About Oriental & Antique Persian Esfahan Rugs
Surprisingly or not, of the top-ten most valuable rugs ever offered and sold at
international auction - at least three of those ten have been carpets made in the city
of Esfahan (Isfahan). Not surprisingly these valued carpets, especially the vintage pieces,
are considered by many rug insiders and afficionados to be among the worlds most sought-after
and finest examples of the high art of Persian carpet weaving.
These magnificent carpets were produced over 300 years ago
during the Golden Age of Persian Carpet Weaving in
the once-dazzling and then world-famous capital city of ancient Persia - Isfahan, Iran.
In the realm of intricate, innovative, subtle curvilinear embellishment
and stained-glass-like luminosity -
the finest Esfahan rugs are rarely surpassed.
The Esfahan Rug Style
Traditionally, the typical theme for Esfahan carpets - or the style of rug
most-readily identifiable as Esfahan features a central medallion surrounded by a network of
interlacing vines or flowers, the patterns curvilinear and exquisitely-intricate including vase,
garden, tree of life and scrollwork colorfully set on an ivory field.
These rugs are of an overall excellent quality - the very finely woven woolen pile often accented
with silk and/or metal detailing. The knot type is asymmetrical (Persian) and the knot density (KPSI)
may be as high as 600 or more. The pile is close-cropped - adding clarity to the surface design.
The rugs woven in this city are, as a whole, some of the best and most
valuable in the world.
Esfahan Rugs Sold at Auction by Christie's and Sotheby's
AN ISFAHAN RUG CENTRAL PERSIA, CIRCA 1930
Estimate GBP 3,000 - GBP 5,000 | Price realised GBP 3,125 [Christie's]
Finely woven, overall very good condition 7ft. 6in. × 4ft. 11in. (229cm. x 150cm.)
AN ISFAHAN RUG CENTRAL PERSIA, CIRCA 1930
Estimate GBP 1,500 - GBP 2,000 | Price realised GBP 1,750 [Christie's]
A few small areas of uneven wear, selvages slightly frayed in places; Approx. 7 ft. 7 in.
× 4 ft. 10 in.
AN ISFAHAN CARPET SIGNED SADEQ SEIRAFIAN, CENTRAL PERSIA, CIRCA 1940
Estimate GBP 16,000 - GBP 20,000 | Price realised GBP 35,000 [Christie's]
Finely woven on silk warps, overall excellent condition
12 ft. 2in. × 8ft. 5in. (370cm. x 262cm)
AN ISFAHAN RUG SIGNED M. HOSSEIN SEIRAFIAN, CENTRAL PERSIA, CIRCA 1950
Estimate GBP 8,000 - GBP 10,000 | Price realised GBP 15,000 [Christie's]
Finely woven, overall excellent condition
8ft. 2in. × 5ft. 3in. (247cm. x 160cm.)
A part silk Seirafian rug, Isfahan, Central Persia
second half 20th century
inscribed ‘Woven in Iran, Isfahan, Seyrafiyan’ - approximately 8ft. 3in. × 5ft. 10in.
Estimate 4,000 - 6,000 GBP | LOT SOLD. 5,625 GBP [Sotheby's]
The $4½ Million Dollar Esfahan Rug
A SILK ISFAHAN RUG CENTRAL PERSIA, CIRCA 1600 Late 16th Century Safavid Dynasty
Estimate: USD $1,000,000 - USD $1,500,000 | Price realised: USD $4,450,500 [ Christie's 2008 ]
Approximately 7 ft. 7 in. × 5 ft. 7 in. (231 cm. x 170 cm.)
This Silk Isfahan Rug (above) from the Doris Duke and the Newport Foundation Collection is
the Top-Five most expensive carpets and the most valuable Isfahan rug ever sold at auction
Currently there are 3 Esfahan rugs listed in the Top-8 most Valuable rugs sold at auction.
During the period when Esfahan (Isfahan) was the capital city, the reign of Shah Abbas,
1588-1629, ('Abbas the Great' - Safavid Dynasty) marks a peak of Persian artistic achievement
comparable to that of the European Renaissance. Under his directives and patronage, carpet weaving
became a major industry, and fine Persian rugs began to appear in the homes of wealthy European
merchants. In the fields of architecture, manuscript illumination, bookbinding, and ceramics,
the work of the period of Abbas is without equal; in painting it is among the most notable
in Persian history.
This period also marked the transformation of the provincial city of Isfahan into a global
metropolis and multicultural mecca: importing Armenian artisans and traders, welcoming Catholic
monks and Protestant merchants. Religious tolerance was extended to both the Jewish and Zoroastrian
communities who had lived there for centuries. The population now included Europeans, Turks,
Chinese and Indian ethnicities. During Abbas' reign Isfahan was larger in area than London and more cosmopolitan than Paris.
The city's opulence and grandeur inspired the slogan "Isfahan is half the world."
Most 'Polonaise' carpets were woven in brightly coloured silks on a cotton warp and silk weft
foundation and incorporated gold and/or silver metal-thread which would have made their
appearance both dazzling and brilliant. The absence of distinct lines, the lack of figural
representations and an overtly baroque treatment of the individual details are other defining
The absence of a single ground colour is replaced by curvaceous planes defined by scrolling
stems in-filled with different coloured silks and gold and silver coloured metals.
These harmonious and balanced compositions, although Persian inspired, were not however typical of Persian tastes but clearly
corresponded to those of the West.
AN IMPORTANT SAFAVID SILK AND METAL-THREAD
'POLONAISE' CARPET -
ISFAHAN, CENTRAL PERSIA, FIRST QUARTER 17TH CENTURY
Estimate: GBP 600,000 - GBP 800,000 | Price realised: GBP 3,895,000 [Christie's]
Remarkably good silk pile throughout, corroded silver metal - thread, a small spot repair in the
original fringes at one end, overall very good condition 6 ft. 7 in. × 4 ft. 6 in. (205cm. x 141cm.)
Woven during the golden age of Safavid art, it is only befitting that 'Polonaise' rugs with
their silk, gold and silver-thread epitomize this era to many scholars and collectors today,
who view these rugs with an appreciation equal to that of the European travellers visiting
the Persian court during the first half of the seventeenth century. - Christie's
Nejad Rugs is a designer, manufacturer and importer of Oriental, antique Oriental and
and is a member of ORIA - the National Association of Area Rug Importers.
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