The Attarha House, Kashan

Kashan is a city situated in the Isfahan province of Iran estimated to be between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. It has been known through the ages for its many inhabitants and arts, of which the Iranian tile (called “kashi”), malile (silk fabric) and carpets are the most famous still.

Kashan is also these days favoured as a top tourist destination with many incredible buildings and estate houses built by very influential families during the Qajar Dynasty, most notable is the Tabātabāei House, the Boroujerdi House and the Attarha house. The first two mentioned houses were designed by Ali Maryam, a very famous architect at the time, with some traces of the advice of Saniol Molk and later his nephew, Kamalol Molk, both top painters of the Qajar period. Prior to the Qajar Dynasty and earthquake levelled nearly the entire city and for a good few decades the city was in derelict state until the Qajars decided to rebuild and renew the once bustling economic hub. The mosques, bazaar and many other public buildings in Kashan thus showcase the exquisite architecture of the Qajar Era.

One of the affluent families in Kashan in the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s were the Attarhas. The two Attarha brothers were top merchants of Kashan at the time and were so successful in their endeavours that one of them were given the title of “Malakol Tojar”, translated to King of the Merchants. This brother built an estate home for his family which came to be known as the Attarha House. The family exerted their influence in the business world of the city and was also responsible for commissioning and financing many Persian carpets. One of his sons, Javad, later became the mayor of Kashan and inhabited the family home, together with his wife and four sons, until the Pahlavi Dynasty. At that time the family moved out of the stately home, but it was later occupied again by one of Javad’s sons, possibly Mahsoud, who renovated the home. Later the home was donated to the city of Kashan, like most of the other estate houses, and it became part of the Architecture University of Kashan. Today it is occupied as a study centre of Persian carpets by the Kashan University.

The carpet in our collection of Ahmad Shah, the last king of the Qajar Dynasty, is one of the carpets commissioned by the Attarha brother at the time that he held the title of Malakol Tojar – King of the Merchants. There is a woven inscription stating that the carpet was commissioned by the Attarha Brothers.