Inspiration

Gods and rugs

In my understanding the majority of scholars view the tradition of making carpets as a necessity for obtaining and retaining heat in a harsh environment. They view later evolution of the carpet weaving traditions as the logical next step in the life of the nomadic man settling in farming in villages and rural areas; with the development of the designs being further influenced by socio-economic changes, such as: groups forming villages and settlements, marriage between villages or tribes, immigration to other areas (voluntarily or forced), formation of urban centres, improved trade between places and the movement of carpets for making profit and business. This is probably the most traditional way of studying carpets which goes alongside textiles, anthropology, archaeology, history, geography, design and art in general.

But what I see is completely different than this logical well established documented way of looking into Persian carpets. From my perspective, with all this knowledge there is still an element that is either missing or is so big and in your face that you are unable to see it. Although I do not deny the importance of this traditional academic way of studying carpets, I am suggesting that there is more to it than meets the eye. This article is aimed at finding the balance between studying the carpets in an academic manner (that cannot produce all the answers required) and the alchemical/philosophical/magical way (that is not complete or rewarding without knowledge of the academic data). It is aiming to look at it from a point of balance between the brain and heart, as much as I am able to contribute.

For a start I need to challenge the academic way of studying carpets by suggesting that Persian carpets were not initially woven by the nomadic man to serve as protection from harsh, cold environments. There are plenty places with an ancient carpet weaving history that do not have cold and hostile climates. What I am suggesting is that the carpets might have found its way to areas with cold and harsh climates to be used as forms of heat, but the primary reason for making them is beyond climates, places or providing a solution to a need. The scholars have found a very nice way to transform the purpose of making these carpets from a necessity item to a luxurious item, through the ups and downs of the linear way of viewing history. What I see is that the carpets, from day 1 of making and creating it, was a luxurious item that found other purposes along the way, but what was the purpose then of this luxury item? To answer that I need to take you on a journey to the gods and their relationship with man.

The concept of gods as we know today has gone through many challenges, ups and downs, name changes and ritual changes. In my study I found that our concept of the gods initially placed them very far away from Earth, but over time they came closer to the point of living on Earth. With all these changes in the human psyche the patterns and the techniques of making carpets adapted and changed. As mentioned earlier, the first gods (or rather mother goddesses) existed very far away from the early man, as far away as the Sirius star, etc. The distance made them appear distant, cold, independent, wild, untamed and they hardly ever “checked in” on mankind. Man was left here alone and lonely, on a lonely planet in a lonely solar system in a lonely galaxy. The lonely man on Earth needed these goddesses but at the same time, he was weary of them and their powers in their day to day life on Earth. The goddesses of those men taught them to be like them: cold, distant, independent and wild and to never be seduced by the magic of Earth, so as to ensure that they retain their connection with their place of origin, which is not the Earth. This tough love was represented in the animals that have those qualities. They are wild, untamed, and independent with water as the main element. The best example I can give is the wolf. Surprisingly, many designs in carpets and kilims are related to the wolf in general. I call this category or timing or stage of consciousness: the Mother Goddess/wolf. The man of that stage made carpets to pay tribute to the Mother Goddesses not as an act of necessity but as an act of pure love. He made carpets from the best materials he had and sacrificed his own needs to create something for his heavenly mother far, far, far away.

If you have studied the pyramid of Maslow, in psychology, the man that lives for self-actualization has passed all his physiological necessities (safety, belonging, esteem in life) to get to the phase of utmost fulfillment and talent pursuing, which is creativity like creating carpets. In this case making the carpets is like building the tower of Babel or the pyramids of Giza. This man not only did not make them out of necessity, but he was willing to sacrifice his own needs to create them as devotion to the gods. That craze or wildness later moved to the second stage as the gods moved closer to Earth. The meeting point of the gods and men moved from the Sirius star to the gateway of Saturn. Here we are dealing with the untamed, cold, fatherly gods who have the element of fire instead of water like the mother goddess. These fatherly gods taught man the magical process of fermentation. These gods found a way to spoil man with yeast and wine without giving them knowledge of fire as the obvious tool, just yet. The man on Earth of that era could eat and drink something that they never had before and that made him break free from his loneliness on planet Earth. He was discovering how to be untamed, wild and independent, but with the luxury of time for himself while eating the bread and drinking the wine. The closest animals on the planet representing this stage of consciousness is the snake and dragon. The carpets that were woven in this stage has lots of patterns related to dragons and snakes. The fire of the dragon, the same as the poison of the snake, was the golden key to learn the magical process of fermentation.

The third stage of making carpets out of luxury to fulfil the self-actualization of man is the meeting point of the gods and men, when the gods came closer to Earth and became more obvious in the daily lives of man. The new meeting point moved from Saturn to the fiery ball of the Sun. This man found the god that has fire elements but in the most tamed and dependent way than had ever existed before. Now he knew fire as representative of the sun on Earth and this fire did not need the long process of fermentation. He could dye the wool in any colour that he wanted and the animals that had the qualities of those gods, fatherly and tamed and dependent, were the bull, goat and sheep. These are the carpets that are colourful and has lots of elements of horns, sheep or elements related to bulls and goats.

My conclusion is that the making of Persian carpets was an act of love and devotion of man to their different concepts of gods, and thus a pure act of luxurious items dedicated to the gods. These luxury items of devotion changed according to man’s consciousness of the gods and with the influence of the godly representatives on Earth, such as the kings, queen, priests and priestesses. Reading a carpet is reading the consciousness of the man who created them and the relationship he experienced with his god, which in the end is he himself. The closer the gods come to the Earth, the further the man moves from his devotion and prayer and creativity to the gods that he worshiped. The pureness of this act of luxury to the gods became less, as the source of the “self” came closer from millions of light years away to live side by side with man on Earth.


Cintamani revisited

Recently my attention was drawn back to the origin of Cintamani by a fellow carpet enthusiast, Mr Andrew Hauton, in a Facebook Group called "The Weftkickers”. The Cintamani design in Persian carpets is three circles arranged in a triangle generally on top or underneath one or two wavy “line(s)” called the cloud band. It has been the subject of speculation ever since it’s’ existence came to attention in the carpet world and its origins and meaning remains speculative. In my previous article I touched on the subject of Cintamani and its relationship to the Sirius star, but I did not study the Sirius star from the view of Ancient Persian cosmology and I am glad to see the connection between the Cintamani, the Cloud band and the Arrow and bow, which is related to the name of the Sirius star in Persian, being Tir (also translated to Arrow).

Sirius has played a major role in the Ancient World in relation to severe weather, with the Ancient Egyptians viewing it as the reason for the annual flooding of the Nile and the Ancient Greeks viewing it as the reason for harsh and hot summers. Even in China and India Sirius was the maker or breaker of a good harvest season. For the Ancient Persians Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, was known as Tir. Tir is also the fourth month in the Iranian calendar and it was connected to the rainfall season in July. So important was this star that the Zoroastrians had an entire festival in honour of appeasing Sirius/Tir into giving good rainfall, and all participants even wore a rainbow band around their wrists. ‘We sacrifice unto the rains of Tishtrya. We sacrifice unto the first star; we sacrifice unto the rains of the first star, whose eye-sight is sound.’ - Tishtar Yasht (Zoroastrian Hymn to the Star Sirius). In Ancient Persian mythology Tistrya (Tir) fights against Apaoso for the possession and liberation of the waters contained in the (cosmic) ocean Vourukaṧa. Tistrya is often depicted as an arrow also being shot to release the “waters of life” and thus fertilizing the goddess who will in turn birth good harvests.

The Persians were not the first to link Sirius to the form of an arrow. All other civilizations did the same with some depicting Sirius as the entire bow and arrow, others depicting it as the arrow and others depicting it as the tip of the arrow. Wanting to the influence the weather is nothing new with scientists even today attempting to seed clouds to influence the particular precipitation that is desired in certain areas, either by creating more moist or dispersing moist. Cloud seeding is the process of releasing chemicals into the clouds to alter its behaviour and it was recently found that something as simple as table salt can do just that. The ancients tried everything from ritual sacrifces to dances (in zig zag formation representing water and lightening) to playing harps and flutes, believing that the frequencies could influence weather patterns. They even shot arrows into the clouds to “bring rains”. The cloud band in the Cintamani design is very similar to the shape of ancient bows and the Cintamani itself in its triangular arrangement is very similar to an arrow tip.

The Cintamani design can be found all around the globe in all arts of all civilizaitons from the pagans’ “mother goddess” (generally depicted as a trinity) to the holy trinity in many of the modern day religions. To find it in a Persian carpet, however, woven by Turkic tribes and placed on top/underneath wavy lines, definitely requires more investigation, for nothing in Persian carpet designs are accidental. Considering the Turkic tribes converted to Islam it would be a good start to look at practices of ancient Arabic religions. In Arabic paganism and other semitic tribes around Mecca, the main deity that relates to this subject was the goddess, Al-shi’raa. She was the Meccan goddess of the star Sirius who had a popular cult among the pagan Arabs who lived in and around pre-Islamic Mecca in the Hijaz: the goddess was venerated chiefly by the tribes of Banu Khuza'a and Banu Qays. The cult of al-Shi'ra was so prominent among the tribes of pre-Islamic Mecca that it was specifically highlighted and condemned in the Qur'an. As one of the brightest stars in the sky, al-Shi'ra was thought to grant wealth and good fortune to her worshipers and oaths were often sworn in her name; another of which was Mirzam al-Jawza' and was believed to be the 'Doorkeeper of Heaven'. The worship of stars (najm) and other celestial objects (kawkab) was a common religious practice among the pre-Islamic Arabs and other Semitic peoples; especially among the nomadic Bedouin who grazed their flocks at night and observed the stars for directions. The temples of the sedentary Arab tribes who dwelt in the towns, most notably the Ka'aba of Mecca, were designed by certain.corners facing certain stars: a common Semitic religious feature including temples having rooftops from where stars and planets could be worshiped and observed.

Quzah wass the Meccan god of storms, thunder and the clouds who was worshiped by the tribes of Banu Khuza'a and Banu Quraysh at his shrine in the vicinity of al-Muzdalifah, located not far from Mecca. Quzah was, in Meccan mythology, portrayed as a giant archer who lived in the clouds and fired hailstones at the shayatin (demonic spirits) from his bow: the crashing of thunder, said to be the battle-cry of the god, was believed to scare away spirits of disease and misfortune. The rainbow that appeared after a rainstorm was considered by the polytheists of Mecca to be a ladder to the heavens and Quzah was its guardian. In the northern regions of the Arabian peninsula, Quzah was often the consort or husband of Manat, goddess of destiny. The cult of Quzah in the Hijaz may have originated among the cousins of the Arabs; the Edomite tribes of southern Jordan, whose chief deity was a sky god called Qos in their language. The belief in Qos continued through with the Nabataeans who represented him a king flanked by bulls, holding a multi-pronged thunderbolt in his left hand. The memory of the god is still retained in modern Arabic with the words qaws' Quzah meaning ''Bow of Quzah'', a metaphor for a rainbow. The 'ifada was a feast in pre-Islamic times which was held by the polytheists of the tribe of Banu Quraysh at Muzdalifah in veneration of Quzah as part of their tahannuth (devotional religious practices) and istisqa (rain-making rituals), during the hallowed month of Ramadan. Amazingly in Quran it is mentioned Ghausain meaning two bows or two cloud bands associated with Sirius the three stars: “it is He Who is the Lord of Sirius”, (Qur'an, 53: 49) and “He was two bow-lengths away or even closer”. (Qur'an, 53:9)

According to the old Turkish clans, this star was a sacred gate that joined the Earth with the heavens, the luminous realm of the gods. The star was the frontier between the spirit realm and the material realm where mortals reside. You could also call it the line that separates gods from humans. The gods would send favors to people from this gate, and shamans would fly to the gate and communicate with the gods, but they were unable to truly reach the star and pass through to the other side. The gods would send a messenger from their realm and listen to what mortals had to say through this messenger. The symbol of the celestial (blue) wolf that descended from the sky in a blue beam of light is pretty common to the creational myths of the Turks. Sirius is known from Ancient times as the Dog star and part of the Canis Major constellation. In one of the Göktürk (the celestial/blue Turks) myths, a child whose entire family was killed (symbolizing the solar system) survives with the guidance of a she-wolf (the Dog Star). The wolf suckles the child and proceeds to marry him, and the Sky God descends to Earth in the form of a wolf. According to other esoteric teachings, the creation of the planet Earth was in fact the result of a union between our solar system and Sirius (the Dog Star). The similarities between these teachings and the tale of the wolf that married an orphaned child are intriguing.

Wolves were considered sacred in old Turkic beliefs. The symbol of the she-wolf has important significance in most creational myths and the collected symbolism of the world. The myth of a she-wolf called Ashina, who was sent to Earth from the heavens, has survived to this day. Many Turkic clans have used wolves in their flags, and their commanders were called Kök-Böri. The word kök is an old form of the modern word gök,which means sky, and böri is the word for wolf. You can find wolf reliefs in the earliest known historical expression of the First Turkish Empire, the Bugut Monument that was commissioned by Mahan Tigin (Prince Mahan). How meaningful is it that a wolf figure appeared on the first printed banknote of Atatürk’s government? His friends nicknamed him “crazy Turk” after the banknote incident. There are various opinions about the color of the star as well. Although Sirius is widely thought to be a red/orange color, both Manilius, a first century poet, and Avienus, an author from the fourth century, describe the star’s color as light teal. The star is also named the Blue Star in Japanese.

The Dogon tribe in Africa is well-known for their ancient knowledge on the star, Sirius. They believe that the gods came from Sirius and imparted on them knowledge of the star system that has only recently been confirmed in science as correct. According to the Dogon Sirius is three stars: Sirius A which is the big white giant star, Sirius B which is a smaller and less bright star (although one of the heaviest objects in our solar system) and “Sirius C” (which we have been unable to detect yet as it is a very dark star, but astronomers believe it is also orbiting the other two by observing anomalies in the orbiting behaviour of the other two stars). Sirius as a three star system could thus be represented by the three circles of the Cintamani.

Correlating all this information, Sirius was seen as the power behind fertility on Earth and studying Persian carpet symbolism, could open up more direction into ancient cosmology and astronomy and astrology. Thus the Cintamani design could very well be the most potent sign of fertility in Persian carpets and art. For the newly converted Turkic tribes (who were in love with Persian art) to include this design in their carpet weaving is no surprise, considering the Shamanic background and the importance of symbols of fertility and protection in their daily lives.

Sources:

·         http://www.green-man-of-cercles.org/articles/from_roman_to_romanesque.pdf

·         Point of Origin: Gobekli Tepe and the Spiritual Matrix for the World’s ...By Laird Scranton

·         Sirius Matters, p 29 By Noah Brosch

·         http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/tistrya-2

·         https://iranian.com/main/blog/nabarz/star-sirius-tishtrya-tir-sothis.html

·         http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/_Arash_the_Archer_and_the_Festival_of_Rain.htm

·         http://www.thehiddenrecords.com/davinci_part2.htm

·         https://vigilantcitizen.com/hidden-knowledge/connection-between-sirius-and-human-history/

·         http://www.crystalinks.com/sirius.html

·         https://newearth.media/dagdas-haarp-musical-weather-modification/

·         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius

·         http://www.harrypotterforseekers.com/articles/siriusforseekers.php

·         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_seeding

·         http://www.thewisemag.com/mystery/sirius-the-mysterious-star-of-the-goddess-isis/


The Moors, Spain and her sheep

It is 30 April 711 and the Berber commander, Tariq Ibn-Ziyad, and his small force of soldiers had just landed in Gibraltar when the commander issued a startling command: “Burn all our ships”! His troops, shocked and puzzled, wanted to know how they would return home if all the ships were burnt to which Tariq Ibn-Ziyad replied: “We are not going home. THIS is our new home”, and thus began the invasion of the Umayyad invasion into Spain. What followed for the next 800 years would be a flourishing and rich soup of cultures that would finally result in the Renaissance in Europe and make Spain a wealthy country with immense influence over world affairs until the 17th century.

”Though ruthless fighters, the Berbers/Moors were very just. They gave the Goth Spaniards an opportunity to surrender each of their provinces, to which most capitulated. "It is a common misapprehension that the holy war meant that the Muslims gave their opponents a choice 'between Islam and the sword'. This was sometimes the case, but only when the opponents were polytheist and idol-worshippers. For Jews, Christians, and other 'People of the Book'. there was a third possibility, they might become a 'protected group', paying a tax or tribute to the Muslims but enjoying internal autonomy". Even in those early days, the Moors knew and practiced the principles of chivalry. They had already won the title to Knightliness which many centuries later compelled the victorious Spaniards to address them as "Knights of Granada, Gentleman, albeit Moors". Later, after advancing to Cordoba, the Muslims found that the Goth nobles of the kingdom had fled over the Pyrenees Mountains, all but abandoning their land to them. The occupation of the Moors set the stage for beginning the work of building an Islamic empire similar to the one flourishing in Damascus. Within a century of their activity, the Moors, with assistance of the all people and religions in Spain, had developed a civilization based in Cordoba that surpassed that of any in Europe; it was known as Al-Andalus. At the end of the eighth century, Al-Andalus was the most populous, cultured, and industrious land of all Europe, remaining so for centuries. During this prosperous period, trade with the outside world was unrivaled. It was during this time of economic expansion, the Jews, who had been virtually eliminated from the peninsula in the seventh century by the Christians, grew once more in numbers and flourished. Hume wrote in his book "Spanish People": "Side by side with the new rulers lived the Christians and Jews in peace. The latter rich with commerce and industry were content to let the memory of their oppression by the priest-ridden Goths sleep".

The Moors and Jews brought to Al-Andalus their weaving skills and together with Spain’s churro and merino sheep population, the Spanish carpets were born. In the beginning the carpets represented the Seljuk carpets from Turkey, but 800 years later during the Reconquest of Spain the designs changed and many prominent ruling families included their coats of arms, with borders still including the mystical Kufic scripts inherited from the Muslim dynasties. These carpets became known as Admiral Carpets (armorial carpets) and were made famous by paintings of Hans Holbein. With the start of the Renaissance in Europe the Spanish carpets changed once more and mimicked French Aubusson and Savonnerie designs. Carpets are still woven in Spain today following older Spanish carpet designs.

Spanish carpets, like everywhere else, was a sign of wealth and luxury and were commissioned by the powerful and wealthy families. It is, however, the Spanish sheep that enriched Spain. “Between 1500 and 1800, according to Phillips and Phillips, Spain exported an average of seven million pounds of washed wool each year, and during peak years, exports rose to more than fifteen million pounds in the mid-sixteenth and the mid-eighteenth centuries. The exported wool came mainly from flocks whose owners were members of the Mesta. During the reign of Alfonso X in 1273, an institution known as the Mesta was formalized to protect the interests of flock owners and shepherds. Routes of passage for seasonal migration were protected and privileges to the Mesta were extended for a variety of economic intents. Region by region after the Christian reconquest of Muslim areas, drovers’ roads under control of the Mesta expanded as wool became Spain’s major export, shipped from the northern ports of San Sebastian, Bilbao, and Santander. The Spanish churra of the Americas sustained the local communities of conquistadors and settlers with dairy products, meat, and wool, ultimately giving rise to the Navajo’s churro. Globally, it was the Iberian breed of merino sheep, initially protected within Spain and first exported in 1786 to Louis XVI of France, who purchased more than 300 Spanish merinos from his cousin, Charles III of Spain. Thus began the breeding of French Merino, or Rambouillet (named after the rural estate of Louis XVI), which in turn were among those first transported to Australia. In New Zealand, men and stock arriving from Australia in the early 1840s initiated the wool industry there. In particular, they brought the Spanish merino breed. New Zealand sheep farmers continued to import Australian stud merino for many years.”

Carpet pictured here: Heraldic shield with the coat of arms of Admiral Fadrique Enríquez, detail of an Admiral …
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Joseph Lees Williams Memorial Collection; photograph, Otto E. Nelson

Sources and extracts:


The Tehran Carpet

Majority of the scholars and carpet dealers, especially those from Tehran, remember the time that Reza Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty appointed the military governor from Ravar, Kerman, Mr Abbas Khan Nakhaee Ravari, to build and run the first modern prison of the capitol, Tehran. As head of the prison he came with an idea to teach the prisoners a craft that will not only make their time in prison more productive, but will also produce extra income. Besides that, the prisoners would also be able to take this craft with them for the rest of their lives. Abbas Khan brought master weavers from Ravar, Kerman, to teach the prisoners carpet weaving and as such, these early carpets from the Tehran prison looked very similar to Kerman and Ravar carpets in terms of weaving and colour.

What the majority of us don't know, however, is that long before this there was another carpet weaving center in Tehran. For that story, I need to take you back in time to Nasser din Shah of the Qajar Dynasty and the political and cultural turmoil that raged during his time. Amir Kabir was the prime minister at the time and his goal was to modernize Iran, especially the education system. Although Amir Kabir's efforts resulted in the first modern college in Iran, Dar Al Fonoon ("house of all knowledge"), all of the reforms ceased upon his death. Another gentlemen, Mr MIrza Hasan Roshdieh from Tabriz whose father was a religious scholar, was sent to Lebanon and Egypt by his father to learn about modern educational systems from them, but upon his return to Iran he realized that his country was not yet ready for these new educational concepts and so he opened his first school in Georgia. When Nasser din Shah came back from his trip to the West, he asked Mr Roshdieh to open similar schools in Iran, which he did in Tabriz and later Tehran. The king changed his mind, however, as he thought that these kind of schools will pour more oil on the fire for pushes towards constitutional revolution. After the king was assassinated, his son Mozafar din Shah inherited the thrown. He had an entirely different view towards educational and constitutional reforms than his father and many new school were established during his reign that were called Mozafarieh schools since the government helped fund it.

One of these new schools funded and managed by Mr Mirza Sayyad Mohammad Tabatabaei, one of the leaders of the Iranian constitutional revolution, was called Islam school and opened in 1899 in the Sangelaj district in the South of Tehran. Besides the modern educational curriculum he also brought the art of carpet weaving into the school with master weavers from Kerman as teachers of this craft. In two years time the carpets of this school became so famous that they found their way to the royal court and was also given as gifts to the Ottoman Empire by Mozafar din Shah. Sadly, after the death of this Shah, not only did the constitutional revolution meet its end, but the carpet weaving at this new school did too.

There is a pair of carpets signed "Madrese Islam" (Islam school) dated 1319 (circa 1901) dedicated to the kIng, woven with A-symmetrical knot, that was moved from the Golestan palace to the Carpet Museum of Iran in Tehran. At Ghorbany Carpets we have an exact replica woven by Ostad Akbari with a slight difference at the bottom of the carpet and it was woven either at this school or later. In any case this majestic carpet reveals and holds a piece of history that might have been forgotten otherwise.


The Berbers of Morocco

500 BC Herodotus called them descendants of Troy who fled to North Africa after it was conquered by the Greeks, Sallustus called them Persian a few hundred years later and Procopus, during the Byzantine Era, called them Cananeans who fled to North Africa after David defeated Goliath. Some Berbers see themselves as native inhabitants of North Africa from as far back as 8,000 BC and others as Yemeni descendants.

Whichever is correct, and maybe they all are, the Berbers are a fierce people who have been present in North Africa before the Phoenicians founded Carthage. No Empire could ever successfully manage to make them loyal subjects, instead all the mighty historic forces had to be content with existing alongside the Berbers if they wanted to obtain any kind of loyalty from them and sometimes they even had to pay tributes to the Berbers..

The Greeks were the first to call them Berbers (barbarians = non-Greek speakers), but they were also called “Mauri” referring to people from Mauritania, (an ancient Berber kingdom which existed from the 3rd century BC to the 7th century in the far north of modern-day Morocco and Algeria) and this later changed to “moros” in Spanish and “moors” in English. Today they are distributed in an area stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Niger River. Some Berbers are still nomadic people with seasonal migrations, others are settled permanently and farm for a living, like their ancestors. Like many other ancient tribes they too are weavers and their weaving is predominantly for domestic use. Thicker piled carpets for heat and kilims for bedding and clothing. The design of Moroccan carpets are very primitive compared to other countries, but that is what has made them so appealing to the West since the mid-20th Century.

The Berbers known as Amazigh in Morocco is a very mysterious tribe with many mysterious beliefs and rituals. One such ritual is the facial tattoos that the women of the tribe get whenever they come of age or reach certain milestones, such as marrying, giving birth to their first child, etc. The first tattoo celebrating their coming of age is a line or lines that stretches from the lower lip to the bottom of the chin. This represents a palm tree. Whenever there are dots put around it, it represents seeds that in turn represents powers of fertility. As each milestone is reached in their lives more tattoos and motives are added. Each motif is believed to carry special magical powers of protection, especially against the evil spirits. There are tattoos put on other parts of the body as well as their hands and feet, seen as the most vulnerable body parts. Every single motif is applied only as protection and bestowing power onto the receiver.

What is intriguing is that it is exactly these motifs that are also used in the very popular Beni Ourain and other Berber carpets. The reason for this is that with the Arabization of North Africa some centuries ago the laws of Islam prohibited tattooing and as such the Berber women adapted this custom of theirs to apply temporary henna tattoos and also to include these protective motives in their weaving, whether it be carpets or clothing. Even their jewellery became talismans incorporating all good wishes, powers and protection that their tattoos once did. The diamond pattern, that the Beni Ourain carpets are especially known for, is specifically for protection of the owner of the rug.

Sources


Carpets and the kingdom of heaven - Part 1

The way to look at a fantasy is that it is created either when one wants to escape reality or when one wants to understand reality, even though reality in itself is also a fantasy. In the Old Testament when the God of the Hebrews asked Moses to count the number of people in a gathering, He prohibited Moses from counting the people directly. Instead He proposed that Moses puts a coin from each person in a container and count the coins instead.

 

The profound meaning of this exercise is that human beings cannot simply be counted, to arrive at a total. How can you add two apples to get to the number two, when one apple is not equal to another apple? This is what I call the most advanced understanding of individuality that we have not achieved yet even in our modern times. The reality is that each human being, or whatever life form, is the whole Cosmos in itself and the only reality is the dot, that represents the atom, and holistically possesses all infinite possibilities to become nothingness and everything dancing together inside the dot. While you can look at the dot from one angle and observe it as nothing, you can also see all the designs and opportunities that few or many of dots can create without losing the essence of the core atom, from another angle. In other words you can see it as everything. Designs and colours of Persian carpets simply follow this concept. Any Persian carpet has been created to reveal and unite the nothingness and everything, which is the harmony and balance of two views of one truth, the unification of body and soul with each other, which creates the third element that is a mediator between these two aspects of one coin, the coin of truth, which is the highest understanding of the concept of beauty. That third element is another illusion which we can call “the mind”. Therefore, in each Persian carpet the two opposites that are not really opposites, through the third element, try to find the harmony amongst themselves in a dance of give and take, the truth, the shadow of the truth and the connecting element of these two.

In Part 2, I will discuss how these three elements represent each other in a Persian carpet and what the ultimate aim of the Persian carpet is


Carpets and the kingdom of heaven - Part 2

Carpets with focus on body

 In order to find the ultimate bliss of enlightenment you need a healthy and strong body. From ancient times the Persians were trying to find the golden key to produce strong and healthy offspring and also to enhance their health with spices, herbs and traditional medicines and also, through their alchemists, the way to eternal life.

All the traditionalists and philosophers and alchemists of Persia throughout history, in order to achieve all these goals, focused on the birth place of a child. They secretly accumulated all their wisdom and knowledge in figurative forms and motifs to resemble the womb and its relation to the Mother Goddesses, eg. Anahita (the Mother Earth, the Goddess of Fertility and Birth) or Nahid (the Wife, the Sister, Mother of God). In all Semitic religions in the beginning there was the concept of God the Mother or the Wife of God. This feminine concept is the most influential elements of the body. The focus on the mother of a child and her health and strength was of utmost importance in ancient Persia. In Persian philosophy the womb is the holiest place and resembles the Earth that is the body of Cosmos. The concept of yoni is one of the main figures that shows itself either as a medallion in the middle of the carpet or a flower or sometimes as a boteh (teardrop) design. This womb or Earth, has the seed of life that if nurtured correctly passes through different phases of life to blossom and become the flower of life and later the tree of life. Usually this seed of life, or cosmic egg, needs to be protected by guardians, but the carpets that resembles the womb is the early stage of life which is focused on the body. The colour choices of these carpets correlate with the lower vibration of the womb that are the warmer colours, in this case, red and orange which is the Fire element and the oven of life which through heat and fermentation evolve into a new stage of life. These carpets are produced subconsciously to improve and heal the root chakra which is the lowest vibration of the colour spectrum. The relationship of any man with the mother, Mother Goddess and Divine Feminine Energy is critical in the development of the psyche and spiritual growth

In Part 3 I will move to carpets with focus on spirit.


Carpets and the kingdom of heaven - Part 3

Carpets with focus on spirit/soul

 You can either see yourself as a body that has a soul OR as a soul that has a body to use. It has been a dilemma and a big question for all alchemists, philosophers and religious scholars as to where the seat of the soul in our bodies is. Since Ancient times we have heard about a bone in the human body that never decomposes no matter how long a body is deceased. It contains the DNA of a man or woman that can be activated at any time and like a magical resurrection, the Creator of the Cosmos can create an entire new body with only this bone. Through my studies I discovered that this very special bone in our bodies is called the Luz bone. Luz means a “nut bearing tree” or the almond tree. The almond tree is very special as it is the first tree to awaken from its winter sleep in the beginning of spring and it is related to the spring and awakening of the soul.

There was a place in the Old Testament where Jacob “halted and had a prophetic vision” which changed the entire history of humanity. That place was Luz and in that special place Jacob saw God face to face therefor that was the place of the “Face of God”, which in Hebrew is called “Peni-El”. From that time Jacob’s name changed to Israel and Luz became Peni-El. But how is the almond tree related? The almond tree in Hebrew is “shakeid” which translates to “to watch” or “to awaken”. It is therefore God’s watchfulness and immediately it comes to mind that we are talking about a God who observes through His eye, God’s eye. Where in the body can a man like Jacob see God face to face, or more specifically, eye to eye? The Luz bone is the sphenoid bone or the “winged bone” which with its two “wings” is protecting what is seated inside on the “saddle” of the bone. This protected part is called the pineal gland or “the third eye”, which is cone shaped like an almond fruit.

God has two extreme characters: the most kind and the most just. With the balance of these two extreme characters the cone shaped fruit of the almond tree will develop into the tree of life. Love is the force that nurtures this fruit and helps it to grow through different phases of life so that it can reach its full potential. It is the movement and flow of the deepest chakras towards the highest chakra. In order to have the kingdom of heaven on Earth we need to find the balance of the just quality of God and the merciful aspect of God. In Ancient Persia and Sumer they knew that each of us need to find that balance by awakening our pineal gland or third eye and in so doing give opportunity to the fruit of our tree of life to become the flower and then the tree of life, thus getting to the highest level of heaven whilst our roots are still here on Earth. The Hebrew Ark of Covenant and the Ark of Laws that was protected by winged angels or cherubim was built in order to find that heavenly balance on Earth.

The Persian carpet as a tool for mysticism and Sufism was designed in such a way that it reminds us of the journey of our soul on Earth and what is needed to be done to experience heaven whilst we are experiencing life on Earth. If you remember, on the carpets of the body – Part 2, we were talking about the lower frequency colours that correlates with the lower chakras in our bodies, ie. the root chakra and the tones of red. In the next article when we discuss the mind and Persian carpets we will see the colours of the high frequencies like green, blue and indigo, which correlate with the higher chakras in our bodies. What is amazing is that on the carpets that relate to the soul the balance colour which has a medium frequency, yellow, is more dominant and the background is often white and black.  It gives credence to the theory that the path of the soul is the balance of the higher and lower frequencies and from the frequency of yellow (which is also related to the solar plexus chakra and the Sun God/dess, like Mithra) you find a gateway to come out of the world of frequency and vibration and rest in an “all colour or no colour zone (ie. Black and white)”. Majority of the Persian carpets that focus on the soul have a one directional pattern that is related to the niche or mihrab design whilst the others have a repeating design. The niche/mihrab design usually has a resemblance to a vase or tree of life with two protecting winged angels or cherubim on either side.

In Part 4 we will discuss carpet with focus on mind.


Carpets and the kingdom of heaven - Part 4

Carpets with focus on mind

من آن شکل صنوبر را ز باغ دیده برکندم  که هر گل کز غمش بشکفت محنت بار می‌آورد

In Part 2 - carpets with focus on body, we revealed the importance of the valva or yoni as the birth place of the body and discussed the medallions or flowers that represent the symbol of valva, for example the lotus. Those carpets have less sharp angles in its designs and are in lower frequency colours such as red and orange. In Part 3 we discussed carpets with focus on soul which are usually in the shape of a mihrab/niche or vase and tree of life design in the colour of the middle frequency, i.e. yellow or gold. As mentioned, when you complete that cycle of your life you will move to another frequency out of the cycle of reincarnation and into the zone of no colour or all colour, meaning white or black. These two, the body and soul, are the most important elements of our being but they are very raw. The amount of truth that they contain is difficult to observe with bare eyes, so in order to view them and to find a way to comprehend them without dealing with their rawness, the human beings created a metaphor, a shadow of both and a fantasy that I refer to as the “mind”, The carpets that are focused on mind are tools to imitate the journey of the soul in the world of shadows. That is the danger of the mind, because if you forget that the mind is only a fantasy, a bridge and a metaphor to grasp the soul, you can get trapped and sink into the underworld of the mind. The designs related to the carpets focusing on the mind often resemble the carpets with focus on body and/or soul, but in a more analytical and calculated manner, because it stems from the left side of the brain. If there is a medallion used in these carpets they are more geometric, such as hexagons or octagons that have more masculine angles.

There are 7 layers of essence and spirit for the soul and since the mind follows and shadows the soul there are 7 layers of heaven and earth that the mind should pass in order to reach its fulfilment. Usually these carpets are designed in such a way that they represent the 7 layers from the outer corner of the carpet to the inner most part of the medallion. Just as the sceptre of Hermes/Idris/Enoch, who was and is and will be the source of all wisdom on earth, had 7 layers carved into it, these 7 layers in these carpets represent the 7 main colours of the rainbow, 7 music notes in an octave and 7 main chakras of human beings. This is also the 7 stages of enlightenment in the Mithraic religion symbolized in the 7 layers carved into the wine goblet of initiates and only the holiest of the holy was allowed to drink all 7 portions.  The sacred geometry, the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence are the main characters when the shadow mind interprets the journey of body on earth whilst connecting to the spirit of the heavens. Carpets of the mind that resemble that soul metaphorically to the utmost, usually include the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna, that are the two serpents or elephants of peacocks or cherubim that are protecting the “seed of life”. In the carpet of the soul we talked about the pineal gland and the connection to the fruit of the almond tree. The fruit of the almond tree in the kingdom of plants is a motherly, gullible tree that retains her happy and nurturing nature, regardless of all she goes through. In carpets that resemble the almond tree from the metaphoric mind perspective, the almond tree has been replaced by the Cyprus tree that is, like the willow tree, forsaken, abandoned or deserted tree that represents loneliness and loss and the need to find answers. In Mithraism this tree is a holy tree that goes deep inside itself and faces the death and depression and despair of the melancholy of the mind to find the truth. In the Persian language the pineal gland is called the “senobaar” gland and “senobaar” is also the fruit of the Cyprus tree and what it resembles in the journey of mind. It’s always associated with the cemetery, mourning, death and the sadness of the lonely mind.

The colour of these carpets are higher frequency colours starting from green, moving to blue and then indigo into violet. These are the mind colours that represent the strength of the masculine energy of the mind that logically wants to pave his way to the higher level. Unfortunately since this metaphor is an illusion and a fantasy, the chance that you can get lost in the sky above or the waters below, is high. In the end the mind is our secondary nature existing to take you through the development and growth of your body and ultimately your soul. This is why for centuries, Persian carpet weavers did not use the higher frequency colours in their designs and the use of the sacred geometry with the sharp angles and masculine energy is the product of a few hundred years only.


Baluch Khorjin

Another recent acquisition of Ghorbany Carpets is this 70 - 80 years old Baluch khorjin (saddle bag) woven in beautiful rich red tones with an octagon medallion on both sides. The use of it is exactly in the name, saddle bag, used on horses, donkeys and camels. The Baluch carpets are known as geometric nomadic and the use of geometry is key to the Baluch carpet designs.

There has not been much research done on Baluch carpets to date but the name derives from the Baluch tribe that lives in Iran, mostly in Baluchestan & Sistan, and also Khoresan and Kirman. Other Baluch tribes live in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is also not just the Baluch tribe that make Baluch carpets in Iran. Other tribes that also make these carpets are the Tīmūrī, the Kurds, the Arabs, the Brahui, the Jamšīdī, and the Barbarī.

According to Baluch lore they are descendants of Hazrat Ameer Hamza, the uncle of the prophet Muhammed, who settled in Aleppo, Syria. Over the centuries they migrated to the areas where they are settled today. Tracing the origins of their name is also a tricky business. Some say that they are named after Belus (Bel Marduk) who was the god of Mesopotamia and Babylon, with others arguing that their name comes from the Persian word for cockscomb, due to the fact that the Baluch soldiers wore hats with a cockscomb on it, around the 6th century BC.

Whatever the actual history of the tribe is, their carpets no doubt carry in it many secrets that we are yet to unlock that will reveal to us who they are exactly.

Contact Shervin Ghorbany on 0824548533 for more information.


How carpet weaving came to India

Early man’s ability to create fire happened two million years ago. This revolution caused many changes to happen in human civilizations and so also what we eat and how we eat it. Having unlimited vegetation available for consumption introduced us to herbs and spices that could change the taste of food that we ate, when we cook it. This discovery eventually led us to trade with different people in different places for different herbs and spices, because humanity’s desire to experiment and create is fulfilling our innate need to always keep “moving”, to always keep changing. It is after all the species who can adapt to change the fastest that are prone to survive the longest and so here we are.

Trade amongst humans are very old and so too the trade in herbs and spices. Neolithic discoveries prove that it has happened from at least the 10th millennia BC and it is of course still the case today. All we need do is visit our nearest grocery store and all the wonderful spices from all over is available at our finger tips. For our forefathers is was by far more a diplomatic endeavour. The Spice Route, existing from at least 3000BC according to Egyptian records, was used by the Egyptians, the Arabs, the Ethiopians and the Indians to trade various spices and luxury goods. What were on the ancient’s import lists? Well, there were spices, ebony, fine textiles, sea shells, obsidian, silk, precious stones and incense, the latter giving rise to the Incense route. Later gold, leather of rare animals and pearls were added to the desired items list. This made the supplying kingdoms/empires/regions very wealthy and it caused other areas to either produce their own luxury goods or to become middle men for such trade.

India was not only the most desired supplier of spices but also their fine textiles, produced from at least 3000BC, made of silk and cotton embroidered with gold and precious stones were in high demand. Over time more empires joined the trading and this no doubt gave rise to the Persian Royal Road and later the Silk Road, because the Spice and Incense Routes were mostly dominated by the Egyptians, Arabs, Ethiopians and the Indians. Finding other ways of obtaining these luxury items that now became a need rather than a want, would ensure that the Persians and other empires could control the trade from another vantage point and pay less taxes and tributes to all the middle men. It also created the desire to expand empires so that they could finally own the lands in which these special items originated. Trading directly with suppliers also meant that you could offer your own goods for trade and the Persians and later the Greek rulers of Persia, the Seleucids, not only traded their own unique vegetation, but also their exquisitely woven Persian carpets and textiles. It soon became as high a commodity as any spices, silks and precious stones. A millennia later when the Ottomans came into power and obstructed European trading with the East, the Europeans wanted to find another way to their luxury goods and the Portuguese sailed around Africa to become the rulers of the Spice route around Africa, whilst the Spanish found the Americas. Soon the Dutch and the Brittish would join the lucrative trade and life, as we knew it, was changed for ever to the global trade that we know today.

But before all of that would happen, India as much as any main trading country, became a hub for foreigners. But unlike its co-silk producing country, China, due to its highly valued spices it would become a country that everyone wanted a piece of. There were numerous invasions and dynasty changes through the centuries. Strangely enough, for all the foreign cultural influences, India would only start to produce carpets itself from around the 11th century with Muslim conquests and it really only took off with the establishment of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. Babur, the ruler of the Mughal Empire, was a direct descendant of Tamerlane (Timur), the Turco-Mongol conqueror, from his father’s side; and a direct descendant from Genghis Khan from his mother’s side. Being born in Persia, Babur loved the Persian culture and it is rumoured that when he established the Mughal Empire in India, he was disappointed with the “lack of luxury” there. He set out to introduce a Persianate ethos in his empire that would influence his successors as well. One of the items he missed the most were Persian carpets, so he brought some weavers from Persia to produce carpets in his kingdom, giving rise to the now famous Mughal carpets. These carpets’ designs were influenced by the design of Kashan and Kerman, etc. He was a great promoter of the arts and he set up royal carpet weaving centres in Agra, Delhi and Lahore. When the prisoners in his kingdom became restless and revolted, he instructed the master weavers of Persia to teach the inmates the skill of weaving. This not only calmed the prisoners, but also made them productive and taught them a skill that would stay with them for life. Some of the inmates eventually outshone their teachers and these carpets were used in the palaces as well as diplomatic gifts. The Indian carpet weaving industry would receive a further push forward a century later when Shah Jahan, builder of the Taj Mahal, came to power. He not only promoted the carpet weaving arts but also inspired changes in designs to include more Indian designs in the carpets.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babur

http://store.bashircarpets.com/indiancarpets.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incense_Route

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spice_trade

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-discovery-of-fire-169517

http://char.txa.cornell.edu/IndianTex.htm


Antique Bakhtiari

Woven by the famous Bakhtiari tribe of Iran, circa 1910, this exquisite antique piece gives a gentle nod to the "garden design".

The weaver "planted" various flora in his carpet garden with the Cyprus tree quite dominant as well as the pink roses favoured by the Bakhtiari weavers. Pure elegance in the colourful tones that the tribe is well known for. This piece is exclusively available at Ghorbany Carpets. Contact Shervin Ghorbany on 0824548533 for more information.


From Tehran with love

Woven on white background with highlights in silk make all the designs magically come to life and takes you back to the chic styles of the early 20th century.

This exquisite carpet made in Tehran is exclusively available at Ghorbany Carpets. Contact Shervin Ghorbany on 0824548533 for more information.


Getting Dressed

We are so thrilled with the new art installation at Ghorbany Design Quarter. It literally got dressed up!

Artist, Adri Neuper of In Eeden Design Concepts, is showcasing her models at Ghorbany Design Quarter and we collaborated with award winning designer, Colette Angelucci from Colette Living, to style them with our Persian carpets. From the intricate and elaborate ball gowns of the Renaissance era to modern day cat walks, textiles in all materials and designs have always been a means to express ourselves, and so too how we use it in our homes whether it be curtains, upholstery or Persian carpets. The result of the installation is simply breathtaking and inspiring! Visit Ghorbany Design Quarter to view.


Back to the roots

And here they are, our two new Ghorbany Bryanston residents!

In a grateful nod to the origin of all Persian carpets we welcome these two sheep sculptures made by Adri Neuper from In Eeden Designs, styled by award winning designer, Colette Angelucci from Colette Living. The coloured wool used to decorate them with symbolizes the wool we receive from the sheep that we process into workable coloured threads that are woven into each Persian carpet. Without these precious beings none of our carpets would see the light of day in the form that we all love and know!


Smooth as Silk

“Patience and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown” – Chinese Proverb .

The legend of the discovery of silk in China goes back to 4000 BC: Lei Zu, the wife of Emperor Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, was sipping her midday tea under a mulberry tree when something unexpectedly fell into her cup. She looked to see what it was she saw a cocoon starting to unravel slowly. After the silk cocoon completely unravelled it stretched the entire garden long and Lei Zu saw the silkworm that was the creator of this magnificent silky thread. She imagined that this fine thread could be used to make fine gowns and from that day on she became the inventor of sericulture, the cultivation of silkworms. The Chinese for centuries enjoyed and refined all the different types of weaving that could be done with this extraordinary material and they experimented with all the different types of objects that could be made from it too, from clothing to paper, etc.

Silk has bedazzled the world for millennia and we still cannot get enough of its look and feel, be it clothing, bedding, décor and of course, carpets. Evidence that this phenomenon has existed from at least 3,000 to 4,000 years was found in the form of a silk cocoon cut in half at the Yangshao cultural site in Xia County, Shanxi, China. The species was confirmed as Bonbyx mori, the humble domesticated silkworm that produces this thin strain of beauty. The Shang and Zhou Dynasties of China produced silk items on a large scale and the weaving techniques became more sophisticated too. Just how important and precious this medium was for China and it’s trading, is evident in the find of Shang Dynasty silk (c. 1600 to 1046 BCE) in an Egyptian tomb.

It would be the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) that really made silk an International commodity when they started the Silk Road on land but also improved their sea trading that would later be called the Maritime Silk Road. “Evidence found in Chinese literature, and archaeological evidence, show that cartography existed in China before the Han. Some of the earliest Han maps discovered were ink-penned silk maps found amongst the Mawangdui Silk Texts in a 2nd-century-BC tomb”. Just how far this Maritime Silk Road progressed before the expansive land Silk Road, is evident in the Roman glassware that has been found at Han-era tombs. “The weave of some Han period pieces, with 220 warp threads per centimetre, is extremely fine. The cultivation of the silk worms themselves also became more sophisticated from the 1st century CE with techniques used to speed up or slow their growth by adjusting the temperature of their environment. Different breeds were used, and these were crossed to create silk worms capable of producing threads with different qualities useful to the weavers”. The Han Dynasty ensured that China held the global monopoly on silk production and promptly executed anyone who tried to smuggle the silkworms or their secret out of the country.   

After the Han Dynasty’s collapse various periods of war reigned in China until the Tang Dynasty came to power (AD 618–907). The Tang s did much for Chinese trade and trading partners and through their efforts the Silk Road was reopened and expanded to reach their neighbour, Persia, and from Persia it reached the West. The Silk Road thereafter became the legend it is today and through this route China gained many new technologies, cultural practices, rare luxury items as well as contemporary items. “From the Middle East, India, Persia, and Central Asia the Tang were able to acquire new ideas in fashion, new types of ceramics, and improved silver-smithing. The Chinese also gradually adopted the foreign concept of stools and chairs as seating, whereas the Chinese beforehand always sat on mats placed on the floor. To the Middle East, the Islamic world coveted and purchased in bulk Chinese goods such as silks, lacquerwares, and porcelain wares. Songs, dances, and musical instruments from foreign regions became popular in China during the Tang dynasty. These musical instruments included oboes, flutes, and small lacquered drums from Kucha in the Tarim Basin, and percussion instruments from India such as cymbals.” Via the Silk Road Buddhist knowledge was imported to China, as well as many other influences. There was even a Turkic-Chinese dictionary available for serious scholars and students and Turkic folksongs became a great source of inspiration for Chinese poetry. Thousands of foreigners immigrated to Chinese cities during the Tandy Dynasty, including Persians, Arabs, Hindu Indians, Balys, Chams, Jews, etc.

The Tang Dynasty also strengthened and expanded the Maritime Silk Road. “Although Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to India since perhaps the 2nd century BC, it was during the Tang dynasty that a strong Chinese maritime presence could be found in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, into Persia, Mesopotamia (sailing up the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq), Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in the Horn of Africa.”

With China still holding the monopoly on the silk trade as well as the secret of how to cultivate the silkworm, the Western Empires saw their much needed funds flow East in mountains, so the Byzantine Empire sent two monks to China to learn what the secret of silk is. These two monks managed to smuggle some silkworms west and so began the silk production there, however, they did not know China’s secret of unravelling the cocoons in such a way that only a single strand of silk remained and although the Byzantines used Sasanian techniques to produce fantastic textiles, it was still inferior to Chinese silk.  

Silk inspired many arts and its praise is sung in this poem by Master Xun of the Warring states Period (476 – 221 BC):

How naked its external form,

Yet it continually transforms like a spirit.

Its achievement covers the world,

For it has created ornament for a myriad generations.

Ritual ceremonies and musical performances are completed through it;

Noble and humble are distinguished with it;

Young and old rely on it;

For with it alone can one survive.

 

Sources and extracts: 


All wool and no shoddy!

As you approach Ghorbany Riverside you are greeted by our colourful Wool Art display, inspired by the very product that our carpet collections are made of, WOOL, and done by award winning designer Colette Angelucci from Colette Living. Paying homage to the craft of man many millennia old that has evolved as our civilizations and tastes changed. We honour this magnificent medium of art that still allows us to create wonders out of single colourful strings to tell stories and share memories. Without it our industry will cease to exist. 


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Our brand new look at Ghorbany Benmore showcasing "The Floating Carpets", a modern twist on the flying carpet legend, together with our Tablo Gallery and "Back to Roots" modern wool art display,  by award winning designer Colette Angelucci from Colette Living.

At Ghorbany Carpets we are always looking for ways to use different forms of art in our showrooms to complement our carpet collections and we often find them in history. Collaborating with modern day designers to bring new life to our showrooms and carpets allow us to bring together "old" and "new" and to pay homage to the designers that came centuries before us. 


Saluki - The Persian Greyhound

We are all too familiar with the very distinguished and highly prized Persian cat. Even though the Persians have very little to do with this modern day esteemed breed of cat, the name lends to it the grandeur that the Persians are known for. They do nothing in half measures!

How interesting then to find the Saluki or “Persian Greyhound”. The origin of the name is unknown but they were bred in the Fertile Crescent and hunt by sight, running their prey down to kill or retrieve and they were exclusively used by the Bedouins. They are depicted in Iranian art from the 12th Century in poetry, miniature paintings, metal work and even rock reliefs, such as those at  “Savashi Canyon Relief, carved around 1800, that was commissioned by Shar Fath-Ali Shah Qajar to commemorate his hunting exploits”. Thanks to Silk Road trade they even made their way to China with some Imperial Paintings depicting the Saluki. There are many examples of the European paintings showing Salukis that are believed to have arrived in Europe through the hands of returning Crusaders. The King of Bahrain up to the last century owned a pack of pure-bred Salukis and after his death, the “pure-bred lines of the royal kennel were saved by the efforts of Dana Al Khalifa who was given two pure-bred puppies by the King, and about a decade later had pure-bred Salukis registered with the Kennel Club of Bahrain. Today, the breed is still held in high regard throughout the Middle East and are hunting dogs for nobles and rulers around the region. They are considered clean by the Bedouins, and are allowed to be in women's quarters, while other dogs must be kept outside.”

Sources:


Faradonbeh

A beautiful antique Faradonbeh, circa 1910, exclusively available at Ghorbany Carpets. Measuring 223x158, this carpet was woven in the Armenian Bakhtiari region of Iran and is a classic example of abstract art flowing into Persian carpet designs in the early years of the 20th Century. Contact Shervin Ghorbany for more information on 0824548533.


Of Spindles and Knots

Spinning and weaving no doubt played a very important role in the Ancient world right up to the time that machinery replaced the hand spun and woven methods. There is hardly a civilization that does not have a mother goddess that taught weaving to the female humans and these goddesses are often depicted with spindles and distaffs. There are countless stories of how the universe was woven or our fates are interwoven and there are many tales containing life lessons through the methodology of spinning and weaving. To the Ancients actual physical spinning and weaving were synonymous with spiritual life.

In later times it kept its' importance. ”The term distaff is used as an adjective to describe the matrilineal branch of a family (e.g., the "distaff side" of a person's family refers to the person's mother and her blood relatives). This term developed in the English-speaking communities where a distaff spinning tool was used often to symbolize domestic life”. In Medieval times Adam was depicted in art as digging and toiling the land whilst Eve is shown holding a spindle and distaff after being exiled from the Garden of Eden, indicating the importance of spinning and weaving as very ancient and necessary to the survival of humankind. Fertility, midwifery and the virtues of women were also always connected to the spindle, distaff and later spinning wheel. The spinners and weavers and even wool dyers were often regarded as having magical powers, indicating just how powerful the role of these (mostly) women were.

For the Celts weaving and spinning were as important. So much so that they adapted a Roman design to form their very own Celtic Knot. The Celts, like many other cultures, view the Tree of Life as a sacred part of our existence with the roots representing our subconscious, hidden selves and the trunk connecting it to the branches that represents our conscious and revealed selves. ”Celtic knots are referred to as endless knots due to the fact that they do not have an end or a beginning. The endless knots represent the eternalness of nature. Tree of Life knots symbolize the branches and roots of the tree which are woven together to show the continuity of the cycle of life. The Celtic Tree of Life knot is associated with positive energy, making it a widely used design for tattoos and other art.“ Through the Celts this particular knot spread throughout the Christian world in all forms of art, especially illustrations in the Bible and other literature.

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The Kurdish Tribe

Some speculate that the Kurds have been around since the time of Urartu from the 9th Century BC, known then as the Corduene/Carduchi. The Sumerian tablets called them the “People of Su in the land of Karda and also the Carduchi. They were not necessarily a military tribe but they were not welcoming to those who tread across their land, as mentioned in Greek sources: ”seven days spent in traversing the country of the Carduchians had been one long continuous battle, which had cost them more suffering than the whole of their troubles at the hands of the king [of Persia] and Tissaphernes put together.” Today the Kurds live in areas from southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan) to northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) and they are still known as a formidable tribe. No matter where they live, they are regarded as Iranian people.

 

The Kurds view themselves as descendants of the Medes who would eventually become part of the Persian Achaemenid Dynasty. Through this line of descent they practiced Mithraism, one of the earliest known monotheistic religions, of whom the biblical “Three Wise Men” ,or “Magi”, were priests. There are a few origin legends with one from an Armenian historian: “According to the chronicler Mighdisî, the first town to be built after Noah's Flood was the town of Judi, followed by the fortresses of Sinjar and Mifariqin. The town of Judi was ruled by Melik Kürdim of the Prophet Noah's community, a man who lived no less than 600 years and who travelled the length and width of Kurdistan. Coming to Mifariqin he liked its climate and settled there, begetting many children and descendants. He invented a language of his own, independent of Hebrew. It is neither Hebrew nor Arabic, Persian, Dari or Pahlavi; they still call it the language of Kürdim. So the Kurdish language, which was invented in Mifariqin and is now used throughout Kurdistan, owes its name to Melik Kürdim of the community of the Prophet Noah. Because Kurdistan is an endless stony stretch of mountains, there are no less than twelve varieties of Kurdish, differing from one another in pronunciation and vocabulary, so that they often have to use interpreters to understand one another's words.” Jewish sources on the other hand details the Kurds as being the descendants of King Solomon’s angelic servants (Djinn). These were sent to Europe to bring him five-hundred beautiful maidens, for the king's harem. However, when they had done so and returned to Israel the king had already died. As such, the Djinn settled in the mountains, married the women themselves, and their offspring came to be known as the Kurds.

Whichever legend is true, one thing is certain, the Kurds are a strong and fiercely independent tribe that exerts immense influence where ever they are. Most Kurds not only speak their own Kurdish dialect, but also the language of the country they inhabit, be it Persian, Arabic, etc. Throughout history they were either assisting rulers to become the ruler or resisted those that would not allow them their independence and freedom to remain their authentic selves. History is full of their defeats and victories and they produced many strong political candidates, such as Saladin of the Ayyubid Dynasty, Shah Abbas of Persia and also Karim Khan of the Zand Dynasty in Iran, our rugdealer’s maternal forefather.

The Kurds are well known for their carpet weaving of which Senneh and Bijar are but two examples, with these being woven in Iran. Kurdish carpets use medallion patterns, however, far more popular are the all-over floral, Mina Khani motifs and the "jaff" geometric patterns. The beauty of Kurdish designs are enriched by high-chroma blues, greens, saffrons as well as terracotta and burnt orange hues made richer still by the lustrous wool used. The traditional the Kurdish rug uses Kurdish symbols. It is possible to read the dreams, wishes and hopes of the rug maker from the sequence of symbols used.

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Ardabil

This 3m Ardabil passage runner is such a gorgeous piece and as colourful and full of life as the tribe that wove it! The name Ardabil comes from the Zoroastrian name of "Artavil" which means “a holy place”. The major tribe in this area is called the Shahsavan meaning “lovers of the Shah”. All carpets woven in and around Ardabil are influenced by this tribe.

Their ancestors, called the Safavids, were responsible for establishing the greatest Iranian Empire, called the Safavid dynasty, since the Islamic conquest of Persia. This dynasty had its origin in Ardabil and it is from this city that the Safavids established control over all of Persia and reasserted the Persian identity in the region and so becoming the first native dynasty for hundreds of years.

The Safavids were a Persian Sunni dynasty of mixed Azerbaijani and Kurdish origins, which ruled Persia for 200 years. After some political unrest in the dynasty, the Shah of the Safavids invited Shia clerics from the Lebanese region and officially changed the religion from Sunni Islam to Shia Islam. It is this tribe that was responsible for making Shia Islam the official religion in Persia and this has remained unchanged to this day.


The Yaghnobi, descendants of the Sogdians

The Yaghnobi people (Yaghnobi: yaγnōbī́t; Tajik: яғнобиҳо, yağnobiho/jaƣnoʙiho) are an ethnic minority in Tajikistan. They inhabit Tajikistan's Sughd province in the valleys of the Yaghnob, Qul and Varzob rivers. The Yaghnobis are considered to be descendants of the Sogdian-speaking peoples who once inhabited most of Central Asia beyond the Amu Darya River in what was ancient Sogdia.

They speak the Yaghnobi language, a living Eastern Iranian language (the other living members being Pashto, Ossetic and the Pamir languages). Yaghnobi is spoken in the upper valley of the Yaghnob River in the Zarafshan area of Tajikistan by the Yaghnobi people. It is considered to be a direct descendant of Sogdian and has often been called Neo-Sogdian in academic literature.

Their traditional occupations were agriculture, growing produce such as barley, wheat, and legumes as well as breeding cattle, oxen and asses. There were traditional handicrafts including weaving which was mostly done by the men. The women worked on molding the earthenware crockery.
The Yaghnobi people originated from the Sogdians, a people dominant in the area until the Muslim conquests in the 8th century when Sogdiana was defeated. In that period Yaghnobis settled in the high valleys


Sanandaj/Senneh

The latest acquisition in our antique Persian carpet collection is this Senneh carpet circa 1910. It has a beautiful boteh (paisley) design with roses in the surrounding border, a favourite design amongst the Kurdish weavers who weave the Senneh carpets.

The city of Sanandaj (previously called Senneh), the capitol of the Kurdistan province in the west of Iran, is its place of origin. Senneh carpets are arguably the finest made by the Kurdish weavers and are known for their dense, thick pile and fine designs. Very often the Senneh carpets are made with a fine fish design and they are known for the particular orange-red and blue colourings. Contact Shervin Ghorbany for more details - 0824548533


The Bakhtiari

This beautiful antique Bakhtiari carpet, circa 1910, is one of Ghorbany Carpets' latest acquisitions and is named after the tribe in Iran that wove it.

The Bakthiari is a tribe originating from the South-West of Iran. They view themselves as the descendents of “Fereydun”, widely believed to be a mythical king and hero who is an emblem of victory, justice and generosity. The Bakhtiari consists of two tribes namely: Chahar Lang (Four "limbs") and Haft Lang (Seven "Limbs") groups and each of these two groups are ruled by single powerful families, however, the overall ruling power alternates every two years between the chiefs of both tribes. The Bakhtiari still lives a nomadic lifestyle and migrate between the summer and winter quarters every year. Under the command of the Haft Lang Shah, Sardar Assad, the Bakhtiari captured Tehran and played a significant role in constitutional reform and the abdication of Shah Mohammed Ali in 1909, after which he was exiled to Russia. Before dying in exile in South Africa, Reza Shah Pahlevi attempted to destroy the Bakhtiari during his reign (1925-1941) and they have never fully recovered since that time. They are noted in Iran for their remarkable music. A large number of influential politicians in modern Iran, comes from this tribe.

Contact Shervin Ghorbany on 0824548533 for more information.


The Sanguszko Carpet and the jinbaori war vest of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598)

"It is not clear where this carpet went after it was woven in a Safavid royal workshop, but it was in the palace of the Ottoman emperor (II Osman) in Istanbul in 1621. At the Battle of Khotin, which included a flank attack by Prince Sanguszko of Poland, the carpet was taken to the Prince-General's tent as war booty, and remained in the possession of the Sanguszko family.

 It was first exhibited in 1904 at St. Petersburg. It was rediscovered by Arthur Upham Pope and shown again in 1931 in London, at the International Exhibition (Congress) of Persian Art, where it caused a great sensation. For the next twenty-three years, Pope had it on loan exhibition" and it became known as the Sanguszko carpet due to its provenance. The carpet was displayed in 1949 for the visit of the Shah of Iran to Pope's Asia Institute in New York. In 1951 Pope saw a picture of the jinbaori war vest of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) that is made from a Kashan flat weave, with the figure of a lion attacking an antelope, and Pope recognized the design as coming from the same cartoon as that used for this carpet."

"This jinbaori vest was made to wear over armor. It was reportedly owned by Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi and has been preserved through time by Kodai-ji Temple, established in memory of Hideyoshi by his widow, Kita-no-Mandokoro.
This vest was woven of silk using tapestry techniques. The textile may originally have been a carpet made in Kashan in Persia. The design of a lion attacking his prey is a traditional motifs in Persian carpets. Such carpets were imported into Japan by Portuguese ships in the Momoyama Period. Placing textiles on the floor, however, was incongruous with the Japanese life style, so the Japanese rarely used them as carpets.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the high-spirited Momoyama-Period military ruler, tried to maintain an atmosphere of luxury even within his military camps by turning exotic textiles such as Persian carpets into jinbaori vests."

Extracts:


What's in a name?

The one thing that is uniform in all Persian carpet stores the world over, is the naming of carpets. It might be less important to a buyer who is just looking to buy a beautiful carpet, but it is of utmost importance to collectors, investors, etc. The naming of Persian carpets was not always as academic as it is today. In previous centuries they were all simply called Turkish, Anatolian, Oriental, Caucasian or Persian identifying it as the highly valued handicrafts from the exotic East.

It is only when the trading powers tipped in favour of the West during the 1800’s and merchants gained more access to the Eastern empires and its rich old histories that it became fashionable to attribute a proper name to carpets. It was probably the stories connected to carpets of its provenance or the tribes who wove it that romanticised this valuable commodity even more. Just owning such a carpet and then being able to tell guests its whole story became a popular reason for throwing a dinner party, especially in America. These western carpet owners played an immensely important role in the academic information available on carpets today. Many of these owners were wealthy travellers and business owners who became collectors and in so doing it became important to document their collections, but to document it properly you need all the information on it: the maker, the place, the era, the materials used, the methods used. Many of these western collectors wrote books on Persian carpets with all the information in it that they could find and it led to more books and more studies. Today we are fortunate to have tons of information available and this often determines the value of carpets more than anything.

In the commercial world there are basically seven different types of names given to carpets: a city, a tribe, an ethnic group, a main selling centre, a designer/weaver/investor, a technique or the purpose.

CITIES:
Carpets are named after cities (such as Ishfahan, Tabriz, Kashan, etc.) because the weaving centres there are permanent. These workshops have specific designs and colours that they use to produce their carpets that are unique to them. These are generally finer quality carpets with higher values.

TRIBES:
Carpets are named after tribes (such as Turkeman, Qashqai, Kurdish, etc.) when these tribes are/were mainly nomadic and they are not based on a certain town or village to weave their carpets. They too have specific designs and colours that are unique to them. These are generally less expensive carpets since they are less refined but there are some very notable exceptions such as the Bijar and Bakhtiari carpets that are generally fine and dense products.

ETHNIC GROUPS:
Carpets are named after an ethnic group (such as Armenian, Jahudi Baf, Romanian, etc.) when there are no distinguishable tribes but it is made by the group as whole in a specific style and colouring unique to them. These carpets have different categories of fineness and the value will depend on this as well as the particular design used.

MAIN SELLING CENTRES:
In many countries there are many villages surrounding a city with a main bazaar where all the carpets are collected to be sold. These carpets are then named after this city/town as opposed to the villages (such as Hamadan, Mussel, etc.). Since most of these centres sell village carpets the values would depend on the fineness of the carpets.

DESIGNERS/MASTER WEAVERS/INVESTORS:
When a certain design was invented by a designer/master weaver/investor their names are given to the carpets as an identifier (such as Mohtasham, Haj Jalili, Ziegler, etc.). The value of these carpets depend on the fineness and age of the carpets as well as whether they were originally woven by the master weaver himself.

TECHNIQUE:
Some carpets are named after the technique of weaving (such as Gabbeh, Jajim, etc.) and are mostly tribal pieces woven by many different tribes. The values would mostly depend on the fineness and age of the carpets.

PURPOSE:
Carpets woven for specific purposes are named after the purpose (such as Prayer rugs, Mafresh – box covers, Sofreh – eating carpet, etc.). The name of the weaving centre or tribe might be added in front of the name to identify the place of weaving. The value of these depend mostly on the fineness and age.

For collectors there are currently five additional types of names that are added to the already long list: the era in which it was woven, the place of discovery, the Renaissance painters, historical events and the provenance.

ERA OF WEAVING:
This generally indicates the age of the carpet (such as Safavid Era, Mamluk Era, Seljuk Era, etc.). These carpets are rare and near priceless.

PLACE OF DISCOVERY:
Believe it or not, even with all the classification, there are still some pieces that are found but its origin cannot be determined. In these cases they are named after the place in which they were discovered (such as Topkapi, Pazyryk, etc.). These carpets are historical artefacts and priceless.

RENAISSANCE PAINTERS:
It was high fashion during Renaissance times to have your portrait painted with all your valuables and many Renaissance painters included Persian carpets in their works of art as well (such as Lotto, Memling, Holbein, etc). Their paintings survived into modern times and it was at first thought that they created the Persian carpets themselves since all their paintings generally included a particular carpet design. Only later when surviving carpets with similar designs were discovered was it realised that they were real, but the name of the painters stuck to it. These carpets are very rare and near priceless.

HISTORICAL EVENTS:
Our forefathers were constantly building and destroying empires and war booty was the prize for all their effort together with diplomatic gifts or royalties paid by subordinate kingdoms. These all often took the form of Persian carpets that was one of the main commodities for centuries. Many of these surviving carpets are named after historical events (such as Polonaise carpets) to commemorate it. These carpets are very rare and near priceless.

PROVENANCE:
Provenance plays a big role in naming some antique pieces (such as the Sanguszko carpets, John Clarke collection, Salting carpets, etc.) even when the weaving style or place is known. These pieces generally become museum assets and are near priceless.

Our RUGDEALER, Shervin Ghorbany, is of the opinion that since the naming of carpets started in earnest the industry has lost some of its value. He compares it to some old secretive religions of Iran that lost its mysticism once scholars started writing about it and in so doing either endangered its very existence or caused its demise. More than the names it is the enjoyment of owning a Persian carpet that you love that matters above all.


Persian Carpet Couture

Our RUGDEALER, Shervin Ghorbany, designed some Persian carpet dresses 15 years ago that was modelled at the Bryanston shopping center as well as at the opening of design quarter shopping center, by amongst others Miss SA Vanessa Carreira and actress, Mirriam Ngomani (who played in the International movies Lord of War and Hotel Rwanda, and also in SA's Deal or no Deal).

The Gift

Caught in a terrible storm on its way home from Batavia (Jakarta), the Dutch flagship Walcheren, filled with what was reputed to be one of the richest cargoes ever brought from the East, sought refuge at Bergen, Norway. Its 1655 and England and Holland is at war.

Frederick III in a secret plot twist allowed the English passage to pillage the ship and her rich cargo, but luckily for the Dutch the Bergen governor was unaware of this arrangement and was adamant to maintain Denmark's neutral stance. He interceded as international law demanded and protected the Dutch ship.

The outraged English then declared war on Denmark, but the following year, in a move of nice diplomatic irony, the grateful Dutch presented a treasured Persian rug from the Walcheren's cargo as a gift to Sophie Amalie, the Danish king's wife. In April 1700, this carpet, "woven with gold," was used in the annointing ceremony of the coronation of Frederick IV and Queen Louise, and it has served in the coronations of Danish kings ever since. It is kept at the Rosenborg Palace, alongside such other national regalia as the Danish scepter and orb and the king's throne.

Once a year, one week in October, The Royal Danish Collections shows the public the Coronation and Chenille Carpets at the Rosenborg Castle.

Photo by Jan Andersen, the Danish Rug Society