Antique Silk Heriz Persian Area Rug
The city of Tabriz, the seat of Azerbaijan Province in northwest Persia, has been a political, artistic, craft and industrial centre for many centuries. The royal Persian Safavid court was located there through much of the 16th century and where there are kings and courtiers, there are luxurious carpets. Weaving died out in the later 17th century and was revived with Western demand in the last quarter of the nineteenth when both fine wool and silk pile carpets were woven. The revival meant that new design formats and colour combinations could be tried beyond what was traditionally acceptable. This carpet is one of those creations. The rust field, produced from the mature madder plant, shows a vertically asymmetric design arranged around a discreet central axis marked by palmettes, overlapping leaves, a small, burgeoning floral vase, a rosette within an acanthus-edged lozenge, and lesser leaves and partial medallions at the top and bottom. Bold, hooked and curved acanthus leaves occupy prominent places in the field. Along the sides are extremely complex half palmettes and there are aroids in the top corners, along with rosettes toward the upper end. As in many Tabriz silks o the period, the rug is far better seen in person than described or even illustrated. The range of imagination is unparalleled in earlier carpets. The Western – European and American – clients were not particularly familiar with traditional oriental carpet design protocols, and this carpet must have seemed exotic and luxurious. The design is a fantastic, innovative creation and probably appears on no other silk Tabriz carpets, making it truly one of a kind. The red border features larger and small palmettes and the six supporting minors all have variations on floral scrolls. As is often seen on Tabriz rugs and carpets of the period, the end main borders run straight across, rather than turning at the corners. The dyes are all natural except for the small accent l areas of orange-yellow which derive from a European synthetic source. This dyestuff came in about 1890 and was used only for a decade of so, thus firmly dating the rug to around 1900 or just a bit earlier. The same dyes when applied to silk and to wool give very different results, with a more saturated red on wool becoming an attractive rust on silk. Lighter tones get lighter as is demonstrated here. The weavers worked from a series of partial scale-paper knot-by-knot cartoons. The asymmetry was entirely planned. The high quality silk comes from the Persian provinces of Gilan and Mazendaran to the south of the Caspian Sea, so-called “Rasht” silk. It was professionally dyed in Tabriz. Cotton Foundation, symmetrically (Turkish) knotted pile. Good condition.