A rare inscribed antique Bidjar rug featuring a well articulated version of the classic Harshang design. Antique Persian rugs have terminology relating to their respective size. Rugs larger than 3 x 5 but smaller than 4 x 6 are referred to as “Zaronim” size rugs; whereas rugs larger than 4 x 6 but smaller than 5 x 7 are called “Dozar” size. For whatever market reasons that must have been prevailing in the last quarter of the 19th century, the finest examples of Zaronim rugs are almost never at the level of their Dozar counterparts. This general principle applies to a wide range of styles, including Fereghan Sarouk, Mohtashem Keshan and Heriz rugs, as well as Bidjars. That said, this very fine example is arguably the best Zaronim size Bidjar we have ever had. The inscription appears to read “Congratulations”, suggesting it was woven for a wedding or another important occasion.
The Harshang design that decorates the navy field of this exceptional piece is among the most interesting and beautiful of classic Persian formats, as it features an array of palmettes and flowerheads. The range of colors in this piece is remarkable, with sky blue, green, yellow, coral, persimmon, ivory, camel and brick red contrasting beautifully with the navy blue field.
Typically, the interior and exterior guard borders that frame a major border are of similar design and/or color. Here, the yellow interior guard border features an abstract, geometric design, while the sky blue exterior border features a more curvilinear scrolling vine.
One of the most important distinguishing features in this rug is the inclusion of a very rare central panel that contains what is probably the famous Dragon and Phoenix design; though, while the Dragon is clearly a Dragon, the Phoenix sure looks like a Cat.
A world class antique Bidjar rug.
Private collection Rhode Island
Antique Bidjar rugs were woven in the province of Kurdistan in northwest Persia. Often referred to as “The Iron Rug of Persia”, Bidjar rugs are notable for their densely packed construction which generally features two, three or even four weft (horizontal foundation) threads that are compressed during the weaving process. This results in a stacked (double knotted) weave that is dense, although not necessarily stiff, and results in a very durable textile. Bidjar rugs from the second half of the 19th century are typically woven utilizing wool warp (vertical foundation) threads and wool wefts. Finer examples from the early 20th century tend to be woven on cotton warps, though wool wefts are still sometimes used. More loosely woven pieces that reflect more of a cottage industry style, as opposed to the finer Bidjar workshop rugs and carpets, can feature wool warps and wefts well into the 20th century. The wool in Bidjar rugs tends to be of extremely high quality, a result of using wool from sheep raised in this mountainous area. Natural dyes are typically used through the 1930s, though synthetic reds and pinks can certainly be seen in pieces that appear to be as early as the 1880s. The Bidjar design nomenclature is very broad. The classically (Safavid Dynasty) derived “Herati” design of stylized diamonds, leaves or fish, and small flowers, is the most often seen design in Bidjar rugs, but weavers also used the “Harshang”, “Mina Hani” and “Afshan” designs, as well as dramatic “Open Field” formats. Bidjars rugs can be fairly coarsely woven and quite geometric, or very finely woven and elegant. Since Bidjar is a village, the designs are rarely, if ever, as truly floral and curvilinear as rugs from cities such as Tabriz, Keshan or Isphahan. Regardless of the type of antique rugs and carpets dealers might specialize in from the standpoint of commerce, virtually any dealer who truly appreciates rugs as an art form admires antique Bidjar rugs on a personal level.