Persian Saraband Rugs

   The Saraband rugs always have the centre covered with the so called pear pattern on a field usually of a beautiful shade of wine red. The border is always in “threes,” the main stripe a little wider with a narrow one on each side. These sets of “threes” are often repeated so that there will be six and nine and even twelve border stripes always in the arrangement described. There is a regular Saraband border pattern which is quite as characteristic of the rug as the pear pattern inn the field (as shown in the illustration), but in some of the older rugs the centre band of the border contains another design. The pear, river, loop, cone, or palm leaf design was first made known to us in the Cashmere and India shawls, and is employed in many rugs, but it is a characteristic feature of the Saraband. The origin of this design is credited by various authors to various sources. In its simplest or cone forrm it was thought to represent the fruit of the sacred tree, which was used as the symbol of immortality by the ancients. By some it is judged to represent the loop made by River Ganges or Indus, sacred to the pilgrims. In this form it is more  elongated and graceful than in the other representation. It has also been claimed that it was intended to reproduce the chief ornament of the old Persian crown, which is a composite pear shaped jewel. I should be more inclined to believe that it was either the symbol used by the fire worshippers to reproduce in their rugs and shawls the cone of flame, which they worshippped (and which they still worship in parts of Turkey and Persia to this day), or to reproduce the palm leaf or stamp as was explained to me once by an old Sheik.

   The custom still survives from the olden time of affixing to covenants and documents of importance as a seal, the sign made by dipping the side of the half closed hand in blood and pressing it upon the paper or parchment. This gives a figure resembling very closely the so called “palm leaf,” and the Turkish word for the palm of the hand, el-ayassi, is often given to this pattern.

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