AN INTRODUCTION TO THE HISTORY OF PERSIAN CARPET WEAVING

Perhaps the history of carpet weaving starts when the first nomadic and tribal societies started to take shape on earth thousands of years ago. The need for comfort and warmth during seasonal changes and protection from climatic phenomenon forced the man to learn how to employ the most abundant raw materials that at that time were more readily available to him to answer his needs. Wool from herds of domesticated sheep and goats , cotton from the fields of early agricultural communities, and latter on silk , were the most available kind of materials to the inhabitants of western and central Asia during the early stages of civilization.

In the poetic book of Shah-Nameh , the Iranian epic poet Ferdowsi dates back the carpet weaving to the time of ancient Pishdadian Dynasty when Tahmureth, the third king of the dynasty , among other crafts, introduced the art of carpet weaving to his people. The Tabari Book of History also talks about carpets woven using animal hair and wool during the same historic era.

The oldest registered sign of carpet weaving dates back to the bronze age after finding a special knife used as a carpet weaving tool in a grave excavated by archeologists in northern regions of modern Iran.

Also archeological discoveries in Shahr-e- Sukhteh ( the Burnt City) situated in Sistan-Baluchestan province in south- eastern region of Iran, bear witness that the inhabitants of the city were well familiar with the weaving techniques in order to produce floor coverings for their homes and dwellings when the city was at the height of its flourishing era from 3500-2800 BC.

The Greek historian , Xenophon , mentions that the ancient city of Sardis was priding itself on its hand woven carpets ,decorated with the designs and motifs of mystical creature Lamassu and human figurines.

One of the oldest records of hand-woven carpet was found in the form of a bas-relief on the walls of an old palace in the historic city of “Neynava” located at the banks of river Tigris in Mesopotamia. But the oldest hand-woven carpet found so far, and remaining, is the Pazyryk Carpet. The carpet was discovered by Russian archeologists in their 1949 excavation of the tomb of a Scythian king in Altay mountains . The carpet, roughly sized 189x189 cm , using carbon-dating methods ,is dated back as far as 500-400BC and now is being kept at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. The experts believe it was made during the Achaemenian or Parthian rule in Persia ,as most motifs and designs of the carpet resembles those popular during the time of these two dynasties.

 

 

Other historic records and findings show the art of carpet weaving was popular among people of the ancient and historic city of Hecatomphylis (or Shahre-e Qumis)located in modern Central Iran province of Semnan.

But Perhaps Baharestan Carpet can be considered the most famous hand-woven carpet in the history of Persia. As mentioned by historians , it was a large carpet used in the court of the last king of Sassanid Dynasty . It is said that the carpet was woven, along with other regular materials, using silk, gold and silver threads and decorated with precious stones as well.

 

By the spread of Islam into the Persian Empire and starting from the first Hejri century ( about 637-651 ) prohibition of using human motifs and patterns due to Islamic teachings forced the Iranian carpet weavers to develop and innovate new patterns and designs mostly based on floral and geometric patterns and thus starting a new era in weaving of Persian hand woven carpets.

During the time of the Abbasid caliphate ( 750 – 1517 AD) a growth in tendency towards more luxuriant and palatial life style prompted a growing taste for more decorative and luxurious carpet designs and makes .The famous Arab explorer of 14th century, Ibn Battuta, also remarks about the glamour and grandeur of the Persian hand woven carpets he encountered during his travels to the court of Ilkhaniate viceroy of Khorasan province , Ghazan Khan, and the glamour of carpets used at the holly shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH) , in the city of Mashhad in north-east of Iran.

There has also been mentioning of large carpet weaving workshops in the city of Sabzevar in Khorasan region, during the reign of Theimorit rule and the use of miniature drawing technique by Iranian designers of the time The Safavit Period.

But it was not until the time of Safavit Dynasty ( 1501-1736 ) that the art of carpet weaving in Persia reached to its heights. The political stability and robust economic situation that prevailed most of the Safavit nearly 230 years rule , along with start of direct trading routs with Europe ,all helped to improve and expand the carpet weaving in Iran during this time.

Shah Ismaeil I , the founder and the first king of the dynasty established the first workshops for carpet weaving in his capital city of Tabriz in order to organize carpet weaving activities , a practice that was followed by his successor Shah Tahmasp I. Many famous and renowned Persian carpets were woven during the long reign of Shah Tahmasp I .

Perhaps the most famous carpet of this time is the Ardebil Carpets . The carpets were originally made in pair for the shrine of Sheikh Safi al-Din Ardebili by the order of Shah Tahmasp and one now is being kept at Victoria &Albert Museum in London and the other at Los Angles Museum of Arts.

The original carpet measures 10.5mx5.3m ,with a knot density of 47-54 knots/cm ,with a total of 26 million knots. The material used in the weaving of the carpet is silk and wool.

 

 

By the time of coming to power of Shah Abbas I ( 1587-1629) , the capital (by then was moved from Tabriz to Qazvin by Shah Tahmasp) was relocated to the newly constructed city of Isfahan (Esfahan) in central Iran.

Shah Abbas made great efforts to change the carpet weaving from a tribal and rural craft to a more organized and moderated industry.

Large workshops were set-up in Isfahan as well as in the major carpet weaving centers of Iran. Each region was encouraged to adopt to its native designs and weaving methods in order to safeguard the originality of the workmanship and designs . Standards were set for preparation of raw materials such as wool, cotton, silk and dyes in order to increase the quality of the carpets. Workshops started to receive orders from foreign traders ,especially from Europe , who started frequenting the Safavit court and . Carpet weaving flourished greatly during this period, both in the terms of artisanal workmanship as well as the economical point of view.

Expansion of trading routs , construction of Caravanserais along the main roads connecting major Iranian trading cities which added greatly to the safety of the merchants and travelers , as well as political stability , all were major elements that donated to the flourishing of carpet weaving during the Safavit Dynast.

A pass through famous art museums of the world and collections of private art collectors bears witness to the exceptional and unparalleled artisanal craftsmanship of Iranian designers and carpet weavers of this era which could not be rivaled by any other nation.

The impact these measures had on the carpet weaving industry in Iran was so deep that even now most famous Persian Carpet makes and designs are known by their original names designated to them during that era.

Another important event of that time was expansion of international trade on Persian Carpets & Rugs . Many foreign companies ,mostly from Europe , opened merchant houses in Iran in order to trade directly with the important weaving centres.

 

THE AFSHARIT AND ZANDIEH PERIOD

The final years of Safavit Dynasty witnessed constant warring campaigns and the invasion of Hotaki clans from east which resulted in subsequent fall of the capital city of Isfahan to their hand. The successive military campaigns and hostilities among warring factions greatly weakened the economy and political stability of Iran for some years to come.

In 1736 Nader Shah Afshar ( from Afshari tribe) claimed the throne form the last Safavit king and proclaimed himself The Shah of Persia . As a great military commander he succeeded in succumbing his enemies to submission and established the Afsharit Dynasty that lasted for sixty years. During his rule the political and social stability return to the land once more. He moved the Iranian capital from Isfahan to the holly city of Mashhad in north-eastern province of Khorasan.

Here the story of The Persian Carpet starts once more. The city of Mashhad ( Mash-had) became the new capital of carpet weaving activities and Afshari designs and motifs became the new name in the art of Persian carpet weaving . The carpets woven in the city of Mashhad and its subordinate cities bear their distinctive properties and characteristics. They are known by their warm colours, robust structures which makes the suitable for most household use and long life but also cheaper values which makes them distinctive from carpets woven in other major carpet weaving centres of Iran. Today many regions are adopted to Afhsari designs and rugs and carpet designated the name of Afshari Carpet are woven in many parts of Iran.

The reign of Zandieh Dynasty that came to power after the fall of Afsharit Dynasty, was short lived. During the new dynasty the capital of Iran was once more moved from Mashhad to the city of Shiraz . During this period relative peace and economic growth prevailed , specially during the reign of its first king , Karim- Khan Zand. The Zandieh made efforts to revive the economic dynamics of Safavit era once more, specially during the time of Karim Khan , who allowed the British East India Company to open trading post in the port city of Bushehr at the cost of Persian Gulf in order to revitalize foreign trade with European countries once more. Although no special progress was made regarding the art of carpet weaving during Zandieh period but encouraging artisanal works and fine arts as a whole had an inspiring and deep impact that was well carried on into the coming years as what became known as The school of Zandieh Art which inspired many future artists well to the time of the Qajarieh Dynasty and thus affected the art of carpet weaving indirectly .

 

THE QAJAR PERIOD

Carpet weaving continued its momentum during the Qajarieh era well into the Twentieth century. The most significant development of this period perhaps is not the art of carpet weaving but commercialization of Persian carpet industry. The reign of Qajarieh , which lasted for nearly 140 years from 1785 to 1925 , is marked by the rapid development of international relation between Iran and other countries specially with Europe.

Many European countries started sending their emissaries to Iran seeking new economic opportunities . On the other hand the Iranian government seeking to revive its economy after years of political turmoil and long wars , observing the industrial development and economical achievements of European countries , tried to benefit from the new environment by means of allowing foreign companies to expand their commercial activates in Iran.

Major trading companies from England , France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Holland started opening offices in major Iranian trading cities such as Tabriz, Tehran, Isfahan and Kerman. Many of them found great opportunities in hand-woven Persian Carpet industry and hence initiated direct contact with major carpet weavers in main carpet producing centres. Companies such as Ziegler & Co started to invested heavily in the Iranian carpet weaving industry in order to respond to the growing need of wealthy European aristocracy that had started to flourish during the time of industrial revolution in Europe.

New designs were prepared and offered to weavers to produce carpets according to the taste of new customers; Dyeing techniques of raw materials such as wool, cotton and silk were improved due to the a rise in technical knowledge of the weavers through interaction with European traders.

 

PERSIAN CARPETS AND MODERN TIMES

Since the beginning of the Twentieth century carpet weaving has gone through tremendous changes. Extensive improvements in preparation techniques of such raw materials as wool, cotton and silk and dyes , developments in new designs and patterns more standardization of sizing of carpets and rugs, introduction of higher quality of raw materials imported from outside sources have considerably donated to the improvement of Persian Carpets & Rugs.

On the other hand , numerous organizations and companies were instituted in order provide support to the more organized production of Persian Carpet in Iran during the last several decades. Currently many Iranian institutes of higher education offer extensive academic courses on carpet weaving techniques , from the art of designing to the final stages of producing a genuine Persian Carpets.

There are also many governmental and private sector establishments supporting commercial aspects of carpet weaving by promoting and providing proper channels for marketing Persian Carpet worldwide.

It can be said that The art of Persian Carpet Weaving is a never-ending story , a story that shall be kept being told as long as the people who created it will keep on doing so. A story so colorful and vivid as the colors and patterns that has given The Persian Carpet its universal pomposity and magical enchantment of the ages . A story that has adorned the life of human being , whether be those who have put generations of efforts into creating it or those who have obtained it in order to decorate their lives with it and were fascinated by what they called The Magic Carpet.

 

 

MASTERS

MASTER ABDUL KARIM RAFIEI:

Name: Abdul Karim Rafiei
Dated of Birth: 1901 A.c (1218 according to Jalali Calendar)
Birthplace: Araak City

 

Abdul Karim Rafi-ee born in 1218 solar year (1840 A.c ) in Araak, his father was a professional carpet weaver who had a workshop in for carpet weaving at his house and he could sell the carpets which were weaved by his students. Abdul Karim was five when his father sent him to an old school in “ Samsaamiyeh” in Araak and after a while in some friends recommendation sent him for learning of drawing carpet plans.

 

He could become pretty good at coloring and designing and main elements of drawing carpet plans in fact. He loved those techniques in a way that he would hardly work on them even at late nights most of the time and at the end after a lots of hard work he succeeded establish a carpet designing center with help of two other professional in carpet plan designing in Araak city and works of this designing center had become an attention point to companies which were owned by American and European residents in Araak city. They successfully supplied all the company orders only by recruiting 14 staffs.

 

After a while Abdul Karim moved to Hamedaan city and started a new work with the partnership of “Haj Ahmed Sanaa-ee”, in this job which took three years , he successfully created many designs for foreign companies. It is good to know that at the same time most of the carpet weavers used to weave carpets based on a wrong manner which didn’t have any specific design. Rafi-ee’s good work experience caused that “Haj Vakilul Roaayaa hamedany” order him numerous carpet designs for his big company.

 

In 1309 sun year ( in 1930 A.c ) his job was at his most famous levels. He used to design fifty carpet designs per week based on orders of carpet company for cities such as Malaayer – Toyieserkaan- Bijaar – Nahaavand so that carpet weavers of those cities would be able to weave their carpets based on right designs. Six years later all the carpet designers of Hamedaan city became concentrated and created an united company which survived for a few years till in 1319 sun year (1941 A.c) Rafi-ee decided to leave Hamedaan in order to expand his works and moved to Tehran. He was introduced to association of “artists of beautiful arts “ and started his job. In 1339 sun year ( 1960 A.c) for disposing of Khorasan’s exhibition from “ Beautiful arts of the country “ Rafi-ee was sent to Khorasan province in order to collecting the Khorasan carpets designs.

 

His study fields on this trip which took three months was on “Zari” and rugs designs which were in “Imam Reza “ ‘s treasury and museum of “Astaan Ghods Razavi”(استان قدس رضوی) ( In Khorasan , Mashhad city ) and at the end of this studies has gathered more than forty five worthy carpet plans and designs which are kept in “Beautiful Arts “ workshop. He has done a lots of great job during his activities in Iran’s Beautiful Arts.

 

HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES

Khaanoom Design / Birjand Design / Araak Design / Turkman Design / Zaabol Design / Zahedan design / Shiraz Design / Ardebil Design / Kordestani Seh Rangy Design / Shaakh Gavazn va Ahoo Design

 

All of these designs which are mainly woven in Ghali sizes are exhibited in main Ghali exhibition in Finance Ministry , with some other “Ghaliche”s in 1961 a.c ( 1340 according to Jalaly Calendar).Here are names of some of his main works which has been sent to other countries in Ghali or Ghaliche shapes:

The Ghali with Kashan design style in 1954 a.c (1336 according to Jalali Calendar ) with the size of 86*64 cm, is one of his interesting works which is sent to Iranian Embassy in London in 1965 a.c ( 1339 according to Jalaly Calendar).

According to the cultural ministry affaire’s proposal, another design in Ghali was given to him, for Iranian Pavilion in UNSCO ( Paris ) , which was sent there, right after it was finished. There is a logo of UNSCO right in the center of the carpet and its base is in “Islimy Khataee” style which is decorated with “Shaah Abbasi” flowers , its Lachaks are full of flowers, the borders are in “slimy” style and the actual size of the carpet is 6*6 square meters.

According to the ministry of Post and Telegraph’s proposal, another design in Ghali was given to him, which was for international communication circular hall in Geneva and Master Rafiei-ee has left number of valuable pieces that some of them are exhibited in Tehran’s museums.


MASTER ALI ASHRAF KASHANI:

Name: Ali Ashraf Kashani
Dated of Birth: 1963 A.c (1280 according to Jalali Calendar)
Birthplace: Kaashaan City

Ali Ashraf Kashani was born in 1901A.c (1280 Sun Year according to Jalali calendar) in Kashan city and after finishing his primary education, he became interested in “Gilding” ( or “Tazhib” (gilding) is an Arabic word which has been derived from “zahab” meaning “gold”. Gilding currently means to draw beautiful patterns of plants or geometrical shapes on the margins of books) and little by little his attention turned to carpet weaving and he learned all the symbols of this style from age 14 to 18 and continued his practices under super vision of master Naaser Mostafavi and learned the fundamentals of staining and dotted painting .

In order to get more informed on the way that he stepped, he continued his learnings under the super vision Master Mirza Mahmood Khaan Mosavari about fundamentals of designing and then moved to Tehran and started his job in east office ( the office which was responsible of most of the carpet weaving workshops) and he established another branch of carpet designing with cooperation with Mirza Mahdi Javaheri within six month in Qum city.

After a while he was invited to Qazvin by lesaan Al-sepehr, governor of Qazvin in that time and he moved to Qazvin in order to supplying carpet designing process and carpet weaving correction and he stablished numbers of carpet weaving workshops in that city.

Ali Ashraf Kashani used lots of the experiences of the Master Doroodi and he drew about 18 design for palaces carpets and gilding of religious commandments pages which are mainly kept in National Art Museum.


MASTER ALI EBRAHIMI:

Name: Ali Ebrahimi
Dated of Birth: 1965 A. c (1282 Sun Year according to Jalali Calendar)
Birthplace: Tehran city

 

Master Ali Ebrahimi born in 1965 A.c (1282 according to Jalali Calendar) in Tehran and as he was so interested in world of line and color, he started painting and designing carpets after he finished his studies.

His entrance to ministry of economy in 1992 A.c (1309 Sun Year according to Jalali Calendar ), as the carpet designer and who draws carpets designs leaded him to officially get hired in Department of industries. He became responsible of repairing the painting of Safi Abad’s palace walls.

Ali Ebrahimi as was teaching in Art School of Kamal al-Molk’s Paintings, as the master of carpet designing for several years, was working in Miniature (Miniature painting is a traditional style of art that is very detailed, often referred to as painting or working “in miniature”. Because of their origins as illuminations, they are also painted to have as smooth of a surface as possible) painting fields under super vision of the Master Hossein Taher Zadeh and spent some time on painting as well.

This variation on different art fields caused him to be able to create such magnificent pieces. Most of his works include “Shekaar Gaahy” , Plants, flowers, trees, grass, bushes and it shows how much he was deep link with nature and he got inspired by nature for choosing the right color for his designs.


RASSAM ARABZADEH

Name : Rassam Arabzadeh
Date of Birth: 1914 A.c (1293 according to Jalali Calendar)
Place of birth: Tabriz

Master Abolfath Ratify, also known as, Master Abolfath Rassam Arabzadeh , is of the most distinctive carpet weaving of Iran History. He was born in 1914 A.c (1293 according to Jalali Calendar) in Tabriz and his father Hossein Zaidi Ratify also known as , Sayyad Arab was one of the student of the famous painter kamal-ol Molk which he took the painting as his main profession, he was an immigrant Arab immigrated to Iran from Hijaz and so they were called Arab.

Since his childhood , he did learn the design and color from his father. He did his primary education in Maktab as the Iranian traditional education system and he did learn Holly Quran and alphabets in that time. He also studied in Adib School , Tehran , Rashidiyeh School of Tabriz and Tabriz Art School was the later educations of his young Ages.

One of his first products is weaving a portrait from a well-known face. He tried to implement the Valce Delave French Kublin Pattern and he redesigned it as the carpet weaving pattern, but by starting the weaving the design he realized that he has got a small knowledge on color combinations. So he collected the information on combinations of color from a friend which was working in a German Color paint factory , then by applying the knowledge that he had he finished his first carpet by name of Dance of Angles.

After experiencing the caricature and weaving different brand logos of companies, he started weaving rug and carpets exclusively. In this phase his innovation in weaving started to show up. His first impressions was designing based on modern designing principles , like considering the scales and proportions but his most distinctive characteristics are design which are called incorrect designs.

This patterns are a combination of different designs in opposition by current popular principles. As the popular and current methods of weaving the rugs and carpets was not quite applicable to his design patterns, by a huge effort he innovated the “Hanging Knot “ and other weaving methods.

50th and 40th decades are the efflorescence era of Arabzadeh. After a long period of efforts, he finally produced very distinctive material.


AHMAD ARCHANG

Name : Ahmad Archang
Date of Birth: 1913 A.c (1292 according to Jalali Calendar)
Place of birth: Isfahan

He Was Born in Isfahan 1913 A.c (1292 according to Jalali Calendar) With his passion to painting after finishing his primary educations, he started his true passion of painting. As a self-thought artist, inspired by the designs of the castles and the architecture of Safavit era , he started practicing the painting skill.

The designs of Naghsh Jahaan Sq. in Isfahan, had a great effect in implantation of his taste and he was always enchanted by the sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and Masjid Shah Mosque.

Occupation in a carpet weaving factory next to the Naghsh Jahan Sq. provided the best opportunity for the practice to be inspired by the influence of their designs .also paintings of the Raza Abbasi caused more influence and inspiration to produce the more genuine designs of the Safavit Era.

He passed away on spring 1396 due to cancer.


JAFAR RASHTIYAN

Name : Jafar Rashtiyan
Date of Birth: 1925 A.c (1304 according to Jalali Calendar)
Place of birth: Isfahan

The Late Master Jafar Rashtiyan was born in 1925 A.c (1304 according to Jalali Calendar) in Isfahan in an Artist Family. The sudden Death of the father put him under supervision of his Uncle whom he was one of the distinctive miniaturists and painters of his Time and to be educated by him in painting.

The Master Rashtiyan , the painter , Miniaturist and carpet designer in one of the most distinctive artists of Isfahan and during his precious life he has left so many distinctive students in different fields of the art which from them Shokrani and Ebrahimiyan may be named.

The main entrance of the hall of “Abbasi Hotel” In Isfahan is a sample of his precious art reflections.


REZA SHAKER

Name : Reza Shaker
Date of Birth:1912 A.c (1291 according to Jalali Calendar)
Place of birth: Isfahan

Born in 1912 A.c (1291 according to Jalali Calendar) , he is one of the most elegant and top level masters of coloring and carpet pointing in Isfahan. After finishing his primary education in old standards, started following his career in pointing and coloring of the carpets with Mr. Ahmad Archang.

Previously designs would not be colored as of today. It was left by the weaver to recolor the carpet on his or her own vision by providing the pointing of the carpet plan only. Also the pointing was a complex process which was not an easy task to perform and was required to have proper experience and quality of the performer. The pattern of development of the knots was laid out in such a way that each knot was accommodated inside of each cell, and not in on the grids , so that the outcome would not interfere the final design in term of aesthetic , beauty and the proportions.

By presence of Mr. Sanei originally from Kashan to Isfahan, he enlighted the vision of Mr. Shaker on secrets of coloring of the carpet on the plan and by applying the new methods and personal taste and innovation in colors , the final result of recoloring of today was revealed.

In this period so many students have learnt from him the principles of recoloring . his most famous student in his own era is Abbas Karbasiyoon.

 

WONDERS OF THE PERSIAN CARPET

THE STORY OF THE PAZYRYK CARPET - THE OLDEST RUG IN THE WORLD

The land surrounding Siberia’s Ukok Plateau is vast. Harsh in the winter, the region of Altai Krai is home to the Altai Mountains and the Ob River and her estuaries. The plateau descends into the Pazyryk Valley, which contains ancient kurgans (burial mounds) in the style of the Scythian peoples who inhabited the area in over two thousand years ago.

Archaeological digs in the area began in the 1920’s and unearthed a wealth of historically important items that offered intriguing insight into the little known ancient nomadic tribes of the Pazyryk.

Among the findings were mummies, cloth saddles, a full-sized burial chariot, decorative or devotional figurines, and cannabis seed with an inhalation tent. When the tombs were unearthed, it was found that they had been remarkably preserved in ice since the 5th century BCE. The mummies that were found were so complete that they still had their tattooed flesh and hair.

 

One of the most remarkable finds was the Pazyryk Carpet. To our knowledge, it is the oldest piled rug still in existence, and is housed at St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. The museum’s website description of thisantique rug is as follows: “Its decoration is rich and varied: the central field is occupied by 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of four stylized lotus buds. This composition is framed by a border of griffins, followed by a border of twenty-four fallow deer.

The widest border contains representations of workhorses and men.” What the website does not mention is the ambiguity of the carpet’s origin. The Pazyryk Valley was located between active trade routes spanning the ancient world, with China to the east and Central Asia to the southwest. One of the mummies discovered--called the Siberian Ice Maiden--was clothed in a wild silk tunic that likely originated in India. Some of the figurines were gilded, and gold is not native to the area.

The Pazyryk Carpet most likely came from Central Asia, though it is really a tossup between Persia or Armenia. Both nations have traditions of carpet weaving spanning thousands of years, and the horses represented on the rug are nearly identical to horsemen on a frieze in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis. The possibility that the rug was produced by the Pazyryks is extremely slim, because the sophistication and elegance of the design is indicative of a settled and cosmopolitan civilization unlike the nomadic Pazyryks.

 

 

Based on a study of ancient artistic development, textile expert Ulrich Schurmann has reached the conclusion that the rug is of Armenian origin. The Persians also claim it as their own, believing that it’s an artifact from the Achaemenid Empire. For now, the exact origin of the Pazyryk Carpet will remain a mystery, but it’s significance and beauty is forever eternal.

 

LARGEST CARPET OF THE WORLD

IRANIAN WEAVERS MAKING AN $8.5M GIANT CARPET FOR UAE

More than 1,200 village women have started weaving a giant carpet worth $8.5 million that will be the world's largest hand-knotted carpet ever. It will be made for the ShaikhzZayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Iran Carpet Company with more 70 years of Persian rug weaving history is the contactor of this huge carpet.

Weaving this carpet which will be 6,000 square meters, bigger than a football stadium and weighing about 48 tons will take about 14 months for the weavers who will work two shifts daily. It will be decorated with traditional Persian designs and natural colors with more than 2.2 billion knots.

The weaving began in March 2006 in Baghshan, 22 kilometers from the city of Neyshabour, a village 800 km northeast of Tehran, and two nearby villages, close to the city of Mashad in Khorassan Province, north east of Iran.

The weavers are all experienced women between ages of 15 and 60, supervised by 50 men acting as technical experts who will travel to Abu Dhabi to join the pieces at the mosque once the carpet is completed. The carpet will be made in 8 different parts.

The project has revived carpet economy in northeastern Iran which has a long history of carpet making.

Up to now, the world's largest carpet was in the Qabus Azam Mosque in Muscat, Oman. It also was the work of Iranian carpet weavers and shipped to Oman in 2000. This carpet was also made by Iran Carpet Company. It had an area of 5,000 square meters, weighing about 22 tons and was valued at $5.2 million.