- Vintage Serapi Runner Rug (3' x 17')
Vintage Serapi Runner Rug (3' x 17')
Dimensions: 3'2" x 17'3" (97 cm x 526 cm).
Colors: brown, dim gray, gray, red, redwood.
Fine 19th-century antique Serapi carpets include some of the most rare and desirable large size decorative Persian carpets. Woven in the rugged mountains of Northwest Persia, Serapi rugs are a distinct Heriz region style, with finer knotting and more large-scale spaciously placed antique carpet designs than other rugs from this area.
Although it was the grandest of the antique Heriz rug styles, the Serapi rug format is seldom seen after 1910, because of the remoteness of the mountains in Northwest Persia presented. Persian carpets had to be taken by their weavers to Serab, 30 miles distant, to be marketed. “Serapi” is not a place or tribal name; rather it is a market term derived from “Serab-i,” meaning “of Serab”.
Serapi antique carpets combine design elements borrowed from many traditions. The bold geometric designs are probably connected to the tribal Caucasian traditions across the Aras River to the North. The elegant court carpets of Tabriz to the West certainly would have influenced the Serapi carpet weavers’ understanding of balance and the central medallion format.
Antique Serapi carpets were woven on the level of a family or small workshop with multiple weavers working several years to complete each Persian rug. The weaving was done almost exclusively by women. Highly skilled artisans, they continually reinterpreted the design as they wove, creating highly spontaneous and inventive artistry. In general, the antique Serapi rugs made in small workshops are more finely woven and formal, and Serapi carpets woven on a family level are more rustic and symbolic in design.
The women of this area were master dyers able to deeply dye the superb, silky, local wool with a great range of soft-shaded or “abrashed” color. The wide palette of hues came from many carefully brewed plants and minerals, colors for which the recipes are now lost. Watermelon to terra cotta tones came from madder root. The blue tones, from sky and aqua to periwinkle and deep navy, came from the indigo plant. Gold and yellow tones are from chamomile and a variety of other plants. The Serapi carpets weavers also frequently used large areas of undyed and unbleached wool, whose ivory and camel tones provided contrast to the wide range of vegetable color.
The term Serapi is given to early Heriz rugs woven in NW Persia and usually over 100 years old. They are thinner and have a finer weave with a softer floppier handle. Serapis are similar to Herizes in style being a more geometric, stylized adaptation of a Farahan Sarouk. In the drawing they have finer sharper lines giving it more clarity and elegance and have more openness in the field and borders. The well proportioned simplicity and wonderful balance of clear colors make them ideal for any contemporary setting.