Every Gabbeh Rug Has A Different Story To Tell

Gabbeh rugs are traditional Persian rugs, woven by nomadic tribal weavers in the Zagros Mountains in southern Iran. The loom that is used to weave these rugs is horizontal and can be easily and quickly put together and taken apart, which is a necessity considering the weavers’ nomadic lifestyle.

The rugs were originally woven for purely functional purposes. They were used to keep their families warm and also as a soft cushioning to sleep on, which is why the pile was always left long. If you take a look at the original Gabbeh rugs, their functional purpose are very obvious in the unfinished pile as well as the drab colors. The rugs were usually woven with un-dyed wool and the common colors were beige, ivory and brown.

Telling A Tale Through Their Weaves

A very charming feature of Gabbeh rugs is in their unique design element, which is completely unstructured. There are no rules or guidelines that these weavers follow. Instead, every weaver gives free reign to their creativity during the weaving process. Weavers used figures and symbols to artfully convey their emotions, narrate a tale or recreate a scenario.

Some Gabbeh rugs are woven without any of the typical design elements. Instead, they are woven as a lush field of 2 or 3 colors with the naturally dyed wool creating an interesting interplay of colors that is ingenious in its sheer simplicity.

Modern Gabbeh Rugs V/s Traditional Gabbehs

Modern Gabbeh rugs are an intriguing mix of old and new. They have retained some of the characteristics of the original versions with a few marked improvements, especially in the colorations and finish.

These rugs are still woven with a thick, coarse pile, with some rugs having a pile as much as 1inch thick. As in the originals, the knot density is still relatively low when compared to most other types of rugs.
Another similarity between the two lies in the designing of these rugs. Through the years, these rugs have always featured basic yet bold tribal designs.

The most significant difference between the traditional and modern versions is in the colors that are used. While the original Gabbehs used un-dyed wool and had limited colors, the modern counterparts use rich, deep colors that are very distinctive. Some of the most commonly used colors include rust, orange, red and yellow. The dyes used are all natural and extracted from plants and roots that are found in abundance in the region.

Types of Gabbeh Rugs

There are three types of Gabbeh Rugs- Persian, Indian and Pakistani.

Persian Gabbeh rugs use superior wool that gives them a superior finish that is soft, lustrous and plush.

Indian Gabbehs are essentially imitations of the Persian originals. They use the same colorations and designs but are slightly stiffer, which is because of the type of wool that is used in the weaving.

Pakistani Gabbeh uses superior quality Australian wool in the weaving. With their finer wool and higher knot density these rugs look more like they are woven of silk instead of wool.