Azerbaijan Province , Northwest Persia
Bakhshayesh carpets originate in the Heriz rug-weaving area ,but whether they emanate from a particular village ,or,more likely , represent a style from about 1850 to 1910 , is debatable .Old , reliable maps do not indicate such a location , but excellent sources certainly visited the place in the early 20th century .
Rather than engage this minor controversy , let us consider what the rugs really are . Structurally they are all over the map : all employ the symmetric ( Turkish ) knot , but every possible combination of wool and cotton foundation can be found. The weave is generally good , but some pieces are soft and floppy while others are firm and compact . The pile lies down , or maybe not .
Designs are similarly dispersed . Overall patterns are popular : some are classic Persian patterns including the Herati , Mina Khani ( a floral lattice ) or Harshang ( “ crabs “ palmettes ).But others without specific names employing lattices , palmettes , trees or flowers are common . These carpets often are in soft , almost earth tones . Others have variants on the medallion pattern , often as a splayed animal skin or an elongated cartouche .These latter carpets tend to be firmer in texture with brighter, more saturated palettes emphasizing clear red , blue and white . Essentially , they are room-sized Kazaks .
With all the variations in weave , colour and design , it is unlikely that a single village of a few hundred looms could have been responsible for all of them .The Heriz area has always been commercially attuned to export demands . Constantly changing Western fashions were fitered by the local Tabriz traders who ordered these carpets .
The overall pattern , soft colour rugs seem to have evolved into a latter , similar Heriz type called “ Goravan” .The other Bakhshayesh variety was gradually subsumed under the generic Heriz concept . Perhaps the weavers of these higher quality carpets changed to the “ Serapi “ style .
Sizes tend to run squarish in the overall pattern pieces , up to 14’x18’ , while the medallion carpets are more in the 9’x12’ to 12’x18’ format . There are a few antique 4’x6’ scatters ,but no runners in the market .Large mellow-coloured , allover pattern pieces are particularly desirable as they go unobtrusively with virtually any décor.The more emphatic and powerfull medallion carpets work well in more eclectic and individualistic contexts . Prices are substantial , especially for the largest overall pattern carpets .
A fine Bakhshayesh , no matter its precise origin, is a genuine piece of Persian folk art , and it should be treasured and respected .