Fine Persian Rugs from Kurdish, Iran
The Bijar or Bidjar rug is made in the Kurdish area of North-west Iran, and are known for their style and also for their weight, which makes them almost unique among the rugs traditionally known as Persian carpets. Bijar rugs have been woven by the Kurdish tribe’s people for many hundreds of years, although the Afshar tribes in Southern Iran have recently begun to make a much finer and more stylised version of this rug. Many Western collectors are familiar with this style of rug, both in the traditional forms and the more modern styles which have been developed in the last century or two.
The Location of the Bijar Rug
The rugs are made in the Bijar area of Northwest Iran, around the town of Bijar and its outlying villages. The town is in Kurdistan region in Iran, and while there are many Kurds outside of this area, the Bijar rug is mainly associated with the weavers of this particular district. The city of Bijar is at the heart of the former Persian Empire, and lies close to the historical rug-making centre, Tabriz. The city is still at the centre of traditional Kurdish influence, and over time has seen many different people settle in the area, from Turks and Azerbaijanis to Kurds migrated from Iraq and from other parts of Iran. This has all gone to create a unique area which has a very diverse culture, all of which is represented in the unique styles of the rugs.
The Colours of the Bijar Rug
The Bijar Persian rug can feature a variety of different colours, but the traditional weavers tend to have a very limited palette with colours such as blues, browns, reds, whites and yellows being the main colours, both in traditional rugs and in the modern form. The older styles of Bijar would concentrate upon patterns in red, yellow, white and blue, which are considered to be attractive to men, and the Bijar rug has gained a reputation as a ‘man’s rug’. The newer styles have tended to focus upon more feminine colours, with such things as pink roses being seen.
The Design of the Bijar Rug
The Bijar rug is known for its geometric and curved designs, with many curvilinear features being common. The traditional Kurdish designs feature many different styles of patters, including floral and animal features, as well as geometric designs. The rugs are particularly noted for their Persian curvilinear designs, although they can also feature medallion-styled motifs which resemble the Afshar rugs. You can also find a particular feature of the Bijar rug, which is a six-sided lozenge which is repeated inside itself three or four times, each one in a different colour. The traditional antique rugs have tended to feature lions as a particular motif, with some floral patterns, although both of these were highly stylised and did not affect the overall geometric feel of the rug.
The History of the Bijar Rug
The Bijar rug has long been a popular purchase by Western collectors, because the best quality Persian carpets are considered to originate from Kurdish weavers. Although they have been partially isolated by their nomadic lifestyle, it has also allowed them to experience a range of different cultures, which can easily be seen when looking at antique rugs. There are a wide range of designs which demonstrate how the weavers of Bijar have come to learn from their neighbours, but this can sometimes make them difficult to distinguish from close-by carpet weavers, purely on style alone. The designs of the rug make it clear that the Kurdish people have been making them for hundreds of years, with European heraldic images, Persian abstracts and bare backgrounds reminiscent of Middle-Eastern carpet designs. The historical features of the Bijar rug include the fact that they tended to be small, rather than large, and they were often made using goat hair and Persian knot styles, which added to the stiffness of the knots. This has meant that some of the oldest types of Bijar rugs are very coarse to the touch, and cannot be folded over as you might expect from a carpet or rug, while pieces produced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and those made in nearby regions, tend to be lighter. Collectors particularly look for rugs which have the signature of Taghavi or Tajhavi, master weaver of the Bijar region, and which are particularly noted for their fine designs and details.
The Uniqueness of the Bijar Rug
The Bijar rug is famously known as the ‘iron rug’ of Iran, due to its toughness. The backing material against which the rug is woven tends to be very dense and hard-working. In addition, the knots made by the weavers are beaten or thrashed during the process in order to create a dense, heavy fabric where the wool fibres are puffed up due to the beating and weaving motions. Like many of the traditional tribe weavers of Iran, the rug makers of Bijar have no large-scale industrial weaving, and instead most of the rugs are home-produced. This means that each rug is completely unique, and that there will not be any copies of each rug. The particular weft of the Bijar rug is also unique, with the antique wool weft being made by wetting the material and then pulling out the different stands, so that parts of the single weft could be at 90 degree angles to each other. This gave the wool a unique twist which helped to coarsen the wool. Some people have argued that these older rugs have three wefts, but this is an optical illusion caused by the angling of the wool. The modern weft tends to concentrate upon holding the strands in place, which sometimes means that the rug is finer and less traditional. In addition, the newer rugs tend to be larger than the older pieces, which again changes the appearance of the Bijar rug.