I love Heriz rugs! They astonish me. The wonderful variety, the splendid colors and the glorious designs of Heriz rugs just thrill me!
But, “what is a Heriz rug” you may ask…. well, it is a rug with a design inspired by the legendary rugs from the Heriz area.
Heriz is a city in North West Iran in the province of East Azerbaijan. Heriz is only 60 miles from the famous carpet producing city of Tabriz but the carpets from these two cities are extremely different. Tabriz typically produced finely woven formal carpets and Heriz producing wonderful informal village rugs in rich primary colors.
The weavers in this area are Azeri people and they speak a Turkic language that resemble modern day Turkish. So antique Heriz rugs were woven with the Turkish knot. The rugs that were produced in Heriz (as well as the other villages in the same area such as Serab, Ahar, Gorevan, Karaja, Bakshaish) are easily distinguishable by their abstracted and crenelated plant motifs, vines, flowers rosettes and medallions.
The large central medallion Heriz rug is perhaps the most iconic. With its brash and brazen sunburst motif, these medallion rugs remind me of the classic so called “Eagle Kazaks” from the Caucuses. This is not surprising, as the village of Heriz is near the Caucuses and there was always the trade in goods and ideas between these regions. And, the nomadic tribes of the Shasavan people travelled freely between these regions.
But, in addition to the bold medallion Heriz rugs, there are countless all-over designs, multiple medallions rugs, repeating lattice designs as well as versions of the harsang motif to name a few.
Heriz rugs are typically loosely knotted from 40kpi to around 100kpi. (Although occasionally silk Heriz rugs were made with finer knotting). This coarser knotting benefits the informal styles and designs of these rugs. Heriz rugs are considered “village rugs”. As opposed the finely knotted and complexly drawn “city rugs” such as those from Tabriz, Isfahan, etc. the villages rug designs were much more “primitive”. Often, it is thought that these village rugs were abstracted reproductions of city rug designs. In a finely knotted carpets, realistic representations of trees, shrubs, flowers and plants are clearly recognizable. It is thought that village weavers reproduced these realistic motifs in coarser weaves in villages (such as Heriz) resulting in crenellated and abstracted flowers and plants that are sometimes barely recognizable as such. This is a plausible idea. However, it seems equally clear that certain motifs and designs were incorporated from the highly abstract and talismanic tribal rugs of the nomadic people from the region. But unlike tribal rugs which were made primarily as cultural and artistic expression of the nomadic weavers, Heriz rugs were made to be sold on the export market with first Europe and later the Americas being the largest exporters. So, as market goods, Heriz rugs adapted and were modified based on what sold.
It is interesting to note that in the early 20th century, the more finely woven classical city rugs were more prized in the US market. Heriz rugs were considered the poor man’s Oriental rug; a more utilitarian floor covering. However, today the opposite is true. A finely woven and highly ornate is often viewed as (the dreaded b-word) “busy”! City rugs are now less valued than striking and (by comparison) simple Heriz rugs. In fact, antique Heriz rugs sell for incredible sums with good 100 year-old examples going for $20k and gorgeous ones going for north of $100k.
I believe that Heriz rugs are the best decorative carpet on the market today! Their familiar lines appeal to those looking for a classic “Persain Carpet”. But the bold and angular geometry and saturated colors of Heriz rugs drawn in lovers of tribal and nomadic rugs. And finally, the highly abstracted and expressive motifs work wonderfully to offset and complement the modern and minimalist interiors that are currently so trendy in home design.
Our new Heriz rugs are the best selling rugs in our showroom. With the ongoing embargo with Iran, all of our Heriz rugs are now being made in Afghanistan, Pakistan or India. Most are made with all natural vegetal dyes. The more common medallion designs do not sell as well for us as the less ubiquitous all-over designs, so I am constantly searching for these harder to find rugs. And, I am always looking in antique rug books and auction catalogues for unusual and unique varieties of Heriz rugs. When I finds something uniquely beautiful, I will commission our weavers to recreate it in handspun wool and vegetal dyes.
Heriz rugs are our best sellers and amoungst my personal favorites. The incredible variety, personality and diversity in Heriz rugs is truly astonishing. Stop by Nomad Rugs to see a full selection of our new Heriz rugs.
And thanks for reading,