Persian Rugs Heriz and Serapi - How To Identify Them

by Deepak Maurya

Heriz rugs

Heriz carpets are Persian rugs from the Heris district of East Azerbaijan in northwest Iran, northeast of Tabriz. Such carpets are made in the same-named settlement on the slopes of Mount Sabalan. Heriz carpets are long-lasting and hard-wearing, and they may survive for generations. Major auction houses in the United States and Europe frequently sell 19th-century examples of such rugs. Mount Sabalan rests atop a large copper deposit, which contributes to the durability of Heriz rugs. Copper traces in sheep's drinking water generate high-quality wool that is significantly more robust than wool from other places. The Heris Carpet is the only carpet in the world that weaves stories from the past. Heriz rug artisans frequently create geometric, dramatic designs with a big medallion dominating the field. These patterns are old and are frequently woven from memory.

Afshar, Mehraban, Sarab, Bakhshaish, and Gorevan all have similar rugs from the Heriz area.

The grades of these carpets are determined mostly by the village name. Serapis, for example, has been regarded as the greatest grade of Heriz since the early twentieth century.

Heriz rugs have a rough construction. The rugs have compression ratings ranging from 30 kpsi on the low end to 100–110 kpsi on the high end. Unless it is an antique silk Heriz, it is unusual to see a rug exceeding 100 kpsi that looks like an actual Heriz.


 Serapi rug

Serapi carpets and rugs are woven in Heriz village in East Azerbaijan Province, which is located in northwest Iran. These rugs have symmetrical knots on a cotton basis with a wool pile. These carpets include Medallion and Geometric designs, and the colors are Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Ivory, and Pink. Serapi is a mysterious name in the Persian vintage carpet industry. This name refers to neither a place nor a tribe. Sarab, often written Saab, is a village in northern Persia famous for weaving only runners with a camel hair pile in the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, American traders may have given northern Persian Heriz carpets the appellation "Serapi."  In the United States, the highest quality of Heriz rugs is called Serapi.


 Heriz v/s serapi rug

Although both are known for their striking elegance and somewhat formal geolinear designs, the Serapi antique rug is more delicately detailed, has a finer weave (greater knot density), and a more subdued color palette than the Heriz rug. Both Serapi and Heriz rug types are popular in the West, where they are frequently employed in formal and official contexts such as the interiors of government buildings in the United States of America (i.e., the Capitol Building, Washington D.C.). Although based on the same pattern, Heriz rugs are often more rough-hewn, with a less-refined weave and more overall contrast than Serapi carpets. Both of their names are westernized variants of their birthplaces, Heris (more rural) and Sarab (urban) (more metropolitan).

Heriz and Serapi rugs are easily distinguished by their rectilinear designs and highly stylized geometric ornamentation, which frequently has a big medallion in pure blue or blue and ivory on a field of deep red or terracotta. Within a knot range of 30 - 100 KPSI - Heriz on the low end, Serapi on the high - antique Heriz rugs are typically coarser and sturdier, with bolder colors and slightly more-angular and compact-looking woven detail, whereas Serapi design is typically finer, less rigid looking, and more spacious and open by comparison.

Furthermore, some academics do not believe that there is enough difference to justify the presence of two distinct rug groups, especially as some workshops may have produced both types concurrently at the turn of the century.

Though the design motifs are similar to those seen in Heriz rugs, both of which were made in the same region in the 19th century, Serapi is often more subtle in both color and design, with more curved designs portrayed in terracotta reds, ivories, pastel blues, pinks, and light greens. These rugs were traditionally used in early American state and federal buildings, including the White House.

Antique Serapi carpets, which are highly sought after, are becoming increasingly difficult to locate in the market. Because of the smaller number of rugs manufactured, these carpets are often of greater quality than the Heriz rug and so attract a higher market price at auction.


Check out our Heriz and Serapi Rug collection