Qashqai carpets are knotted by the nomadic Qashqai tribes of the mountainous highlands of Southwestern Iran. These nomad and today mostly semi-nomadic shepherds and weavers have for centuries resided in the provinces of Fars, Khuzestan and Southern Isfahan. Today the vast majority are mostly centred in the surrounding area of Shiraz, once the centre of the Persian Empire. Historically the Qashqai (also Gashghai, Kashgai, Gaschgai) tribes migrated twice a year between their winter pastures near the Persian Gulf and the summer pastures up in the cooler Zagros mountains. Carpets and the art of carpet making as well as that of kilims, bags, saddle bags, tents, ribbons and other woven ornaments are a prominent part of nomadic heritage and culture. Today these decorations are greatly appreciated and can be found adorning many modern homes around the world.
Qashqai carpets are made using the wool and hair from the tribe’s own flock of sheep, goats and horses and many of the distinct patterns are still woven from memory, an art passed down from generation to generation. The carpets are woven on horizontal looms where the weaver typically sits on the already woven part of the carpet during the weaving process. Qashqai carpets are found in many stunning eye-catching artistic combinations that reflect a nomadic lifestyle and typically come in a warm red-brown colour. The carpets are very durable, and due to the practicality of the darker colours, they are not dirt sensitive, making them a great choice when decorating traficated areas such as entrances, kitchens and hallways.
The patterns often feature beautiful medallions and depict scenes from every-day life with representations of birds, flowers, trees, stylized humans and four legged animals. The weavers also fetch inspiration from the frescoes and columns of Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia at the time of the Achmenids. The carpets are knotted with good quality raw material and the fact that they tend to be more coarsely woven with a knot density of up to around 180,000 knots per square metre is not a sign of poor quality, but rather one of quicker and more efficient production.
Qashqai carpets are extremely robust and their less detailed patterns and more primitive look make them very popular around the world. Today a growing number of Qashqai carpets are being knotted for commercial use by semi nomadic weavers and finding a genuine ”old time” Qashqai is hard.