Mashad is located in north-eastern Iran in the Khorasan province. The town has more than 2.5 million inhabitants and is one of Iran’s most sacred cities. This is where the prophet Imam Reza is buried. Visiting Mashad is an important part of the pilgrimage for a Shia Muslim. Today, Mashad is a very important carpet town, and it is also a gathering point for the carpets that are made by the numerous nomads in the area. The town is famous for its good quality wool. At the bazaar, we were told that many breeders produce such good wool that it is sold to other areas. Saying ‘Pashme-i-Mashad’ (‘the wool is from Mashad’) is regarded as a good sales argument and adds a nice bonus. It is also a wonderful experience to see the bazaar, with carpets everywhere, all of which were made in the area, and to see and feel them and still marvel at how different they are. Good, durable carpets are knotted in the actual town of Mashad. The pattern is cultivated and tasteful, with a central medallion, and the ground colour is usually red. It is an easily recognisable shade of violet-red. This colour is obtained from the cochineal red dye used here, which is different from the madder red used in most other places. The Senneh knot (Persian knot) is used, and the knot density is usually between 18,500-46,000 knots per ft2. The most famous workshop ever in Mashad was Soltan Ibrahim Mriza. Later, others were established, such as Amoghli, Khamenei and Zarbaf. Amoghli was one of the most recognised carpet workshops in Persia in the 20th century, under Ali Khan Amoghli and Abdol Mohammad Amoghli. Their carpets were among the favourites at the shah's palaces during the Pahlavi dynasty.
If you see a carpet called Mashad-Turkbaff, it means that it was knotted with Ghiordes knots by the Turkish-speaking population in the area. They brought the Turkish knot with them.
Neishapur, Nishapur, Neyshabur
Westward, you can drive along the old ‘Silk Road’ to India, following in the footsteps of Venetian explorer Marco Polo. Every 30 km, there is a caravanserai. This distance constituted one day’s journey for a caravan, and here they could spend the night safe from highway robbers. If you continue west, you will arrive at the village of Neishapur. The great poet and philosopher Omar Khayyám (1048-1131) is buried here. Among others, he wrote the poetry collection ‘Rubaijat’, which has been translated into most languages, including Danish by Arthur Christensen in 1943. Carpets are being produced in the area. Currently, most of the carpets have a Nain design and the quality varies greatly. Sabsavar
Sabsawar, Sabsavar, Sabzevar
If you continue 150 km west, you will arrive at the village of Sabsawar. Some of the most beautiful carpets in the area are being made here. The pattern is the same as for the Mashad carpets, consisting of a central medallion and flower vines. The wool is top quality and the dyes are natural. The carpets are also a bit more expensive.
You are reading an extract from the book ‘Oriental Carpets, Knottet with Love’ by Martin Munkholm.
This extensive book about all that is carpets can be borrowed in Danish libraries or be bought following this link: http://www.belle-rugs.dk/dk/ekspertise/taeppebog/
The book is published by Muusmann Forlag.
For more info: muusmann-forlag.dk
You can find our selection of Mascha