A Brief History of Meshad Rugs

Mashad Rug WeavingThe city of Mashhad (also spelt Mechhed, Méched, Machhad, Mashhad and Meshad) has long been one of the centres for production of famous Persian carpets. It is also one of the oldest centres of carpet weaving. The city is the capital of the province of Khorassan in north east Iran and it is located almost 900 kilometers to the north east of Tehran. Carpet manufacturing is extensive in Mashhad. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Khorasan was one of the leading centers of weaving in Persia-- with carpets produced in workshops and villages throughout the province. After a period of decline at the beginning of the century, dealers from Tabriz (city in Iran) established a number of factories in the city and brought in weavers to work there. Since the local dealers used the Persian knot and the new weavers introduced the Turkish knot to the region, you can find both knot techniques in Meshad carpets. As an unusual practice, few rugs were woven and the city became known for its large and oversized carpets. Well-proportioned central medallion designs were very popular and were valued for their elegant curves and intricate arabesques.

Most production today continues to be of large carpets with curvilinear designs and are also sold under the name Meshed. The wool from Khorasan is recognized by its softness. Their color schemes are usually tones of red or blue. These carpets are usually bright and cleverly colored therefore literally giving life to any dull room. Their foundations are mostly cotton. They are very well made and last a very long time. The United States enacted an embargo on all Iranian made products between 1986 and 1999. This included Iranian made Persian rugs. Washington had banned Persian carpets as part of sanctions against Iran in the past, but a goodwill gesture by the Clinton Administration in 2000 allowed imports of Iranian rugs. The rug loophole was closed however in September 2010. Unlike previous embargos, which caused a lot of rug sellers to smuggle the rugs through Canada, the latest embargo of 2010 is being thoroughly enforced my US and Canadian customs thus making Meshad carpets a very rare and much sought after Persian rug. 

Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.