Afshars are handknotted Persian carpets made by the nomadic tribes of Afshar on ground looms utilizing wool or cotton warps and wool wefts with a single thread between the rows of knots. The piles are made of wool and there are between 40 to 105 Turkish knots per square inch. Afshars that are knotted in villages are created on vertical looms where both the warp and weft are in cotton, the knot is Persian, and the density is between 40 and 100 knots per square inch. In common with most other nomadic groups, the Afshar make very few large items, and the most frequently encountered items are of dozar and zaromin size (8’ x 5’/6’ and 6’ x 4’).
The Afshar tribe originated in Azerbaijan, a region to the north of Iran inhabited by Turks. During the reign of Shah Tahmasp (1524-1587) the Afshar tribe was driven south into the zone it now occupies in an attempt to diffuse their warlike tendencies, and a distinct Azerbaijan and Caucasian influence is still discernible in their design. As centuries passed, the Afshar rugs also came under the influence of designs used by the craftsmen of Kerman and by the neighbouring Fars tribe, and for this reason the decoration of Afshars are varied. The most common types of Afshar rugs are:
AFSHAR DEHAJ – The decoration of these carpets consists of large geometric boteh motifs. These boteh cover the whole field of the rug.
AFSHAR MORGI – Morgi in Persian means chicken. These Afshars are decorated by a repeating geometric motif resembling a chicken which covers the whole field of the carpet. This is far and away the most original and interesting Afshar decoration.
DIAMOND AFSHAR – These Afshars are decorated with motifs taken from those used for Shirazs and Ghachgais. Usually there are two diamonds, or, more rarely, one or three. The whole field is tightly packed with small designs which often reveal the floral influence of nearby Kerman.
FLORAL AFSHAR – These specimens are woven in villages near Kerman and the designs are inspired by the carpets from that town. The decoration is therefore floral, almost always in repeating motifs, rarely with a central medallion.
The most commonly found ground colours in Afshar carpets are ivory and bright red. These two colours also occur in the designs along with light and dark blue, and yellow. As is often the case in Persian carpets, the borders are limited in proportion to the whole carpet. They are classic borders with a central band and two flanking guards. The serrated-leaf border is quite common in Afshar Dehajs. This demonstrates once again the northerly origin of the Afshar tribe. The other motifs often include a decoration formed by a succession of diamond shapes in different sizes.
The price range of Afshar carpets are: LOW/MEDIUM
Afshars are generally considered among the finest examples of nomadic weaving emanating from the south-east region of Persia. The diversity and inventiveness of their designs is legendary, and the finest Afshars possess an unparelleled primitive majesty. Afshars are exceptionally good buys, and the better, more finely knotted examples can almost be guaranteed to become collectables in the future. As with all oriental rugs, this is less true of poorer quality items, but nevertheless, all Afshars can be considered reasonably good investments.