The weaving center of Kirman in central Persia has been an esteemed carpet producer of court-inspired designs for over 400 years. Located in the great desert of Southeastern Persia, Kirman has been an important trading center even before the time of Marco Polo. From the 16th century on, they developed a soft, graceful style that combines elements of classic Persian court carpets with the colors and designs found in French textiles.
In the early 19th century, during a period of civil strife, many of the most skilled Kirman weavers relocated to the small, nearby village of Laver, where they reset their looms. Here the weavers created unusually finely woven and delicate pieces using a silky wool on a cotton foundation. The finest antique Kirman carpets became known as ‘Laver Kirmans’.
Laver Kirman antique rugs possess a complexity of design and subtlety which is unique in Persian weaving. Their artistry becomes immediately identifiable to novice enthusiasts and seasoned collectors alike. The drawing of the designs in the best antique carpets is fluid and lyrical with floral motifs of almost infinite detail. Their pattern language is frequently comprised of repeating botanical motifs or a central medallion encircled by dense foliage. The pile of Laver antique carpets was cut very thin to accentuate the fine weave.
The color palette is unusually soft and delicate, with a European grace. The finest of these antique carpets offer quintessential refinement and romance. The weavers had access to the prized and extremely expensive cochineal dye which yielded rich Renaissance reds. Soft gold and yellows can be found juxtaposed against small areas of deep, almost black indigo dyes. A range of soft rose, greens, and blues, along with ivory and sand-toned grounds, form their unique and popular color palette.
The popularity of Laver Kirman weavings inspired the creation of satellite workshops in the Western Persian city of Kermanshah, where densely patterned carpets with deep ruby or burgundy fields were produced. These antique carpets are most usually found in either area size or room size formats. Only occasionally are they seen in oversize or palace size; and unfortunately, runners and corridor carpets are virtually never available. They have been traditionally superb art investments, a trend which is now strengthening as highly artistic, antique examples in good condition have become increasingly difficult to find. In 2010, a 17th century Safavid Kirman sold at auction for $9.6 million, over twice the highest price ever paid previously for an Oriental carpet.