عنوان مقاله [English]
During the Qajar Era (1789 - 1925), lots of transformative events took place in Iran, the effects of which could still be seen in the Iranian society. At the beginning of the Qajar Era, the situation of the carpet trade was not favorable and even many famous carpet weaving centers had lost their former prosperity. In the middle of the Qajar Era, the Persian carpet weaving industry reflourished, caused by many interacting factors.
This lucrative trade attracted foreign investors to the Persia. During the Gilded Era in America, the West showed an interest to invest directly in Persian rug production. Multinational corporations began extensive activities in this field. According to some experts, with establishing multinational companies, claimed to be merely for the carpet weaving’s growth, The Western companies were following their colonial goals; an example of many privileges given to the Europeans, Russians and Americans by the Qajar kings.
These Western companies were benefited by carpet weaving technology which already existed in Persia (Iran) as well as low-priced local workers. Investing in several Iranian cities and due to their financial upper hand, they were able to employ many workers in both centralized and decentralized carpet weaving workshops.
These companies initially applied the indigenous technology but after mastering the techniques and learning the craft’s skills, they started to make changes in the methods of carpet production which affected the craft both quantitatively and qualitatively. In some weaving centers, the efficacy was so severe that it totally changed the aesthetic principles of the region’s rug weaving.
The pioneer was a British-Swiss company called Ziegler, which established its workshops chiefly in Sultanabad (Arak), Tabriz, Kerman, etc. The company started its activity in 1883. Its parallel interest was Persian opium cultivation. They learned the ropes from Tabrizi merchants who were expanding their workshops around Sultan-Abad at that time. So Ziegler and co., too, established their workshops there, followed by American companies, initiating a new type of designs in Sultan-Abad (nowadays called Arak).
The total structure and identity of Persian carpets have not changed in these productions. Ziegler went after its Western tastes, which was forming under the influence of artistic movements such as Art Nouveau. The new products enjoyed Persian patterns and motives but in different designs. The shapes mostly followed curvilinear designs but in a somehow rectilinear way. The result was something similar to loom-drawings on graph papers which was a shake-up for that time.
Multinational corporations caused many designs, patterns, colors, and even textures to be forgotten. After the Ziegler’s dissolution, the loom drawings remained in Arak’s workshops and the style mingled with the previous traditions of the regions in which the company had used to produce carpets.
The present study tries to analyze the designs and patterns of carpets produced by Ziegler Company in Sultanabad (Arak) - which has been the center of Ziegler’s activities. The main questions of this article are:
1. What are the characteristics of Ziegler carpets?
2. What innovations Ziegler made in Persian palettes and designs?
3. Did Ziegler give something new to the Persian carpet?
The study’s results indicate the so-called Ziegler carpets have been designed with a new type of composition using patterns from various Iranian hand-woven pieces. Ziegler’s designers used freely the various elements from different Iranian regions, making new compositions with them. At first glance, one may assume the Ziegler’s designs as novel patterns with no relation to the traditional Persian designs. But with a more accurate look it would be apparent that the general forms of Persian patterns remained unchanged in these pieces. It is not the patterns, but the designs and compositions that have been changed as well as the palettes and favorable sizes.
Ziegler’s designs enjoyed Persian patterns and motives but in different designs and with different proportions. In the long run, Ziegler's designs did not add anything new to the Persian carpets’ patterns and designs. Only by changing the proportions and colors Ziegler managed to achieve a new style that became fashionable in the target markets for a while. The presence of multinational companies, like Ziegler, in the Iranian economy had some positive results, such as increasing foreign investments and growing the carpet production. Nevertheless, it degraded the quality and originality of Persian designs.
The research’s method: Analytical-descriptive method is used in this article. The data have been collected from both field and library. Historical texts have been also used as references. The method of analysis is qualitative. The results indicate that despite breaking the traditional rules, Ziegler designers could not introduce something new to the Persian carpets’ world. Following the Western markets’ temporary tastes, Ziegler designer made some changes in patterns’ proportions and arrangements. Such innovations may still be seen occasionally, here and there, in new Persian products.