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Weaving a Story of Beauty: Uncovering the Intricate History of Persian Carpets

Persian carpets are a type of carpet that is not only functional but also steeped in history, art, and culture. These masterpieces, also known as Iranian carpets, are from Persia, now known as Iran. Persian carpets are defined by their intricate patterns, opulent colors, and unmatched craftsmanship. They are more than just floor coverings; they reflect the soul of a civilization and its deep-rooted artistic traditions. These carpets are woven with stories, legends, and the lives of talented artisans, and they embody the essence of Persian culture, making them prized possessions for connoisseurs and enthusiasts worldwide.

The historical significance of Persian carpets is well-documented. The earliest recorded mention of these illustrious carpets dates back to the Achaemenid Dynasty, around 500 BC. The ancient Greek historian Xenophon documented the luxuriousness of Persian rugs and their ability to enhance the opulence of Persian homes in his book "Anabasis." Tangible proof of the craft's antiquity can be found in the famous Pazyryk carpet, discovered in a Scythian tomb in Siberia, which dates back to the 5th century BC. Although its origins are debated, its intricate designs and knotting techniques strongly resemble the Persian tradition.

As trade routes expanded, the fame of Persian carpets spread across continents. During the Sassanid Empire, between 224 and 641 AD, these carpets found their place in art and literature. They were exchanged as prestigious diplomatic gifts, demonstrating their value and prestige in ancient societies.

The development of Persian carpet weaving saw significant influences from nomadic cultures such as the Mongols and Tatars. The Mongol invasions of the 13th century, led by towering figures like Genghis Khan, brought seismic cultural shifts to Persia. The Mongols established the Ilkhanate and incorporated their artistic sensibilities, which fused with the existing Persian craftsmanship. Carpets from this era showcased a fusion of dragon motifs, geometric patterns, and other emblems influenced by Mongol and Tatar iconography. There is speculation that some rugs even featured "phoenix-dragon" designs, potentially affected by the Mongols' exposure to Chinese symbology. This mingling of Mongol-Tartar tastes with Persian intricacy marked a new carpet design chapter characterized by bold palettes and extensive motifs.

The advent of Islam in Persia during the 7th century brought about profound changes in artistic expression, including Persian carpet motifs. Islamic edicts, which discouraged the representation of sentient beings in art, led to a shift from the highly figurative designs of pre-Islamic Persia to abstract geometric patterns, intricate arabesques, and floral motifs. Calligraphic arts also started integrating into carpet designs, with Qur'anic verses often woven into the fabric. The Seljuq Dynasty, which emerged after the Islamic takeover, further developed and refined these artistic themes, evident in the tiles and motifs of the Alhambra Palace—an enduring testament to the era's deep-rooted Islamic influence on art.



During the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629), the capital was moved from Tabriz to Qazvin and then to the newly built city of Isfahan in central Iran. Shah Abbas aimed to turn carpet weaving from a rural and tribal craft into a more regulated and organized industry.

To achieve this, large workshops were established in Isfahan and other carpet-weaving centers throughout Iran. Each region was encouraged to preserve its unique designs and weaving techniques, ensuring the authenticity and originality of the artistry.

Furthermore, standards were implemented to improve the quality of raw materials such as wool, cotton, silk, and dyes. With these advancements, workshops began receiving orders from foreign traders, mainly from Europe, who frequented the Safavid court. As a result, carpet weaving experienced significant growth in artisanal quality and economic prosperity.

Moreover, the growth of trade routes and the construction of Caravanserais along significant roads that connected Iranian trading cities contributed significantly to the safety and stability of merchants and travelers alike. These factors, combined with political stability, were pivotal in fostering the flourishing of carpet weaving during the Safavid Dynasty.



During the Safavid Dynasty's decline, Iran experienced constant warfare and was invaded by the Hotaki clans from the east. This resulted in the fall of Isfahan, the capital city, which weakened Iran's economy and political stability for many years.

In 1736, Nader Shah Afshar of the Afshari tribe claimed the throne and established the Afshari Dynasty by defeating his enemies. He moved the capital to Mashhad, a holy city in the northeastern province of Khorasan, which restored political and social stability to the land.

Here the story of The Persian Carpet starts once more.

The carpet weaving industry also thrived in Mashhad, with Afshari designs and motifs becoming popular in Persian carpet weaving. The warm colors and robust structures of carpets woven in Mashhad made them suitable for most household use and long-term investment. Today, Afshari designs are used in many regions throughout Iran, with rugs and carpets designated the name Afshari Carpet.

After the fall of the Afshari Dynasty, the Zandieh Dynasty was established, and Iran's capital moved from Mashhad to Shiraz. During the reign of Karim-Khan Zand, there was relative peace and economic growth. Karim-Khan allowed the British East India Company to open a trading post in Bushehr, which revived foreign trade and economic dynamics. Although there was no significant progress in carpet weaving during this time, the encouragement of artisanal works and fine arts led to the emergence of the School of Zandieh Art. This indirect influence affected carpet weaving and persisted through the Qajar Dynasty.



Carpet weaving during the Qajar Period in Iran experienced a significant boost that lasted well into the 20th century. However, what stands out the most during this era is not just the art of carpet weaving but the commercialization of the Persian carpet industry. Lasting nearly 140 years, from 1785 to 1925, the reign of Qajar saw rapid growth in international relations between Iran and other countries, mainly Europe.

With European nations searching for new economic opportunities, they began sending emissaries to Iran. Meanwhile, the Iranian government, keen to revive the economy after years of political turmoil and prolonged wars, welcomed foreign companies to expand their commercial activities in Iran.

Prominent trading companies from England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Holland established offices in major Iranian trading cities, recognizing the immense potential in the hand-woven Persian Carpet industry. They forged direct relationships with skilled carpet weavers in the main carpet-producing centers.

Companies like Ziegler & Co invested heavily in the Iranian carpet weaving industry to meet the increasing demand of the affluent European aristocracy, which thrived during the Industrial Revolution in Europe.

The weavers were presented with new designs catering to customers' evolving tastes.

Their collaboration with European traders also led to advancements in dyeing techniques for materials such as wool, cotton, and silk.


The refinement of Persian Carpets resulted from several advancements in the preparation techniques of raw materials such as wool, silk, cotton, and dyes. Over time, the standardization of sizing and the introduction of high-quality raw materials worldwide have further contributed to this refinement.

Various organizations and companies have emerged to support the organized production of Persian Carpets in Iran, while esteemed higher education institutes offer extensive academic courses on carpet weaving techniques.

As a result of the promotion of the commercial aspects of carpet weaving by both governmental and private sector establishments, Persian Carpets have gained worldwide recognition and continue to adorn countless homes across the globe.

The story of Persian Carpet Weaving is an eternal one passed down by dedicated craftsmen, encompassing the lives of those who pour generations of passion into its creation and those captivated by its magic.



Abdul Karim Rafi-ee was born in Araak in 1901 (1218, according to the Jalali Calendar). His father was a professional carpet weaver who had a workshop for carpet weaving at home, and he could sell the carpets woven by his students. When Abdul Karim was five, his father sent him to an old school in "Samsaamiyeh" in Araak. After a while, some friends recommended he learn to draw carpet plans.

Abdul Karim became good at coloring and designing the main elements of drawing carpet plans. He loved these techniques so much that he often worked on them until late at night. After much hard work, he established a carpet designing center in Araak City with the help of two other professionals in carpet plan designing. The designs created by this design center became an attention point for companies owned by American and European residents in Araak City. They successfully supplied all the company orders with only 14 staff members.

Later, Abdul Karim moved to Hamedan City and started a new work partnership with "Haj Ahmed Sanaa-ee." He successfully created many designs for foreign companies during these three years. It is essential to know that at the same time, most carpet weavers used to weave carpets incorrectly, which didn't have any specific design. Rafique's good work experience caused "Haj Vakilul Roaayaa harmed any" to order numerous carpet designs for his big company.

Abdul Karim's job was at his most famous level in 1930 when he designed fifty carpet designs per week based on orders from carpet companies for cities such as Malaayer, Toyieserkaan, Bijaar, and Nahaavand. This allowed carpet weavers from those cities to weave their carpets based on suitable designs. Six years later, all the carpet designers of Hamedan City became concentrated and created a united company, which survived for a few years until Rafi-ee left Hamedan to expand his work and moved to Tehran. He was introduced to the association of "artists of beautiful arts" and started his job. In 1960, to dispose of Khorasan's exhibition of "Beautiful Arts of the Country," Rafi-ee was sent to Khorasan province to collect the designs of the Khorasan carpet.

During his three-month trip, he studied "Holly Shrine" and rug designs, which were in the "Imam Reza Holly Shrine" 's treasury and museum of "Astaan Ghods Razavi" in Mashhad City, Khorasan. Ultimately, he gathered over forty-five worthy carpet plans and designs still kept in the "Beautiful Arts" workshop. Abdul Karim Rafi-ee did great work during his Iran's Beautiful Arts activities.



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


These designs were mainly woven in Ghali sizes and exhibited in the leading Ghali exhibition at the Finance Ministry. Other "Ghaliche" s were displayed in 1961 AD (1340, according to the Jalaly Calendar). Here are some of the principal works that have been sent to other countries in Ghali or Ghaliche shapes:

The Ghali with Kashan design style is one of his exciting works. It was created in 1954 CE (1336, according to Jalali Calendar) with dimensions of 86 by 64 cm. It was sent to the Iranian Embassy in London in 1965 CE (1339, according to Jalali Calendar).

After completing the Iranian Pavilion in UNESCO (Paris), a new design was proposed to Ghali by the cultural ministry. The carpet has a UNESCO logo in the center and is decorated with "Shaah Abbasi" flowers in the "Islimy Khataee" style. The 6x6 meter carpet is adorned with flower-filled Lachaks and "slimy" style borders.

Master Rafiei-ee left several valuable pieces, including some exhibited in Tehran's museums, after receiving another design for the international communication circular Hall in Geneva from the Ministry of Post and Telegraph.



Name: Ali Ashraf Kashani
Dated of Birth: 1963 A.c (1280 according to Jalali Calendar)
Birthplace: Kashan 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. He learned all the symbols of this style from age 14 to 18. He continued his practices under the supervision of master Naaser Mostafavi and learned the fundamentals of staining and dotted painting.

To get more informed on the way that he stepped, he continued his learnings under the supervision of Master Mirza Mahmood Khaan Mosavari about the fundamentals of designing. Then he moved to Tehran and started working in the east office (responsible for most carpet weaving workshops). He established another branch of carpet designing in cooperation with Mirza Mahdi Javaheri within six months in Qum City.

After a while, he was invited to Qazvin by Lesaan Al-super, the governor of Qazvin then. He moved to Qazvin to supply carpet designing processes and carpet weaving correction, and he established several carpet weaving workshops in that city.

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



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 the world of line and color, he started painting and designing carpets after he finished his studies.

His entrance to the ministry of economy in 1992 A.c (1309 Sun Year according to Jalali Calendar ), as the carpet designer and who draws carpets designs, led him to officially get hired in Department of industries. He became responsible for 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 the supervision of the Master Hossein Taher Zadeh and spent some time on painting as well.

This variation in 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 a deep link with nature and he got inspired by nature for choosing the right color for his designs.



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 one of the most distinctive carpet weavers in the history of Iran. He was born in Tabriz in 1914 A.C (1293, according to the Jalali Calendar). His father, Hossein Zaidi Ratify, also known as Sayyad Arab, was one of the students of the famous painter Kamal-ol Molk. He took up painting as his primary profession and was an Arab immigrant who came to Iran from Hijaz, which is why they were called Arabs.

Abolfath learned about design and colour from his father from a young age. He received his primary education in Maktab, part of the traditional Iranian education system. During this time, he learned the Holy Quran and the alphabet. He also attended Adib School, Tehran, Rashidiyeh School of Tabriz, and Tabriz Art School for his later education.

One of his earliest works was a portrait woven from a well-known face. He began by trying to implement the Valce Delave French Kublin Pattern and redesigned it as a carpet weaving pattern. However, as he started weaving, he realized that he needed more knowledge of colour combinations. So, he gathered information on colour combinations from a friend who worked in a German colour paint factory. With this knowledge, he finished his first carpet, Dance of Angles.

After experimenting with caricatures and weaving different brand logos for companies, he began weaving rugs and carpets exclusively. This was when his innovative weaving techniques began to show. His early designs were based on modern principles, such as considering scales and proportions. However, his most distinctive characteristic was his "incorrect designs", which were a combination of different designs in opposition to current popular principles. As popular and contemporary methods of weaving rugs and carpets did not entirely apply to his design patterns, he innovated the "Hanging Knot" and other ways.

The 1950s and 1960s were the peak of Arabzadeh's career. After many years of effort, he finally produced very distinctive materials.



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

He was born in Isfahan in 1913 AD (1292, according to the Jalali calendar). After completing his primary education, he pursued his true passion for painting. As a self-taught artist, he drew inspiration from the designs of the castles and architecture of the Safavid era. Naghsh Jahaan Square's plans in Isfahan greatly impacted his taste, and he was particularly fascinated by the Sheik Lotfollah Mosque and Masjid Shah Mosque. He worked at a carpet weaving factory near Naghsh Jahan Square, providing him the best opportunity to practice and be inspired by the designs. Additionally, the paintings of Raza Abbasi further influenced and encouraged him to create more genuine designs from the Safavid era. Unfortunately, he passed away due to cancer in the spring of 1396.



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 the Jalali Calendar) in Isfahan in an Artist Family. The Sudden Death of their father put him under the supervision of his Uncle, one of his time's distinctive miniaturists and painters who educated him in painting.
The Master Rashtiyan, the painter, Miniaturist and carpet designer, is one of the most distinctive artists of Isfahan. During their precious life, he has left many exceptional students in different fields of art, which Shokrani and Ebrahimiyan may be named.
The hall's main entrance of "Abbasi Hotel" In Isfahan is a sample of his precious art reflections.



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

He was born in 1912 A.C. (1291, according to the Jalali Calendar). He is considered one of the most skilled and refined masters of carpet pointing and colouring in Isfahan. After completing his primary education, he pursued his career in carpet pointing and colouring under the guidance of Mr. Ahmad Archang.

In the past, carpet designs were not coloured as they are today. The weaver was responsible for staining the carpet based on their vision, with the pointing of the carpet plan as the only guide. The pointing process was complex and required skilled performers with experience and quality.

The knot development pattern was arranged so each was placed inside its cell rather than on the grids. This ensured that the final design would be aesthetically pleasing, proportionate and beautiful.

The presence of Mr Sanei, originally from Kashan to Isfahan, enlighted the vision of Mr Shaker on the secrets of the colouring of the carpet on the plan and by applying the new methods and personal taste and innovation in colours, the final result of recolouring of today was revealed.

During this period, many students learned the principles of recolouring from him, with Abbas Karbasiyoon being the most famous student of his time.



"The Story of the Pazyryk Carpet - The Oldest Rug in the World"

Carpets have been used as floor covering for centuries in different cultures worldwide, dating back to ancient times in Persian and some Oriental cultures. The world's oldest known carpet is the Pazyryk Carpet, which dates back to the 5th Century B.C. It was discovered in the tomb of a Scythian prince in the Pazyryk Valley of Siberia by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in the late 1940s. Although the exact source of the rug is still a mystery, it is believed to have been part of the Achaemenid Empire.

The Pazyryk Carpet is over 2,500 years old. It exhibits a level of sophistication in its craftsmanship that modern historians thought was impossible. It is an exceptional piece of art that tells the story of the Scythian people and their empires, which ranged from Eastern Europe to Western Asia. The carpet depicts images of gryphons, deer, and riders on horseback, showcasing the Scythian people's love for horses.

Despite its age, the carpet is well-preserved, thanks to the gravesite's unique conditions, which turned it into a block of ice, keeping it intact until Rudenko's team discovered it. The Pazyryk Carpet's level of craftsmanship has been a source of inspiration for modern-day weavers and artisans.

Caring for your carpets is essential to ensure their longevity. At CRI, we encourage people to take care of their carpets. While it may not keep them around for 2,500 years, proper maintenance will help keep your carpets clean, your indoor environment comfortable, and your air fresh.

St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum houses the oldest surviving piled rug, the Pazyryk Carpet. It features 24 cross-shaped figures of four stylized lotus buds in the central field and is framed by a border of griffins and 24 fallow deer.

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

Based on a study of ancient artistic development, textile expert Ulrich Schurmann has concluded that the rug is of Armenian origin. The Persians also claim it as their own, believing it's an artefact from the Achaemenid Empire. The exact source of the Pazyryk Carpet will remain a mystery. Still, its significance and beauty are forever eternal.



The Incredible Story Behind the World's Largest Rug

The cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates are famous for their constant rivalry in building the newest, most significant, and most luxurious structures, ranging from grand skyscrapers to thrilling roller coasters and upscale shopping malls. The founder and first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, envisioned a mosque in his hometown of Abu Dhabi that would be truly remarkable.

The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an incredible display of craftsmanship, boasting the world's largest carpet. The mosque's construction required over 3,000 workers and 38 contracting companies, which took over a decade to complete.

Iran contributed a handwoven carpet for the mosque's main prayer room, which used 38 tons of cotton and wool and took a year and a half to make. The finished rug contains over 2.2 billion individual, hand-tied knots, covers an area of 60,546 square feet, and weighs 12 tons.

The rug's design was meticulously crafted, with green being the most prominent colour, symbolizing Sheikh Zayed's favourite colour, the first colour of the Islamic flag, and representing life in the desert. A yellowish-beige perimeter signifies the sand around an oasis. The carpet has subtle raised lines on its surface to guide worshippers to form neat rows during prayer.

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

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. The Iran Carpet Company also made this carpet. It had an area of 5,000 square meters, weighing about 22 tons, and was valued at $5.2 million.

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