Mohtasham Kashan - The revival of an industry

The city of Kashan, Iran, was a large and important weaving centre for centuries until the end of the Safavid dynasty in the early 1700’s when it came to a stand still.

In the late 1800’s Mohammad Hassan Mohtasham, a textile producer, was asked by some merchants in Tabriz to revive the carpet weaving industry in Kashan. Married to an accomplished weaver from Sultanabad he decided to relocate to Kashan to set up weaving centres. The Mohtasham textiles were produced from Merino wool imported from Manchester, and Mr Mohtasham decided to use the same wool to make carpets with. This decision would prove very successful and important because the high quality of Merino wool allowed a higher knot count for creating detailed motifs with a high pile. Furthermore, Merino wool ages well and appears almost silk like over time. This gave birth to the Mohtasham Kashan carpets that are now sought after collector's items all over the world. He left such an incredible legacy that many carpets from Kashan are now called Mohtasham Kashan, even if they were not woven by his weaving centres. Because of Mr Mohtasham's efforts there were 1,500 active looms in Kashan by 1900 and 4,000 by 1949. The height of the Mohtasham Kashan carpets woven with Merino wool continued until the Great Depression when the imported wool market crashed.
Photograph courtesy of Christie's