Persian Carpets: Sarouk Rug Style

Sarouk rugs (pronounced sa-RUKE) are a very desirable type of Persian carpet woven in Sarouk and the surrounding villages of the Arak province of Iran. They are room-sized rugs and their weft is generally blue. An antique Sarouk rug, made prior to 1900, is considered a masterpiece due to its extraordinary quality of craftsmanship and material. These are highly sought after by museums and private collectors.

The best seller

Sarouks (also Sarough or Saruk) are the best-selling Persian carpet because of their high quality and ability to withstand decades of wear. They are made with tough wool and created with a Persian knot, although antique Sarouks can have Turkish knots.

Sarouk rugs were geared more towards a European taste, after the Swiss Ziegler workshops opened an office in an Arak province in 1876. After WWI, this trend entered the US market with the red, blue and doughi pink of American Sarouk.

To “dye” for

Americans can be thanked for the success of this type of Persian carpet. From the 1910s to 1950s, the “American Sarouk” — also known as the “Painted Sarouk” — was much desired for its curvilinear and floral designs. The coloring was another story, though.

The beautiful, naturally-dyed rose color (doughi pink), used in Sarouks during the Roaring 20s, could not stand up to the environment or the finishing processes, and it faded dramatically. New York merchants dyed the rugs a raspberry shade, as well as hand-painted the rose color back in. Some argue it was just a matter of taste in color and that nothing was wrong with the doughi pink.

The stuff dream rugs are made of

Sarouk rugs are premium rugs, and have a cotton foundation. Their pile is high quality and vegetable-dyed wool.

Take a look at all the types of Sarouks

The slight differences among these rugs are based on period of production, motifs and pattern, color, thickness and quality. Several are named for the villages and towns that produced them including Farahan, Sarouk and Mushkabad.

• American Sarouks are rose-field carpets with blue borders and detached floral motifs. They are woven with asymmetrical knots, and are double-wefted. They are also identified by a light rose color on the back and dark rose or burgundy on the top.

• Farahan Sarouks rugs are naturally dyed carpets that have an asymmetrical knot on a cotton ground; the wefts are dyed blue or occasionally pinkish red. Their weave is extremely fine, yet heavy because they’re double-wefted with depressed warps. Most often they have medallion designs on blue or ivory fields. As they have become scarce, these carpets have become sought after and expensive.

• Malayer Sarouks and Josan Sarouks have a fine weave with designs featuring medallions, and are symmetrically knotted.

• Mohajaran Sarouks were made in the late 1920s. Though their designs of scattered flowers are essentially the same as those of the American Sarouk rugs, they are less ornamented with softer blue fields. They are more valuable than American Sarouks as they are rarer.

• Indo-Sarouks are Indian copies of Sarouks that can be extremely attractive and well made.

With the impressive craftsmanship and exceptional materials found in these antique rugs, not to mention their ability to hold up over decades, it’s no wonder that private collectors and museums covet Sarouks. These rugs hold their value over time.

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