Friday, January 29, 2010

Persian Gabbeh Rugs

In the Persian language Farsi, the word Gabbeh means something raw or uncut. A Gabbeh is a traditional variety of Persian rugs woven for centuries and are known to be the world's best coarsely woven Iranian tribal rugs. Sometimes spelled as 'Gabbe', these hand-woven rugs have a size of at least 90 x 150 cm or larger and are characterized by an abstract design that relies upon fields of color and playfulness with geometry. Also an evident characteristic when it comes to Gabbeh rugs is its very thick pile woven in a relatively low knot density making it thicker than other Persian carpets. Almost exclusively knotted for personal use, these true nomadic rugs are fabricated by the woman's spirit and instinctive craftsmanship on their personal interpretations of life in art.

Made of natural hand-spun wool yarn, all of the different colors of Gabbeh rugs are created from natural plant dye. The Gabbe has a relative ease of production having less preciseness in pattern, small number of knots, etc. It is one of the less expensive variety of Persian carpets out in the market today.

The Persian Gabbeh generally falls into one of the following categories:

  1. Amalehbaft Gabbeh - these type of rugs feature a medium weave in terms of coarseness and knots-per-inch. These category of rugs have lesser designs compared to the basic Gabbeh. However, these beautiful rugs have a tighter weave, shorter pile and plain simple patterns that are great for adding color to a room without the distraction of too many design elements.
  2. Luribaft Gabbeh - Features a fairly short, fine weaved soft pile. Compared to the rest of the Gabbeh categories, the Luribaft typically have more complex, detailed design elements inspired by other classical Persian rugs. Similar to the Kashkoli type, these type of Gabbeh rugs are made of tightly woven, high-quality wool that give them a unique trademark gleam.
  3. Baluch Sumak - is similar to the Gabbeh Sumak, being that it is also flat woven in its design. Although less colorful than the Gabbeh Sumak, the Baluch is a gracefully, fine-detailed rug, usually with beautiful tribal design elements.
  4. Gabbeh Sumak - are not like the common pile rugs but are rather flat woven. The Gabbeh Sumak has its tribal designs colorfully woven directly into its foundation. Amazingly detailed and designed, such rugs as these Gabbeh Sumak are fairly inexpensive despite its stylish quality.
  5. Kashkoli Gabbeh - also features a fine weave and fairly short, soft pile. Known to be similar with the Amalehbaft and the basic Gabbeh, the Kashkoli have a sparse but colorful geometric design. The quality of the wool and the tightness of the weave make these brilliant rugs a sheen that you must see in person to believe.

The Gabbeh rugs are usually woven on horizontal looms that can be quickly and easily assembled by the nomadic people of Southern Iran. Materials such as local hand-spun sheep wool and vegetable dyes are what make up a traditional Gabbeh rug. These ingredients are extracted from native plants and roots found in the Zagros mountain range. These are then formulated from traditional recipes that have been perfected throughout the centuries. A few example of the raw materials used are pomegranate skin, madder root, indigo and walnut husks. The rich texture that emphasize the Gabbeh rugs come from the irregularities in the dye and wool that result not in a pure color, but rather a collage of similar hues.

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