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Posted on: June 7, 2015

Reviving a Lost Art

Throughout our past 40 years of business in the United States, Orley Shabahang Persian Carpets has worked to uphold its distinguished reputation. It is known among discerning customers and collectors that Orley Shabahang has the most comprehensive selection and highest grade of artistic carpets in the country. Our distinction derives from the impassioned work of Bahram Shabahang, whose unabashed love for Persian carpets may be traced back through to the very beginning of his family.

The patriarch of the Shabahang family, Moghammam, was the son-in-law of King Tahmasp I of the Safavid Dynasty. He oversaw the work of the famous rug weavers of 16th Century Isfahan, a historic time period known as the Golden Age of Carets during which the art of rug weaving flourished. The artist-weavers of this period in Persian history produced carpets of unprecedented masterful quality and design. Four and a half centuries later, beginning in the year 2000, a new era in the Shabahang family’s history began. Circumstance joined inspiration when, after a 13 year embargo on Persian carpets was lifted, Bahram Shabahang felt called to introduce a larger inventory of fine Persian carpets directly from Iran to his American customers and to explore commissioning his own creative designs.

What he found when he traveled to Iran, however, was disappointing. The combined influences of the embargo, along with the devaluation of the Rial, the Iranian currency, forced the Persian rug industry to seek more cost effective ways of creating and marketing their craft. As a result, the quality of wool was sacrificed, artificial dyes became common and the weaving process, even if done by hand, became commercialized. Bahram realized that the Persian rug as an art form had moved away from its ancient traditions. Consequently, artistic quality rugs are becoming scarce. As both a businessman and an artist, Bahram refused to accept this diminished quality of Persian carpets. He revised his initial plans and embarked on a new mission: to revive the historical art form of his ancestors, which was becoming increasingly threatened in Persian culture.

Bahram recognizes that rugs do not have to be vintage to be collectible. They simply need to stay true to the expertise and artistry acquired over thousands of years. Persian carpets are among the most treasured and valued works of art. Collectors worldwide continue to view them as superior. Even carpets from other areas of the Middle East cannot compare. Each arabesque, medallion, cartouche, spandrel and rosette of an authentic Persian carpet is specifically selected to achieve harmony and balance between man and nature. The colors, symbols and borders express the history and hope of a unique people. The various styles provide a woven language that speaks lovingly of tribes and city dwellers within a centuries-old culture.

In an effort to protect these time-honored traditions, Bahram has turned to commissioning his own artistic carpets. He sets stringent standards that reflect his love and appreciation as well as his vast knowledge of what is required to create the finest Persian carpets. He personally travels the entire country of Iran, discovering only the best designers, weavers and dyers for his unique works of art. His rugs are truly special creations. Bahram directly orchestrates the process and relentlessly keeps his weaves true to their origins. He works with all the available elements to fashion artistic and comprehensive carpets, which find a harmonic melody of colors, texture, weave and design. By using different combinations of modern and ancient patterns, he creates new masterpieces using premiere materials and forgotten methods of the Golden Age. The intent is to create rugs that will communicate with people for generations of beauty and enjoyment.

“An artistic carpet is not an inert object, but a living creation that emerges from ancient traditions as well as the combined inspirations and passions of so many hearts and hands. It is with great joy that I share these fine creations with you, my customer, to be handed down for generations in your own family.”

Bahram Shabahang