Kirman Carpets & Rugs

No other rug from Iran received as much impetus from the West as did the rugs from this city. Though carpet weaving in Kirman can be attested to and demonstrated in examples of ‘Classical Carpets’, those from the Safavid period (1501-1736), carpets were woven in the vicinity of Kirman probably much earlier than even this period.[1]

The location of Kirman is unusually remote, lying near the desert of Lut, an aspect which has always given the city a unique and important prominence in the history and development of Persia. For Kirman was the centre of the Zoroastrian religion and was also traversed through by Marco Polo on his famed visit to the East in the 14th century.[2]

The development of Kirman and the long history of weaving there owes much to the remote nature of the city, for the wool exudes a particular fine, but harsh feel in its texture. This is because the sheep acquired a unique rugged coat due to the diverse warm/cold climate conditions on the pastoral plains between the city and the Lut Desert. The peculiarly robust nature of the wool also allowed for the application of certain dyes, giving a greater depth of colour on the surface. Consequently, even antique Kirman rugs (as in this example) still look somewhat newer than their actual age. 

The designs of Kirman rugs can vary from the highly detailed, sophisticated city workshops pieces (as in this carpet) which exude a plethora of detail in floral motifs set upon a curvilinear format, to the sparser designed later examples made for export to the West. This carpet exudes a breath-taking array of colours used, subtle reds, pinks and light and navy blue, serving to give this carpet an appeal to both collectors and decorators alike. The dyes in this carpet are most likely chrome dyes, but from the earlier variant, which allowed for the carpet to acquire a gradual warmth and consistency in colour, not evident in later or modern examples.

In the early decades of the 20th century, Kirman received patronage from Western decorators and designers, evident in the change from classic ‘Persian’ designs to ‘French/European’ inspired designs. These displayed garlands grouped together around medallions, corniches and with either minimal or no borders evident in the design.[3] However, this magnificent example is from the classic period of Kirman weavings, between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a specially commissioned carpet, due to its larger format (5.60m x 3.65m). The quality of workmanship is evident in the highly detailed design, which has a classic ‘stellar’ medallion and composite corniches. In essence, this piece demonstrates the art of carpet weaving in its purest form, a piece woven to the highest of standards and as a consequence exhibits a high aesthetic appeal.


[1] M.L. Eiland, Starting to Collect SeriesAntique Oriental Rugs, Suffolk, Antique Collector’s Club, 2003, p.40

[2] J Franses, European and Oriental Rugs for pleasure and investment: New & Revised Edition, London, John Gifford Ltd,1970, p.109.

Marco Polo is said to have stated that Kirman was, ‘A good and noble city’.

[3] M.L. Eiland, Starting to Collect SeriesAntique Oriental Rugs, Suffolk, Antique Collector’s Club, 2003, p.40