Tabriz Rugs

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Tabriz rugs--one of the finer and older families of Persian rugs--have been woven and knotted in northwestern Iran for hundreds if not thousands of years. There is no single characteristic Tabriz motif, however. Design is geometric in its precision but does feature many floral elements. The majority are formal in concept, and many feature a large central medallion.

Designs are curvilinear rather than rectilinear, that is, looser rather than more rigid. This is typical of Persian rugs versus, for example, Turkish. Weavers of Tabriz rugs used both symmetrical and asymmetrical knots, the two types that typify hand knotted rugs.

Dark reds and blues dominate the color schemes of older Tabriz rugs, with ivory used most often for contrast. During the 20th century, however, other colors were introduced, along with synthetic dyes. Typical knot density thinned in the same period. The number varies between perhaps 100 and 500 knots per square inch.

Tabriz Rugs on the Map of Iran

A dominant rug making center since at least the 17th century, the city of Tabriz sits in an oasis at the foot of a volcano south of the Caspian Sea. By tradition founded in the 8th century, it legitimately boasts a long period of high culture. This includes the rules of Timur from 1335 to 1405, Shah Ishmail the first who founded the Safavid dynasty, and Shah Abbas from 1587 to 1629. Despite earthquakes and other natural disasters, the city continues to thrive, though the heyday of its finest rugs is sadly over.

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