Sunday, February 8, 2009

A History of Gabbeh: Where Does Gabbeh Come From?


The oldest document that refers to Gabbehs dates back to the sixteen Century. It is a decree of Shah Tahmasp , The Safavid ruller (1524-1576 ), ordering a reception to be held for Humayun, The Mugal emperor of India, who had sought refuge in Iran in 1540, one year after the famous Ardabil carpets were made.

In setting out detailed instructions for Humayun’s reception, the decree reads :

And we have ordered
a silk tent to be set up for the kitchen near
the royal pavilion and the private quarters,
covering the ground with silken carpets from
Khorasan , with Gabbehs, with felts from Jam,
and with suzanis ( embroideries).

Shah Tahmasp’s decree in which he orders the floor of Humayun’s pavilion to be covered with silk carpets from Khorasan, and with fine felts from jam, and embroideries and Gabbeh , proves that in the distant past the Gabbeh was a valued and aristocratic floor covering comparable with embroideries and silk.
The short reference to Gabbehs which is found in the above decree suffices to discredit in some of the theories that have been advanced about the Gabbeh , such as being a floor covering of poor people , or its being new product and phenomenon of the last couple of centuries.

Khosrow Sobhe
Certified Rug Specialist

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