Tabriz is the most illustrious weaving centre in northwestern Persia and is the second largest city in Iran. Situated on the ancient Silk Road it has been a center of the Persian carpet trade for perhaps thousands of years. It was a major city in the Seljuk Empire of the 11th century and in the 13th century became the capital of the ruling Mongol Empire.
As Tabriz lies in the border region of Azerbaijan, the weavers of Tabriz have for centuries incorporated design motifs both from the Caucasus region as well as the Persian motifs from other weaving tribes and towns in Iran. Tabriz carpets are typically knotted on cotton warps using the double knot technique which makes for an extremely sturdy, thick carpet. Cut low, the pile on these carpets gives a matt look and a great number of colors are used in creating the floral, arabesque designs which abound. This incredible symphony of colors is one of the elements which give Tabriz carpets great appeal.
Tabriz carpets can be filled with dense floral motifs, large palmettes, vases and animals (primarily deer and birds), and less often with geometric repeats. One exquisite substyle is called Mahi, the Persian word for fish, as the Tabriz Mahi is covered with an all over repeat of very small fish, almost a paisley pattern, scattered neatly throughout the carpet surrounded by tiny flowers and border details. The magic of a Mahi is in the subtle color ranges of each piece. Attesting to their pride in producing fine carpets, the master-weavers of Tabriz often weave their signature into a part of the carpet’s border.