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The really fine Senneh rugs: Gallery 1 Gallery 2 Senneh Rugs
The really fine Senneh rugs derive from the localised era of knotting excellence that took place in Kurdestan in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the nineteenth century. Of the three main Kurdish types - Gerus, Bijar and Senneh - the Sennehs were the most finely knotted, and were alone in being single-wefted. The very finest examples were knotted on silk warps, usually (perhaps always?) dyed in a variety of shades to give their fringes a polychrome/rainbow-like appearance. Such items are among the most finely knotted and most elevated of all Persian rugs outside those of the Court production, and are rivalled only by a few Feraghan/Feraghan Sarouk rugs from Arak of the same period (where *is* Joe Burke, does anyone know?) and the very finest Kirman-Raver items such as those in pictorial 'mythological' designs with Greek deities, which may possibly be a little later. Of them all, I would say the Sennehs possess the most enduring and timeless aesthetic/decorative style, a fact undoubtedly recognised by a few of the most knowledgeable of Persian merchants and rug connoisseurs, in whose private collections the best Sennehs will generally be found.

Not surprisingly, Sennehs in this class are always highly valued and even more highly priced, if you should ever be lucky enough to find them. They are among the 'thinnest' of all Persian rugs, and many will be in medallion or allover designs patterned with small-scale herati repeats, also similar to Feraghan Sarouks of comparable calibre. They have a very granular texture and handle, and the typical 'salt-and-pepper' speckled backs you find in most finely-knotted single-wefted Persian rugs, only more so. Being single-wefted, they tend to wear less well than their more robust relations from Bijar and Gerus, although - having always enjoyed the highest esteem within Iran - examples in excellent condition have been carefully preserved as repositories of wealth, and these naturally enjoy the greatest value.

As with other types of sophisticated Qajar Persian rugs, the literature on them is thinner even than their pile construction. There is of course A. Cecil Edwards who deals with Sennehs with an appropriate degree of respect in 'The Persian Carpet'. Also, if you can read German, Mohammad Pakzad covers them from a knowledgeable perspective in his 'Persische Knupfkunst' (published in Hanover). If I remember rightly, Pakzad illustrates one of the rare all-silk Sennehs from the late nineteenth century, which are curiously aggressive in colour, compared to the sombre and mellow shades of the wool-piled pieces. Murray Eiland father and son also cover Sennehs usefully in their recent Guide to Oriental Carpets, and I think Dr Jon Thompson has good words for them in his 'Carpet Magic' and its various later manifestations.

Since the Qajar heyday of Kurdish production, Sennehs have declined rapidly in quality, and nothing much of interest was made after 1900. Modern Sennehs are reasonably attractive, but far from fine in construction, and of no collectable interest.

The understated, small scale designs and closely harmonised colours of the old super-fine Senneh rugs may not hold the same appeal for contemporary decorative taste as the more epic character of their great Bijar and Gerus relations of similar age, but they will always be admired by aficionados of Persian knotting, and bargain opportunities for their acquisition are most unlikely. From their notable scarcity in recent years, they would appear to have been made in fewer numbers than Bijars, and this, if nothing else, will ensure a continuing level of demand among those who can afford them.

By: Iain Stewart

Source: Senneh Rugs

related links:
Handmade Oriental Carpets


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