Rashti Embroideries

Nestled next to the Caspian Sea, in the Gilan Province of Iran, is the city of Rasht. The city itself is very old and has hosted many tribes from before the Achaemenid Era all of whom are now obsolete due to integration into the greater Persian Empire over the ages.

These days you will find the Gilaki people there and even their origins are quite mysterious because there isn’t a lot of ancient information available on them, apart from the fact that they lived in the mountains and then moved down to the valley over time.

It is thanks to Shah Abbas and a Chinese merchant that Rasht became a flourishing economic hub. The route through Rasht was the “Gateway to the West” and many goods flowed through there. Thus, when the Chinese merchant brought along a silk worm a whole new industry was born, that of silk textiles. Shah Abbas, a very important patron of weaving in the Safavid Era, made Rasht the capital of the Gilan province and promoted the production of silk textiles at a time when Europe and the East were infatuated with each other's goods. Even after becoming economically important in the Eastern-Western trade relations Rasht maintained its’ village feel and look. Some visitors in the 18th century mentioned that, compared to the other big cities in Iran, Rasht appears more as a big village than a city. It had no boundary wall enveloping the city and the bazaar was in the open air, as opposed the undercover bazaars in Iran. The city was surrounded with wetlands, forests, rice paddies, mulberry plantations and silkworm nurseries.

Today the silk textile industry in Rasht is still a large part of life, together with producing rice and caviar – the best in the world according to many connoisseurs. Our Rugdealer’s own maternal great grandfather owned silk factories in Rasht for many years before returning to Tehran. The embroidery in this photo (circa 1900) is an antique Rashti embroidery showcasing the Tree of Life, Vase design and Lion and Sun design and is exclusively available at Ghorbany Carpets and a definite must for any collectors or embroidery lovers.