Sunday, May 11, 2008

Arak Rugs: Arak Rug Art of Powerful Hands

Arak Rug Art of Powerful Hands
Arak province has a long history in carpet weaving. According to historical evidence and local situation of this province, carpet weaving in certain parts, like Sarough, Farahan, Saraband and Moradabad dates back to ancient times.
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According to Caroun website, after the Sassanid era, the carpet weaving was neglected for many centuries. Due to such negligence and also because of continuous wars in central regions of Iran, no authentic information on establishment of big workshops and important carpets is available.
In the middle of Nassereddin Shah’s reign, Arak rugs had a perceptible presence, so rugs of this region were known all over the world.
As Arak is near Qom, Kashan, Isfahan and Hamedan, designers and weavers of Kashan, Kerman and Isfahan have directly taken part in reviving Arak carpet weaving some native patterns of those regions can be seen in Arak rugs.
In 1875 (during Nassereddin Shah’s era) for the first time, Tabriz businessmen exported products from Arak and its counties.
Historical references show that people of Arak were experts in preparing dyes, dyeing and weaving carpets until the beginning of the 20th century. In Europe, fine rugs of Iran are known as ’Sarough’ (after a region in Arak).
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Particularities and Materials
Arak rug is coarse and well-known for its native-regional characteristics and based on the use of wool, dye, plain and mostly rustic designs. It is noteworthy that coarse rug is thick with long and resistance piles that make it suitable for elasticity. Such quality of Arak rug makes it suitable for cold and mountainous regions of Markazi province.
The basic characteristics of Arak rug are that it uses native wool, hand-spun yarns, local dyes and traditional dyeing methods.
Ancient rugs of Moshkabad (in Markazi province), are well-known for their durability all over the world. It goes without saying that the fame of Arak rug is attributed to dyeing methods and making use from basic designs. However, the most important characteristic of Arak rug is related to making use from long and elastic wool. Such quality is seen in quality rugs of Sarough type (Farahan region).
Wool used in these rugs is mostly fine Iranian wool with long, thick and special crimp which is spun by hand or by common spinning wheel.
Such kinds of wool have been supplied from Sabzevar, Boroujerd, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari, Hamedan and Kermanshah regions which have the best quality rugs.
Arak rugs are categorized in three groups: Mahal, Moshkabad and Sarough, which are all influenced by a rug named “Sarough“.
There are many different reasons for the high quality of Arak rugs, including numerous native sheep. This wool has all specifications which are required for carpet, like long crimp, thickness and fine elasticity, as well as softness.
Dye and Color
While using colorful dyes in rugs has a positive impact, it must be mentioned which Arak rugs had become well-known for its colors.
Most ancient rugs of Sarough with its famous milky color, Farahan rugs with splendid blue color and Moshkabad rugs with its famous wool have been exported to world markets and now are found in museums and private collections.
Traditional natural and herbal dyes are mostly used in Arak. Cochineal, a colorful insect, which is used as a dye, or azure, which is extracted from cobalt or mine stones.
All of these colors, Farahan’s blue, Moshkabad’s azure or Sarough’s milky-red, are well-known in this region. Green and yellowish cream colors obtained from rich compounds of herbs and walnut shell, vine leaf, pomegranate shell dyes, each has a valuable share in dyeing. Fame of well-known ’Sarough Rug’, like other ancient rugs of this region, is attributed to the use of traditional herbal dyes.

Weaving
If top marks are given to design, dye and use of basic materials in quality and desirability of ancient rugs, the next important parameter will be correct and adequate weaving to preserve reasonable standards of size and knots.

Designs and Images
Apparently, fame of traditional herbal dyeing has been the main reason behind attractiveness of Arak rugs. It would be na•ve to relate weaving of the past to limited dyes (though of best quality). Most attractiveness and fame of ancient Farahan region and Sarough, even Arak rugs is found in local characteristics, as well as design patterns and pictures of such rugs.
In the era of Fathali Shah until the end of Nasseredin Shah’s rule, existing rugs had complete regional and local identity. Those known as ancient Farahan and Moshkabad rugs are not related to today’s Arak rugs which have monotonous and conventional images.
Certain traditional images, like fish, paisley, corner-medallion and a pattern belonging to Shalle weaving “Almond“, which come from Kerman or Kashan, on relatively coarse rugs--and also existence of some special images in ancient rugs of Khamseh, Saraband, Lilian, Sarough and Moshkabad--signifies that in the central Iran and near an area called Arak today carpet weaving has been very popular.
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