The Bakhtiari Rugs and Carpets of the Chahar Mahal

 

The principal market in Persia for these rugs is Isfahan Bazaar. Bakhtiari tribes do not weave the so-called Bakhtiaris at all.

 

They are woven in villages, scattered over a fertile well-watered area known as the Chahar Mahal, which is situated along the eastern slopes of the Zagros range, 80 miles west and south of Isfahan. The area is bounded on the north by the northern bend of the Zaindeh Rood (which separates it from the district of Fereidan), on the west and south by the Zagros Mountains; and on the east by the Isfahan plain. The majority of the inhabitants of the area are peasants of Turkish race and speech. But, there are in addition, a considerable number of villages inhabited by Persians; and in the northern part (which adjoins Fereidan, with its large Armenian population) there are seven Armenian villages.

 

Early in the nineteenth century the Bakhtiari khans of Haft Lang, acquired lands in the foothills to the east, which is Chahar Mahal, in order to have the comforts that were denied them with their nomadic existence. They set-up country houses and establishments. This way they enjoyed a comfortable life without breaking contact with their nomadic tribes.

 

The Turkish and Persian villagers of the Chahar Mahal have accommodated themselves to their new masters. They have partially adopted the Bakhtiari dress and some of the Bakhtiari customs, and have intermarried with servants and retainers of their khans.

 

These rugs are woven in almost every village of the Chahar Mahal. The majority of the villages lie in the vicinity of Shahr-Kord, which the Bakhtiari khans had made the administrative centre of the area.

 

When the Turkish invaders from north-east settled in the Chahar Mahal they brought the Turkish knot with them, and the villagers have retained it ever since. The fabric is generally single wefted and the designs are rectilinear.

 

The horizontal loom is still in use. That is why 90 percent of the carpets of the Chahar Mahal measure less than 11 x 8 ft. The weavers of Shahr-Kord prefer the upright loom. Altogether, the Shahr-Kord weavers have adopted a more urban style of weaving, upright looms, large sizes, a double wefted fabric and scale-paper designs in curvilinear patterns.

 

On the whole dyes used in the Chahar Mahal are good. They possess about 25 designs, most of which are common to several villages. These rugs possess character and individuality, sincerity and strength.