Volume I Number 4
There was in
Kerman in the 1890ís a return to old standards. Here is Major Percy
Farman Farma [His Highness the Governor General] introduced
some ugly European patterns, but these, at my instance, were given
up, and by rigorously insisting on adhesion to the old patterns,
as well as by opening out new markets, I have assisted in bringing
the industry to a thoroughly healthy condition...
Kerman itself there are about one thousand looms, each carpet
being superintended by a master-weaver and two or more little
boys, who work entirely from a pattern which is recited, and contains
many obsolete words; it is said that these patterns have been
handed down orally from father to son for many centuries...and
aniline dyes, which have almost ruined the trade in nomad carpets,
are carefully eschewed. It is difficult to estimate the output,
but approximately it is 200,000 tomans or 40,000 [pounds] per
The rest of
the Sykes description is quite thorough, and consists of these observations:
(a) shawls had recently lost out to carpets as the premier product;
(b) the standard rug size was "about 7 feet by 4 feet 6 inches";
(c) the knot count for ordinary quality weaving was 640 "stitches
per 39 inches" for woolen carpets; (d) there were about 100
looms in the weaving town of Ravar with 30 more in Kerman district
generally; (e) silk rug prices (at 10 to 15 pounds) were two or
three times higher in the standard size.
The Major had
a judgment about Ravar (50 miles south of Kerman) rugs:
also a principal centre of the carpet industry, for which it is
second only to Kerman, the coarser qualities being woven almost
entirely in this district." (2)
of his lengthy involvement with Kerman, Sykes was accompanied by
his sister Ella, who also added useful information:
Kerman carpets are of wonderfully fine texture, having the pattern
clearly indicated on the reverse side, and are coloured with exquisite
vegetable dyes....As a rule they are only made in small sizes,
unless specially ordered, and are by no means cheap....Birds,
beasts, and even human figures are introduced into these carpets.
of carpets are made by the Ilyats, or nomad tribes in the
province of Kerman. These are all of coarse texture, and usually
the pattern is the favorite shawl one on a dark indigo
carpets being woven [by nomads at 'Rahbur'] were, alas, of a hideous
European pattern, the familiar one of scarlet roses on a black
ground, which may be seen in any cottage parlour in England, and
as they were of a very fine texture, their manufacture was exceedingly
Edwards knew, and cited (4) the Percy Sykes volume, but mentioned
only some of its statistics, neglecting its judgments and failing
to report that aniline dyes were being "eschewed" and
that European designs were abolished in general.
The dates of
the two Sykesí visits are unclear but it looks as though Percy was
in Kerman (with absences) for the period 1893--99 and Ella during
1894--96. Percy Sykes closed his Kerman days by becoming an entrepreneur
in two separate caravans of Kerman rugs (all selected by him) for
Quetta and sale in India, convincing him that trade to India was
later (1901) visitor, Henry Savage-Landor, reports on Kerman weaving
in much the same vein as the Sykes, characterizing the rugs as Persiaís
best in design, color, and softness and citing motifs of conventional
plant, flower, and bird representations. The enterprise continued
as that of an apparently new Governor-General and his nephew:
principal carpet factory is in the Governorís palace, where old
designs are faithfully copied, and really excellent results obtained."
reports are leavened with details, such as the "shawl pattern",
the nomadic product (marketed now under the label, Afshar), and
a datum on the gul-i-frank phenomenon. All in all these accounts
add up to a good general survey of Kerman weaving in the late Ď90ís,
even to the point of permitting rough output calculations. The upshot
is that there was in fact a weaving revival in Kerman in the late
- Sykes, Percy,
Ten Thousand Miles in Persia, London, 1902, p. 199/200.
Ella, Through Persia on a Side-Saddle, London, 1898, p.
A. Cecil, The Persian Carpet, London, 1953, p. 201.
A. Henry Across Coveted Lands, New York, 1903, p. 316/17.
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