Friday, June 24, 2011

Persian Carpets and the People Who Make Them and Sell Them

Carpet weaving and selling is a significant part of Persian culture. In traditional houses, family members and guests remove their shoes at the door and come into a space, no matter how big or small, that is covered with as fine a selection of Persian rugs as the family can afford. The fine rugs are passed down from one generation to the next. Most communal activities take place on the floor: eating, resting, talking. Now, of course, times have changed and many families, like the Sanganians, have chairs and a dining table. But the reverence for carpets remains.

I am not the person to tell you everything you might like to know about the intricacies of making or buying carpets. I appreciate them as works of art, made by incredibly skilled men and women, often in quite humble surroundings. Visit your local carpet store, like one I frequent in Berkeley, Noor and Sons Rug Gallery. They will give you all the information you need.

In Tehran, we visited the Carpet Museum, a beautiful space with more gorgeous carpets than you can imagine. Here are a few of my favorites, including the two above. The one to the left is a copy of the oldest one  from the 5th century BCE. The original is in the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad.

We saw a traditional loom set up for demonstration purposes only, I suspect, at a caravanserai in Meybod. This sort of cotton carpet, often seen in blue and white, is used to cover the floors of mosques in this part of the country.

In Esfahan we visited two carpet stores and were shown a wonderful selection of rugs: traditional, nomadic, silk, wool, using natural dyes or synthetic dyes, old, new, big and small. I was tempted by several of them. Fortunately several of my traveling companions were more than tempted and purchased some beauties. So I could, without guilt, soak in the designs, colors, history and workmanship without having to pay the price. I may regret my decision. But there you go.

You can see from these three that I am more drawn to nomadic rugs than to the more traditional designs.

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