Ghashghai nomads on their way to new surroundings.

The Ghashghai nomads are found in the Fars province in the southwest of Iran and they live in the provinces of Fars, Khuzestan and Southern Isfahan but mostly in the surroundings of Shiraz. They move twice a year, between the winter pasture near the Persian Gulf and the summer pasture up in the Zagros mountains where it is much cooler. During the move it is possible to see the men with their typical round hats, running together with their dogs, large flock of sheep and herds of goats, along the roads swirling with clouds of dust. The women in their colourful clothes move along with the help of donkeys and horses towards new camp grounds. The tents that they live in are often made from goat hair.

The manufacturing of carpets as well as kelims, bags, ribbons and other decorations is an important contribution to the life of the nomads. The carpets have a typical red-brown ground colour. The pattern is tied from memory and often consists of a centrally placed medallion, repeated in all four corners. Humans, four legged animals, birds, trees and flowers are popular elements. Other patterns are collected from frescos and columns in Persepolis (Tacht-e-Jamshid in Persia ) the ceremonial capital during the Achmenids dynasty (550-330 B.C.). They are also wellknown for their beautiful sadle bags that are knotted for more practical reasons.

The carpets are woven on horizontal looms and the weaver sits during the weaving process on the half made part of the carpet. Semi nomads, who are resident during part of the year, weave carpets in the same way. A specially well-woven carpet is know as a Kashkooli. Gabbeh signifies a rough and primitive nomadic carpet from the area. During the last decades, the weaver had to oblige to the western desires and began to use large brighter fields with few patterns in the Gabbeh carpets. Well-made Ghashghai carpets are attractive and durable products that tells a lot about the conditions of the nomadic life. The carpet is made entirely of wool from sheep and goats with some horse hair. The carpets can also be known as Qashqai, Gashghai, Gaschgai or Kashgai carpets.

Most of the Ghasghai nomads have now settled in towns and villages. Their carpets are therefore more directly influenced by market demands. These carpets in comparison to other nomadic tribal carpets are more coarsely woven and have cotton warps. More simple carpets from the area are sold under the name Shiraz. It is also the name of the provincial capital and in these bazaars the Ghashghai carpets are sold. The bazaars are also a common place where the nomads purchase other products they may use in their everyday life.

Ghashghai carpets consist of a hexagon or diamond with four projecting hooks inside of a hooked diamond. Some Ghasghai pieces have the Hebatlu design (Hebatlu is the name of one of the one of the smaller Ghasghai tribes) and it consists of circular central medallion, and smaller designs similar to the central medallion repeated on each of the four corners of the carpet. The Ghasghai kelims tend to be woven in one piece with cotton sometimes used as highlights. The have simple designs and the warp is normally finished in long braids. The tribe that are well known for making the Kelims are the Amaleh and Darashuri.

Some examples of Ghashghai carpets:

Technical specifications:

Pile: wool yarn

Weft: wool or goat hair yarn, usually 2 wefts after each row of knots

Warp: wool or goat hair yarn

Knot: symmetrical

Knot density: 90 000 - 180 000 knots per square metre

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