Persia was in many sense the first permanent home of carpet weaving, and while robbed of much of her political power, and only a shadow of her former self, still holds up to the ideals of textile art, well worth a comprehensive study. World's oldest existing carpet, Pazyryk carpet, a pile-carpet dating back to 400-300 BCE discovered in 1949, depicts clear elements of Assyrian and Achaemenid design, including stylistic references to stone slab designs found in the palaces of the Persian empire. This has made many scholar consider it to be woven, and made in the Persian Achaemenid empire.
Rug and carpet artistry is well recognized in Persia, as Xenophon describes carpet production in the city of Sardis, then a province of the Achaemenid empire, stating that the locals take pride in their carpet production. Special mention of Persian carpets are made by Athenaeus of Naucratis (around 200 CE) in his Deipnosophists when he describes a "delightfully embroidered Persian carpet, having some Persian figures, and preposterous shapes of Persian griffins, and such like beasts" incorporated in its design.
When the Byzantine emperor Heraclius pillaged the palace of Khusrau II of the Sassanid Persia, he found various luxurious textiles including carpets that were embroidered with needles, most likely a pile carpet. A 7th century Sassanid stone carving at Taq-i-Bustan depics a fabric draped over the side of the boat, most likely a pile carpet. One of the most famous Sassanid era, Persian rugs was a carpet known as "Spring of Kusrau" depicting a pleasure garden, worked with gold, and silver, and emobroidered with jewels and colored stones. Unfortunately, this carpet did not survive the Arab invasion as the Arabs cut it up distributing it among themselves as spoils after they sacked the capital of Ctesiphon in 642 CE
Islamic geographers record Mazandaran, one of the provinces of Persia as important carpet weaving center in third to 9th century, while in fourth and 10th century Bukhara, as well as Khuzistan and Pars in southern Persia are also cited as notable production centers.
Many foreigners and foreign scholars have described their accounts of Persian carpets. Ruy González de Clavijo a Castilian traveller, (around 1400 CE) described the wonderful textile work he observed in Samarqand, court of Timur remarking that everywhere was covered with carpetry and reed matting.
Persian carpets also acted as vessels for art, design, and literature to be disseminated. One such example is the 16th century, "Ardabil Carpet" containing an inscription from the 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz:
- I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold
- There is no place of protection for my head other than this porchway
- The work of the slave of the holy place Maqsud Kashani in the year 946 (1540 C.E.)
German architect and art enthusiast, Gottfried Semper called rugs "the original means of separating space". Rug weaving was thus developed by ancient civilizations as a basis of architecture. Persian rugs are said to be the most detailed hand-made works of art. Also known as the "status rugs", Persian rugs are very important in Persian culture. Interworking of fibers to produce cloth was known in Iran as early as the 5th millennium BCE
When the famous Greek commander Themistocles was asking for asylum from Persia, the “Persian carpet” was mentioned in his speech:He commanded him to speak freely what he would concerning the affairs of Greece. Themistocles replied, that a man’s discourse was like to a rich Persian carpet, the beautiful figures and patterns of which can only be shown by spreading and extending it out; when it is contracted and folded up, they are obscured and lost; and, therefore, he desired time. —Plutarch (Plutarch’s Lives, Chapter 49, Themistocles)
In general Persian rugs are classified based on their region of production including Feraghan (Kashan), Hamedan, Herat (Afghani), Herez (Azeri), Isfahan, Kerman & Kermanshah, Khorasan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Senna, Saraband (southwest of Arak), Saruk (Markazi), Sultanabad, and Tabriz.
Recently made Isfahan rug detials
Antique Kerman rug details
Antique Mashhad rug details
Recently made Isfahan rug details
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