Persian embroidery is one of the many forms of the multi-faceted Persian arts. The motifs used in the Persian embroidery are mostly floral, especial Persian figures, animals, and patterns related to hunting.
The Persian embroidered women's trouserings have rich patterns. They were very much in vogue up till the end of the 18th century. With a survival of Victorian modesty, these are usually known as "Gilets Persans". The designs are always of diagonal parallel bands filled with close floral ornamentation and are very effective.
We know that the Persian embroidery existed from the ancient times and at least from the time of the Sassanids. Numerous designs are visible on the dresses of the personages on the rock-sculptures and silverware of that period, and have been classified by Professor Ernst Herzfeld. Also the patterns on the coat of Chosroes II at Taq-e Bostan are in such high relief that they may represent embroidery. Roundels, confronted animals and other familiar motives of Sassanid art were doubtless employed. It is probable that the famous Garden Carpet of Chosroes II was a piece of embroidery.
The Persian embroideries we possess of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are almost exclusively divan-coverings or ceremonial cloth for present-trays, while in the eighteenth century and later we have the addition of rugs for the bathing-rooms, prayer-mats, and women's embroidered trousers, known as 'naghshe'.
The earlier embroideries of Iran are almost all of a type in which the entire ground is covered by the design, while the reverse is true, in the main, of the later pieces, in which the background of one plain colour is made to play its part equally with the varied silks of the needlework. The earlier pieces are almost all closely allied in design to one or other of the many types of carpets. They are worked chiefly in darning-stitch on cotton or loosely woven linen, while occasionally examples in cross- or tent-stitch are met with. It is perhaps reasonable to assume that the more important class of work, that of carpet-weaving, supplied the original design and that the embroiderer adopted it from a type familiar to her. Also it must be remembered that the carpet-weaving was mainly done by men, embroidery by women, so that members of the same family worked at both trades.
- Brief guide to Persian embroideries. Victoria and Albert Museum, His Majesty's stationery Office, London 1950.