Thursday, December 16, 2010

Safavid Zar-baft Fabrics

Being worldwide known, made world’s kings desirous to have a piece of Zar-baft (Brocade) as a gift from Shah Abbas the Great.

These artistic method of fabric weaving has a length of 2500 years old or even more. Some traces are recorded from Achaemenid, succeeded by Sassanid, early Islamic dynasties who flourished this art-industry and Ilkhanid dynasty the period of Marco Polo and the Silk Road. 

these two photos are remnants of Sassanids fabrics, discovered in Egypt. watch the horse and phoenix patterns.


We can’t talk about Safavid techniques, style and variety without considering the Timurid era who revived the Iranian arts. Many textile workshops established in Samarqand. It’s said that Tamerlane brought many of weavers from Damascus to Samarqand.
Although having a wide variety, we can categorize the Safavid Zar-bafts into 3major artistic school.
1. Tabriz School: established on the basis of Behzad style and Herat school of Persian painting. Most of these artisans were painters actually. Two cities of Yazd and Kashan are more famous in this knitting style which is recognizing by its patterns of man in ceremony, battle, hunting and especially the scene of the prisoner and guard.
2. Isfahan School: in fact it’s the last school of Iranian miniature, founded by Reza Abbasi and followed by his students. Setting up the Isfahan Art Center besides of Shah Abbas the great supportive decisions resulted in close relation among different craftsmen. Many painters weaved fabrics.
3. Yazd school: the last but not least school which is founded by Qias-odin Ali Naqshbandi in central city of Yazd. The indicator of this method is slender altar and floral patterns.
 a piece of cloth, weaved by Qias-odin Ali Naqshbandi which is in Washington museum, now.



Besides of these different schools, there are two types of Zar-bafts generally:
  • Darayee-baaft: refers to those ones that are heavy and ponderous. Their sinew is consisted of Golabatoon (Braid) fiber (1). 
  • Atlas-baaft: the second type which is tender, delicate and light whose woofs is silk. 
Take a look on the remnants of these masterpieces:



photos of a Zari-bafi workshop in Isfahan by Hamid Reza Nikoo Maram


(1): Golabatoon (Braid) is silk or linen fiber wrapped in gold or silver. Iranians practice it by pulling a metal wire in order to make a half millimeter wire for spiraling it around the string.
According to Hans. E. Wolf, using the animal intestines fiber in Rome, the Leader and paper fiber in China were the other methods of preparation of Golabatoon.
machine of Golabatoon making

This article is derived from the Persian Article of "Zar-baft weaving style under Safavids" by "Zohre Rouh-Far".

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