Antique Sultanabad Rugs and Carpets Guide
Sultanabad is the old name for the city of Arak. In terms of classification Sultanabad carpets tend to be a low quality Sarouk type rug.
This has nothing to do with their desirability in the marketplace. For instance on April 7,1999 at Sotheby's New York a Sultanabad carpet, estimated at 80,000—120,000 USD reached a hammer price with buyer's premium of $205,134.00 USD.
3 Important Looks Sultanabad Rugs from when they were new.
Sultanabad.—In its practical phase the whole enormous rug industry of the province of Feraghan itself and much of that of the surrounding territory centres in Sultanabad. It is the carpet headquarters of the European firm which controls so large a part of the weaving business of this section of Persia. Aside from the old designs and the modifications of them to which reference has been made above, the Sultanabad carpets are the conceits of European and American designers, working, in a way, on the old Persian models, but changing the colors and supplying such additions as seem likely to meet capricious demands. The regulation grades are heavy carpets of the same sizes as those made in Ghiordes and Oushak, but rather superior to those in quality. In the American markets the Sultanabads are often called "Savalans," after the range of mountains which towers to the north of the district. In the wholesale trade they are classed as "Extra Modern Persians." The designs of this order are known to the weavers as tereh Lemsa. The groundwork is usually of a pale yellowish cast, and the patterns, vines, flowers and the like, are boldly drawn, in stable shades of red, blue and green. The general effect is brilliant and the carpets have on the whole given satisfaction. Harsh criticism has been passed on the Sultanabad enterprise, in various quarters, on the ground that it had urged the weavers to hasty work and by confining them strictly to the designs placed in their hands had substituted European ideas for the "spontaneous originality" which in times past has been the greatest charm of all Oriental art. On the other hand it may be, and is, contended that the Persian populace, having little or no means to prosecute the work of carpet-making, would have been forced to forget its craft entirely if some competent agency had not intervened to supply the necessary materials and support. In this measure, at least, concerns of this sort have been conservative forces and the employment which they have afforded has without question kept life in the body of many a poverty-stricken Persian who otherwise would long ago have surrendered in the struggle for the wretched bread of the country.
Oriental rugs by John Kimberly Mumford3rd Edition C. Scribner's Sons, 1902
Conditions which seemed to justify Heriz weavers adopting other names to distinguish different qualities find exact repetition here. Sultanabad and Mushkabad rugs are practically the same, only the latter are very much closer woven and have more artistic colorings and designs, somewhat resembling Saruks in quality.
The rug-weaving in Sultanabad is an organized industry, few merchants controlling it. Expert rug-weavers from all surrounding districts have been hired to work on looms already prepared, and are furnished all necessary materials and designs for weaving the rugs. In this way, although the rugs produced are denied the personal and original ideas and eccentricities of the native weavers as displayed in antique rugs, still, strangely enough, Sultanabad carpets have retained their Orientalism in every respect.
The warp and weft are of cotton. The wool used in them is of splendid quality, and the colors are strictly vegetable and fast. The designs are copied from all the old Persian patterns. Sometimes a special type is copied exactly; then again, certain features of several types are combined, so that the original Iranian ideas are carried all through. The Feraghan pattern in all its variations is often seen. They come in all desirable colors, and are woven in large square sizes, varying from 8 to 15 feet in width by 10 to 20 feet in length; sometimes even a little larger. They can be woven, however, in any size, almost, desired. For medium-priced Persian carpets, Sultanabad, especially the Mushkabad quality, is worthy of recommendation.
Art panels from the hand looms of the far Orient: as seen by a native rug weaver, Garabed T. Pushman 3rd Edition R. R. Donnelley& sons company, 1902
SULTANABADS. — Southeastward from the plain of Feraghan is the city of Sultanabad, which in recent years has become important as the centre of a great rug industry controlled by Europeans and Americans. Higher prices, resulting from the constantly increasing Western demand for Persian rugs, have stimulated the native weavers to more persistent efforts. Those who are too poor to purchase wool and dyes * are supplied by the companies. Others, who are more dependent, are paid regular wages. Thus it happens that not only large numbers of looms are constantly at work in the city, but a hundred hamlets and villages that lie within a day's journey produce rugs that are marketed there. But while the output has been increased the true artistic spirit has been suppressed, and patterns favoured or supplied by foreign purchasers only are in demand. Most of the rugs are well woven, though there is a difference in grades. Some take the name of the city, others are called Savalans, from a range of mountains that he to the north, and others are known as Mahals. Most of them are large pieces, rather coarsely woven.
ORIENTAL RUGS: ANTIQUE AND MODERN
BY WALTER AUGUSTUS HAWLEY,
JOHN LANE COMPANY, 1913