Antique Persian Serapi Rugs
The origin of the term “Serapi,” it is not the place where these rugs were made. One of the weaves from the northwestern district that is admired by Americans is the “Serapi” are woven in the rugged mountains of Northwest Persia, Serapi rugs are a distinct Heriz region style, with finer knotting and more large-scale, spaciously placed designs than other rugs from this area. However, the identification of Serapis has been the subject of much debate and controversy. The differentiation between Serapis and Herizes is particularly contested.Antique Serapis have historically been the carpet of choice in early American state and federal buildings, including the White House.
Construction: Serapi rugs were weaved with silky wool that gave it a smooth, alluring texture. Side by side with its quality weave, the Serapi were dyed thoroughly through and through. With these approaches the Serapi rug was given a soft yet firm composition. Of all the interesting facts concerning the weaving process of a Serapi carpet, the most interesting is the amount of time they took to finish. While a considerable amount of Oriental and Persian rugs take upwards of months to finish, the Serapi take years. There’s a reason for the heavy amount of detail within the Serapi, and it’s reflectant on the amount of time poured into each and every rug.
Sizes: Antique Serapi carpets are usually found in the room size format from 9×12 to 11×14. Happily, oversize Serapi rugs measuring 11×15 to 12×18 are sometimes found, and the best examples woven pre-1900 are deeply prized. Very occasionally extremely large antique carpets woven in sizes up to 16x 26 can be found. Area-size Serapi rugs, measuring 4ft x 5ft to 5ft x 6ft 6in are very seldom encountered and cherished by connoisseurs. Although rarely found, Serapis runners make stunning complements to decors featuring room size or oversize Serapi carpets.
Patterns: Serapi antique rugs combine design elements borrowed from many traditions. The bold geometric designs are probably connected to the tribal Caucasian traditions across the Aras River to the north. The great majority of 19th century Serapi rugs are ennobled by a commanding, multi-lobed center medallion flanked by four corner pieces and a nature-inspired palette of breathtaking colors. Occasionally, Serapi rugs employ large-scale all-over patterns.
Colors: Antique Serapi rugs were almost exclusively woven by women. The women of this area were master dyers able to deeply dye the superb, silky, local wool with a great range of soft-shaded or “abrashed” color. The wide palette of hues came from many carefully brewed plants and minerals, colors for which the recipes are now lost. Watermelon to terra cotta tones came from madder root. The blue tones, from sky and aqua to periwinkle and deep navy, came from the indigo plant. Gold and yellow tones are from chamomile and a variety of other plants. The Serapi carpet weavers also frequently used large areas of undyed and unbleached wool, whose ivory and camel tones provided contrast to the wide range of vegetable color.Until they began rising in value in the 1980’s, Serapi antique Persian rugs were an inexpensive alternative to classical floral carpets that were often used in heavily trafficked areas of the home. This use helped to soften the color, giving the Serapi rugs the muted tonalities they are renowned for by collectors and interior designers around the world.