Traditional Sarouk rug are a type of handmade Persian rug that is produced in the Sarouk village, located about 25 miles north of Sultanabad, which is now known as Arak. These rugs are also known as Saruq or Sarough rugs.
Although the region was known for producing rugs since early time, it rose to prominence somewhere around the late 19th Century.
Hand Knotted Sarouk Persian Rugs: Beauty And Opulence In Persian Rugs
Hand-knotted Persian Sarouk or Sarough rugs are very attractive and are considered one of the highest quality rugs originating from the well established Arak weaving district in central 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 known that even today these rugs are called Farahan Sarouk rugs.
Farahan started designing these rugs to compete with the popular Kashan rugs, by creating a new and unique design. In order to differentiate between the two, Farahan introduced medallion motifs in the center.
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His idea was to introduce a unique design that would compete commercially with rugs being produced in other neighboring regions. These highly stylistic center medallion motifs became hugely popular and were soon adopted by all Sarouk rug weavers.
Weavers created central medallions in a variety of shapes including the famous sunburst-shaped motif. With their exceptional craftsmanship and harmonious design elements, rugs bearing this design have a special place in history. Known as Antique 19th century Farahan Sarouks, these rugs are in huge demand all over the world.
Genuine antique Farahan Sarouks are very rare. A 19th century in good condition is a collector’s item and a fantastic investment.
Origin and History of Sarouk Rugs
Sarouk rugs are among the most famous Persian rugs, alongside Tabriz and Kashan rugs. The town of Sarouk, located in central Iran, started gaining prominence in the rug industry during the 19th century due to its intricate designs, rich colors, and high-quality rugs.
By the mid-19th to 20th century, Sarouk rugs were exported to international markets, such as Europe and America. During this time, the designs and colors of Sarouk rugs adapted to meet the preferences of their international market, leading to the creation of “American Sarouk” rugs.
There was a brief period in the mid-20th century when the quality of Sarouk rugs declined, but master weavers quickly rectified this, and today, Sarouk rugs are renowned worldwide for their variety, design, and quality.
The Difference Between Farahan Sarouk and American Sarouk Rugs
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 have a curvilinear design.
Farahan Sarouk rugs have a distinctive design featuring an elaborate central medallion surrounded by intricate and finely woven floral motifs. Some rugs featured birds, trees and other types of foliate in pictorial designs that give these rugs a stunning, eye-catching appearance.
Another key feature of Farahan Sarouk rugs is the close-cropped, tightly woven pile.
The knot count of these rugs is typically between 130 and 240 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 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.
Josan Sarouk rugs are the least expensive type of Sarouk rugs. They are known for having irregular shapes, design and loud colors. Josan Sarouks are coarse to touch.
20th Century Sarouks: Mohajeran Sarouk (American Sarouk)
Around the 1920s and 30s, between the two World Wars, Sarouk rugs were being produced mainly for the American market. While there was huge demand for Sarouk rugs, Americans were not as interested in the colors used in the original creations and explored ways to adapt the colors to their taste. This gave rise to a rug re-dyeing industry in America around the 1950s where thousands of Sarouk rugs were transformed to cater to American tastes.
Farahan Sarouks paved the 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.
The Story Behind Washed And Painted Sarouks
The rugs were first put though a chemical process that stripped off the original colors. They were then re-dyed by hand to colors more pleasing to the American market. Deep burgundy, blues, greens, and yellows are some of the more common colors that were used to create these re-dyed rugs, which came to be known as American Sarouks. These dyes did not stand the test of time as well as the dyes used in the original Sarouks.
To solve this problem, New York rug dealers of that time, painted the colors back on the rugs using synthetic dyes and paint brushes.
It’s easy to distinguish antique Farahan Sarouk rugs from American Sarouk rugs by taking a closer look at the styling and dye used in the rug.
They 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. The colors were different, as Mohajerans use a lot of reds and blues. The colors are always 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.
Materials And Texture Of Sarouk
Most Sarouk rugs have a cotton foundation and a wool pile. There are some variations in the material used for the pile but the foundation is almost always cotton. The cotton material gives the rug a sturdier foundation and makes the rugs more durable.
The pile is thick and lush with a soft luxurious feel that can be attributed to the high quality of wool that is used. The higher knot density also contributes to the lush, luxurious feel of the pile.
Another factor that adds to the softness of the pile is that only natural extracts are used to dye the wool. Natural dyes color the wool without damaging the wool fibers unlike chemical dyes that can damage the soft wool fibers. Wool dyed with chemicals are usually harsh and hard.
Some of the higher end Sarouk rugs have a pile made of a silk and wool blend and very few, extremely rare and expensive pieces have a pile made of pure silk.
Hand-Knotted Sarouk Construction
Sarouk rugs typically have a cotton foundation, providing a rigid and stable base. The pile is often 100% wool, although some rugs may feature silk highlights.
Pile thickness ranges from medium to thick, with some antique rugs having a shorter pile made from high-quality cork wool.
Regarding knotting techniques, Sarouk rugs usually use Persian knots, with older rugs occasionally using Turkish knots. The knot density of Sarouk rugs ranges from medium to high, with the higher end reaching around 320 knots per square inch.
Most rugs are large sized. The pile is usually left thick and long resulting in a dense rug that is very comfortable, plush and durable. Some of the older pieces feel smooth and velvety to the touch. On the cotton foundation of these rugs you can see distinct blue wefts, which is one of the hallmark features of these rugs.
Colors Of Sarouk Rugs
The colors used in Sarouk rugs are believed to be the reason for their fame. These rugs often use natural dyes, which produce a wide range of rich and harmonious colors that age beautifully. Similarly, Tabriz rugs also offer a variety of colors.
Field colors commonly found in Sarouk rugs include beige, ivory, cream, dark navy blue, and red.
Traditional designs of Sarouk rugs typically feature burnt orange, champagne, red, brown, green, ivory, bright blue, and dughi, an intense salmon pink obtained by combining red dye with yoghurt.
The motifs are outlined in light red, turquoise, or light yellow to create contrast with the background, and highlight colors include shades of yellow, blue, and green.
The blush red doghi ronas color of Sarouk, blue color from Farahan-Sarouk, and ronasi color from Moshk-abad are considered to be the main reasons for the popularity of Sarouk rugs, along with green, beige, gold, yellow, and hay colors.
Madder roots, wine leaves, pomegranate peel, and walnut outer shell are commonly used natural materials for dyeing the wool in Sarouk Persian rugs.
Designs of Sarouk Rugs
Design-wise, Sarouk rugs often feature floral patterns in medallion and all-over designs. You’ll also find Herati, Boteh, and even pictorial designs, although these are less common than in Tabriz rugs.
Sarouks are woven on a cotton foundation and can be curvilinear or geometric in pattern. The most characteristic features of these rugs are its weft threads in blue, salmon color mixed with blues and ivory and brightly colored, disconnected floral sprays that may or may not have a central medallion.
Borders in Sarouk rugs typically feature a primary border surrounded by a thinner secondary border, a characteristic unique to Sarouk rugs.
Traditional Hand-Knotted Sarouk Designs
Traditional Sarouk designs consist of gul hannai, boteh or herati motifs. These were incorporated into the rug either in an all-over pattern or in a medallion layout that could be diamond, hexagon, angular, round or oval shaped.
The fields in the older pieces also featured tree of life designs blended together with other trees such as the willow or Cyprus and sometimes realistic animals woven in between.
The newer pieces are slightly different in that they typically feature a large-sized medallion with pendants or sometimes multiple concentric medallions on the field.
Different Patterns Of Sarouk Rugs
After World War I, another type of design, called the American Sarouk design started becoming more popular. This design consisted of detached floral sprays that appeared to be branching out from a floral medallion or a medallion-like centre.
These versions usually have an open field, which is similar to the modern Kerman rugs.
While all Persian rugs are well known for their opulence and beauty, antique Hand-Knotted Sarouk Persian rugs are a great representations of these traits. The rugs are sturdy, strong and dense and do not wear or damage easily.
With their exceptional appearance, high quality and ability to withstand decades of wear, Sarouks continue to be a best seller among Persian rugs.
Typical Sizes of Sarouk Rugs
Sarouk rugs come in a wide range of sizes, from small (2×3 feet to 4×6 feet) to medium (5×7 feet to 6×9 feet), large (8×10 feet to 10×14 feet), and oversized (larger than 10×14 feet). They are also available as runner rugs.
Commissioned rugs can be made in even larger “palace” sizes, as traditional Persian workshops often have access to large looms and resources.
Sarouk weavers produced rugs in a wide range of sizes to fit all types of spaces. Other common sizes are 3’ x 5’, and 9’ x 12’. Those are not the only sizes however. You can find Sarouk rugs in several other dimensions too.
Sarouk Rugs: Epitome Of Beauty And Opulence In Persian Rugs
Sarouk rugs are made in the village of Sarouk and in the neighboring villages in central Iran. Sarouk is a mountainous region with a long history of excellence in weaving. During the period starting in the 19th century and through to the early 20th century, this region became one of the most active carpet weaving centers. High quality materials, fine knotting techniques and attractive designs all contributed to their reputation as one of the finest quality rugs manufactured in the Arak weaving district.
Sarouk rugs have 3 tell tale features- a blue stranded weft, an unusual salmon pink field and sprays of flowers that are detached. Only some of the floral sprays had a medallion.
Construction of Sarouks
Sarouk rugs have a very tight weave on a cotton foundation. The knots used were mostly Persian knots, which were symmetrical but some of the antique pieces were made using Turkish knots, which were asymmetrical. The weavers preferred not to clip the pile, leaving it long and lush.
The wool used in the construction of Sarouk rugs is of very high quality. With the fine quality wool, tight knots and long pile, the finished rug was thick, soft and luxurious. Some of the older Sarouks were so skillfully constructed, the finished product felt velvety and smooth
Colors & Design Rugs
Boteh, herati and gul hannai motifs are very commonly seen in these rugs. While some weavers preferred to place them in a medallion layout, others preferred to fill the entire rug in all-over versions of these motifs. The tree-of-life motif was another commonly seen feature on several of the older versions. In between the tree of life motifs you could find realistic animal motifs and also motifs of other trees, including Cyprus and willow.
The vase and prayer motif combination and the medallion-and-corner layout are other commonly seen designs featured in many of the older pieces. The medallion and corner layout consists of stylized geometric floral motives that look very naturalistic.
The design of the newer rugs is quite different from that of the older version. These new rugs feature a large sized medallion with pendants or concentric medallions strewn across the field.
The American Sarouk made its appearance some time after World War I. These versions have more open fields instead of the all over designs. The design consisted of free floating floral sprays that seemed to emerge from medallion like centers.
Typical colors used in antique Sarouk rugs include red, green, bright blue, burnt orange, ivory, brown or champagne. Newer versions have a predominance of salmon pink. Called Dughi, this unusual color is obtained by mixing curdled milk or yoghurt into the dye. Using a higher ratio of dye to yoghurt gave a deeper red. To get a lighter shade, more yoghurt was used. Turquoise, red and yellow outlines, defined the motifs against the colorful background.
With their high quality materials, fine knotting techniques and attractive designs Sarouk rugs are very popular and in great demand in Western countries.