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What Is a Bidjar Rug?

By Ray Hawk
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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Bidjar rug is a type of woven Persian rug produced in regions of modern-day Iran as of 2011, and centered around the northwest town of Bijar. The people of Bijar identify themselves as part of the ethnic Kurdistan region that stretches into northern Iraq, and parts of Syria and Turkey, and they trace their heritage back several thousand years in the area. The unique qualities of Bidjar rug art from the surrounding region has gained them the reputation of "the iron rugs of Iran," because the material is known to be very heavy, thick, and durable. The knots of a Bidjar rug are beaten during weaving to make it a dense fabric, and the patterns displayed range from simple shapes to the very elaborate, often dominated by deep shades of red.

The production of Bidjar rugs has spread to other regions of Persia some distance from the town of Bijar. The best quality Persian rugs are believed to be produced by the Kurdish natives of the Takab region along the far northwest border of Iran, or from the nomadic Afshar people who originated in a city north of Tehran named after them, but also populate the Takab area. When a Bidjar rug is referred to as a Gerusi or Bijari rug, it conveys creation by an ethnic Kurdish group that lives within this area and distinguishs itself from its Kurdish neighbors in the broader eastern area of the Middle East.

Kurdish rugs have changed over time and Bidjar rugs are no different. Older rugs tend to be more often woven from wool, though occasionally some are made out of cotton as many are now. The weft or weave is more tightly made, but of larger knots, giving antique rugs an arrangement of broad patterns with bold colors of red, blue, and yellow. Their modern counterparts instead have much more intricate patterns to them. Newer versions of the rug also tend to have a thinner weave, which has diminished one of the chief trademark qualities of a Bidjar rug.

Antique versions of the rug are known to be coarser, which causes the pile to physically stand up, and it is of such a heavy weave that the rugs cannot be rolled up or easily folded. This dense material gave them a cushioning effect when stepped upon that quickly bounced back, and is a trait for which they became widely known. This earned them a reputation as a durable, man's rug which could not be easily compressed or damaged.

The original version of Bidjar rug has found an enduring market in the US and newer versions have tried to maintain its perception as a quality work of art by enhancing the original designs. Over the course of the past 50 years, the rugs have become finer and thinner, with knot counts per square inch rising up to and exceeding 300. This allows for much finer geometric patterns than existed in the past, with the addition of a lot of floral work that was not traditionally dominant in the rugs. The addition of common features like pink roses in the rugs in recent years of the early 21st century has been an attempt to sell them more directly to the female side of the international market.

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