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Culture - Arts



The survival of the earliest knotted rug, the Pazirik (Pazyryk) carpet, is owed to the Siberian ice in the Altai mountains near the outer Mongolian border in a region called Pazirik.

The Pazirik was discovered by Soviet archaeologist S.I. Rudenko in 1949, was covered by ice in a burial chamber of a regional governor and had been preserved that way for over 2500 years. It was thought to have been made in Persia around the 5th century BC.

The Pazirik carpet is of unknown origin, measuring roughly 6 by 5 feet (2xl.83 meters), woven with the Turkish knot. The design is of a dominant tilework central motif surrounded by borders featuring rows of elk and horsemen. It is now at the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Pazirik (Pazyryk) carpet

The Ardebil is considered is regarded as one of the most magnificent rugs of the world. It is approximately 17 by 34 feet with over 32 million tightly woven knots made of a blend of wool and silk.

It has a cartouche in one corner, which bears the date AH947 in the Islamic calendar, which translates to 1540 AD. The caratouche tells us that it was made by the order of the Persian King Shah Tahmasp by a weaver named Maqsud al Kashani.

This one of a supposed pair was used in the Shayka Safi (1252-1332) Shrine in Ardebil. One of his descendants, Shah Ismail I (1502-24), founded the Safavid dynasty, named for Safi al-Din.

The great period of creativity in rug making took place in Persia during the Safavid period (1499-1722) under the reigns of Shah Tahmasp and Shah Abbas. From this period came the most glorious and outstanding rugs of historic significance. (see Sights: Ardebil)

The Ardebil carpet is now in London's Victoria and Albert Museum.


Although the Persian rug is commonplace in the Iranian home it can be considered not only a household furnishing but a work of art.

Persian rugs are generally made by hand by skilled people. The craft varies from region to region depending on the environment and lifestyle of the rug makers. There are still tribal, nomadic, and rural carpets being made today the same way as they have been thoughout the ages.

The availability and pricing of the Persian rug is effected by global monetary and political conditions. Still considered a reasonably good investment in the West, there are few items that will add such beauty to a room in the home or office than a genuine Persian rug.

As an investment, a Persian rug is considered "property with cash value" - similar to gold, gems, and jewlery. Rugs increase in value with age.

When a business purchases a rug it can be considered a business expense like purchasing a desk and it also depreciates and can be deducted accordingly. When rugs are purchased for personal use they are not taxed as a business gain like other investments.

In the year 2000, the lifting of the ban on the (wholesale) importing of Iranian rugs to the US was met with a new enthusiasm by rug buyers and investors. For the first time in over two decades there is a good selection of fine handmade Persian rugs available at at reasonable prices.

Child on Gabbeh style rug.

Rug makers in Qum (Qom)


There are a number of 'basic designs' and types of Persian rugs. There are tribal and nomadic rugs, Turkoman, Tabriz, Nain, Ghom, Gabbeh, prayer, and kilim (double sided woven). Rugs are made from sheep and goat wool, cotton and cotton cork (soft cotton), silk, and sometimes a mixture. Except for tribal and nomadic rugs which often use a natural dye from plants and flowers, modern rugmakers use chemical dyes. The quality of rug is also determined by the number of knots per square centimeter (sq. cm). Low grade: 30-50, medium grade: 50-100, and high: over 100. A museum quality rug might have up to 500 or more knots per sq. cm.
tribal rug


Most reputable rug stores will help you learn about rugs. If you are planning to buy a rug in Iran to bring it back home you will need to check with your own country customs department about current regulations. You will also need to check when you are in Iran what the current regulations are in Iran. It is unlikely that Iran will allow a valuable antique rug to leave the country but purchasing and bringing home some very nice rugs should be on your agenda for your trip.

Persian type rug mouse pads from Fiberlok.
Photo Carpets from Taksetare