A Persian carpet (Persian: فرش ايرانى farsh, meaning “to spread”) or Persian rug (Persian: قالی ايرانى qālī-ye īranī), also known as Iranian carpet, is a heavy textile, made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes, produced in Iran (historically known as Persia), for home use, local sale, and export. Carpet weaving is an essential part of Persian culture and Iranian art. Within the group of Oriental rugsproduced by the countries of the so-called “rug belt”, the Persian carpet stands out by the variety and elaborateness of its manifold designs.
Persian carpets and rugs of various types were woven in parallel by nomadic tribes, in village and town workshops, and by royal court manufactories alike. As such, they represent different, simultaneous lines of tradition, and reflect the history of Iran and its various peoples. The carpets woven in the Safavid court manufactories of Isfahan during the sixteenth century are famous for their elaborate colours and artistical design, and are treasured in museums and private collections all over the world today. Their patterns and designs have set an artistic tradition for court manufactories which was kept alive during the entire duration of the Persian Empire up to the last royal dynasty of Iran.
Kerman carpets (sometimes “Kirman”) are one of the traditional classifications of Persian carpets. Kerman is both a city and a province located in south central Iran, though the term sometimes describes a type which may have been made elsewhere. Kerman rugs are prized for a wide range of designs, a broad palette, use of natural dyes and fibers, great tensile strength and abrasion resistance, and expert color combinations. Typical manufacturing used an asymmetrical knot on cotton foundation, but rare examples include silk or part silk piles, or silk foundations with wool pile.
Kerman has been a major center for the production of high quality carpets since at least the 15th century.
Because of the tremendous demand for rugs produced in Kerman and the complex demographics of this demand, a surprising variety of styles and designs were produced. Some Kerman rugs were woven explicitly for monied buyers from the West, some for local consumers with very different tastes.
By the 19th century, the city of Kerman had a long history of urban workshops, very fine wool, master weavers and a reputation for the artistic superiority of its designs.