Isfahan, Esfahan, Ispahan, Espahan
The town of Isfahan is found on a fertile plateau at 1,500 metres altitude, surrounded by the Sagres mountains. Isfana in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and it is a true gem when it comes to Persian art and architecture. Since old times, it has been an important centre along the caravan route. However, only when shah Abbas the Great made this the capital city in 1598 did the golden age truly begin. Isfahan is today one of Iran’s most important travel destinations. The atmosphere here is taken straight out of 1001 Nights. The lavishly decorated mosques and palaces are impressive in their own right. The luscious parks with fountains and pavilions are magnificent. The old bridges that lead over the Zayandeh-Rud river are fascinating, and the old bazaar is a true labyrinth of tight alleys covered by tall stone arches. Here you can find lots of busy workshops and stores with an abundance of all sorts of traditional Persian handicraft. Being such a great art lover, shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629) founded his own famous carpet workshops in Isfahan. For centuries, Isfahan carpets have been admired, and it was probably these Persian carpets that the Europeans first learned to appreciate. Many of these carpets were gifted to kings, emperors and princes, and this made the art of carpet making known and desired worldwide. Shah Abbas named several of the patterns, all of which were inspired by the lily (also called lotus). The shah Abbas pattern is found in more or less complicated varieties and is being currently knotted all over Iran. Often you can see them in carpets like Keshan, Nain, Qum, Tabriz, Mashad and Isfahan. Modern-day carpets from Isfahan are still of high quality, and they have the classic patterns with a medallion with flower vines and beautiful corner motifs, garden and vase motifs and a ‘mehrab’ prayer alcove with the ‘Tree of Life’, birds and animals. Today, many carpets from Isfahan are being knotted on a silk warp with Senneh knots and a knot density ranging from 56,000 to some 93,000 knots per ft2. Today, you can also find Isfahan carpets on the market that are finely knotted on a silk warp, but which are made with lesser quality dyes and wool.
When writing about Isfahan carpets, you have to mention the Seirafian family, which has been famous for their knotting artistry for generations. Today, there are several workshops in Isfahan that produce very fine carpets, including Davari, Enteshari and Mahdie and Dardashti.
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 Isfahan carpets underneath.