Heriz, Serapi and Bakshaish are regions in mountainous northwest Persia where the textile industry flourished in the late 19th century, fueled by western demand. The carpets are known for their geometric patterns, muted colors, and high quality construction.
Heriz or Serapi Rugs
The antique Heriz or Serapi rug is the most sought after by western collectors and, for many, epitomizes the essence of how a classic Persian carpet should appear. Whether one calls a carpet from this region "Heriz" or "Serapi" is more a matter of taste than classification; for instance, Sotheby's of New York does not use the term Serapi, while Sotheby's of London frequently does. The term "Serapi" means "from Sarab," the name of a former state that incorporated the Heriz region.
Antique Heriz or Serapi carpets have two basic styles, those designed around a central medallion and those with an overall pattern. Vegetable dye was used to produce the distinctive "soft" blue and terra cotta colors of the antique carpets; the coloring may have been influenced by the presence of copper in the ground water. Since the use of commercial dye began around the 1920s, the quality of the color, muted or bold, is a good guide to date the age of the carpet. These carpets are also distinguished by their better than average quality, ranging from 80 to 100 knots per square inch.
Bakshaish is the old name for a region of Persia now known as Heriz, located 60 miles east of the city of Tabriz. It was one of the first regions to produce carpets on large, room-sized looms, with two examples dating back to 1800. The majority of the antique carpets from this region were made in the late 19th century.
Heriz and Bakshaish rugs both have the same muted coloring and overall geometric or medallion styles, but Bakshaish carpets are coarser than Heriz, due to the former's equivalent thickness of warp and wefts. The rugs were produced individually, and the best examples are genuine folk art, with each carpet representing the idiosyncratic nature of its weaver. Antique Bakshaish carpets are renown for their uniqueness of detail, with small deviations in the pattern adding to the overall charm.