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Posted on: January 22, 2019

The Persian Fat-Tailed Sheep

The first step in making a luxury carpet is sourcing the world’s finest wool.

As the name suggests, the Persian fat-tailed sheep is distinguished by the fat deposits that hang from either side of its tail. This trait is desirable because the high fat content in the sheep’s body yields a higher lanolin production in the sheep’s wool. Lanolin is a natural oil or wax found on wool, and wool that is high in lanolin is valued for carpet making for many reasons. Not only does lanolin provide a natural protection from stains and pests that may try to penetrate the wool, but it also allows for a carpet to age more beautifully. When a high-quality carpet is walked on, the lanolin that rests in the wool’s fibers begins to rise to surface of the rug. The natural shine of the lanolin gives wool a reflective appearance that looks more and more like silk over time, the true testament of a carpet made with good wool.

Orley Shabahang’s flock grazes in the Zagros Mountains, the same mountain range where the Ghasghai tribe have traditionally shepherded for almost one thousand years. The history of the fat-tailed sheep, however, dates back to over 4,000 years ago. Over the centuries, these sheep have been bred specifically for the enhancement of their fat deposits. Apart from the production of high-quality wool used for textile making, this breed was also revered for its uses in cookery. But nowadays, as life has modernized, these sheep are primarily used for small-batch carpet making.

Following generations-old practice, the sheering of the sheep’s wool is done twice a year. The wool found in Orley Shabahang’s Signature Collection, however, only uses the neck and back wool from the spring sheer. This specification is made to ensure the highest quality yields that natural science has to offer. The spring sheer consists of winter wool, which is more coarse and plush than the summer coat as its wool adapts to provide the sheep with warmth throughout the arduous winter months in the region. Furthermore, the wool from the neck and back is the stronger and softer than the wool of the underbelly and legs as it has not been exposed to the acidity of the animal’s urine or the dirt and grime of the mountain.

The fat-tailed sheep naturally varies in color. Our flock has twenty-four distinct shades of wool, all of which are sorted accordingly after the sheer. As such, Orley Shabahang has a wide selection of attractive carpets that are made from completely natural, undyed wool.

To learn more about the Orley Shabahang process and the centuries old traditions that we continue to follow, visit our website. And to learn more about the how the quality of raw materials influences the finished carpet, visit an Orley Shabahang showroom or retailer today to see and feel the difference of an Orley Shabahang carpet.