Thursday 18 May 2017

Heriz Carpet Catalogue,Volume I:Modular designs

Heriz,Bakshis,Serapi...the nomenclature  sprung on an ingenuous public by John Kimberly Mumford in 1900 was intended to describe the various carpet types from the Heriz District of North West Persia.Historically,Mumford was very close to events.There is no evidence that he actually visited the area,but he was in Tabriz with Hillebrandt Stevens to witness the recreation of an Ardabil carpet,and his descriptions have the ring of a traveller.He describes "Bakshis"as a place where "weaving is quite apparent"Apparently the carpets of Bakshayesh were known throughout Iran for their distinctive flavour,which attracted the attention of Ziegler in Sultanabad.It was their Armenian agent in Tabriz who organised the first major export production(this may well be the Karabeg Malik mentioned by Lettenmair as the discoverer of the Ardabil carpets)After a famine,a new manager took over and the quality improved considerably.They were sold in Constantinople as Heriz carpets,but when their quality declined,a new name was sought for the actual Heriz carpets,"which had retained their sterling character"The name chosen was that of Gorevan,a village with no connection to weaving.The Bakshis were re-classified as Hamadans,which had always been their shipping point.According to Mumford,it was at this point that Tabriz dealers started sending the Classic Medallion designs into the area.He describes the creation of the "Serapi" as an enhanced version of the Classic Medallion form,based on 16th Century models,and other Medallion designs from the Sarouk area and Keshan.Mumford is difficult to follow at this point,but he appears to be describing the pastel coloured examples favoured by contemporary decorators.Ironically,weaving in Gorevan seems to have sprung up as the result of this re-branding,but by general consent it has been going on in Bakshayesh for a considerable period of time.

The following Index is divided into three sections:I-Carpets with a Modular Design;II-Medallion Carpets;III-Silk Rugs.

The Heriz design repertoire is that of Classical Iran,featuring Lotus Palmettes,Medallions,Sickle-leaves,Lattice and Shrub-tree ornaments.Few examples have survived from earlier periods,but a number of carpets with Sickle-Leaf and Palmette spring to mind,basically a synthesis of Isfahan and Vase carpet elements.

The most prominent of these is a carpet kept since more than a hundred years in the Kunstgewerbemuseum,Leipzig.It has all the rambuctious quality of the later Heriz production

The carpet bears an inscription in Azeri script: "Owner of this carpet:the wife of KhwajaƬ Sarrafi(or Sawafi)

In a similar vein is a fragment once in the David Sylvester Collection

The large Sickle-leaves have transmogrified into birds,a typical Heriz-area device.A third example is on the Louvre Museum`s website

A carpet at Nagels in 1990 perhaps issues from a transitional phase

A crude Bernheimer fragment augers things to come

Further antecedents will be described in the following text.

CLICK on the orange-coloured link at the beginning of each entry to see more pictures;on each photo therein to view a larger image;and on the three dots at the right-hand top of the page for more information.


001 All-Over Connected Palmettes

A small group of blue-ground carpets,mostly employing the "Chintamani" border,so named for its resemblance to the design as seen on Cairene carpets.This is one of the two dominant border forms used in the Heriz area.The other is the "Turtle" or Herati border,originating in Khorasan.

002 Allover Palmettes Herati Border

 Endless variety achieved through combining palmette forms with sickle and fork leaves,often in an arabesque lattice.The Herati border was also subject to myriad transformations,from a primitive reduced form to an exquisite Khorasan style elegance.

003 Allover Palmettes,Chintamani Border

The "Chintamani" border was usually reserved for more geometric renditions.

004 Allover Herati Border Design

A few carpets employ the turtle border as a field design

005 Allover palmettes,Other Borders

An especially interesting carpet was published in the Tribal Visions catalogue

006 Repeat design Blue Ground

An outstanding carpet from Owen Parry(and at Bonhams) features collapsing Palmettes on an azure field

Other interesting pieces were published by Bausback(center row top) and Battilossi(left row bottom)

007 Repeat design camel ground

Camel coloured fields are a feature of Iranian rugs,all the way down to Hamadan.The colour is not usually made with real camels hair,but by using a naturally brown pigmented wool,which is overdyed using a tannin dyestuff.Naturally coloured wool will fade to an unsightly mass with time.One such dyestuff was purchased by the author in the Tabriz Bazaar in December 1978,and referred to locally as "the camel`s ear"

An outstanding example on a tan ground was at Butterfields in 2002(top left),employing elements from the Bakshayesh "Flayed-Skin" Medallion concept,to be examined in Part II

008 Repeat Design Green Ground

few examples can be cited with a green ground.One unusual fragment was at the Abadjian Sale(upper)

009 Repeat Design Red Ground

The largest group with varying repeat designs is on a red ground.They reveal the fantasy and inventiveness of the Tabriz area,a never-ending flood of ideas and inventions

010 Halevim-Herrmann Type

Many of the most beautiful Heriz District carpets are on a white ground.Examples with an all-over fork leaf design are known only on white.The best pieces were with Halevim and Herrmann.The other examples have a stereotyped version of the design,but are none the less extremely desirable.The first publication was a prayer rug(?) in Mumford(1900)

011 Scrolling Vine Palmettes

A group of white ground carpets with vine leaves draped languorously over an arabesque field

012 Repeat Design White Ground

Despite their aristocratic appearance,white-ground carpets were the cheapest to produce,as costs could be reduced through the use of undyed wool.It is said that in the 19th century the wool was mostly purchased from Shahsavan nomads,but whether in the form of raw fleece or prepared yarn is not known.

013 Allover Small Flower Design

In general, a group made up of small flowers or shrubs,which could easily be produced to any size.The idea was perhaps adapted from small-format Caucasian carpets

014 Animals-Phoenix

Five examples are known with a large Phoenix or Simurgh depiction.It is vaguely reminiscent of the cranes in the Pold Pezzoli Hunting carpet

015 Animals-Birds-others

Amongst the rare animal(and human)depictions in Heriz carpets,birds feature most commonly.Sometimes as prominent figures in the field,at other times hidden amongst the foliage

016 Animals-Birds in Border

A popular effect was to position the birds in the border,as if clambering along a perch

017 Animals-Other

A strange assembly of heraldic squirrels;animals engorging other animals as in the Indian Grotesque carpets;animal combats,lions and a fantastic Serapi carpet with cockrel center,are just some of the attractions in this Heriz menagerie

018 Arabesque

Some wonderful examples were created using arabesque islimi forms,including J.P Willborg`s blue-ground,vase-like beauty,very much in the Tabriz style;and the author`s favourite Heriz carpet,Battilossi`s magnificent green border masterpiece

019 Avshan

A design related to the Harshang but with the addition of fork-leaves,both of which are covered more fully here: Avshan

There are basiclly two types in use,a full field version and a simplified model with large rinceau,which may have been copied from Kurdish ateliers in Saujbulag

Grote-Hasenbalg illustrated such a piece complete with inscription,and a classic example was at the Voytech Blau sale in 2006

Grote-Hasenbalg 1-118-1bb 71

Blau sale Sothebys 14.12.2006-87

020 Bags & Poshtis

Few small size weavings have survived from the area;perhaps little wool was left over to make up bags and such after weaving a large carpet,as the yarn distribution was carefully controlled.A yastik style item once owned by Owen Parry and Milani of Paris is certainly a highlight

021 Botehs

Relatively few carpets with a Boteh design have survived from the Heriz district;perhaps they were done to death on the Ferahan Plain

022 Inscribed carpets

Although more than 70 medallion carpets are listed here with inscriptions,far fewer are recorded on other types.One special group of four pieces features a remarkable border calligraphy.The first such rug was published by David Black in 1981,and is perhaps still best of type;but a second notable example was with Owen Parry,and later at Rippon Boswell

023 Dragons

Abstract Dragon and  Palmette forms within a lattice,although not the classical Caucasian variety surmised by some authors to have been produced in the Tabriz environs.They are rather adaptions,perhaps from photographs.A second group has been sighted with sickle leaves so agitated as to produce the effect of prancing animals

024 Classic Designs

A number of designs from the standard Safavid repertoire were employed,most notably the 16 pointed large medallion.A small cluster includes a carpet once with Kevorkian as 18th century,but which is probably from the late 19th,as two other examples serve to illustrate.It had a progenitor from 18th century Khorasan,though

Sothebys 2002

Two examples with Garden designs have been published

The Tabrizi merchants,ever on the look-out for new opportunities,didn`t stop short at imitating classical designs from other areas,in the following case an Ushak bird carpet,a small-pattern Holbein,and a Star Ushak

025 Harshang Chintamani Border
026 Harshang Herati Border
027 Harshang Other Borders

This group is as varied as the Avshan pieces,perhaps even more bizarre;a redground fragment at Rippon Boswell with flaming Palmettes interrupted by long sprouting trees;a whiteground carpet at Ineichen with exotic leaf and palmette border;Herrmann`s formidable whiteground carpet with Karadja border,now with Hadi Maktabi;a brown ground model with exquiste yellow border;a blueground rug at Sothebys in 1995 in which the elements are rendered individually,in rows...
The group as a whole was dealt with here: The Harshang

028 Herati Pattern

The ubiquitous Herati,companion to the Boteh design in all department stores and warehouses

029 Karadja Border

The eponymous Karadja border,named after a noble group of prayer rugs,is invariably a garantee for quality and excellence.The"Flayed-Skin" carpets often employ it,as well as a group of rural medallion palmette rugs on white ground

030 Karadja Medallions

Although not far removed from Heriz,and  often sharing the same primitive Herati borders,the carpets from Karadja(or"Qaradjeh")seem light years away in style and expression.Perhaps the inevitable dark blue field helps distinguish them from their more pastel coloured neighbours,and an obsession with 8-pointed stars and striated palmettes does the rest.Of note is the large panel with this design

031 Serrated Leaf Lattice

Known colloquially as the "kebab" design the following have been dealt with fully here: Leaves of Grass  The highest award will surely go a cluster of yellow-ground Kelley with simmering dark blue borders,but an enormous carpet at Bonhams is certainly an eye-popper;the lowly fragment is remarkable for its medallion-cartouche border,derived from the Trinitarias carpet

032 Lattice Designs

A number of examples with Quatrefoil medallions and shrub designs are clearly derived from Vase carpet models,but less supervised jobs seem to have been improvised on the spot.A laudable effort published by Nemati showcases a forked-leaf lattice,whereas a carpet from the Fell Collection is obviously copied from the Caucasian "Goddess" sorority.A decadent and languorous large carpet at Skinners in 1999,with large Garrus-like border,seems inspired by Sultanabad

033 Shrub Lattice

Developed by the Vase-Carpet makers and perfected in India,the Shrub lattice design returned to Iran via Khorasan and was taken up by generations of Kurdish weavers.Hence its return via a proximity to the Heriz District.

034 Shrub carpets,White Ground

Stripped of its lattice the shrub carpets stand with flowers and trees arrayed in rows.Perhaps the grandest example from the Heriz District was sold at Christies in 1984,for $33,000,de-accessioned from the Williamsburg Museum

035 Shrub Carpets-Large Flowerheads

A sub-divison display over-sized surreal Sunflowers.A striking example on a white ground was at Sothebys in 1996,and again in 2005

036 Shrub carpets,Other

A few carpets are assuredly arabesque in style,perhaps denoting a closer supervision from the Tabriz ateliers.A green ground example at Skinners in 2000 is quite outstanding

037 Sickle Leaf Palmettes

Another large and varied group built on the dynamic play between Leaf and Palmette.These could certainly sub-divided into more mini-clusters.The style ranges from strictly geometric to Sultanabad chic

Sickle Leaf palmettes-Vertical Leaves

One distinct group displays ascending rows of paired leaves

039 Lotus Palmettes-Arabesque

Occasionally a classic Lotus Palmette design was attempted,but ended mostly in a naive excurse.The best examples recall Sultanabad,without reaching that level

040 Lotus Palmettes-Large Scale

An iconic group featuring the classic palmette enlarged to grotesque proportions. Some very beautiful versions were also woven around Lake Urmia,and perhaps in the Southern Caucasus,with glossy wool and superlative dyes ( the same connection can also be seen in certain Avshan models)

041 Mina Khani

The last member of the classic Persian design-troika is not overly represented;a few more example follow later with medallion

042 Plain Field

Such carpets were perhaps also useful for training novice weavers-the borders could be left to the pros.A blueground example at Sothebys in 1991 recalls Paul Klee with its resounding abrash

043 Prayer Rugs

Few prayer rugs appear to have been woven in the area,but some notable examples have survived.Pride of place must go to a piece once with Battilossi,and now in a Turin Collection,which seems to re-vamp the pomegranate-tree design popular in East Turkestan.A silk Bakshayesh can also be counted amongst the stars here

044 Prayer-Karadja Bij Majnun Pattern

Only 11 examples of this rare and desirable group have been recorded.They feature the daring concept of a weeping willow design in a prayer context.One example at lefevre in 1972 awaits deciphering.The American authors tend to call these Karadja;in Europe they are known as Bakshayesh.

045 Bij Majnun Antecedents

The Bij Majnun concept plays an important role in West Persian weaving,especially in the Bijar area.However it was also widely employed in the Heriz district.The oldest and grandest Tree carpet,the matrix of all to follow,is the Lees Williams carpet in Philadelphia

The design crystallizes,as so often,in Khorasan

A large Kelley in the Glencairn Museum is surely one of the earliest versions from North West Persia

Somewhat later appear a group of illustrious fragments with elongated tree forms

A whiteground example in the Burrell Collection is inscribed with the name of "Shahar Khanum"

Quite aristocratic is a group with Karadja border

All of which pave the way for the late 19th century Heriz District models

046 Bij Majnun Blue Ground
047 Bij Majnun Red Ground
048 Bij Majnun Camel ground
049 Bij Majnun White Ground

Quite a few of the blue ground models have a Karadja border,placing them in a similar orbit;1 red ground example is known;three camel/yellow ground examples,and three whiteground carpets also employ this border.

050 Cypress Trees

A further arboreal developement displays prominent cypress trees arranged in rows,frequently on a white ground

051 Cypress Tree and Mosque

Presumably a design taken over from Kirshehir prayer rugs,which could be easily adapted to fit any size,as long as it was big and square

052 Small Trees repeat pattern

Another "one size fits all" concept,but a remarkable carpet once with Peter Scholten is poised between these and the Bij Majnun

053 Tree of Life

A classic concept with ascending branches,of which the most iconic item was once with Nicky Eltz(and Eskenazi)

054 Tree-Others

A piece with cypress tree and mound appears to have been copied from a Caucasian model,itself taken over from a Yazd ikat.Two exceptional blueground fragments were once with Owen Parry and Milani,yet appear to have originated from a carpet once with Richard Purdon

055 Vine Leaf Palmette

Based on a classic Caucasian design drawn from the 18th Century,of which a good example was sold at Sothebys in 2006 for $72,000

Sothebys 2006

056 Wagirehs

Not a great many Wagirehs seem to have survived.A green ground example at Bonhams in 2006 combines elements of the Classic and Flayed-Skin Medallion,whilst a fragment with Osman Alan appears to have once been a large carpet.Skinners in Boston was specialised in these items

057 Sultanabad Style

That the Heriz District production was instigated by Ziegler`s of Sultanabad seems not surprising,as the know-how and experience was already at hand.Enterprising Tabrizi dealers surely carried this on after Zieglers departure,and some examples here are hard to differentiate from their southerly cousins,which are discussed  Here

058 Landscape with Animals

A remarkable group,some of which have been attributed to the Kuba region.Consisting of 9 examples(three of which were owned by Eberhart Herrmann)yet inhomogeneous

59 Tabriz Carpets in the Heriz Style

A number of medallion carpets are known,which for technical reasons have been attributed to the Tabriz ateliers.They are in the Heriz style,but slicker and more professional

060 Kelaty

An extraordinary carpet once with the London firm of Kelaty,and later at Christies in 2013.It has been variously attributed,and is presented here as a shot in the dark

061 Runners & Long Rugs-Allover Pattern

Not a great many runners are known,but usually they feature the classic designs,and in some cases a large scale border reproduction

062 Runners & Long Rugs-Medallions & Palmettes

Runners with medallions are more common,some pieces feature the Large Palmette design

063 Others

A variety of copied designs from all major weaving area,plus a remarkable Vase carpet once with Eberhart Herrmann

Herrmann,Hali 2-4-35

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