Whatever is known of the origins of the pile rug is based on suppositions but the can assume that pile weaving had a nomadic origin although there are too many beliefs and sayings about where really the origin is. In Iran! An important period in carpet weaving is during the reign of the Sassanian dynasty (224-641 AD) and too many magnificent carpets were exported to distant lands. From that time this art went though other dynasties with some Fluctuations.
The Art of carpet weaving during Safavid Period
During the Period, Iranian master pieces were known all are the world. This simple and rustic profession changed in to the elegant Technique of carpet weaving. and the main categories of carpets classified by their design. Vase Design: This design dates back to 16th century and is woven in one direction. It can be viewed from the opposite directions and the design appears inverted. The field usually contains a vase and a bunch of flowers.
Hunting Scenery Design:
Its carpets usually demonstrate the scenes of hunting and its nature. this design depicts the animals and the preys which they pursue in the various plant life , the fine stone is kept in the Vienna Museum.
Tree and Shrub Design:
This design is a combination of the “medallion” pattern with figures of animals and trees. Exquisite sample and kept in the Museum of Philadelphia.
It derives its name from the city of harat It is composed of a single floral head, within a diamond frames. one of these carpet, is kept in the Museum of Vienna. Garden design: This design is based on the formal gardens of ancient Persia with their abundance of flora separated by pathways and ornamental ponds. And they were woven for the royal courts.
The term Polonaise carpets:
Why these carpets are known as “polonaise” is because of offering a gold – brocaded carpet to the international fair of Paris by a polish prince in 1873. The main colors of this kind of carpet are light pink yellow, and green. In addition one can say that the Safawied Period was the Renaissance for the fine art in Iran, because the artists showed their ability and people were interested in them / so Persian carpets became famous worldwide.
The Art of Carpets Weaving in the Period of 1722-1925:
In this period there was A decline in carpet weaving because of Afghan revolts and the death of Shah Abbas the Great. Unfortunately, this art lost its splendor during the reign of Nader Shah and Karimkan-e- Zand , but suddenly at the end of Ghajarieh period, again this can was flourished, many people came to Iran interested in buying Persian carpets and collect the old ones, and the Persian carpets regained their fame all around the world. Although demands for carpets increased a lot the production was insufficient to meet the demand, so the factories hired more weavers to satisfy the customers, needs and the fame of Persian carpets reached its peak. Many Europeans established branches and factories in the regional weaving centers to produce and export large quantities of carpets to different parts of the world.
The art of carpet weaving from 1925 till 1999:
In the last 75 years, carpet industry had fluctuation and was not stable due to the political - economic situations and fluctuation of the price of carpets in the world, but at the end of World War II with the abundance of raw materials, carpet industry was improved. Also it is important to say that one of the main contributors to the success of the carpet industry in 1935 was the establish ment of the Iranian carpet company.
Wool: Sheep wool is one of the basic elements in the carpet weaving. It is important how to choose the best quality wool which can be obtained from mountainous and mild areas and it should be refined from the external substances before spinning by mechanical apparatus. Down (kork): It refers to the soft wool that grows close to the skin of sheep and goats. Fairly expensive rugs are made form them. Cotton: It has an important role in carpet industry and is used to weave the wrap and the weft of the carpets. Also, it is not eaten by moths. Silk: It is produced by the larva of a species of moth, called the silkworm. Silk carpets are so expensive and stronger than wool ones. Because it is difficult to weave them, they are delicate and expensive.
Down (kork): It refers to the soft wool that grows close to the skin of sheep and goats. Fairly expensive rugs are made form them.
Cotton: It has an important role in carpet industry and is used to weave the wrap and the weft of the carpets. Also, it is not eaten by moths.
Silk: It is produced by the larva of a species of moth, called the silkworm. Silk carpets are so expensive and stronger than wool ones. Because it is difficult to weave them, they are delicate and expensive.
Dyeing: It plays an important role; since without colors, no design can be created. The dyers combine the principal colors with the complementary ones to obtain an exciting world of colors. The colors are divided into two categories: Natural and Artificial.
Natural dyes: Although many of them were obtained from animal and mineral sources, they are often referred to as vegetable dyes, which come from natural sources and environments. These colors show the subtle beauty of tone in the carpet. The natural dyes are Ronas, Saffron, Logwood, etc.
Mordants: They are used to improve the absorption of color by the outer surface of the wool and ensure the fastness of the colors when exposed to sunlight and water.
Synthetic dyes: They came into existence with the expansion of carpet industries. They were cheaper, readily available, and could give a variety of colors. Chrome dyes are one kind of reliable synthetic dyes which the weavers use extensively along with natural dyes.
Making carpets look old: Years ago it was a custom to make a carpet look old and eliminate its raw and sharp colors by different ways, such as wear and tear the carpet, spread them in the streets to be walked on by passers or by Hipochloride, known as a whitesmith powder to lose its scales.
Design: Persian carpets fascinate the whole world by their unique, pleasant, and varied design. Each has its own beauty and perfect harmony. The works of the designers together with the efforts of dyers and weavers has resulted in the production of the most glorious creation, the “Persian carpet”. They are durable, unique, and with the special quality of wool and brilliant colors. Thus, these characteristics gave Persian carpet its world wide reputation. Nowadays most of the carpet industries weave their carpets using Persian designs and they know that they cannot improve on the existing ones.
The computer in carpet weaving: Its effects are obvious since it has been applied in designing patterns. We can store the patterns in computer disks because filing the patterns is a hard task and after a long time the patterns will be torn or their color will fade. Computers can be used in weaving by eliminating the problem of wrong weaving while it estimates the number of knots for each color. It is also able to calculate the amount of material a carpet needs.
Classification of Iranian Carpet:
It is impossible to ascertain with any degree of certainty the weaving center to which a particular carpet belongs, but this classification depends on the form of designs, the kind of color, knots, the size and many other particulars. Persian carpets are divided into two broad groups: Tribal Carpets and Rural or Urban ones. Tribal carpets are small in size, woven in a very short time and in the form of rug. They are thick and woven in natural shape and bright colors. The nomads usually prefer geometrical designs for this kind of carpet.
Rural and Urban Carpets: These carpets woven in village workshops are thick and the urban ones are fine. The vast majority of Persian carpets are rural and urban where looms are positioned permanently.
Weaving Looms: Should be adjustable and it is a crucial factor in the structure of the carpet; the carpets are divided into two types: Horizontal Looms (Flat) & Vertical Looms (Upright) Horizontal looms are used by nomad weavers. They weave from the sides which becomes too hard if the rug is too wide but this kind of loom is suited to their way of life being easy to carry.
Vertical Looms: These can be used in cities, their structure is more complicated, its design and measurement are more precise. In this loom the length of the carpet is shorter than the length of the loom.
Techniques and Weaving Processes:
The fundamentals of carpet weaving are the same. The warp and the weft are caused “foundation”. Carpet weaving has its own stages, for instance the first stage is called “Gilim- baft”. After this the basic part begins and the colorful fibers, like wool or silk, hang from the pile. After the first row of knotting, weft and warps pass through each other and the function of the weft now is to unite the knotted parts of the carpet. At the end, the carpet is laid on a flat cylinder with a smoothed surface.
Knots: The process of knotting is tying a short – length of yarn around two adjacent warp strands to form the surface of the carpet. In addition, the density of knots results in the fitness and the long wear of the carpet. So with more knots, the pattern is highlighted.
Washing after weaving process:
It is necessary to wash the carpet after weaving in order to remove the redundant pieces of wool remained between the wefts and warps. This process gives shine to the wool and causes the pile to trace its natural smooth direction. It also gives a pleasant shade to the carpet. This should be done technically, if not, the colors may bleed into each other. Also, some carpets with sharp colors are washed chemically known as “gold- washing”, using a chemical process to change the red tones of the carpets.
Care of hand woven carpets:
In order to maintain a carpet, one has to keep it clean because dirt diminishes its beauty and causes damage to it. Also, water and humidity can bring damage to the carpet and some steps should be taken to dry the target area.
To remove different stains such as coffee, juice, greasy substance, etc …. First you have to absorb the stain with a non- dyed cloth or a tissue paper. Sponging should also be done to wipe off the coloring substance, but there are different techniques for removing different kinds of stains, each having its own process. Washing the most important factor to preserve carpets for a long time is to keep them clean, take good care, wash them every 2 or 3 years, and restore them when damaged. One can wash the carpet at home or in rug cleaning factories, but it depends on the rug whether it is color fast or not. If after testing, the color stains the clean cloth, it should not be washed at home. If someone wants to repair the carpet, it should be done after washing, because when the carpet is clean, a very small particle of design which is damaged appears clearly on the surface. Also, the rugs should be washed in specialized rug-cleaning companies, not in dry-cleaners, because dry-cleaners ruin the wool, warp, and weft of the carpet.