Posted on: June 11, 2018

Antique Spotlight!

This breathtaking Persian Sultanabad, 8’4″ x 10’1″, originated from the Meyghan village in the Farahan region of present day Iran. Thanks to the level of craftsmanship that went into constructing this rug in the 1870’s, it is still in excellent condition almost 150 years later.

Sultanabad carpets are named for the city in which they were made. Known today as Arak, it was one of the most important cities in Persian rug production and trade in the 1800’s. This particular antique, however, is a village rug. This means that it was made entirely by the hand of its weaver – from the first undertakings that include sheering and hand-spinning the wool to creating the vegetable dyes that will color it,  she will ultimately weave the carpet on a loom in her home for her own personal use. Many of these elements are continued today in Orley Shabahang’s process. For example, one will find the same supple wool that comes from the Persian fat-tail sheep, which is then hand-spun using the drop spindle method. This allows the yarn to be non-uniform and absorb color in a myriad of saturation levels, adding to the depth of the pigmentation. Orley Shabahang follows the same dyeing techniques as well, using only natural vegetable dyes to tint the wool, rinsing it in a river’s current, and then baking it in the strong sun to achieve a remarkable patina. Finally, the rugs are woven in the homes of Orley Shabahang weavers. This is the most important step in preserving the ancient traditions of carpet making because it allows the weaver to commit to craft and artisanship. These measures ensure that an Orley Shabahang rug, similarly to antiques of this quality, will withstand centuries of use.

Because this is a village rug, its design was an improvisation created by through weaver’s memory. Weaving techniques and designs are traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, which gives reason for designs and styles become synonymous with the place where they were made. This also gives an explanation for the asymmetry of rug’s pattern of palmettes. Despite the overall lack of symmetry, however, the final outcome visually feels balanced and harmonious. The weaver did not have a set pattern to follow, but for some, these “imperfections”found in village rugs make them a more special and personal treasure.

As with most Sultanabads, the field in this piece is referred to as Afshan rather than the Torang medallion designs often associated with popular Persian carpets like Tabriz and Isfahan. In this case, the Afshan form creates a transitional approach to its design that is more adaptable in its use today than Persian carpets with ornate and intricate medallions. The scale and style of these floral and butterfly motifs also hold true to the influence of trends in Sultanabad at the time this carpet was woven. Because village rug designs are typically depictions of the landscape that the weaver experiences in her everyday life, here one sees palmettes of flowers that grow in the Meyghan valley intertwined with the stylized wings and antennae of butterflies that could also be mistaken for flowers. Its rich use of red, blue, and gold tones is another reference to the life of its creator. Geographically, the sediment of the mountains surrounding Meyghan have a red hue and the village is adjacent to a brilliant blue salt lake. The weaver collected and ground red madder root and indigo plants to dye the wool, resulting in a warm and versatile color palette.


You can find this one-of-a-kind, heirloom rug for sale on Orley Shabahang’s 1st Dibs storefront. For additional information on this Sultanabad, or any of the hand-selected antiques in our collection, visit one of our showrooms or send us an e-mail today!