This is a great topic.
There is a lot of sorting out to do in
the old "Northwest Persian" rubric.
To start out, it is interesting
on at least two levels. One, did the Shahsavan produce pile weavings (and,
if so, what were they like)? Two (if so), is your mafrash panel one of
them? I have no confidence in attributing any of this stuff confidently to
the Shahsavan, so take it all on faith. When I started out in rugs in the
60's, one seldom heard of them; and your slit tapestry panel, for example,
would probably have been called Caucasian, in a mumbling tone. I mention
this because your two opening images are admirably matched for the
discussion, and the underlying premise has to be that the slit tapestry
piece is definitely Shahsavan. If we accept that much, the issue is on the
table for the pile piece. So my rhetorical question is, how sure are you
of the provenance of the slit tapestry example?
A perusal of the
internet sales venues and other media indicates that the label "Shahsavan"
is being applied to a great variety (structurally and stylistically) of
pile weavings these days. I would say they tend to fall into two broad
groupings: Caucasian-looking rugs, but not exactly; and other
design/structure/palette types that do not fall readily under familiar
rubrics. Are you aware of any published material in the last twenty years
or so that purports to sort these matters out? I am dimly aware of some
work by Parviz Tanavoli that I haven't seen. I think I have HALI 45, and
intend to try to find it in the attic. I suspect that people in the field
have simply become emboldened to hang the label on a particular rug, and
the practice spreads.
In any case, getting back to your first
image (which I love), I don't recall having seen a panel of this type in
pile. In addition, weaving details, such as the pile colored tan wefts,
are not familiar in this type of piece. Have you seen others? From the
colors, one would be inclined to say it has very decent age, unless it's a
revival kind of thing in which old standards were purposefully
As we know, there is a great variety of pile weaving
styles that can be called "Kurdish" at some level, e. g., Bijar, Senna,
Jaff, Sanjabi, those "two panel" mafrashes you mentioned (which get called
"Sanjabi," but I think they're guessing), etc. Perhaps the same is true of
Thanks for this very interesting salon. Do you have any
intention of trying to scan and post any of the images you mentioned in
the essay? Maybe someone else with the books can do it.