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 migrate 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.
The 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.