Meshad / Mashad Rugs
Origin and Motifs of Meshad Rugs
Meshad, is the administrative seat of the Khorassan province which is located in Iran’s east, bordering the Salt Desert to the west and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the east. It was a major oasis along the famed Silk Road, which stretched some 4,000 miles from China and India all the way to the Mediterranean which in turn allowed European access to Chinese goods. Meshad is currently Iran’s second largest city with over three million residents. The broader region is home to many well-known Oriental rug workshops in the towns of Amoghli, Khamenei, Makhmalbaf, Saber, and Zarbaf which produce antique Persian rugs that feature both symmetrical and asymmetrical knots. Antique Meshad rugs are 'jufti' knotted, a technique used in antique Khorassan carpets and antique Doroksh rugs as well.
With a good supply of soft wool and high quality craftsmen, Meshad has had a reputation as one of the most prolific, creative, and highly stylized sources of beautiful Persian carpets making them easily identified throughout the centuries. Most Mashhad carpets have corner-medallion designs strewn with flowers. The medallion, quarter-foils, and the main field of the carpet are typically dark-red or black-blue. The medallion in Mashhad carpet is often circular with sixteen appendages or oval. The main field of the carpet is frequently strewn with motifs adopted from filigree works of Kerman and Yazd. Considering the design, weave, and coloring of these carpets, they are very easily distinguished from carpets woven in Yazd or Kerman.
Meshad carpets feature multiple borders with eclectic color palettes, designs based on classical models, but executed with East Persian spontaneity with color schemes ranging from traditional burgundies and midnight blues, to the more contemporary tints of ice blue and beige.
As is typical of workshop rugs produced in larger towns, Meshad rugs can be larger and of a more consistent quality than rugs produced in a smaller village and, of course, by nomadic tribesmen. This is a result of the sturdier looms typically used in larger towns and cities (they are ill-suited to village settings and not at all feasible for nomads. They are too large and require an anchored placement) and the better quality-control which weeds out deviations and irregularities that would pass muster in a smaller setting not up to the level of Meshad’s artisans. Reflecting their pride in workmanship, Meshad weavers frequently signed their work, adding interest and value to the precious nature of these antique oriental rugs.