Posted on: November 14, 2016
We Love Our 4,000 Pets!
We are very proud pet owners at Orley Shabahang. If it were not for our Persian fat-tailed sheep, the rest of our entirely hand-crafted process would not be possible.
After winter grazing through the mountains, the sheep’s fleece has naturally perfected itself for carpet-making. Because of the cold winter weather, the animal’s skin and hair become more oily to protect itself from the harsh elements of the wild. This increases the amount of lanolin, the anti-microbial oil that is secreted by the sheep’s sweat glands, on the wool. This is important for the final carpet because a high lanolin content makes it softer, shinier, and stain resistant.
Before the shearing process for carpet-making can begin, the sheep are traditionally washed in the river so that the minerals in the water can soften the wool and rinse it of any impurities. The Orley Shabahang sheep are bathed upstream in the Zagros mountain range where the water’s current is fast, fresh, and rich in minerals. It is vital to wash the animal before shearing so that the process is more comfortable for the animal as well as the shearer. Similar to the concept of getting shampooed before a hair cut, washed wool is cleaner and easier to comb through.
Once the sheep are thoroughly rinsed in the river, they are ready to be sheared. The shepherd uses a thick scissors to trim the wool as the sheep daydream about grass patches that lie across the hills. This step occurs from mid March to mid April, while the wool is still dripping with the winter’s lanolin. Our carpets are woven with only the highest quality wool that grows on the sheep’s neck and back. The hair around the belly and legs is too dry and brittle for carpet-making because of the acidity of animal urine, and as such is is sold to other manufacturers.
The beautiful luxury carpets that you find at Orley Shabahang are possible thanks to our adorable pets. Their symbiosis with the mountain environment creates the foundation for the rest of our manufacturing process as well as our final functional art pieces.