Joseph Burke, C.R.N. ( Certifiable Rugnut )
With regard to Nains, they are classed in the trade today based on how many threads make up the warp. If one were to take a single strand of the fringe and pull it apart(unravel) one would find either two or three threads in the one strand of fringe.
Continuing, if you break down(unravel) the three threads it would break down to three additional threads (3x3=9) The Farsi word for 9 is Nola (or nohola) thus a nine thread rug,
If the 3 strands broke down into 2 strands each (3x2=6) it is asix thread rug or shisla (or shishla).
If on the other hand you only start with 2 threads and you break each of these down and find they unravel into 2 threads each(2x2=4) you have a charla (or sharla). Clearly a charla will be a finer warp and thus allow a higher knot count than a nola or a shisla. So charla are the finest Nains, nola are middle grade, and the lowest grade are shisla.
Simply, put, the fewer the threads the finer the rug. It is a quick way to describe the relative quality among rugs from Nain. Not many folks over here use the convention but in the middle east it is the only way the Nain's are described. There are different quality levels within each group- so- at the end of the day knot count comes into play - although over there, knot count is only one of many factors used to evaluate a rug.
If the Nain has a silk foundation instead of cotton, then it is usually always a nola but - size for size, priced somewhere closer to a shishla.
Nain is a city in Iran. They didn't start weaving until the 1930's, hence no antique Nains. They are woven on cotton foundations, with silk and wool pile.
The designs are based on the Isfahan patterns, a city which is in close proximity. Most of the production of Nain comes from workshops, the most famous being Habibian.
Note--this isn't a "master weaver" signature, but the workshop name. There other workshops as well, Mohammedi being another high quality name. Nains are usually exported in three grades: Sharla, Shishla, and Nowhla, though lower grades are occasionally found.
Sharla consist of 3-ply warps, each ply being very fine, with approx 675 KPSI; shishla is also 3-ply, but the plys are noticeably thicker, and KPSI is from 625-675; nowhla grade is 6-ply, with a KPSI around 575-625. With Nains, as in most city carpets, KPSI, along with quantity of colors, quantity of silk, and complexity of design, all contribute to the grade of the carpet.
Habibian Nains are the recognized best of all Nain carpets; real ones are rare, as production only amounts to about 300-325 per year. Most of those go to the Gulf States or to wealthy Iranians--few make it to the open market. Real ones are always signed, have unusual designs, sizes and color combinations, use only the finest New Zealand wool, and are never below Sharla grade"
This was quoted from my Old RugNotes discussion board but I do not know who authored it. If anyone can claim it let me know.
Wali - Allah Shahr'i is a well-known Na'in artist born in 1938. Initially trained in Isfahan under Master Ahmad Archang, ther famous Isfahani designer, he later set up his own workshop in Na'in and has been working there since 1960. He speaks affectionately of his mother who, herself was a carpet weaver, taught him a love for carpet at the early stages of his life.
Presently, her daughter helps him in sketching designs. Among his other assistants are the Mohseni brothers, which are his brother in law. They help him with dot-painting the sketch. Shar'i's skill in drawing overall corner-medallion, Shah-Abbasi, and animal-forest patterns is widely acknowledged and his designs are woven onto high-value carpets.
Reza Yusefpour born in 1939, has spent over 40 years in his profession. He has extensive skills in designs of Isfahani origin and his designs are used on the carpets made in Habibian workshop - a leading carpet producer in Na'in. Yusefpour has an assistant for dot-painting the sketches. His other assistants work in another workshop beside Habibian's old but charming house that also includes dyeing and darning.
Nain production is noted for the products of the Master Workshops. The Masters or Ustads include:
Iain Stewart on Tudesh
As far as Toodesh (or Tudesh, or even Tudeshk) goes,
these are, as already pointed out, Nain carpets of
notably exceptional quality. They are regarded by some as
among the earliest of Nain production - which means from
1917-1928 (the *very* earliest period, examples of which
are rare to the point of non-existence) or, much more
likely, from the period from 1928 - 1939, after the
establishment of a second art school in Nain in 1928.
This is generally considered the great period of Nain
production, when ustads (carpet masters) like Habibian
and others first began, and created their best work.
Your photos would tie in with a dating to the 1930's period, in which case they fall within the first Nain period referred to by Edwards in 'The Persian Carpet' (London 1953) page 314, when a basic quality of 22 x 22 knots to the inch (484 per square inch) made these early Nains among the finest Persian carpets of this great period of Persian workshop creativity (i.e. approx 1928-1945).
As other top items of this period - i.e. those made for the new rich of Reza Pahlavi's reign, not for export, and represented at their peak by certain works from Tehran and Qum that rivalled many sixteenth and seventeenth century Safavid court carpets in opulence and purity - achieved considerably higher knot counts in both silk and silk/wool constructions, and as I have seen two or three Habibians from this time with counts in the 25 x 25 knots per inch range, your figure of 725-775 knots per square inch is not inconceivable, although I must agree with Barry O'Connell that it seems a tad on the high side, and your photo of the back of your piece does not look anything like this level of quality (which is approaching that of the finest 'real' Serafian Isfahans of 1000 knots per sq. inch, where you can hardly see the knots at all from the back, and need a *very* strong loop to count them!)
Souresrafil, Shirin. The Great Carpet Designers of Iran. Tehran: Soroush Press, 1992
Very fine Nain rugs are made in Biabanak.
Thanks and best wishes,
J. Barry O'Connell Jr.