Per request on behalf of an interested reader, we've been asked to do just a short entry on kashan rugs and Carpets.
Kashan rugs have for a long time been considered the essence of Persian Rugs. Almost inevitably, the initial association when a Persian Rug is mentioned is an ornate oriental rug with a strong pattern with bold reds and blues. While Kashan rugs certainly have made a lasting impression with these colors, the evolution of such weavings is really an awesome conglomeration of many different styles, colors and variety. Some spectacular, and very fine pieces have been produced in Kashan for many, many years. It's also worth noting that Kashan rugs have a very rich and diverse history in design, color, and materials as well.
The example above is known as a "Manchester Kashan". This particular genre of Kashan was mainly produced between the approximate years of 1915-1930. The actual carpet seen above (13'x20') is very unusual: It's in pristine condition, estimated to be from 1920. The carpet is signed in a small cartouche at one end in the border. While this does not necessarily add value, it is worth noting as it's a very fine quality, unused carpet. manchester kashan rugs and carpets are given such name in attribution to Manchester London, where the wool used in production was imported from Australia refined, then later exported to Kashan for weaving. This is a very special grade of wool from the Merino sheep, which was quite costly to acquire and only reserved for very fine weavings. How this translates to the rug itself is with an incredibly strong and resilient pile with a high sheen and near silk-like appearance. Manchester Kashan rugs and carpets in very fine condition are highly sought after in the rug community. knot density for such rugs will be in the vicinity of 350 KPSI or so.
The rug seen above is again a very unique variety of Kashan sometimes termed as "Mohtashem Kashan". More formally, perhaps this is in reference to the historic poet, or the name a workshop where similar types of rugs were produced. However, the generally accepted attachment to the name "Mohtashem" (also sometimes spelled Mohtasham) in regards to today's industry, applies to a certain structure, age and quality of Kashan rugs and carpets. The rug seen above is from mid 19th century, estimated to be at least 140 years of age.
The two rugs seen above are believed to be one in the same. The rug is 100% silk pile, from Kashan, also sometimes noted as Mohtasham Kashan rugs. This is a prayer rug design (note the top portion of the field has a Mehrab.) This year, 2008, it appeared as Sotheby's Lot 130 (seen on the left), and believed to be what was once Sotheby's Lot 160 in 1984 (right side). The example on the right hand side is how it it had appeared in 1984, significantly different coloring than what shows on the left hand side. Although it is thought this particular rug may have been subject to a poor washing technique, it's not uncommon for this type of antique Kashan silk to take on a softer tone over the course of many years as seen on the left.
At first glance, the rug above does not appear to be much different than what had been a fairly large production of pictorial rugs in and around 1900. However, a closer inspection of the inscription cartouches (white fields in the border) reveals this is a very special variety of antique silk kashan rugs: The inscriptions are in Hebrew. This is a very unique example in excellent condition made sometime around 1905-1910. Several similar rugs have shown up at auctions around the globe in the last few years. However, the most recently auctioned piece offered by Christies in London in October, unfortunately, did not have mention of the rare and special classification.