Some antique, Persian rugs contain maps of the stars that could be used for navigation, as well as stories imparted through secret, hidden symbols. One style, Bidjar, is so dense, its nickname is “Iron Carpet.” Flourishes, like pompoms, indicate a special occasion rug, most likely for a bride. The prevalent bouteh, which translates to “little flower,” might be the original prototype of the paisley motif.
Fascinating fact upon fascinating fact led us to decide on a featured collection of antique Persian rugs this winter at Archeo. Yes, we gush about Gabbeh minimalism, Gabbeh durability. We iterate the tribal charm, the noble simplicity. And yet, we were enchanted with the mysteries behind antique Persians.
The project began with a trip to Providence, Rhode Island. True, we’ve traveled further for rugs (Iran, Morocco, India, Turkey) but we gained access to a small, highly selective collection there, owned by a Swiss family. And, by dining on Korean food, drinking Colombian coffee (Providence is quite the coffee town) and admiring treasures at the RISD Museum that included a 5,000 year old Etruscan hippopotamus, we still managed an international experience.
Ornate, fringed and lightweight, the antique collection appears to be the opposite of a Gabbeh. And yet, sharing space at Archeo this season, the two forms complete each other somehow. Together, they speak of an empire that once spanned three continents. They whisper legends. They display a vibrancy created to withstand harsh sunlight and the weathering of time. They bear the signature of human hands, in the form of countless knots.
Stop by and see them, if you can. They’ve come a long way to be here.