by Ehsan Afzalzadeh Naini, Iran Rug Company
Translated from Persian by Fereidoun Haghighi
Hand-made Carpet weaning in Sabzevar has a long history of making and according to the experts in the field, the rug industry is a century old in Sabzevar. Other reliable sources pointed out that the history of hand-made carpet weaving in the city goes back as far as “Tiymourian” era in eight century.
Founded on the present documentations and statistics, in the year 1961 there were approximately 50 looms in the city of Sabzevar and its suburbs alone. Loom is a foundation or unit for carpet weaving consisting of warps and thick threads of cotton which can be set up vertically or horizontally.
Later in 1965 the number of looms in Sabzevar and Esfarain (another city in Khorasan Province) increased to 110 units and 367 weavers were weaving rugs on them at that time.
In 1975 the number of looms expanded to 870 units in Sabzevar, which 3,170 dayshift weavers were creating the woven jewels diligently as well as earned a living by them.
In continuation, in 1977, carpet industry grew tremendously in the region and especially in villages. However, in the city of Sabzevar, in the same year, the number of workshops and production lines decreased to only few and in each workshop 4 to 5 looms were operative in spite of the fact that in surrounding villages such as Mazinan, Avaz, and Ghargholi carpet workshops were active in producing rugs.
Amazingly, from 1978 the carpet industry in the region was booming to an extend that according to some statistics, in 1361 more than 10,000 looms in the city of Sabzevar and the area around it with more than 40.000 weavers were in operation.
However, unfortunately, the good and exciting days did not last very long and after 1982, there were signs of decline of the number of carpet enthusiasts in the region, in a way that a statistical chart from the book “A leaf from the Khorasan’s Carpet” shows that in 1981 there were 6,391 looms in Sabzevar, whereas in 1989 from the same statistical source the number of looms reduced to 5,859 ones. The decline caused by soaring prices for the raw materials and the lack of enough capital.
Main principal elements for the rug production in the region are wool and cotton and in recent years, silk was also added to make fine rugs.
Khorasan wool has always considered being one of the finest wool in the world since Mr. Hance A. Wolff the author of the book” Iran’s historical handcrafts” believes that the quality of wool in each part of Iran is different and he has pointed out, in his book, that the best wool in Iran belongs to Khorasan, Kerman shah and Kurdistan, located in the Western part of the country.
Sabzevar after Mashhad (center of Khorasan) is the second city in the province that possesses factories of spinning wool thread. In addition, from the total of nine spinning factories in Khorasan seven of them are installed in Mashhad and the other two are operating in Sabzevar.
Another important element in carpet weaving is the cotton and Sabzevar’s cotton is of grade one in the province. In 1956, the cotton factory was inaugurated in the city of Sabzevar and based on the released data from the two cotton factories in town, the amount of the cotton production between the years 1975 to 1976 summed up to more than 8000 tons which has been recorded. The best quality stranded yarn is called “gitii” and it was extensively used in the carpet weaving process.
The designs that are applied in the carpet workshops in Sabzavar are as follows:
1- Four seasons pattern
2- Spread out pattern with large flowers
3- Jeghe–e-Goal reaz
4- Naghshe Kashi
5- Naghshe Kashi Tongi (flowerpot) which each corner of the rug is in form of Kashi and in the middle is in form of tong
6- Salimi (the dragon mouth)
7- The Persepolis pattern
8- Complete Tongi (all flowerpots)
9- Zear khaki (flowerpot, bowl)
10- Nain and Varamin Pattern
In the old days, designs such as Naghshe Kashi were the most popular among others and second most popular was Tongi (flowerpot). Other than those mentioned, sometimes, the Persepolis Pattern, Spread out flowers, sheikh Safi, Botte Jeghe-e and Lachak Toranj were used.
Another important design that was used approximately 27 years ago in Sabzevar, it was called “the style of sheikh cheshmi” which even today the style, more or less, is used by the carpet weavers.
The name of the design is taken from a person with the same name who was the master of carpet weaving and he was the one who brought the design from Kerman to Sabzevar and put it into practice with mostly crimson colors.
Colors are applied in forms of Natural, and Natural colors used in the region consist of Red color extracting from plants called “Ghermez Dane” by using two different techniques (sharab Kesh & Gach Kesh) to obtain the red color from the plant. There are other plants such as the Pomegranate’s peel, Walnut tree, Pine three, Madder, and the Indigo plant to extract natural colors from.
In the past, coloring was done by master of carpet weaving and with their bear hands or by the weaver’s assistance in the workshops, the colors used in Sabzavar carpet industry are more than 20 different kinds.
The Knot used in Sabzavar was the symmetrical Turkish knot and in the old carpets the number of raj (number of knots in 7 centimeters) were between 30 to 35, however, today that number is between 25 to 35 fluctuate.
Ehsan Afzalzadeh Naini, Iran Rug Company October 2004
Note: Dates from the original Persian article are converted from the Persian Solar Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar