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About Gabbeh

About Gabbeh

Asian Trade Rug Company is allied with the finest Persian Gabbeh manufacturer, Zollanvari Iran, which has been manufacturing these unique tribal rugs since 1960.

Woven for centuries Gabbeh are tribal rugs woven in the south-central Zagros mountain range and their plains.

View the Gabbeh Rug Gallery

In Farsi (the language of Persia), the word Gabbeh means something raw or natural, uncut or “in the rough”. Gabbeh are the world’s best-known coarsely woven Iranian tribal rugs. Traditionally, the knotting and weaving of nomadic carpets are a woman’s domain and area of expertise. True nomadic rugs such as the Gabbeh are almost exclusively knotted for personal use, and often the woman’s spirit and natural artisanship are quite apparent in these personal interpretations of their life in art.


Another characteristic of Gabbeh rugs is a very thick pile, woven in a relatively low knot density. Designs are typically geometric and symbolic in shape and style. Gabbeh weavers may be telling a story, depicting a landscape or scene, or even conveying an emotion. Most commonly Gabbeh will be asymmetric and woven to tell a story, with figures and symbols depicting parts of the weaver’s “tale”. It is this subjective and random process that renders a genuine Gabbeh a completely unique work of art, distinct from other Persian rugs and from many other types of weaving or knotting in general.

Beware “knock-offs” from Turkey, India, China and Egypt, to name a few… these cheap imitations are not always handmade, and usually contain inferior wool and chemical dyes on a cotton foundation. You can usually tell by the white fringe that the rug’s a cotton-foundation knock-off.

Gabbeh are usually woven on horizontal looms, which can be assembled quickly and easily – a necessity for these nomadic people of Southern Iran. Gabbeh are constructed from local handspun sheep wool and vegetal dyes. Women in the region are often seen spinning and carding the long-fibred wool by hand. Dyes are extracted from native plants and roots found in the Zagros mountain range, and are formulated from traditional recipes that have been developed over centuries. Pomegranate skin, walnut husks, madder root, and indigo are a few examples of the raw materials used. The color of the Gabbeh is organic in composition and appearance. The irregularities in the dyestuff and wool result not in a pure color, but rather a collage of similar hues, which gives Gabbeh their rich texture and emphasizes their unmistakable nomadic origin and spirit. Well cared-for Gabbeh typically appreciate with use and age.