Among the finest carpets in the world, the word Nain is sometimes used in Iran as a synonym for ‘fine’. These elegant carpets are produced in and around the city of Nain, some 60 miles east of the enchanted city of Isfahan. A favorite of many collectors, Nains are precise, delicate and can be stunningly beautiful. They are woven on cotton, or on silk of varying degrees of quality, and are mostly beige and blue, with stunning silken highlights. The blues can vary from the deepest midnight to the palest sky, with royals and spectacular turquoises along the way. Typical details include the curvilinear vines with forked leaves, Shah Abbas flowers, birds and animals, and regal borders. Many are signed, and for a genuine Habibian signature it is permitted to sell the fame.
Nain as a weaving center only dates back to the 1920. At first it was one of the areas that produced Isfahan carpets. Then begining in the 1930s it developed it’s own identity for very fine precise workshop carpets on a cotton foundation. As much as anything it was a result of some extraordinary workshops.
Nain is a city in Iran in-between Isphahan and Yezd. It is the collection point for the rugs called Nain which are actually made over a large area. The average from over 300 knots per square inch to more than double that. I understand that Habibian has made rugs in the 900 kpsi range.
The best known workshop in Nain is Habibian. Many villages that produced fine Isfahan rugs switched to producing Nain rugs later in the 20th century. Many of the Nain type rugs are also woven in Tabas.
With regard to Nains, they are classed in the trade today based on how many threads make up the warp. If one were to take a single strand of the fringe and pull it apart(unravel) one would find either two or three threads in the one strand of fringe.
Continuing, if you break down(unravel) the three threads it would break down to three additional threads (3×3=9) The Farsi word for 9 is Nola (or nohola) thus a nine thread rug,
If the 3 strands broke down into 2 strands each (3×2=6) it is asix thread rug or shisla (or shishla).
If on the other hand you only start with 2 threads and you break each of these down and find they unravel into 2 threads each(2×2=4) you have a charla (or sharla). Clearly a charla will be a finer warp and thus allow a higher knot count than a nola or a shisla. So charla are the finest Nains, nola are middle grade, and the lowest grade are shisla.
Simply, put, the fewer the threads the finer the rug. It is a quick way to describe the relative quality among rugs from Nain. Not many folks over here use the convention but in the middle east it is the only way the Nain’s are described. There are different quality levels within each group- so- at the end of the day knot count comes into play – although over there, knot count is only one of many factors used to evaluate a rug.
If the Nain has a silk foundation instead of cotton, then it is usually always a nola but – size for size, priced somewhere closer to a shishla.
Con-Verdonck Habibian Nain Rug
A Nain part-silk carpet, Central Persia, mid 20th century
Faardjollah Niroomand Nain Iran
Nain Tudesh Carpet Central Persia, circa 1940
Green & Beige vegetable dye
Nain carpet, Central Persia, mid 20th century
Nain floral medallion carpet Jacobsen Rugs
fine 625 knot quality with deep navy ground and soft blues and greys; maroon and rust accents; closely clipped wool pile with silk inlay on cotton warp and weft.
floral medallion design; ivory field; beige border; earth-tone accents; wool pile.
An extremely fine part silk Nain carpet
the ivory field with overall design of delicate scrolling floral vine issuing various palmettes and stylised leafy sprays, in nn ivory border of bold meandering arabesques stylised palmettes and floral meander between light blue and brick-red similar stripes, outer barber-pole and plain stripes, very good condition — 326cm. x 221cm. (10ft.9in. x 7ft.3in.)
20ft. 3in. by 13ft. Part Silk Nain Carpet 20th Century
9ft. 8in. by 5ft. 8in. Part Silk Nain Carpet 20th Century
Nain Carpet 20th Century
450 by 300cm.