Gabbeh is a very beautiful and colorful hand knotted textile with a pile of long threads. It is exclusively made by the nomadic people of Iran and is used as a floor covering. The specific trait of Gabbeh is its long threads which make it thicker than other Persian carpets. In the encyclopedia of Dehkhoda, Gabbeh has been defined as “a kind of carpet with long wefts”. It is also called “Khersak”. The oldest surviving document that mentions to the usage of Gabbeh and is a proof of its importance, dates back to Safavid dynasty.
According to this document, upon receiving Homayun, the Mughal emperor who had seek refuge in Iran, silk carpets of Khorasan, Gabbeh and felt carpets were laid by the order of Shah Abbas Safavid. Gabbeh is also mentioned in reports and researches of Europeans and Americans from 19th century which also proves that it was internationally known and traded by that time.
Gabbeh is very soft and bright. These two traits not only make it a very suitable floor covering for nomads, but also help it to be used as blankets. It is knotted by the Lurs nomads just like carpets, but their differences are the thickness, length of the wefts, and above all, the designs. Gabbeh are designed by the memory of its maker. Beautiful geometric, animal motifs of Gabbeh are inspired by the life style and heritage of nomadic people. It is as if some of the patterns tell a story, set in the heart of nature.
Gabbeh carpets are commonly small. People of Kohgiluyeh make them in the size of about 1.5x2.2 meters. Another trait is that to make Gabbeh, between each 3 to 8 rows, more than one weft is inserted. Knot threads of these Gabbeh carpets are from raw wool, wraps are from a combination of wool and hair, and the wefts are from wool. One of the most famous motifs are “Howz” (a small pool, depicted by shapes of diamonds in different sizes) and “Shir” or lion. Gabbeh carpets with motifs of lion are very popular between the nomads themselves and are related to a senses of honor, pride and bravery. They are also very successful merchandise.
The motif of lion is made from memory and in very few number, but it has attracted the attention of both Iranian and Foreign collectors so much that the Gabbeh with these motifs are sometimes mistaken as “Lion Carpets”. Some of the other motifs of this product are “Chang” (hook), “Ghab-e Ghoran” (holy Quran cover), “Gol o Bolbol” (flower and bird), “Gol-e Khordeh”, “Kaji”,”Gol-e Kalami” and “Samavari”.