A Sarouk rug is a type of Persian rug made in the Sarouk village of Iran. Sarouk was renowned for its carpet weaving industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most coveted of these rugs are made by a Farahan, a 19th century designer. He was so well renowned, till today these rugs are often called Farahan Sarouk rugs.
Farahan started designing these rugs to compete with the popular Kashan rugs, but he did not want to copy them. In order to differentiate between the two, Farahan introduced medallion motifs in the center. The Mohajeran Sarouk rugs made their appearance sometime in the early 20th century.
19th Century Sarouks: Farahan Sarouks
Farahan Sarouks are vibrantly colored rugs that are semi-formal in their designs. Steeped in character, these rugs are renowned for having a balanced design and will invariably have a curvilinear element woven into their design.
The knot count of these rugs is typically between 130 and 240 knots per inch. What you will find most commonly have a knot count that ranges from 140 to 180 knots per inch. On rare occasions, you may be able to pick up an antique Sarouk rug with more than 300 knots per inch.
Some Sarouk rugs have extremely tight weaves, which make them difficult to fold the rug because the tight weave makes them more rigid. Such rugs are used solely for decorative purposes but can be part of an antique rug collection, as well.
Josan Sarouk rugs are the less expensive type of Sarouk rugs. These are known for their irregular shape and design and loud colors. Josan Sarouks are coarse to touch.
20th Century Sarouks: Mohajeran Sarouks
Farahan Sarouks paved way for Mohajeran Sarouk rugs in the 20th century. These rugs have a formal appearance and were created to fulfill the high demand from European customers.
These rugs can be differentiated from Farahan Sarouks by their airy designs that are more focused on blossoms and trees. In fact, the willow tree motif is ubiquitous to Mohajeran Sarouks. Medallion motifs that are common to Farahan Sarouks are not found in Mohajeran Sarouks. Also, the colors were different, as Mohajerans use a lot of reds and blues. The colors are always in paired in an inverse manner. So, you can find a Mohajeran with a red body and blue border or vice versa.
In the mid-20th century, Mohajeran rugs were renamed as American and European Sarouk rugs. These rugs had motifs consisting of floral sprays throughout the rug and were woven using single weft weaving to make them more affordable and commercially viable.
The Story Behind Washed And Painted Sarouks
Sarouk rugs became highly sought-after in the US just before the Second World War. Most buyers were attracted to their vibrant colors. To meet this high demand, Sarouks were chemically washed and then painted. Unfortunately, the chemicals took a toll on the yarn, causing them to deteriorate with time.
Traditionally, these rugs were dye painted to make certain colors or patterns stand out. Since these dyes were not colorfast, the colors used to bleed when the rugs were washed.
These are some of the distinguishing characteristics that will help you identify a Sarouk:
The rugs are velveteen soft with brightly colored floral sprays scattered across the field. You may or not find medallion motifs in such rugs.
Some antique Sarouks come with willow or cypress tree motifs while others have animal motifs.
The borders typically feature three stripes – a broad main stripe with slimmer stripes on either side.
Sarouks come in deep, rich colors, like reds, blues, burned orange, olive green and ivory as their main colors while highlights can be in light red, yellow and turquoise blue.