A Brief History of Sultanabad Area Rugs

Classic Sultanabad Carpet DesignThe city of Sultanabad (now known as Arak) was founded in 1808. At the time, it became the major center of rug production in Iran. Sultanabad carpets are distinguished as the highest quality of Mahal productions manufactured in the Arak region. Other types of Sultanabad designs may include productions from the village of Mushkabad in Iran. Farahans and Sarouks were also made in the Arak region, though are wholly different.

From the mid-19th-century onward, Persian Sultanabad rugs were exclusively made for the European market. They often favored the bold floral designs with spacious patterned rugs.

All rugs and carpets from this period were exclusively made with pure and natural dyes. Dark red, blue, soft green, gold, and ivory are the typical colors. However, the most popular color of the Sultanabad repertoire was a deep rose red. The red dye was created by bathing wool for two days in madder and whey after which it was scoured for nearly another two days with running water. Their warps, foundation and wefts are made of cotton. Their pile is made of wool. The wool of the Sultanabad rugs is hand spun usually from the weaver's own sheep. The rugs are woven using asymmetrical Persian knots to tie each loop one by one.

Besides using wide and bold borders, Sultanabad rugs have designs based on small repeating floral patterns as well as all-over large scale lattice vine patterns. Sultanabad rug designers simplified the designs by creating a special work of art with unique character.

Most similar to the Sultanabads are Heriz and Serapi rugs; this similarity being attributed to the magnificent graphic character of the designs. Yet within this similarity, the line work of the Heriz/Serapis is always more curvilinear and classical. Sultanabads share with Persian rugs all-over designs of palmettes and vine scrolls, but as they use a larger, suppler weave, the Sultanabad designs tend to be larger as well. Sultanabad's have great value in any condition, often favored for their bold floral designs with spacious patterns. To learn more about iranian rugs, please visit our Persian Rugs section.

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.