Posted by R. John Howe on 10-17-2006 10:26 AM:

Other "Cities"

Dear folks -

There are other cities sometimes mentioned when "city" rugs come up.

Here are just three more. I included them here, in part because two of them are among the few color images included in my printing of the Edwards book.

Mashad, in Khurosan, has a traditional rug production. Eiland points out that Mashad is the only place in Iran where one can find weavers working side by side using very different technical approaches. This is the result of the fact that the traditional knot of Khurosan (as we see in the current TM "Piece of a Puzzle" exhibition) is a jufti version of the asymmetric knot open to the left. But at one point in Mashad's history weavers were brought from Tabriz. For this reason some Mashad weavers still weave symmetric knots using hooks.

Here are two Mashad pieces.

Nain is also often mentioned as a place where "city" rugs have been produced more recently. Nain was traditionally where the fine cloth for traditional Persian cloaks was made. Just before WWII, Persians began generally to adopt western dress and demand for the traditional cloak disappeared. These weavers moved to making fine rugs, similar to those of Ishafan and Kashan. A some have silk warps and others can be entirely of silk. Many Nains have a distinctive blue palette.

Here is one example.

Edwards reports that Teheran once had a small rug production but that it dried up because of the high costs of living and operating in that city. I have not seen a description of the technical features of Teheran rugs, but there are some rugs dealers often say they can recognize them.

Here is the "Teheran" rug used as a frontspiece in my printing of the Edwards book.

There are other cities where Persian rugs that would meet the usual "city" rug standards. Quom makes rugs similar to those of Ishfahan and Nain. Yazd, near Kerman, has a deep weaving tradition and its name was once a synonym for quality. Eiland gives no real technical features of Yazd rugs but says that nowadays they closely resemble and are often sold as "Kermans."

Hammadams, Heriz, Bijars and Sennehs are usually left out of any array of "city" rugs, despite the sophistication that all of these types can sometimes achieve. The exclusion of Heriz with its rectilinear drawing might be understandable but the exclusion of some of the rugs from Hammadan, Bijar and Senneh seems more arbitrary.

There were rugs woven in Hammadan city. They are distinguished from the surrounding village rugs by their use of two wefts. Oddly they tend to be sold in Europe as "Alvands" and in the U.S. as "Kazvins." (There is a city of Kazvin that weaves rugs and Eiland reports this causes confusion.)

A little digging could, no doubt, produce other cities that would/should be included in a listing of Persian "city" rug-making locations.


R. John Howe

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 10-21-2006 01:01 AM:

Hi John,

Here are a couple pictures of a Nain rug that is probably 50 years old; an earlier Nain - strange as that sounds -

The color palette is different from those made in the last 25 years or so; more yellow, in particular, and fewer colors in general. Also, a design that is fairly coarse given the fineness of the weave:

The next is a more recent piece (I've posted this before, somewhere...) with a less traditional but pleasant design. The dark blue background allow the limited use of red and green to have significant impact:

Last, a word about fineness; Nains come in three grades - nohlah, shishla, and charlah. Nohlah pieces are relatively coarse; a couple hundred knots per square inch. Shishla pieces get up to 400 knots per inch, and charlah as high as 800 knots per inch - roughly - the next image shows a shishla on the left and a charlah on the right:

Chuck Wagner

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Richard Larkin on 10-22-2006 10:38 AM:

other cities

Hey John,

I've only handled a few Teheran rugs. All of them as near as I can recall were in the 4x6 to 5x7 range. The designs were most often in the garden/portico style. Edwards shows two black and white plates that are typical. I remember one or two of that kind but non-symmetrical in layout. One of the obvious criteria, I thought, was a predominant ivory coloring, and not as much reliance on red as most Persian rugs. (I wouldn't have spotted his color plate as one, too much red.) Structurally and as regards handle, they were most like Kashans, but not quite so "substantial." Visually, I could imagine someone mistaking them for older Kirmans on account of the lightish aspect of the coloring and the vertically oriented garden designs.

Rich Larkin