Ardabil in north-western Iran which has a long and illustrious history of carpet weaving using Azerbaijani knots. An Ardabil measuring 34 by 17 feet displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is one of the most admired carpets in the world. Ardabil rugs use predominantly geometric Caucasian designs, but with more medallion motifs in the borders and lighter colours. The warp is mostly cotton, while the weft is either cotton or wool, although silk is also used.
The city and province of Isfahan produce some of the finest Persian carpets in that they have fine detail, whether the pile is made of wool or silk. The foundation is often made of pure silk. The design of Isfahan rugs tends to be symmetrical, with frequently a single medallion surrounded by floral vines. Tree-of-life schemes are also a common pattern. Isfahan weavers use Persian knots. Popular colours are blue, rose, indigo and ivory for the background.
Kashan (also: Keshan) is an important centre for carpet production in Iran. The golden age of Kashan was during the 16th and 17th cen- turies, after which it suffered about a 250-year decline, with production ceasing after the Afghan invasion of 1722. Kashan began emerging again as a leading weaving centre in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time, Australian wool spun in Manchester, England was used. These “Manchester Kashans” had a glossy sheen to their finish and their floral designs were frequently on a red background. Contemporary Kashans are woven on a cotton foundation, are double-wefted, and have around 200 knots per square inch. Their primary design includes a diamond-shaped medallion with pendants at top and bottom.
The picturesque city of Nain is close to the western edge of the great Dasht-e Kavir desert in Iran, 200 kilometres east of Isfahan. Nain rugs are famous for the high quality of their constituent materials as well as for their workmanship. Their knot density is high; often more than one million knots per square meter. The material in the more exclusive carpets consists of wool on a silk warp or silk in the warp as well as in the weft and pile. Central medallions with arabesques and floral motifs are usual in Nain rugs.
Sarouk (also Saruk or Sarough) are a type of rug from the province of Arak in Iran. They have been produced for much of the last century in the village of Saruk and also in the city of Arak and the surrounding countryside. They became very popular in the American market from the 1910’s to the 1950’s, because American customers had an affinity for the Sarouk’s curvilinear and floral designs. What they did not like, however, was the colour, so for much of the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, Sarouks would be dyed a desirable, deep raspberry colour once they made it to the States. Sarouk rugs continue to be produced today, using the same methods as during early production – with the exception of the dying. Known for their exceptional quality and ability to withstand decades of wear, Sarouks continue to be bestsellers. They are made with a high quality, tough wool using a Persian knot. You can tell a Sarouk from its blue weft threads, its salmon or tomato colour mixed with ivories and blues, and its very traditional, floral style. The finest of the modern Sarouk rugs comes from the small town of Ghiassabad.
Tabriz is the famous city 600 km west of Teheran. The capital of the province of Azerbaijan, it is one of the largest cities in Iran. It has for centuries been a very important trading place and border station with its famous Blue Mosque and enormous bazaar. Carpet-weaving in Tabriz is extensive. Tabriz rugs range in quality from excellent to simple and cheap bazaar pieces. A good Tabriz has a short and rough pile. Its patterns use a centrally placed medallion surrounded by arabesques, weeping willows and cypresses. A popular motif is that of the four seasons describing the life of the Persian farmer through spring, summer, autumn and winter. Ancient palaces and ruins are sometimes depicted as are the four great Persian poets: Sadi, Hafiz, Ferdowsi and Omar Khayam in the corners.
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