Guide to Mashad Rugs and Carpets
The oldest Mashhad rugs that I know of are a group of prayer rugs that were given by Shah Tahmasp to Suleyman the Magnificent in 1556.
The rugs were made in three grades by the workshop of Sultan Ibrahim Mirza son of Sam Mirza and nephew of Shah Tahmasp. The top grade or Imperial grade was the finest and one of those rugs was in London two years ago and I believe is now in the hands of disgraced art collector Sheikh Saud Al-Thani of Qatar. Several of the second and third grade examples are still in the Topkapi Museum.
In the 19th and 20th centuries Mashhad rugs and carpets were popular items of commerce and were made for domestic use as well as export. At one point the wool was heavily scoured so that it would take dyes better.An unfortunate side affect was that the scouring took all the lanolin out and the carpets did not last as long as other Persian carpets. This created a negative image of Mashhad carpets in some peoples minds. This was exploited by European and American dealers to push rugs made by European firms since the Europeans never made the inroads into Khorasan like they did in other areas this was a popular story. The wear problems are no longer a factor and it is very rare to see a Mashhad carpet with that today. The problem is old enough that the ones that are prone to wear are already worn.
|Saber of Mashad.
The best rugs in the world today are from Iran. If we are to make a short list of the best rugs from Iran we must include Saber of Mashad. Master Ahmad Bazmi now runs the Saber Workshop after the death of Master Abas Ali Saber by agreement with his heirs.
On one of my trips to Iran in 2004 I asked some of the men in the trade about Amoghli which was one of the great Persian Carpet workshops of the 20th Century. Under Ali Khan Amoghli and Abdol Mohammad Amoghli their carpets were favorites under the Pahlavi Shahs particularly Reza Shah. One of the men explained that the workshop was gone but that the Grandsons had a very good carpet cleaning plant in Mashhad
The majority of Mashhad carpets are woven with an asymmetrical knot that may be over 4 warps (Jufti) rather than the more usual two. The carpets are made with a straight weft and then a sinuous weft forcing the foundation on to two levels. Traditionally the colors used include a bluish red that was obtained from insect dyes, first lak and later cochineal.