In the heart of Iran, at the foot of the Zagros mountains and the desert to the right lies the city of Isfahan, the former capital of Persia during the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736). Often said to be the most elegant and beautiful city in the entire country, it is also home to some of the country’s top master weavers and some of the most exquisite examples of Persian carpet craftmanship comes from Isfahan. A large number of workshops can be found in and around the city, many of them enjoying a worldly reputation such as Davari, Enteshar, Haghighi and Seirafian.
A rich history in carpet production, with carpets made exclusively for nobles and elites, the city reached its pinnacle during the Safavid dynasty and particularly under Shah Abbas’ rule (1587-1629). The powerful Shah Abbas was a great believer and appreciator of art and architecture and under his rule there was a renaissance of art throughout Persia, centering around the city of Isfahan. To this day the city is world widely known for its incredible architecture, majestic palaces such as the Ali Qapo Palace, stunning mosques such as the Emam mosque thought by many to be the finest in the country as well as other intricate artwork.
For a visitor to the city of Isfahan, it is easy to understand the essence of the 16th century Persian proverb ”Isfahan nesf-e-jahan – Isfahan is half the world.” Carpets from Isfahan are considered to be among the finest and most sophisticated of all Persian carpets. Characterized by a knot density of 650,000 knots per square metre and upwards, the carpets are made using high quality wool and silk and feature intricate detailed patterns. They are excellent works of craftmanship, only possible to create by the most talented and experienced of weavers. Isfahan carpets are very finely knotted and clipped rather short in order for the pattern to feature more prominently. Silk is used to accentuate certain details such as floral patterns and the warp can be of either silk or cotton.
Isfahan carpets are usually quality marked with ”khefts” on the fringes on the backside of the carpet. The number of different coloured warp threads are seen in even intervals and counted over a span of 1 metre they vary between 7 to 16. The higher the number of threads the finer and higher knot density the carpet has.