Among the more distinct and popular weavings being produced in Iran from the 1940's to the mid 1970's were carpets generally known as the 'American Kerman.' Made in Kerman, these rugs were appropriately termed 'American' due to the heavy influence of Western demand, particularly that in the United States. Most oversize carpets being imported during this time from Iran were Kermans: It's not uncommon to find this genre in unusually large palace sizes.
Qualities of American Kermans imported varied significantly, often starting in the 140 kpsi range, going up to 260. Generally speaking, any American Kerman with 225 or more KPSI would be considered 'above commercial grade,' often with the implication of an importer or contractor having backed production. Commercial grade American Kermans would generally hover around the 180 KPSI range, tend to impliment fewer top colors, and have less exacting design execution, quality of wool, less attention paid to eliminating white knots, etc. On a side note, it's not uncommon to find a Kerman with its original wash tag on it - if you see this on your rug, don't remove it as this sometimes may attribute the rug to a specific importer or seller.
The example seen within this post is a late 1950's American Kerman in approximately a 2'6' x 4' size.
Consistent throughout many American Kermans was the following: Very thick pile (1/2"+), scalloping design elements in curvlinear execution, at times a less traditional persian border with slight aubusson influence, well reconcilled corner spandrels (designs framed to point toward the center of the rug) pastel top colors, and often, an alternating two colored finishing weave in the fringe kilim (seen below in blue and beige running along the white cotton weave). Generally the rugs would have a thick, heavy feel, although have a floppy and malleable handle.
Above & Below: Structurally, American Kermans are somewhat known for having tight corners and slightly uneven tension toward the side edges. At the lower right portion of the rug above, the selvage dives inward. In extreme instances, the edges would begin to take on a hard roll. This is not a defect, nor does it necessarily affect the value of the carpet as there are techniques to treat most cases.
Above: knot density on this example is approximately 15 horizontal, 14 vertical using a US Quarter which is slightly smaller than 1"x1". KPSI is in the vicinity of 210 +, making this slightly above a typical 'commercial grade' Kerman.
Above: Detail of good quality wool used in an above average grade American Kerman circa late 1950's.
Above: American Kermans were notorious for providing serious cushion. This example we measured nearly 7/8" thick. There are pros and cons to this - a thicker rug provides more comfort, although have a slightly higher propensity to lose sharpness of design if not cared for properly.
Above: Close look at an American Kerman selvage. Note the wefting and warps showing through intermittently, which was often the case toward the edges for this type.
Common Sizes: 2' x 3' thru 12'x24'+: 3'x5', 4'x6', 6'x9', 8'x10', 9'x12', 10'x14', 12'x15', 12'x18', 12'x20', 12'x22', 12'x24'.
Approximate KPSI: Generally 140 thru 260 kpsi with typical examples in the 180 range.
Materials: Wool pile with cotton foundation.
Common Motif: Ornate design overall curvlinear. Most commonly feature a medallion with either a covered field or open field. Allover designs found in less frequency.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Thicker pile with floppy structure. 1/2" - 5/8" pile, longer fringe, well reconcilled corners, scalloped design elements, alternating colors woven in fringe kilim, sometimes muddled design.
Typical Price Points**: Average example in new condition $60 - $300 per square foot retail.
Signatures/dates: Rarely ever dated, although signatures and trademarks are not atypical. Producers of American Kermans with woven inscriptions or trademarks included Atiyeh, Arjomand, Dilmaghani, Royal Kerman.
Alternative Spellings: Kirman