The Sirjan region is one of the richest regions in terms of ethnic diversity, including Turks, Kurds, Lurs, Arabs, Persians, and others who have migrated to or from this area for various reasons over successive periods. Ethnic diversity is a potential characteristic of this region, as each tribe and clan has its own customs, traditions, and culture that differ from others. Therefore, each of their handicrafts is derived from these same customs, traditions, culture, and outlook. However, to date, these handicrafts have not been introduced as they deserve, and in-depth research has not been conducted on their features, names, design philosophy, evolution, and the beliefs of the people, especially the identity of the weaving tribes and their diversity. Therefore, after ten years of field and library research focused on the handicrafts of the tribes and clans of Kerman province and the Sirjan region, it must be acknowledged that the most challenging part of these books was identifying and distinguishing the handicrafts of different tribes and clans, which was only possible through field research. In this regard, Cecil Edwards wrote: “Nomadic and rural carpets cannot be distinguished from each other. Both types are purchased and sold in the markets of Kerman and then exported to Western countries as Afshari carpets, and I have [chosen] the same name for this product” (Edwards, 1983, p. 243). Parviz Tanavoli has also explained the same issue: “The most complex issue in this section of the book [Afshar: The Handicrafts of Southeast Iran’s Tribes] is the attempt to find criteria and standards for distinguishing Afshari carpets from non-Afshari carpets, and this is not an easy task. The mixture of Afshari and non-Afshari carpets has occupied the minds of carpet experts for a long time and has only prompted a few people to research and think about it. One of these individuals is Edwards, who was in Kerman fifty-one years ago and has valuable information about the carpets of that region.
What is certain is that carpet weaving and rug weaving existed in Sirjan in the past, and with the arrival of immigrant tribes such as Ilaat and Afshar, Buchaqchi, Qara’i, Luri, Khorasani, Shool, etc., to this region, diversity and expansion have been achieved. However, it is not clear when and where the first fabric was woven and by which tribe, which was done simultaneously with the beginning of carpet weaving. Based on archaeological excavations, evidence of the settled people of the Iranian plateau and neighboring lands has been found. For example, in the southeast caves of the Mazandaran Sea (Kamarband and Hotu, near Behshahr), artifacts have been found that prove the breeding of sheep and goats and the spinning of their wool and hair by weavers in this region eight thousand years ago. In this regard, an eight-thousand-year-old piece of goat hair fabric on the coast of the Mazandaran Sea and a six-thousand-year-old cotton fabric from the Shush region have also been discovered, but the exact history of the first woven carpet cannot be determined.
Yarn, Weft, and Warp
Yarn and weft were traditionally made entirely from wool, but in recent centuries, some hand-woven fabrics have been made by combining wool and cotton. Weft in recent centuries is often made from cotton, sometimes with some wool, while in the past it was made entirely from wool, with one type being thick (weft-end) and the other thin (weft-faced). It can be said that creating a beautiful, useful, and high-quality product such as a carpet or rug with tools and materials such as wool and cotton or all wool using simple tools such as a horizontal loom, shuttle, hook, and scissors. These stages include wool washing, carding, spinning, wool twisting, warping, weaving, and finally cutting the rug or carpet from the fabric and washing and finishing it. Usually, this process is done by members of a family in the same region, although nowadays it is often organized by groups.
Characteristics of texture and structure Color and dyeing.
The hand-woven textiles of the Sirjan region, like those of neighboring areas, have a variety of different colors. In the past, natural dyes were used from plants native to the Kerman region, such as walnut husks (shades of brown), pomegranate skins (shades of yellow and beige), mountain straw and jashir (shades of yellow and gold), “mou” leaves (known locally as rose leaves, shades of yellowish-green), “ronas” (shades of reddish-yellow and lacquer red), “golrang” (shades of yellowish-red), “esparak” (shades of yellow), local type of barberry called “zarch kuhi” (pale shades of red), “baneh” leaves and mountain straw (shades of brown and gray), indigo (shades of light to dark blue, purple and green), and a local plant called “terebit” (for shades of yellow). Animal-based dyes such as madder root (shades of light pink to crimson and purple) and substances like white alum were also used to increase the color absorption and stability on wool fibers. However, with the introduction of chemical dyes to the weaving process, the art of dyeing in this region underwent significant changes, and the use of chemical dyes alongside natural dyes became popular. As a result, over time, the quality of some carpets decreased due to the use of chemical dyes. However, in recent decades, many of the hand-woven kilims and carpets produced in this region are made entirely naturally, and this trend continues.
The designs, patterns, and motifs in these textiles are diverse and reflect the local culture and traditions of the Sirjan region. Some common motifs include geometric patterns, stylized floral designs, animal motifs, and symbols of local folklore. These designs are often passed down from generation to generation, and each weaver may add their own personal touch or variation to the design. The use of intricate motifs and patterns not only adds aesthetic value but also serves to convey a message or tell a story. Overall, the textiles of the Sirjan region are a testament to the skill and creativity of the local weavers and the rich cultural heritage of this area.
Various traditional designs and motifs
Sirjan is known for its rugs, kilims, and other textiles, which are made by different tribes and communities in the area. The most commonly woven designs include Farshini, Perzobafi, and Qalibafi, which are characterized by intricate patterns and motifs. These designs are often named after the tribe or community that created them, such as Mousakhani, Bababighi, Pangeh, Shool, and Setareh-ye, among others.
In addition to these designs, Sirjan is also known for its kilim weaving, which is divided into two categories: simple weaving and twisted weaving. Simple weaving involves techniques such as podgari (wefting), podro (weft wrapping), single hooking (connected, warp-bridged), double hooking (pod-pion, warp-pion), hanging warp, extra weft/pod, and chakdar. The most famous and common twisted weaving technique used in Sirjan is Shirikipich, which has been registered as a national and global heritage. The most popular designs and motifs used in kilim weaving include Rah-Rah, Eyebrow Wind, Simple Floor Wind, Five-Triangle Floor Wind, and Thorns.
Overall, the textile art of Sirjan is characterized by its unique designs, motifs, and weaving techniques, which have been passed down through generations of weavers. These textiles are not only beautiful but also represent the cultural heritage and identity of the people of Sirjan.
Sirjan region is one of the important and well-known nomadic (tribal) areas, along with the cities of Baft, Orzueeyeh, Rabar, Bardseer, Shahrbabak, Jiroft, Amberabad, Kerman, Kenouj, Manojan, Ghalehganj, and Rudbar-e-Jonub in Kerman province. This region is divided into two groups of hand-woven products, namely kilim weaving/kilimineh/takhth-bafi and carpet weaving/farshineh/parz-bafi. The kilim weaving technique of the region’s tribes is also divided into two groups, namely simple weaving or pod-gozari and twisted weaving or pod-pichi. The simple weaving group or pod-gozari includes techniques such as pod-nama, tak-ghaleb, joft-ghaleb, pod-malagh, additional pod, and chak-dar (this technique is less used in hand-woven products in Kerman province and Sirjan region). The shirikipich kilim should be mentioned in the twisted weaving group.
Weaving has been almost independent in all tribes of this region, including Afshar, Buchaqchi, Rayeni, Qaraei, Khavajui, Khorasani, Lori, Shoul, and Al-Saadi tribes, as well as Mirparizi-Independent, Mir Mahmoudabad-Independent, Zaidabad-Independent, and Mirparizi tribes in five urban areas (Sirjan, Najafshahr, Paris, Hamashahr, and Zaidabad), five sections (central, Paris, Golestan, Zaidabad, and Bolourd), and ten rural areas (Chahargonbad, Paris, Golestan, Sharifabad, Bolourd, Najafabad, Saadat-Abad, Malekabad, Zaidabad, and Mahmoudabad).
In general, the hand-woven products of the tribes of this region are made by women and girls with horizontal threads, using all wool in the past, and using wool and cotton in recent centuries. Farshineh/Parz-bafi/carpet weaving in this area is often done with the full-loop technique and Turkish/symmetrical knots, and some, especially rural ones, with the half-loop technique and Persian/unsymmetrical knots. They often have two pods – in recent centuries, mostly made of cotton, and in the past, made of wool – one thick (base pod) and the other thin (top pod). Of course, some carpets have been woven with three pods.
In this regard, Peter F. Stone writes: “Afshar carpets are woven with blue cotton weft and have a blue cotton pile. Both cotton and woolen wefts can be seen in Afshar carpets.”  However, Parviz Tanavoli writes: “Like most Zagros residents, Afshars use red dyes for their piles. This color sometimes ranges from pale pink to dark brown. Nevertheless, there are many Afshar carpets woven with undyed (mostly cotton and sometimes woolen) piles.”  The blue-wefted carpet is made by weavers in the city of Shahr-e Babak or surrounding villages of Kerman (in the same area). Today, Tanavoli’s statement can still be seen in most carpets woven in this area; according to Afshari weavers, the reason for using red dye in that area is the durability of this type of dye and the availability of the coloring material.
Najafabad rugs, also known as Najaf-Abad rugs, have their origin in the city of Najafabad located near Isfahan in central Iran. This region is famous for its agricultural produce, especially pomegranates, and is also a renowned center for area rug weaving. The style of weaving found in Najafabad rugs is not unique to the city but is representative of the region. These rugs typically feature designs and colors similar to those found in neighboring areas such as Isfahan, Kashan, Yadz, and Ardekan. The weavers in Najafabad use Persian knots that provide greater accuracy, resulting in rugs with exceptional symmetry.
Najafabad rugs are characterized by curvilinear patterns with medallions and flowing vines. The designs are often symmetrical and well-balanced, with a striking contrast between the borders and the field. The most common style found in Najafabad rugs is the Kashan style, which features variations on traditional floral patterns that have remained largely unchanged since the 17th century. These rugs are typically decorated with a single medallion in the center, surrounded by dense patterns of Persian floral motifs such as arabesques, flower stems, palmettos, rosettes, and blossom and leaf motifs.
The color palette of Najafabad rugs is exquisite, featuring vibrant reds and blues as well as subtle, muted shades of beige, pale blue, sage, khaki, and olive green. The warps of these rugs are made of cotton, while the wefts are either cotton or wool. Although available in various sizes, Najafabad rugs are typically mid-sized. These rugs can complement both modern and antique furniture, making them a versatile choice for any décor. The hand-knotting and weaving techniques used by local artisans, backed by sturdy cotton, ensure that Najafabad rugs can last for centuries.
The Lachak-Toranj designs reflected in the handwoven carpets of this region, despite the intricacies of Isfahan carpets, have many similarities with the productions of skilled weavers in Isfahan.
Some features of Najafabad carpets:
Design and Pattern: The design, pattern, and color of Najafabad carpets have the same characteristics as Isfahan carpets, but the type of carpets are larger and thicker. Today, weavers in this city also use patterns from other regions, especially Nain. The colors of Najafabad carpets are usually darker than the carpets of the central province and use more black in the background.
Weaving: The knots of the carpets are asymmetrical and vertical. The weaving is done on the ground and then transferred to the loom. These carpets are woven with two wefts and are coarser than Isfahan carpets and are woven in a half-knot and full-knot style. Shirazah is used to beat the carpet during weaving, and the upper and lower sides of the carpet are secured by weaving a side cord.
Materials: Wool is used for the pile and cotton for the warp and weft in these carpets.
Boroujerd is a district located in the western part of Iran in the province of Lorestan, where the famous Lori tribal rugs are woven. However, Boroujerd rugs have a striking resemblance not to Lori rugs, but to the rugs of Malayer. A Boroujerd rug typically features an allover pattern consisting of the famous Persian rug motif, the Boteh. The rugs are woven with the best materials and are one of the highest tribal standards. They come in various colors such as red, burgundy, ivory, and navy blue. Traditional floral designs are not uncommon in these rugs.
There are numerous smaller towns scattered throughout central Iran that weave high-quality carpets. Some of these towns south of Tehran include Veramin, Tafresh, Boroujerd, Khomaine, and Taleghan. Rugs woven in major cities of central Iran cannot even be compared to the village rugs. Often, a professional weaver in one of these cities will work non-stop on a rug for many years, using the famous asymmetrical Persian knot. The materials can be all wool, all silk, or a precise ratio of the two. The foundation (warp and weft) of the rugs is cotton, except in very fine pieces where it is pure silk. Countless handmade Persian rugs made in such cities as Kashan, Yazd, or Kerman, have been known to last several hundred years.
The rugs produced in the major cities of this region are far superior in quality and symmetry to the ones produced in the outskirts. Kashan and Isfahan have had great influence on their surrounding cities, and Najafabad carries out the design of Isfahan, while Yazd and Ardekan weave the famous design of Kashan. Most of the time, the rugs woven in Kashan, Yazd, or Ardekan are indistinguishable from one another. A genuine Isfahan rug, however, can always be identified by an expert.
In the past, Boroujerd had active workshops for carpet weaving, as well as units for producing natural dyes. The city has a long history of carpet weaving, and Boroujerd rugs are known for their use of the Shah Abbasi, Herati, and Boteh motifs in a style similar to that of Malayer. The rugs often have a thick pile with dark red and navy blue colors, and are available in various sizes, including the large sizes typical of Iranian tribal rugs. These rugs are sold in the market alongside the handmade rugs of other regions in Iran.
The Borujerd rugs are woven in the styles of curved Golzar and use Shah Abbasi, Herati, and Boteh motifs and patterns. They are often woven with thick texture, dark wefts, and long piles in shades of red and navy blue, and finally, they are offered in sizes of Zar, Nim, and Do-Zar’i and with regular borders in the market.
The name of the Bakhtiari tribe and the province of Chaharmahal are intertwined with a group of people who are considered one of the oldest and most authentic Iranians, and whose sense of pride has always been on their tongues. However, Bakhtiari handwoven carpets cannot be limited to just the tribes, and the weavers from the villages and cities of this province who weave carpets should not be ignored.
In the province of Chaharmahal, art and the production of various handicrafts are intertwined with the blood and sweat of its people, and carpets are only one option and the most important among the various models of handicrafts in this city.
Bakhtiari women and girls use a method that is rarely seen in other parts of Iran and even the world. They do not use any pre-designed pattern or chart for their weaves and instead use mental images to create their weaves.
Creating such attractive and beautiful works without a pattern shows the artistry embedded in the blood of the people of this region. They only use patterns when they want to produce custom work.
By not using a pattern or design for your own weave, you will unconsciously prevent repetition and similarity of patterns, and each of your works will be a unique and unmatched model. This is the main characteristic of Bakhtiari handwoven carpets.
Since handwoven carpets are produced in various types and designs in this region of Iran, we will start by taking a general look at the cities and villages that are the main centers of Bakhtiari handwoven carpets and review them together.
Two general categories exist for weavers in the province of Chaharmahal. All weaving regions can be classified into one of these two categories:
- Qashqai carpets, which can be considered the art of Qashqai Turkmens in Chaharmahal.
- Bakhtiari handwoven rugs, which can be attributed to the Bakhtiari ethnic group and are the result of the weaving of Bakhtiari and Luri Bakhtiari tribes.
In short, if we want to briefly introduce the centers of Bakhtiari handwoven rugs and Chaharmahal carpets, we should say: Saman, Ashkezar, Pirbalout, Arjaneg, Vardenjan, Faridan, Borujen, Boldaji, Fereydan, Hiraqan, Babahaydar, Ardal, and the Olad tribe. Below, we will examine the most important of these options in more detail:
Partial review of carpet weaving cities and villages.
Baladaghi: A city located in the southern part of this province, and the carpets woven in this city are generally of single weft and coarse texture, which are very durable and long-lasting.
Shahrekord: This city, which is the center of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, is the center of producing double-weft carpets, most of which have bright and shiny colors and are woven in broken designs.
Fereydun: A small city in the northern part of the province, mostly inhabited by Armenians, and the woven carpets in it are almost easily recognizable everywhere because the use of bright and cheerful colors such as cream, pink and bright green has made the products of this region special. The type of weave used in this area is also a coarse pattern.
Chelashtr: Or Chaleshtar, if you are looking to buy an inexpensive hand-woven carpet, don’t look for this village! It is a village near Shahrekord, which is the main center of the delicate Bakhtiari hand-woven carpets, and usually only special and first-class products are woven.
Most of the carpets produced in this village have used clay and brick designs for production, and the issue that has made them special is the use of semi-circular designs.
Samān: In this area, like Chelashtr, there is a tendency to weave high-quality double-weft products, and a subject that can be considered the symbol of the carpets of this area is the use of reddish-brown color in their semi-broken patterns, trellises, and brick designs.
Designs and diversity of Bakhtiari hand-woven carpets.
When it comes to the designs and patterns of Bakhtiari handmade carpets, the presence of a variety of colors and patterns is the most prominent feature that can be discussed.
The use of cotton warp and wool weft in Bakhtiari carpets has made the production of this region much lighter in weight compared to other hand-woven carpets, making it a suitable option for choosing second-hand hand-woven carpets, especially in terms of quality.
In addition to this, the use of diamond and square-shaped patterns that generally depict animal and plant motifs within them has made the hand-woven carpets of this region particularly authentic and attractive.
In the previous sections, we mentioned that the woven patterns in Chaharmahal province are classified into two main categories: Ghashghai and Bakhtiari. If we want to name all these patterns in a comprehensive manner, we must say:
A) Bakhtiari Hand-Woven Carpets
- Kheshti (animal, floral, or both)
- Taranji (small diamond-shaped motifs)
- Sarv va Kaj (cypress and pine trees)
- Samavari (Haghayeghi design)
- Gol-e-Mina (Mina’s flower)
- Gol-dani Sharabeh (wine vase)
- Gol-dani va Derakhti (flower vase and tree)
B) Ghahshghai Hand-Woven Carpets
- Taranji (one pool)
- Shakarloo (two pools)
- Bandi-e-Alvan (striped)
Note: Among the various designs and patterns mentioned above, the Kheshti design, which is a very well-known option, is often considered equivalent to Bakhtiari hand-woven carpets, and among all the models, the Kheshti Baghi design, which is adorned with plants and flowers on its bricks, is a very popular option.
Features of Bakhtiari Hand-Woven Carpets
When it comes to identifying the features of a Bakhtiari handwoven rug, you need to have a general view of the subject and examine all the necessary aspects related to a rug.
In the previous sections, we have talked sufficiently about the regions and patterns of Bakhtiari rugs, and here we will explain the appearance factors that can have an impact on your buying decision and pricing.
The colors of Bakhtiari rugs.
When talking about the characteristics of a hand-woven Bakhtiari rug, you need to have a general understanding of the subject and examine all the necessary aspects you need to know about a rug. In previous sections, we talked enough about the regions and woven designs, and here we will explain the visual aspects that can have an impact on your choice for buying and pricing:
The color of Bakhtiari rugs is a topic that we could especially introduce as a primary advantage in the past. Bakhtiari tribal women, during special times and when they were on their migrations, collected and dried plants that could be used naturally to dye the fibers of their rugs. After this stage, with the knowledge they had about these plants, they boiled them in water into various patterns and extracted their color naturally by using the teeth of sour pomegranates. They obtained natural and high-quality colors. However, it can be said that due to the high labor intensity in modern hand-woven rugs, this type of quality natural dyeing is unfortunately becoming obsolete and giving way to the use of chemical dyes.
After this topic, it’s time to choose the type of colors used, in line with the selected designs. The type and method of color selection in Bakhtiari hand-woven rugs are one of the most well-known characteristics of these rugs.
The type of lacquer color used and the special green of Bakhtiari rugs are among the most important color features of rugs in this province, which differs from similar features in other Iranian rugs. The colors used in these rugs are mostly in the fields of red, light blue, dark blue, green, orange, and yellow.
The dimensions of Bakhtiari hand-woven rugs
Although Bakhtiari carpets are a suitable option in terms of diversity, their size is usually small. The dimensions of its prayer rugs are 2.40 × 1.30 meters, and its average size is 3.4 × 2.5 meters. There are also larger size carpets, and sometimes square-shaped carpets can also be seen among them.
In Bakhtiari hand-woven carpets, the side weaves are often wide and long, and the use of knots is prevalent among weavers.
Nahavand Carpet Texture
The texture of carpets in this region is mainly flat weave and sometimes semi-pile, and the knots used in their texture are both Turkish and Persian. (Types of carpet knots). In terms of the height of the fibers used in the texture of carpets in this area, generally long and thick fibers are used, and their texture is a weft.
In terms of the raw materials used for weaving carpets in this area, wool and cotton can be introduced as the main options. Nowadays, the use of cotton threads for weaving carpets in this area is more common than wool, but in the past, it was the opposite. What is very common in this area is the use of high-quality raw materials. Shiny, soft and at the same time, high-quality wool is one of the features of Nahavandi carpets.
Nahavand Carpet Knot Density
If you don’t know the concept of knot density, it can be said in a simple glance; the number of knots placed in a 7 square centimeter area of the carpet is called the knot density of the carpet. In fact, the more knots woven in this 7 cm area, the higher the quality and price of the carpet, and the more valuable and precious it is.
As for the knot density of Nahavand hand-woven carpets, it cannot be said that the carpets in this area have a high knot density, but in general, they have a medium knot density. The knot density of carpets in this region was 25 knots in the past, but in recent years, the knot density of carpets in this area has increased to something between 30 and 40 knots.
Colors of Nahavand Carpets
Nahavand handwoven carpets are generally considered among the colorful carpets that have gained high popularity by using very beautiful designs and attractive and vivid colors.
The colors used in carpet weaving are divided into two main categories: natural and artificial colors. The use of natural colors obtained from plants makes the carpet a very special beauty and appearance and also performs much better in terms of health and durability compared to artificial colors. Nahavand carpets mostly use natural colors for weaving.
On the other hand, a special characteristic of the color scheme of Nahavand carpets is the use of murky red and earthy colors on a dark blue background, which gives the main part of the borders a distinctive look. Of course, it would be wrong to say that this rule is always followed, but the opposite is true. If you see a carpet that has used this color scheme, rest assured that it is a handwoven Nahavand carpet.
Size and Appearance
Nahavand handwoven carpets are rarely seen in large sizes, and most of the weavings in this region are small-sized and rug-like.
The usual size of Nahavand carpets is 2.5 by 1.5 meters. In the past, the weaving of medium-sized carpets with a size of 3 by 1.5 meters or even 3.5 by 1.5 meters was common in this region, which is no longer produced today due to low demand for that size. A larger curtain-like size is more commonly produced. Perhaps more than 60% of the production in this region is the size of 4 meters or larger. Less than 10% is carpet and about half is runners and about 20% is 3-meter carpets and rug-like.
Nahavandi Carpet Design and Pattern
Hand-woven Nahavand carpets are woven in various designs and patterns, among which the Ashvan, Goli Heydar, and Lachak-e-Sefid designs are the most famous and globally renowned.
Typically, geometric designs with a rhombus shape and small shapes covering the background are used in Nahavand carpet designs and patterns. However, recently, the Ashvan design, which has a round rhombus shape (known as Shamsa), has gained popularity due to its bright and unique colors and has become more popular among people and decorators.
Interestingly, Ashvan is one of the villages in Nahavand where both men and women are involved in carpet weaving due to the high demand for carpets in this region. Among carpet experts and specialists, the Ashvan carpet is a recognized option that can be identified by the wild marigold flowers in the four corners of the carpet.
In terms of price, it should be noted that hand-woven Nahavand carpets are among the most exported options, and although they may be slightly expensive, their beauty and quality make them worth the cost.