Rugs of the World – Hamadan

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.

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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.

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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.  

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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.


17203026_1387415551330649_398135536548218379_n 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

Rugs of the World – Kashan

When you think of rugs from the Mid East, what is the first image that pops into your head? For me, the image is magical flying carpets of legends and fairy tales. I picture Aladdin flying through the air on his magic carpet, the sprawling desert expanse unfolds below him as the horizon is dotted with the rooftops of ancient Persian castles and homes. It is a pretty fantastic visual, I know, but inextricably, I always picture him riding a specific type of rug, Kashan, one of the most classic Persian rug designs. One steeped in tradition from the city of its namesake.

In truth, Kashan is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is thought to be one of the primary centers of civilization in prehistoric times. During the 11th century Sultan Malik Shah I ordered the building of a fortress, Ghal’eh Jalali, that still stands. The Sialk ziggurat, a man made structure over 5,000 years old is nestled comfortably in the suburbs of the Kashan. Even the name of the city comes from it original inhabitants, known as Kasian, whose remains date back as far as 9000 years.

In more modern times, the city of Kashan has become a major center for textile production, and rugs are one of its leading exports. Since the city of Kashan is one of the main weaving centers in Iran and its design traditions date back well over a century, the patterns found in Kashan rugs are considered to be among the most classic of Persian designs. They are defined by flowing, connected floral motif. Long, rounded tendrils, known as Islimi, span the body of the rug. These draw ornate curves connecting groups of large flowers, known as Palmettes. Many Kashan rugs have a strong central medallion, usually oval in shape. Some, however, lack a central motif and opt for an “All Over” design.

As with most weaving centers, many different levels of quality come from the city of Kashan. However, a common trait among most Persian Kashan is the use of high grade materials. As such, Kashan rugs are generally woven to last for generations. Persian Kashan use specific and traditional colors sets. Red or Ivory fields are offset with Navy medallions and borders. This creates a striking pattern where the body of the rug is sharply framed in contrast to its border.

 

One of the more recent trends in weaving is for other countries to adopt the designs of Persian rugs. Weavers in India and China will often copy the Kashan motif, working these classic Persian structures into into their more modern and mass produced rugs. This is not to say that these rugs are always of lower quality, but they are different. Kashan patterned rugs from India or China are often woven using non traditional colors sets. Blacks, browns, golds, and even greens will usually distinguish these rugs from their true Persian counterparts.

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Many rugs from both India and China copy the Persian Kashan design.  They are woven in different colors than their Persian counterparts, but are often just as high quality.

Whether you have a traditional Persian or copy from India or China, a good, hand woven Kashan is the type of rug that will last for generations. It is not uncommon at all for us here at Serafian’s to see such rugs come in for cleaning still looking good after a century’s worth of use. Steeped in tradition and classic motifs, Kashan rugs look great in nearly any space. Unfortunately, even with the best Kashan available in the marketplace, you probably won’t find yourself magically flying over ancient Persian ziggurats or expensive desert vistas, but you will have a little piece of Persian history in your home.


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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

Rugs of the World – Khal Mohamedi

The North of Afghanistan is home to a wide variety of ethnic groups. The largest of these groups is the Turkmen (Turkoman, Turkman) people. Some live a nomadic lifestyle, but most live in small villages in the Hindu Kush mountain range.  The Turkmen have been known for centuries as weavers of high-quality carpets. A number of different types of rugs come from the Turkmen people, and one of the most modern and popular is known as Khal Mohamedi (Roughly translated to “Of Khal Mohammed.”)

Due to war, politics, and economic circumstances, in the late 20th century, the use of vegetal dyes and traditional designs were dying out in Afghanistan. Weaving was in decline due the civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance (mostly Turkmen people). When the war ended in 1996, a prosperous Afghan merchant by the name of Khal Mohammed traveled from village to village in the north. Where looms had been destroyed by war, he helped to rebuild them. Where weaving and natural dyeing techniques had been forgotten, he helped to reteach them. Ultimately, he managed to create a very real cottage industry in the north.

He had a large factory in the city of Kabul where he processed wool for his carpets. He resurrected old world natural dyeing techniques that had long been abandoned by the weaving industry as a whole. He would then sell the dyed wool to the villagers. In turn, the villagers would take this wool and weave patterns that he had created. He would then buy the rugs from the weavers, providing a stable income for them and a market for their carpets.
Eventually, other producers copied his carpets. Now many of the rugs from Northern Afghanistan carry the trade name “Khal Mohammedi”, even if they are produced by others. This trade name generally signifies vegetal dyes with designs and colors rooted in the Turkmen tradition. In the last 20 years, Khal Mohamedi carpets have become some of the best rugs produced in Afghanistan. They use good wool, natural dyes, unique designs, and have a rich warm feel that brings life and depth to any space. They work well in both traditional settings, and in more contemporary homes as well. They implement rich, warm tones that would fit well in a den or living room space, and have geometric tribal patterns that make them a great fit for any home. Khal Mohamedi is a new tradition in the world of weaving.

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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

Rugs of the World – Tabriz

Persia (or Iran) has long been the center for weaving innovation in the Middle East. A huge variety of rug types, qualities, and traditions come from this diverse country. Among the most famous and highest quality Persian Rugs are Tabriz. Tabriz is a major city in the Northwestern, Azerbaijan region of Iran, very close to the Caspian Sea. Even from Tabriz a large number of rugs have been created. Today, we are going to go over the most common three Tabriz rugs, Mahi, Nachsche, and Taba.

Mahi

Mahi Tabriz are by far the most sought after and traditional of Tabriz carpets. There are three main parts to this pattern, the overarching pattern, the detailed field pattern, and the border. Each has its own story. The overarching design is a simple medallion pattern that starts in the center of the rug and emanates outward. This part of the design represents the concentric circles formed by dropping a pebble into a still pond.

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Mahi Tabriz

For the more detailed field design, Mahi Tabriz use a traditional Herati, or “fish”, pattern. This consists of a diamond with four opposing oak leaves. Continuing out from the oak leaves, the design repeats itself with the leaves mirroring their image around a small flower. This pattern represents a fisherman in his boat and two fish swimming around the reflection of the moon.

Herati Pattern
Herati Pattern

The third and final part of the design is the border, which can vary from one Mahi to the next, but most commonly uses the Sammovar pattern. Sometimes called the “Turtle and Crab” border, this border uses large floral motifs that look like and represent a swimming sea turtle and a crabs claws.

Samovar Border
“Turtle and Crab” border

While Mahi Tabriz can be done in a wide variety of qualities, most are woven using exceptional materials and have very high knot counts. As such, these rugs have earned themselves a reputation for being some of the best in the world.

Nachsche

One of the more popular types of Tabriz is known as Nachshe. Where some Tabriz rugs use small repeating motifs, Nachsche use more colorful, open, floral motifs. They typically have strong central medallions, long flowing tendrils (known as Islimi), and many groups of small flowers. Very commonly, silk is woven into these rugs as a highlight color. These rugs are almost always woven at very high knot counts, generally starting at 250 knots/inch and going as high as 500 knots/inch or more.

Nachshe approximately translates to “cartoon”, or “pattern” in English. Originally these rugs were being woven to emulate some of the motifs and design elements of European rugs. The people of Tabriz used hand drawn patterns or “cartoons” as their basis for this, hence the name, Nacshe. Today, the Iranian people have truly adopted this style into their weaving lexicon. In fact, Nacshe Tabriz may be the most popular type of rug sold in Iran.

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Nacshe Tabriz

Taba

Lastly we have Tabba Tabriz. A type of rug that was developed and popularized in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  In truth, Taba are not actually Tabriz, rather they are woven in the city of Tabas.  However, since they often use Tabriz designs and motifs, they earned the name Tabriz.  

Taba tabriz are very distinctly different from their other Tabriz cousins. A typical color palette for Taba consists of Ivory, Orange, and Mint Green. Most are woven more coarsely, with knot counts ranging from the mid eighties on up to around 150 knots/inch. They also tend to use wool that doesn’t hold up as well when compared to other Tabriz. During the 1970’s a lot of Taba were woven, so it is common to see them today. However, they tend to wear out more quickly and will likely not have the same longevity or long term value of other Tabriz. This is not to say that they are bad rugs, but rather that other, and in fact most, Tabriz rugs are exceptional.

Taba Tabriz
Taba Tabriz

 


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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

Rugs of the World – Kazak

One of the more popular types of rugs in the market place these days in known as Kazak. Truth be told, there are two distinctly different types of Kazak. One is the traditional old Kazak woven previous to the 1900’s. The other is a newer type of Kazak based on the older designs that comes form Afghanistan.

The older Kazak were woven by the Armenian people. In fact, Kazak is one of the more famous Armenian weavings. Done in the area of Turkey south of the Caucasus, Kazak were known for using geometric designs, high quality wool and fine knot counts.

Known for their large scale patterns and usually high contrasting colors, Kazak rugs tend to be very distinct. Some Kazak use a palette of colors in the blue and red ranges while others are very bright delving into the greens and yellows. Generally they are woven in wool on a wool foundation and use Turkish, or symmetrical, style of knotting. Due to their nature, colors, and age Kazak rugs tend to be considered very collectible.

Old Kazak - Circa 1900's

The newer Kazak have a different origin. In the early to late 1990’s, many Afghani refugees had been forced to relocate to Pakistan. Lacking any form of consistent income, they turned to weaving to try and support themselves. During this time frame, many designs moved away from the traditional dark red and black Afghani patterns and into a broader spectrum of colors and patterns.

In the early 2000’s, after the US invasion, most of these refugees traveled back to Afghanistan. They took with them some of the new patterns and techniques that they had learned and developed while in Pakistan. As such, many modern Afghani rugs have branched outward from their normal weaving traditional. Modern Kazak were born out of this.

Based on the old Turkish Kazak patterns, these modern Kazak use bright bold colors, strong geometric motifs, and hand spun wool. Unlike their older counterparts, modern Kazak are woven with cotton foundations. Most are woven using Ghazni wool harvested form sheep raised the in Ghazni mountain ranges of Afghanistan. This wool is very dense and makes for a very strong rug. As such most modern Kazak to last well into the late and even next century.

Modern Kazak - Circa 2010's


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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

Rugs of the World – Bidjar

For centuries, Persia, or Iran, has been considered the center of weaving in the Middle East. A huge variety of rug types and qualities come from this country. One of the most well known and strongest types of Persian rugs is Bidjar. Among the finest rugs woven in the world, Bidjar is a classic Persian design that hails from the Kurdistan region of Iran.

Often referred to as the “Iron Rugs”, Bidjar are woven to be the some of strongest rugs in the world. What makes a Bidjar so strong? A combination of excellent wool quality, high knot counts, and very dense weaving. It is commonplace to see Bidjar carpets well over 100 years of age and most produced today will last a century or longer even under heavy use and traffic.

Contemporary Bidjar are generally woven in one of three different patterns. Mahi / Herati, Gol’farag, and Rose. Most commonly the Mahi / Herati or “Fish” pattern. This consists of large diamond shaped medallions that step outward from the center filled with a complex repeating motif within each. The larger medallions represent a pool of water and the concentric circles that form after a pebble is thrown into it. The smaller repeating motif is a highly stylized represent a fisherman in his boat who saw two fish swimming around the reflection of the moon. This motif, known as Herati, is used often in many different Persian rugs.

Bidjar - Mahi

Second most common is Gol-Farang. In English, Gol-Farang means “Foreign flower” these rugs rely heavily on traditional Bidjar motif and structure but usually will have medallions that are much more decorative and floral in their structure. In fact, the medallions in such rugs take their influence from more European design. This creates a rug that seamlessly blends the Persian and European design into one.

Gol-farang Bidjar

Lastly are a type of Bidjar known as “Rose” Bidjar. These in take heavy influence from European motifs and were in fact, back in the late 19th century, done for the European marketplace. With time, the people of the region adopted the patterns and today they have worked their way into the lexicon of traditional Bidjar rugs.

Rose Bidjar

We hope you found this article informative. Always remember that Serafian’s is here for all your rug needs.

Rugs of the World – Bokara

Bokhara Rugs

Welcome to Serafian’s new informational series, “Rugs of the World”! We think hand woven carpets are some of the most fascinating, beautiful things a person can learn about, and our goal is to share our knowledge of this extensive subject with you. Being able to recognize a rug and know its origins and worth is incredibly rewarding, and we would love for you to know your rugs!

We’re starting with the beautiful and tribal Bokhara. Often referred to as Turkoman, after the region of Afghanistan from which they come, Bokhara is one of the most popular and common Oriental rug designs seen in the United States. The design originated with the Turkoman tribes in Northern Afghanistan and Southern Turkmenistan. There are 23 different Turkoman tribes, and each tribe has its own unique signature design.

The predominant design feature of a Bokhara carpet is the gul (flower). This is the repeating eight-sided medallion seen in the field of the rug. Each tribe has different designs that it uses in the gul. This is how we identify where true Turkoman carpets were woven. This design is also called “the elephant’s footprint”, for obvious reasons! Typically found in deep, rich, and dark colors, such as red, black, and gold, Bokhara add warmth and luxury to any living space. Because of their geometric patterns and typically dark colors, Bokhara are considered both masculine and modern. The rugs shown here are woven between 75 and 150 knots per square inch, and have been one of the most popular mainstays in American homes for many years.