Design of Bakhtiari Rug (Rugman)
|Original name||قالی بختیاری|
|Alternative name(s)||Bakhtiari Carpet|
|Origin||Iran: Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari, Isfahan, Khuzestan|
|Common designs||Medallion, Geometric, Lattice|
|Common colors||Blue, Crimson, Yellow, Navy Blue, Cream, White, Brown, Green|
|Dyeing method||Natural, Synthetic|
|Foundation material||Cotton, Wool|
|Knot type||Symmetrical (Turkish)|
Bakhtiari people are a noble, ancient tribe surviving in the Chahar Mahal region of south-central Iran. Primitive Bakhtiari rugs frequently have a checkerboard or garden pattern decorated with trees-of-life, birds, flowers and animals, sometimes realistic, sometimes abstract. Generally these are woven with a Turkish knot. But some very beautiful floral patterns are still produced in the principal town of Shahr Kurd with the Persian knot, showing long, exaggerated medallions reminiscent of an earlier Isfahan style. Color schemes include many shades of brown, rust, yellow ochre, bottle green, beige, dark blue and red.
The Bakhtiari are a well-known tribe living in the western region of Iran. It is the largest tribe by population and area in the country. The Bakhtiari people are settled along the Zagros Mountains from west central to southwestern Iran.
Historians debate the origin of the Bakhtiari tribe. It is believed that the Bakhtiari migrated south from Asia Minor and settled in western Persia during the fourteenth century. In the Bakhtiari region many settlement groups emerged with a khan, a powerful tribal ruler. The Bakhtiaris were known as strong, fierce fighters, and each group had their own army to protect their land and autonomy. Throughout the centuries, the Bakhtiari had many conflicts with the Persian government pertaining to taxes and their sovereignty.
In the late nineteenth century a peace agreement between the Qajar Kingdom and the Bakhtiari khans was reached, in which Bakhtiari officials governed the central and southern regions of Persia with some parliamentary representatives in the capital of Tehran. The relationship continued during the Pahlavi period, with the Bakhtiaris playing a larger role in government.
For centuries the Bakhtiari tribe traveled to and camped in the valleys during winter, and back to the highlands in the summer for the better climate to farm and herd animals. The tribe maintains this tradition today, but many successful Bakhtiari have settled in cities, towns, and villages. The most con-centrated area of the Bakhtiari is in the Chahar Mahal valley. The towns with a large Bakhtiari population are Ardal, Borujen, Chalshotor, Faradon-Beh, Ghafarrukh, Lardijan, Saman, Shahr Kurd, and Shalamzar. Among the Bakhtiari in these towns live the Lori tribe and a small Armenian population.
Bakhtiari carpets are known in the market from the mid-nineteenth century. They are generally woven with a cotton foundation and a wool pile, but some rare examples from the nineteenth century have a wool foundation. The Turkish (symmetric) knot is mainly used. Some of the weavers used the alternative Persian (asymmetric) knot. Bakhtiari nomads mainly weave flatwoven items, often with part-pile sections, for daily use, such as grain storage bags, transport bags, Khorjin (sad-dlebags), animal covers, tent coverings, Namakdan (salt) bags, Paneer (cheese) bags, tobacco bags, and shepherd bags.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, with the khans' investments, many carpet workshops located mostly in the Chahar Mahal region developed to weave carpets for official and personal use. These carpets are usually woven with Farsi inscriptions, including the commissioning khan's name, the year made, and "Bakhtiari." These khan carpets are well known in the market, especially the larger palace sizes, which are available at auction galleries and through antique dealers. By the turn of the century the Persian carpet industry was recognized by consumers in the Western market. With this growing demand, most Bakhtiari towns and villages began to produce carpets in all sizes, which brought new income to the Bakhtiari population.
The designs made are generally semigeometric; some Bakhtiari workshops produced floral styles. The carpets are woven in the allover or medallion design, with Keshti (garden pattern), Lattice, Shrub, Tree of Life, flower bouquet, cypress tree, willow tree, and other natural motifs. Many of theBakhtiari designs have influences from the sur-rounding weaving areas, such as Farahan in the north, Josheghan in the east, and from tribes such as the Lori and the Qashqai from the south.
Early tribal Bakhtiari rugs with a high pile are called Khersak Bakhtiari in the trade. Khersak is a market expression that means "low or coarse quality" in Farsi. Nevertheless, these carpets are beautiful in coloration and valuable for their primitive abstract designs. They resemble the Qashqai Gabbeh Rugs.
A unique rug that is finely made in quality, coloration, and wool is called Mai Boft. The term means "woven by a grandmother" in Farsi. The Bakhtiari and Armenians made these rugs from the 1900s through the second quarter of the twentieth century. They have a cotton foundation and a wool pile. The Turkish (symmetric) knot is employed, and the designs are mostly semigeometric. Bibi Boft rugs are rare and can occasionally be found in the Isfahan and Tehran markets and at auction. They are small in size, ranging from five feet by three feet to eight feet by five feet.
The coloration of Bakhtiari carpets, in general, is strong compared to those produced in other weaving areas in Iran. The colors utilized are different shades of red, blue, green, brown, gold, and ivory for the field, borders, and design elements. Dark brown or black is used for pattern outlines. Today interior designers have a difficult time placing Bakhtiaris because of the bold coloration. In Europe, consumers enjoy these tribal carpets for their good value and lively color appearance. 
- Moheban, 2015, 83-86
- Abraham Levi Moheban. 2015. The Encyclopedia of Antique Carpets: Twenty-Five Centuries of Weaving. NewYork: Princeton Architectural Press.