Skip to main content

Bakhtiyari ‘Khan’ prayer rug  Nomadic Rug Traders

central Persia

Size: 210 x 147 cm

dated AH 1316 / 1898 AD

This very important Persian carpet, a prayer rug, made for Ghulam Khan bears an inscription in a red cartouche at the top of the rug.

The inscription reads “On the order of His Excellency, the Exalted, the most Glorious, the most Generous, Master Ghulam Khan Shahab al-Saltaneh. Work of the Bakhtiyari in the year 1316.”

It was made in 1898 for the prominent Bakhtiyari Khan, Ghulam Husain Shahab al-Saltaneh Sardar Muhtashem, later to become the supreme chief, Ilkhan, of the Bakhtiyari tribes, a minister in the Iranian Government and Governor of Kirman province in present day Iran.

Ghulam Husain also featured in the American film makers Schoedsack and Cooper’s 1924 silent film “Grass”, which documented the seasonal migrations of the Bakhtiyari tribes from winter to summer pastures. The film is considered amongst the greatest of all silent documentaries made. Schoedsack and Cooper were also famous as the makers of the original King Kong movie.

The rug itself, very finely woven for a Bakhtiyari rug, displays a particularly exuberant tree of life in the field and a vibrant palette of natural dyes, at least ten colours.

‘Khan’ carpets, whilst well known, are rare items and all bear inscriptions to individually named khans from the Dureki tribe of the Haft Lang branch of Bakhtiyari.

The Bakhtiyari Khans were extremely powerful and wealthy having been at the forefront of negotiations during this period with the British and British Petroleum over oil rights on their tribal lands and politically active in the Iranian government.

As authority Ian Bennett says in his study of Khan carpets (Hali 43&44), they “represent an extremely interesting, perhaps unique, social and artistic record” and the inscriptions “add an historical depth and richness” to one of the most turbulent period’s of Iran’s history, the rise and fall of the Great Khans of the Bakhtiyari.


Ross & Irene Langlands
125 Harris Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009

Mobile:             61 (0) 455 968266 Irene

61 (0) 407244104 Ross

Leave a Reply