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More Oriental Rug Notes by Barry O'Connell

Antique Serapi Heriz Rugs and Carpets

 

The Antique Serapi Heriz Rug

The Antique Serapi Heriz Rug is one of the most sought after rugs particularly in the USA and England for many years. Antique Serapi rugs are a major draw particularly in big city America, No other rug so epitomizes the "East Coast Establishment" than the Antique Serapi Heriz carpet.

The term Seapi however is an amazingly emotional and evocative term for rug collectors. Some people call them Seapi rugs and others call them Antique Heriz Rugs. The intensity of feeling is similar to that  reserved for politics and sports rivalry.

The line between a Serapi and an antique Heriz is more a matter of style than substance. For instance Sotheby's New York does not generally use the term Serapi while their counterparts at Sotheby's London regularly use the term. In Germany both Nagel and Rippon Boswell use the term Serapi.

Antique Serapi Heriz Rugs


From Sarab to Serapi

Sarab was both a town and a Khanate. Khanate is an old fashion term for an administrative district or state. The use of i on the end indicates that it is from Sarab so simply put Sarabi means from Sarab. All the rugs and carpets from the Heriz area would have been known as Sarab under the old name of the area. The carpets known in the trade as Serapi are clearly from the old Sarab Khanate. How then did Sarabi carpets become known as Serapi? I suggest that about the time the west was coming to know the carpets of Sarab a major news and gossip item was the Prince of Wales 1876 trip to India on the H.M.S. Serapis. Similar words and I suggest that Serapis became the popular pronunciation since it was the more familiar sound.

  • Prior to 1813 Sarab and the whole greater Mount Savalan region including the rug producing areas such as Heriz, Ahar, Gorevan, etc.. was the Khanate of Sarab. see Chronology of Azerbaijan History and neighboring regions

  • Cecil Edwards made the point that Serapi rugs are from Sarab.

  • In the United States the highest quality of Antique Heriz Carpets are called Serapi.

  • Quality is higher than the average and knot counts are around 80 knots per square inch with the very best going up to 100 knots per square inch. 

  • Serapi rugs fall into two separate styles. The all over design is fairly busy but the other group is the medallion style. The medallion rugs are far less busy than later Heriz rugs. Both groups have the mellow jewel tones of antique natural dyed rugs.

  • A Serapi Northwest Persia, Azerbaijan, 2nd half 19th century


Examples of Antique Serapi Rugs


Title The Troopship Serapis Arriving at Portsmouth on May 11th, 1876 with H.R.H. the Prince of Wales Aboard, on his Return from India
Artist Arthur Wellington Fowles
Gallery N.R. Omell
Work Date 1876
Category Painting

Materials Oil on canvas
Markings Signed and dated 1876 
Size h: 33.5 x w: 58.5 in / h: 85.1 x w: 148.6 cm
Subject Marine Art/Seascape

The Troopship Serapis Arriving at Portsmouth on May 11th, 1876 with H.R.H. the Prince of Wales Aboard, on his Return from India

Serapi Rugs The Troopship Serapis Arriving at Portsmouth on May 11th, 1876 with H.R.H. the Prince of Wales Aboard, on his Return from India
 
   Antique Serapi Heriz Rugs

Antique Serapi Heriz Rugs



Persian Rugs: Guide to Sarab and Serapi Rugs and Carpets Serapi Rugs A Serapi Northwest Persia, Azerbaijan, 2nd half 19th century

A Serapi Northwest Persia, Azerbaijan, 2nd half 19th century

From Sarab to Serapi

Sarab was both a town and a Khanate. Khanate is an old fashion term for an administrative district or state. The use of i on the end indicates that it is from Sarab so simply put Sarabi means from Sarab. All the rugs and carpets from the Heriz area would have been known as Sarab under the old name of the area. The  carpets known in the trade as Serapi are clearly from the old Sarab Khanate. How then did Sarabi carpets become known as Serapi? I suggest that about the time the west was coming to know the carpets of Sarab a major news and gossip item was the Prince of Wales 1876 trip to India on the H.M.S. Serapis. Similar words and I suggest that Serapis became the popular pronunciation since it was the more familiar sound.

Turkish Knot, Pulled Right, Depressed Warps
Turkish Knot, Pulled Right, Depressed Warps

Structure: Depressed symmetrical knot pulled right. Knot counts can range from 25 to 100.

Often newcomers to Oriental Rugs assume that finer means better. With Serapi rugs this is not at all the case. Anything over 100 knots per square inch looks wrong.

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