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Tabriz is one of the most important cities of Iran. It has a population of one and a half millions and is the capital of the province of Eastern Azerbaijan. Like Mashad on the eastern side of Iran, its present apparent remoteness belies the fact that when the country was larger it had an important role.
Indeed, before World War I, it was Iran's largest city. Much of the Caucasus belonged to Iran, which was administered from Tabriz. There are remains of mosques from the 15th century, but perhaps the most important landmarks are the bazaars, for trade has always been of great importance in Tabriz. Indeed, its geographical position meant that for a long time goods exported from Iran to Europe went via Tabriz, and the revival of the carpet industry in the 19th century is due largely to Tabriz merchants.
There are now a huge variety of carpets made in Tabriz, from extremely fine to very coarse pieces. The weavers have great skill, and are aided by a hook-like implement, which they use instead of the fingers for tying knots. The warps and wefts are cotton, the pile wool, often with highlights of silk in the fine pieces. The colours of the finer carpets are delicate and refined. The coarsest qualities are brightly coloured and rarely exported. A wide variety of designs are seen: copies of classical designs, re-workings of old motifs, and pictorial or figurative treatments. The most famous weaver was Hajji Jaliliz, who worked at the turn of the century.
This one is woven with very good quality wool and silk on cotton background; the amount of silk will vary depending on quality of Tabriz and is very hard wearing as well as being decorative and beautiful. These rugs are known as the best in the industry for rug weaving. The design is very interesting and can come in two common styles, central medallion or full-field.