HERDING SHEEP

Herding Sheep - Story of Rugs

HAND SPUN WOOL

Hand spun wool - Story of Rugs

PREPARING WOOL FOR DYE

Preparing wool for dye - Story of Rugs

NATURAL DYE MATERIALS

Natural dye materials - Story of Rugs

DYEING WOOL WITH NATURAL DYES

Dyeing wool with natural dyes - Story of Rugs

DYED WOOL HANGING TO DRY

Dyed wool hanging to dry - Story of Rugs

DRAWING & COLORING THE RUG DESIGN CARTOON

Drawing and coloring the rug design cartoon - Story of Rugs

RUG WEAVING TOOLS

Rug weaving tools- Story of Rugs

WEAVERS WORKING ON VERTICAL LOOM

Weavers working on vertical loom - Story of Rugs

WASHING THE RUGS

Washing the rugs - Story of Rugs

FINISHED RUGS HANGING TO DRY

Finished rugs hanging to dry - Story of Rugs

  • Dome of Mosque
  • Hand knotted Persian and Turkish Oriental Carpet being woven on vertical loom
  • Woman working on hand woven oriental carpet rug fringe
  • Men adding wool to a cauldron of natural dye - to provide material for Persian and Turkish hand knotted carpets
  • Girl kneeling and hand weaving oriental carpet on a horizontal loom

Rug Buyers Guide

The Story Of Rugs

INRODUCTION
ISLAMIC PERIOD
MODERN PERIOD
RUG WEAVING MAP

The Oldest Carpet In The World

Pazyryk CarpetThe art of Carpet-weaving is interwoven into Persian and Turkish culture and history. Because wool, silk and cotton, the primary materials used in carpet weaving decay over time, archeologists rarely made any useful discoveries. The few worn out fragments they did recover, revealed very little about this fine ancient art.

Then, in 1949 during an archeological expedition in the Pazyryk Valley, located in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, the “Pazyryk” carpet (shown right) was found in the grave of a Scythian Prince. Because it was encased in ice, thus preserving it, scientists were able to determine through radiocarbon testing that it was woven in the 5th century BC. That makes it 2,500 years old and the oldest carpet in the world!


Silk Road Collections offers fine and rare Antique Turkish Rugs, Turkmen Rugs, Caucasian Rugs and Persian Rugs and carpets. Some are over 300 years old! These historic Oriental carpets are becoming increasingly rare and harder to find. Once you take your eyes off them, they are gone.

Islamic Period

Ardabil Carpet In the 8th century A.D., the Turkish Azerbaijan Province was among the largest centers of carpet and rough carpet (ziloo) weaving during the period of the Abbasid Dynasty. The Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled the Islamic world, oversaw an era of stunning cultural and intellectual achievements in philosophy, science, mathematics and architecture.

The Province of Tabarestan, sent 600 carpets to the courts of Caliphs in Baghdad every year along with taxes. The main items exported were carpets and prayer rugs. Also, the carpets of Khorassan, Sistan and Bukhara, because of their prominent designs and motifs, were in high demand. The industry thrived until the Mongol army attacked in the mid-thirteeneeth century and brought a halt for some time to all artistic and industrial activities such as carpet weaving and dyeing.

During the reigns of the Seljuq and Ilkhanate dynasties, in the 13th and 14th centuries, carpet weaving was still a booming business. Sheep were specially bred to produce fine wool for weaving carpets. Carpet designs depicting miniature paintings belonging to the Timurid era lend proof to the development of this industry at that time. Also, Oriental carpets depicted in Renaissance paintings from Europe are often detailed enough to fill the gaps in the record of surviving carpets.

One of the world's most historically important and the most famous of Islamic carpets, the "Ardabil Carpet", was made during one of the great political dynasties of Iran, the Safavid Dynasty (1501–1736). This was one of the most important periods for Islamic art, especially for textiles and for manuscripts. The Ardabil carpet takes it's name from the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran which was the home of the shrine of the Sufi saint, Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The carpet is in fact two original carpets – a matching pair that were woven for the shrine in 1539-40 according to the four-line inscription placed at one end. This short poem is vital for understanding who commissioned the carpet and the date of the carpet.

The first three lines of poetry reads:

"Except for thy threshold, there is no refuge for me in all the world.

Except for this door there is no resting-place for my head.

The work of the slave of the portal, Maqsud Kashani."

The fourth line contains the date AH 946 in the Muslim calendar, which is equivalent to AD 1539 – 1540.

One of the carpets can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The second is displayed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The foundation is of silk and the pile of wool with a knot density of 300-350 knots per square inch. The original size of both carpets was 34 1/2 feet x 17 1/2 feet. The immense size of the Ardabil Carpet along with it's detailed design of rich geometric patterns, vine-like scrolls, floral flourishes and cartouches are indicative of the legendary craftsmanship and skill of the artisans of the period.

In the 16th and 17th century, there were numerous sub-regions including Tabriz and Lavar Kerman, that contributed distinctive designs to Turkish and Persian carpets of this period. Common motifs included scrolling vine networks, arabesques, palmettos, cloud bands, medallions, and overlapping geometric compartments.


Antique Persian and Turkish Oriental Rugs are beautiful works of art. They feature a tremendous variety of styles and design that include everything from elegant medallion and corner designs that reflect domes of mosques to fantastic hunting rugs and pictorial patterns that depict scenes from everyday life. Each one tells a different story of origin, craftsmanship and culture. See Silk Road Collections Featured Rugs to read some of the stories.

Modern Period

Modern Period CarpetIn the past, each of the rug weaving regions/tribes had their own style of design and type of weave. These rugs were one of a kind. The materials used were 100% organic and everything was hand-made. Sizes also tended to be smaller as they were primarily designed for tribal domestic use. Today, Turkish and Persian carpets have come under fierce competition from other countries. Many lesser quality new rugs are coming from the Asian subcontinent, particularly imported from India, Pakistan or China. The designs of Persian and Turkish carpets are copied and the majority are machine made, cranked out on an assembly line: there may be different models, but rugs of each model are alike as peas in a pod. Most of these are tea washed (acid washed). After the rugs are woven, they are sprayed with tea to imitate natural dyes and make the rugs look older.

This problem is partly due to the fact that the majority of Turkish and Persian Ethnic countries stopped producing hand-knotted natural dye rugs. Also, the absence of patenting and branding of the products, the reduced quality of raw materials in the local market and the consistent loss of original design patterns have contributed to a rapid decline in the size as well as market value of this art.

Although carpet production is now mostly mechanized, traditional hand woven, natural dye carpets can still be found. To give one example, the "Carpet of Wonder" in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman measures 4,343 square metres. Its construction required four years of labour by 600 workers, resulting in 12 million man hours of work.


Silk Road Collections goes directly to the source to hand-select exceptional, hand-spun, hand-knotted, 100% organic natural dye rugs. “I know my rugs”, says owner Mohamed Sassila. That's why buying a New World Persian or Turkish Oriental rug from Silk Road Collections ensures that your purchase will be of the highest quality imaginable.

Rug Weaving Map

Rug Weaving Map

Persian Rugs (Iran)

Persian Rugs are a living history that dates back 2,500 years. For centuries nomadic tribes produced rugs and carpets for a variety of uses and in some remote areas, traditional designs have survived well into the 20th century. In urban areas, sophisticated carpets were produced in workshops of the shahs of the Safavid state during the early 16th century through 1722. Skilled designers and craftsmen used the finest quality wools and silks to create wondrous works of art. Gold and silk threads were also used to add even more embellishment.

Because Persia (Iran) is so geographically and ethnically varied, rugs and carpets from thismost famous of all weaving regions vary greatly in their design, color and construction. It was in Persia (Iran) that carpets of curvilinear design were first developed in the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of the rugs and carpets produced in the main carpet weaving centers of Tabriz, Kashan, Kirman, Herat, Isfahan and Joshagan feature a central medallion and intricate, curvilinear designs.

Persian (Iranian) carpets are renowned for their superior quality of workmanship and materials. In palaces, mansions, museums, famous buildings and homes the world over, a Persian (Iranian) carpet is considered a most treasured possession.

Check out Silk Road Collections fine antique (Iranian) Persian carpets. We have Perisan Ziglar Mahal, Sanaa, Bakhtiya, Sarouq, Kashka’e and Malayer/ Faraghan, Tabriz and Heriz Rugs.

Caucasian Rugs

The wild and rugged region of the Caucasus takes it name from the one of the World's major mountain ranges that stretches 650 miles from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. Carpet weaving in this region dates back to the 16th century when much of the Caucasus was the Islamic Caliphat State (Turkish Empire). Major centers of production were Kuba, Dagestan, Shirvan, Kazak, Talish, Baku and Karabagh. The workshops in the Shirvan produced carpets for the courts of Tabriz, Qazin and Isfahan.

In the 1920's, the Soviet Union under Stalin, deported many tribespeople to the Soviet Union to work in factories. Those who remained were subjected to collectivized farming and the craft of weaving slowly died.

The carpets from the Caucasus region are readily distinguished by their smaller scatter rug size, geometrical designs and bold colours. Guard sripes, barber pole borders, crosses, zig zag, latchhook, and abstract decorated flower fields are some of the motifs you are likely to find on these classic Old World Antique Caucasian Rugs.

Silk Road Collections features rare 19th and 20th century carpets and fine examples of antique village, nomadic and tribal Caucasian rugs like Shirvan, Karabagh and Kazak rugs. There is even a rare, large (10 x 13 ft) Shirvan rug made in the 1930's.

Turkish Rugs

Carpets, whether hand-knotted or flat woven has an important place in Turkish traditional heritage and cultural history. From Mongolia and Western Siberia, the early nomadic Turks arrived and brought their technique, culture and their love of carpets to Central Asia, Persia, the Indian Peninsula and finally to Anatolia which became one of the world's most celebrated centers of carpet making. After his visit to Anatolia in 1271, Italian traveler Marco Polo described the area's rugs, with their geometric designs and animal figures as the most beautiful in the world.

From the faded palette and elegance of an Usak carpet and the luxurious Hereke carpets made for Ottoman Sultans, to the bold colorful design motifs of an Eastern Anatolian nomadic piece, Turkish Carpets have maintained their distinct identities reflecting an equally strong, diverse geography and colorful nation.

The serious rug collector will love Silk Road Collections rare 17th and 18th century Turkish Fassanh, Kazak, Bergama, Kayseri silk pile, Hereke 100% Silk and gold prayer rugs, and Armenian rugs.

Turkmen Rugs

From the Caspian Sea to the Chinese frontier, and from the Sea of Aral to Afghanistan and Persia, stretches an immense territory. Carpet-weaving in this sparsely populated region is an ancient art and was mainly carried out by theTurkoman tribes (Tekke, Yomut, Esari, Beshir, Salor, Saryk and Arabatchi). Because the tribes wove rugs and carpets primarily for domestic use and to cover the floors and walls in their tents, Turkoman carpets are rarely larger than 9 ft. in length.

The region became part of the Russian Empire in the 1860s. After the Russian Revolution, Turkestan was created, and it was eventually split into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Turkoman weavings are easy to distinquish as most have a madder (red to fox brown) field. Designs are always geometric, so pieces have a regimented even stately appearance. A distictive feature of Turkoman weavings are rows of rectilinear devices such as guls, within the field. Designs do vary from tribe to tribe but very little changed until the late 19th century when International demand for Turkoman weavings soared. Today Turkoman carpet weaving is a great commercial industry.

For the rug collector, Silk Road Collections features a wonderful array of Old World antique Turkmen rugs such as Tekke, Bashir, Ersari and Yamut rugs.

INTRODUCTION

The Oldest Carpet In The World

Pazyryk Carpet

The art of Carpet-weaving is interwoven into Persian and Turkish culture and history. Because wool, silk and cotton, the primary materials used in carpet weaving decay over time, archeologists rarely made any useful discoveries. The few worn out fragments they did recover, revealed very little about this fine ancient art.

Then, in 1949 during an archeological expedition in the Pazyryk Valley, located in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, the “Pazyryk” carpet (shown right) was found in the grave of a Scythian Prince. Because it was encased in ice, thus preserving it, scientists were able to determine through radiocarbon testing that it was woven in the 5th century BC. That makes it 2,500 years old and the oldest carpet in the world!


Silk Road Collections offers fine and rare Antique Turkish Rugs, Turkmen Rugs, Caucasian Rugs and Persian Rugs carpets. Some are over 300 years old! These historic Oriental Carpets are becoming increasingly rare and harder to find. Once you take your eyes off them, they are gone.

ISLAMIC PERIOD

Islamic Period

Ardabil Carpet

In the 8th century A.D., the Turkish Azerbaijan Province was among the largest centers of carpet and rough carpet (ziloo) weaving during the period of the Abbasid Dynasty. The Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled the Islamic world, oversaw an era of stunning cultural and intellectual achievements in philosophy, science, mathematics and architecture.

The Province of Tabarestan, sent 600 carpets to the courts of Caliphs in Baghdad every year along with taxes. The main items exported were carpets and prayer rugs. Also, the carpets of Khorassan, Sistan and Bukhara, because of their prominent designs and motifs, were in high demand. The industry thrived until the Mongol army attacked in the mid-thirteeneeth century and brought a halt for some time to all artistic and industrial activities such as carpet weaving and dyeing.

During the reigns of the Seljuq and Ilkhanate dynasties, in the 13th and 14th centuries, carpet weaving was still a booming business. Sheep were specially bred to produce fine wool for weaving carpets. Carpet designs depicting miniature paintings belonging to the Timurid era lend proof to the development of this industry at that time. Also, Oriental carpets depicted in Renaissance paintings from Europe are often detailed enough to fill the gaps in the record of surviving carpets.

One of the world's most historically important and the most famous of Islamic carpets, the "Ardabil Carpet", was made during one of the great political dynasties of Iran, the Safavid Dynasty (1501–1736). This was one of the most important periods for Islamic art, especially for textiles and for manuscripts. The Ardabil carpet takes it's name from the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran which was the home of the shrine of the Sufi saint, Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The carpet is in fact two original carpets – a matching pair that were woven for the shrine in 1539-40 according to the four-line inscription placed at one end. This short poem is vital for understanding who commissioned the carpet and the date of the carpet.

The first three lines of poetry reads:

"Except for thy threshold, there is no refuge for me in all the world.

Except for this door there is no resting-place for my head.

The work of the slave of the portal, Maqsud Kashani."

The fourth line contains the date AH 946 in the Muslim calendar, which is equivalent to AD 1539 – 1540.

One of the carpets can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The second is displayed in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The foundation is of silk and the pile of wool with a knot density of 300-350 knots per square inch. The original size of both carpets was 34 1/2 feet x 17 1/2 feet. The immense size of the Ardabil Carpet along with it's detailed design of rich geometric patterns, vine-like scrolls, floral flourishes and cartouches are indicative of the legendary craftsmanship and skill of the artisans of the period.

In the 16th and 17th century, there were numerous sub-regions including Tabriz and Lavar Kerman, that contributed distinctive designs to Turkish and Persian carpets of this period. Common motifs included scrolling vine networks, arabesques, palmettos, cloud bands, medallions, and overlapping geometric compartments.


Antique Persian and Turkish Oriental Rugs are beautiful works of art. They feature a tremendous variety of styles and design that include everything from elegant medallion and corner designs that reflect domes of mosques to fantastic hunting rugs and pictorial patterns that depict scenes from everyday life. Each one tells a different story of origin, craftsmanship and culture. See Silk Road Collections Featured Rugs to read some of the stories.

MODERN PERIOD

Modern Period

Modern Period Carpet

In the past, each of the rug weaving regions/tribes had their own style of design and type of weave. These rugs were one of a kind. The materials used were 100% organic and everything was hand-made. Sizes also tended to be smaller as they were primarily designed for tribal domestic use. Today, Turkish and Persian carpets have come under fierce competition from other countries. Many lesser quality new rugs are coming from the Asian subcontinent, particularly imported from India, Pakistan or China. The designs of Persian and Turkish carpets are copied and the majority are machine made, cranked out on an assembly line: there may be different models, but rugs of each model are alike as peas in a pod. Most of these are tea washed (acid washed). After the rugs are woven, they are sprayed with tea to imitate natural dyes and make the rugs look older.

This problem is partly due to the fact that the majority of Turkish and Persian Ethnic countries stopped producing hand-knotted natural dye rugs. Also, the absence of patenting and branding of the products, the reduced quality of raw materials in the local market and the consistent loss of original design patterns have contributed to a rapid decline in the size as well as market value of this art.

Although carpet production is now mostly mechanized, traditional hand woven, natural dye carpets can still be found. To give one example, the "Carpet of Wonder" in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman measures 4,343 square metres. Its construction required four years of labour by 600 workers, resulting in 12 million man hours of work.


Silk Road Collections goes directly to the source to hand-select exceptional, hand-spun, hand-knotted, 100% organic natural dye rugs. “I know my rugs”, says owner Mohamed Sassila. That's why buying a New World Persian or Turkish Oriental rug from Silk Road Collections ensures that your purchase will be of the highest quality imaginable.

RUG WEAVING MAP

Rug Weaving Map

Rug Weaving Map

Persian Rugs (Iran)

Persian Rugs are a living history that dates back 2,500 years. For centuries nomadic tribes produced rugs and carpets for a variety of uses and in some remote areas, traditional designs have survived well into the 20th century. In urban areas, sophisticated carpets were produced in workshops of the shahs of the Safavid state during the early 16th century through 1722. Skilled designers and craftsmen used the finest quality wools and silks to create wondrous works of art. Gold and silk threads were also used to add even more embellishment.

Because Persia (Iran) is so geographically and ethnically varied, rugs and carpets from thismost famous of all weaving regions vary greatly in their design, color and construction. It was in Persia (Iran) that carpets of curvilinear design were first developed in the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of the rugs and carpets produced in the main carpet weaving centers of Tabriz, Kashan, Kirman, Herat, Isfahan and Joshagan feature a central medallion and intricate, curvilinear designs.

Persian (Iranian) carpets are renowned for their superior quality of workmanship and materials. In palaces, mansions, museums, famous buildings and homes the world over, a Persian (Iranian) carpet is considered a most treasured possession.

Check out Silk Road Collections fine antique (Iranian) Persian carpets. We have Perisan Ziglar Mahal, Sanaa, Bakhtiya, Sarouq, Kashka’e and Malayer/ Faraghan, Tabriz and Heriz Rugs.

Caucasian Rugs

The wild and rugged region of the Caucasus takes it name from the one of the World's major mountain ranges that stretches 650 miles from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. Carpet weaving in this region dates back to the 16th century when much of the Caucasus was the Islamic Caliphat State (Turkish Empire). Major centers of production were Kuba, Dagestan, Shirvan, Kazak, Talish, Baku and Karabagh. The workshops in the Shirvan produced carpets for the courts of Tabriz, Qazin and Isfahan.

In the 1920's, the Soviet Union under Stalin, deported many tribespeople to the Soviet Union to work in factories. Those who remained were subjected to collectivized farming and the craft of weaving slowly died.

The carpets from the Caucasus region are readily distinguished by their smaller scatter rug size, geometrical designs and bold colours. Guard sripes, barber pole borders, crosses, zig zag, latchhook, and abstract decorated flower fields are some of the motifs you are likely to find on these classic Antique Caucasian Rugs.

Silk Road Collections features rare 19th and 20th century carpets and fine examples of antique village, nomadic and tribal Caucasian rugs like Shirvan, Karabagh and Kazak rugs. There is even a rare, large (10 x 13 ft) Shirvan rug made in the 1930's.

Turkish Rugs

Carpets, whether hand-knotted or flat woven has an important place in Turkish traditional heritage and cultural history. From Mongolia and Western Siberia, the early nomadic Turks arrived and brought their technique, culture and their love of carpets to Central Asia, Persia, the Indian Peninsula and finally to Anatolia which became one of the world's most celebrated centers of carpet making. After his visit to Anatolia in 1271, Italian traveler Marco Polo described the area's rugs, with their geometric designs and animal figures as the most beautiful in the world.

From the faded palette and elegance of an Usak carpet and the luxurious Hereke carpets made for Ottoman Sultans, to the bold colorful design motifs of an Eastern Anatolian nomadic piece, Turkish Carpets have maintained their distinct identities reflecting an equally strong, diverse geography and colorful nation.

The serious rug collector will love Silk Road Collections rare 17th and 18th century Turkish Fassanh, Kazak, Bergama, Kayseri silk pile, Hereke 100% Silk and gold prayer rugs, and Armenian rugs.

Turkmen Rugs

From the Caspian Sea to the Chinese frontier, and from the Sea of Aral to Afghanistan and Persia, stretches an immense territory. Carpet-weaving in this sparsely populated region is an ancient art and was mainly carried out by theTurkoman tribes (Tekke, Yomut, Esari, Beshir, Salor, Saryk and Arabatchi). Because the tribes wove rugs and carpets primarily for domestic use and to cover the floors and walls in their tents, Turkoman carpets are rarely larger than 9 ft. in length.

The region became part of the Russian Empire in the 1860s. After the Russian Revolution, Turkestan was created, and it was eventually split into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Turkoman weavings are easy to distinquish as most have a madder (red to fox brown) field. Designs are always geometric, so pieces have a regimented even stately appearance. A distictive feature of Turkoman weavings are rows of rectilinear devices such as guls, within the field. Designs do vary from tribe to tribe but very little changed until the late 19th century when International demand for Turkoman weavings soared. Today Turkoman carpet weaving is a great commercial industry.

For the rug collector, Silk Road Collections features a wonderful array of Antique Turkmen Rugs such as Tekke, Bashir, Ersari and Yamut rugs.

The Story Of Rugs

Loading
Launch

HERDING SHEEP


Herding sheep
Launch

HAND SPUN WOOL


hand spun wool
Launch

PREPARING THE WOOL FOR DYE


Preparing wool for dye
Launch

NATURAL DYE MATERIALS


Natural dye materials
Launch

DYEING WOOL WITH NATURAL DYES


Dyeing wool with natural dyes
Launch

DYED WOOL HANGING TO DRY


Dyed wool hanging to dry
Launch

DRAWING AND COLORING THE RUG DESIGN CARTOON


Launch

RUG WEAVING TOOLS


Launch

WEAVERS WORKING ON VERTICAL LOOM


Launch

WASHING THE RUGS


Launch

FINISHED RUGS HANGING TO DRY


Just a note to say "thanks" for the great rug that I purchased from you during the holidays. I found some clips that have plastic inserts so they do not damage the rug and I hung it in my office. I've also started reading about Persian rugs and I'm having a lot of fun going to estate sales in L.A. and checking out the bargains. Thanks again for making our trip so much fun.

Mark Dawson

While visiting Santa Fe, my wife and I bought a small Turkman rug in your gallery. It arrived today. The new fringe looks great, and the mat makes a big difference. Thank you. It's beautiful.

Peter H. Pawlowicz

Thank you so much for the runner. It goes with the hassock you so extremely kindly gave me last year. It also perfectly fits a traffic pattern in my house. It's lovely.

Sheila

We wish to thank you for the two beautiful rugs we now have hanging in our house. Also we very much appreciate the prompt response to my request to see more rugs made in Persia. The copy of your rug book and the appraisal arrived also.

Smitty Hoegstett

Many thanks for the rugs. It has been a pleasure doing business with you.I'm sure we will be associated in the future.

Ernesto & Amanda

SILK ROAD COLLECTIONS

112 West San Francisco Street
Suite 110
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Phone: 505.989.9497
Email:

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