The Gashgai are a group of tribal people located in central and southern Iran, around the region of Shiraz and Persepolise.

The Gashgai live and migrateGashgai woman spinning through parts of the Zagros Mountain range, mostly within the province of Fars (Persia in English) and the Four Valleys of Bahktiari as they move their livestock to greener pastures. This breed of sheep is one of the fat-tailed breeds of sheep found in Iran. Their environment is quite arid and many traditionally migrate with their herds in the summer and the winter, travelling 500kms and climbing to 2,500m.

The Gashgai should not be confused with the Bahktiar tribe, another big rug manufacturing tribe from this area of Iran. Gashgai are of Turkish ethnic origin. Some of the Gashgai are settled in villages and towns and rug weaving is still common occupation.

Traditional Gashqai rugs have all wool construction including wool wefts and warps with 70 to 170 knots per square inch. The rugs are geometric designs with central medallions and the colours are strong and rich and often reds and blues particular to the Gashgai tribe. They weave cut pile rugs and flat-woven rugs known as kilims or gilims. All their rugs are highly durable as the wool is strong and the knotts are very secure. The Gashgai rug pictured below was woven circa 1890, it was sold at Christies, London April 2012, for a high price, it is in very good condition.

old gashgai-chritiesThe wool is from their own sheep and the dyes are sourced from the local environment, wool is spun and woven into the famous Gashgai rugs and kilims.

Their rugs are patterns of both abstract and semi-naturalistic, that come from the nomad’s ancient traditions. Motifs include sheep, goat, birds, and humans, they will also incorporate trees, vines, flowers and other vegetation plus inanimate objects like hair combs. Gashgai use natural dye material collected from their environment, these dyes look beautiful and age beautifully and this is a great feature of the nomadic rug weaving tradition. Gashgai weave flat weaves and cut pile rugs.

There are various spellings of their name Gashkai, Qashai, Qasqai, Qashga’i and Kashgai are some. Their rugs are sometimes referred to as “Shiraz” because Shiraz was the major marketplace for these goods. The wool produced in the Gashgai region is soft and known to take colour well as is seen in the deep blue and the dark ruby reds. Known for their rugs and other woven goods like the saddlebags used over donkey and horse backs, these were highly functional for these mirating people, buy one of these and use it as a wonderful cushion, add some adventure to your room, each one is unique.

Empress Rug Warehouse sources and imports hand-made and machine-made rugs from many different countries. Our rug collection includes traditional designs and contemporary rugs, and we are always looking for unusual and interesting rugs and runners.

Our very first shipment to Australia was 20 years ago after a seek-and-find trip to Iran, my country of birth.

I met with many tribal and urban weavers and drank a lot of tea! Or chai as tea is called in Iran. This trip was very interesting and enlightening for me. Iran is a multicultural country and I discovered a lot about the people and the weavings.

I travelled into the tribal FullSizeRenderareas of the Bahktiars and bought the rugs directly from the weavers – women and men who have been doing this trade for many, many generations. The Bahktiar people grow their own wool and they wash, spin, dye and weave it into their unque designs. Hard-wearing and timeless, these floral rugs are passed down from one generation to the next.

New and old Bahktiar rugs are highly sought after in the west. The designs are very popular and form an imporant part of our rug collection. Empress stocks many of these Iranian rugs and many other tribal and city designs, we are happy to show you our goods, drop by soon.

Once my buying was done, I excitedly brought my rugs to Australia and set up shop. I hoped that people from my new country would like them just as much as they do in my homeland.

After learning about the colours and styles that most interested Melbournites, I adjusted what the rugs I added to my collection next time to suit local tastes.

I bought old and new rugs, Afghan rugs, large rugs and small rugs, as well as very fine rugs made with 100% silk and silk and very fine wool, plus I bought the great tribal rugs with their bold, energetic designs and robust colours.

Getting the first shipment to our new store in Brunswick St in Fitzroy, Melbourne was one of the greatest moments. Since that day we have sold many rugs and had many more shipments.

Over the last 20 years we have had numerous shops around Melbourne and many in Sydney, selling rugs to people all around Australia. Now Empress Rug Warehouse has two large warehouses, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney, retailing seven days a week. Our customers can also shop our amazing rug collection online and have it shipped anywhere in the world.

The Empress Empire is vast. Come and see our rug collection.