. In Bijar, a nail-like tool is inserted
between the warps, and beaten on in order to compact the fabric even
Bijar is also famous for their wet loom technique, which
consists of wetting the warp, weft, and yarn with water throughout the
weaving process to compact the wool and allow for a particularly heavy
compression of the pile, warps, and wefts. When the rug is complete
and dried, the wool and cotton expand, which results in a very heavy
and stiff texture.
Bijar rugs are not easily pliable without damaging
A number of different tools may be used to shear the wool depending on
how the rug is trimmed as the weaving progresses or when the rug is
complete. Often in Chinese rugs the yarn is trimmed after completion
and the trimming is slanted where the color changes, giving an
embossed three-dimensional effect.
Main article: Knotted-pile carpet
Persian carpets are mainly woven with two different knots: The
symmetrical Turkish or "Giordes" knot, also used in Turkey, the
Caucasus, East Turkmenistan, and some Turkish and Kurdish areas of
Iran, and the asymmetrical Persian, or Senneh knot, also used in
India, Turkey, Pakistan, China, and Egypt. The term "Senneh knot" is
somewhat misleading, as rugs are woven with symmetric knots in the
town of Senneh.
To tie a symmetric knot, the yarn is passed between two adjacent
warps, brought back under one, wrapped around both forming a collar,
then pulled through the center so that both ends emerge between the
The asymmetric knot is tied by wrapping the yarn around only one warp,
then the thread is passed behind the adjacent warp so that it divides
the two ends of the yarn. The Persian knot may open on the left or the
The asymmetric knot allows to produce more fluent, often curvilinear
designs, while more bold, rectilinear designs may use the symmetric
knot. As exemplified by Senneh rugs with their elaborate designs woven
with symmetric knots, the quality of the design depends more on the
weaver's skills, than on the type of knot which is used.
Another knot frequently used in Persian carpets is the Jufti knot,
which is tied around four warps instead of two. A serviceable
carpet can be made with jufti knots, and jufti knots are sometimes
used in large single-colour areas of a rug, for example in the field,
to save on material. However, as carpets woven wholly or partly with
the jufti knot need only half the amount of pile yarn compared to
traditionally woven carpets, their pile is less resistant to wear, and
these rugs do not last as long.
Turkish (symmetric) knot
Persian (asymmetric) knot, open to the right
Variants of the "Jufti" knot woven around four warps
Weaving with one warp depressed
Knitting an asymmetric knot, open to the right, with a knitting hook
similar to the
Kilim end and fringes
Flat woven carpets are given their colour and pattern from the weft
which is tightly intertwined with the warp. Rather than an actual
pile, the foundation of these rugs gives them their design. The weft
is woven between the warp until a new colour is needed, it is then
looped back and knotted before a new colour is implemented.
The most popular of flat-weaves is called the Kilim.
Kilim rugs (along
with jewellery, clothing and animals) are important for the identity
and wealth of nomadic tribes-people. In their traditional setting
Kilims are used as floor and wall coverings, horse-saddles, storage
bags, bedding and cushion covers.
Various forms of flat-weaves exist including:
Kermanshah 'Tree of Life' carpet, 3rd quarter 19th century
Iran had 40 carpet designs that each belong to a different
geographical region including 29 designs internationally registered
with the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Formats and special types
Ghali (Persian: قالی, lit. "carpet"): large format carpets (190 ×
Dozar or Sedjadeh: The term comes from Persian do, "two" and zar, a
Persian measure corresponding to about 105 centimetres (41 inches).
Carpets of Dozar size are approximately 130–140 cm
(51–55 in) x 200–210 cm (79–83 in).
Ghalitcheh (Persian: قالیچه):
Carpet of Dozar format, but woven
in very fine quality.
Kelleghi or Kelley : A long format, ca. 150–200 cm
(59–79 in) x 300–600 cm (120–240 in). This format
is traditionally placed at the head of a ghali carpet (kalleh means
"head" in Persian).
Kenareh : Smaller long format: 80–120 cm (31–47 in)
× 250–600 cm (98–236 in). Traditionally laid out along
the longer sides of a larger carpet (kenār means "side" in Persian
Zaronim : corresponds to 1 ½ zar. These smaller rugs are about
150 cm (59 in) long.
Nomadic carpets are also known as
Gelim (گلیم; including زیلو
Zilu, meaning "rough carpet". In this use,
Gelim includes both pile
rugs and flat weaves (such as kilim and soumak).
Field design, medallions and borders
Toranj (medallion) - special circular design of Iranian carpets
Rug design can be described by the way the ornaments are arranged
within the pile. One basic design may dominate the entire field, or
the surface may be covered by a pattern of repeating figures.
In areas with traditional, time-honoured local designs, such as the
Persian nomad tribes, the weaver is able to work from memory, as the
specific patterns are part of the family or tribal tradition. This is
usually sufficient for less elaborate, mostly rectilinear designs. For
more elaborate, especially curvilinear designs, the patterns are
carefully drawn to scale in the proper colours on graph paper. The
resulting design plan is termed a "cartoon". The weaver weaves a knot
for each square on the scale paper, which allows for an accurate
rendition of even the most complex designs. Designs have changed
little through centuries of weaving. Today computers are used in the
production of scale drawings for the weavers.
The surface of the rug is arranged and organized in typical ways,
which in all their variety are nevertheless recognizable as Persian:
One single, basic design may cover the entire field ("all-over
design"). When the end of the field is reached, patterns may be cut
off intentionally, thus creating the impression that they continue
beyond the borders of the rug. This feature is characteristic for
Islamic design: In the Islamic tradition, depicting animals or humans
is prohibited even in a profane context, as
Islam does not distinguish
between religious and profane life. Since the codification of the
Uthman Ibn Affan in 651 AD/19 AH and the Umayyad Abd al-Malik
ibn Marwan reforms,
Islamic art has focused on writing and ornament.
The main fields of Persian rugs are frequently filled with redundant,
interwoven ornaments, often in form of elaborate spirals and tendrils
in a manner called infinite repeat.
Design elements may also be arranged more elaborately. One typical
oriental rug design uses a medallion, a symmetrical pattern occupying
the center of the field. Parts of the medallion, or similar,
corresponding designs, are repeated at the four corners of the field.
The common Persian "Lechek Torūnj" (medaillon and corner) design was
developed in Persia for book covers and ornamental book illuminations
in the fifteenth century. In the sixteenth century, it was integrated
into carpet designs. More than one medallion may be used, and these
may be arranged at intervals over the field in different sizes and
shapes. The field of a rug may also be broken up into different
rectangular, square, diamond or lozenge shaped compartments, which in
turn can be arranged in rows, or diagonally.
In contrast to Anatolian rugs, the
Persian carpet medaillon represents
the primary pattern, and the infinite repeat of the field appears
subordinate, creating an impression of the medaillon "floating" on the
In most Persian rugs, the field of the rug is surrounded by stripes,
or borders. These may number from one up to over ten, but usually
there is one wider main border surrounded by minor, or guardian
borders. The main border is often filled with complex and elaborate
rectilinear or curvilinear designs. The minor border stripes show
simpler designs like meandering vines. The traditional Persian border
arrangement was highly conserved through time, but can also be
modified to the effect that the field encroaches on the main border.
This feature is often seen in
Kerman rugs from the late nineteenth
century, and was likely taken over from French Aubusson or Savonnerie
The corner articulations are a particularly challenging part of rug
design. The ornaments have to be woven in a way that the pattern
continues without interruption around the corners between horizontal
and vertical borders. This requires advance planning either by a
skilled weaver who is able to plan the design from start, or by a
designer who composes a cartoon before the weaving begins. If the
ornaments articulate correctly around the corners, the corners are
termed to be "resolved", or "reconciled". In village or nomadic rugs,
which are usually woven without a detailed advance plan, the corners
of the borders are often not resolved. The weaver then discontinues
the pattern at a certain stage, e.g., when the lower horizontal border
is finished, and starts anew with the vertical borders. The analysis
of the corner resolution helps distinguishing rural village, or
nomadic, from workshop rugs.
Basic design elements of an Oriental carpet
Book binding from Collected Works (Kulliyat), 10th century AH/AD 16th,
Heriz region, Northwest Persia, circa 1875, with
predominantly rectilinear design
Corner articulations in Oriental rugs
Smaller and composite design elements
The field, or sections of it, can also be covered with smaller design
elements. The overall impression may be homogeneous, although the
design of the elements themselves can be highly complicated. Amongst
the repeating figures, the boteh is used throughout the "carpet belt".
Boteh can be depicted in curvilinear or rectilinear style. The most
elaborate boteh are found in rugs woven around Kerman. Rugs from
Seraband, Hamadan, and Fars sometimes show the boteh in an all-over
pattern. Other design elements include ancient motifs like the Tree of
life, or floral and geometric elements like, e.g., stars or palmettes.
Single design elements can also be arranged in groups, forming a more
The Herati pattern consists of a lozenge with floral figure at the
corners surrounded by lancet-shaped leaves sometimes called "fish".
Herati patterns are used throughout the "carpet belt"; typically, they
are found in the fields of Bidjar rugs.
The Mina Khani pattern is made up of flowers arranged in a rows,
interlinked by diamond (often curved) or circular lines. frequently
all over the field. The Mina Khani design is often seen on Varamin
Shah Abbasi design is composed of a group of palmettes. Shah
Abbasi motifs are frequently seen in Kashan, Isfahan,
Mashhad and Nain
The Bid Majnūn, or Weeping Willow design is in fact a combination of
weeping willow, cypress, poplar and fruit trees in rectilinear form.
Its origin was attributed to Kurdish tribes, as the earliest known
examples are from the Bidjar area.
The Harshang or Crab design takes its name from its principal motive,
which is a large oval motive suggesting a crab. The pattern is found
all over the rug belt, but bear some resemblance to palmettes from the
Safavid period, and the "claws" of the crab may be conventionalized
arabesques in rectilinear style.
The Gol Henai small repeating pattern is named after the Henna plant,
which it does not much resemble. The plant looks more like the Garden
balsam, and in the Western literature is sometimes compared to the
blossom of the Horse chestnut.
Common motifs in Persian carpets
Bidjar rug with Herati pattern
Pictorial carpet with Tree of life, birds, plants, flowers and vase
Safavid period carpet (detail):
Shah Abbasi motif
Karaja carpet with Bid Majnūn, or "weeping willow" design
Bijar Rug with Bid Majnūn, or "weeping willow" design
Carpet from Varamin with the Mina Khani motif
Quran verses are woven into a Persian carpet
Persian carpets are best classified by the social context of their
weavers. Carpets were produced simultaneously by nomadic tribes, in
villages, town and court manufactures, for home use, local sale, or
Nomadic, or tribal carpets are produced by different ethnic groups
with distinct histories and traditions. As the nomadic tribes
originally wove carpets mainly for their own use, their designs have
maintained much of the tribal traditions. However, during the
twentieth century, the nomadic lifestyle was changed to a more
sedentary way either voluntarily, or by the forced settlement policy
of the last Persian emperors of the Pahlavi dynasty. By 1970, it was
observed that traditional weaving had almost ceased among major
nomadic tribes, but in recent years, the tradition has been
Technical characteristics of Persian nomadic carpets
Bakhtiari & Luri
Qashqai & Khamseh
symmetric and asymmetric, open to the left
symmetric and asymmetric, open to the right
mainly asymmetric open left, few open right or symmetric
Warps and wefts
Wool, sometimes cotton. Warps white or brown, wefts brown or red
Wool, goat hair, cotton. Warps brown or white, wefts brown or red.
Cotton, wefts sometimes blue
Wool, warps white (Q.) or white and brown (Kh.), wefts natural colours
or red (Q.), or red and brown (Kh.)
Wool, warps white and brown, wefts orange red or pink
Warps white, wfts dark brown, later cotton
overcast and reinforced
dark brown or goat hair, reinforced
reinforced, black wool
reinforced, two colours (Q.), overcast and reinforced, natural or dyed
reinforced with dyed wool
overcast in brown wool or goat hair
Kilim, 2 cm (0.79 in) to very long
Kilim, 2–8 cm (0.79–3.15 in), natural colours or stripes
Kilim, 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in)
Kilim, 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in), interlaced or brocaded
Kilim, 2–15 cm (0.79–5.91 in), natural colours or dyed
2–25 cm (0.79–9.84 in), coloured stripes and brocaded
yellow, natural or corrosive brown
dark blue, bright red, strong yellow
dark blue, bright red, strong yellow
bright, shining red, different hues of blue, scarcely yellow, green
red changing into yellow, salmon red
Kurds are an ethnic group, mostly inhabiting the area spanning
adjacent parts of southeastern (Turkey), western (Iran), northern
(Iraq), and northern (Syria). The large population and the wide
geographical distribution of the
Kurds account for a varied production
spanning a spectre from coarse and naïve nomadic weavings to the most
elaborate town manufacture carpets, finely woven like Senneh, or heavy
Bijar carpets. Although
Kurdish rugs represent a
traditional part of Persian rug production, they merit separate
The city of Sanandij, formerly known as Senneh, is the capital of
Persian Kurdistan. The rugs produced here are still known, also in the
Iran of today, under their trade name "Senneh". They belong to the
most finely woven Persian rugs, with knot counts up to 400 per square
inch (6200/ dm2). The pile is closely clipped, and the foundation
is cotton, also silk was used in antique carpets. Some fine carpets
have silk warps dyed in different colours which create fringes in
different colours known as "rainbow warps" in the rug trade. Mostly
blue colours are used in the field, or a pale red. The predominant
pattern used to be the Herati pattern, with a lozenge-shaped central
medallion also filled with repeating Herati patterns on a different
background colour. More realistic floral patterns are also seen,
probably in rugs woven for export to Europe.
The town of
Bijar lies around 80 kilometres (50 miles) northeast of
Sanadij. Together, these two towns and their surrounding areas have
been major centers of rug production since the eighteenth century.
Carpets woven in
Bijar and the surrounding villages show more varied
designs than Senneh rugs, which has led to the distinction between
"city" and "village"
Bijar rugs. The
Bijar rug is distinguished by its
highly packed pile, which is produced by a special technique known as
"wet weaving", with the help of a special tool. Warps, weft and pile
are constantly kept wet during the weaving process. When the finished
carpet is allowed to dry, the wool expands, and the fabric becomes
more compact. The fabric is further compacted by vigorous hammering on
nail-like metal devices which are inserted between the warps during
the weaving. Alternate warps are moderately to deeply depressed. The
fabric is further compacted by using wefts of different thickness.
Usually one of three wefts is consideravly thicker than the others.
The knots are symmetrical, at a density of 60 to over 200 per square
inch (930–2100/ dm2), rarely even over 400 (6200/ dm2).
The colours of
Bijar rugs are exquisite, with light and dark blues,
and saturated to light, pale madder red. The designs are traditionally
Persian, with predominant Herati, but also Mina Khani, Harshang, and
simple medallion forms. Frequently the design is more rectilinear, but
Bijar rugs are more easily identified by their peculiar, stiff and
heavy weaving than by any design.
Bijar rugs cannot be folded without
risking to damage the foundation. A specific feature is also the lack
of outlining, particularly of the smaller patterns. Full-size
"sampler" carpets showing only examples of field and border designs
rather than a fully developed carpet design are called "vagireh" by
rug traders, and are frequently seen in the
Bijar area. New Bijar
carpets are still exported from the area, mostly with less elaborate
Herati designs and dyed with good synthetic dyes.
Kurdish village rugs
From a Western perspective, there is not much detailed information
about Kurdish village rugs, probably because there is insufficient
information to identify them, as they have never been specifically
collected in the West. Usually, rugs can only be identified as
"northwest Persian, probably Kurdish". As is generally the case
with village and nomadic rugs, the foundation of village rugs is more
predominantly of wool. Kurdish sheep wool is of high quality, and
takes dyes well. Thus, a rug with the distinct features of "village
production", made of high-quality wool with particularly fine colours
may be attributed to Kurdish production, but mostly these attributions
remain educated guesswork. Extensive use of common rug patterns and
designs poses further difficulty in assigning a specific regional or
tribal provenience. A tendency of integrating regional traditions of
the surrounding areas, like Anatolian or northwestern Persian designs
was observed, which sometimes show distinct, unusual design variations
leading to suggest a Kurdish production from within the adjacent
areas. Also, northwestern Persian towns like Hamadan, Zenjan or Sauj
Bulagh may have used "Kurdish" design features in the past, but modern
production on display at the Grand Persian Exhibitions seems to focus
on different designs.
Qashqai bag front
Central medallion of a Qashqai rug, 19th century, with fragmented
The early history of the
Qashqai people remains obscure. They speak a
Turkic dialect similar to that of Azerbaijan, and may have migrated to
Fars province from the north during the thirteenth century,
possibly driven by the Mongol invasion.
Karim Khan Zand appointed the
chief of the Chahilu clan as the first Il-Khan of the Qashqai. The
most important subtribes are the Qashguli, Shishbuluki, Darashuri,
Farsimadan, and Amaleh. The Gallanzan, Rahimi, and Ikdir produce rugs
of intermediate quality. The rugs woven by the Safi Khani and Bulli
subtribes are considered among the highest quality rugs. The rugs
are all wool, usually with ivory warps, which distinguishes Qashqai
Khamseh rugs. Qashqai rugs use asymmetric knots, while Gabbeh
rugs woven by Qashqai more often use symmetric knots. Alternate warps
are deeply depressed. Wefts are in natural colours or dyed red. The
selvedges are overcast in wool of different colours, creating a
"barber pole" pattern, and are sometimes adorned with woolen tassels.
Both ends of the rug have narrow, striped flat-woven kilims. Workshops
were established in the nineteenth century already around the town of
Firuzabad. Rugs with repeating boteh and the Herati pattern,
medallion, as well as prayer rug designs resembling the millefleurs
patterns of Indian rugs were woven in these manufactures. The Herati
design may sometimes appear to be disjointed and fragmented. The
Qashqai are also known for their flatweaves, and for their production
of smaller, pile-woven saddle bags, flat-woven larger bags (mafrash),
The Shishbuluki (lit.: "six districts") rugs are distinguished by
small, central, lozenge-shaped medallions surrounded by small figures
aligned in concentric lozenges radiating from the center. The field is
most often red, details are often woven in yellow or ivory. Darashuri
rugs are similar to those of the Shishbuluki, but not so finely
As the truly nomadic way of life has virtually come to an end during
the twentieth century, most Qashqai rugs are now woven in villages,
using vertical looms, cotton warps, or even an all-cotton foundation.
They use a variety of designs associated with the Qashqai tradition,
but it is rarely possible to attribute a specific rug to a specific
tribal tradition. Many patterns, including the "Qashqai medallion"
previously thought to represent genuine nomadic design traditions,
have been shown to be of town manufacture origin, and were integrated
into the rural village traditions by a process of stylization.
The revival of natural dyeing has had a major impact on Qashqai rug
production. Initiated in
Shiraz during the 1990s by master dyers as
Abbas Sayahi, particularly
Gabbeh rugs raised much interest when
they were first presented at the Great Persian Exhibition in 1992.
Initially woven for home use and local trade, coarsely knotted with
symmetric knots, the colours initially seen were mostly natural shades
of wool. With the revival of natural colours,
Gabbeh from Fars
province soon were produced in a full range of colours. They met the
Western demand for primitive, naïve folk art as opposed to elaborate
commercialized designs, and gained high popularity. In the commercial
production of today, the
Gabbeh rug patterns remain simple, but tend
to show more modern types of design.
A rug by
Khamseh (lit.: "five tribes") federation was established by the
Persian Qajar government in the nineteenth century, to rival the
dominant Qashqai power. Five tribal groups of Arab, Persian and Turkic
origin were combined, including the Arab tribe, the Basseri, Baharlu,
Ainalu, and Nafar tribes. It is difficult to attribute a specific
rug to the
Khamseh production, and the label "Khamseh" is often used
as a term of convenience. Dark woolen warps and borders are associated
Khamseh rugs, warps are rarely depressed, the colour scheme
is more subdued. Specifically, a stylized bird ("murgh") pattern is
often seen on rugs attributed to the confederation, arranged around a
succession of small, lozenge shaped medallions.
Basseri rugs are
asymmetrically knotted, brighter in colours, with more open space and
smaller ornaments and figure with Orange as the specific color.
The Baharlu are a Turkic-speaking tribe settled around Darab, and few
carpets are known from this more agricultural region.
Lurs live mainly in western and south-western Iran. They are of
Indo-European origin. Their dialect is closely related to the
Bakhtiari dialect and to the dialect of the southern Kurds. Their rugs
have been marketed in Shiraz. The rugs have a dark wool foundation,
with two wefts after each row of knots. Knots are symmetrical or
asymmetrical. Small compartment designs of repeating stars are often
seen, or lozenge-shaped medallions with anchor-like hooks on both
See also: Afshar rugs
Afshar people are a semi-nomadic group of Turkic origin,
principally located in the mountainous areas surrounding the modern
Kirman in southeastern Iran. They produce mainly rugs in
runner formats, and bags and other household items with rectilinear or
curvilinear designs, showing both central medallions and allover
patterns. Colours are bright and pale red. The flat-woven ends often
show multiple narrow stripes.
See also: Baluch rug
Beluch people live in eastern Iran. They weave small-format rugs
and a variety of bags with dark red and blue colours, often combined
with dark brown and white.
Camel hair is also used.
Carpets produced in villages are usually brought to a regional market
center, and carry the name of the market center as a label. Sometimes,
as in the case of the "Serapi" rug, the name of the village serves as
a label for a special quality. Village carpets can be identified by
their less elaborate, more highly stylized designs.
Criteria suggesting village production include:
A rug of so-called scatter-size (dozar) that has been woven in a
woven without a cartoon;
woven without reconciled corners;
woven with possible idiosyncrasies of construction and pattern
Village rugs are more apt to have warps of wool rather than of cotton.
Their designs are not as elaborate and ornate than the curvilinear
patterns of city rugs. They are more likely to display abrash and
conspicuous mistakes in detail. On simple vertical looms, the correct
tension of the warps is difficult to maintain during the entire
weaving process. So, village rugs tend to vary in width from end to
end, have irregular sides, and may not lay entirely flat. In contrast
to manufactory rugs, there is considerable variety in treating the
selvedges and fringes. Village rugs are less likely to present
depressed warps, as compared to manufactory rugs. They tend to make
less use of flat woven kilim ends to finish off the ends of the rug,
as compared to tribal rugs. The variation in treatment of fringes and
ends, and the way the selvedges are treated, provide clues as to place
Main articles: Azerbaijani carpet,
Ardabil rugs, and Caucasian carpets
Tabriz is the market center for the Iranian Northwest. Carpets woven
in this region mainly use the symmetric knot.
Heriz is a local center
of production for mainly room-size carpets. Warps and weft are of
cotton, the weaving is rather coarse, with high-quality wool.
Prominent central medaillons are frequently seen with rectilinear
outlines highlighted in white. The ornaments of the field are in bold,
rectilinear style, sometimes in an allover design. Higher quality
Heriz carpets are known as Serapi. The village of Sarab produces
runners and galleries with broad main borders either of camel hair or
wool dyed in the colour of camel hair. Large, interconnected
medaillons fill the field. Mostly rectilinear, geometric and floral
patterns are dyed in pink red and blue. Bakshaish carpets with a
shield-shaped large medaillon, less elaborate rectilinear patterns in
salmon red and blue are labeled after the village of Bakhshayesh.
Karadja produces runners with specific square and octagonal medaillons
Major production centers in the West are Hamadan, Saruk with its
neighbouring town of Arak, Minudasht also known under the trade name
Lilihan and Serabend, Maslaghan,
Malayer and Feraghan.
Carpets from Maslaghan are usually small (120 × 180 cm), the
warps are made of cotton, the wefts of wool or cotton. The large
medaillon shows a so-called "lobed Göl", the colours of which are in
sharp contrast to the field, with small borders. Malayer, Sarouk and
Feraghan are located closely to each other. They use cotton for the
Malayer carpets sre distinguished by their single-weft and the use of
the symmetrical knot. Allover and medaillon patterns are common, the
boteh motif is frequently used.
The original Sarouk design was distinguished by a round-star medaillon
with surrounding pendants. The traditional design of the Sarouk rug
was modified by the weavers towards an allover design of detached
floral motives, the carpets were then chemically washed to remove the
unwanted colours, and the pile was painted over again with more
desirable colours. Feraghan carpets are less finely woven thsn
Sarouk. Often the Herati pattern is seen all over. Medaillons, if they
occur, show more geometrical designs. A corroding green dye is typical
for Feraghan carpets.
Since the mid-twentieth century, commercial production started in the
villages of Abadeh and Yalameh. Abadeh rugs adopted traditional
Qashqai designs, but used cotton for warps and wefts, the latter often
dyed in blue. Yalameh carpets more resemble
Khamseh designs with
hooked medaillons arranged in the field. Warps and wefts were often in
The village of Doroksh is known for its carpet production in Eastern
Persia. They are characterized by their use of orange dyes, the boteh
motif is often seen. Usually, there is only one border. The knots are
Weaving a carpet from a cartoon, Esfahan, Iran
Tabriz in the West,
Kerman in the South, and
Mashhad in the Northeast
of Iran, together with the central Iranian towns of Kashan, Isfahan,
Qom are the main centers of town manufacture.
Tabriz has been a center of carpet production for centuries. All kinds
of designs are reproduced by Tabrizi weavers, with wool or silk in the
pile, and wool, cotton or silk in the foundation.
Kerman is known for finely knotted, elegant carpets with prominent
cochineal red, ivory and golden yellow colours. Their medaillons are
elegantly designed, and elaborate versions of the boteh design are
often seen in the field.
Mashhad carpets are of average quality.
Cochineal red is often used.
Emogli carpets are made of silk, and represent the finest carpets
manufactured in Mashhad. They show dense arabesque patterns on red
Kashan is the oldest carpet-producing city in Central Iran. Famous for
its production of silk carpets, carpet weaving was revived in the late
19th century. The earliest carpets woven in
Kashan at the turn of the
nineteenth century show some imbalances in their designs, which was
overcome, and carpets were produced mainly with a red or ivory field
and elaborate ogival central medallions.
Isfahan, Nain, and
Qom revived or started carpet manufacture by the
mid-twentieth century. All-silk, or silk pile on cotton foundation
carpets are produced with asymmetrical knots. Their design is often
Safavid designs. Carpets from
Qom and Nain often have
richly decorated medaillons, and tender light blue and ivory colours.
Isfahan carpets use more dark red and blue colours.
Persian carpet exhibition in city of
Hamadan in 2015.
Iran exported $517 million worth of hand woven carpets in 2002. Iran's
carpet exports amounted to US$635 million in 2004[needs update],
according to the figures from the state-owned
Carpet Company. In
October 2006, National Iranian
Carpet Center revealed that hand-woven
carpets have ranked first in country's non-oil exports and hold the
third position among overall exports. Nearly five million workers are
engaged in the Iranian carpet industry, making it one of the biggest
enterprises in the country.
In recent times Iranian carpets have come under fierce competition
from other countries producing fakes of the original Persian designs
as well as genuine cheaper substitutes. Most of the problems facing
this traditional art is due to absence of patenting and branding the
products as well as reduced quality of raw materials in the local
market and the consistent loss of original design patterns. The
absence of modern R&D is causing rapid decline in the size as well
as market value of this art.
In 2008, Iran’s exports of hand-woven carpets was $420 million or
30% of the world's market. There are an estimated 1.2 million
Iran producing carpets for domestic markets and
Iran exports carpets to more than 100
countries, as hand-woven rugs are one of its main non-oil export
items. United States is the single largest importer of Persian hand
woven carpets. In 2011, President Obama signed into law an act that
greatly enhanced restrictions on Iranian-origin imports, causing the
imports of Iranian carpets to be frozen. In January 2016, the
sanctions had been lifted and in the first quarter Iran's exports of
carpets had amounted to $60 million. The country produces about
five million square metres of carpets annually—79 percent of which
are sold in international markets. In recent times Iranian carpets
have come under fierce competition from other countries producing
reproductions of the original Iranian designs as well as cheaper
The designs of Persian carpets are copied by weavers from other
countries as well.
Iran is also the world's largest producer and
exporter of handmade carpets, producing three quarters of the world's
total output. Though in recent times, this ancient
tradition has come under stiff competition from machine-made
The most famous
Persian carpet is the
Ardabil Carpet, in the Victoria
and Albert Museum in London, which in fact is now a combination of two
original carpets, with another piece from the second in Los
Angeles. This has been the subject of endless copies ranging in
size from small to full scale. There is an 'Ardabil' at 10 Downing
Street, and even
Hitler had an 'Ardabil' in his office in
The most expensive carpet of the world is a 17th-century Persian vase
style carpet, afshar collection which was sold in June 2013 in an
London auction for $33.8m.
Carpet of Wonder" in the
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat, in
the Sultanate of Oman, measures 4,343 square metres (46,750 square
feet). Its construction required four years of labour by 600 workers,
resulting in 12 million man hours of work.
Iran is also the maker of the largest handmade carpet in history,
measuring 5,624.9 square metres (60,545.9 square feet).
Kilim or Kelim)
Carpet Museum of Iran
The Poot (
Persian carpet documentary)
Essie Sakhai (
Persian carpet expert)
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^ Kohanjournal.com Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Erug.com Archived 2006-09-02 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Tourismiran.ir Archived 2010-04-02 at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b Hillyer, L. & Pretzel, B. "The
Ardabil Carpet - a new
perspective". Conservation Journal. V&A Museum (49). Retrieved
January 29, 2007. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
^ Wearden, J. (1995). "The Surprising Geometry of the
Abstracts from the Ars Textrina Conference. Leeds.
^ "US-Canada". BBCNews.com.
^ "Rug 990". Persian
^ "Iran-picture". National Geographic News. August 7, 2007.
^ B.B. Timberlake (10 March 2006). "In love with the fabric of life".
Financial Times. Sakhai has spent a life in rugs. He comes from a
family of Tehran Jews and has that bewitching contentment of a man
lucky enough to have made a living from his passion. He has written
numerous books on rugs and advises many museums and collectors. His
main store is on Piccadilly overlooking St. James's Palace </
Oriental rug § Literature
Essie Sakhai:Persian Rugs and Carpets: The Fabric of Life, Antique
Collectors' Club Ltd, Suffolk, England, 2008
Essie Sakhai:Oriental Carpets: a buyer's guide, Parkway Editions LTD,
London, England, 1995 ISBN 1-898259-15-1
Essie Sakhai:The Story of Carpets, Random House UK Ltd, London,
England, 1991 ISBN 1-85170727-1
Jenny Housego: Tribal Rugs: An Introduction to the
Weaving of the
Tribes of Iran, Scorpion Publications, London 1978
Ulrich Schurmann: Oriental Carpets, Octopus Books Limited, London 1979
Ian Bennett: Oriental Rugs, Volume One: Caucasian, Oriental Textile
Press Ltd, England, 1981 ISBN 978-0-902028-58-6
Jan David Winitz: The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug, The Breema
Rug Study Society & Dennis Anderson Photo-Publishing, Oakland,
1984 ISBN 0-930021-002
Andrew Middleton: Rugs & Carpets: Techniques, Traditions &
Designs, Mitchell Beazley, London 1996 ISBN 1-85732-634-2
Ulrich Schurmann: Caucasian Rugs, Washington International Associates,
Accokeek, Maryland, 1974 ISBN 0-915036-00-2
James D. Burns: Visions of Nature: The Antique Weavings of Persia,
Umbrage Editions, Iceland, 2010 ISBN 978-1-884167-23-2
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Persian rugs.
Persian Rugs - Part I Part II Part III (
Rugs and carpets
James F. Ballard
Sir Francis Crossley
Arthur T. Gregorian
George H. Myers
Arthur Upham Pope
Wilhelm von Bode
Charles T. Yerkes
Carpet Museum of Iran
Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
Brukenthal National Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Museum of Applied Arts (Budapest)
Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Museum of Islamic Art, Doha
Museo Poldi Pezzoli
Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs, Lyon
Textile Museum (Washington, D.C.)
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
Dry carpet cleaning
Ghiordes and Senneh knots
Warp and woof
A & M Karagheusian
Carpets in culture
Early Anatolian Animal carpets
Tree of life
Oriental carpets in Renaissance painting
Armenian Orphan Rug
UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and
Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Iran
Inscribed in 2009
The Radif of Iranian music
Novruz, Nowrouz, Nooruz, Navruz, Nauroz, Nevruz
Inscribed in 2010
Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan
Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars
The ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye
Pahlevani and zoorkhaneh rituals
The music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan
Inscribed in 2011
Traditional skills of building and sailing
Iranian Lenj boats in the Persian Gulf
Naqqāli, Iranian dramatic s