Sunday, July 29, 2012

History of Persian Carpets

The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is a traditional mosque in Shiraz, Iran.

Archaeological discoveries show that mats woven by Roodan region of Iran straws have been frequently used since 4th and 5th millennium, and Kilim weaving has reached a high level of evolution since 1500 BC.
The most ancient handicraft, to which archaeologists have accessed, is a rug that due to its discovery in the frozen tomb of one of Sakai rulers has been named as Pazyryk rug. This rug, which was used as a saddle, is currently preserved in Leningrad Armitage Museum. Experts accredit it to be «Persian» regarding its designs resembling Achaemenian designs and believe that Pazyryk rug is from Madians and Parthians (ancient big Khorasan) handicrafts.
Colours applied in this rug are deep red, yellow, pale green and orange. The resemblance of Iranian cavalries and infantries, as well as winged creatures to Persepolis engravings amplifies expert opinions. Experts also believe that weaving a rug with such properties requires a cultural and artistic support of at least several centuries, indicating that for consecutive centuries – before weaving renowned Pazyryk carpet – this occupation was widely spread in Iranian plateau, decoded by Iranians.
Sayings of historians approve it. As Xenophon, a Greek historian, in his book Cyrus Conduct has written: “Iranians for their beds to be soft, spread rugs beneath them.” This statement indeed shows that carpet weaving was widespread at that time finding a way through daily life as one of necessities. Although no typical type is left from Sassanid era, as evidences show, Persian carpet had a worldwide reputation at that time.
The Chinese Suiy calendar has highlighted the woollen rugs of Iran in Sassanides as goods imported by China. In Farsi literature there is much more talk about the big carpet of “Baharestan” palace belonging to “King Khosrow” showing capabilities of Iranian craftsmen and their pioneering in carpet-weaving artisan.
Experts believe that weaving a rug requires a cultural and artistic support of at least several centuries.
By the appearance of Islam and the overthrow of magnificent Sassanides, this artisan previously supported by nobles, encountered with some stagnation followed by the rise of different governances and political instability which hindered weaving activities. In particular, Arabs cold-shouldered aristocratic way of life in palaces, which was demanding to them who got used to living in deserts under starry skies in tents of mat. The picture of human and animal was abominated and considered as indicator of polytheism and idolatry.
As artists were dispersed in near and far cities, carpet-weaving artisans with no outstanding manifestation continued to exist, but it was not long that following previous kings, Ommiad and Abbassid Caliphs made this artisan bloom by focusing on it. The “History of Beihaghi” description of repeated offers of beautiful rugs by Ali-ibn-Issa from Khorasan to Aaron-Arrasheed in Baghdad and evidences gathered by Islamic historians and geographers from here and there indicate indisputable reason of Iranian developed carpet-weaving culture.
The author of “Hodud-e-Alam” (812 AD) denotes Fars carpet, and a century later, Moghaddasi manifests Qaenat prayer rugs. Yaghut Hemavi (1179 AD, 6th century) informs of Azarbaijan carpet weaving, and Ibn-Batuta, a Maghrebian tourist, narrates that while visiting Izeh, a Bakhtiari region, on his way from Khur Mousa in Persian Gulf to Isfahan, a green carpet was spread in front of him. Farsi literature does not lack these indications either. Khaghani Shervani narrates the reputation of Marandi carpets in the 6th century.
The invasion by Mongolian tribes ruined what was the achievement of previous kings. They were fighters who had conquered the world on horseback, whose wives did not accompany them in war. Rugs, born by women’s hands, not only did not find a way to Iran by their attack, but also small workshops of them were destroyed and designers fled to far and remote places.
Dr. Khosrow Sobhe (Dr. Kay)

Certified Rug Specialist (CRS)
Tel. 310-770-9085

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