In the midst of July’s heat, I made the purchase, envisioning the cozy warmth it would bring to the house during winter. I imagined how it would tenderly cradle my feet when I reluctantly stepped off the couch. A feeling of anticipation stemmed from this early preparation. However, my excitement was quickly tempered by the revelation that the sheep were already acclimated to the harsh climate of the highlands, and their wool possessed innate moisture-regulating properties. These woolen carpets, woven from their fibers, would provide warmth in winter and coolness in summer, making them suitable for year-round use. As I flipped through the carpet that stacked like towering mountains, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the adaptability of the sheep. It made me wonder, do humans possess such inherent capabilities too?
This particular kind of carpet is known as Gabbeh, derived from the Persian language, meaning primitive, natural, and unadorned. However, the truth differs from the name, as the process of creating these carpets can be extremely intricate.
The creation of Gabbeh carpets is a tradition among the nomadic tribes of Iran, who have woven their lives together with sheep while migrating and farming for countless generations. These carpets feature patterns that defy fixed designs and are predominantly woven by women who skillfully incorporate the vast landscapes, animals, and ever-changing seasons into their tapestries that serve as a testament to their nomadic existence. At times, the women draw inspiration from Persian mythological stories to create their designs. Their work exhibits an array of colors and a myriad of patterns and motifs that can captivate anyone. Each piece has its own unique style, making it a matter of distinct personal preference.
The process begins with the shearing of sheep and the subsequent spinning of their wool. The wool is combed by hand and with tools to loosen the fibers. Simultaneously, the weavers gather local wild plants, tubers, bark, and flowers to create natural dyes for coloring the wool. Weaving takes place on a loom, without the use of templates, relying solely on the weavers’ expertise and craftsmanship. Once the weaving is complete, the underside of the carpet is lightly dried over fire to remove any excess wool. The carpet is then moved to a cleaning area where it undergoes thorough washing with plenty of water and various tools to remove dirt. After the cleaning process, the carpet is laid out on dry ground, allowing it to naturally air dry under the sunlight. Owing to the repeated dyeing process, the yarn is resistant to fading, even when exposed to direct sunlight. Once the carpet is fully dried, the final trimming is performed, ensuring the patterns are distinct and precise.
It is widely believed that carpets crafted in this manner retain their vivid colors even after a century has passed. The local community weaves Gabbeh to commemorate weddings, childbirth, and other momentous life events, presenting them as cherished blessings to their beloved ones. Certain patterns bear symbolic meanings, serving as protective talismans against evil forces. If you were ever to receive a Gabbeh as a gift, you would grasp the immense blessings it carries within.