Made in the Kurdish area of northwest Iran, Bijar rugs are known for their unique style of construction and their distinctive weight, which makes them quite different from the typical image we have of Persian rugs.
Over the centuries, the city of Bijar has been home to many different tribes, from the Azerbaijanis and Turks to the Kurds.
The influence of each of these tribes resulted in a diverse weaving culture, which is represented in the distinctive styles of Bijar rugs.
What’s Unique About The Construction Of Bijar Rugs
The most predominant features of these rugs are their construction technique and their inherent toughness, which has earned them the nickname ‘Iron Rug’ of Iran.
A dense, hard-working backing material against which the rugs are woven contributes to the toughness of these rugs.
In addition, the knots made by the weavers are thrashed or beaten during the process. This beating and weaving motions creates a compact, heavy fabric with puffed up wool, toughening up the rug even more.
The symmetrical Turkish knot is mainly used in Bijar rugs, although in some rugs you can also see the asymmetrical Persian knot.
The weft of these rugs is also unusual. The wool weft is made by wetting the material and then pulling and separating the individual strands so that parts of the single weft could be at right 90 degree angles to each other.
This process coarsens the wool and gives it a unique characteristic, different from any other type of Oriental rug.
When you look at the older Bijar rugs, it may seem like the rugs have 3 wefts instead of the usual two.
This is in fact an optical illusion caused by the angle of the wool. In the more modern versions, the weft tends to focus on holding the strands in place, resulting in a rug that is finer than the traditional coarser versions.
Antique Bijar Rugs
Antique Bijar Rugs come from the town of Bijar, located in the north-western region of Persia. Bijar and its surrounding towns were populated mainly by Kurds. Despite their small population, Bijar soon became a major weaving center.
Weavers in this region use a unique type of weaving process that results in dense, stiff, and compact rugs that are very heavy in relation to their size. This contributes to their extreme denseness and durability.
These rugs are known to stay looking good for generations. Their rich colors, beautiful floral designs, and durability are some of the many reasons why antique Bijar rugs are in such high demand all over the world.
Some of the most spectacular of these antique rugs from this region were made on order for Persian nobility and Westerners.
Colors & Patterns Of Bijar Rugs: Making The Transition From A ‘Man’s Rug’ To A More Feminine Avatar
The shift in the color and pattern preferences from the older rugs to the rugs woven more recently is very interesting.
The shapes and colors were considered to be more attractive to men, and these rugs earned a reputation as a ‘man’s rug’.
The newer styles however feature a more feminine palette of colors and designs such as roses in pink.
Floral Bijar Rugs
With their hardy construction, deep dark colors and geometric motifs, earlier Bijar rugs had a more masculine appeal.
Not surprisingly, they were known as a man’s rug. This changed around the 19th century when weavers started producing floral Bijar rugs.
The trend began in response to increasing demand from European markets. These rugs feature floral motifs in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
The herati motif is the most commonly used motif in Bijar rugs and it is used in the medallion layout as well as an all-over design.
Other motifs and all-over designs used in these rugs include the boteh, gul farangi, zell-i-sultan and mina khani. The rugs generally have several minor borders decorated with motifs.
One frequently seen motif in the border is the Shah Abbasi motif.
Another common pattern used in Bijar rugs consists of multiple hexagon medallions in different colors woven inside one another and becoming larger as they got further away from the center.
Foundation And Pile of Bijar Rugs
Depending on its age, a Bijar rug may have a foundation of wool, cotton or camel hair. The pile is almost always made of wool. Weavers use high quality wool for the pile and clipped it so it was neither too short nor too long.
Weaving Techniques Used in Bijar
The weaving technique used to construct these rugs is different from the techniques used to make most other types of Persian rugs.
Most other Persian rugs are constructed with one weft. However, Bijar rugs are constructed using the Turkish knot and two wefts. These two wefts have different thicknesses.
Weavers first dipped the weft in water to dampen it. They then inserted it horizontally between rows and beat it down tightly using a special type of tool called a comb.
The damp weft shrinks a little as it dries out, giving the rug a firm, solid foundation and a dense, compact pile that is capable of staying upright.