We often say that the ‘oriental rug’ industry is one of the oldest and best examples of craft meeting trade, and Sultanabads are an especially good example.
Sultanabad is the name of an old town in Central Persia, now known as Arak. It was situated between other major weaving districts, and did not have a style of its own….until the Manchester-based Ziegler & Co set up shop there in the 1880s.
At that time, there was high demand for Persian carpets in both Europe and America, and companies like Ziegler & Co saw an opportunity to develop manufacturing centers that catered to the tastes and trends in the West. (Ziegler & Co also had production in Tabriz.) They had relationships with the likes of Harvey Nichols and Liberty & Company, supplying them with Persian carpets designed specifically for their customers.
They often started with classic Persian designs such as Heriz and Serapi, and then softened the colors, altered the scale of the floral elements in the motifs, and adapted the sizes for typical Western homes. They are usually a coarser weave than their complex curvilinear cousins found throughout Persian rugs, but still represent a high-quality hand-knotted rug.
Ziegler & Co and its approach to customer-centered designs influenced much of the modern weaving world, and similar designs and methods are practiced by manufacturers we work with today.