Kashan is located in the centre of Iran in the Isfahan province and is one of Iran's oldest cities. The area was one of the primary seats of pre-historic civilization, with Sialk only 4km from current day Kashan, of which sections date back more than 6000BC. The city of Kashan got it name from the initial inhabitants, the Kasian people of Tapeh Sialk. Built on the outskirts of the salt lake and desert of Iran, the climate is hot and dry. Some claim that the Three Wise Men hailed from Kashan, whether or not this claim has any grounding the fact the claim is made highlights the prestige of the city in ancient times.
Beautiful Kashan rugs have been crafted here since the 17th century during the Safavid dynasty, with many scholars believing that some of the smaller silk designs date back to the early 16th century. Kashan was a holiday retreat for many of the rulers of the Safavid era, benefiting from stunning architecture and the city is renowned for its stunning holiday homes. The rugs made in Kashan are often instantly recognisable and are amongst the most beautiful and famous of all Persian rugs. For many, when they think of a Persian rug, the image they see in their head is that of the traditional Kashan rug with central medallion on a red field with navy and ivory borders (middle below).
The city of Kashan and its surrounding area is encircled by desert and therefore does not have a good source of local materials; originally Merino wool was imported from Manchester (UK) to create some of Iran's finest carpets. In more recent times Kashan rugs have used wool sourced from Sabzevar, which produces some of the very best wool in Iran.
Kashan rugs are typically high-quality, many incorporating silk into their designs. The foundation tends to be cotton however some of the finest examples may be pure silk. The wool should be soft and the pile tightly knotted. The knot count (KPSI) can range from 100 to over 800 per square inch for the most majestic (and expensive) examples. The majority of Kashan's have a similar design with a central medallion and Persian floral motifs forming the pattern, however as with most regions, designs may vary. Popular colours are ivory, red, blue and soft greens. The city is home to the oldest existing garden in Iran, the Fin Garden, and this garden also acts as a muse for many of the city's designs.