Persian carpets: masterpieces that hold timeless attraction

MARY OOMMEN –

For centuries, carpets and kilims have brought a touch of opulence to interior spaces with their rich colours, intricate patterns and sheer beauty. Those looking for original, handmade Persian carpets at Muscat can find some amazing treasures at little place owned by Kazerooni and Partners.

Tucked away in the lane behind Oasis Mall at Madinat Qaboos, this is an interesting, magical place. The walls are adorned with antique carpets – a rare deep violet Turkmani carpet competes for attention with a carpet dating back to the 1800s and an unusual carpet hair kilim, while stacks of carpets lie waiting to be discovered.
For novices, it can be a difficult task trying to choose from the amazingly wide range of kilims and carpets. This is where Ahmed Khalil steps in. With his innate charm and remarkable knowledge about carpets, he introduces pieces in his collection – sharing details about their provenance and history. Recognized as a connoisseur of carpets, he has supplied customised carpets from the Bidjar region, known for their durability and beauty, for the entrance hall and VIP lounge at the Grand Mosque in Muscat. He has been dealing with carpets for many years now and handpicks each piece in his collection directly from the weavers.
Sharing his immense knowledge, Ahmed Khalil says, “We can recognize the quality and origin of carpets and kilims by their colour, pattern and the type and number of knots used during weaving. Using these as a benchmark, we can identify the piece as having been made in a certain region or by a particular tribe. Sadly, while most of the weavers of these beautiful works of art remain nameless, there are a few masters who are famed for their work, and their carpets hold a special place as genuine treasures. The work of masters like Fatoallah Habibian from Nain, Ustad Mohtashem from Kashan and Mohammad Seirafian from Isfahan are much sought after for their delicate patterns, rich colours and stunning beauty.”
Today unfortunately, there are many manufacturers who are simply copying the patterns of the masters and passing them off as original Persian carpets. So how can we identify a genuine handmade carpet or kilim? Ahmed Khalil says that, “traditional Persian carpets are handwoven on a wooden loom, so one of the most important features to look for is the knot count. Machine made carpets tend to have a low and extremely uniform row of knots, while handmade carpets will have slightly uneven sized knots and a soft backing whose pattern matches the top pile like a mirror image.
“Another feature to look for is the colour of the carpet. Traditional Persian carpets use natural dyes that leave a subtle unevenness near the base of the threads. Most importantly, the fringe on hand knotted Persian carpets will not be sewn on as is the case with machine made carpets. In original handmade carpets, the fringe is not just a decorative element but an important part of its very structure.”
According to Ahmed Khalil “Handmade carpets are not just a purchase, made to decorate the interiors; they can be a great investment too. Each piece has its own story and while older carpets with rare patterns and unique colour combinations have a growing market value, most handmade carpets that age in good condition will increase in value too.” With cheaper synthetic carpets flooding the market, the general production of handmade carpets has slowed down. This makes owning an original Persian carpet all the more special as the value of these masterpieces will undoubtedly only keep climbing.
“The joy of owning a handmade carpet, that carries with it a rich history, cannot be explained. There are carpets with pictorial images woven into them based on the famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, others have poetic verses or the name of the master woven into them. Each of these are unique in their own way. Carpets from the Tabriz, Isfahan, Qum, Nain and Mashad regions are highly sought after for their intricate designs, unmatched beauty and high artistic value,” adds Khalil.
Handmade carpets are very durable, and with age and natural wear, often become more beautiful. To maintain their value over time, Ahmed Khalil suggests brushing them in the direction of the pile and not against it. He also dissuades people from beating the carpet in an effort to dust it as this can loosen the knots and damage it. To store carpets simply roll them up and cover them, leaving the sides open. Collectors around the world continue to desire these exquisite carpets not just as unique pieces of art to be enjoyed for their stunning beauty but also as sensible investments for the years to come.