Isfahan Birds of Paradise by Seirafian, circa 1960
8'3" x 5'10"
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Sizes are approximate. Photographs are not necessarily exact for color.
New Rugs Are Of The Highest Quality In Its Category And Are Handpicked Overseas By The Bashir Family
This fine area rug is genuinely woven in Isfahan (central Persia) around 1960. It is in excellent condition and was displayed as a wall hanging its entire life. It still has its original tassels on the fringes and it is extremely rich in symbolism. Symbolism in Persian rugs are passed down from generation to generation and were believed to protect the rug owners from misfortune.
One of the most interesting aspects of this semi-antique rug are the animals which date back to early classical hunting carpets. Within its blue border, we see a variety of small birds which represent faith and fertility. The larger sized rows of birds found within are parrots symbolizing escape from danger and protection from it. The parrots are prominently shown alongside rows of other animals such as the deer representing longevity and the caribou representing male fertility, strength and bravery.
The rugs field prominently showcases peacocks, parrots, rams, deer, caribous and smaller animals such as beavers. They are all nestled within oleander flowers symbolizing protection of happiness and leaves symbolizing endless regeneration.
This exquisite piece also features a signature at its very bottom which reveals important information on the weaving house and family of origin. It states in farsi "Seirafian Isfahan, Iran". Seirafian are regarded as the best producers of hand-woven Persian rugs in Isfahan and, according to some scholars, all of Persia. Their rugs sell extremely well in Iran and all over the world.
Isfahan, also spelled Isphahan, has long been one of the centers for production of the famous Persian Rug. Weaving in Isfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.
Not until 1920s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Isfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus' of the Iranian rug weaving industry. Isfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.
Isfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos and are of excellent quality.
These carpets are often made up of pure silk. A combination of silk and wool is also sometimes found. These materials make up the pile of the rugs, while cotton is usually used to hand knot a strong and durable foundation. In finer Isfahans, silk is used as a base. To learn more about iranian rugs, visit our Persian Rugs section.
Carpets with pictorial designs have been made for centuries with the oldest known one dating back to the 6th century BC. Pictorial rugs are sometimes referred to as 'Tableau Rugs', 'Carpet Tableaus' or 'Rug Tableaus.' 'Tableau' is a French term used to describe a view or sight that looks like a picture or a graphic representation. Pictorial carpets today are rare and are among the most valuable types of Persian and Oriental carpets in the world. They are generally very detailed and are made of silk or a blend of silk and wool although woolen ones have been weaved for centuries. Those containing silk, silk highlights or very fine wool are mostly hung on the interior walls of opulent homes, government buildings, castles and palaces for decorative purposes. Unlike traditional carpets that are walked on, these carpets tend to preserve their original condition and thus have a high resale value. In fact, they can be seen for sale at prestigious auction houses around the globe such as that of Christie's and Sotheby's in New York and London. Pictorial carpets can also be seen at fine exhibitions throughout North America and Eurasia. They are often part of important museum collections.
The designs and samples of pictorial carpets are completely different from traditional Oriental or Persian floor rugs which usually showcase all over patterns filled with lush vine scrolls, medallions at their center or adorn geometric motifs. One can find a wide variety of scenes on pictorial carpets such as hunting scenes, the four seasons, people, faces, animals, statues, figurines, French gardens, Persian miniatures, poems, folk stories and religious themes from the Torah, Bible and the Koran Sometimes these pieces are made to pay homage to various statesman, ministers, kings and national heroes. At times, some are commissioned to commemorate special battles, wars and other important events in world history. The first evidence of a pictorial rug design dates back to the 9th century BCE and their production mostly blossomed at the end of the 19th century in Iran particularly in the cities of Isfahan, Kirman, Qum and Tabriz. Some pictorial carpets are more tribal in nature and are made of a much coarser wool and seldom contain any silk. Their pile is thicker and their knots per square inch are lower.
They usually are made in other regions of Persia contrary to their finer silk counterparts which are made in big Persian cities. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, it became fashionable in Iran to have Kirman carpets whose designs were taken from European models. Versions of Western prints of pre-Islamic Iranian sites and other European depictions became the rage. Prominent citizens commonly commissioned carpets either as gifts or for personal use. In one particularly unusual example, now in the Carpet Museum in Tehran, a French print of an ancient Gallic warrior, complete with its title "Guerrier francais" in copperplate script, was woven into a Kirman rug made for the Prime Minister Prince Abdul Hussain Farmanfarmaian. As one can see, pictorial carpets are as diverse as the subjects and history they carry. They all have a story to tell and are quite pleasing to the eye.
Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengčs, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.
Older carpets (antique or vintage) are rugs that date back to the last 100 years. Rugs that are 50 to 99 years of age are referred to as semi-antiques.
They are typically crafted with hand-spun wool and eco-friendly organic dyes, which have a luminous surface, providing an illusion of depth. They have a wonderful patina and character which cannot be usually captured in a newer piece. Each antique carpet is different, as they are found in every type of home and add warmth to pristine and minimalist spaces.
Oriental & Persian carpet designs began to change at the turn of the 20th century, as Western influence expanded across the Middle East. At the time, the native cultural designs began to lose their authenticity because their ability to maintain traditional designs diminished. As the Industrial Revolution came about, preserving traditional master craft techniques became more of a challenge.
- Antique rugs are made of natural fibers such as, wool, cotton and silk. New rugs are made from a variety of fibers including synthetic and natural fibers such as, mercerized cotton, faux silk often called "Art Silk", silk blends and artificial fibers such as, olefin.
- If the rug has signs of wear but still appears to be vibrant, this is an indication of a genuine antique carpet.
- For insurance purposes, you should always obtain a Certificate of Authenticity from the dealer, which should include the size, origin, age, style, materials, knot density, condition and estimated retail value.
- An authentic Oriental rug will not have a brand name associated with it and it will not be hand-tufted.