The very first Gabbeh rugs originated in Iran. Modern versions of Gabbeh rugs come from India, Pakistan and Turkey featuring visual references to their time and culture. Hand-knotted Gabbeh rugs are known for their versatility and durability because they are thicker and coarser than many other carpets. For this reason, Gabbeh rugs are an excellent choice for homes decorated in a colorful, modern style. If you love vibrant décor, be sure to view our tribal collection after you enjoy our selection of Gabbeh rugs.
History of Gabbeh Rugs
Gabbeh area rugs are one of the most sought after types of hand-knotted rugs. Gabbeh rugs come in a variety of designs and colors ranging from distinctively tribal to modern. Modern Gabbeh area rugs are a great choice for a contemporary home décor setting. European and North American fashion greatly favors Contemporary Gabbeh hand-knotted rugs. Although originally started from Iran some of the finest Gabbeh is now being made in India and Tibet.
Gabbeh this fascinating category of rugs is called by different names in different tribal areas. In Kurdish as well as Lori or Luri (rejoin of Lurestan) the word “Gava” is used for these kinds of rugs while in Bakhtiari tribes it is known as Khersak.
Weaving Gabbeh area rugs first started in Iran by a group of tribal people in Southwest of Iran among Qashqai tribes. Earlier Gabbeh carpets carried their tribal signature using fresh wool from the sheep that was not dyed and only used colors that can be found in natural wool. These colors consisted of white, beige, black, different shades of gray and different shades of brown.
The main use of Gabbeh was the internal use by mainly nomadic people in their tents and simple mud-brick houses. Thus the pile in these tribal rugs was very high to protect them from cold and harsh winters.
Nomadic tribes in this area, which stretches from the great southern Fars province of Iran through parts of the province of Kerman, have a long history of rug weaving using strong Turkish and Kurdish weaving influences and techniques. The famous Gabbeh is produced in the southern part of this vast province and the Afshar and Qashqai regions are also situated here.
The Afshar tribes are within the province of Kerman while the Qashqai tribes are spread across the two provinces and some other parts of southern Iran. Some rug weaving centers include the ancient and historic city of Shiraz which is in Fars, the famous city of Kerman which is in the province of Kerman, and the towns of Abadeh, Sirjan, and many other villages and nomadic colonies spread along these regions. These rugs were not originally made to sell commercially.
Rather, people who wove them were following an ancient custom that has been a part of the Iranian heritage for over 3500 years. Younger girls begin weaving early to demonstrate their preparedness for marriage and to offer their handiwork as part of their dowry and it is custom for most women to have this wonderful talent which is rug weaving.
Construction of Gabbeh Rugs
These rugs of this southern region of Iran are hand-woven usually with symmetrical Turkish knots up-to a density of 100 knots per sq. in. The wrap and weft structure is strong, durable cotton or in some cases, goat hair. The pile of the rugs is made of very lustrous and fine wool that has been shorn from local herds of sheep, and colored mainly with natural vegetable and root dyes.
The simple and gentle weavers here are very fond of bright lively colors because it brings enchantment to their plain and primitive homes. These rugs are truly unique and priceless treasures, which took these benevolent nomadic weavers months to complete. There will absolutely never be a duplicate of one of these rugs anywhere. There might be a piece similar to another, but never one identical to another. This is because each rug is a self expression of that individual weaver and there is no paper design or blueprint used. This is what makes these rugs so special and unique.
Designs in Gabbeh Area Rugs
Earlier Gabbeh carpets carried with them simple designs from nature such as pictures of animals, plants and symbols of tribal life. Later on, Gabbeh weavers brought in more details into their designs, which included simple geometrical patterns such as square, rectangle, octagon hexagon and triangle shapes, which together formed one or several diamond shaped patterns, with a certain degree of symmetry in them.
These tribal Gabbeh rugs also demonstrated the simplicity of tribal life in many ways. They were woven from wool without any dye simply using different natural colors of wool such as beige, brown, gray and black and were mostly woven for the family use in tribes or exchange for good with other tribes.
Gradually colors were introduced to Gabbeh weaving and When tribal weavers discovered the rugs as a commodity which could be sold to make a living, further improvements took place in Gabbeh weaving adding more colors and design patterns, as such that some Gabbeh are seen as portrait of life story of the women carpet weavers as well as the tribal achievements. It is believed that they sometimes incorporate their life and love story or the hardship that they have endured in life as they weave the rug. Perhaps it is for this reason the patterns and designs in Gabbeh are very random.
Some Gabbeh carpets could incorporate more sophisticated details and even busy designs, and more colorful in terms of the use of variety of colors.
The type of dye particularly in authentic Persian Gabbeh is still being taken from vegetable and natural materials such as onion skin, matter roots, and vegetable leaves and stems as well as some natural minerals from the earth such as red mud.
Gabbeh, From Traditional to Modern
As the fashion industry in the western world moved towards modern designs in home décor and as Gabbeh was introduced to the European and American consumers, simpler Gabbeh received an enthusiastic welcome and thus weavers discovered that the modern taste likes the plain Gabbeh without any pattern.
Step by step, Gabbeh was transformed into a simple modern rug with a single dominant color. Some other modern Gabbeh come with totally modern designs such as blocks of different colors and geometrical shapes. Thus during the last three decades or so, Gabbeh has become one of the most favorite rugs among the Western countries that every American wishes to have one of those rugs in his home.
Most common Gabbeh rugs now have significantly switched towards modern design. Before officially being placed in the category of modern rugs, Gabbeh had already used mostly open field with abrash color variations, few small designs related to nature often depicting the animals. Later even those simple pictures were eliminated rendering Gabbeh rugs into totally open filled with no particular design or square or rectangular shapes in different colors or harmonic colors of the dominant open filled. In most modern Gabbeh variation in the tone is seen as a natural signature of Gabbeh rugs giving it more pleasant feel.
One signature characteristic still remains with Gabbeh and is very much appreciated by modern designers, is Gabbeh rugs with variations in color that is known to abrash among rug dealers. These single-color Gabbeh Rugs with abrash tone and variations in the texture of the colors are normally more apparent if the wool in Gabbeh is hand-spun and also vegetable dye, which is often the case with Persian Gabbeh. Gradually other modern designs were introduced to Gabbeh; nonetheless, simplicity still remains one outstanding appealing feature in Gabbeh area rugs.
The more Gabbeh became known to the outside customers, the more attention was given to them and a flooring item that initially was made with coarse weave was relatively very cheap, gradually refined for a high class consumers. Now some Persian Gabbeh area rugs are created with a very fine weave and are considered very valuable.
Where Gabbeh Hand Knotted Rugs are Made?
Like most hand-knotted rugs, Gabbeh was initiated in Iran among nomadic tribes and later was reintroduced to some other countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. In its earlier stages, Gabbeh was seen as a course-woven rug with little artistic efforts demonstrating the simplicity of the nomadic tribes. It was comparably simple to make and needed almost no particular training and expertise.
Tribal women would start making Gabbeh as soon as they learned how to make a knot as there was no pre-design or mapping. However as it further evolved and gained popularity, and turned to a source of income for tribal people, they started making the knots and weave finer and finer and use a higher quality of wool and paid attention to its perfection. Nowadays, some Gabbeh is comparable to finest rugs and are made almost as fine as Tabriz rugs in their weave.
Material, Size, and Weave
Gabbeh rugs are made of pure wool pile on a cotton base and the density of knots range from under 100 knot per square inch up to 300 in some fine Gabbeh. Gabbeh Rugs are weaved in rectangular and square and sometimes round shapes. They also come in variety of sizes from 2x3, 3x5, 4x6, 6x9, 8x12, and 9x13 and even larger sizes.
What You Should Know About Gabbeh Rugs
The Gabbeh is a very unique hand-woven tribal Persian rug, made by nomadic people in Southern Iran. This rug's distinct style of weaving is especially suitable for modern, or contemporary settings. It combines thick, heavy pile with bold colors and shapes in unusual and exciting combinations. Gabbeh designs are extremely simple and uncluttered with large fields, bold stripes and geometric human or animal shapes that seem more sophisticated than primitive. The Gabbeh is often a favorite of many contemporary designers because of its beauty and utmost simplicity.