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Naein Rugs By Ehsan Afzalzadeh Naini Of Iran Rug Co.

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More Oriental Rug Notes by Barry O'Connell

Sarouk Rugs and Carpets Guide  

Sarouk Rugs: 1920's Sarouk Carpet

1920's Sarouk Carpet

Sarouk is the name of a village but it also has become the name of a grade of rug from that area. Trade names for the rugs of the Sarouk region include: Feraghan, Feraghan Sarouk, Mahal, Mohajaran Sarouk, Mushkabad (now called Mahal) and Viss/Golpayegan Rugs . On this page I am focusing on the American Sarouk.

Sarouk Carpet early 20th century Skinner's Lot 301

The American Sarouk and Cecil Edwards

In an earlier article I wrote:

"With the loss of the European market in W.W.I the market shifted to a rug called The American Sarouk . As Cecil Edwards told us in The Persian Carpet the American Sarouk had certain distinctive characteristics that made it popular: P. R. J. Ford  suggests that the American Sarouk was originally produced by Mr. S. Tyriakian the Arak representative of K. S. Taushandjian of New York in the early 1920s.

11 millimeter pile (.44 inches) deep pile. This was long enough to stand up to a double alkali bleaching after which it was painted.

Knot density from 9 by 10 to 10 by 12 knots to the square inch.

Mill spun cotton warps and the second thinner weft is mill spun the straight weft was hand spun.

Rose field with floral sprays framed by a blue border. "

What I did not include was the disdain that Edwards had for the "American" Sarouk. If you are a serious student of carpets then you need to read The Persian Carpet but even then you would not know the whole story:

Sarouk Rugs: Sarouk Carpet early 20th century Skinner's Lot 301
Sarouk Rugs: Sarouk Carpet early 20th century Skinner's Lot 301

Sarouk Carpet early 20th century Skinner's Lot 301

In the late 19th century and early 20th century the Baker family managed to use good business sense and connections at the Ottoman court to gain control of the Armenian looms in a number of regions including Konya, Akshehir, Niyoli, Balikesir, and Banderma, the major commercial weaving centers in Ottoman Turkey. After the death of Charles Baker, Cecil Edwards whose mother was a Baker took over the company.

Edwards reorganized the Baker Company into Eastern Carpet Manufacturing Company (Eastern). The Baker Company had been successful but by 1909 had faced a crisis. Eastern was heavily dependent on Armenian weavers and a series of massacres broke out that played havoc with the usually stable, hardworking, industrious Armenian weavers. In 1920 Mark Keshishian was running the Refugee efforts for the Save The Children Fund of London on the Isle of Corfu. In his autobiography he wrote about seeing some of the surviving Eastern weavers who came in on a refugee ship to Corfu.

While still based in Izmir Turkey Edwards set up operations in Kerman, Arak and Hamadan. With the massacres of the Armenian Christian weavers the Turkish weaving trade dramatically dropped off in quality and production. The rugs made in Izmir are not greatly valued in the market so Eastern shifted production of rugs to Kerman, Arak, and Hamadan, Iran. The company had a world wide sales operation. A continual problem was that they were making more rugs then they could sell yet the market pushed them into continuing production. With a big markup and an aggressive sales Eastern had profitable years but the warehouses of unsold rugs continued to grow. This was not a problem until the Stock Market crash of 1928 and the resulting softening in the world market. Still Eastern continued to produce. By 1932 the company was in serious trouble and in 1935 Reza Shah the Shah of Iran, was forced to step in. The Eastern Kayam OCM story was that Reza Shah nationalized the business but that is not really an accurate picture. What really happened was that to protect the weavers and other workers Reza Shah took over a moribund company for its debts. Iran did not seize the company as much as Iran saved the company. What Cecil Edwards and the Eastern stockholders were able to preserve was the marketing end of the business. This company OCM and later Eastern Kayam OCM had a vested interest in down playing their problems in Iran. Still when one understands this background it allows us to look at what Cecil Edwards wrote in the context in which it was written. Edwards had a fairly critical eye for his competitors and the success of the American Sarouk was not his success. .

Sarouk Rugs: Blue Field Sarouk Carpet - Back 

Blue Field Sarouk Carpet - Back

Style and Quality in Sarouk Rugs

Sarouk rugs are made in a rather narrow range of styles and qualities. Rarely do you see poor quality rugs  they are also rarely any better that good quality. It is unheard of to see Sarouk rugs in the same grades as the best Isfahan or Kerman rugs and carpets. I can not remember a workshop grade Sarouk and there is no sign of the fine cartoon designers that we see in other cities. The Sarouk from the 1900 at least seems to have been designed by Westerners.

JBOC Notes: This is part of the broader group of Arak Rugs. Up until the end of the 20th century this type of rug is typical of the Sarouk production. They were attributed to the village of Sarouk but were likely made in a number of villages in the Province of Arak, Iran (old name Persia).


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Oriental Rugs the O'Connell Notes

Last edited: 05/30/2008

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