Towards the South of Iran, in an oasis in the exotically named desert Dast-e-Lut, lies a town called Kerman with a population of about a quarter of a million. Founded in the 4th Century, this city was an important destination when trade flourished between India and Iran centuries ago.
Today, it has earned a pride of place in the Rug industry by virtue of being home to particularly rare and stunningly beautiful pieces of art called Kerman Rugs since at least the 15th Century.
Popularity of Kerman Rugs
There are several reasons behind the popularity of Kerman rugs.
For one, the high quality of wool available in the region, called Carmania wool which was widely considered to be highly tensile and lustrous is used to create these master-pieces.
Apart from this, these rugs have a special place in the hearts of collectors because of the huge range of designs that vary from having a central medallion depicting animals, garden panels, vases, the Tree of Life, hunting scenes and elaborate pictorials.
They are also characterized by a broad palette, use of natural dyes and fibers which greatly increases the life of the rugs due to greater tensile strength and superior abrasion resistance, and expert color combinations.
Add to this the exquisite craftsmanship and the style of weaving predominant in this area, and you have a rug that is coveted throughout the world.
Facts about Traditional Kerman vs. New Kerman Rugs
The Kerman rug has shown considerable variation over the decades to better suit the palate of its connoisseurs. There are 3 major periods which saw stark variation in the patterns and colors-
This phase usually featured a central medallion, all-over botehs, and pictorials consisting of cypress trees or figural motifs like hunting scenes, vegetable gardens or stylized branches.
The borders were mostly wide with floral images, and the colors of choice were indigo blue, deep red, golden tan and forest green.
This period saw an increased emphasis placed on the floral motif along with detached floral spray which was introduced towards the wane of the second quarter of the century.
The color palette mostly comprised of ruby red, emerald green and sapphire blue within fields of ivory.
This period saw the introduction of broken borders which extended inwards from the outside or vice versa. French floral rugs like the Aubusson and the Savonnerie also exerted a major influence over the design.
The reason for this is the popularity these rugs enjoyed in America at that time. They were in such high demand that roughly 80% of all Kerman rugs produced during this time were imported to the USA.
Eventually, the demands of customers resulted in more modern-looking rugs with central medallions, open fields and broken borders. The colors also became more subdued and pastel colors of green, rose, ivory and blue became more common.
Today, Kerman Rugs Are Collectors’ Favorites
Overall, these immaculate rugs are prized for their craftsmanship, finesse of the weave, exquisite motifs, and unparalleled range of colors. The number of knots per square inch ranges from 120-800 which is much denser than the average rug.
In fact, they are so highly treasured by collectors that several owners use these rugs as wall décor instead of using them for their original purpose for fear of them getting prematurely damaged from grit and shoes.