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Antique Kashan Rugs & Carpets

 
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Antique Silk Kashan Persian Rug

Antique Silk Kashan Persian Rug from Nazmiyal


Antique Kashan Rugs & Carpets of Persia

Kashan is a city in North Central Iran. We know that there was production of Persian Carpet at Royal workshops in the 17th and early 18th century. Many authors attribute Persian Rugs and Carpet to Kashan in the 16th century particularly of the so-called small silk Kashan Persian Carpet group. That is a leap of faith not nessasarily supported by any published evidence I can see. The Persian Carpet workshops ceased production in about 1722 after the Afghan invasion. Persian Carpet production was very minor until the 20th century. Historically Kashan was a major center in the garment trade. In the late 19th century the market shifted and the local industry went from fine wool cloth to fine wool carpets

From the mid-19th to the early 20th century the finest quality rugs from Kashan were  called Mohtashem and said to be from the workshop of "Mohtashem". Today it is generally assumed that Mohtashem is an indication of fine Kerman workshop production rather than a firm attribution. However with the existence of some signed Mohtashem rugs it is certain that the workshop existed. The early Kashans were made with Manchester wool and are softer, The change occurred in the 1930s.

Some of the best Kashans are from Ardistan and excellent ones are also produced in Yezd and Kashmar in Khorasan.



This is a classic 19th century Mohtashem Kashan. I have always suspected as do many others that Mohtashem was the Mullah Hassan. The Hajji Mullah Hassan started the carpet production in Kashan in about 1890. As Cecil Edwards told us in The Persian Carpet Hajji Mullah Hassan was a merchant who was left with Manchester wool and no clothing business so his wife wove a rug. His wife was from Arak and the rug was successful.

There is a certain ring of truth to the Arak origin of the wife since Mohtashem Kashans have a back like an old Feraghan Sarouk. Another attribution clue is that rugs and carpets from the Mohtashem workshop had lavender silk selvages when new.

I look at Mohtashem Kashan rugs in more depth at Persian Rugs: Guide to Mohtashem Kashan Rugs and Carpets

Mohtashem Kashan Carpet Late 19th century 15 feet 11 inch by 12 foot 1 inch.Mohtashem Kashan Carpet Late 19th century
15 feet 11 inch by 12 foot 1 inch.

Wool

Kashan is surrounded by desert and marginal land that does not provide a source of good wool. From roughly 1890 to 1930 the main source of wool was Manchester UK. That wool was fine soft garment wool that was processed in Manchester from Merino sheep. After 1930 the primary source of wool has been


Kashan Kurk Carpet Possibly Mohtashem Circa 1910 17 feet 1 inch by 10 foot 1 inch.
Kashan Kurk Carpet
Possibly Mohtashem Circa 1910
17 feet 1 inch by 10 foot 1 inch.

17 by 10 Kashan Carpet Circa 1910

This wonderful piece showed up as lot 165 in Sotheby's Fine Oriental and European Rugs and carpets sale in London in October of 1999. Sotheby's did not date the rug in the catalogue but this is very much what we see from Kashan circa 1910.



Who was Mohtashem

Mohtashem is a much cited workshop that dated to the late 19th century in Kashan. Don Wilbur was able to identify several signed rugs by Mohtashem 2.

There was a historical figure Mohtashem Kashani or more properly was Shams-osh-Shoara Kamal-ed-Din Mohtashem Kashani is a poet of the 10th century AH. He was  famous for his religious poems and much revered in Persia.
Sotheby's Kashan 'Mohtashem' rug, C. 1880Sotheby's Kashan 'Mohtashem' rug, C. 1880




The James M. Keshishian Silk Kashan Circa 1920

Style and Quality in Kashan Rugs.

Uncle Jimmy Keshishian used to describe Kashan Carpets as a dealers carpet. A successful dealer might sell all kinds of rugs but in his home one could expect to find a Kashan. Kashan rugs are the most conservative of all Persian Carpet. They are not nearly as adventurous as Qum or as fine as Isfahans but Kashan maintains a consistent look. Not all the same but confined to certain bounds.

Quality is a different matter. Often good sometimes great Kashan rugs are home production not workshop rugs. In fact workshop rugs as we see in Isfahan or Tabriz are the exception. That is not to say that they are all the same you can still  expect to find three distinct grades of Kashan from the high-end ultra fine examples to the Bazaar quality.

Silk Kashan Rugs

Silk is grown in the area and is used in rugs from Kashan. John Chardin traveling in Persia from 1673 to 1677 noted Kashan as the second city behind Yezd in a discussion of metal and silk rugs. 


Villa Del Prado Oriental Rug Collection
Persian Kashan 4.5' x 7'
400 KPSI - 55 Raj - Silk Foundation / Wool pile with Silk highlights ca. 1950

This is a wonderful Kashan that a reader  collected. At 400 kpsi this is the high end of what we expect from Kashan.

At 4.5' x 7' this is larger than expected for such a fine rug.





























Detail:
 Kashan

Compare this detail to the one below. This rug has 400 kpsi while the below has 100 kpsi. With 400 kpsi a wider variety of angles and curves are possible.

9 by 12 Foot Kashan Carpet

At 100 kpsi this rug is fairly coarse for a Kashan but it is still a good durable well made choice for many decorating situation.


Tree of Life Kashan

Stucture:

Kashan Rug, Kashan proper, the surrounding area and Eastern Iran.

Size: All sizes made up to about 10 by 13 feet are common.

Structure: Asymmetrical knot open to the left.  100 to 250 kpsi with up to 400 knots per square inch in smaller sizes and silks.

Yarn Spin: Z.

Warp: Cotton

Weft: 2 shots cotton. First shot is thicker and straight and the second is thinner and sinuous. Deeply depressed knots with a warp offset of 85 to 90 degrees.

Pile: 2 wool singles.

Ends: Overhand knots with warp fringe.

Selvages: 1 cord plain wool.

Handle: Light - medium.



Further Notes:

Similar Rugs

  • Very good copies are made in Egypt.
  • Kashmar rugs from Khorasan may look like a Kashan but cost less.
  • Mohtashem Kashans are similar to old Sarouk rugs with a leathery back. Mohtashem Kashans have lavender silk selvages.
  • "abrash 'shading' is so common as to be an identifying characteristic of the so-called 'Mohtaschem' group of Kashan rugs from the 1890-1910 period," Email from rug-fanatics@yahoogroups.com From: "Iain Stewart" webmaster@world-rugs.com Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 02:06:10 +0100 Subject: RE: [rug-fanatics] Re: Abrash 

Related examples sorted by aproximate age:

Links:\

Mohtashem Kashan sorted by aproximate age:

Sotheby's A Kashan lustre-decorated star-form pottery tile 13th c. Lot 52.

Sotheby's A Kashan lustre-decorated star-form pottery tile 13th c. lot 49

Books & Articles - Sources on Kashan Rugs:

Kashan Links:

No set of rules is absolute. I am building these guides as an attribution guide to help when I am working with rugs.

  1. Sotheby's Fine Oriental and European Carpets New York 4/15/1998 lot 224

  2. Sotheby's Fine Oriental and European Rugs and Carpets London UK 10/14/1999 lot 165

  3. Wilbur, Donald N.: A Descriptive catalog of Dated Rugs and of Inscribed Rugs; (Washington): 1989.

Persian Rugs & Carpets

In the article Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets the German scholar Kurt Erdmann lays out the rugs assigned to the group called "The Small Silk Carpets of Kashan". It fails to give any reason or justification for the attribution to Kashan. Erdmann, Kurt. Seven Hundred Years of Oriental Carpets pages 61 - 65

In Bode and Kuhnel plate 108 they show one of the small silk group the pictorial one from the Altman collection now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They write that it is "certainly originated on the court looms of Kashan". They also attribute the rug to the sixteenth century. Bode, Wilhelm Von. and Kuhnel, Ernst. Antique Rugs From The Near East. They fail to mention that there is not one shred of evidence to support court looms in Kashan in the sixteenth century.

There is some evidence that Kashan produced village carpets in the seventeenth century. Helfgott, L.M. Ties That Bind page 71.- 72.

Eduord Reichart found workshops producing silk carpets in Kashan in the early 1860s. These shops produced carpets for the Qajar court. Helfgott, L.M. Ties That Bind page 211.

After 1873 carpet production increased in kashan. Helfgott, L.M. Ties That Bind page 136.

Kashan became a major carpet center 1870 - 1914. Helfgott, L.M. Ties That Bind page 198.

In the 1890s Ziegler expanded to Tabriz and Kashan. Helfgott, L.M. Ties That Bind page 198.

Murdoch Smith listed Kashan as a center of silk carpet weaving as well as copper engraving circa 1880. Helfgott, L.M. Ties That Bind page 134 - 135.

Kashan is the best of the Perisan rugs with the "closest and finest woven texture and usually have a concentric medalion pattern. Hawley, Walter A. Oriental Rugs Antique and Modern.1913 pages 285 - 286

Kashans have a "short velvety nap; dark rich colours; fields of graceful foliated stalks and floral forms resting on concentric medallions" with a "fine firm texture of weave" "running Latchhook" guards and blue wefts.Hawley, Walter A. Oriental Rugs Antique and Modern.1913 pages 288

Kashans were made in a "Work house" system by 1913 Hawley, Walter A. Oriental Rugs Antique and Modern.1913 pages 306.

Olsder Kashans gennerally range fro 200 to 250 kpsi. Ford P.R.J. Oriental Carpet Design page 295.

Ford P.R.J. Oriental Carpet Design

Visit Jozan.net - Keshan, OldCarpet.com - Kashan and Persian Carpets













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