Qashq’ai (Qashqai , Kashkay ) handmade Persian tribal rugs from south-central Iran.
A few centuries ago, before Nissan borrowed their name, the nomadic Qashqa’i tribal federation of southern Iran was roaming across the Zagros mountains and deserts of southern Iran (the Fars uplands) practising transhumance, tribal vendettas and being generally unruly and ungovernable. They were making their own highly distinctive rugs on horizontal looms which they used for the walls and floors of their goat-hair tents. All the materials were of their own production and therefore sustainable- the wool from their flocks for the pile and the warp and weft, the hand spinning done by the tribeswomen and children, the dyes were made from plants, vegetable and rocks and the rug designs were, and still are, a product of the weaver’s imagination.
Qashqai rugs adhere to a fairly rigid outline of a central, or multiple, medallion with four corner spandrels but the infilling of stylised birds, plants and flowers is left up to the weaver and they use their favourites from the natural world to do so. At their best, with their own Iranian wool which has both soft and hard strands within it, due to the land the sheep roam on, and with genuine natural (vegetable and mineral) dyes Qashqai rugs are possibly the most genuine in the world – truly the perfect expression of the signature of the living spirit. However, they are long since forcibly settled and the rugs are now made in large numbers and therefore there are many inferior examples on the market which you can see at low prices in global outlets such as IKEA.
This example of a handmade wool Persian Persian Qashqa’i rug shows the typical red and black main colours with lovely cream and orange highlights to lift the general tone.
Pros- almost always a unique infilling design. Lovely long staple wool that is soft but relatively wearing and extremely warm. Lovely natural motifs. Looks striking in any room. Pets love them to lie on. The natural oils in the wool give good stain protection. The good ones have real presence and soul.
Cons- Many newer Qashqai rugs are inferior in all respects so beware. Are not made in larger sizes. Can suffer if used in a high traffic area. Can have problems with the tension and therefore do not lie flat. An underlay is recommended for them. Pets can smell the lanolin in the wool and try to scent over it.