Azerbaijan Province, N.W. Iran
The Heriz weaving area is located in a rough triangle beginning about 40 miles east of Tabriz , the provincial capital , and comprises about thirty villages,with 100 - 500 looms each , weaving mostly carpet-sized pieces .Rugs have been woven there since the 18th century and production has gradually expanded to more and more villages as demand, primarily for export, has grown. In good years ,as many as 10,000 carpets are woven. By far the most popular design for the last century has been a geometric stylish version of the classic Persian medallion corners layout. Heriz weavers, unlike those in the cities , do not work from the scale paper knot- for- knot cartoons, but from rough sketches , samplers, other textiles or memory . This produces a lively vigorous design ,in which curves become angles ,leaves and flowers are flattened and simplified to increase their impact, and colour areas are solid and unshaded. The symmetric ( Turkish ) knot is universally employed ,cotton foundations are standard, and natural dyes are the rule.The weave varies from medium coarse ( 50 knots per square inch) to medium fine (120 knots) . In the finer examples the handle is stiffer and the pile is erect.In the trade this quality is called "Serapi", although there is no weaving locale with this name.These carpets are in the medallion design almost exclusively. A coarser weaving type ,the "Goravan" is a descendant of the " Bakhshayesh " grade(see below) and often displays classic Persian overall repeating patterns. The appealing distinctness of the Goravan style vanishes in the 1920's . The direct ancestor to the Goravan is the "Bakhshayesh", often with overall repeat designs and wool in the foundations. They tend to be squarish and are rarely found over 18' in length. The colours are softer than the more saturated tones of medallion Heriz area carpets.There is no village of Bakhshayesh on the 19th century maps and the rugs were probably made throughout the area. Heriz carpets have changed in size formats over the years. They were long and narrow in the 19th century for the domestic market. By the end of the century virtually all were in 9'x12' and larger "Western" sizes ,intended for export to Europe and America.Looms are set up in weaver's houses rather than in large factories and this limits the maximum size to around 15'x25.Runners and small rugs are also woven in the area.Dyed yarns, foundation materials and partial payments are advanced by the Tabriz dealers to the weavers who work quickly, producing a 9'x12' carpet in about three months. Heriz carpets are the product of a true cottage industry . Heriz carpets are the only consistantly geometric, brightly coloured ,large pattern Persian carpets with the impact of roomsize Caucasian ,Kazaks from just across the border. Heriz weavers are quite adaptable and can attempt any design presented to them. For the U.S. market between 1910 and 1930 some truly spectacular, unique large carpets were created with custom designs and extraordinarily saturated colours.