KIRMAN, TABRIZ and KERMANSHAH RUGS
When Marco Polo travelled in Persia in 1270 he said in describing the industries of the Southern Province of Kirman: “The ladies of this country produce exquisite needlework ; they work and weave hangings and rugs for the noblemen so deftly that they are marvels to see.”
The population of this province is more purely Persian than that of any other part of the Empire. It is claimed also that a very superior breed of sheep and goats are raised there, and that the wool is of better and softer quality in the Kirman than in any other make of carpets. A part of the province bears the name of Kirmansha, so that the carpets bearing either name come from the same district and must not be confounded with the Kermanshahs from the North. Both large and small rugs are made there. The design of the Kirman is of the floral order, although in some of the carpets made in the last few years the medallion is introduced. On the order rugs not only flowers and trees but birds, beasts, landscapes, and even human figures are found. The palm leaf in large form is also employed. These carpets are not so firm or heavy as those from Tabriz, and the floral design are treated with a lighter, more graceful touch. The background is generally ivory or a yellowish gray. The border strips are numerous and filled with finely wrought design. The warp is cotton or cotton and wool mixed. The Tabriz rugs are made now in factories in the city of Tabriz, boys being largely employed in the weaving. These factories are mostly under European control, and only the best materials are used. Both large and small rugs are woven, but more of the larger or carpet sizes. These rugs generally bear the same name of Kermanshas in the Western market, but they must not be confounded with the Kermanshahs made by th mountaineers along the Turkish border, for they are of loose, coarse weave and are not of the same class. The Tabriz rugs copy very closely the old Kirman design and usually have a large medallion in the centre and elaborate corner ornamentation. The borders are many and varied in design and the field of the rug is generally well covered with a fine pattern. Some of them have Italian or European patterns, but not often. In quality, workmanship, and fineness of texture they rank with those from Kirman in the first class of Persian rugs. They are coloured with vegetable dyes but nearly always chemically washed to soften and tone down the colouring.
There are old Kirmanshas to be found occasionally, but they are rare, and nearly always one must reckon upon these carpets being “if they are of very soft or delicate colouring. You can only be sure of a Kirman or a Tabriz if the colours are reds, blues, and yellows of not too delicate shading.