Gabbehs are an example of how traditional rugs can be used to enhance contemporary settings. The term Gabbeh has Persian origins and refers to a long pile or unclipped rug. The earliest documented reference to Gabbehs dates back to the 16th century when Shah Tahmasp ordered Gabbehs, among other rugs, for a ceremony to welcome the Mogul Emperor of India who was taking refuge in Persia. Gabbehs continue to be made by nomadic weavers, notably the Qishqaie and Lori tribes people of south west Iran. Their nomadic lifestyle dictates that their Gabbehs are made using easily transportable and readily available resources such as hand-spun wool from their sheep, natural dyes and local wood for looms. In general Gabbehs are small to medium size, coarse, loosely-knotted, long pile wool rugs. They are often used as sleeping rugs. Due to tribal differences in weaving techniques, they can be very flexible and soft or quite stiff and heavy.
Traditionally woven by the women of the tribes, Gabbeh rugs were intended for domestic use rather than trade and the designs were subject to the discretion of the weaver rather than commercial interests. Gabbeh patterns are characterised by their simplicity of design using geometric forms and patterns such as stripes, checks and large areas of single colour. Designs vary between tribes and some patterns incorporate basic pictographic depictions of natural features, birds and animals, notably lions, deer and horses. The collector and writer, George D. Bornet has suggested that some of the designs can be traced back to prehistoric cave paintings of late paleolithic origin.
It is this simplicity of design that makes the Gabbeh an excellent accessory for contemporary home decoration. The basic geometric field designs and almost cubist pictograms add interest and complement the sharp, clean lines of modernist decor.
With the increasing popularity of Gabbehs in Europe and America, there has been some commercialisation of Gabbeh production, with Iranian tribal weavers producing rugs in mainly geometric patterns, in sizes to suit Western markets, and also countries such as India and Pakistan becoming involved in making Gabbehs. A further development has been the manufacture of rugs with traditional Gabbeh designs using modern manufacturing techniques and materials. Our Gabbeh range is a stylish collection of ultra-soft pile rugs with polypropylene fibres. These rugs are colourfast and easy to care for, and their heatset pile ensures virtually no shedding; they are an excellent opportunity to introduce timeless Gabbeh rug designs into the contemporary home at an affordable price.