Bakhtiari

Bakhtiari Rugs

The Brightest And Most Colorful Of All Nomadic Rugs. Bakhtiari rugs are hand woven by the Bakhtiari tribe, one of the oldest and most well known Persian tribes. Formerly nomadic by nature, around the 19th century the Bakhtiari tribe eventually established a settlement in the Zagros region, southwest of Isfahan. After they had settled down, the production of rugs increased tremendously and the rugs that were produced were of much higher quality too.

Map showing location of bakhiar
Where Bakhtiari Rugs Are Made

Today there are almost 200 rug-weaving villages in this area and some of the most charming rugs you can find anywhere are produced in this region. The center of the Bakhtiari weaving area is now in Shahr-Kurd, southeast of Isfahan.

Origins of Antique Bakhtiari Rugs

Antique Bakhtiari rugs have an interesting origin. Unlike other rugs that are manufactured by a particular tribe, Bakhtiari rugs are not woven by the Bakhtiari tribe. Instead, they are manufactured by several different tribes that are under the rule of Bakhtiaris.

All rugs manufactured in this region are called Bakhtiari rugs. This has interesting consequences in that each rug looks completely unique and different from all others while still sharing common design elements and color palettes.

Antique Bakhtiari rugs are further categorized into Bibibaff, Hori, Saman, and Chahal Shotur rugs based on the quality of the rug rather than the place of manufacture.

Woven by the most skilled craftswomen and containing the highest knot count, Bibibaff rugs are considered to be the best quality among antique Bakhtiari rugs. Chahal Shotur and Saman rugs have a looser weave and are second highest in quality and price.

Hori rugs have the lowest knot count and a looser weave and are the most affordable of antique Bakhtiari rugs.

Bakhtiari Rug Weavers
Bakhtiari Rug Weavers

The Notable Features Of A Bakhtiari Rug

The compact, dense pile is one of the most prominent features of a Bakhtiari rug. When the rug is completed, the weaver compacts the knots by beating down on them with force repeatedly. This results in a rug that is dense, solid, and durable. Bakhtiari rugs are reputed to be among the most long-lasting of all Persian rugs.

The busy designs in bright colors is another notable feature of a Bakhtiari rug.

Bakhtiari Rug With Medallion And Corners
The Compact, Dense Pile And Busy Designs In Bright Colors Are Bakhtiari Rug’s Prominent Features.

The Bakhtiari Tribe

The nomadic Bakhtiari tribe inhabit a tribal territory known as the Baktiari Country, located in the Central Zagros Mountain range in western Iran. They live in tents and migrate seasonally to the higher plateaus in summer and lowland plans in winter in search of fresh pastures for their sheep, goat or cattle.

The Bakhtiari tribe started off weaving rugs for their personal use. The rugs served several purposes. The thick rugs kept them warm in the harsh cold winters and also provided a soft warm place to sleep, sit and stand inside the tents.

During the later years, as the Bakhtiari tribes began to settle down in more permanent housing, they had access to better quality materials and better looms. This resulted in a marked improvement in the quality of the rugs produced.

The Oversized Bakhtiari Rugs

Most Bakhtiari rugs are manufactured by individual weavers who work on their creations in between tending to their sheep as well as their household chores.

Oversized Bakhtiari are different in that they are produced by a group of highly skilled weavers and dyers. It can take a group of weavers as long as six years to complete an oversized Bakhtiari rug.

The longer time investment is not just due to the large size but also because of the intricacies of the designs, which posed several artistic challenges considering each rug was worked on by several different weavers.

What makes their accomplishments all the more impressive is that the weavers achieved outstanding harmony and balance in their creations, which were completed entirely by hand without any modern equipment or conveniences.

!2x20 Large Bakhtiari Rug
Since Most Bakhtiari Rugs Are Made By Individual Weavers. It Can Take As Long As Six Years To Complete An Oversized Rug.

Bakhtiari’s 2 Prominent Design

Bakhtiari rugs can be found in a wide range of designs. These two are the most prominent and popular of all – The Garden Panel or Khesti design and the Medallion and Corner design.

Although the rugs created in the different villages have slight variations, all Bakhtiari rugs are brightly colored and have busy patterns that are mostly geometric and occasionally semi-geometric. Most rugs will have a very conspicuous checkerboard or latticed garden design with a variety of bird, animal or plant motifs filling each square or compartment. The compartments can be square, diamond, or hexagonal in shape.

An interesting feature of these rugs is that each compartment will usually present a different motif and color scheme from that of the neighboring compartment.

The end effect is a mesmerizing medley of designs and colors that can have you looking at it for hours as you inspect all of the variations.

1. Garden Panel Design (Khesti)

The most popular design is the ‘Kheshti’ design which consists of a garden field with compartments or squares filled with roses, flowers and tendrils.

Each block acts as a frame featuring colorful motifs and backgrounds. Within each frame are elaborate portrayals of various plants and animals against equally intricate backgrounds. The result is absolutely riveting.

Another popular design is that of a decorated field with floral ornaments and lattice designs. The roses and pattern of these rugs clearly reflects the influence of Aubusson and French rug making.

Garden Design Bakhtiari Rug
Khesti Is The Most Common Design With Individual Squares Decorated With Animals And Plants.

2. Medallion and Corner Design

The Medallion and Corner Design consists of a large central medallion that is usually geometrical or semi-geometrical in shape. This central medallion is surrounded by smaller geometric and semi-geometric motifs in various arrangements that lend to the large diversity in designs.

Bakhtiari Rug With Medallion And Corners
Bakhtiari Rugs May Also Feature Either A Center Medallion Or An Allover Design Motif.

Popular Motif In A Bakhtiari Rug

The Guli Farang is a popular motif in Bakhtiari rugs. Translated as ‘Foreign Flower’, the Guli Farang motif resembles the famous English cabbage rose motif.

Many Bakhtiari rugs feature stylized bouquets of Guli Farang arranged in fascinating, complex allover designs that look absolutely breathtaking.

Most of the older Bakhtiari rugs feature beautifully rendered design elements from Persian flora and fauna. However in recent years artisans have adapted the design to meet the variety of demands of the world carpet market by also making rugs without this traditional motif.

Unlike most other Persian rugs, curvilinear designs are very rare in Bakhtiari rugs although geometric designs can sometimes be seen.

Example of Geometrical Bakhtiari Rug
Geometrical and Medallion Design Bakhtiari Rug

Materials

The majority of Bakhtiari rugs have a wool pile constructed on a cotton base. The quality of wool varies depending on where it is sourced from.

In some of the smaller floral rugs, both the pile and foundation are made from pure wool.

The finest Bakhtiari rugs use silk in the pile and sometimes in the foundation too.

Foundation & Pile

Bakhtiari rugs have a sturdy cotton foundation that gives these rugs their famed strength and durability. The predominantly tribal weavers use wool that is sheared from their own sheep. The climatic conditions and rich pastures result in luxurious, lustrous wool that is then used to create superior quality rugs.

The knots are beaten down and compacted and the pile clipped to medium high, giving the rug a dense, compact, and sturdy appearance.

Construction of the Rug

Bakhtiari rugs are thick, solid, sturdily knotted and rank among the brightest and most colorful of nomadic Persian rugs. The Bakhtyari weavers were primarily shepherds and each weaver usually used wool obtained from their own herd. This region is known for having very luxurious wool that produces excellent rugs.

The pile is generally clipped medium high to high. Bakhtiari-style rugs have another branch of rugs called “Bibibaff.” These are only made by women and are considered among the finest and most traditional of the rugs from the Chahar Mahal region. Other high quality rugs from this region are the Saman and Chapel Shotur varieties.

Bibibaff Design Bakhtiari
Bibibaff Design Bakhtiari

Weave & Knot

Bakhtiari oriental rugs are mostly single-wefted and have plain fringes at both ends. Double-wefted rugs are relatively rare.

Weavers use a symmetrical Turkish or Ghiordes knot in their creations. This gives the finished rugs their distinctive thickness and longer durability.

Bibibaff rugs have the highest knot count and are the most expensive of all Bakhtiari rug types.

Distinctive Colors of Bakhtiari Rugs

The weavers of this region use a wide range of colors when weaving these rugs. The dyes used always natural with the principal colors being varied shades of white and ivory. 

Bakhtiari weavers use a wide palette of bright contrasting colors that make their designs stand out vividly. 

Various shades of orange, yellow, green, red, and white are used to offset the darker shades and create a contrasting effect.

Typical Sizes Available

Bakhtiari rugs come in a wide range of sizes.

Smaller rugs may range from about 3’9” x 4’10” to 4’3” x 6’9”.

Medium size rugs have an average size range of 7’1” x 10’5” to 8’6” x 12’.

The larger rugs measure anywhere from about 12’4” x 13’6” to 12’7” x 18’8”.

 

 

Bakhtiari Rugs: Reflections Of A Nomadic Lifestyle

Bakhtiari rugs are often immediately recognizable on account of their distinctive pattern which features motifs of roses and an assortment of flora and fauna around a network of squares or garden. The absence of any of curvilinear patterns makes them quite different from most other types of Persian rugs. The Bakhtiari tribe is one of the few weaving groups that traditionally make rugs large enough to be considered room-sized.

A Look At The Bakhtiari Way Of Life

These rugs are woven by the Bakhtiari tribe, famed as much for their lustrous, deep toned rugs as for their perilous annual migrations over the snow capped peaks of the rugged Zagros Mountains. Primarily shepherds and goatherds, these nomads spend the summers in the high plateau pastures and in winter they moved to the lowland plains in the Khuzistan province where grass was still available for their herds. Their migration is considered to be among the most spectacular of any nomadic pattern anywhere across the world.

One of the oldest Persian tribes, the Bakhtiaris were completely nomadic till about the 16th century when they began to establish settlements across the central Zagros Mountains. After settling down, the weavers started producing more rugs and the finished pieces were of a higher quality too.

Designs Of Bakhtiari Rugs

The characteristic Bakhtiari design is the ‘walled garden’ design. This comprises a series of very distinctive square, hexagonal or diamond shaped sections that feature assorted themes from nature. The field of the rug is divided into compartments or panels. Each of these compartments is then filled in with a variety of motifs, from trees-of-life, palmettos, roses and flowers to different animals and birds. The design is actually an adaptation of the matrix formed by irrigation channels, which were found in Persian gardens at that time.

One thing in common is that all of these rugs have extremely busy patterns with every compartment having different motifs as well as different colors so that no two compartments are alike. The finished rug is a complex combination of patterns and colors that is very interesting. It could require several hours just to take in each of the individual design elements. In many rugs, the influence of Aubusson and French carpet making is evident in the roses and the patterns of the rugs.

Construction & Colors of Bakhtiari Rugs

Bakhtiari rugs have a cotton foundation and the wool pile is usually crafted using the wool taken from the tribes own herd. Because of this, the quality and the luster of the wool can differ from one rug to another depending on which village it originated from. These rugs are dense and soli, with durable knots and a medium-high to high pile.
Bakhtiari rugs are very colorful, with the colors used depending on the village of origin. The most common colors used are various shades of ivory, white, red, green, brown and yellow.