Persian Rugs: Guide to Bakhshaish Rugs and Carpets
Bakhshaish was a Khanate in the Khajar Dynasty perion of Iranian history. Bakhshaish the old name of the area of the province of Azarbayjan-e Sharqi that runs from Lake Urumia to Heriz. Now the region is called Heriz and Bakhshaish is called Kovanaq.
Through the 19th century border wars between Persia and Russian would send waves of Moslems south and Christian Armenians north. Bakhshaish is one of the first areas in the Mount Sabalan Persian Azerbaijan area to begin production of Carpet size. Sotheby's has attributed two carpets to 1800; Sotheby's Bakshaish Rug circa 1800 Lot 106 and Sotheby's Bakshaish Carpet c. 1800 lot 177. Which pre-date the next oldest by 75 years. It is easy to see the 1800s dates as adventurous but it may just as well be that other dates are conservative. Most Bakhshaish are attributed to circa 1880 and it is very improbable that all the rugs dated circa 1880 were made then. As Harold Keshishian used to say in his textile Museum Lectures, "They can't all be made in 1875, some must be older".
Heinrich Jacoby the great German Rug Expert who ran PETAG wrote in 1949 that Heriz Rugs and Bakshaish rugs could be distinguished from similar rugs elsewhere in Persia by their "soft coloring" which he attributed to the local water. It is very possible that the coloration is influenced by the copper in the ground water in the greater Heriz region. Jacoby also mentioned that Gorevans and Bakshaish carpets were coarser than Heriz Carpets and that they had large wefts almost the size of the warps but Heriz used thick warps with much thinner wefts
Another high quality old type from the Heriz area is the 'Bakhshaish'. This medium-sized village may deserve its reputation, if only because it has been acknowledged as a center of excellence for so long. But the range of weavings described as Bakhshaish is too broad to have come from one village. Many so-called Bakhshaish carpets are predominantly camel-colored, and I believe that a large proportion of these weavings also come from Sarab, which is larger, has more weavers, and has about the same access to herds of camel-colored sheep. Other carpets ascribed to Bakhshaish are so flashy and sophisticated that it is hard to imagine that they were woven in such an isolated village. I suspect that much early Bakhshaish export weaving is camel colored, almost always on a cotton foundation, with shorter pile than Sarabs, and knots not packed so tightly. Since there are more Bakhshaish-style export carpets with woolen warps - an indication of earlier production - it is possible that large-format weaving was started there before elsewhere in rural East Azarbayjan. R. Tschebull on Bakhshaish Carpets
Rug Size Examples
In the US rug and carpet are used interchangebly and rug is more commonly used for all sizes. In England larger than two suare meters is a carpet an smaller is a rug. I am thuroughly American so I am more likely to say rug. That being said most Bakshaish are carpet size and can be very large compared to most of what is woven. Smaller sizes or rug sizes are rathr unusual. I estimate only about one percent of the Antique Bakshaish Persian Rugs that I have seen are in rug sizes.