Weaving in Esfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.
Not until 1920’s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Esfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus of the Iranian rug weaving industry. Esfahan rugs today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.
Esfahani rugs and carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Esfahan rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos. These rugs and carpets usually have excellent quality.
The city of Esfahan is now a world heritage site and produces what are arguably the most consistently fine wool pile rugs made anywhere in the world today. Their quality may be matched by individual items from the other major Persian workshop groups, but Esfahan produces far fewer poor quality rugs.
Esfahan rugs are knotted on either silk or cotton foundations, with up to 1000 Persian knots per in, using exceptionally good quality (Often Kurk) wool for the pile, which is normally clipped quite low. In contemporary items the palette is normally more pastel, and technical perfection is generally of greater importance than artistic flair. Contemporary Esfahan’s are however extremely attractive, and the subduing of the palette, particularly the elimination of strong reds, makes them more compatible with Western decorative schemes.
A range of traditional designs are still used including allover Shah Abbas, Vase, Tree of Life and Pictorial schemes but by far the most popular composition is based on a circular central medallion (Derived from the famous mosque of Shah Lutf Allah in Esfahan) set against an elegantly sculpted field decorated with intricately purling vine palmette and flor motifs.