Kerman rugs have a special place in the hearts of persian rug collectors because of their intricate weaves, delicate designs and unparalleled palette of colors.
Kerman rugs are manufactured in the city of Kerman and a few of its neighboring villages in southeastern Iran.
The weavers in this region were tremendously talented and skilled, creating rugs that are woven in a wide assortment of intricate designs.
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.
The curvilinear pattern is most predominant in a majority of the rugs, followed closely by another popular pattern – the famous Kerman pictorials which are grouped as a separate ‘pictorial’ pattern category.
Where Kerman Rugs Are Made
Kerman rugs are renowned for their distinctive design patterns and elaborate pictorials derived from Persian as well as European themes. Traditional Kerman designs range from Shah Abbasi medallion-and-corner, garden, vase, tree of life, hunting and animals to all-over boteh, all-over floral and stripes.
The most recognized Kerman rug design is the vase or boteh rug pattern, which consists of an all-over pattern of vases or boteh strewn all over the rug against a background of floral motifs and palmettes. This busy, attractive pattern is hugely popular with homeowners as well as rug collectors.
Two other Kerman rug styles that showcase the superior craftsmanship of these master weavers are the assortment of exquisite curvilinear all-over design patterns and the complex central Kerman Medallion and corner with elaborate edges.
The more modern designs consist of either Aubussons or Koran medallion-and-corners with a plain, open field. The open field is an important distinguishing feature of modern Kerman Persian rugs, which are mainly developed for the Western market.
Boteh Design vs Madallion Design Kerman
Colors of Kerman Rugs
The Kerman weavers’ love for colors is evident in their abundant use of color in their creations. About 15 to 30 colors are used in each rug with a preference for brilliant, bold shades of magenta, blue and golden saffron. The most common shades used in antique rugs are red-blue and rich, deep red along with orange and turquoise.
In stark contrast are the more modern rugs weavers who tend to use more pastel colors such as champagne, lime-green, gray-blue, pink and beige.
Whether boldly colored or pastel, the prominent feature of all these rugs is uniform color distribution which is brought about by the unique process that is used to dye the wool.
Construction of Kerman Rugs
The Kerman weavers have earned a well deserved reputation of being skilled craftsmen who created high quality, fine textiles with a superior construction and finish. The rugs are woven using superior quality Carmania wool. With an average measurement of about 8 feet by 10 feet, these rugs are larger than most other Persian rug varieties, though a few weavers preferred to weave smaller rugs.
The rugs are tightly woven using the asymmetrical Persian knot on a tight, all-cotton foundation. Some weavers used an unusual construction technique that resulted in a wavy finish, which gave another dimension to these rugs. The average knots per square inch ranges from a minimum of 120 to as much as 800, which is denser than the average rug.
Antique Kerman rugs are noted for their finesse of weave, delicate designs and an unparalleled range of colors. Many Kerman rug owners end up using their highly treasured possessions as wall decor to protect them against damage from shoes.
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.
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.