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Learn About What Sets Each Persian Carpet Weaving Centres Apart

Learn About What Sets Each Persian Carpet Weaving Centres Apart

Qum is a relatively recent centre of production for traditionally based urban workshop carpets, with workshops first appearing there in 1927. Qum rapidly became highly significant and important with an emphasis on producing technically fine silk rugs, and output was prolific by the late 1930s. Initially their rugs displayed designs firmly influenced and inspired by the Classical carpet designs originating from the neighbouring city of Kashan, which in turn was one of the most historically important centres of carpet production with a tradition of carpet making dating back to the ‘Golden Age’, under the patronage of the Safavid rulers (1502- 1736). Persian Qum rugs can, however display highly individual and unique patterns, without being constrained by tradition due to the fact that it is a relatively new centre of carpet production.  

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Traditionally, Tabriz has been a city of master-weavers and Tabriz's rugs are very popular worldwide. They are known for their remarkable adherence to the classical traditions of antique Persian rug design. What truly sets them apart from other Persian rugs is their exceptional quality coupled with incredible design and versatility of use. However, there is no traditional colour scheme and the variety of colour is here limitless, ranging from rich jewel tones to subtle pastels. Hence, they cannot be stereotyped into one category. What also sets the city of Tabriz apart, in northwest Iran, is art history, as it was the earliest capital of the Saffavid dynasty, hence can claim to have been a centre of carpet production longer than any other city in Iran. Furthermore, it is not surprising that the carpets woven there have been able to preserve the highest state-of-the-art technical standards and the most varied repertoire to browse through. Tabriz rugs offer classical medallion designs and a host of allover patterns as well in every colour conceivable, from bold rich tones to more feminine pastels.

Tabriz is the capital of Azerbaijan, a province in the north of Iran. It has survived repeated destruction by numerous earthquakes and invasions by the Mongols, Tamerlane, Ottomans and Afghans, as well as Russian occupations. During the late 19th century three Persian master-weavers, Haji Jalili, Sheik Safi and Kurban Dai contributed to Tabriz’s revival and Tabriz rug merchants began exporting Persian antique rugs to Western markets on a large scale.  The ateliers in this influential carpet-weaving city established a strong reputation for classicism and quality that is still respected today. Regional carpets feature effortless curve-linear designs, Saffavid emblems, allover Herati (fish/Mahi) patterns, spectacular medallions and masterful motifs of all shapes and sizes. Antique Tabriz rugs have been sought after by rug aficionados for decades. They are not only one of the finest groups of Persian rugs to have been produced in Persia, and they are extremely decorative as well. The rugs of Tabriz are among the most beautiful and most desirable of antique Persian rugs, and have been manufactured in the Northern part of Iran continuously for centuries. All natural dyes are paramount for the carpet to have more than just decorative value. Beyond that, various dyers had varying levels of skill and invested different lengths of time in dyeing the yarns.  The “quality of colour”–its radiance and level of nuance within each colour–is centrally important.  Certain rare colours such as Tyrian purple, saffron yellow, cochineal rose and greens tremendously add to the carpet’s value.

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Nain is a town 150 km to the east of Isfahan in central Iran; it is relatively new to the carpet world compared to ancient weaving centres such as Tabriz, Kashan, Isfahan and Yazd. Although it started out producing Isfahan carpets, in the mid 1930s, Nain began developing its own style. Very fine and precise designs were created due to the high quality of the workshops in the area. Fathollah Habibian (1903-1995) ran one of the most famous Na'in workshops and is widely regarded as 'the father of Nain rugs'. Producing fine carpets with his brother Mohammed since his school days, Habibian is responsible for the design and weaving of some of the world's finest Nains. 


Nain rugs usually have a cotton foundation with a very soft wool or wool & silk pile. The majority of Nain rugs have at least some silk detail. Quality is measured not only in knots per square inch (KPSI) which averages about 300 but also in LAA. LAA is a Farsi term referring to the number of threads that make up each fringe. A Nain with a LAA of 9 is considered a good quality rug (yet is the lowest quality of true Nains) while a LAA of 4 the best. LAA is related to KPSI as it allows tighter knotting.

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