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Decoding Esfahan Rugs- The Flavor of ‘Enchanted City’

An Esfahan Rug is not just something that covers your floor, it is in fact a work of art. My quest for these marvelous pieces began when I got the keys to my first apartment as buying the perfect rug for my floor was amongst the most important things that I needed to decorate my home. Now, the reason for my ardent inclination towards Esfahan Rugs can be traced back to my childhood, when I would visit my grandparents: their house always full of friends, family and relatives and the floor always adorned with beautiful Persian rugs. Thinking about an authentic oriental, Persian rug conjures memories of our extended family gathered together, having those cozy meals, sometimes on the floor with a soft, warm rug providing unmatched comfort. This is the kind of atmosphere that I wanted for my new apartment, a home that welcomes all and flooring that becomes the point of conversation.


Isfahan Rugs



It is amazing how I distinctly remember the bold circular central medallion set against a background of floral motifs and an intricately tinkling vine palmette of my grandfather’s rug. This quintessential central medallion is inspired from the famous mosque of Shah Lutf Allah in Isfahan, I am told. It was beyond doubt that I needed an Esfahan rug for my floor as these rugs are at the pinnacle of the Persian rug industry. Given my persistent encounters with some of the finest rugs since childhood, I had some basic insights into the world of these hand knotted beauties. However to buy the perfect Esfahan Rug I still needed a lot of research and groundwork. My father used to tell me that grandpa was so particular about the rug he was buying that he would scratch the back of the rug before making the purchase as handmade rugs have many secrets hidden at the back- right from the intricacy of the weaving to the knot count per square meter. As I dug deeper into the world of Esfahan rugs I got to know about the city that produces these wonderful rugs, rendering them their enchanted flavor.

Understanding the Enchanted City

The city of Isfahan lies in the middle of Iran with Zagros Mountains to the left and the desert to the right. An important industrial center today, Isfahan has been recognized as one of the finest cities of the Islamic world architecturally. The old bridge, great Imam square and the parks render the city its oriental essence, which is in turn reflected in all the offerings from Isfahan, including the rugs. If you own an Isfahan, you own a truly oriental rug with a mystic and ever mesmerizing aura. Keeping this in mind, I explored the city to find the best place to buy Esfahan Rugs and came across names such as Seirafian, Haghighi, Enteshar and Davari, having earned a good reputation as rug specialists. My quest involved lengthy conversations with these makers to understand the rug better, thereby gaining insight into what an ‘Isfahan’ is all about and here is what I found out.

Entwined in an ‘Esfahan’

Carpets from the city of Isfahan have their own distinction when it comes to the composition of designs, materials and patterns. The highest quality wool, often Kurk wool or silk, is used for making the pile. These rugs are characterized by high knot density, the knots being asymmetrical and most times made on a silk warp. A high knot count of around 120 KPSI up to 842 KPSI is achieved by using premium wool sheared from the chest and shoulders of lambs. Detailed accents with metallic and silk fibers have become hallmarks of carpets from Isfahan. When buying an Esfahan, you will come across pictorial scenes, medallions and curvilinear arabesques with spiraling vine-scrolls.

Timeless elegance that will stay with you for generations

Handmade Esfahan rugs have some imperfections, but that is where all the charm lies. Any handmade thing is bound to be asymmetric, with some inadequacies if you like, but this is precisely what makes each handmade rug unique. Characterized by rich colors, Isfahan rugs are most commonly found in ivory backgrounds with rose, blue and indigo motifs. An Esfahan rug is not just an option to cover the floor, but an investment with great resale value. So, to avoid blowing a fortune on an “authentic” Esfahan rug that is essentially a replica, find a reputable dealer who does not sell rugs but understands them, loves them. One small tip that I can pass on from my personal experience — keep away from the person who tries to ‘sell’ you a rug.

The legacy of Esfahan Rugs endures still, as master weavers continue to create timeless heirloom rugs. Setting out to find the right rug is a journey that should not be rushed as this is something that will adorn your floors for not years but generations. These masterpieces are not meant to be hidden away in vaults, but lavishly displayed in your heaven for everybody to admire and appreciate.

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