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.
Persian Style Rugs
If you are familiar with Persian rugs, then you already know there is nothing quite like them. They’re known for being breathtakingly beautiful, expertly constructed, durable and very high quality. Depending on a variety of factors, such as age, size and artisanship, a Persian area rug can be worth thousands or millions of dollars. Traditionally, Persian area rugs are handmade and top quality. In fact, many rug connoisseurs consider Persian rugs the finest Oriental rugs on the market, but that is really a matter of personal taste, as we offer many other kinds of affordable, beautiful rugs. While traditional Persian rugs are made by hand, less expensive, machine-made rugs are also available. If this is your first time shopping for Persian rugs for sale, you may be nervous about your upcoming purchase. There is no reason to be concerned, however, because the sales experts at Rug Source will help you during every step of the buying process. From determining which rug will work in the space you are shopping for to picking a color scheme to finding cheap rugs at the right price point and more, we are here to serve you. Guide to Buying Persian Rugs To help you purchase a Persian style rug you will love for years to come, we have put together a brief guide you can refer to during the buying process. If you have questions about the information we have provided or a topic that’s not covered in our guide, we encourage you to contact us at RugSource.com. We are always happy to answer any questions you have because we want you to make an informed purchase you will be happy with. Here is our guide for buying Persian rugs: Background: Persian rugs are produced in Iran, the country that makes about 75 percent of the world’s hand-woven rugs. A Persian rug is distinct from rugs made in other countries based on the knot used in the rug’s construction. Larger rugs are referred to as Q-li or Farsh while rugs that are less than 6 feet by 4 feet are called Qa-licheh.
Shape and Design:
Persian rugs usually have a rectangular shape, but round ones are also available. You will see rugs in many different colors, and they boast a wide array of nice-looking patterns and designs. Many of the designs you will notice on Persian rugs have been handed down from generation to generation. There are four primary patterns that are used to make these rugs, including an allover pattern, a central medallion pattern, a compartment layout and a one-sided pattern. The motifs on Persian rugs indicate the specific regions where they were produced. Genuine Persian Style Rugs: One of the biggest concerns many people have is whether a given Persian rug is genuine. To determine if a rug is vintage, you should look at its label and patterns, as well as the knots used to make the rug.
In some cases, where you buy a Persian rug is almost as important as the rug you buy. You should invest some time in finding a dealer you trust and one that will thoroughly explain the options are available to you. Rug Source has been helping homeowners, businesses and designers purchase Persian rugs for more than 10 years and we will be happy to help you, too.
Contact us now to get details about our ongoing rug sale, where you can get up to 80 percent off retail prices.