A Tradition Passed Down Through The Generations
The high quality of these rugs is especially evident in antique Qashqai rugs made before the 1940s.
The traditional weaving methods, high quality, and exclusive use of unprocessed vegetable coloring have contributed to the huge popularity of antique Qashqai rugs among other Persian rugs.
Qashqai rugs are recognized by their bold, graphic designs and their bright, joyful color combinations of madder red, indigo blue and golden-yellow.
Although the designs may sometimes tend to be more whimsical, they almost always follow a convention template that has been in use for several generations.
Qashqai Rugs: Characteristic Features
There’s nothing subtle or quiet about the color or designs of Qashqai rugs. The rugs are woven using large amounts of very bold shades of red. Providing a perfect complement to the prominent red are classic yellow and indigo blue.
Qashqai rugs have several different types of medallion layouts and this is because of the different origins of the weavers who learnt the different layouts from their families.
In one type of layout, the medallions appear shaped as hexagons or regular diamonds. Sometimes they appear as 3 diamonds that are vertically connected. Another common patterns is to have 4 hooks surrounding a small sized diamond or square shaped feature inside the medallion. Sometimes, this square or diamond surrounded by hooks appears in the rug as an all-over pattern.
The Qashgai Tribe
The Qashqai rugs are woven by Qashqai tribeswomen, who came from different ethnic backgrounds including Turkoman, Arabs, Lurs and Kurds. Irrespective of their ethnic or cultural background, these weavers all descended from several generations of skilled weavers who passed their tradition down to their descendants.
The Qashqai clan are in fact a tribal confederation that’s comprised of several different tribal groups including descendants of the Ersari and Turkmen tribes.
These groups have been part of this Qashqai Confederacy since the 16th Century. They are primarily pastoral nomads. Their movements are determined by the seasons, as they migrate in search of greener pastures for their goats and sheep, which are their source of livelihood.
The rugs are all-wool. The wool used in weaving traditional Qashqai rugs is usually of superior quality and hard wearing, which shows in the higher quality and longer lasting quality of the finished rug. The carpets are woven having asymmetric knots and the finished piece will usually feature deeply depressed warps with red-dyed wefts and a fine weave.
A barber-pole selvage gives the edges a finished look and most rugs will feature a kilim at both ends. Most rugs made by the Qashqai weavers were medium sized, although you will see them in different sizes too.
Qashqai weavers remained staunchly supportive and connected to each other as they set up and dismantled their looms over and over again. In fact, it is not uncommon to see several tribeswomen squatting over one long vertical loom, chatting, singing, laughing and connecting with each other while working on a single rug at a time.
Very often, a weaver will move from one loom to another, helping different weavers while catching up with the day’s stories, before returning to her own loom to resume her own weaving. While some weavers are busy with their looms, the other women scour the nearby mountains and countryside in search of barks, berries, herbs and other foliage that they can use to manufacture their dye.
This simple lifestyle and the underlying joy and connectedness is reflected in the rugs, which always have a very joyful appearance that can brighten up any space where it is placed.
Distinctive Features Of Antique Qashqai Rugs
Antique Qashqai rugs typically feature bold tribal designs in a bright, vibrant colors such as indigo blue, madder red, and classic yellow. The designs are often accented with ivory and light green.
These rugs have a relatively high knot count that varies from a minimum of about 70 KPSI to more than 170 KPSI. The higher the knot count, the more defined the pattern on the rug and the higher its quality.
The diamond medallion is one of the most notable designs found on antique Qashqai rugs. The interesting part is every weaver created their own depiction of this diamond medallion so that every rug features a one-of-a-mind design.
Another striking feature of antique Qashqai rugs is that they rarely feature random patterns. The weavers go to great lengths to weave a story into their deign using depictions of everyday items such as flowers, trees, people, animals and other household items to narrate their story.
Why Are Antique Qashqai Rugs So Popular In The West
One of the defining characteristic of Qashqai weavers is their uncompromising commitment to quality. They are in no hurry to complete their creations, preferring instead to spend time tying each knot perfectly. The result is a fine quality rug that is always appreciated in the west.
How to Identify A Qashqai Rug
In addition to the high quality and colorful design, look for these two features to identify an authentic antique Qashqai rug.
Check the wefts. Authentic Qashqais will almost always have a red weft. A few pieces may have brown wefts that are made from undyed wool.
Check the selvages of the rug. In authentic Qashqai rugs, the right and left side of the selvage will be two-toned.
What Is The Difference Between A Persian Qashqai And A Qashqai Design Rug
A Persian Qashqai is a genuine Qashqai rug woven in Iran by Qashqai weavers. A Qashqai design rug is one that features typical designs found in Qashqai rugs but it’s not woven in Iran. Instead it may be woven in any other country that makes Oriental rugs.
Typical Sizes Of Qashqai Rugs
Qashqai rugs are usually found in small to medium sizes. Large Qashqais are rare.
Smaller rug sizes range are about 2’ x 3.5’ while medium size rugs range from about 3.7’ x 5.2’ to 4’ x 6’.
Larger size Qashqais measure about 5.9’ x 8.10’ to 7.5’ x 11.6’.
Qashqai Rugs: Joyful Renderings In Bright Colors & Bold Designs
With its graphic bold designs and vivid, joyful colors, a Qashqai rug can brighten up any space. Qashqais are in great demand by rug lovers for the superb quality of the workmanship and the exciting dynamism of their bold designs, which, though seemingly wild and capricious are always based on traditional templates passed down through generation of weavers.
Qashqai rugs are made by the Qashghai tribeswomen, an ancient tribe of pastoral nomads from the Fars province in southwest Iran. The Qashghai were spontaneous but highly talented weavers and the rugs they produce are among the most beautiful and popular nomadic rugs made today and are in high demand all over the world.
Construction Of The Rug
The Qashghai tribe weave several different types of rugs but they are always all-wool construction with heavy ribbing on the reverse side and well-balanced, clevery articulated colors. The wool that is used is always the best quality available. Weavers use the asymmetric knot and the finished rugs have deeply depressed warps and red wefts. The edges are usually finished with a barber-pole selvage. These rugs are heavy duty and and excellent choice for busy areas of the house where there is a lot of coming and going through the day.
Hallmark Colors & Designs
Red is the most prominent color used in these rugs and though different rugs may use different shades, the tonalities of the shades are always very strong, deep and vibrant. Other colors are used are indigo blue, yellow or classic gold.
The hallmark feature of Qashqai rugs is their medallion layout. Medallions could be hexagon shaped or regular diamond shaped or they could appear as 3 vertically connected diamonds. An unique feature of the Qashqai medallions is that sometimes a smaller sized square or diamond shape featured inside the medallion is shown surrounded by 4 hooks. In some Qashqais, this feature is seen in all-over motifs as well.
Some Qashqai rugs have totem heraldic centers, filler ornaments and geometric patterns repeated along the borders. The motifs include several various of the crab, floral designs or a menagerie of domestic animals. Some rugs have traditional depictions of the ‘Hershang’.
One of the more unique Qashqai rug designs is the ‘Hebatlu’. This featured a large centerpiece woven in white and four identical motifs in each corner of the rugs. The corner motifs are the same shape, design and color as the central medallion but the size is sometimes kept the same and sometimes it is made a little smaller to accommodate the rest of the fill-in pattern.
One of the reasons behind the soaring popularity of these rugs is because Qashqai weavers are very proud of their tradition and will never compromise on quality for the sake of expediency. This diligent attention to detail is what makes these rugs highly prized by rug experts who recognize the value of perfection.