Woven for centuries Gabbeh are tribal rugs woven in the south central Zagros mountain range and their plains.
In Farsi (the language of Persia), the word Gabbeh means something raw or natural, uncut or “in the rough”. Gabbeh are the world’s best-known coarsely woven Iranian tribal rugs. Traditionally, the knotting and weaving of nomadic carpets are a woman’s domain and area of expertise. True nomadic rugs such as the Gabbeh are almost exclusively knotted for personal use, and often the woman’s spirit and natural artisanship are quite apparent in these personal interpretations of their life in art.
Gabbeh rugs are very thick pile, woven in a relatively low knot density. Designs are typically geometric and symbolic in shape and style. Gabbeh weavers may be telling a story, depicting a landscape or scene, or even conveying an emotion. Most commonly Gabbeh will be asymmetric and woven to tell a story, with figures and symbols depicting parts of the weaver’s “tale”. It is this subjective and random process that renders a genuine Gabbeh a completely unique work of art, distinct from other Persian rugs and from many other types of weaving or knotting in general.
Beware “knock-offs” from Turkey, India, China and Egypt, to name a few… these cheap imitations are not always handmade, and usually contain inferior wool and chemical dyes on a cotton foundation. You can usually tell by the white fringe that the rug’s a cotton-foundation knock-off.