Mashad as A Carpet Centre
Mashad was more important as a carpet centre before the 1940s. The reasons for its relative decline was the closing of the European markets on which Mashad almost exclusively depended and the second is the Mashad Carpet itself as will be explained below.
Mashad is the centre for all the varied weaves of eastern Persia. These include the Turkibaft and Farsibaft of Mashad, which are woven in the city, in its suburbs and in a few neighbouring villages. The carpets from Birjand, Qainat, Kashmar, Baluchi tribal rugs, Yomut, Tabas and Nishaboor.
The Mashad Carpet
Northern Khorasan is one of principal wool producing areas of Iran. The best wool comes from Turbat-e-Heidarie, where there are good pastures. Good wool can also be found in Nishapour, Sabsevar and Qoochan.
In Northern Khorasan sheep are clipped in May and September. The spring clip is strong and long in staple. However, the autumn one is softer and shorter in fibre.
In the 30s and 40s the master weavers of Mashed used the autumn clip because the carding technique for wool was very backward. This is why the legend for softness of Khorasan wool exists. This also meant the lack of durability of these carpets. But there were other factors contributing to this.
One is dying of the yarns. They used to steep the yarn in lime for 24 hours. This used to weaken the red yarn. Since it was done for dying with Cochineal.
The other is the Jufti knot. This was confined to the Farsi Baft weave.
The Turki Baft weave outnumbers Farsi Baft by 3:1. Meshed is the only area that has both weaves.
The Farsi Baft weave, which employs the Jufti knot, is woven with the Persian knot. Jufti knot is tied round four warp strings instead of tow. Hence quickening the weaving process and lessening the use of materials. Consequently the finished material does not stand up to hard wear.
Therefore the three weaknesses of the Meshed carpet were it was made with yarn from autumn wool. Its principal ground colour was dyed after the yarn had been steeped in lime for 24 hours and the Jufti knot.
In the mid forties the master weavers of Meshed had given up using the autumn clip and had reduced the use of Jufti knot and had persuaded some of the dyers to give up the steeping of yarn in lime for 24 hours. Thus bettering the quality of their carpets.
The Turki Baft Weave
The Tabriz Merchants who established looms in the city and began to weave carpets for exporet introduced this weave to Mashed. In the early 1900s like the Tabrizis the weavers used the hook for the Turkish knot and therefore unable to tie Jufti knot.
For both fabrics the same thickness of mill-spun cotton is used for warp. For the thick weft hand spun yarn is used. It is much thicker than that generally used in Persia for these purposes and is unevenly twisted and dyed grey. The thin weft is dyed blue.
In the early 50s the general standard of design and workmanship was unworthy of the name Mashed. Designs lacked refinement and originality. Draftsman ship was poor. Bad factory weaving and frequent errors with coarsely woven selvedge.
During these times the master weavers of Mashed usually dyed their own yarn, where as others gave their yarn to the town dyers. However, there were not too imaginative in dying new shades of Cochineal.