6 November 2015
Of all the things that are Persian, perhaps the most popular one is a Persian rug.
An artifact dating back thousands of years, yet present in the most modern decorations of our time.
And not just present, but living in a sense, and giving vibe to the place it goes to. For who can look at this masterpiece of thousands of knots without feeling the beauty it lends to its surroundings?
Whether you are travelling to Iran and want to know beforehand how to best appreciate this art, or you have just got interested in a Persian rug and want to know more about it, you have come to the right place.
we will go through the history, variations, pricing factors, and maintenance tips of Persian rugs.
Persian Rugs History
For centuries, Persian rugs have been an indispensable part of Persian art, culture, and industry.
They have most probably evolved from basic floor coverings and were initially produced to protect housing against damp and cold weather, but rapidly acquired an artistic aspect.
The production of the first rugs are estimated around 800 B.C., and the oldest existing rug is the Pazyryk carpet which was discovered in 1949 in Siberia.
This rug, which was woven around 5th century B.C. and protected from decay by the cold climate, is so elaborately designed and woven that suggests that the art of carpet-weaving had already reached a climax by that time.
Xenophon is the first historian who writes about Persian rugs and acclaims them as precious and worthy as a diplomatic gift.
With the rise of Safavid dynasty in 1499, Persian art including Persian rug saw one of its most brilliant periods.
Court manufactories were established and royal embellishment demanded higher and more elaborate artistic forms.
This, in turn, led to an artistic elevation of Persian rugs. The distinction between the artist and the weaver took place at this time, and artists began communicating their ideas to weavers by means of templates and patterns.
Persian Rug Variations
Persian rugs have been produced in nomads, villages, and towns for different purposes and in different designs.
They were then brought to markets bearing the labels of their origin. Some of these regional labels gradually gained reputation because of their special quality and design.
There are now more than twenty types of Persian rugs which come from different regions and each hold different characteristics.
nomadic rugs are usually rich with elaborations.
That is mainly because in the past, nomads mainly produced rugs for their own personal use and cared less about the commerciality of their products. What they cared about, instead, was the presence of tribal traditions in their designs.
nomadic carpet-weaving experienced a major decline as a result of Iran’s rapid industrialization in 20th century, and almost came to an end by 1970.
In recent years, however, a revival of nomadic traditions has resulted in a comeback for nomadic rugs and they are now fighting for their lost ground in market.
On the other hand, the villages and towns in different areas usually sent their products to a central city which became a capital market for the rugs produced in that area.
The central Iranian cities of Kashan, Isfahan, Nain and Qom together with Tabriz in the West, Kerman in the South, and Mashhad in the Northeast of Iran, are the main centers of town manufacture.
Persian Rugs Pricing
When it comes to pricing a Persian rug, several factors are at work.
- The first is, of course, whether or not they are handmade. Machine-made rugs are predictably cheaper than the hand-made ones, but they are not comparable in terms of quality and endurance. While machine-made rugs drop in value over time, handmade rugs, if kept properly, get more and more valuable over the years. That is why handmade Persian rugs have been traditionally seen as profitable investments, not to mention valuable legacies.
- Another factor affecting the price is the material. The most common materials used in weaving Persian rugs are wool, cotton, and silk. Although the use of silk will result in a fine and wonderful texture, the pricing will rise dramatically. What’s more, silk rugs are comparatively less durable than wool and cotton ones, and are used more commonly for decorative purposes like hanging from the wall than covering the floor. Another option you might face would be a rug which is basically made of wool or cotton but has some silk embellishments. This would result in a balanced price and quality.
- Finally, another important factor in pricing Persian rugs is the number of knots per square meter, or in Persian term “Gereh”. The knots can be clearly seen and counted by turning the rug over. However, there is usually no need for doing so, because the stores will provide you with this information. Basically more knots mean more expensive, because obviously the texture is smoother as a result of the more delicate and arduous work put into it. The most common knot counts you will probably face when buying carpets are 10,000, 40,000, 90,000, 160,000 and 250,000.
Persian Rug Maintenance
Persian rug is a beauty, and like any other beautiful thing it needs care to keep in good shape.
There are some simple tips for buyers to keep the good quality of their purchase and prevent it from wear and tear.
- First of all, try to use furniture slides if you have to put it on the carpet. Persian rugs are to a large extent resilient to pressure, but a little care never hurts, especially if the furniture is supposed to remain there for months and years.
- Next comes rug pad which goes under your rug and prevents it from direct contact with the harsh surface beneath. They also help keep your rug in a fixed position.
- Finally, to save your rug from dust and dampness, make a point of vacuum cleaning it regularly, and make sure you air it at least once a year in the sun.
And finally ...
Now you’re quite ready to make an educated decision when buying Persian rugs. You know what different variations it has, what factors decide the price, and finally how to take care of it.
But perhaps most importantly, you know where it comes from.
You know the long journey this piece of art has gone through from the ancient Persia to your warm and cozy house. This might be one of the most important things to remember when buying Persian rugs.
Genuine Persian rugs are those made in Iran.
Rugs made in Turkey, Pakistan, and other places are called Oriental rugs and cannot be called Persian rugs.
They differ not only in the quality, but sometimes even in the techniques of weaving.
So when buying a Persian rug, make sure you’re actually buying a Persian rug and not an Oriental one.