THE DECLINING ART OF PERSIAN CARPETS
Persians has always been known for their rich and radiant culture. Their artifacts, paintings have calligraphic portraits have amused art-lovers form all over the world. Blessed with a highly aesthetic sense of craftsmanship, Persian people weave and produce some of the finest carpets in the world. Unfortunately imitated and mass-produced at low prices now-a-days, Persian carpet designs are some of the most intricate and artistic designs in the world.
Persian carpets are no doubt one of the most striking features of their art and tradition. This tradition of high-quality carpet weaving dates back to ancient Persia. As this tradition has been commercialized to a large scale, Iran is now one of the largest exporters of carpets in the world. It exports to 100 countries, and produces 30% of the total carpet production in the world. Although carpet production has now become mostly mechanized, traditional hand woven carpets are still produced widely in Iran and cost higher that their machine woven counterparts due to greater effort and artistic manifestation.
The rich history of Persian carpet weavers is exemplified by the magnificent Pazyryk carpet discovered for Atlas Mountain in Serbia. Archeologists believe that this carpet dates back to 5th century BC, and so is the oldest surviving carpet in the world. The carpet has very complex designs and flamboyant colors. Another example of historical Persian carpets is that of the precious carpet of Khosrow. It was 450 feet (140 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) wide and depicted a formal garden. This carpet is believed to be the most precious carpet ever woven in the world.
Stemming from such rich history, no doubt carpet production still provides occupation to a major portion of Iranian population. However, in recent past, Iranian carpets have to face strong competition from the imitated yet mass-produced and so cheap substitutes. Also, the carpet industry in Iran is on decline due to lack of raw materials in the local markets and due to consistent loss of original designs. What is needed to be done to save this cultural heritage is to patent the designs so that no other production center can imitate the designs. There is also a need of branding and marketing the products so that the people can realize the distinguished quality of original Persian carpets passed onto the modern carpet weavers by their ancestors. Also, for the machine woven carpets, research needs to be conducted so as to find cheaper ways of producing high quality carpets. The size and the market value of this rich Persian art are dwindling at an alarming rate. These steps are now imperative to safeguard the future of this magnificent cultural heritage.