antique kerman (or Kirman) Rugs and Carpets are perhaps some of the
most recognizable within the antique Persian Rug Category. Colors are
often subtle, with a true "antique" patina of a dusty ivory augmented by richer earthy-toned palette. Some examples will have bolder, contrasting colors, although are often of higher knot density. Antique Kerman Persian rugs and carpets
specifically made between 1865-1895 are almost all vegetable dye.
KPSI for Kermans Dating between 1865 and 1915 are often the vicinity of 225 to 650 kpsi
maxwith some exceptions. The
handle of such Kerman Rugs feature medium to light stiffness, with
very thin shearing. It is very unusual to find a Kerman Rug
which is constructed with materials other than wool pile on cotton foundation. However, there was very limited production of exceptionally rare and unique Kerman weavings using silk on silk.
Right: A Ravar Kerman (sometimes spelled Raver or Lavar) Circa 1885, shows
the essence of many of these older carpets. The overall motif of this
carpet is what would best be categorized in the "Milfleur Design" (or
"of many flowers") design genre. Notice the multiple bouquets in both
border and field. This is a uni-directional carpet in a half map
pattern, meaning the design has a specific direction and intended
orientation. In addition, this piece is also symmetrical on both left
and right hand sides. At the bottom in each lower corner of the field,
this rug features classic imagery of cypress trees, which are often
incorporated into Persian Rugs to symbolize life, longevity, and
prosperity. The top of the field does feature what appears to be a
lantern, and possibly a slight outlining of what some may consider a
Kerman Antique carpets are perhaps the most versatile rugs of this 100+
year old vintage in regards to Design. Percentage-wise, this genre of
rug seems to have almost equal motif distribution in three "categories" of
Persian Rug: Animal Motifs, Pictorials/prayer, and floral medallion/allover and even combinations of such.
Left: Classic Persian Pictorial Kerman from around the turn of the century, 1900. This is a classic example of Persian History combined with a pictorial motif of every major historic King or Shah in Persian History. There are several known examples of such carpet in almost identical size and design. This particular carpet measures approximately 9'x12', with a knot count in the vicinity of 600 Knots per Square Inch. Again, these rugs were sheared incredibly thin to optimize knot density and design translation to the front of the rug. The black border surrounding the field has inscriptions carried throughout. This is a uni-directional carpet, with a full map. No two areas of this carpet are the same with exception to a general layout template. A truly exquisite masterpiece, and museum quality Carpet. A similar example to this carpet (known as the "Kings of Persia" or "Leaders of the World") was sold in London in or around 1999 for the hammer price of some £50,000 including buyer premium.
Similar, yet varying somewhat from the reverent carpet described above, this example to the Left at one point did feature a now unnamed, important historical figure in Persian History. There are other versions which also have other historic figures, Western pictorials such as past presidents, and even famous European figures. The rug is a Milfleur design Lavar Kerman, with an animal motif. In the center of the blue medallion, there remains a faint outline of the subject's shoulders. At one point in time, an owner of this rug must have determined the rug might be more valuable without such character, or perhaps the character was somehow disgraced. The owner then had this area re-woven where the bust of such an icon once existed. This area has now been replaced with a "tree of life" design stemming from a vase. The re-weaving is remarkably well executed. In the main field there are two trees. The tree on the left hand side features all male birds, while the tree on the right hand side are all female. Although the reweaving if of expert quality, the value of such altered Lavar Kerman is not easily determined. A comparable carpet in this similar (approximate 5x8) would easily fetch tens of thousands of dollars in very good condition. The yarn is two ply, and measures approximately 17x19 knots, or a KPSI of around 323.
Right: A very unusual silk on silk Kerman carpet from the late 19th century. An antique (100+ years of age) Silk on Silk Kerman carpet in good condition is certainly what would be considered a Museum Quality Rug. The design on this rug is somewhat unusual, however, the are elements to such which have appeared in other Kermans of this vintage (and going forward). It's not uncommon for Kerman Carpets to have design elements within the border spill into the field. While not consistently used, it does seem more prevalent in Kerman weavings than other comparable Persian Rugs. Note the "Paisley-like" design elements stemming from each corner bending near the medallion. These are design elements which are adapted in many weavings, however, also seem to appear more so in Kerman weavings especially in and around the late first quarter of the 20th century into he second quarter. Kerman rugs, similar to other Persian Rugs, are also known to have excellent border finishing, with corner design elements in the border which are properly finished, and facing towards the center of the rug. Note the unusual, orange, silk fringe on either side of the carpet. Apart from the physical characteristics, this is an extraordinary example in workmanship, aesthetics, and materials. This particular carpet has been signed by the weaver as well.
Right: A Kerman Rug from around 1910. The motif bears many typical characteristics in regards to coloring of other traditional Kerman Rugs from this vintage. The color palette is soft, yet earthy, the rug features the "signature" dusty red as seen in many Kermans of it's age. This rug features an animal motif, coupled with a "Tree of Life" design centered at the bottom stemming from a vase. Cypress trees adorn either side of the field in the lower portion of the rug similar to pillars on a prayer rug. Birds sit perched on the Tree of Life as panning upwards the weaving. A Mehrab is seen at the top of the rug's field finishing at a point touching the edge of the border. Notice the doubling of palmettes in the wider border directly above. Not necessarily a common theme in Kerman rugs from this vintage, but some do have a double repeated design element centered on both top and bottom border. Others may be found to have two design elements closer together than normal as compared to those of which are found in side borders. Repeating a pattern, or slightly merging repeats is not uncommon in the border.
Left: A "Tree of Life" design Kerman Carpet. It's interesting
to note the colors of this rug are somewhat different: Brighter and
bolder. This particular piece was probably woven circa 1915.
Signature cartouches are seen around the entire border. This rug also
has several colors which were rarely seen of other Kermans just two
decades earlier. While this carpet has traditional Kerman
implications, it is worth noting this is a new spin on some of the
carpets which emerge in the late first and early second quarter of the
While not many Kerman Carpets of this 1866-1915 vintage are
"signed," it is worth noting that many master weavers did sign their
carpets. Perhaps a much higher proportion of such "weavers" or
workshops from Kerman
are more properly attributed to the weaving due in part to such
signatures which are woven into these exclusive pieces. Notable
weavers of this vintage who signed
their rugs include Kermani, Dilmaghani, Castelli Brothers and several