Qum Birds of Paradise Pictorial, circa 1950
5'3" x 3'5"
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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 Qum (north central Persia) around 1950. It is in excellent condition. Certain things in this rug that lead us to believe it's in excellent condition is that it still has its original tassels on the fringes. Another thing we like to do when we're evaluating silk rugs, to get an idea of how good the condition is, is we want to check to see that the foundation of this is pliable and strong. So the way that you would normally do that is just to put some small folds into it and see if there's a good action. The test reveals that this carpet is in excellent condition. The foundation is very strong.
It is also 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 is the large tree of life spanning across its entire field alongside a wide assortment of birds.
Within its thickest border, we see a variety of small birds, all symbols of faith and fertility. Each bird is nestled in between oleander flowers symbolic of protection of happiness. Apart from the large tree of life in its field, we also see smaller sized versions along with ducks representing faithful marriages and doves symbolic of peace. Colors also play a major role in conveying the story of rugs. For instance, the golden border here represents power and wealth while the ivory field represents purity and cleanliness. Understanding how to "read" these symbols and patterns enables one to connect with the weaver's story, as well as community and society. At times, it can even provide historical insight and information on the best manner in which to showcase each work of art.
Qum rugs, also known as Ghoum, Gom, Qom, Qoum, Kum or Koum, are woven in workshops of Qom, a city located in northwest central Iran. Since rug production did not begin in Qom until the 1930s, Qom doesn't have any traditional designs of its own. Qom weavers prefer to weave the most favorable designs of other Persian weaving groups and sometimes Caucasian weaving groups and adjusting these designs to their own taste. It is possible for Qom rugs to be mistaken with Kashan or Esfahan rugs. However, they will not be mistaken with Tabriz rugs because Qum, Kashan and Esfahan rugs are woven with the asymmetric (Persian) knot and Tabriz rugs are woven with the symmetric (Turkish) knot.
All silk, part silk/part wool, and kork (fine wool taken from the belly of sheep) Qom rugs are very well-known in Iran and abroad. The foundation of Qum rugs could be either cotton or silk. Most Qum rugs have curvilinear patterns and very elaborate floral motifs with intricate leaves and vines. As mentioned above the designs are varied, taken from different weaving groups. Some designs used in Qum rugs consist of vase, moharramaat, mir-i-boteh, zell-i sultan, panelled garden, hunting, tree-of-life, pictorial, Shah Abbassi melallion-and-corner with usually a circular medallion, all-over Shah Abbasi, medallion with open field, medallions resembling the famous Esfahan Sheikh Lotfollah medallion, prayer and all-over gul farangi (roses).
The gul farangi motif seems to be a popular motif also used in vase, tree-of-life, and zell-i sultan designs. A panelled design containing very different motifs in each compartment is also common; the motifs inside the compartments can consist of pictorials, vases, hunting scenes, and botehs all in one rug.
The colors used in Qum rugs are as diverse as the designs. The overall appearance could either be pale with background and border colors such as ivory, champagne, turquoise and light green, or it could be dark with background colors such as dark blue and even sometimes red. Red, blue and green are also used as motif colors. Other commonly used colors in Qum rugs are mushroom, rose, gold, yellow ocher and orange orcher. To learn more about iranian rugs, please 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: Mengès, 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.