Enjoying a unique design in each region of Persia, the Gilim, or Kilim as is known in the Western world, is a flat-tapestry carpet where the warps and wefts are tightly woven on a loom, producing a surface with no pile. In Gilims, the weft strands carry the visible design and color and are almost always wool, whereas the hidden warp strands can be either wool or cotton. The warp strands are only visible at the ends, where they emerge as fringes; the fringe are usually tied in bunches, to ensure against weave loosening or unraveling. As an ancient form of Persian art, the Gilim has been woven by female artisans in villages and nomadic tribes.
Products: Decorative or functional Gilim carpets
Place of origin: Shiraz, Khorasan, Isfahan, Sanandij, Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran.
Materials: cotton, wool, silk, and goat wool.
After choosing the right loom, the craftsman starts preparing it through a procedure called Chelehkeshi. In this process, the artisan tights two ropes (called Zeh) underneath the loom in parallel position, and within arbitrary distance from each other. Then, a ball of cotton yarn, which has the desired elegance or thickness, is tied to one of the sides and underneath of the loom. Once the loom is prepared this way, the cotton yarn is passed behind the first Zeh and in front of the second one, and then passed over the loom, and finally taken out from below the loom.
The second step is to mount the Kejuvir, which is a cylindrical piece of wood that has a 4cm diameter and is as long as the loom. Once the Kajuvir is mounted, is time to weave a chain, a procedure meant to help the artisans weave faster and with more ease; preparing the chain has to be done before the actual weaving process begins. At this point, the loom is finally ready for the artisans to start weaving.
The movement of Cheleh (the vertical strings or warp that go from the top to the bottom of the loom) under weavers’ hands risks distorting the craft and its design, and to prevent this, the artisans reinforce it with cotton thread of the same size as the Cheleh strings. Nowadays though, artisans use a special glue in order to fix the Chelehs in their spot and to stop them from moving, and therefore distorting the design.
Gilim may be woven in three manners (simple, embossed, and Verni).
History and background:
Mankind started doing animal husbandry in Europe, Egypt, Central Asia, India and China some 6 to 8 thousand years ago, and not long after, they started spinning and weaving wool. It is believed, therefore, that Gilim were woven and used by primitive humans as floor covering, which makes Gilims the first and oldest floor covering known in the history, dating back to 6000 BC. In Iran, evidence found in Shush indicates the existence of Gilim back to 4000 BC.