A Brief History of Kerman Carpets
Situated in south-east Persia, Kerman (Kirman) was one of the towns where the Safavids set up a court atelier. It has remained an important centre of carpet production ever since, particularly over the last century. An interesting influence during the nineteenth century was the town’s tradition of woollen shawl production. Many local weavers produced beautifully woven shawls decorated with designs based on the floral-cone motif, the boteh, known in Europe as Paisley. As the demand for shawls declined, partly explained by the fact that by the late nineteenth century, similar shawls were being produced in Paisley, Scotland, the weavers were smart enough to adapt their skills to the increasingly popular skill of carpet weaving with successful results. Not surprisingly the floral-cone motif is frequently to be seen in Kerman carpets in numerous permutations. It is often hard to pinpoint exactly what constitutes a Kerman design, as the motifs and patterns used are typical of many centres of Persian carpet production. Floral medallions and corner motifs are popular, as are flowering tree patterns and pictorial hunting designs. Pale washed-out colours such as beige and white are typical. The Lavar is a very finely knotted large piece, with an unusual overall small floral pattern on an ivory field. It was possibly made specially to order. Lavar is now the accepted term for carpets produced in Ravar, near Kerman. Lavar was originally a misspelling. They are a particular kind of Kerman which, although quite rare, are famous for the superb quality of the weave. Typically woven in pinky colours, Lavars are very popular in America.