Nestled in the foothills of the Alvand Mountains in Iran, Hamadan is one of the major weaving centers in the middle east. Hamadan city is the capital of the Hamadan region, so when it comes to rugs, Hamadan is a very broad term. There are a large number of smaller villages that surround the city of Hamadan, each has its own style of weaving, all are considered to be Hamadan rugs, but all are a little different and in their designs.
Hamadan are generally coarsely woven using low knot counts, single wefting techniques, cotton foundations, and are woven with Turkish (or Symmetrical) knotting techniques. These factors are the quickest and easiest way to identify if a rug is a Hamadan. Also, Hamadan are tribal rugs, and like most tribal rugs, generally tend to use more geometric motifs. This is a much less reliable identifier however as there are many notable exceptions. More often than not, Hamadan use strong reds contrasted by deep blues set in geometric patterns.
Hamadan City – The quintessential rug from Hamadan uses a red medallion offset by a navy border and ivory secondary field. On occasion, these rug will feature three medallions. Two of one color and the center of another. Despite being a major city, most Hamadan rugs are tribal and geometric in their motifs.
Lillihan – South of Hamadan is the village of Lillihan. Generally considered to be on the lower end of quality, most Lillihan use low knot counts, drab colors, and will often have design inconsistencies. While certainly not the case for all rugs from this village, It is common that a weaver will start with one shade of a color, run out midway through the rug, and switch to another very different color. Most Lillihan use simple repeating design motifs.
Nehavand / Ushvan / Tuiserkand – Nehavad is a region, Ushvan and Tuiserkand are villages. Rugs from this area have much in common with only subtle differences from one type to the next. Typically very geometric in their motifs, what really set these apart from most Hamadan is their use of Black. It is common that these rugs will use a primarily black field or medallion offset by strong reds and bright ivories. Most often, rug of these types will use central medallions.
Hosienabad – Generally from villages to the southeast of Hamadan city, Hosienabad often use the Herati pattern usually seen in the North Western parts of Iran. This distinct design repeats through the field of the rug. Most often, they are woven with red fields, though occasionally done in blue or ivory. They can, but usually don’t have central medallion or motifs.
Mehriban – North of the city of Hamadan is Mehriban. Theser rugs are very floral and in fact use motifs most often associated with Sarouk, another major Persian weaving center. However, the construction of Mehriban is distinctly hamadan, defining them as such. Unlike most of the design mention in this article, Mehribhan uses very floral motifs. Small disconnected groups of flowers spread throughout the field of the rug.
These represent only a small handful of the different types of Hamadan one can find from Iran. The patterns in these rugs are truly as diverse as the myriad of small villages they come from. Thick, soft, and colorful, Hamadan rugs are a classic mainstay of Persian weaving in both the modern and old world.
By: Matt Gabel
Matt Gabel is the Retail Manager at Serafian’s Oriental Rugs. He has been working closely with rugs for over 25 years. Serafian’s offers free pick up and delivery in the Albuquerque metro area. For more information, call (505) 504-RUGS or go to serafians.com