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Mashad Rugs: Guide to Mashhad Carpet

Mashad Rugs: Guide to Mashhad Carpets

Holy Shrine of the Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad Photo: Iran Daily

Mashhad is the holiest city in Iran. It is also one of the oldest centers of carpet weaving. The Perez Topkapi prayer rug was woven between 1550 and 1556 most likely in Mashhad.

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The oldest Mashhad rugs that I know of are a group of prayer rugs that were given by Shah Tahmasp to Suleyman the Magnificent in 1556. The rugs were made in three grades by the workshop of Sultan Ibrahim Mirza son of Sam Mirza and nephew of Shah Tahmasp. The top grade or Imperial grade was the finest and one of those rugs was in London two years ago and I believe is now in the hands of art collector Sheikh Saud Al-Thani of Qatar. Several of the second and third grade examples are still in the Topkapi Museum.
Perez Tpokapi Prayer Rug

The Perez Topkapi Prayer Rug

W&W Mashad carpet C. 1920-30 lot 141

In the 19th and 20th centuries Mashhad carpets were popular items of commerce and were made for domestic use as well as export. At one point the wool was heavily scoured so that it would take dyes better. An unfortunate side affect was that the scouring took all the lanolin out and the carpets did not last as long as other Persian carpets. This created a negative image of Mashhad carpets in some peoples minds. This was exploited by European and American dealers to push rugs made by European firms since the Europeans never made the inroads into Khorasan like they did in other areas this was a popular story. The wear problems are no longer a factor and it is very rare to see a Mashhad carpet with that problem today. The problem is old enough that the ones that are prone to wear are already worn.
Saber of Mashad.

The best rugs in the world today are from Iran. If we are to make a short list of the best rugs from Iran we must include Saber of Mashad. Master Ahmad Bazmi now runs the Saber Workshop after the death of Master Abas Ali Saber by agreement with his heirs.

Amoghli Carpet

On one of my trips to Iran in 2004 I asked some of the men in the trade about Amoghli which was one of the great Persian Carpet workshops of the 20th Century. Under Ali Khan Amoghli and Abdol Mohammad Amoghli their carpets were favorites under the Pahlavi Shahs particularly Reza Shah. One of the men explained that the workshop was gone but that the Grandsons had a very good carpet cleaning plant in Mashhad

Goharshad Mosque Mashhad Khorasan Razavi

The Gawharshad Mosque in Mashhad Khorasan Razavi Photo: Iran Daily

Structure.

The majority of Mashhad carpets are woven with an asymmetrical knot that may be over 4 warps (Jufti) rather than the more usual two. The carpets are made with a straight weft and then a sinuous weft forcing the foundation on to two levels. Traditionally the colors used include a bluish red that was obtained from insect dyes, first lak and later cochineal.

Detail - A Saber Carpet Circa 1940

Holy Shrine of the Imam Reza (AS) Photo: Iran Daily

Harounieh Monument near Mashhad Khorasan Razavi

Harounieh Monument, near Mashhad in the town of Tus, Khorasan Razavi (ISNA Photo)


Photo: Iran Daily


Saffron From Khorasan

Photo: Iran Daily


Iranian Saffron exports

Photo: Iran Daily

Besides Carpets and Mosques Mashhad is also noted for Saffron.

The tomb of Imam Reza (AS) in Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi province

Imam Reza AS Holy Shrine in Mashhad

The Holy Shrine of Imam Reza AS in Mashhad. It is said by the less rhan charitable that the rich go to Mecca but the poor journey to Mashhad.


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Copyright Barry O'Connell 2004 - 2007
Last revised: October 06, 2009.

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