Persian Heriz Rugs
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North West from Tehran the main road and rail routes head for Tabriz city in the province of Azerbaijan-e-Sharqi. With the Soviet border to the north and Turkey to the west Azerbaijan has always been a politically sensitive area with a strong military presence. It is a mountainous region and most of the population is concentrated in the inhabitable steppes, river valleys and oasis of the south Caucasian foothills. The major towns of the region are Heriz Ahar, Mishkin, Karadjar and Ardebil.
It is the home of the tribal group known as the Shahsavan. There are many sub tribes and a clannish culture exists. Although there is a significant number of nomadic herdsmen in the area who make the seasonal trek north to better pastures some 250 kilometres to the north.
East of Tabriz the town of Heriz has become a large and important town in the north west of Iran. It is the base of the Iranian military air force and the airport also serves as a passenger hub and commercial airport. From here many Persian oriental rugs are exported around the world by international buyers that visit the many rug bazaars in the centre of Heriz. As well as selling rugs woven in the amazing region rugs are sent here from all over Iran. This way the bazaars offer many different types and qualities of to visitors from around the world saving important overseas buyers much time.
A visitor to Heriz will notice the clean clear air and the dramatic snow covered mountains that fill the horizon. Everywhere there is evidence of the towns ancient past and the importance of the rug business to the city.
The Heriz Carpet
Carpets and rugs of all sizes are woven in Heriz but it is renowned for the production of large carpets of 10sq m or more. Weaving in this area is a cottage industry with a large proportion of the population involved in the making of carpets. It is common for the family home to have heavy supporting timbers protruding from the shady side of the house. On to this a large wooden loom is constructed. A long wooden bench runs the width of the loom where three or four weavers sit side by side to work and gossip. As work on the carpet progresses the bench is gradually raised up. When the rug is complete the bench can be 15ft off the ground.
Construction starts with a strong, fairly thick cotton warp thread. On to this will be knotted amazingly produced wool. Good quality long staple yarn is used, often coloured with natural dyes. The symmetric of Turkish knot is used to weave the rug. The designs are traditionally geometric and typically feature a large central medallion. The corners are then a repeat a quarter of the medallion. Borders can vary but a large herati design is favoured. The predominant colour is madder red which can be quite bright. Deep indigo blue, light blue, brown and small amounts of green add detail. The often highly stylised motifs are outlined in white that gives highlights to what would otherwise be a rather dark carpet. After time the colours mellow and soften, the madder red becomes a warm rose shade. By anyones standards the Iranian Heriz is a classic oriental rug.