Gabbeh Rugs are Part of a Rich Persian Tradition
The traditional Gabbeh Persian carpet – known as gava in Kurdish and Luri and called khersak in Bakhtiari – is a simple, hand-woven pile rug traditionally made by the nomadic Qashqai tribes who dwelled in the Zagros Mountains of southern Iran, near the city of Shiraz. Other tribes, such as the Lurs, the Kurds and the Bahktiari also weave these carpets.
In Persian, the word “Gabbeh” means “fringe” or “in the rough.” Gabbeh rugs are rough cut and long piled rugs of rich color and the best quality wool. Most Gabbeh carpets are medium size – up to 3’ x 5’ – and feature abstract designs where shapes and color dance playfully with one another.
Variations of the gabbeh rug – such as the “Loribaft”, “Amaleh”, “Kashkuli” – may reflect the heritage of the tribe by which they are woven or the name of the city in which they are most often traded, such as “a Shiraz Gabbeh.”
The 19th century gabbeh rugs were very coarsely knotted (40kpi or less), often with shaggy pile. The name of Gholam Reza Zollanvari is synonymous with modern Gabbeh rugs. Zollanvari learned the rug business from his grandfather, a merchant in the Shirazi rug bazaar. Zollanvari pioneered the construction of fine-weave gabbehs with knot counts of 200+ kpi. Today, Zollanvari rugs are among the most popular styles of Persian rugs.
The Making of a Gabbeh Rugs: A Craft Shared Across Generations
Most Gabbeh carpets are made by women, and many are one-of-a-kind works of art. Some patterns are passed down thru the generations as mothers and grandmothers teach their daughters the art of Persian rug making. Many patterns reflect the weaver’s observations of the environments through which the tribe has passed. Some rugs are even made by the hands of many weavers.
Traditional Gabbeh rugs were woven on makeshift ground looms. These looms are built with materials are carried long distances by the nomadic tribes, or materials found where the tribe settled. Since each loom is unique, each rug is unique; this is how Gabbeh rugs get their distinctive irregular in shape.
Woven with the Wool of Mountain Sheep
Gabbeh rugs are woven from high quality wool from the tribe’s own sheep. As the tribe herds its sheep over hundreds of miles, the nomads reach high altitudes. In the summers, they stay in the highland pastures north of Shiraz in the Zargos Mountains; by winter they sojourn to pasture lands near the Persian Gulf. Sheep grazed in high altitudes produce more lanolin, giving their wool a luxurious softness and resistance to stain.
Rich, Colorful Dyes Give Gabbeh Carpets a Remarkable Color
The Qashqai people find the dyes used in Gabbeh carpets or purchase them in towns where they trade their finished carpets. Often, they use all-natural vegetable dyes to give the wool vibrant color while retaining its lanolin.
Hand-Knotted Rugs with Turkish Symmetrical Knots and Persian Asymmetrical Knots
Most of the wool used in the construction of Gabbeh rugs is handspun using a drop spindle. After the wool has been dyed and handspun, the weaver uses the loom to hand-knot the rug using Turkish symmetrical knots or Persian asymmetrical knots, or even a combination of the two. Because the all the Qashqai tribes use both types of knots, it is difficult to tell from which individual tribe any one rug has come from.
Gabbeh Rugs Are Small – Often Just 3’ x 5’ in Size
A typical size for a Gabbeh carpet is 3 feet by 5 feet. It can take 18 to 25 hours to weave even a small Gabbeh rug. Tribal Gabbeh rugs usually have lower knot counts compared to other types of Persian carpet. This low knot count and the high quality of wool makes Gabbeh rugs famous for their exceptional durability.
Durable Floor Coverings, Wraps and Bedding to Protect from the Mountain Cold
Gabbeh rugs are often floppy because they have wider rows of multiple wefts. This made the soft, pliable rugs ideal as wraps or bedding to insulate against the bitter cold of the mountains.
Gabbeh rugs are often not symmetrical due to the nomadic lifestyle of their creators, and color variations within a rug are common. Often, the variation in color in a rug tells a story of the tribe’s migration, the climates and environments it encountered, and the tribe members who contributed to its creation.
Where to Buy Gabbeh Rugs
Unless you plan to travel to Iran to shop for Gabbeh rugs in the marketplace, we’d suggest buying a Gabbeh rug online from RugSource.com or visiting our showroom. We’re proud to bring these highly coveted rugs to you – please contact us if you’d like to know more.
Antique Persian Bakhtiari Rugs
Nothing compares to the opulent designs of Bakhtiari rugs. These distinctive pieces are gorgeous, artistic, durable and in great demand. That’s why, whether you’re filling an estate or looking for a special rug to define your living space, you can’t go wrong by adding one to your home. What’s especially admirable about a Bakhtiari Persian rug is the character: these handiworks feature stunning, interesting, hand-woven designs that took years to complete.
When you’re in the market to purchase one for your home, come to Rug Source. As the rug importer with an online store and a location in Charlotte, North Carolina, we have a large variety of Bakhtiari rugs for sale — from small designs to grand pieces. Browse our selection to find the kind of runners and rugs that you can love for a lifetime.
A Guide to Buying Bakhtiari Rugs
At Rug Source, we want to help you purchase a Persian Bakhtiari that you and generations after you will be proud to display. For this reason, we’ve put together a quick guide below, to steer you through the buying process. By understanding a little more about the background and style of a Persian Bakhtiari rug, you may find shopping through our selection a little simpler.
If you have any other questions not answered below, please contact us.
Bakhtiari rugs get their name from the Bakhtiari tribespeople of the Zagros Mountains. A strong, courageous group known for annually trekking over snow-capped mountains, the Bakhtiari traditionally produced geometric designs in their rugs but, over time, were influenced by floral carpets of Persia. This led to the innovative styles found today. Bakhtiari rugs are made of durable wool and feature inspiring, complex designs.
Shape and Design:
Many Bakhtiari rugs feature central medallions and bold colors. They are best known for their intricate imagery, which incorporates latticework, bell-shaped components, flowers and highly romantic themes. Each one typically takes up to six years to complete, representing a labor of time as well as artistry. Find them in various colors, from reds to blues to beiges.
Shopping Bakhtiari Rugs for Sale at Rug Source
As the largest online resource for Oriental, Persian and other area rugs, Rug Source is the best place to find stunning, long-lasting Bakhtiari rugs for your home. For more than a decade, our business offers the best prices, complete with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Our prices tend to be 60 to 70 percent below retail, as well as 30 to 40 percent below competitors’ rates. When you buy a piece from us, if you’re not happy for any reason, you can return for a refund within 30 days.
To learn more about the rugs we carry, visit our location in Charlotte or shop our selection online!