Hand knotted Gabbeh rugs: what characteristics do they have? How to choose them?

DesignMaterials and techniques May 25.2023
Hand knotted Gabbeh rugs

Hand knotted Gabbeh rugs are beautiful artefacts from southern Iran. They are among the most distinctive and fascinating Oriental products, thanks to the characteristic patterns and motifs on their surface.

In the decorations of these rugs, which look rather simple and rough, one often finds reproductions of scenes from the nomadic life and culture of the tribes that made them.

The surface of the carpet is traditionally decorated with figures representing animals, flowers or birds or with geometric or even abstract motifs. Proposed in warm colours, these artefacts are very versatile rugs that can be adapted to different domestic environments.

What are the distinctive features of hand knotted Gabbeh rugs?

Hand knotted Gabbeh rugs are among the most interesting artefacts from present-day Iran. The production of this type of carpet was particularly concentrated in the south-western region of the country by the nomadic tribes of the Khorasan region.

The term Gabbeh derives from a Farsi word indicating the rough and natural appearance of this type of carpet. As with other types of textile artefacts, Gabbeh patterns were initially used exclusively as coverings for nomadic tents. These artefacts were placed both on the floors and along the walls of the tents to warm and make the environment more comfortable.

With the passage of time, Gabbeh rugs have become increasingly popular for the beauty of their design and have become important decorative elements. Today, Gabbeh rugs represent one of the highest expressions of Iran’s artistic and cultural heritage. The production of handmade rugs in ancient Persia  is so important that Unesco has included it in the list of the intangible heritage of mankind.

As is traditionally the case with the production of hand-knotted rugs, the processing of Gabbeh patterns also requires great skill. The weavers work in close contact with the loom on which the warp threads are fixed.

In the production of hand knotted Gabbeh rugs, a wool yarn is almost always used, the fibres of which are carefully selected to ensure a high quality and long-lasting product. The design of these textiles is not as elaborate as that of the better-known Persian rugs, but still the craftsmanship can take weeks or months to complete the large-format models.

What are all the benefits of hand knotted Gabbeh rugs?

Hand knotted Gabbeh rugs

The benefits of hand knotted Gabbeh rugs are numerous and have to do with both their aesthetic appearance and their functionality.

One of the first things to consider when evaluating the benefits of this type of carpet is the quality of the materials from which they are made. Gabbeh rugs are generally made from high-quality wool from sheep living in southern Iran. The wool used to make Gabbeh rugs is very soft and durable, resulting in a comfortable and long-lasting product. The wool yarn is also slightly shiny and gives the finished product an elegant and exclusive look. 

The wool is dyed using colours derived from plants, flowers and fruits. This natural processing makes Gabbeh’s hand-knotted rugs sustainable and environmentally friendly, and also suitable for eco-friendly interior design.

Gabbeh rugs are quite thick, which generally makes them stronger and more durable than thin rugs. Due to their robustness, these rugs are ideal for all areas of the home where a hardwearing carpet is needed, such as the entrance area, living room or hallways.

What to consider when choosing a handmade Gabbeh carpet?

When deciding to furnish with a hand-knotted Gabbeh rug, assessing the quality of the rug is a key factor. To evaluate it, one should firstly consider the number of knots per square centimetre: a high number of knots testifies to the fact that a fine yarn has been used and that the weft of the carpet is compact, making it stronger and more durable.

Secondly, it is important to consider how the carpet matches the context in which it will be placed. In order to choose the design and colours of the Gabbeh rug, it is important to consider what the style of one’s own furnishings and accessories are.

Finally, when choosing the ideal Gabbeh rug, the importance of the size of the model should not be underestimated. In general, hand knotted Gabbeh rugs are rectangular in shape and medium to large in size. However, smaller designs can be found, or it is possible to request custom-made hand-knotted pieces.

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