Gabbeh rugs are woven by nomadic tribal weavers who live in the Zagros mountain range. Originally these rugs were woven by the tribals for their personal use, to protect them from the bitter winters that were prevalent in the region. The striking designs and fabulous colors of these rugs soon made them popular amongst home-owners and rug collectors all over the world.
Facts About Gabbeh Rugs
Gabbeh rugs are mostly woven by the women of the tribe. These weavers used their personal experiences, thoughts and feelings to inspire their unique creations.
The looms that the weavers use are the horizontal variety. These looms are more basic but they can be quickly and easily folded up and packed when it was time for the tribe to move to a new location.
Gabbeh rugs are all natural. The wool that is used to construct these rugs is obtained by shearing their own sheep and the dyes used in the rugs are extracted from parts of plants that are native to the region such as walnut husk, indigo, madder root and pomegranate skin. There are no synthetic elements used in the construction of these rugs.
Gabbeh rugs are quite easy to recognize because of a few distinctive features. These rugs typically have a very dense pile. A Gabbeh rug with a pile thickness of up to ¾ inches is not uncommon at all. These rugs have a knot count of about 40 to 60 kpi, which is very low compared to most other oriental rug varieties.
Weavers generally created simple geometric motifs with bold colors across the rug. These motifs were placed at random across the rug. If you are being sold a Gabbeh that has a symmetric design, you need to double check. You will rarely see a Gabbeh rug with the motifs symmetrically placed. Most designs related a story or represented some tribal folklore.
Persian Gabbeh Rug Categories
Persian Gabbeh rugs are broadly divided into 5 categories:
Basic Gabbeh – These rugs have a very low knot count and a dense pile. The design is generally very basic, with simple, boldly colored geometric shapes or tribal drawings placed on large open fields.
Kashkoli Gabbeh – The Kashkoli rugs have a shorter, softer pile and a higher knot count as compared to the basic Gabbeh. However, they stay true to the simple, brightly colored geometrical shapes.
Luribaft Gabbeh – These rugs have a soft, relatively short pile and a unique sheen from their tight, fine weave and high quality wool. The designs are more detailed and sophisticated as compared to most other Gabbeh categories.
Gabbeh Sumak – Gabbeh Sumak are flat woven rugs. They do not have any pile. The weavers weave the colorful designs into the foundation of the rug, which makes them quite different from all other Gabbehs.
Amalehbaft Gabbeh – These rugs are characterized by their medium weave, shorter pile and very colorful but basic, simple patterns.
When you own a Gabbeh from any one of these categories, you know you own a one-of-a-kind, all-natural rug of tribal beauty.