|Collection||ONE OF A KIND|
Gabbeh (Gabba, Gava, Khersak, Xersak)
Gabba is a Persian long-piled hand-knotted, with a thick and coarse but loose and flabby quality, some sorts a little shaggy others somehow Kilim-like in first glance. These are the pieces nomadic women weave for their own. Introduced to the western markets only in recent five decades or so, gabbas are amongst the most vivacious pieces in the Persian art of rug.
Gabba is assumed to be a simple base for qâlis (actual piled rugs), so its tradition must be as old as the domestication of herds. The first known reference to gabba is found in a royal command by Shah Tahmasp of the Safavid dynasty dating to the middle of the 16th century. The folks of Zagros Mountains are the most celebrated tribal weavers of such pieces and we call them as they name them. Gabba and gabbeh are Persian pronunciations of gavva In its native land, gabba is to serve as a portable piece with several usages. Gabba may be used in tribal life as ground cloth under tents or as mats, blankets and even saddles.
In recent decades some Iranian artists and collectors have focused on gabba and introduced it to international markets. Gabbas found their way rapidly in modern interior designs. Demands increased soon enough for China and India to start imitating. But mind! Persian gabbas are benefited not just by the tradition, but by natural dyes of Zagros and creativity of every individual weaver.
Gabbas have long pile, low knot density, and many rows of weft between each row of knots. The knotting can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. There is a rare type of gabbas called ‘double-sided’ which is knitted by two face-to-face weavers on a vertical loom between them. Double-sided gabbas technically forced to use the simplest of patterns. Wool is the usual raw material for gabbas. Goat hair is also used in some pieces. Cotton may be used by some producers, but it’s not a proper raw material for gabbas.
Designs and patterns of Gabbas
Actually gabbas are supposed to be woven without antecedent designs and this is the key to their free abstraction of colors and geometric patterns as well as simple stylization of figures and representative shapes.
Typically, there is minimal pattern with an occasional stick figure or simply stylized animals on a gabba. Some gabbas woven by Bakhtiaris and Qashqaeis have stylized figures of lions. This could be a large single one or some little ones. In some pieces tiny simplified figures of human, sheep and camel spot the plain fields. Trees are also depicted frequently on gabbas either as a large single icon or as tiny ones. Xeshti or framed designs are also common as well as striped designs.
in Luri and Kurdish. Xersak, meaning little bear, is a special appellation used by Bakhtiari lurs.
Lots of famous Zagros’ towns and rural and tribal areas could be listed: Sanandaj (Sanne), Nehavand, bijar, Kabudarahang, Khorramabad, Borujerd, and Aligudarz in Kurdistan and Lurisatan, and downwards into the Fars where dwell Qashqais who still immigrate, weaving the best pieces in both artistry and quality of raw materials. Zagros slopes down into the Persian Gulf by the coast of which located the village of Shur, the furthermost place mentioned as a Gabba weaving center.
Technical aspects and the structure of Gabbas
Genuine Gabbas are made by nomads for their own use. Practically, gabbas should be handy and portable in a nomadic every-day life, therefore medium or smile sizes are favored with loose texture to be folded and unfolded easily. These are also the favored sizes in contemporary decors in which gabbas are much preferred.
Dyeing and painting of Gabbas
Gabbas are woven with both dyed and undyed yarns making two distinct types of ‘colored’ and ‘natural’ gabbas. The later include shades of cream, white, grey, light and dark brown and black, making blotchy cream or spotted camel or cloudy grey fields.
In the case of dyed yarns gabba weavers feel free to use whatever they have, depending on their sudden impressions which is possible due to the designless nature of gabba weaving. The results are mostly lively pieces with vivid coloring.