Handmade rugs are really popular in the world. Irantrawell is here to introduce this handcraft to you. The Silk Road, the trade route between the far East and Europe, used to cross Tabriz; and this resulted into the city’s expansion and development in economy and art. With Tabriz being located on the Silk Road, Tabriz carpets found their way to the international markets. Further, We will review Tabriz’s history through one of most significant arts of mankind’s history.
The history of Tabriz carpet and handmade rugs there can be divided into three parts, like Tabriz itself, into pre-Islamic era which was not much significant, and post-Islamic era up to Safavyd dynasty, in which it started to bloom, and finally the Qajar era in which Tabriz carpet found its way to the peak.
Tabriz Carpet In Pre-Islamic Era
As there are no signs of most of the artistic works of pre-Islamic era in Tabriz, Tabriz carpet and handmade rugs there has not been mentioned in the historic documents, too. During the Achaemenid and Sasanian reign, carpets were considered something exclusive to the royal families and weaving carpets was the amalgamation of several arts and industries, and also a symbol of culture, civilization and valor of the kings. Carpets were not only a piece of cloth to cover the ground, but a presentation of the living arts of the era. For instance the Baharestan Carpet was woven of silk, gold, silver, and rare stones, and depicted a splendid garden akin to paradise. It was also called the Winter carpet because people were excited to visit it in the winter and be reminded of the spring.
Undoubtedly, Tabriz has affected and also been affected by this art in those days, but due to the decomposable nature of the carpets, there are no signs of them nowadays.
Tabriz Carpet During the Islamic Era
After the Arab invasion and Islamization of Iran, this art started to lose its significance as it was the symbol of the kings and the governors. But it only took 200 years for the Arabs to find out the importance and glory of Iranian art and culture and to re-start the trades.
Trade of carpets used to be a local business and Tabrizi merchants used to make a fine living out of their businesses and they were going shoulder by shoulder with Herat to develop themselves until the Mongol invasion took place and many parts of Iran’s culture were invaded and destroyed by the Mongols. Although, the Mongol and Illkhanate era turned into the golden era for Tabriz and its biggest trading merchandise, Tabriz carpets. During this era, Tabriz became the capital city of Iran and it gave Tabrizi merchants more power and they utilized this power to expand their carpet business. It was when the carpet weaving took a new form and the first great workhouses were founded and larger carpets were weaved for the royal families.
Being located on the Silk Road and the livestock breeders around Tabriz had had provided a rich source of silk and wool for the weavers and the merchants had conquered the markets even in the neighbor countries; but every time Tabriz reached the peak of grandeur, natural disasters such as flood and earthquakes harmed it. Although it’s true that the Safavyd era was the golden time of carpet weaving in Tabriz, many earthquakes and also several attacks from the Ottoman Empire, took the population of this city from 250,000 to 30,000 and turned Tabriz into a city of ghosts and took down the art of carpet weaving with it.
Tabriz Carpet During the Safavyd and Qajar Era
Same as many great historic structures from Qajar era, this city’s greatest art might also belong to the Qajar era. Before, we mentioned three main reasons for the success of Tabriz carpet: wise merchants with connections, high-quality material and being located on the Silk Road; in Qajar era, besides the mentioned reasons, Tabriz became the traditional residence for the crown princes of the Qajar dynasty and this provided more privileges to develop its markets. One of the privileges was to build the biggest covered bazar in the world filled with carpet merchants. Tabriz carpets can be recognized in most of the royal palaces in Iran and even in European countries. Tabriz Carpet is famous for its quality and historic value.
Some of the outstanding carpets and rugs that woven in Tabriz workhouses are mentioned below:
- Ardabil Mosque Carpet which is now a part of the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
- Another Ardabil Mosque Carpet which is kept by Maisan Duveen institute.
- A carpet owned by Charles Quint.
- Two carpets kept at Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan, the first was made in 1522 and signed by Ghiasedin Jaami, and the latter was made in the 16th