Design of Kashan Rug (Rugman)
|Original name||قالی کاشان|
|Alternative name(s)||Kashan Carpet|
|Common designs||Medallion, Afshan, Vagireh, Shah Abbasi, Vase|
|Common colors||Crimson, Navy Blue, Cream, Beige, Blue, Green, Yellow|
|Dyeing method||Natural, Synthetic|
|Pile material||Wool, Silk|
|Foundation material||Cotton, Silk|
|Knot type||Asymmetrical (Persian)|
Kashan rugs originate from Kashan an oasis town along the Kavir desert, in central Iran. It is one of the oldest cities in Iran, with archeological excavations in the Sialk hills indicating that this area was the home of pre-historic humans. As early as the 17th century Kashan had a well established silk area rug industry. Kashan rugs is still woven in the time honored traditions of the old masters, utilizing the same basic designs. Coveting by kings, at one time it was commonplace to see Kashan rugs hanging on palace walls all over the world. It is for this reason that it is also referred to as “the palace carpet”. Extremely dense Persian knots are used to weave Kashan rugs, producing an exquisite object of art.
Kashan is an ancient city located in central Iran. The Kashan name is important in the carpet weaving world. Carpets from this city are known in the market from the sixteenth century during the Safavid Dynasty period. Kashan carpets are floral in pattern, with very fine detail and high quality, in either a medallion or allover style. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Kashan carpets with silk foundations and silk piles as well as cotton foundations and wool piles were made in Shah Abbas designs, with palmettes, leaves, and vines perfectly set in the background and borders. Other designs such as animals or Hunting patterns were displayed in the field; at times poems were woven in the borders. These truly magical weavings are considered important artworks and are in museums worldwide.
Another beautiful and recognizable Safavid type of woven art is the Polonaise Carpets. There is debate about the weaving location of this carpet group, but it can be traced to Kashan, Isfahan, or both historical cities. Polonaises were woven in the brocade style with a gold and silver metallic-thread weft and a silk warp and pile. The Persian (asymmetric) knot was used. These carpets were produced with the best materials under the supervision of the Safavid court. They are considered important in the antique trade, and can be found in respected museums and private collections around the world.
In the second half of the nineteenth century Kashan again emerged as a major center for carpet weaving in Persia. With the demand for carpets in Europe and America, weavers such as Ismail wa aba yahudi, Mohtashem, Tafazoli, and others produced rugs and carpets in a variety of sizes. This era is known as the Mohtashem period. At the turn of the twentieth century Kashan carpet production continued with the weavers Ateshoghli, Dabir Al Sanayeh, Mohtashem the younger, and others in and around Kashan.
During these years traditional carpets were made in either the Souf (brocade) technique, with a silk foundation and a silk pile, or with a cotton foundation and a wool pile. During the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries Kashan carpet producers traveled to the Kermanshah and Khorasan Provinces to obtain the best-quality wool in Persia for their pile carpets. Kashan master weavers also began to purchase Manchester wool from abroad for their carpets in the late nineteenth century. This wool type, from Australian merino sheep, was spun in Manchester, England, but dyed locally.
By 1900 important carpet traders from America began to produce and commission carpets in Kashan. These companies made rugs and carpets with a cotton foundation and a wool pile; a small percentage was made with a silk foundation and a silk pile. The designs were traditional Kashan styles and were made in standard American room sizes. The most active companies were Ghazan, Tafsanjian and Talfian. These firms were known to sign their company names in Farsi along the carpet border or in the field.
In the 1920s the American market favored a high-quality carpet featuring a Shah Abbas design mainly made with Manchester wool. These carpets usually featured a very finely detailed allover pattern of Vase motifs with flowers, palmettes, leaves, and vines. The main border usually featured large repeating palmettes surrounded by curled leaves and vines. The backgrounds of Kashans were usually a rustred or tomatored color, but carpets for the American market were produced in a maroonred field to match the coloration of home furnishings of the time. This Kashan style was extremely fashionable in America and is called Manchester kashan or "American Kashan" in the trade. Production of these carpets was discontinued during the Great Depression era.
After World War II a second carpet boom occurred in Europe and America. Kashan weavers and manufacturers began to actively produce carpets for foreign export, as well as, the domestic market. Iranian clients considered Kashan carpets an investment and greatly appreciated them as floor coverings for their homes. The demand was so strong that many nearby villages and towns started to weave Kashan-type carpets. The design style of this period was mostly a center medallion with four quartered corner medallions on a red background. Motifs were in the Shah Abbas style, and at times grape leaves and vines were added. This design was woven for approximately two decades and was marketed both domestically and abroad. Kashan weavers typically refused to change designs and colors if a previous carpet style sold profitably. Other city weavers of Iran would generally change their styles to keep up with world fashion. Kashan weavers slowly alterered their designs and background colorations for better marketability. Kashan weavers make carpets inside their homes. They generally are commissioned by carpet merchants, who supply the looms, design cartoons, and wool for weaving. During the weaving process there are times when there is not enough wool to complete a carpet, which results in Abrash. This abrash appearance generally occurs in early Kashan weavings but not in modern productions.
After World War II the neighboring towns of Aran, Bidgul, and Natanz began weaving Kashan carpets of a lower grade quality. These carpets were marketed successfully for their lower prices domestically and abroad. In the 1970s some weavers from these towns switched to make a finer quality carpet, including those with a silk foundation and a silk pile.
Other weaving locations in Iran that produced carpets with the Kashan design and technique were marketed and sold as Kashans. One notable city was Yazd, in central Iran, which produced large quantities of rugs under the Kashan name.
Kashan carpets were woven in various dimensions ranging from small pillows to palace sizes. The quality of these carpets ranges from good to very fine in grade. Kashan weavers continue to use wool or silk piles and brocade. Starting in the 1960s Kashan carpets included all major color combinations for the background, borders, and design elements. Kashan and the surrounding area is one of the leading carpet producers for the domestic and worldwide markets.
- Moheban, 2015, 285-289
- Abraham Levi Moheban. 2015. The Encyclopedia of Antique Carpets: Twenty-Five Centuries of Weaving. NewYork: Princeton Architectural Press.