PERSIAN BAKHTIAR. A ‘Village’ type handmade woollen rug woven in the west of Iran in the villages surrounding the main collection centre of Shahr Kurd.
Bakhtiari handmade wool rugs are almost always woven on vertical looms but some smaller rugs are made on horizontal, or ground, looms. The warp and weft, or base, is usually cotton but occasionally wool is used. They use the Turkish knot in the main and the wool is from local flocks which is of good quality. The dyes are not the most attractive shades but are not ugly either. They always make dark rugs in red, yellow ochre, bottle green, dark brown and bright blue. They are not particularly fine, typically 80 to 120 knots per square inch, nor hard wearing rugs so look out for the best ones which are called Bibibaff.
Persian wool handmade Bakhtiar rugs and carpets are easily recognisable by their distinctive designs, one of which is a squared all-over garden pattern full of cypress trees, plants and flowers divided by blue watercourses. The gardens without squares will often have a central tree of life. When they make a more formal medallion rug it will have a very pretty oval medallion with large corner spandrels to balance to a more floral design influenced by the workshops of nearby Isfahan rugs- the fineness of which is enabled by them using a different knot type. The hand-knotted wool rugs of the Bakhtiari tribe are never fine and often quite coarse but their cost always reflects this. A pretty alternative to a fine, thin city rug.
PROS- Bakhtiar rugs are not expensive, unless old or antique in good condition. They are quite heavy and solid and therefore make good rugs for busy rooms where the amount of pattern and deeper colours make them ideal to hide dirt and stains. Many colours to link up other room furnishings.
CONS- The poorer versions have cheap looking colours and wear quite quickly. Sometimes they also have tension problems and seem a bit flimsy so do not lie flat but this can be helped with a good underlay. The amount of design and colours can be overwhelming unless allowed to be the centre of attention.