The Qashqai or Kashgai; regroups a confederation of nomadic pastoral tribes and sub-tribes who are now mostly settled in the Fars region of southwest Iran, renowned for beautiful, high-quality hand made weaving. Qashqai rugs are Persian rugs, which you often find under the name of Shiraz because Shiraz was historically the main marketplace.
The distinctive colours are taken from natural dyes characteristic of the local geology, including rich madder reds and indigo blues, the design and motifs inspired by ancient Persian artistry, often featuring a central medallion with stylised birds, animals, flowers and allegorical symbols.
“No wool in all Persia takes such a rich and deep colour as the Shiraz wool. The deep blue and the dark ruby red are equally extraordinary, and that is due to the brilliance of the wool, which is firmer, and, so to say, more transparent than silk, and makes one think of translucent enamel”
(Hawley, Walter A. (1913) Oriental Rugs Antique & Modern. Reprint: Dover Publications, New York (1970), p. 116.
Qashqai weaving is the remit of womenfolk, who work to the rhythm of their travels, sometimes spending years over a piece. Sourcing the distinct dyes involves foraging and traditional pigment extraction methods, which are often carried out collectively–as with the actual weaving and the elaboration of design motifs. Such a meticulous attention to every step of the process, rich in shared expertise, translates directly into the fine quality of Qashqai rugs and the value that is internationally ascribed to it.
The Qashqai also make kelims, saddlebags, ribbons, and a variety of other artifacts related to their nomadic lifestyle. With a greater trend towards settling in villages,more market-driven works, such as smaller rugs and western specified designs are now also available.