Design of Tabriz Rug (Rugman)
|Original name||قالی تبریز|
|Alternative name(s)||Tabriz Carpet|
|Origin||Iran: East Azerbaijan|
|Common designs||Medallion, Afshan, Vase|
|Common colors||Red, Cream, Orange, Yellow|
|Dyeing method||Natural, Synthetic|
|Pile material||Wool, Silk|
|Foundation material||Cotton, Silk|
|Knot type||Symmetrical (Turkish)|
Tabriz rugs originate from the ancient city of Tabriz, located in northwestern Iran. Tabriz is the largest producer of handmade Persian wool rugs in the world. This extremely prolific city has enjoyed a wonderful reputation as a center of Oriental culture for centuries. Although rug weaving here can be traced back to the 15th century, it was during the Middle Ages that the weavers of wool rugs began to be influenced by the work of manuscript illuminators, silk embroiderers, miniature painters, and metal workers. Curvilinear designs on wool rugs were first introduced to the courts in Istanbul by weavers. In the mid 19th century the city established itself as the market center for the exportation of Persian wool rugs to the west. Rugs are double wefted and the Turkish knot is dominant, although both Turkish and Persian knots are used.
Tabriz is the capital of the East Azerbaijan Province in northwestern Iran. It is an ancient city that was occupied by Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE), who made it the capital of the region. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the eighth century Ca, and was rebuilt later that century.
Tabriz had an important strategic location and was conquered by many empires and tribes over the centuries; the Mongols, Timurids, and Turkmens have each historically occupied the city. In isoz, the Persian Safavids recaptured it and made it their capital. The Safavid Empire had a significant interest in holding Tabriz to protect the region against attacks from neighboring countries. During this era, the city and population both grew, and Tabriz developed a strong Persian culture in art and architecture. The Safavids opened the first school of art in Tabriz for painting, ceramics, and weaving carpets and textiles. Under Safavid rule, Tabriz was conquered twice by the Ottoman Empire, in 1514 and 1534. The Ottomans took advantage of the art and culture of the Persian Empire by transferring thousands of great artists, architects, painters, ceramists, and rug weavers to western Anatolia (Turkey). The victorious Turks thereafter established carpet weaving in Istanbul for the Ottoman court.
Tabriz carpets and weavings dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries can be found today in museums, auction galleries, antique markets, and private collections around the world. The designs have medallion, allover patterns, and Hunting motifs. The carpets are floral, with very fine details, and are of a high quality. They are woven with cotton or silk foundations and a wool pile tied in the Persian (asymmetric) knot.
By the late nineteenth century, Tabriz became one of Persia's most important carpet producing centers. Many established carpet weavers began to manufacture and produce carpets for foreign export. During the carpet boom in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, famous carpet makers such as Haddad, Hadji Baba Ganjeh, and Haj Jalili, among many others, were actively weaving rugs and carpets for European, American, and domestic markets.
Tabriz is recognized for weaving a wide range of designs far exceeding any other weaving center. The designs made have either an Open Field with a center medallion, a medallion and design elements in a decorated field, or an allover pattern. Classical styles such as the Boteh (paisley), Garden, Herati (fish), Lattice, Mihrab (prayer arch), Shah Abbas, and pictorial patterns from Persian tradition were woven for the field and border. The carpets have a cotton foundation and a wool pile. The Turkish (symmetric) knot was always used during this weaving period. In general, these carpets are good to fine in grade quality.
Tabriz weavers also began to produce classical sixteenth-century style silk foundation and silk pile rugs and carpets. Silk Tabriz carpets were made in large room-sizes during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These carpets were executed in high qualities with charming designs, and were the only carpets of their kind available in the world market. They were and are today rare in the antique market.
The nineteenth-century Tabriz carpets are fashionable today in the antique trade for their designs and coloration. Strong colors generally do not exist in carpets from this period. Over the years, the red color has gradually muted to a copper color, which no other antique Oriental carpet has.
By 1920 another carpet boom occurred in the world market, and many Azerbaijan provincial towns and villages in Iran began to weave carpets. The production grew dramatically in the cities surrounding Tabriz, such as Khoy, Maragheh, and Marand, but the carpets were woven in a lower grade quality. These types were targeted at the middle class in Europe as well as Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.
During the second quarter of the twentieth century, the Iranian communist party (Tudeh) began to organize in northwestern Iran. The occupation of Azerbaijan by Russia's Red Army gave some families and individuals, including carpet weavers, an opportunity to immigrate to the Soviet Union. After World War II, some of these skilled artisans offered their carpet weaving and design experience to Eastern European communist countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. In this postwar period, the European and domestic markets continued to grow and Tabriz weavers consistently met the demand. The weavers intelligently produced all grade qualities and designs. This third economic boom in the carpet industry positively changed the lives of many northwestern Persian weavers. Tabriz became the market center for woven products from northwestern Iranian cities, towns, and villages. Thousands of bales of carpets were packed weekly and shipped for foreign export and domestic use. During the twentieth century, some notable master weavers began manufacturing in Tabriz and continued the city tradition of making wonderful carpets and rugs. Weavers such as Ahlaboft, Emad, Javan Amirkhis, and Tabatabaie, to name a few, advanced Tabriz carpet production.
In this era, some foreign companies commissioned rugs and carpets in Tabriz, notably Petag Company Of Germany and Benlian Company of London, which successfully marketed their products in Europe and North America.
Twentieth-century Tabriz carpets generally have red, dark blue, or ivory in the field and borders. Additionally, reds, blues, ivory, greens, yellows, browns, lavender, and grays delineate the design elements, borders, and, at times, the background and medallion. Some elaborate contemporary pieces have silk highlights to accentuate the designs. Tabriz rugs are made in a variety of sizes ranging from small pillows to palace dimensions and are woven in good to very fine grade qualities.
- Moheban, 2015, 558-562
- Abraham Levi Moheban. 2015. The Encyclopedia of Antique Carpets: Twenty-Five Centuries of Weaving. NewYork: Princeton Architectural Press.