ANTIQUE PERSIAN ISFAHAN CARPETS
Isfahan Carpet and Rugs (Esfehan) has been flourished since 19th century and expanded rapidly in the production of exports of excellent quality and designs for the European market. Isfahan was the capital of the country during the Safavids dynasty, the powerful Shah Abbas was a great believer of architecture, art and handicrafts. The rugs of Isfahan are exceptionally attractive, captivating and classically Persian. These traits have made Isfahan carpet sought after by designers and collectors seeking Persia’s most iconic and archetypal rugs.
Isfahan is one of the biggest and the most beautiful cities in Iran, the foundation of which is attributed to the Achaemenian period. Carpet weaving has a long tradition in Iran and during the Safavid period especially during the reign of Shah Abbass (1589-1628 AD) it reached to its golden peak. Isfahan presented the best and the most beautiful carpets to the world in the 17th century. The art of carpet-weaving declined in the 18th century due to
the Afghan‘s invasion, but flourished again in the late 19th
The mosques and historical monuments of Isfahan with beautiful tile-works have always been a very rich source of inspiration for the talented artisans and carpet designers. Isfahan carpets have usually symmetrical designs, specially the corner-medallion design. The medallions are usually circular, surrounded by eight or sixteen appendages. Vase design, prayer-niche design, tree-of-life, and animal figures are also sometimes seen in Isfahan carpets.
One characteristic feature of Isfahan carpets is the arabesque pattern which moves endlessly on the main field of the carpet. In some of the carpets, arabesques in light color, decorate a lighter field in such a way that the eyes of the beholder are caught up by the palmettes and cloud-ribbons (motifs of the Safavid period).
The harmonious composition of colors in Isfahan carpets is a very distinguished feature in the hand weaving of this region. Dark and light shades of blue, cream and vermilion are the main colors in Isfahan carpets. Warps and wefts is mostly cotton. The very high-quality carpets of this region have silk warps. All the Isfahan carpets are asymmetrically knotted, double-wefted (with light-blue weft threads) and Lool-baft [ridged-back construction].
Amongst the carpets woven in Isfahan, well-known all over the world are the so-called Polonaise or Polish carpets. This name was attributed by the French to a group of silk-piled, silver-and-gold brocaded, embossed design carpets belonging to a Polish prince named Czar Torski exhibited for the first time in 1878, in TrocadroPalace in Paris.
Some of these carpets have the coat of arms of Polish aristocratic families, that is why for many years the art experts believed that these carpets were all woven in Mazarski, in the 18th century. But some carpet experts and researchers like Rigel, Bode, and Martin, considering the historical and artistic evidences, and after a lot of researches, concluded that the Polonaise carpets were woven in Iran during the Safavid period, on the order of Polish nobilities and aristocrats; and all of them have characteristic features of the Persian art of the Safavid period, in design and color.
These carpets have medium knotting, cotton warps, and silk pile and are embossed design brocaded with gold and silver threads in some parts.
Historically, Isfahan was a weaving and cultural center of great importance with its culmination as the capital of Shah Abbas, the great patron of the arts in the 16th century, “The Golden Age of Persian Weaving”. Except for the period of the Afghan domination of the early 1700’s, Isfahan has long produced antique carpets of great technical skill and sophisticated aesthetics.
Isfahan weavers of the 16th century were influenced by other important art forms including calligraphy, bookbinding, and mosaic work. During this era, the royal city’s Persian carpet designers introduced distinctively curvilinear, delicate floral forms and the refined classical antique carpet designs such as the arabesque, scroll, vine interlacement, vase, and hunting motifs.
excelled continued to be woven in the late 19th and 20th centuries, maintaining the original inspiration and attention to refinement and detail. The finest materials were procured and utilized including silk, lamb’s wool (called kerke), and jewel-toned natural dyes to create collectible, investment-level antique Isfahan rugs.
These Isfahan rugs are also excellent for decorative purposes, employing soft pastel tones, abundant ivory backgrounds, and elegant, delicate design motifs. The final close pile cutting in conjunction with a tightly knotted foundation yield a thin yet strong construction and highly resolute, clear carpet patterns.
The finest Isfahan rugs are rarely surpassed in the realm of intricate, innovative, gentle swirling embellishments and stained glass-like, luminous dyework.