Carpet designing is a continuation of that those days. Despite the improvement in the quality of its production in cities such as Tabriz and Isfahan, and the effort of great artists like Bahadori, Archand, Reza Vafa and many others, Iranian carpet is in the need of a serious review to gold is Position on the peak of beauty. To complete this subject, it is necessary to study a little about the quality of carpet designing in Iran and to specify its main factors. Generally, carpet designing has the following characteristics:
- Classical designing.
- Portrait designing (Miniature).
It is evident that the above-mentioned classification is not a definitive scientific one and it has been considered in connection whit carpet’s production and its weaving.
- CLASSICAL DESIGNING:
In considering the methods of production in Iranian carpet-weaving, we can observe the process and history of carpet-weaving from the time of making felt carpets, weaving Gelim (Persian word for short-napped coarse carpet) and primitive carpets to its most advanced phases of carpet-weaving such as woven carpet and miniature ones. According to some standards, methods of production are divided into rural type of production and urban type. The development of designing is exactly like the process of carpet-weaving. Most of the advanced designing of today is the developed form designs which were woven with broken and angled lines in villages and some small towns years ago.
These designs are either named with recognized traditional Iranian names such as shah Abbas, Lachak Toranj Afshanm Boteh, Mahi, Kaf Sadeh, Shekargah, Gol-o-Derakht, Heivandar, or after the places where they have been produced: Joshagah Ardebil, Cucasia, Sarough, Bijar, Torkman, etc. Some other time they take their names from the form of the carpet such as: Janamazi, Sotoundar, Goldani, Ghabghbi, Bazoubandi, Minakhani, or from the name of the subject: Sheikh Lotfollah, Bou Ali Sina Tomb, Eivan Madaen.
Although there are a great number of names used in carpet-weaving; it seems that the number of its principal designs, does not exceed from 19, that was mentioned by Iranian carpet Co. Considering the unlimited power of imagination of Iranian artist and designers, now we can witness, for example, the presentation of Shah Abassi flower in many different forms and colors, every one of which a complete example of Iranian talent and love of beauty.
The most distinguished component of designs consists of elements such as Shah Abassi’s Flower, Gol Anari, Gol-Niloufari, Shak-o-Barg (foliage), Eslimi (Islami), Khotaei, Boteh Rose (Gol-e-Sorkh), Cypress tree, etc. These elements appear under different forms. The designs are overshadowed by a long period of time, so they need profound historical, artistic, and cultural studies.
Designs such as Mahi (Mehr and Mitra, Iranian’s myths before Islam), Cypress, Pine and shrub (Sacred tree or symbol of Zoroastrian fire), Gol Anari (Sacred fruit), and Eslimi, are related to those old Iranian myths and beliefs that have been changes under the influence of cultural and social conditions of subsequent centuries. Eslimi is a design that was wrongly attributed to Arabic culture and was called Arabesque. This design is probably a painting of the head of an elephant, and it shows the talent and imagination of the artist who made it and known as one of the most beautiful Iranian’s traditional design. It is Said that Khataei may be named after Khat (line) or may be related to Khotan, a city in China. Boteh is a symbol of pine and Cypress trees that signifies some concepts and forms in the carpet-designing. Anari and Shah Abassi flowers are forms which are related to Safavid age.
There are different opinions about the origin of carpet designs, we leave the critical study of these opinions to clear-sighted persons. Wherever these designs come from or to any period they belong, they have been dissolved in Iranian culture and were adapted to the Iranian’s desire and spiritual needs. So, the discussion is not about the place from where the designs had come or the period to which they may belong, important pint is the fact that “Kermani” weaver creates such a flower and plant on his carpet, that it appears to be most beautiful ones, and by this creation he satisfied his spiritual needs. The Iranian weaver does not weave only for this reason that the design is historical, mythical, or Iranian, he does his work because he needs to do it. This need, whether spiritual or economic, is the best reason for the continuance of carpet-weaving. In comparison with miniature, Iranian classical design has some particularities that require the weaver to have some experience. So, in this type of designing the artist point of view does not hold the first importance. It is so because these designs; however large and difficult they might be, can be woven with a little precision and the knowledge of drawing-reading. The difference between and experienced master and apprentice is in their quickness and the remembrance of some of its particularities like dimension.
Since there was not printed and checkered papers in old times, the designs were either painted the same size as the carpets or the were lined in checkered form by coal or chalk (in the absence of Pencil). Drawings were read loudly by a master who knew drawing-reading (This method still exists because some weavers do not know drawing-reading).
Using designing papers, skilled painters can draw precise and clear drawings and exactly specify the colors, so the weaving of classical designs would become a technical work even in its most difficult form. The artist is mainly responsible for the artistic aspect in classical designs, and he can create a work like design of “Bashariat” (humanism) by Elissa Bahadori, which became a masterpiece in classical designs. Obviously, to obtain such an artistic rank in classical drawing one needs, in the first place, a profound artistic and technical proficiency with long years of experience and skill. It is understood that one of the Iranian’s traditional method of teaching drawing in Academic centers was to recommend copying out the buildings of Safavid age. Many known artists have done this difficult task with love during long hours. Although we do not claim that the most valuable carpet designs are the traditional Iranian ones; all Iranian art lovers find Isfahan with its flower, trees and bird designs, the center of the world’s art.
- PORTRAIT DESIGNING (MINIATURE)
Miniature is an old and recognized word in Iranian designing, but what is called miniature in carpet-weaving is a fine-woven and delicate carpet whose design is based on concepts of poems, stories and proverbs or other Iranian artistic works. Although portrait-weaving on carpet is not a new profession; the primitive designs in this field were miniatures (taken from Chinese paintings) that despite their brilliant coloring did not have pictorial and perspective dimensions. It is not known when the present tableaux weaving was learnt by Iranians, but the presence of fine pictorial carpets not only shows the potential abilities in carpet-weaving, but also indicates a climax in reaching the technic of the best usage of colors.
Weavers of this kind of carpets are highly skilled, they earn their skill and experience through long years of hard work.
The apparent development of this kind of carpet-weaving is confirmed by the presentation of several carpets on which one can see different designs of buildings, mosques, or rural areas, but the development of this kind of carpet does not necessarily means that all the products of these designs were successful. Most of these carpets do not have the basic characteristics of anatomy, perspective or coloring’s standards and rules. The main reason is the use of non-skilled and in experiences painters who have no information about designing.
Although the designer, weaver and producer are charged with the responsibility of the artistic value of this kind of carpet; the final quality of the carpet is determined by design and coloring which proceed from the talent of the painter. If the producer himself gives the design of the carpet, the best result will be obtained.
Carpet designer and painter will be successful only when he is highly informed about, the perspective, anatomy, coloring different schools of art and the method of conformation of drawing with texture.
The matters mentioned above are accessible, but sometimes they are disregarded because of uniformed and profiteer producers who follow only the mode and fashion and never think about the creation of a perfect artistic work.
At the end of this subject, it is good to mention that despite many difficulties, the fineness, and the high value of some of the pictorial carpets, that are equal to artistic tableaux, we cannot confirm the development of this method of carpet production. It is so because when non-Iranian subjects are used, the design will be mostly influenced by European art, and it will lead to the loss of Iranian’s traditional and delicate carpet-weaving.
There is no doubt that design and color are two undividable qualities in carpet designing, and it is not in our intention to separate these two aspects. Whenever we talk about a proper and artistic design of a carpet, it is obvious that this design is shown by coloring. Color is the principal parameter in Iranian carpet and is not dividable from the carpet itself. The pleasant Iranian colors that are shown in numerous figures and flowers are the symbols of Eastern culture and arts as well as the creative talent of the weaver and designer. The selection and harmony of colors, particularly in fine-woven carpets is a specialized job that needs extraordinary skill and experience. Just for coloring a face, one may need at least ten shades of a single color.
To get a clear notion about the value and extreme difficulty of tableau weaving, it is good to mention those carpets which are woven from “Leonardo Davinci’s” “last Supper”; On these carpets, the designer and weaver have to try hard and put many different colors together in order to recreate just a line that the painter had produced.
Therefore, very few carpets can be found that conforms to the tableau of Leonardo Davinci. The best result will be obtained when, first, the designer is endowed with a philosophical point of view of art, then the designer must know how to weave the carpet and at last the weaver should have the ability of understanding artistic concepts and possess a rich color sense. The result of such harmony with the assistance of the proper devices and equipment, will be an artistic masterpiece.
The remarkable quality of colors in carpet is its closeness to that of the nature which produce in the mind of the viewer, a kind of spiritual calmness and tranquility. This special effect can be taken from natural colors, and this is one of the most important reasons that clear sighted persons insist on its use. In the structure of a natural dye called by “Ronas”, for example, there are four or five dye stuff. When these stuffs are combined; they will produce a dye named by “Ronasi” that is one of the most pleasant vegetable dyes.
To obtain a chemical dye, like Ronasai, we need to mix several dye stuffs. On the other hand, the essential factor in the color of Ronas, Alizarin, can never give a similar color to Ronas in its purest form.