The Persian carpet is a brilliant and glorious manifestation of the Iranian's rich culture and superior artistic sense. The art of weaving carpets by hand starts with imagination and creativity in designing the pattern and comes alive with knotting threads to create a piece of art.
The Persian carpet might be the most well-known phrase that initially comes into one's mind when talking about Iran or Iranians. The Persian carpet is one of the oldest handicrafts in history and today is traded as precious and profitable commercial goods. Experts can estimate the price and value of a Persian carpet based on several factors, including the complexity of the patterns, material, the count of knots, the variety of colors in the design, and the age and origin of the carpet. Persian carpet has a deep-rooted history. The Pazyryk carpet, preserved in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, is an ancient witness of the Persian carpet's value and genuineness, dating back to more than 2500 years ago, according to the archaeologists and specialist's findings.This article tries to answer some of the most crucial inquiries regarding the Persian carpet, such as its history, and the difference between a Persian rug and a Persian carpet, and also highlights the most influential factors which affect the price and value of a Persian carpet. At the end of this article, several helpful tips and cautions can be found on how to preserve and clean a Persian handmade carpet at its most desirable level in terms of appearance and overall quality.
Iranian Handmade Carpet
Iranian handmade carpets are significantly incomparable and unrivaled in the global market of handmade carpets. The quality and design of the Iranian handmade carpets are considerably outstanding compared to other handwoven carpets produced in other countries. Therefore, the Iranian handmade carpet is regarded as the most famous and valuable goods to be exported to foreign countries or purchased as souvenirs by individuals.
One of the characteristics of Iranian handmade carpets is their breathtaking diversity in terms of patterns, designs, fabric materials, and colors. Even the region where the carpet is woven would affect the characteristics of the carpet; for example, carpets that are woven in the western areas, such as Tabriz, Hamedan, and Bijar, are utterly different in style, color, and design from those carpets which are produced in central regions such as Kashan and Yazd.
Carpet weaving is a fruitful industry that is not limited to a specific area of Iran, and it is undertaken countrywide. All provinces weave carpets based on their own unique style and culture; however, some particular provinces are more prevalent in this industry, such as Eastern Azerbaijan, Isfahan, Fars, Markazi, Yazd, Khorasan Razavi, and South Khorasan. The handmade Iranian carpets form a noticeable share of the country's non-oil exports. The most famous destinations for exporting Iranian handmade carpets are Germany, Japan, and United Arab Emirates; however, the exports are not limited to these countries and Persian handmade carpets have fans and customers in most European and Northern American countries as well.
Persian Carpet History
The Iranians were among the first nations to develop the original and the ancient carpet weaving art. They could brilliantly achieve a magnificent grade of perfection during centuries of designing and creating invaluable handmade Persian carpets, dating back to more than 2,500 years ago. Historians claim that the art of carpet weaving by hand was started in ancient Iran, which is also called Persia, by the nomadic tribes of Iran. This claim is backed by the Russian archaeologist's discovery of the Pazyryk carpet which experts estimated that it belongs to the fifth century BC. The Pazyryk carpet is an excellent illustration of carpet weaving art; these unique art and technique have been under constant change, it evolved and developed over centuries due to the various conditions caused by the different ruling empires in the Persian territory.
Persian carpets are usually known for their symmetrical knots and delicacy in their designs. In comparison, the design and texture of other handmade and oriental carpets generally express a lower meticulousness and delicacy due to their less accurate and asymmetrical knots, and also, they are woven according to more simple patterns in less radiant colors than Iranian carpets.
Furthermore, the quality of the thread or fabric used in the creation of the Persian carpet is significantly higher than the oriental carpets; usually, oriental carpets are made of lower-quality fabrics than Iranian ones.One of the most famous historical Persian carpets is the "Springtime of Khosrow”, which was woven by Iranians during the monarchy of the Khosrow I, one of the Persian kings of Iran from 531 AD to 579 AD. Historians regard the Springtime of Khosrow carpet as the most precious handmade carpet of all time. This gigantic silk carpet had dimensions of 400' x 100’ with a weight of several tons.
The magnificence of the design and the level of professionalism in weaving the Persian carpet reached their peak during the Safavid Dynasty in the 16th century AD. Some of the most epic carpets in history that had been made in the Safavid era are preserved and displayed in the world's most outstanding museums, such as London's Victoria and Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum.
Today, Iranian carpets and rugs are the most well-known handicrafts and souvenirs of Iran, representing and introducing Persia's rich and deep-rooted history and Iranian people's distinctive culture to the world's citizens.
Tip: Travelers who are interested in visiting the most glorious handmade Persian carpets will have the opportunity to visit The Carpet Museum of Iran during the Iranian World Treasures Tour and can ask for guidance from their tour leader on finding and visiting the Carpet Museum in Tehran.
The Difference Between a Persian Rug and a Persian Carpet
Usually, the words carpets and rugs are comprehended in a way that they refer to different meanings, while theoretically, both terms describe a cloth that is used to cover the floor. However, it should be mentioned that there are differences in terms of the dimensions of carpets and rugs.Both Persian rugs and Persian carpets are woven fabrics structured and made of knots with the same textures and techniques, and they are mainly used to cover the floor to provide a softer surface than the main floor. Furthermore, they are also used as a type of furniture to protect people from the cold surface of the floor during winter in their homes.
Moreover, some carpets and rugs are used as decorative elements in designing places either on the wall or on the floor due to their premium and stunning quality and design. Nevertheless, both Persian rugs and Persian carpets are thick, soft, and heavy, but still, they have slightly different features. The most significant difference is regarding their sizes; regularly, as it was explained carpets are bigger than rugs, likewise, this difference in terms of size applies to Persian carpets and rugs.To put it another way, usually, a carpet can cover the entire room or at least a significantly wide area of the floor in a room, wall to wall, on the contrary, a rug only covers a small area of a room due to its smaller size. Consequently, since the size of the rug is typically smaller than the carpet, it is more convenient to clean, wash or relocate.
Iranian Carpet Texture
Iranian rugs and carpets fall into the cut pile category which refers to those types of carpets or rugs that, unlike the loop pile types, the weaver cuts the top surface of the pile that is formed by knotting the thread to the backing of the carpet or the rug. Cut pile carpets and rugs can be made of piles with different heights and thicknesses, accordingly cut pile carpets or rugs with higher piles provide a softer feeling while they can have downsides as well, such as difficulty in cleaning or vacuuming or even the trail of the vacuum cleaner might last on the piles after vacuuming the area.
The term “loop pile” which is also called “uncut pile” refers to carpets or rugs in which the knotted and looped thread is not cut into half on the surface of the carpet or rug. Loop pile carpets or rugs might not offer the same softness and artistic appearance as cut pile ones, but they also have their own notable advantages such as high durability and ease of cleaning which makes them the best options to cover the floor of public or high-traffic places, nevertheless, loop pile carpets and rugs also can be used in residential places, too.Tip: During the Eavar’s Nomadic tours, travelers who are interested in watching the hand-weaving process will have the opportunity to visit cities and places that are famous for weaving superior handmade Persian carpets and rugs. Moreover, travelers and guests of Eavar will be able to purchase their desired Iranian rug or carpet from the related bazaars during their visit, too.
Why Is the Iranian Carpet Famous?
Experts discovered that several countries, such as Türkiye, Spain, China, Afghanistan, India, Egypt, Kazakhstan, and some parts of Europe such as Romania, have produced handmade carpets since ancient eras. However, Iran was the most prosperous country in developing and enhancing handwoven carpets' techniques, designs, and quality, among other competitors. This distinction and popularity are due to several reasons. The primary feature of Iranian handmade carpets which sets them apart from their rivals in the market is their significantly vibrant and diverse colors. Moreover, the patterns and plans on which the Persian carpets are woven are considerably more complex and detailed than carpets produced in other countries. Consequently, knotting and weaving Iranian handmade carpets take a notably more time than other handcrafted carpets made in other countries.
What Factors Determine the Price of a Persian Carpet
The value of a Persian carpet can fluctuate in a wide range of prices; the Iranian carpets can be considerably expensive or have an affordable price based on the budget limitation of the buyer. The price of a handmade Persian rug or carpet can be affected by several different factors, and each of these factors can affect the cost and value of the carpet or rug separately. These factors include:
- The Persian carpet’s material: Usually, the material is the most fundamental factor in the pricing process, and the Persian carpet is not an exception when it comes to setting a price. To produce a handmade Iranian carpet, the quality of the raw material is the ultimate determinant in the pricing process. The required thread and fabric to make a handmade Persian carpet can be chosen among different options, including silk, wool, and cotton. Carpets made of silk are the most expensive types of carpets; however, the price of a silk carpet can be lower if the backing is not made of silk compared to a full silk carpet, in which both the backing fabric and piles are made of silk. Cotton carpets are cheaper than silk carpets and usually have a mid-range price. However, the most budget-friendly Persian carpets are made of wool.
To sum up, silk carpets are the most expensive and precious types of Iranian handmade carpets. However, the price will be estimated based on a few details, for instance, if all components of the carpet are made of silk the carpet will be more valuable and expensive as well, but if the silk pile is woven on the cotton or wool backing the price of the carpet will be lower compared to the full silk one, while it still keeps its artistic and silky appearance. Another reason that makes the silk carpets significantly expensive and valuable is their extremely fine and detailed patterns and designs. Since the silk is considerably thinner than wool and cotton, it facilitates the weaver to weave a softer, lighter, and more detailed carpet that can be easily folded.
- Persian carpet design and the level of complexity of its pattern:The handmade Persian carpets with more complex, smaller, and more detailed patterns and designs take more time and effort from the weaver than weaving carpets with bolder, larger, and more simple patterns. Over and above, weaving complex carpets requires significantly more experience and attention to detail from the weaver, which directly affects the price of the carpet.
- The total number of knots:When a carpet has a considerably complex and detailed pattern, it means it has a significantly higher number of knots. Similarly, a handmade carpet with a higher count of knots will be woven in a longer time compared to a carpet with a lower number of knots, subsequently, it requires a higher labor effort and attention. Therefore, the count of knots is a significant determinant in pricing a handmade Persian carpet.Typically, the Persian carpet is made of approximately 300 knots per square inch; this number of knots in such a small area is considerably high. Accordingly, the lower the knots count, the lower the price will be.
- The variety of used colors:A more colorful carpet made of vibrant and high-quality colors is more engaging and eye-catching. The number and quality of colors used in a handmade carpet are crucial determinants in pricing a Persian carpet. Using a considerably diverse range of colors requires more superior skill and attention to detail in addition to the excessive time to spend on weaving a colorful carpet compared to a carpet consisting of a limited number of colors. As a result, a higher number of colors in a carpet will positively affect its price.
- The age and origin of the carpet:Similar to any other antique furniture, the carpets might be more valuable if their age is older than carpets with younger age. However, the carpet’s condition is also critical; an antique carpet with an ideal situation in terms of color and texture can have a significantly higher price depending on the uniqueness and rareness of the pattern and design of the carpet.Several regions in Iran produce handmade Persian carpets and rugs, but among all of these cities, Qom and Kashan are the most famous cities in the industry. Still, it depends on the desire and preference of the buyer to decide which pattern of the carpet is the best fit for their purpose.
The Persian Carpet Cleaning and Preserving Tips
Iranian handmade carpets or rugs require extra care and caution since they are made of organic and natural materials and dyes that are extremely sensitive. Experts suggest a few crucial tips regarding preserving the Persian handmade carpets' appearance and texture.
- Initially, the carpet must be laid on a dry, dust-free, and even surface; furthermore, it is also suggested that the carpet should not be put on top of another carpet.
- One of the most frequent reasons for damaging handmade carpets is the excess water that drains out from the plant's vases directly located on the carpets or even on the very close areas to the carpet, which leads to the rottenness of the texture or might cause stains on the carpet. Unfortunately, a rotten carpet might not be repairable or can only be revived by an expert's aid.
- Furthermore, the sharp and heavy furniture that has been put on the carpet constantly for a long time might cause noticeable indentations on the carpet's surface. If the indentation is recognized immediately, it can be revived by using a toothbrush; the indented area should be brushed in the opposite direction of the deformed piles until they turn back into their standard form.However, in more severe cases, indentations could be fixed by placing ice cubes on the indented area; during the procedure that the ice is melting, the deformed piles absorb the water and rise gradually to their standard form. Yet, in cases where the indentation is extremely old and deep, the deformation might not be reversed entirely.
- To protect the carpet's colors from fading due to the direct exposure to the sunlight, the user should put a piece of textile on the carpet and rotate and relocate the carpet every six months.
- In places where the handmade carpet is kept, if the moisture index is significantly high or the air is not circulating regularly; it is suggested that the air circulation be facilitated by opening the doors and windows of the room monthly. If not possible or the place does not have any types of ventilation, the carpet must be taken out to the open spaces and be kept for at least an hour whenever possible.
- The regular vacuum of handmade carpets is crucial since the accumulated dust in the texture of the carpet will accelerate the carpet's rotting process; in addition to vacuuming the surfaces of the carpet, it is advised to vacuum the backing of the carpet once in a year.
- Last but not least, if the carpet is decided to be kept in storage for a long time, it is suggested to be rolled instead of folded and wrapped carefully in a plastic bag and sealed. But, before rolling in every layer, some dried tobacco or naphthalene pills should be put to protect the carpet from termites and clothes moths. Additionally, the storage space must have appropriate and constant air circulation.
- The cleanness of the carpet is a crucial feature affecting the magnificence and attractiveness of its appearance; therefore, it is necessary to wash carpets every three to five years. But as the handmade carpets are significantly sensitive to water, temperature, steam, excess pressure, and chemical cleaners, it is strongly recommended to hand the task over to the experienced experts who do the washing of handmade carpets.
- In a situation in which it is unavoidable to wash handmade carpets at home, preferably, it is encouraged to clean only the stained area by using cold water and a soft cloth, or if needed, use a diluted mixture of suitable cleaners which are produced specifically for handmade carpets. Furthermore, a steam cleaner should never be used to clean a handmade carpet.Washing the handmade carpet with water and cleaners must be done by experienced experts since washing the handmade carpet at home or by inexperienced individuals might cause irreparable damage to the carpet.