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Warps, Wefts and Knots

Ever wondered what Warps, Wefts and Knots are in Oriental Rugs? Here is an explanation:


Together with the weft it forms the foundation of the rug. It is the name given to the threads which stretch lengthways between the beams of the loom, whether horizontal or vertical. In nomad rugs the warp is wool, while in others it can be of cotton or more rarely of silk. The surplus warp at each end of the rug or carpet forms the fringe.


The weft is the thread that is woven in and out across the warp between rows of knots. Varying between one to three or four rows, depending on where the rug is made, its purpose is to hold the knots firmly in place. The threads of the weft are pushed firmly against the knots by being beaten with a comb-beater.


There are two knots common to hand-knotted rugs, whether Persian, Turkish, Turkoman, Caucasian, Indian, Tibetan, or Chinese. They are the Ghiordes and Senneh - the former named after a town in Turkey and the latter after a town in Persia. They are also referred to simply as the Turkish or Persian knot. A strange fact is that although the Persian knot is named after the town of Senneh, the majority of rugs from that town are made with the Ghiordes knot! Generally, however, Turkish rugs are made with the Ghiordes and Persian with the Senneh. The Ghiordes is also used in the Caucasus and by the Turkoman tribes. 

The Ghiordes knot is symmetrical and is formed by looping the woollen yarn around two adjacent threads and drawn up between them as shown below:

The Symmetrical Turkish Ghiordes Knot

The Senneh or Persian knot is asymmetrical and is formed by looping the pile yarn under one warp and over and under the adjacent warp, the ends pulled upwards, one end between each warp.

One Version Of The Asymmetrical Persian Senneh Knot


Another Version Of The Asymmetrical Persian Senneh Knot


By examining the pile of the carpet (brushing sideways) and scrutinising the back, it is possible to identify the knot used, the nature of the warp, and the weave pattern, i.e. the relationship of the wefts to the knots.


Carpet & Kilim Weaving Regions

Have you seen our new page on Oriental Carpet and Kilim Weaving Regions?  It's work in progress but we thought it would be interesting for people to be able to learn more about the history and origins of some of the rugs we buy.  Many of the Persian, Afghan & Turkish Rugs we sell have been woven for many years in the small villages of Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan. 

Different villages often have certain recognisable styles and patterns which is one of many ways we can recognise the origin of an Oriental Rug.  Take a look at information HERE, as we say more will be added soon.


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Oriental Rug & Kilim Symbols & Motifs


If you sit and look at your handmade rug or kilim you will see many symbols woven in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some figurative and some that you really cannot work out what they are meant to be!  

These symbols have been handed down over hundreds of years and we have put together a reference of many of these rug motifs (See our Information Page) so you can take a look and work out what some of the stories are behind your Turkish, Persian or Afghan rug.  

For example, HAYAT AĞACI - Tree of Life is a theme which stands for the wish of immortality or the hope for life after death.  Stylisation of various plants, such as cypress, date, palm, pomegranate, fig, olive, wine, beech and oak, are used to symbolise the tree of life.  We have put together a whole list of these symbols - To find out more look here.

HAYAT AĞACI - Tree of Life

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Oriental Rug Terminology anyone? Ever wondered what Abrash is, or what Selvedge means?

Oriental Rug Terminology anyone?  Ever wondered what Abrash is, or what Selvedge means? There a lots of specific terms that relate to Oriental Carpets & Rugs and it can be confusing unless you know more about them.  We have put together a Carpet, Kilim & Rug Terminology Information Page to help people understand the meanings of some of these rug related words and terms. To find out more look here 

Abrash- Variations in tone or intensity of colour. Describes different shifts in the tone within a particular colour in a weaving, which usually occur as a result of the use of different dye lots.

Afshars– A group of Turkic speaking nomads whose primary habitat is Kerman Province in south eastern Persia.

Alum– Potassium aluminium sulphate used as a mordant.

Aniline– A synthetic dye derived from coal tar.

Asmalyk– A type of weaving usually pile (can be textile too) and commonly five-sided, woven to decorate the leading camel in a Turkoman wedding procession.

To find out more look here .......

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Qashqai Tribal Weavers

We were looking through some old photos the other day and it struck us how little things have changed for some of the rural Qashqai tribes.  Many have settled into villages in the Shiraz area of Southern Iran but there are still some who live a nomadic way of life migrating between warm and cooler climates in summer and winter and also in search of good grazing.  The Qashqai women weave beautiful tribal Persian rugs, kilims and carpets when they are settled in the summer months, a period when they are also preparing for the weddings of their daughters and sons.

Going back to the photos, we thought we would share some comparisons of very old images taken from our tribal rug book collection together with photos we have taken ourselves when in the southern Shiraz Fars region of Persia.  All colour photos are taken by Yashar Bish.

"The Qashqai of Iran" - Whitworth Art Gallery - Migration (1974)

Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia - Migration (Recent)

"The Qashqai People of Southern Iran"  UCLA Museum (1977)

Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia - Migration (Recent)

"The Qashqai People of Southern Iran" UCLA Museum (1978) Darrehshuri Tribe

Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia (Recent)

"The Qashqai of Iran" - Whitworth Art Gallery
Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia (Recent)
"The Qashqai of Iran" - Whitworth Art Gallery - Spinning
Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia (Recent)
"The Qashqai of Iran" - Whitworth Art Gallery - Wool Spinning
Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia (Recent)
"The Qashqai People of Southern Iran"  UCLA Museum (1977) Darrehshuri Weavers
"The Qashqai of Iran" - Whitworth Art Gallery - Persian Rug Weaving
Taken by Yashar Bish in Fars region of Persia (Recent)

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Persian Carpet Bazaar Tabriz

We thought we would share these interesting images of the Persian Carpet Bazaar in Tabriz that were published in an article in the Payvand News and were taken by Farshid Tighehsaz, ISNA

The Bazaar of Tabriz is one of the oldest bazaars of the Middle East and the largest covered bazar in the world. It was inscribed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2010.

Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity. Its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centres on the Silk Road. Located in the centre of the city of Tabriz, Persia, this spectacular structure consists of several sub-bazaars, such as Amir Bazaar (for gold and jewellery), Mozzafarieh (a carpet bazaar), a shoe bazaar, and many other ones for various goods.

Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex, located along one of the most frequented east-west trade routes, consists of a series of interconnected, covered brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for a variety of functions - commercial and trade-related activities, social gatherings, and educational and religious practices. Closely interwoven with the architectural fabric is the social and professional organization of the Bazaar, which has allowed it to function over the centuries and has made it into a single integrated entity.

Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex has been one of the most important international places for commercial and cultural interchange, thanks to the centuries-old east-west trading connections and routes and to a wise policy of endowments and tax exemptions.

Tabriz Historic Bazaar bears witness to one of the most complete socio-cultural and commercial complexes among bazaars. It has developed over the centuries into an exceptional physical, economic, social, political, and religious complex, in which specialized architectural structures, functions, professions, and people from different cultures are integrated in a unique living environment. The lasting role of the Tabriz Bazaar is reflected in the layout of its fabric and in the highly diversified and reciprocally integrated architectural buildings and spaces, which have been a prototype for Persian urban planning. 



Could this be the largest Persian Carpet Ever Made?

This is Persia's vast handmade carpet - woven with cotton and wool from both Persia and New Zealand.  Persia says this is the world's largest handmade carpet, a vast green and red floor covering that is larger than a football pitch.
The carpet, which took 1,200 weavers some 18 months to make, was commissioned for a mosque in the United Arab Emirates.
Measuring 5,625 sq m (60,546 sq ft), the carpet was made in nine separate segments with 2.2 billion knots.
It was woven in Persia's north-eastern province of Khorasan and is worth an estimated $5.8m (£2.8m).
Half of that sum is destined for the local area in Khorasan, where it was produced using about 38 tons of wool and cotton.
The nine sections of the carpet were stitched together after being flown to Abu Dhabi in two aeroplanes.
Four groups of people were sent to UAE for the fitting and cleaning of the carpet, said Jalaleddin Bassam, the head of Persia's state carpet company.
He said the carpet was an important commission for Persia's carpet-making industry, and said it could lead to further orders.
"Persia is in talks to make similar carpets for Oman and other Gulf countries," he told Agence France-Presse.
The carpet - mainly green, red and cream - was made using 25 different colours of wool sourced from the town of Sirjan, in southern Persia, as well as New Zealand.
Excerpt from BBC News Article


Persia's Tragic Carpets

We found this article from the Independent newspaper and thought it might be interesting to anybody interested in Persian Rugs and Carpets.

Persia’s tragic carpets: Industry hit by sanctions and economic crisis - the rug industry is the country’s second largest exporter, but is now struggling.

by JASON REZAIAN (Saturday 20 July 2013)

The vast bazaar in the Persian capital Tehran is home to, by most estimates, the highest concentration of handmade rugs in the world, with millions piled high in more than a thousand shops in a labyrinth of ancient passageways.

Persia’s rug exports, however, are declining – revenue was down 17 per cent last year – as are the number of people employed in the industry. Many associated with the trade believe its survival is threatened.

The centuries-old industry has been hit hard by repeated economic crises in recent years, as well as by sanctions imposed by the United States, formerly the biggest market for Persian carpets. Even in Persia, cheaper, machine-made rugs are starting to outsell handmade ones. The industry’s decline is just one more problem facing the Islamic republic’s president-elect, Hassan Rouhani, when he takes office in early August.

Persian carpet experts are calling on the government to boost the image of the hand-woven rugs in countries other than the US.

“We expect the new government to assign enough of a budget for our promotional campaigns to better introduce Persia’s rugs internationally,” Mojtaba Feyzollahi, marketing deputy of the Persian National Carpet Centre, says.

Ali-Reza Ghaderi, the founder and director of the Tehran-based Persian Carpet Think Tank, agreed that officials should concentrate on promoting exports. “The problem is not production, but marketing and selling,” says Mr Ghaderi.

After energy products, handmade rugs are Persia’s most important export, accounting for $560m (£368m) last year, which amounts to about 20 per cent of the global handmade rug market.

But not all Persian analysts think the government should support the ancient craft.

“I don’t think this is an industry that the country needs to protect, as it does not produce good jobs that young people should be seeking,” says Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, an economics professor at Virginia Tech who visits Persia regularly. But the industry employs about 2 million Persians, and an estimated 10 per cent of the population benefits economically from some aspect of the rug business, according to the Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade. That makes its preservation essential, at least for now.

In addition to merchants, the industry generates jobs for repairmen and the deliverymen who scurry around the bazaar with rusty handcarts brimming with inventory.

In Tehran and across Persia, however, the number of people in the industry is decreasing, according to experts.

“The rug bazaar is being eaten by the clothing bazaar, which borders us,” says Hossein Hosseiny, a 31-year-old third-generation rug merchant, as he navigates through crowds of people sifting through stacks of garments in the shops that are taking over much of the old bazaar.

Trading in clothes made in China and Turkey is more lucrative than selling Persian rugs, so clothing importers are willing to pay exorbitant rents – more than $2,000 per month – for stalls measuring less than 100 square feet in some highly trafficked areas of the bazaar.

Although many of his fellow merchants are abandoning the rug trade, Mr Hosseiny says he has no intention of quitting. He, like many other Persians, considers carpets a vital part of the country’s heritage.

“In this tough economy, some consider switching to a more profitable business, but then what will happen to art and those jobs which are rooted in our tradition?” he asked. “I try not to lose my hope. I have to think about not only helping myself, but also my country and the art of rug making, with hope for the future.”

Like many in the business, Mr Hosseiny was exposed to rug making at an early age, spending hours in his father’s shop, developing an extensive knowledge of rugs produced in various parts of Persia.

At 18, he embarked on three years of travel throughout Persia to learn what he did not know. “In almost every corner of Persia, people weave rugs,” he says.

His knowledge of types of carpets has become an important advantage, as most rug merchants here deal in merchandise from particular regions, usually where they have family ties.

Many of them are being forced out of business because their inventory is limited, including only a small number of styles and colours. Persia’s rug exporters have difficulty competing with the variety of styles produced by similar industries in other countries.

Sanctions against Persia are also having a deep impact on the business. Banking sanctions and a 2010 embargo on Persian rugs by the US government are impeding merchants’ ability to sell goods abroad and transfer the proceeds home.

This is bad not only for the rug business, but also for Persia’s image, according to Mr Hosseiny.

“Rugs can be a great ambassador for this country,” he says. “When someone buys a rug and takes it home to their country, other people see its beauty and hear its story, and it gets them interested in Persia.”

The archaic industry, which has changed little since Mr Hossainy’s grandfather started his business half a century ago, also suffers from the rising cost of labour and the difficulty in importing materials such as silk and some dyes.

Producers hope the government will give them assistance in marketing and access to better health insurance for weavers, who can suffer joint and back injuries, among other problems.

“We have to care for our industry like a farmer grows a tree, ensuring that in the future we can continue to pick its fruit,” Mr Hosseiny says.

Carpet experts and economists say that Persia’s rug production may ultimately return to being what it was when it started, a specialised art form.

“Eventually, as a handicraft, it must go upscale and produce carpets for high-income people. In that phase, it will be employing very few people and will not be part of the national industries to protect,” Mr Salehi-Isfahani says.

Persian carpets

$560m exports of handmade Persian carpets
2 million Persians employed in industry
10% population benefits


Persian Rug Sold at Auction for Record $33.8m

The BBC reported on a recent Sotheby's sale!

6 June 2013

A 17th Century Persian rug has sold for $33.8m (£21.8m), a sum triple the previous auction record for a carpet.

The winning bid for the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet was made anonymously on Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York.


William Clark, an industrialist and US senator from Montana, had bequeathed the carpet and other items to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1926.

The Washington DC museum will use proceeds from the sale of that and 24 other rugs to fund future acquisitions.

The previous sale record was $9.6m for a Persian rug sold by Christie's in London in April 2010.

Sotheby's had forecast the sale price as high as $9m, and four bidders fought for more than 10 minutes over the carpet. The winning bid came over the telephone.

In a statement, Corcoran's director said the museum was "thrilled" by the results of the auction. The museum had held the carpet and several others in storage.

The carpet, dated to the first half of the 17th Century, is believed to be from Kerman in south-east Persia. It was last displayed in the Corcoran in 2008.

The auction house said the carpet had one of the most rare "vase" technique patterns and appeared to be the only known such rug with a red background.

BBC News (US & Canada)


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