Weaving in Isfahan flourished in the Safavid era. But when the Afghans invaded Iran, ending the Safavid dynasty, the craft also became stagnant.
Not until 1920s, between two world wars, was weaving again taken seriously by the people of Isfahan. They started to weave Safavid designs and once again became one of the most important nexus of the Iranian Carpet weaving industry. Isfahani carpets today are among the most wanted in world markets, having many customers in western countries.
Isfahani carpets usually have ivory backgrounds with blue, rose, and indigo motifs. Isfahani rugs and carpets often have very symmetrical and balanced designs. They usually have a single medallion that is surrounded with vines and palmettos. These rugs and carpets usually have excellent quality. The most famous master weaver in Isfahan is Seirafian.
The city of Isfahan (Eşfahan) is now a world heritage site and produces what are arguably the most consistently fine wool pile rugs made anywhere in the world today. Their quality may be matched by individual items from the other major Persian workshop groups, but Isfahan produces far fewer poor quality rugs.
Isfahan rugs are knotted on either silk or cotton foundations, with up to 400 Persian knots per in2, using exceptionally good quality (often Kurk) wool for the pile, which is normally clipped quite low. In contemporary items the palette is normally more pastel, and technical perfection is generally of greater importance than artistic flair. Contemporary Isfahans are however extremely attractive, and the subduing of the palette, particularly the elimination of strong reds, makes them more compatible with Western decorative schemes.
A range of traditional designs are still used including allover Shah Abbas, vase, Tree of Life and pictorial schemes but by far the most popular composition is based on a circular central medallion (derived from the famous mosque of Shah Lutf Allah in Esfahan) set against an elegantly sculpted field decorated with intricately purling vine palmette and floral motifs.
The most famous name in Isfahan rugs is that of the late Haj Agha Reza Seirafian and his seven sons Mohammad Ali, Mohammad, The Late Mohammad Sadegh,The Late Ahmad, Ali, The Late Hossien, Mohammad Hassan,And his first grandson Mojtaba Seirafian. Nowadays bagher seirafian (mohammad's son) is the most famous producer of seirafian carpet. But Isfahan is more than just the Seirafians, noted masters include the great Master Ahmad Archang, whose work is currently being exhibited in the National Rugs Museum in Tehran, Master Faizollah Haghighi, as well as Dardahsti and the Majnoonies (Hekmat Nejad family). Emami, Shahpour Enteshari are also master weavers of note.
Some Isfahani rugs became known in Western Europe as "Polish rugs". This name refers to carpets woven with silk, golden and silver threads in Persia during the 16th-18th centuries and exported to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. They were commissioned by wealthy Polish noblemen and decorated with their coats of arms. Some of them were later resold to West European buyers who were often convinced of their Polish origin, hence their name.
- (Polish) Wielka Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN