The particular carpet documented in this post is an ultra rare, Museum
quality, silk on silk Heriz Persian Carpet. antique silk heriz rugs
and carpets have been regarded among the most
prized rugs of many private collectors and connoisseurs alike.
The owner of this particular carpet stated the age can confirmed to be at a minimum of 140 years old. There are no signs of repair, all ends and sides are intact and original. There are no knot heads, no low areas, and the silk is incredibly well preserved: completely malleable with no dry areas or degradation to fiber.
The majority of these silk on silk Heriz rugs rarely ever exceeded
6'x9', and just a handful of these larger sizes are known to be in
existence today. The combined characteristics of a silk on silk Heriz, the size (measuring around 9'x12'), the condition, and the motif, all contribute to making this a very unusual and highly collectible carpet.
Above: The silk on silk Fantasy Heriz in its entirety. The border has an animal motif complemented by floral design elements: references which would be easily found in the real world such as mountain animals, horses, and other. As many antique silk Heriz rugs, this particular piece does vary in size from one end to the other. A complete silk Heriz rarely had parallel sides and ends. This does not detract from the value, rather, simply a common characteristic of this particular type of hand knotted silk antique.
Above and Below: This particular rug falls into a genre sometimes referred to as
"Fantasy" carpets, which around the time of this rugs production was a
motif isolated almost exclusively to a select group of carpets woven in
Tabriz and Heriz, Persia. The history of this mythical motif can be
traced back many centuries, however, production of silk Heriz weavings
seemed to primarily be between early 19th century, then seemingly ceased
sometime around 1900. Some may say the motifs are crude, and reek
of naivete. However, the use of incredibly simplified line confidently expresses a deep understanding of
master weaving: practically unparalleled in today's production.
Condition is Everything:
Above: In the world of antique rugs and carpets, condition is everything. If the rug shows any wear, from a value standpoint, it should be very even, with little variation in pile height. There comes a point in time where if a rug is used enough, the knot heads or foundation will show through. This can have a drastic affect on value. For this silk Heriz, the photographs above and below demonstrate the pile is very close to its original height. Even after some 140 years, the fibers are still malleable, and very much alive with no powdering.
Above: Another photograph of this silk Heriz shows there is no oxidation to the tips of the fiber, and the silk has retained its original coloring. Note the neat arrangement of the knots. What we've done here for this photograph is a practice some refer to as "grinning the pile." Basically, this is a way of inspecting deep into the carpet by pinching the warps in order to bloom and separate each line of knots. Common reasons to "grin the pile" include inspection of pile height, check if colors are oxidized (faded or otherwise different than original), inspect for any dirt, debris or other abrasive materials which may hint to a carpet in need of cleaning, and finally, a simple way to determine type of knot used in production which may infer origin or attribution.
Above: A beautiful example of original selvedge (greyish tone). This type of selvedging is used in many types of Persian Rugs, and is often seen in some of the finest attributed silk Heriz and sometimes tabriz rugs such as hadji jalili (Hadjyalil). Note how neatly wrapped and woven it is, however full of imperfection and inconsistency. These rugs are not created by the confines of a rule book, rather with the unspoken understanding that no one human is perfect.
Above: Yet a closer look at the inconsistencies of this rug's selvedge.
Above: Looking at the reverse side of the rug, we can see both fringe and knots. Note the first two lines of knots, which are considerably shorter in height to those of the third and fourth row (taller). The creation of any rug is an imperfect art, however silk rugs in particular are very tricky to work with as spinning the fibers is considerably more slippery of a process and therefore inevitable variances of material thickness. Also note the fringe of good length, and original.
Above: The knot density, is approximately 16x17, or around 272 kpsi.