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By : Nasrollah Taslimi


As an important art, weaving has always been practiced among scattered tribes in Iran ; it is the birthplace and origin of numerous other arts which have gradually evolved along with the tree important factors of need, necessity and time. Those who are after perfection and beauty can turn to woven works of art and find their share of satisfaction in them.

The first floor covering was woven with the reeds and plants which grew in the swamps of the lower Mesopotamia . In fact, the background to weaving could be traced back in weaving of plant stalks and the production of mats by early weavers. Weaving as a technique was taken up and followed by the nomads, tribes and tent-dwellers in the Iranian plateau and greatly developed and burgeoned owing to these people's exceptional wit and industry: they managed to create novel designs and wonderful colors and gradually transfer them to cities and other urban areas.

As important and precious hand-woven fabrics, gilims are, in fact, "pileless" carpet woven with cotton or wool threads.

They are used as floor-coverings, curtains, tents, bed-packing covers, prayer rugs, "khorjins" (saddle-bags), "poshtis" (woven fabrics to lean on while sitting on the ground ) and even sufrehs. Gilims have developed according to each area's characteristics, its tribal heritage, the taste and thought of its people and its culture and artistic background. The artist weaver gives shape to thoughts which have roots in the mature surrounding her and the songs she hears to create her wonderful artefact- the gilim.

The oldest specimen of a gilim in Iran belongs to the Seljuq period. It is embellished with Kufic script and an illustration from the ancient book Kalileh va Demneh.

There is a woman in this gilim who has pulled a stripped cover on her on some strips of which there are zigzag design. This particular type of design is reminiscent of gilims in Fars region which were used as decorative quilts.

There is also an Achaemenid woollen gilim in Hermitage museum woven in the Pazyryk area on which some queens are standing in front of fireplaces performing their religious ceremonies. These fireplaces are similar to the fireplaces depicted in front of Darius in the raised figures of Takht-e Jamshid.

There is also an older specimen found in the area which belongs to the Pazyrik rug-350 to 500 B.C Judged by weaving structure, it seems that gilims were woven before rugs as their history probably goes back to 3000 B.C.

Types of gilims

Ordinary gilims: this type of gilim is woven with hemp, cotton and also woolthreads.

Gunny gilim: this special type is woven with varicolored pieces of cloth.

Suzani gilim: this type is embroidered with raised figures after the ordinary gilim is woven.

Needle -work gilim: this type of gilim is hung on the wall and is woven with cotton threads.

Jol: is a kind of gilim the surface of which is embroidered. With its decorative designs, it is used as horse saddle.

Palas: is a kinds of gilim in which each color is used for weaving several rajs, it does not have a pile. Palas is also the name used for the coarse woolen robes dervish wear.

Jajim or chador-shab: is a kind of stripped carpet thinner than palas woven with colored threads.

Zeelo: is a kind gilim woven with cotton threads and simple designs quite in harmony with rural life. It has cotton wrap and weft.

Rakht-e-khab peech (bed-packing gilims): this type of gilim is used in migrating tribes.

Charkhi-baaf gilim: is a kind of sturdy and thick gilim only one side of which can be used.

Khorjins (Saddle-bags) and Juwals: these gilims are used for carrying goods.

Gilimches (small gilims): these are woven like gilims but are smaller and decorative.

Masnads: these are sturdy and fine-woven decorative gilimeches.

Navar-chador (tent-band): this type of gilim is devorative.

Sajades (prayer gilims): these are woven with altar designs and are used for prayers.

Ghigh: this gilim is used for the walls of tents; boyh of its side are the same and can be used alike.

Gilim-Weaving tools instruments and materals

Home instrument (i.e an instrument which is used in homes): this instrument is a type of loom used for horizental and vertical weavings depending on the traditions of each area and its regional characteristics.

Scissors: these are used for cutting extra pile and threads.

Dafa: this is a metal-or sometimes wooden-tool used for beating the weft and strengthening the weave of the gilim.

Shikh: this is a metal tool with a thin tip for beating, undoing or tightening the spiral waves of the gilim.

Knife: this tool is used to cut the extra thread (pile).

Goorod: this is a wooden rod the same width as the gilim's loom and is used to separate two rows of wefts and in fixing them in one places; it also keeps the gilim straight.

Wool: after wool is sheared from the sheep or goat, it is hit on with sticks of wood (tarkés) and spun with machines or by hand with a spinning wheel (tash). It passes through the stages of twisting, skinning, dyeing and rolling ( into balls) and is then used for weaving.

Warp: it literally means spun thread or thread which is spun with thin fibres. Length- wise, parallel, regular threads and fibres from the weave and main structure of the gilim.

Warp thread: this is made from wool, cotton or silk of varying thickness.

Pile: this is woolen threads for fibres used for weaving various kinds of gilims and carpets.




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Keywords: Rugs, Rug, Kilim, Gelim, Gilim, Qali, Ghali, Farsh, Qali, Ziloo, Zilu, Qalicheh

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