Gabbeh means raw, coarse or natural. The nomadic tribes
in the south central Zagros mountain ranges and the plains
weave the Gabbeh rugs. Just as the name suggests, these Iranian
rugs are rough.
The Iranian tribeswomen mostly make the rugs. They are
usually made only for personal use. However, because of
the simple nature and technique of the rugs, the trade has
spread to India and Pakistan as well. The uniqueness of
the Gabbeh rug lies in its thickness and coarseness. However,
it is very durable and comfortable. The nomads weave the
Gabbeh rugs on horizontal looms. The assembly of the looms
is quick and easy, which is a necessity for the people of
the tribes.The knot density of Gabbeh rugs is very low,
resulting in its characteristic coarseness. The pile is
also relatively thick. The knots used may be either Turkish
or Persian, or even both.
The designs are usually geometric. Oftentimes, they are
also symbolic. The weaver might choose to tell a story,
or convey an emotion. They might even depict a landscape
using animals in the rug. The colors used are bright. They
are of an organic composition. The dyes used to make the
yarn are extracted from plants in the mountain range. They
dyes and wool irregularities result in a similar hue, rather
than a pure color. This lends a brightness and uniqueness
to the Gabbeh rug.
The weaver sets up the loom and begins to lay the warp
and the weft of the rug. Between these, she creates the
design of the rug. A Gabbeh rug is weaved from the bottom
up. The weaver weaves the rug knot by knot. She must be
able to keep the original design in mind throughout the
process. It takes about two hours to complete one inch of
the rug. This tedious process is the reason why rugs are
cherished so much.
Most Gabbeh rugs fall under six categories:
1. Basic Gabbeh: They have a coarse weave, and
not much in design. These are the simpler Gabbeh rugs.
2. Amalehbaft Gabbeh: They have a medium weave. They
have even less design than the Basic Gabbeh. They utilize
bright colors, thus brightening a room instantly.
3. Kashkoli Gabbeh: They have a fine weave, which
gives them a remarkable sheen. They are also sparse rugs,
with a short and soft pile.
4. Luribaft Gabbeh: They are similar to the Kashkoli
in weave, pile and sheen. However, they have designs that
are more intricate. The classic Persian rugs are the inspiration
for these rugs.
5. Gabbeh Sumak: These are flat woven rugs. They
are very well designed and rather inexpensive.
6. Baluch Sumak: These are also flat woven rugs.
They also have beautiful tribal designs incorporated into
them. However, they are less colorful than the Gabbeh Sumak
A Gabbeh rug can tell us a lot about the weaver. It can
tell how many people were working on it, how many days it
took to complete the rug, when they migrated, and the changes
in instruction and so on. All it takes is a trained and
inquisitive eye to reveal the secrets of the rug.