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CARPETS x. Afsharid and Zand Periods

part 2


Mesopotamia (Marvi, I, p. 410, III, p. 892). Such a sizable order seems to indicate active production in this center. He may also have ordered similar rugs for the shrine of Imam ʿAli al-Reża at Mashhad, which he repaired and improved (see astan-e qods), as well as for his treasure house at Kalat(-e Naderi) in Khorasan and the small palace that he built in Qazvin. The grandiose royal tent of silk installed for his coronation in 1148/1736 at Dasht-e Moḡan in Azerbaijan was strewn with silk carpets and carpets from Kerman (Marvi, II, p. 454).

The renewed local prosperity and stability that accompanied the reign of Moḥammad Karim Khan Zand in Shiraz and southern Persia (1163-93/1750-79) must have been favorable for rug production there.

 Indeed, according to one of his contemporaries Karim Khan himself claimed to be skilled in carpet weaving, as well as in several other métiers (Aṣaf, p. 309). The belief that carpet production continued is confirmed by a wool carpet in the Mūza-ye Iran-e Bastan, Tehran, with a design consisting of a single-plane lattice with flowering plants in the compartments; the knotting technique is the same as that associated with vase carpets (the “vase technique”; see iii, above). The date 1172/1758 and the name of the weaver, Moḥammad SHarif Kermani, are woven into an epigraphic cartouche (Housego, p. 44; cf. Pope, p. 2266). This dated example can thus serve as the nucleus for a larger group of related rugs that are not precisely dated. A number of extant rugs in “millefiori” and “paisley” patterns (see iv, above) resembling rugs illustrated in contemporary paintings or with color schemes and designs paralleled in other Zand decorative media, have also been suggested as possible examples of Shiraz and Kerman production. Some rugs may also have been produced in Khorasan in this period (Housego, pp. 46-50).

By the 1780s and 1790s East India Company merchants in Persia were reporting the availability of carpets in Būshehr (Bushire; Issawi, p. 88) and extolling Khorasan carpets for their “brightness of colors and elegance of workmanship” (Housego, p. 48). Other travelers and diplomats in the 12th/18th century made only brief references to rugs: In 1786 it was noted that Yazd and Kerman were exporting felts and carpets (Franklin, p. 148); in the late 1780s beautiful carpets woven in Khorasan, some even with grounds of gold thread, were noted (Ferrières de Sauvebœuf, II, p. 8). In 1801, in a confidential report on the manufactures, exports, and imports of Persia made by Sir John Malcolm to the director of the board of control of the East India Company, Yazd, Kashan, Ṭabas, and cities in independent Khorasan are mentioned as carpet-manufacturing centers (Malcolm apud Issawi, pp. 262-63; cf. Hambly, p. 81). In 1826 an immensely useful and detailed account of Persian commerce was published; it shows that carpets were being produced in sizable numbers in both traditional and new centers: Herat, Kerman, Yazd, Borūjerd, the Turkman areas of Khorasan, Isfahan, and Azerbaijan (Fraser, p. 362).

To be continued ...

Other Links:


Tapestry in Iran

Art of Esfahan: Silver Work

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