Wool is primary and raw material for every rugs. Even in rural rugs they just use wool for weft, wrap and knots. Therefore in these kinds of rugs dye and wool are the only primary material. In other words without use of high-grade wool there would be no excellent rugs. The finest qualities of wool are obtained from sheep reared primarily for this fibre.
Wool can be divided into three broad categories.
The finest diameter wool comes from Merino sheep. It is used for high quality, soft handling fabrics and knitting yarns and is highly valued by the world’s leading fashion houses.
A wide range of wools between fine and coarse is produced by crossing one breed of sheep with another. Many of these crosses have become established breeds – such as Corriedale – and are bred in large numbers. Medium wools are used in a variety of woven apparel cloths, knitting yarns and furnishings.
Many different sheep breeds produce coarser wools and often they are dual purpose breeds farmed with equal emphasis on meat and wool. Romney produces long, medium-lustre wool which is particularly useful for carpets because of its strength and durability.
Wools are sheared by scissors from alive sheep, or by a knife from a dead one and in a tannery. It is important to know that the high-grade wool which is used in Iranian rugs is the wool that issheared by scissors from an alive animal, because the shortness of tannery wool makes it improper to be used in rugs production.
Excellency of the wool is depended to delicacy and thickness, length, strength, smoothness, its natural color, quality of adaptation in dyeing process and tension bearing of each string.
Not all the wools of a sheep’s body are similar in these characteristics.Wool of shoulders are the best, after that comes the wool of chest and at last wool of legs and under belly.
For more explanation on these characteristics, it is also mentionable that; the morethin strings would be, the wool will have a better quality and becomes high-grade. For instance, nowadays general standards of strings’ thickness are as follows: the best quality should has less than 30 microns thickness of each string. The thickness of Second grade is between 30 to 35 microns. And the Third grade has around 35 to 40 microns thickness. And the wool with more than 40 micron thickness is considered as the worst, and at the Fourth grade.
It is better that strings of wool be as long as possible. The average of strings’ length should be not less than 7.5 cm for the First grade wool.
The strength of wool’s string is depended to nourishment of the sheep. If sheep does not have a good nourishment then its wool will be dry and fragile.
The curly wools are not good for rugs. Smoother wools are so much better. For smoothing the curly wools some chemical progresses are needed which are expensive and would harm excellence and durability of products.
Naturally wools are in white, yellow, gray, brown and black. The white wools are the best and most expensive one because they can be easily converted to any other colors with no requirement to extra chemical progresses.
Dye-taking ability of wools is related to different factors. One of them is primary color of the wool itself as I mentioned it before. The other one is the wool’s dose of greasiness which should be decreased by persistent washing. And again, the thickness of each stringsince the more thin it would be, the more stability and dyeing ability it might have.
According to these factors the best quality wool is the wool which is white (25% pollution at maximum), and with average of 30 microns thickness and not less than 7.5 cm length of each string.
Obviously the quality of products at the end is completely depended to quality of their raw materials at the beginning. And that is why all big weaving companies, always have their representatives andpurchase agents to provide the best raw materials even in the most remotevillages of Iran.
Sheep husbandry is common all around Iran. Kurdish, Sarakhsi, Baluchi which are common in every part of Khorasan have the best quality wool. The wool output of these breedsis around 65 to 70%. And around 65 to 70% of their wool is in white tonality.
In province of Azerbaijan some other breeds are common, like Maku, Hergi and Moqan. Maku is the best among them. The wool output of these Azerbaijani breeds is around 35 to 55%. And around 35 to 55% of their wool is in white tonality.
In Markazi province sheep breeds are: Arab, Mahabad, Bakhtiari, Kaku and Farahan. Mahabad is the best of them. Their output is around 70% to 75% and they have 30 to 40% white tonality.
Sheep of Kurdistan and Kermanshah are Lori breed. Output of their wools is around 45 to 55% and also around 70 to 85% of their wools are in white tonality.
In Khuzestan, Fars and Kerman sheep have Arab-Lori and Qashqaibreeds. Their wool output is around 50 to 55% and 65 to 70% of their wools have white tonality.
In Mazandaran and Gilan provinces sheep of Zol breed are more common. The output of wool of these sheep race is around 50 to 55% and only 20 to 30% of their wool are in white tonality. Generally the wools of Mazandaran and Gilan are among most inferior wools considering the required quality. But in spite of this some of Mazandarani rugs are very well-known like rugs of Kelardasht which is so unique and is famous worldwide.