Thomas Riley Studio is proud to present Orley Shabahang Persian Carpets, producers of some of the world‘s finest wool and silk carpets, continuing 2,400 year old traditions of craft and artisanship.
In 1973, Bahram Shabahang began selling Persian carpets in the United States, and opened his first store nearly a decade later. His interest, however, was an extension of a long tradition. Since the 16th Century, his family has been a purveyor of carpets starting with his ancestors who oversaw the work of the rug weavers in the King Tahmass Safavieh’s workshop. Bahram Shabahang met Geoffrey Orley in the bazaars of Isfahan while they were both in their early twenties, before Bahram moved to the United States. Over the last 40 years Geoffrey and Bahram have been business partners, selling a premier collection of antique carpets. While still selling unique and collectable antiques, they set out with a new vision.
In 2001, Bahram set out to create his own Persian carpets. While the market was not without Persian carpets, faster mechanized ways of production threatened the authenticity and quality of the art form. Absent in the market were distinctly creative carpets made by techniques once used to create the masterpieces we now associate with Persian carpets. Bahram Shabahang decided to take on the feat of reintroducing this lost art. From cultivating the right materials to design conception and technique, Bahram manages every step of the process. Orley Shabahang is proud to be the exclusive creator of these fine carpets.
MATERIALS, PRODUCTION AND DESIGN:
WOOL – Quality begins with raw materials. Orley Shabahang uses wool which comes from sheep pedigreed for centuries, specifically for weaving carpets. Unlike other domestic and international varieties that are raised for food, these sheep are valued for their fine wool and are raised in the most suitable conditions for this purpose. The result is wool that has superior tensile characteristics and color absorption than wool from other pedigrees of sheep. Additionally, only the finest, freshly shorn wool is selected for our carpets. The best wool is very long-stranded, and has exceptionally high lanolin content. Our lanolin-rich wool maintains a natural sheen that enhances the color over time. This natural oil also repels dirt and foreign matter from soiling the carpet. It increases softness and flexibility while naturally strengthening the fibers as well.
SILK – Orley Shabahang breeds its silkworms in the Khazar region near the shores of the Caspian Sea. This was the region that produced silk for Persian carpets in the 17th century, the “Golden Era” of carpet production. Silk carpets have a beautiful luster and richness, even in very light tones. Silk’s prism-like structure refracts incoming light at different angles, giving carpets a luminous and vibrant appearance. While silk is often thought of as delicate, it is one of the strongest natural fibers, and thus its durability is unparalleled.
SPINNING – THE ORIGINAL WAY
Our wool is spun using traditional techniques that require every step to be done by hand. While this process is very labor intensive and therefore far more expensive than machine-aided approaches, the resulting quality is far richer. The hand spinning twists the wool uniquely, resulting in an uneven diameter. This asymmetry absorbs color differently, creating striated color, called abrash, while maintaining the wool’s integrity. The irregular coloration produces a carpet pile that is more textural and color that is more profound, while maintaining the wool’s integrity.
DYEING -USING NATURE ALONE
We are especially proud of our dyeing techniques. While many dyes used in today’s handmade carpets are synthetic to reduce costs and increase production times, we use colors from flowers, roots, fruit, bark and other natural ingredients found in the nature. We boil our wool in large clay pots with mordents, then soak them in copper pots to clean and activate the wool to accept the dyes. This process facilitates a natural reaction without destroying the lanolin. Afterwards, the wool is placed in a river current to help set the colors and then laid in the sun for further natural curing. This step lends additional sheen to the wool and ensures that the integrity of the lanolin is preserved. Our traditional techniques ensure that the wool expresses a deep color intensity while slightly varying from strand to strand.
WEAVING -A COTTAGE INDUSTRY
What makes a carpet beautiful is the unique artisanship that distinguishes one carpet from the next. Weaving is a craft that is deeply connected to the culture and customs of its artisans. Passed down from generation to generation, weaving is solely done by women and is not easy to master. Only a gifted weaver can create a carpet with a fluid design translated from a two-dimensional pattern. At Orley Shabahang, we weave our carpets house-to-house, village-to-village, throughout regions best known for their specialized types of weave. The looms are usually located in a weaving room in the home, integrating craft and daily life. After the weaving process is complete, we start the finishing touches. This involves additional sheering and silk selvedge binding to give each piece added elegance and strength.
DESIGN -UNIQUE INTERPRETATIONS
Orley Shabahang strives to be the most original creators of contemporary carpets in the world through our unparalleled designs. Bahram Shabahang finds his strongest inspiration in nature: flora, fauna, and landscapes. He also looks to the great artistic movements, from Arts & Crafts to Pop, as well as Persian architectural elements. As Bahram Shabahang works from new sources of inspiration, his designs continue to evolve and grow into innovative and unique forms. It is his original eye for color and shape, along with our techniques and materials that set Orley Shabahang carpets apart from the rest.
Please contact us for pricing and availability.