Tabriz is one of the most important cities of Iran. It has a population of one and a half millions and is the capital of the province of Eastern Azerbaijan. Like Mashad on the eastern side of Iran, its apparent remoteness belies the fact that when the country was larger it had an important role. Indeed, before World War I, it was Iran’s largest city. Much of the Caucasus belonged to Iran, which was administered from Tabriz. There are remains of mosques from the 15th century, but perhaps the most important landmarks are the bazaars, for trade has always been of great importance in Tabriz. Indeed, its geographical position meant that for a long time goods exported from Iran to Europe went via Tabriz, and the revival of the carpet industry in the 19th century is due largely to Tabriz merchants making carpets for export to Europe.
Tabriz carpets come almost exclusively from the city itself and the majority are woven in production centers where there are quite a large number of looms. Relatively few Tabriz are made in private households. The loom is vertical, often with metal roller beams. The Turkish knot is always used. The warp is of very strong cotton with a double weft. The pile is of wool, which usually comes from the Maku region (on the border of Turkey). This wool is very strong but rather coarse, with the result that the pile, particularly in medium quality carpets, is uneven and rough. High quality Tabriz utilizes silk and wool and the rare Tabriz are 100% silk. The decoration is floral, often with a central medallion. The motifs – flowering branches, shrubs and leaves – are large. In addition to these classic themes, plant and animal motifs also appeared. Specimens decorated with the Herati motifs are far less common. The border is usually composed of three guards and a main band decorated either with a repetition of the ground motifs or with border Herati.