|See my other Arak
Rugs: Sarouk/Sarough Rugs Guide
In the US we think of Arak as the area Sarouk Persian carpets come from.
Rug weaving was traditional in Arak.
To try and set a beginning date for rugs from Arak is nearly
impossible. It is likely that it dates back easily hundreds and more
likely thousands of years. However there is a very distinct commercial
era that we can track. Circa 1875 Persian carpet merchants from Tabriz began to organize
commercial production for the export market. It is the shift from
traditional Persian handicrafts to carpets specifically designed for
the European market that is significant here.
Note long after the Tabriz
merchants began doing business European companies such as Hotz and Son
and Ginskey and Reichart the precursor to Ziegler and Co. set up shop.
By 1883 Ziegler bought out Ginskey and Reichart and revolutionized the
As I look though Mahal Persian carpets I see three
separate design trends. There is a clear European/Ziegler influence.
These typically have a non-traditional interpretation of a traditional
Persian design. There there is the Tabriz
influence, carpets that seem close to Tabriz
carpets of the era. The final group is the more traditional Central
Persian designs such as we see immediately to the right. keep in mind
that many of the women who worked in Ziegler's factory went home at
night to weave on their own.
Mahal prayer rug C. 1900 lot 419
Camel and Lion Mahal carpet C. 1890 lot 122
|The 1870s and 1880s were a time of upheaval in
Persia. The Qajar Shahs were granting all sorts of franchises to
operate businesses in Persia
to European companies. At the same time the Europeans were seeking to
buy the art and religious treasures of Persia
on which the Persians placed relatively little value. The looting was
so bad that what is now England's Victoria & Albert museum
contracted with men to loot Persian
art and Islamic religious items. Men who would be aghast at someone
stealing from an English church were paying people to loot treasures
from Islamic mosques.
As the treasures of Persia
passed through the hands of the European merchants they were used as
models for the carpet designs. Immediately to the left we see a carpet
that uses camels drawn in the style of 15th century Persian masters
such as Bihzad.
Rhinoceroses, and Camels
This is typical of the European designers. They
take a Safavid camel and put it in with other art. The lions head is typical of Persian
village rugs. The floral forms are derivative of Persian but different.
Ziegler Rugs of Arak - In 1883, Ziegler and Co., of Manchester,
England, established a Persian carpet manufacture in Sultanabad (now
Arak), Iran, employing designers from major Western department stores,
like B. Altman and Liberty of London, to modify fanciful 16th- and
17th-century Eastern designs for the more restrained Western taste.
Using highly developed dying techniques (which Ziegler futilely
attempted to copyright) and the best artisans from the region, Ziegler
created rugs with bold, allover patterns and with softer palettes than
their vibrant Persian counterparts. Ziegler rugs developed an almost
immediate following, especially among newly monied Western
industrialists; early collectors included the Guinness family, the
owners of the stout-beer manufacture, who laid them in Elveden Hall,
their Suffolk, England, estate. http://www.farsinet.com/arak/
The key to understanding Ziegler Mahal carpet is that Ziegler organized
production on their own looms with their own designs. Ziegler designers
started with the standard Persian designs such as forked tendrils,
palmettes, and rosettes and then adapted them for the European market. .
of the Imam Reza Collection Mahal
From the collection of the
Mosque of the Imam Reza:
This is a Mahal Carpet. Mahal is a grade
of Sarouk that is thinner than an American Sarouk. This is one of the
rugs deaccessioned from the collection of the Mosque of the Imam Reza
when the Mosque sold off pieces of it's collection to raise funds.
Sarouk Rug, Arak Area, Persia/Iran.
Size: All sizes made. carpet sizes
are more common.
Structure: Asymmetrical knot open to
the left. Ranges from 60 to 150 knots per square inch.
Yarn Spin: Z.
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
Selvages: 1 cord plain wool.
Handle: Medium. American Sarouk rugs
have a heavier handle while Feraghan Sarouk and Mahals have a
thinner suppler handle.
Mahal carpets sorted by approximate
& Articles - Sources on Sarouk Rugs:
Barry O'Connell 2004 - 2006.
April 04, 2010.
For Further Reading:
Thanks and best wishes,
J. Barry O'Connell Jr.
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