Persian Kashan Rugs – Kashan, located in the province of Isfahan, Iran, is an oasis village on the western edge of the Great Salt Desert (Dasht-e Kavir). It lies approximately 3000 feet above sea level in the eastern Zagros Mountains north of Kerman.
Situated on the edge of the desert, Kashan experiences seasonally intense heat, winds and bright sunlight. It has served as an important political and artistic center throughout the major periods of Persian history and is regarded as a major weaving center for antique Persian rugs. Kashan is known for not only silk and textiles, but for decorative ceramic tiles.
Although carpets are known to have been made in Kashan since at least the Sassanian Empire, 224 to 642 CE, there are two major periods of carpet production. The first was during the Safavid period in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in royal workshops and commercial weaving centers.
The second was during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries under Qajar rule, primarily for export but also for use by the Persian upper class. Antique Kashan rugs are a specific antique rug style feature an elongated central medallion with a fully-covered field and corner spandrels. Colors tend to be bright, with fields of blue, red and ivory.
Motifs are densely woven, perhaps the most dense of all the carpet styles. Other styles include all-over patterns with boteh, repeats of floral motifs and vase designs. Borders are often stylized floral motifs of palmettes, tulips, rosettes, vines, scrolls and leaves with a central border flanked by two smaller contrasting bands.
In modern times, the Mohtasham name is well known, but very little is known about his origins. It remained a mystery whether or not Mohtasham was simply a trade name, or whether he had actually existed.
There is a legend going around according to which Hadji Mollah Mohammad Hassan Mohtasham of Kashan was a well-to-do businessman, famous for his textiles. However, in the 1880’s business was bad owing to the importing of machine-worked textiles from Europe.
The story goes that Mohtasham had married a young woman from Sultanabad, who had brought with her from her city of origin the ancient tradition of the knotted carpet.
The combination of the colors used coupled with the exceptional condition and the fact that Mohtasham rugs are never found in runner sizes make this a truly rare and magnificent work of art.
What did you imagine as you read that just now? No doubt it was an elegant and refined weaving graced with curvilinear flora that winds its way through and around a commanding medallion. A rug that draws dropped jaws from anyone that beholds its magnificence.
A sea of swirling ruby tones, indigos, sapphires — a rug as bejeweled and becoming as a sultans own palace. The image may seem fantastic, but in truth antique Kashan rugs boast just these types of elements. Rugs from Kashan are some of the finest rugs to emerge from the major Persian weaving centers of old and are synonymous with the quality one would expect from an antique Persian rug.