Four Seasons: A Secret Key to Tabriz Rugs

Among Persian rugs, the ones from Tabriz are considered the oldest and the greatest of all. Although except for the outstanding quality there are not many features distinguishing Tabriz rugs from other weaving Persian creations, there is a pattern that requires such an immense amount of work, skill and artistry, it could only have been initiated in this magnificent city of weavers. What we are talking about here is “Dord Fasil” which in Azerbaijani means “Four Seasons”.

This exceptional design combines the ancient decorative art, folklore, traditional symbolism derived from spiritual conceptions of early farming age, and religious references. It is, therefore, extremely rich and profound in terms of meaning. As its name suggests, the main field of a Dord Fasil rug is divided into four parts, each comprising a different season with a corresponding genre scene depicting the images taken from peasants’ life. Despite the parts being independent from one another in terms of stories represented within the frames of each quarter, they are actually coherent due to their composition and style. One of the most significant unifying factors is the predominance of gold and red hues which help to ensure the common tone of every composition.

Autumn images most often relate to crucial farming works, including harvesting, tillage and sowing. The prevailing shades are amber, terracotta and browns. In winter section you may find villagers sweeping snow of the roofs, whipping up donkeys carrying goods or men offering various services in exchange for coin. Here, off-white shade appears to underline the cool and harsh atmosphere of the arduous season. Spring landscape always introduces more vivid, saturated colors and depicts trees in full bloom, shepherds herding their flocks of sheep and playing reed-pipes, girls listening to the sounds of that music, old men smoking pipes and discussing topics important to them. Finally, the summer, the warmest of all seasons captures the harvest, women and children binding sheaves and taking them off the fields.

All these rural, pictorial scenes are happening with some major architectural Persian wonders in the background. One of them may be the famous Blue Mosque of Tabriz, a pearl of the 15th century Azerbaijani architecture. Additionally, Four Season rugs comprise opulently decorative borders, medallions capturing the life of prophets, religious scenes , representation of vases and pitchers, Arabic verses and important historical figures. This impressive range of symbols has been an invaluable source of knowledge to present-day scholars intending to unveil the many mysteries of not only carpet weaving craft but most importantly the ways of life of our ancestors.

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