Antique Pictorial Persian Rugs

If you’ve been following along with my series on creating the "Paradise Fusion" design, you already know that Islamic rugs are a continuing source of inspiration for me. The world of these works is so vast that it’s quite difficult to scratch the surface of their origins, techniques, and styles, but it only takes one minute to become entranced by them. It is instantly clear that you are looking at nothing less than mastery.

Hunting scenes are a common source of imagery for these works.

Hunting scenes are a common source of imagery for these works.

One particular classification of rugs that showcases this skill in a way that is abundantly clear even to the untrained eye is “pictorial” rugs. Two major rug production cities in Iran, Tabriz and Isfahan, provide thousands of examples of these works. Both of these have been centers of rich weaving histories, producing some of the finest rugs in the world and forming our notions of what makes for beautiful design. Since the middle of the 19th century, Tabriz especially has lead the way in a resurgence of densely-knotted and elaborate handmade rugs, keeping the craft alive and allowing us to continue enjoying these works.

Border detail.

Border detail.

The Tree of Life and the vase are recurring motifs in Islamic rugs (“Vase” or “Kerman” rugs are actually their own subset of Persian rugs).

The Tree of Life and the vase are recurring motifs in Islamic rugs (“Vase” or “Kerman” rugs are actually their own subset of Persian rugs).

This piece is exemplary of the cross-cultural influences occurring through trade.

This piece is exemplary of the cross-cultural influences occurring through trade.

Paradise scenes are popular subjects.

Paradise scenes are popular subjects.

The palace, another common motif, is also used to represent paradise.

The palace, another common motif, is also used to represent paradise.

A detail showing the incredibly tight knotting that allows for curvilinear shapes.

A detail showing the incredibly tight knotting that allows for curvilinear shapes.

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