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Relax the Natural Way on a Persian Gabbeh Rug

Aug 18, 2007
The 21st century has had its impact on the human civilization; we are more and more concerned about work, money and jobs, and we forget about the comfort of our home. For those of you who still remember the pleasure of relaxing in your own space, the people of Qashqai have a solution to your problems: a Persian Gabbeh rug, where the originality and simplicity of the Middle East can come right under your feet!

A Persian Gabbeh rug is made by the Qashqai pastoral nomad tribe in southwestern Iran. They move with their sheep and goats around the city of Shiraz, to the north and to the south, in the Zagros Mountains, every winter and summer and they do this every year, no exception, to provide their animals with food. They travel up to 450 km per year on the most difficult route in Iran and each year the Qashqai families shear the sheep (a special breed which gives a particular kind of wool), they spin the wool and make yarns then they collect plants and herbs and make dyes; all 100% natural and they have done this for 2,300 years to make long pile rugs most of them to sleep on. You can surely draw the conclusion that they extremely comfortable, however, besides being very functional, a Persian Gabbeh rug will always represent a work of art.

The word 'Gabbeh' means unchanged, rough, natural, and this is exactly what these rugs are. Lots of designers say that a Persian Gabbeh rug is a form of naive art, because of its simplicity of patterns and colors. Qashqai nomads weave in patterns which resemble what they see around them; animals and humans, but in very simple geometrical forms; abstract patterns, rectangular objects or stripes can be found too. They are usually in bright colors of yellow, blue, red and light green to enliven their temporary homes and mirror the nomads' imagination, therefore each of them are unique depictions of their workmanship.

Qashqai people use ergonomic horizontal looms which are suited to their always-moving life and the results are very thick (sometimes an inch deep), hard rugs, but very soft to the touch. Although the knot density is relatively small (the knot is symmetric Turkish), the pile is very thick, also some of them are flat-woven (for instance, Gabbeh Sumak and Baluch Sumak types). A Persian Gabbeh rug is dyed with natural colors, which are made after ancient recipes which involve roots and plants such as walnut husks, pomegranate skin, madder root and indigo. Many Gabbeh rugs seem dyed unevenly, but this is the result of the home-made colors which adhere differently to the wool yarns, nevertheless, this is what gives them their original rustic appearance so popular today, for all the recipes and techniques represent their cultural legacy and are unique in the world.

A Persian Gabbeh rug is extremely durable, so as time passes and with proper care, it can even grow more beautiful. It is recommended that you put an underlay between the floor and the Persian Gabbeh rug to avoid unnecessary erosion, you should also try to rotate the rug so as sunlight doesn't affect the natural dye and finally avoid the accumulation of dirt, which can make the threads of the pile rot. Unfortunately countries like India, China, and Pakistan produce counterfeit carpets which are dyed chemically and produced industrially; these can be damaged more easily and are prone to rapid degradation.

In conclusion, a Persian Gabbeh rug is the perfect carpet for those who love the purity, originality and unspoiled traditions of this almost primitive people.
About the Author
Arnold Hexden is known for his interesting articles on many subjects.You can read more about antique and Persian rugs on his website: The Antique Rugs Review and Directory which is at http://www.dreamantiquerugs.com.
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