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The Persian carpet (فرش farsh, meaning “to spread”; sometimes قالی qāli) is an essential part of Persian art and culture. Carpet-weaving is undoubtedly one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. In 2008, Iran’s exports of hand-woven carpets was $420 million or 30% of the world’s market. There is an estimated population of 1.2 million weavers in Iran producing carpets for domestic markets and international export. Iran exports carpets to more than 100 countries, as hand-woven rugs are one of its main non-oil export items. The country produces about five million square meters of carpets annually—80 percent of which are sold in international markets. In recent times Iranian carpets have come under fierce competition from other countries producing reproductions of the original Iranian designs as well as cheaper substitutes.
Perserteppiche – Der Orient unter der Füßen. ARTE.tv
The designs of Iranian carpets are copied by weavers from other countries as well. Iran is also the world’s largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, producing three quarters of the world’s total output. Though in recent times, this ancient tradition has come under stiff competition from machine-made products.Iran is also the maker of the largest handmade carpet in history, measuring 60,546 square feet (5,624.9 square meter).
Persian carpets can be divided into three groups; Farsh / Qāli (sized anything greater than 6×4 feet), Qālicheh (قالیچه, meaning “small rug”, sized 6×4 feet and smaller), and nomadic carpets known as Gelim (گلیم; including زیلو Zilu, meaning “rough carpet”). In this use, Gelim includes both pile rugs and flat weaves (such as kilim and soumak).
Keep reading the History of Persian Carpets at source (Wikipedia).
Trailer of “The Poot”; a 2009 documentary about Persian handmade carpet by Elham Asadi. the winner of the Full Frame documentary film festival 2010 for the” Best Short movie” and Selected and screened at Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festivals (IDFA 2009).
“Carpet weaving is one of the oldest trades in the Persian world, but just as with so many traditions, the craft is under fire these days. Many of the carpets that end up on the European market are mechanically manufactured in China or India, and the handicraft is becoming less attractive because people can earn more money in other occupations. The Iranian documentary The Poot reveals how in some places, carpets are still woven by hand. We follow the production process from start to finish, without explanation or comment, in a film that has the same visual magic as the Persian carpets it depicts. From the grinding of plants into powders of a dozen different colors and washing out the bales of wool in the river to the delicate, dexterous weaving and the smoothing out of the final product with a sharp knife. We see this all in deep, saturated colors, under the red morning light of the rising sun and with a razor-sharp eye for detail. In this way, the documentary provides a loving, romantic homage to an age-old tradition, one that is slowly but surely losing importance.”
Wool is the most common material for carpets but cotton is frequently used for the foundation of city and workshop carpets. There are a wide variety in types of wool used for weaving. Those of which include Kork wool, Manchester wool, and in some cases even camel hair wool. Silk carpets date back to at least the sixteenth century in Sabzevar and the seventeenth century in Kashan and Yazd.Silk carpets are less common than wool carpets since silk is more expensive and less durable; they tend to increase in value with age. Due to their rarity, value and lack of durability, silk carpets are often displayed on the wall like tapestries rather than being used as floor coverings.
Designs, motifs and patterns
Persian rugs are made up of a layout and a design which in general included one or a number of motifs. The Iran Carpet Company, a specialist in the subject, has attempted to classify Persian carpet designs and has carried out studies of thousands of rugs.Their results show that there have been slight alterations and improvements to almost all original designs. In its classification the company has called the original designs as the ‘main pattern’ and the derivatives as the ‘sub patterns’. They have identified 19 groups, including: historic monuments and Islamic buildings, Shah Abbassi patterns, spiral patterns, all-over patterns, derivative patterns, interconnected patterns, paisley patterns, tree patterns, Turkoman patterns, hunting ground patterns, panel patterns, European flower patterns, vase patterns, intertwined fish patterns, Mehrab patterns, striped patterns, geometric patterns, tribal patterns, and composites.
Design can be described in terms of the manner in which it organizes the field of the rug. One basic design may serve the entire field, or the surface may be covered by a pattern of repeating figures. In areas using long-established local designs, the weaver often works from memory, with the patterns passed on within the family. This is usually sufficient for simple rectilinear design. For the more elaborate curvilinear designs, the patterns are carefully drawn to scale in the proper colours on graph paper. Each square thus becomes a knot, which allows for an accurate rendition of even the most complex design. Designs have changed little through centuries of weaving. Today computers are used in the production of scale drawings for the weavers.
Techniques and structures
The weaving of pile rugs is a difficult and tedious process which, depending on the quality and size of the rug, may take anywhere from a few months to several years to complete.
To begin making a rug, one needs a foundation consisting of warps: strong, thick threads of cotton, wool or silk which run the length of the rug and wefts similar threads which pass under and over the warps from one side to the other. The warps on either side of the rug are normally combined into one or more cables of varying thickness that are overcast to form the selvedge.
Weaving normally begins by passing a number of wefts through the bottom warp to form a base to start from. Loosely piled knots of dyed wool or silk are then tied around consecutive sets of adjacent warps to create the intricate patterns in the rug. As more rows are tied to the foundation, these knots become the pile of the rug. Between each row of knots, one or more shots of weft are passed to tightly pack down and secure the rows.
Depending on the fineness of the weave, the quality of the materials and the expertise of the weavers, the knot count of a hand made rug can vary anywhere from 16 to 550 knots per square inch.
When the rug is completed, the warp ends form the fringes that may be weft-faced, braided, tasseled, or secured in some other manner.
In order to operate the loom, the weaver needs a number of essential tools: a knife for cutting the yarn as the knots are tied; a comb-like instrument for packing down the wefts; and a pair of shears for trimming the pile. In Tabriz the knife is combined with a hook to tie the knots which lets the weavers produce very fine rugs, as their fingers alone are too thick to do the job.
A small steel comb is sometimes used to comb out the yarn after each row of knots is completed. This both tightens the weave and clarifies the design.
A variety of instruments are used for packing the weft. Some weaving areas in Iran known for producing very fine pieces use additional tools. In Kerman, a saber like instrument is used horizontally inside the shed, and in Bijar a heavy nail-like tool is used. Bijar is also famous for their wet loom technique, which consists of wetting the warp, weft, and yarn with water throughout the weaving process to make the elements thinner and finer. This allows for tighter weaving. When the rug is complete and dried, the wool and cotton expand to make the rug incredibly dense and strong.
A number of different tools may be used to shear the wool depending on how the rug is trimmed as the rug progresses or when it is complete. Often in Chinese rugs the yarn is trimmed after completion and the trimming is slanted where the color changes, giving an embossed three-dimensional effect.
More info on Source (Wikipedia!)