Sarough Rugs – A Rich History

Sarough rugs, sometimes called Saruk or Sarouk rugs, are oriental rugs based on the exquisite, hand woven floor coverings that were first created in the 19th century by artisans living in Sarough, Farahan, Ghiassabad and other villages lying near the Iranian city of Arak in the central province of Markazi.

Where Do Sarough Rugs Come From?

The village of Sarough is located approximately 20 miles outside of Arak in the central Iranian province of Markazi, a city well-known for its carpet-making. These days, Sarough rugs do not necessarily come from Sarough, though. The term “Sarough” is reserved for all high-end Persian carpets from this region, carpets that are still woven by hand. The term “Arak carpet” is more commonly used for the machine-woven rugs that come from this area.

What Is the History of the Markazi Province?

Markazi is a region in Iran with a long history of human settlement. In the first century B.C., the province was the center of the great empire of the Medes, one of the four great powers of the ancient Near East.

The history of carpet-weaving in this region, however, only dates back to the 19th century when the demand for carpets for American markets spurred the creation of characteristic rugs that used the high quality wools and natural dyes found in the area. The delicate nature of the dyes were not quite bright enough for the American market, so often parts of the rugs were re-dyed a bright raspberry or blue color after they were imported into the United States. This is the origin of the Sarough rug’s distinctive color palette.

How Did Sarough Rugs Originate?

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the village of Sarough became renowned for exquisite, hand-woven carpets with floral designs that were primarily sold in the American market. Sarough rugs manufactured before the First World War showed a strong Turkish influence and tended to sport a classic central medallion design while rugs manufactured after the War made use of floral patterns on a raspberry backdrop.
One distinct subset of Sarough rugs is called Feraghan or Farahan Saroughs. These are room-sized carpets with an extremely fine weave comprised of asymmetrical wool knots on a cotton background. Farahan Saroughs typically showcase traditional medallion patterns surrounded by a floral border in a soft apple green or pistachio color.

Distinguished Designers from Arak

Some Arak rug designers became very well known within Iran for the carpets produced from their designs. Among these designers were:

• Isa Bahadori: Born in 1908 in Arak, Isa Bahadori gained international prominence when one of the rugs he designed won a coveted gold medal at the Brussels Exhibition.
• Asadollah Daqiqi 1905 – 1962: Asadollah Daqiqi learned the art of carpet design at the Mirza Abdollah Raisabadi School in Arak, and went on to establish one of Arak’s leading rug design centers.
• Zabihollah Abtahi: In the early part of the 20th century, Arak’s most famous rug designer was Zabihollah Abtahi who got his start in the rug industry in 1907 at the age of ten. Zabihollah Abtahi is best known for his exquisite Arabesque and Palmette Flower designs.

  • Asadollah Abtahi
  • Abdolkarim Rafiei
  • Asadollah Ghaffari
  • Jafar Chagani
  • Seyed Hajagha Eshghi (Golbaz)
  • Hosein and Hasan Tehrani
  • Zabihollah Abtahi

Are Sarough Rugs Still Being Made in the Traditional Way in the Region?

Carpet weavers in Arak continue to hand produce beautiful Sarough rugs today. Sarough rugs continue to be created by artisans who adhere closely to traditional hand-looming methods. Modern consumers have more sophisticated tastes when it comes to subtle colors, so Sarough rugs are no longer re-dyed after they are woven to intensify their hues.

Sarough carpets are woven from high quality wools using the traditional Persian knot, which means they will stand up to decades of use. Elegant, beautiful and durable, Sarough carpets are among the most popular carpets coming out of Iran today.


Color and its Impact on Interior Design

Do Colors play a crucial element in interior design and the direction you go with your rug selection?

Your choice of rug will be influenced by style, size, color and very importantly whether you are buying a Persian rug for purely decorative reasons or for a functional purpose in your environment and therefore have your rug stand up to the wear and tear of traffic.

Color is a part of the essential quality of the rugs that you choose to buy.  The colors in a rug are as important as the colors in other art forms such as paintings and the beauty and appeal of the rug depends on it.

Color and its impact upon the human psyche and our environment has played a major role through time and across many different cultures with the symbolism of colors sometimes varying from culture to culture.

For example, white in many cultures represents purity and peace however in the Orient in countries such as China white is the color of mourning.  Blue is often considered the color of heaven and the night sky and symbolizes meditation and spirituality.  Red is energetic, vibrant and powerful and represents passion, creativity and growth in many cultures.  Green represents paradise that is abundant with flowering trees and plants and the faithful spring that always returns.  Green is also recognition and attainment.

The beauty and appeal of many Persian rugs lies in the myriad of beautiful rich colors often made from natural dyes or for some Persian rug enthusiasts from the more subtle neutral colors and shades that can even come from the use of camel hair in a rug.

When introducing and mixing more than one rug into your environment color and tone are important, as is the pile.  Lay the two rugs side by side during daylight hours, step back from the rugs to look at them and then half close your eyes to examine the color and tonal balance of the two rugs.

Color can influence our mood, emotions, performance and even decision making so when choosing your Persian rug you may find yourself drawn to a rug that has colors that can enhance your mood and the enjoyment of your home or office.

Persian Rugs Color Your World

salmon-saroughOne of the most notable aspect of Persian rugs is their vibrant color which serves to make each of the rugs unique, a standalone from all of the others.

Before the beginning of the 20th century, the rug dye which was used in the making of the rugs was taken from insects, animals, and plants and not made synthetically. The dye recipes were passed from parent to child generation for centuries with each recipe typically being kept within particular tribes or families. The production of these beautiful carpets was a matter of great pride for both the maker and their family.

Materials Used in the Making of the Dyes

The preferred colors that are used in the dying of Persian rugs were originally obtained from day to day spices used for cooking such as saffron and turmeric. Saffron was used in the production of pure vibrant yellow whereas turmeric was used in the producing a softer, lighter color yellow. Another ingredient which was used to produce coloring was the mulberry bush but not the bush itself. Instead, there was a fungus which grew on mulberry bushes and, when used, produced a yellow-green color.

Cochineal insect has been used in food coloring during baking in order to form a red color. However, for a period of multiple centuries, the insect was used as a main ingredient in the coloring of Persian rugs. The word “crimson” also comes from a type of insect which also produced a red dye. This insect, the kermes insect, is typically found within oak tree bark and is known for its vibrant red coloring. Shades of red along with violet and pink were also formed from a plant, a common plant in Persia known as Madder. The way in which the plant is treated determines which color the plant produces.

Blue dyes were also created from a plant, the indigo plant which originates in China and India. Black is a not a common color found in the Persian rug due to the negative impact that this rug dye has on the carpet. The process by which black dye is obtained, the soaking or iron shavings within vinegar, has been shown to be corrosive to wool.

Additional dyes were created using a combination of the above ingredients along with others. An example is brown. This color was produced using the madder combined with green walnuts. This was not a popular color, however, as brown tended to fade the area in which the dye was used.

The rugs may also be colored using other exotic substances such as silver or gold colored thread. These threads were most often used in Persian rugs which were intended as gifts for kings or rulers of other countries with which peace was desired.

 Process of Dying

Each Persian rug is completely unique with the coloring process being the main reason for this individuality.

Instead of inserting the whole skein of yarn into the dye, each strand is dyed individually and then placed into the air to dry. Not only were the threads exposed to the air, they were also exposed to other external elements which caused variation in each thread, regardless of whether they were dyed the same color.

 Synthetic Dyes

The year 1870 saw the introduction of synthetic dyes to the regions around the Eastern coasts with these dyes eventually being used by the interior nomadic peoples who were responsible for the dying and weaving of Persian rugs. Synthetic dyes were less expensive to produce and made the process of producing the rugs more rapid.

In the year 1903, a king of Persia banned the aniline dyes due to the fading which occurred when the rug was exposed to water and light. During the 1920s, chrome dyes were introduced with the majority of weaving done today involving the use of these dyes. Despite the introduction of these dyes, natural coloring is still utilized in the manufacturing of rugs in rural villages.



Persian Carpet Sells for World Record Over $30m – Unique Floor Art a valuable investment

Persian Carpet Sotheby's sale NYC

IMAGE courtesy of Sotheby’s

A Persian carpet with a Sickle-Leaf, vine scroll and palmette design from the first half of the 17th century made history when a buyer paid a record $33,765,000 on the hammer at a Sotheby’s auction held on June 5th in New York.

The carpet was thought to sell for 10-15 million dollars. Prior to the sale on June 5th the global record for a rug sale came from a blue leaf-patterned, 17th-century rug from southeast Persia that was sold at Christie’s in London in 2010 for $9.6 million.

The rare 8’9” by 6’5” carpet that is believed to be from Kirman, Southeast Persia and the embodiment of the “vase” technique was a piece from the William A. Clark collection. The billionaire industrialist and U.S. senator, William Clark originally bought the carpet for his Fifth Avenue mansion. Clark donated over 200 works of fine art and rugs to the Corcoran Gallery through his bequest following his death in 1925.

Previously held for decades by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, the rare and beautiful carpet was one of 25 rugs and carpets that were sold at auction to generate funds so the Corcoran could purchase new works of American and contemporary art including photography and design. The Persian rug is well-recognized by enthusiasts and collectors alike through Oriental rug literature and many of these precious carpets rarely come to market being held in museum collections.

It is not uncommon for Museums to sell works that have been donated if they no longer match the culture of the establishment. Although due to policy the funds generated from the sale are not able to be allocated for administration and other running costs the $30+ million will go a long way in acquiring more contemporary and suitable works for Corcoran.

The winning bid made by an anonymous bidder who apparently participated by phone for ownership of the exceptional Persian carpet is an indication of the booming classical carpet market.  Collectors in the Middle East and Asia are purchasing historical oriental carpets from the 16th and 17th centuries with eagerness and the recent sale could be a sign that the financial tide has certainly turned at least when it comes to antiquities and fine arts.

As for where the rug will find a new home that is anyone’s guess with Sotheby’s never talk policy and the Corcoran claiming they don’t know the identity of the buyer, the rug could find its new residence anywhere from Europe to one of the Persian Gulf countries.  Islamic art museums are showing a trend in purchasing carpets from the golden age of carpet weaving with a desire to return them to their homeland.