(Posted on 29/07/13)
The most prestigious and expensive of all contemporary examples of oriental textile art. The term is often loosely applied to any workshop rug of outstanding calibre, but more specifically refers to items produced in a handful of exceptional workshops in one of the major weaving centers of Persia and Anatolia. There are no hard and fast rules for judging when a workshop qualifies for this accolade, any more than there are for conferring greatness on people and institutions in other forms of art; but it is normally reserved for workshops which consistently produce outstanding items under the direction of a master-weaver.Consequently, there will always be some debate amongst carpet scholars as to the number and location of master-workshops at any given time. It is, however, generally accepted that Isfahan, Nain, Hereke, Kashan, Tabriz, Meshed, Kerman and Quoom possess workshops worthy of inclusion in this category. Despite the fact that there are a number of top quality workshops in other countries, none can as yet be considered worthy of a place in the master-workshop class. Master-workshop design are extremely elaborate and sophisticated interpretations of classical Persian schemes. In addition to opulent versions of the designs associated with their weaving group, most master-workshops also produce rugs in a number of universal designs, particularly pictorial and garden schemes.When assessing a master-workshop rug, look primarily for technical and aesthetic perfection. The knotting should be extremely fine and even throughout; patterns and motifs should be executed with exactness of size and spacing; and the colours be even and consistent in tone. Flaws are unacceptable, and only the very finest materials should have been used.