The Blog

Rug Speak: Knot Count

What is "knot count" and how important is it? 

Although knot count is an important factor and is good to take into consideration, it is not the end all be all when determining the quality of a hand knotted rug. There's a lot more than meets the eye. 

Knot count, also known as knot density, is the number of hand tied knots within a certain area of a rug. Determining knot count must be done by close examination of the back of a rug. Understanding knot count requires some understanding of how rugs are constructed. Hand knotted rugs are made up essentially of three elements, the warp (A - the vertical fibers), the weft (B - the horizontal fibers) and the knots (C - which create the pile).

Counting Rug Knots

The warps of the rug usually lie in the same plane, and when this is the case, each knot will appear on the back of the rug as two squares (nodes) of the same color next to one another from east to west on the rug. Sometimes the warps lie offset, this causes the second node of the knot to be hidden from the back. When both nodes are visible, they are counted as one knot. It is a common mistake to count both nodes as two separate knots. 

The two most common knot types used in rug making are the Persian knot and the Turkish knot. The offsetting in warps can occur with both Persian knots and Turkish knots. See the illustration below to compare the structure of both knot types. You can easily see how if the warps are lying in the same plane the knot will have two nodes. (Persian on left, Turkish on right)

A good general rule to follow when counting knots is: If you only see colored elements in pairs, you need to count each pair as one knot. If you see many single colored elements, the rug has offset warps and each element should be counted as one knot.  

Now that we know what we are counting, the knot count is the actual number of knots in a set area, typically that area is one square inch. To determine knots per square inch (KPSI), add up the number of knots within a one inch vertical and one inch horizontal area then multiply the two numbers. A rug with 10 knots horizontally and 10 knots vertically will have 100 KPSI.

What's in a Number?

It is a common misconception that if the knot count increases, the quality of a rug increases. In actuality, good quality Persian rugs can range in knot count from 85 KPSI (Like this Heriz) to over 500 KPSI (Like this Qum). It can be assumed as a general rule, that as the knot count increases, the cost of the rug will increase - especially when buying a new rug. The more knots, the longer it takes to make. For example compare a 50 KPSI and a 100 KPSI rug, there are two times the number of knots per square inch in the 100 KPSI rug, that means it will take twice the amount of time to create the same one square inch of rug, this increase in time equates to a higher price. 

Finest knotting (440 KPSI) on the left to the chunkiest knotting (20 KPSI) on the right.

Knot count does tell us the fineness the rug, this is important in that it tells us the level of detail a rug will have. The finer the rug the more curvilinear the design can be. Like pixels in a photograph the higher the count, the smoother and less pixellated the image becomes. Whether the pattern is a fine, curvilinear floral (like the rug on the left below) with a higher knot count, or a less fine, geometric pattern (like the rug on the right below) with a lower knot count, just knot count alone does not imply that one rug is better quality than the other. Both rugs are attractive, good quality examples of their types. 

Knot count can often tell us a lot about where a rug was made. Typically rugs with a higher knot count are made in city environments, where weavers are sedentary and the rugs are being made to be sold. Less fine rugs were often made by nomadic tribal groups and were being made for their own use (this isn't always the case with newer rugs). Experts use knot count as one of the factors (along with many others) to help them determine the origin of an antique rug.

Knot count is not always a direct indicator of cost/value. True antique Persian rugs are valued for their age, condition, and appeal, in addition to their knot count. As with most things, looking at just one element instead of the whole does not give you an accurate sense of quality and value. It is the coalescence of multiple aspects that attest to the quality and value; including age, colors, condition, and general appeal of the rug. In other words don't make any rug buying decisions based on knot count alone. There are many other aspects of a rug that should be taken into consideration. As we always say, buy a rug because you love it not because it has a particular knot count.


Thank you to the following sources for contributing information and/or photos:

Protect Your Rugs from Moths

It's clothing moth season once again. It happens twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, moths become especially active. This is the time you will start to notice evidence of moth activity. If you see clothing moths in your home, that means you already have a problem and it's time to do something about it. If you don't see evidence of moths, it is a great time to think about taking actions to prevent them.

Known as the Common Clothing Moth (Webbing Clothes Moth or Wool Moth), Tineola bisselliella can become a serious pest if proper measures are not taken to prevent or eliminate them. Adult moths are golden in color and the wings are fringed with golden hairs. They are small, approximately 10mm-20mm long, with a wing span of approximately 15mm wide.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia


The larva of the clothing moth eat and digest the keratin proteins in wool and other natural fibers, including silk, fur, feathers and hair. They prefer to feed on items contaminated with organic materials such as spilled food, body fluids, fungal spores or pollen, so a clean rug is the first step in protecting your natural fiber carpet agains clothing moths. 

Life Cycle of a Clothes Moth

The female Clothes Moth can lay up to 200 eggs at any one time. Once the eggs hatch into moth larvae they begin to feed. The clothes moth larvae will eat until they have sufficient energy to pupate. This usually takes 2 months; however, if food is scarce or temperature are low, then they can survive for up to 2 years before spinning a cocoon. The larvae will then stay in the cocoon for between 1 and 2 months before emerging as an adult. 

Contrary to what people say adult clothes moths do not eat, the male clothes moth spends their time looking for females to mate with and the female moth looks for favourable conditions where she can lay her eggs. The adult clothes moth does not cause any damage to clothing (or rugs), it is the larvae that are responsible for causing the damage as they are constantly looking for food.         - www.mothkiller.co.uk

Development from egg to adult usually takes two to three months, but can take years, depending on environmental conditions. Clothes moths thrive in high humidity. Storing un-wrapped rugs (especially rugs that haven't been professionally cleaned) in an attic or basement is a bad idea when trying to prevent moths.


Best Preventative Measures

  • Vacuum your wool rugs regularly - including areas underneath furniture, in infrequently used rooms, and rugs that are stored for any length of time.

Unlike other household moths, clothes moths are not drawn to light, instead they prefer dark or shaded areas, which means they can usually be found in the corners of rooms, under long-standing furniture, or in rolled up and stored rugs. Rugs can be of particular interest to them as the larvae can crawl underneath and cause damage from there. The clothes moth can also crawl under skirting boards or into other cracks and crevices to feed on any debris that has gathered and then lay its eggs there.

  • Rotate rugs every 6-12 months, this will help rugs fade evenly as well as get areas of the rug that are hidden away underneath furniture out into the sunlight. As noted above, clothes months prefer the dark and seek out areas away from direct sunlight.
  • If you have any major spills, or your rug is heavily soiled from use, have your rug professionally cleaned. Clothes moths are especially attracted to rugs soiled with organic materials.
  • Store rugs wrapped in paper or plastic with desiccant packets to prevent condensation and maintain dryness.
  • Be vigilant - prevention is the best medicine - continually follow the steps above.
  • A note for those of you who love vintage and antique rugs like we do: assume that any vintage or antique rug purchased at a flea market, yard sale, or antique shop already has moths. Have it professionally cleaned and treated for moths before you bring it into your home and you will save yourself dealing with a moth infestation down the line.

Steps for Treatment

Often the damage done by these pests is our first indication of their presence because they often go unnoticed until large numbers are present and damage is apparent. Once you discover you have clothes moths

  • Immediately vacuum the top and bottom of any rugs with signs of moths or moth damage, paying particular attention to the most affected areas. Promptly remove the vacuum bag and discard outside the house.
  • Take your rugs to a professional cleaner and have them washed and treated for moths. If you cannot take your rugs directly to be cleaned, store them in air tight bags until you can get them to the cleaner.
  • Vacuum your home throughly - including under furniture, in small cracks and crevices, and places that are likely to collect dust and other particles.
  • If you have the ability freezing your rug, thawing it and re-freezing it will help ensure that any remaining eggs are killed.
  • Once the active infestation has been taken care of, follow the above prevention steps above to avoid future infestations.

Moth Balls & Cedar

Moth balls are not 100% effective at preventing moths - they are merely a repellant - you can still get clothes moths while using moth balls. We recommend avoiding them as they have harmful chemicals. Instead use cedar blocks, like moth balls, cedar is only a preventative, but is as effective as moth balls and contains no harmful chemicals.  

If you have any questions about moth prevention or treatment please feel free to give us a call at 207-772-3843 or email us at info@bradfordsruggallery.com. We are always here to help.

Rug Repair Basics


Rug repairs can range from the simple over-casting of the ends or sides of a rug, to the complicated, time consuming rebuilding and repiling of whole sections of the rug. Regardless of the level of repair required the exact same principles apply for each repair. The repairer must study the structure of the rug they are repairing, they must match the materials (yarns) as closely as possible to the original materials, and finally the repairer must make the repair appear as integrated with the original rug as possible - altogether the result should be a nearly invisible repair. 

Rugs are made entirely with yarn, it is one of the most important element to consider when repairing a rug. A good repair starts and ends with the right yarn choice. There are several factors to consider when choosing the appropriate yarn: color, structure, fineness, and origin.

Color: Yarns can be dyed any number of ways, but there are two major categories of colors - those created with natural dyes and those created with synthetic dyes. There are many arguments for and against each dye process, but we will not discuss that here (you can read more about it on our blog Natural vs. Synthetic Dyes), the results from dying with natural materials and those from dying with man made chemical formulations vary greatly. When repairing rugs not only must you find the right color match to your original piece (which can be very challenging) but you must make note whether the original color was achieved with natural or synthetic dyes so that the yarn you choose for the repair blends with tone and shade of the original piece.

Structure:  Yarn is made of multiple fibers spun together, then to create a stronger yarn these single ply yarns are spun together to create a multi-ply yarn. The direction in which the fibers are spun, the direction in which the plys are spun together, and the number of plys used are all important to note so that when repairing the rug you can chose (or create) a yarn that replicates those in the original piece.

Fineness:  As mentioned above yarn can be single ply, or multi-ply, but even within those specifications there is great variability. A chunky, single ply yarn could be coarser or thicker than a very fine 3 ply yarn. You must match the fineness of the original yarns or choose a slightly finer yarn to make sure the repair does not stand out.

Origin:  It may be impossible to replicate a yarn's origin, but understanding what kind of sheep the wool came from and where it was raised can be invaluable in making your yarn decision. There are many different breeds of sheep with varying types of wool, differences in length, crimp, fineness, and color will make a difference in the appearance of the yarn. The closest you can come to replicating those qualities of the wool in your repair yarns to those of the yarn used in the original piece the better and more invisible the repair.

The visual appearance of the yarn is drastically different when looking at the side of the yarn (the fibers running side to side in the same direction) as you do in a flat-woven rug, versus when you look at the ends of multiple cut strands of yarn (the cross section of the yarn - ends point towards you) as you do with a hand knotted or hand tufted rug.

Finding the right yarn to do a repair means making many small but important choices. If you have a rug your are interested in having repaired please contact us or stop by our gallery at 297 Forest Ave. in Portland, ME.

Kilims, Soumaks, & Dhurries

What is a flat-weave?


In the most basic terms a flat-woven rug is created with the use of a loom to interlace two sets of threads, the lengthwise warps and widthwise wefts, thus producing a flat surface with no pile.

"The interlacing of strands to create a textile evolved from the simplest finger-plaiting to the fixing of warps on a loom making possible the efficient and rapid construction of tightly woven cloth... The oldest illustration of a loom is on the side of an Egyptian bowl of c.4000 BC, but most probably the loom developed with the earliest civilizations." - Kilim: the Complete Guide by Alistair Hull and Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska


"The possibilities open to the weaver for free expression in flat weaving are limited, however, by the techniques of weaving; this is in contrast to the more versatile work of the knotted carpet makers. As the pattern on a knotted pile carpet is made up of colored wool tied round the hidden warp threads, and forms no part of the structure, each knot may be a different color. In this way free-flowing compositions taking any form can be drawn. Not so with flat weaving, for the disciplines of integrating color changes into the structure limit the variety and dimension of the patterns that can be drawn. The weaving technique used, therefore, has a direct and conclusive influence on the patterning of the rug."       - Kilim: the Complete Guide by Alistair Hull and Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska


Flat-Weaving Techniques:

Slit-weave: utilizes a weft-faced plain weave but incorporates blocks of color leaving a vertical slit between the boundaries of the two colors. This technique results in patterns that are geometric and diagonal to maintain the structure of the rug. "All flat weaving people use slit-weave extensively as the basis for floor rugs, covers, and bags."  Kilim: the Complete Guide by Alistair Hull and Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska

Dovetailing weave: similar to the slit-weave technique ,except the wefts at the edge of each block of color share the same warp, eliminating the slit between color borders. The dovetailing of the two colors leaves more of a blurred division of colors.


Weft-faced Patterning: a technique that produces patterned color change in a way that is fundamentally different from slit-weave and dovetailing. "In weft-faced patterning, colored wefts are woven so that they only show on the front face of the weave when they are needed...When the weft is not being used on the face of the weave it floats freely on the back of the rug." ( Kilim: the Complete Guide by Alistair Hull and Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska) This technique results in a rug which either has a face and back that have a reverse image, or a back with long floats of yarns that make the rug non-reversible.

Weft wrapping: also known by the eponym Soumak weave (though not accurate), with this technique the weft is wrapped around the warp in any number of complex mathematical combinations which allow for interesting textures and directions in the weave.

These are only a few of the most commonly used flat-weave techniques, there are a multitude of other techniques that have not been included here.

What's in a name?

Kilim versus Dhurrie versus Soumak:

There are many names for flat woven rugs, most often the name they are given relates to where they are woven. Kilim is the name given to most all flat-woven rugs made in Persia - the actual weaving technique used can vary. Dhurrie is the name given to most all flat-woven rugs made in India - again the weaving technique can vary. Soumak, the name derived from the Caucasian town of Shemakha (also known as Soumak) as noted perviously is incorrectly assigned to flat-woven rugs made with the weft wrapping technique, and it assumes that this technique was only employed in Shemakha itself. When in actuality this technique has been used for centuries in locations all over, including Peru, Egypt, and Persia. Soumak is now more commonly used do describe the technique used to weave the rug.


"The essential aim of any flat-weaver is to create patterning with wool threads that are exposed on the face of the rug by alternating and varying the colors of the threads, whilst at the same time maintaining both structure and rigidity."

Kilim: the Complete Guide by Alistair Hull and Jose Luczyc-Wyhowska


Roger Oates Design

“An eye for colour,

authentic woven flatweave runners and

an instinct for everyday luxury

is the hallmark of

Roger Oates Design.”

Roger Oates is a brand new line for us here at Bradford's Rug Gallery. We have long coveted the gorgeous, UK crafted flat-weaves and are so happy to now be able to offer them to our customers!

Because we love the Roger Oates rugs so much, it made sense to dedicate a whole blog to the line. This is your guide to everything Roger Oates!

Roger Oates and Faye Morgan Oates first began designing and hand producing flatweave rugs and runners more than 25 years ago. Their distinctive products are made from a British Cheviot wool blend that's spun and dyed in Yorkshire, England. The Cheviot is a breed of white-faced sheep which gets its name from the Cheviot Hills, on the border of England and Scotland. The weaving takes place in the UK on specially adapted narrow-width looms to create rugs and runners with clean woven edges. All of the finishing is then completed at the Roger Oates workshop in Herefordshire, England.

The Roger Oates Designs feature a repeating pattern that makes them ideal for joining together to form a distinctive made-to-measure hand-finished area rug or wall-to-wall carpet. To maintain a high level of craftsmanship, all seaming and finishing is completed by hand in their Herefordshire workshop.

Stripes are versatile and may create the illusion of lengthening or widening a room depending on how the widths of the runners are placed together. Bold, large-scale designs are dramatic, while smaller, simpler designs create a subtle overall texture and pattern.

The RO Shetland Collection includes classic flat weaves using only 100% Shetland wool in six inherent natural colors that range from black to white. The resulting weave is highly textural with a notable spring to the touch. The Shetland is a small, wool-producing breed of sheep originating in the Shetland Isles. The wool used in this production comes in small batches exclusively from the Shetland Isles; the yarn is spun and woven in England.


Because all Roger Oates products are woven to order, manufacture time is approximately 10-12 weeks.

 Customers often want to know the life expectancy of their stair runners. It is impossible to guarantee how long your stair runner will last as they wear very differently dependent on the individual household and layout of the staircase. To prolong the life of the runner, a shoe-free policy is recommended. Please note that our runners are only recommended for domestic settings - not for commercial settings.

For more information, including pricing, or to see all the Roger Oates Design options please visit us at our 297 Forest Ave. Portland, ME showroom, or call us at 207-772-3843.

Natural versus Synthetic Dyes

The first synthetic (aniline) dye was discovered by William Henry Perkin in 1856, near the end of the Industrial Revolution. Prior to that only natural dyes had been used in dying textiles including wool yarn for rug weaving. "Natural dyes have been used since the beginning of organized society, developed so humans could paint their bodies, clothes, houses, weapons and religious icons.  The colors were obtained from plants, animals, fruits and earth," writes the Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, "In Mexico, [natural dye sources] include indigo, cochineal (an insect), moss, nut shells and leaves, wild flowers, tree bark, and even a sea snail that emits a deep purple ink."

Natural dyes are sourced all over the globe, each cultural center having it's own collection of regularly used materials. The colors used in older rugs are often indicators of it's origin, they can help identify when it was made, as well as who made it.



There is much debate about whether natural or synthetic dyes are better,  both in rug making and in other textile industries. There are many factors to take into account when trying to answer that question: cost, environmental sustainability, human health and safety, brilliance of color, intensity of color, and color fastness. Depending on your perspective, you may come up with a different answer.

Our preference, as rug enthusiasts, is always natural dyes over synthetic. Natural dyes have a luster and glow that is often lacking in synthetic dyes. Sometimes synthetic dyes can be jarring to the eye. Natural dyes are often more harmonious and most natural dyes colors will coordinate with any other natural dye color.


With natural dyes the yarn must be first dyed yellow and then over dyed with indigo to achieve the color green.


When talking about color fastness (a material's color's resistance to fading or running), natural dyes can have a tendency to fade faster than synthetic dyes, but as they fade over time they stay true to their original color, the colors just become softer and acquire a patina. Synthetic dyes tend to be more color fast, but when they do get to the point of fading they can fade to a different or muddier color than that of the original. For example a navy blue could fade to a gray, or orange to beige. You can see in the photo below a vintage rug dyed with synthetic dyes had faded and we sheared off the top of the pile to reveal the original color below. The vibrant magenta had faded to an almost muddy orange, the lime green to a pale yellow.



There is no right or wrong when it comes to natural versus synthetic dyes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us love those vibrant and sometimes almost electric synthetic dye colors, while others of us appreciate the results of the natural process of dying materials with plants and herbs. No matter what your choice fading is inevitable, neither natural or synthetic dyes are completely immune to the sun's rays. We recommend rotating your rugs every so often (every 6 months or so - more often if in direct sunlight) to keep the fading balanced and less noticeable. And most of all we recommend picking out a rug you love, regardless of how it's colors were obtained.



If you would like to learn more about natural or synthetic dyes please stop in and visit us at our showroom, we love to talk about all things rug,  we are at 297 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101 Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm - Closed on Sundays.

2018 Annual Summer Sale


Our sale is underway! All in-stock area rugs are on sale starting at 20% off! (Cotton and indoor/outdoor rugs - are 10% off) We even have a selection of area rugs in a range of sizes and styles with deep discounts over 50% off!


7'9"x9'9" Qing

It's that time of year where we want to clear out the old inventory so we can start ordering in exciting new products. Help us make way for new inventory and get a great deal at the same.

5'9"x8' Shirazi

Sale inventory includes traditional, transitional, contemporary, and modern styles. All colors and all sizes. Flatweaves, tufted, hooked, and hand knotted pieces.

9x12 Tibetan

The sale runs through Saturday, June 30th - our hours are Monday through Saturday 9am to 5pm (Closed Sundays). And remember we are closed for vacation the first week of July!

10'3"x11' Oushak

We hope to see you soon! Please contact us if you have any questions.

Hand Tufted Versus Hand Knotted

What's the Difference?

We do our very best to carry the best quality hand-made, wool area rug options, while also doing our best to carry a wide range of price options. When starting an area rug search it can be overwhelming to take in all your options - sizes, styles, colors, construction, etc. That is why we are here to help.

Often times with customers just starting their search one of the most frequent questions is regarding prices and why one rug is significantly more expensive than another.

Cost is typically dictated by three things: construction, quality, and fineness. Construction is how the the rug is made, quality refers to the quality of materials used in making the rug, and fineness refers to the level of detail in the pattern of the rug, similar to pixels in a digital photo. I'm going to talk a little bit about construction.

Below are some side by side comparisons of hand tufted rugs (on the left) and hand knotted rugs (on the right). Hand knotted rugs typically being of a much higher quality construction, gives them a higher price tag. 

Tangier Classic  versus  Vintage Farahan

With a hand knotted rug the weaver hand ties yarn around each warp (vertical foundation thread) creating individual knots, this row of knots is then secured with one or more wefts (horizontal foundation thread) that are then packed securely into place, on top of which another row of knots is tied and the process continues. This is an intrinsically strong structure that will withstand many years of wear.

Hand Tufted Construction versus Hand Knotted Construction

With hand tufted rugs, a pattern is printed on a pre-woven cotton foundation, the artisan than uses a hand-guided piece of machinery to poke yarns through the back of the existing foundation, following along the pattern somewhat like a color-by-number. Once complete a latex glue is then applied to the back of the rug (this is what holds it together) and then cotton canvas put over the back to cover up the glue. The latex glue that holds the wool pile in place breaks down over time and eventually the rug will begin to come apart. The heavier the wear the faster the latex glue will break down.

Galaxy 04 versus Fall

Don't get me wrong - there is a time and a place for all rugs. That is why we offer both hand tufted and hand knotted rugs. Tufted rugs are usually significantly less expensive than hand knotted rugs, if you don't have the budget for a hand knotted rug a tufted rug can often be the perfect solution. But, when you are pricing area rugs and you notice there is a vast price difference between two rugs it is likely due to the difference in construction, quality, and/or fineness of the rugs you are comparing.


Craft 00 versus White wash Heriz

If you would like to learn more about the differences in construction, quality, and fineness, come visit our show room and we'll be happy to talk more with you about all things rugs!

History's Most Significant Carpets

History is a huge part or what feeds our passion for antique carpets. Not only do you have the interest of the individual carpet's history but also the fascinating history of the cultures and the people who create them.

While all antique carpets have intrinsic historical value, there are only a few that really stand out as being some of the most important rugs in recorded history. Those include the Pazyryk Carpet owned by the St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, The Ardabil Carpet owned by the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet sold at a Sotheby's auction in 2013 to an anonymous buyer.

This is what makes each of these three rugs so historically significant:

The Pazyryk Carpet:

Photo courtesy www.nazmiyalantiquerugs.com 

The Pazyryk Carpet is the oldest known piled carpet in existence, it is reliably known to be from the 5th Century BCE. A Nazmiyal Collection blog post states the following:

"The land surrounding Siberia’s Ukok Plateau is vast.  Harsh in the winter, the region of Altai Krai is home to the Altai Mountains and the Ob River and her estuaries.  The plateau descends into the Pazyryk Valley, which contains ancient kurgans (burial mounds) in the style of the Scythian peoples who inhabited the area over two thousand years ago.

Archaeological digs in the area began in the 1920’s and unearthed a wealth of historically important items that offered intriguing insight into the little known ancient nomadic tribes of the Pazyryk.

Among the findings were mummies, cloth saddles, a full-sized burial chariot, decorative or devotional figurines, and cannabis seed with an inhalation tent.  When the tombs were unearthed, it was found that they had been remarkably preserved in ice since the 5th century BCE. The mummies that were found were so complete that they still had their tattooed flesh and hair. One of the most remarkable finds was the Pazyryk Carpet.

The Pazyryk Carpet most likely came from Central Asia, though it is really a tossup between Persia or Armenia.  Both nations have traditions of carpet weaving spanning thousands of years, and the horses represented on the rug are nearly identical to horsemen on a frieze in the ancient Persian city of Persepolis.  The possibility that the rug was produced by the Pazyryks is extremely slim, because the sophistication and elegance of the design is indicative of a settled and cosmopolitan civilization unlike the nomadic Pazyryks."

The Ardabil Carpet:

Photo courtesy Victoria & Albert Museum - www.vam.ac.uk  

The Ardabil Carpet is the oldest existing dated carpet, meaning the date is literally woven into the design of the carpet. The Victoria and Albert Museum (owner of the carpet) writes the following:

"[The Ardabil Carpet] was made in the town of Ardabil in north-west Iran, the burial place of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334. The Shaykh was a Sufi leader, ancestor of Shah Ismail, founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1722). While the exact origins of the carpet are unclear, it's believed to have been commissioned by the court for the shrine of the Shaykh, which, by the 16th century, had became a place of pilgrimage.

We can date the carpet exactly thanks to an inscription on one edge, which contains a poetic inscription, a signature - 'The work of the slave of the portal, Maqsud Kashani’, and the date, 946 in the Muslim calendar, equivalent to AD 1539 - 1540. Maqsud was probably the court official charged with producing the carpet and not a slave in the literal sense.

The wool pile, which holds dye much better than silk, is very dense - there are about 5,300 knots per ten centimetres square. This density allowed the designer to incorporate a great deal of detail. Making such a large carpet with so many knots would have taken a team of skilled weavers several years - up to 10 weavers may have worked on the carpet at any one time. Carpet weaving was usually performed by women at home, but a court commission like this one may have been woven by men."

The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet:

Photo courtesy www.sothebys.com  

The Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet is unlike the Pazyryk and the Ardabil in that is is not famous solely for it's age and condition but also for the astonishing price it sold for in a 2013 Sotheby's auction. A June 5, 2013 Washington Post article reads:

"A Persian carpet decorated with swirling vines and vibrant flowers that was stored for decades by the Corcoran Gallery of Art sold Wednesday for more than $30 million. That sum, fetched at a Sotheby's sale, shattered the previous record for rugs sold at auction...

The winning bid for the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet stunned viewers and participants at the sale, in which 25 rugs and carpets were auctioned off to raise money for new acquisitions of American and contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery. The anonymous bidder, who participated by phone, paid $33,765,000 for the 17th-century Persian piece, which came from the bequest of William Clark, the industrialist and U.S. senator who donated more than 200 works of fine art and rugs to the Corcoran upon his death in 1925. Before Wednesday’s sale, a blue leaf-patterned 17th-century rug from southeast Iran held the global record, selling for $9.6 million at Christie’s in London in 2010."

For a description of the Clark Sickle-Leaf visit the Sotheby's catalogue description here.

Forest Avenue Sewer Separation Project

If you are planning on visiting our Gallery at 297 Forest Avenue in Portland, Maine, please note that the city of Portland is progressing with it's Sewer Separation Project and are currently at work in the Forest Ave, Baxter Blvd, Bedford St area. There may be extra traffic as some traffic lanes are blocked off but the city assures us that our parking lot will remain accessible throughout the construction.

The City of Portland writes: "Project work will typically run from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM during the project unless night work is required. The contractor will be required to keep driveway access open to all driveways unless it is necessary to close in order to complete a section of the work. If driveway access needs to be disrupted the contractor will be required to give sufficient notice to owners prior to the disruption.

Drivers and residents should expect lane closures and traffic delays on all project streets during construction hours. Please be sure to check the City’s website regularly for project traffic updates."

For more information please visit the City of Portland website.

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