From Iran, with love and horror

March 8, 2006

A rug from Isfahan, Iran. Originally intended, centuries ago, to bring a little colour and wamth to a nomad’s tent, the tradition of the Persian rug blossomed into a huge indigenous manufacturing industry with outlets all over the west.

The greatest centres of manufacture in Iran are Isfahan, Tabriz, Nain, and Qum. Each manufactory has its unique characteristics, using wool, silk and cotton in distinctive combinations. These hand-made, sensual carpets are easily distinguishable from the cheap, machine-made mimicries from Korea and Vietnam — as are the vibrant tribal rugs from the outlying regions of Iran, and those from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and the peoples of Central Asia.

The modern rugs of Isfahan are particularly prized for the beauty and intricacy of their central medallion motif, their richness and depth of colour — typically deep blue and crimson — and the denseness of their weave. Characteristically, the rugs are woven from wool and silk, on a silk backing. At their best, they glow (depending on the light, thanks to the silk) as a bed of flowers, or a carpet of fire.

More fabulous Isfahan rugs.

The other — ugly, infinitely depressing — aspect of modern Iranian culture is typified by the increasingly alarming rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as seen here, courtesy of the (allegedly Mossad-backed) Middle East Media Research Institute.

What’s the connection? Unhappily, Isfahan is significant to that other side of modern Iran, too: it is the location of one of Iran’s nuclear development sites. If war comes to Iran, which heaven forbid, Isfahan will surely be one of the principal targets.

Beauty will pay the price of horror on that day, if it comes. As perhaps it always did.



  1. Fuck you slut. I will butcher you like the stinking boar that you are. To you and all your ilk: get your godless eyes and dimwitted words away from Iran before it is far far too late for you. {too late – might well already be}

  2. Strewth.

  3. Ahmadinejadi is now blogging? Beats writing rambling letters to the prez.

  4. Such a harmless post, as well (mine, I mean). Not worthy of a death threat, surely.

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