Iran is widely famous around the world for its carpets, which is an inseparable part of the Iranian culture. It may seem almost strange that these rugs are laid on the floor and walked on, considering the long time that has been spent on this piece of art. In this article, you will receive some information about this centuries-old tradition with a brief history of the Persian carpet.
Persian carpets are traditionally spun from sheep’s wool. The quality of the wool depends on some factors including the breed of sheep, climate, pasturage, and time of shearing. The wool is turned to thread afterwards mostly by women with their own hands. Then they boil the threads with natural dyes from plants and insects. For instance, grape leaves, cochineal, chamomile, madder roots, indigo and pomegranate rind produce reds, yellows, and blues. Just after the threads have been dried, the weaving process begins.
Depending on the size and quality of the carpet, weavers spend a long time, sometimes to several years, hunching over a loom creating thousands of knots. The carpet often passes on the weaver’s character or mood, very similar to an artist who portrays their mood or views in a piece of painting. Finally, the carpet will be cut from the loom, washed, and dried in the sun. There is also another material that can be used as an alternative for weaving the rug, even though wool is the most traditional one. Due to the fact that silk is a fine material, it hardly can tolerate pressure; therefore, silk rugs are usually displayed on walls instead of being laid on the floor.
There are many cities in Iran which are noted for their carpets. Tabriz in northwest of Iran has been known as the center of carpet production. Moreover, the city’s rug bazaar is an enchanting place where visitors can witness the trade, transport, and mending of carpets and rugs. Kerman is known for its finely knotted rugs, and Kashan for its silk carpets as well as being the oldest rug-producing city in central Iran. In fact, the “traditional skills of carpet weaving” in the Fars province and Kashan were inscribed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.
Rugs woven by nomadic tribes, such as the Qashqai and Bakhtiari, are specifically famous for the diversity, bold colors, and intricate designs. Because different groups throughout various time periods have woven Persian rugs, they mirror both Iran’s history and its people. The Carpet Museum of Iran offers visitors the history and details of this Iranian handicraft.