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THE KERMAN ORIENTAL RUG

The traditional Kerman Oriental rug fits well into our study of the Oriental Rugs by Design.  Again, the same caveats must be repeated:        

  • The way to accurately identify a handwoven oriental rug is not just from the design, but from the way it is woven and the materials used.
  • Many countries produce rugs with designs that may copy another country’s rug.
  • Because of the individual nature of hand-woven rugs, we can study the most common examples (and there will be variations!) but we must be aware there are many exceptions to every example and the terms 'always' and 'never' cannot be used when it comes to the study of oriental rugs and their designs.

The Kerman Oriental rug (Kirman), like the Sarouk Oriental rug, is an example of a Persian city rug. City rugs are woven in large factory type environments or workshops on permanent vertical looms, producing rugs in many different sizes with designs and colors palettes that are similar. The usual design of these rugs is curvilinear with floral patterns.

Kerman - AntiqueKerman - Antique
Vertical Loom ExampleVertical Loom Example

LOCATION OF KERMAN

Map of IranMap of Iran

Kerman is a city as well as a province located in SE Iran. It was founded in the 4th century and was an important stop for those traveling along the trading routes between Iran and India. It is accessible from the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea ports by train and highway and is the last city between Iran and India.

BRIEF HISTORY OF KERMAN WEAVING

Since the early 1500s, the Kerman area has been a center of workshop weaving. The arts thrived in the area because the province was relatively isolated with little interference from invasions. The dry climate with little rain also attributed to the predominance of the arts over agriculture.

The area was well-known for paisley hand-woven shawls in the 19th century until the decline of the shawl industry brought about the reintroduction of commercial rug production around 1890. The Kerman weavers, who had perfected the paisley or boteh motif in their shawls, found they could easily adapt to the curvilinear floral designs dictated by the commercial rug industry’s demands.

Kerman Shawl Fragment 19th CenturyKerman Shawl Fragment 19th Century

TRADITIONAL KERMAN ORIENTAL RUG DESIGNS

There is a wide range of recognizable Kerman designs, as the weavers not only wove for Western buyers but for local consumers as well. Examples include:

  • Center medallion
  • All-over boteh, florals, and stripes
  • Garden panel
  • Tree-of-life
  • Prayer
  • Vase
  • Hunting scenes and elaborate pictorials

  • French Aubusson/Savonnerie

THREE PHASES OF KERMAN ORIENTAL RUG DESIGN

The designs and corresponding colors can be broken into three phases:

1.       1890-1920

Rugs of this phase usually had a center medallion, an all-over boteh, a pictorial with cypress trees and figural motifs such as stylized branches, birds and animals, vegetable gardens, and hunting scenes (especially in the early 20th century), or were incorporated into a prayer rug. Those with the central medallion usually had wide borders filled with flowers.

The main colors were deep red, indigo blue, forest green, and golden tan.

Antique Kerman PictorialAntique Kerman Pictorial

2.      1920-1950

This phase put an emphasis on the floral motif with detached floral sprays introduced during the late second quarter of the century.

Field colors were mostly ivory with jewel tones of ruby red, emerald green, and sapphire blue.

Kerman - 2nd Quarter of 20th CenturyKerman - 2nd Quarter of 20th Century
Kerman - Late 2nd Quarter of 20th CenturyKerman - Late 2nd Quarter of 20th Century

3.      1950-Present  

Broken borders or borders that extend into the field of the rugs (or the field into the borders of the rug) were introduced. French floral rugs (Aubusson and Savonnerie) also influenced the modern design.

American buyers prefer the modern rugs to have plain open fields, a center medallion, and broken borders.

Pastel colors of green, rose, blue, and ivory are more common in the modern rugs as well.

Kerman - Mid-20th Century Broken BordersKerman - Mid-20th Century Broken Borders
Kerman - 1950Kerman - 1950
Kerman - 1960sKerman - 1960s
Kerman - 1960sKerman - 1960s

CONSTRUCTION CHARACTERISTICS OF THE KERMAN ORIENTAL RUG

The Kerman Oriental rug uses an asymmetrical Persian knot in wool, opening to the left on a tight warp and weft foundation of cotton. Both ends will have knotted fringes and the sides are wrapped with a single wool cord. High quality Carmania wool is used for the pile.

The Kerman weavers use the technique of dyeing the wool before it is spun, resulting in more uniformity of color.

THE KERMAN ORIENTAL RUG
OF TODAY

In the early 20th century the oriental rugs from Kerman were considered to be one of the finest of all Persian rugs. Approximately 80% of the rugs produced in the Kerman area were exported to America.

Kerman rugs are still being produced in Iran today. Though they may not be as fine nor as elaborate or richly colorful as their antique counterparts, the design is still popular and the rugs are still sought after in the marketplace.

NOTE: Most photos courtesy of Ellen Amirkan, http://www.dallasrugcleaner.com/


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Rugs on the wash floor are gently scrubbed before thorough rinsing.


Gentle scrubbing continues. Note the wringer in the background-the next step in the washing process after rinsing.


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