Qum Silk Rug 8ftx11ft
Much of the significance cannot be attributed to ancient symbolism, which is depicted in many carpet designs, but one cannot be dubious of the fact that there are at times religious and mythological ideas having a great influence on carpet art.
The tree of life design represents the connecting link between the three world levels of ancient Orient: Paradise (in the sky), the world of men (on Earth), and the world below. It is believed that above in the universe, they are united by a great axis running vertically through the center. The idea of depicting the world axis as a tree is very important as well as ancient and is found in many other arts, besides carpets (of course, in European as well as oriental mythology). Always to remember is that with oriental mythology, the language of Symbolism is many layered.
The universal appeal of tree of life design, or any other design, depends in purely aesthetic consideration of the suitability of motif in the given design situation and the degree of technical accomplishment in its' execution.
The tree of life as world axis is by no means the only form of symbolic tree encountered in ancient art; we can find countless examples of tree in carpet designs with religious associations.
An awareness of possible mythological implications in tree designs needs however, to be balanced by the knowledge that much of Persia is stony desert, this alone should be sufficient reason why carpet designs should so often be filled with flowers and trees.
The tree of life finds its genesis in a village called Niriz halfway between Shiraz and Sirjand in Persia. Imam Gul Khan, the famous Governor of northwest province in Persia ordered a special carpet with tree of life design for the tomb of Sheikh Saidis. The carpet was completed in 8 years under the personal supervision of Ali Hashmi, the master weaver of par excellence. The same rug has even decorated the majestic courts of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali.
During Iranian revolution, the rug was sold to a Britishers who later sold it to the Prince of Wales and is nowadays seen in Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
In Kashmir, the Hamdan family (descents of the Bakhtiyar tribe in persia) have been knotting Tree of life design carpets since 16th century with numerous variations. In fact, in reality, the Kashmiri variations in this design has outclassed the designs originally conceived in Persia, because of the various beautiful additions and improvements, which have been influenced by the beautiful environment of Kashmir " The Paradise on Earth" having abundant natural beauty, flowers, trees, gardens, and streams.
Dab Dhar: This is a design conceived in Kashmir on exactly the same lines as that of "Tree of Life". Basically there is no difference as for as content of design except the size of the rectangles in which the design of tree of life accommodated and accomplished. Nor does it, in any way encroach upon the originally conceived design of tree of life, which continues to enjoy same popularity today, as it commanded in yester years.
In the Dab Dhar design the rectangles are smaller say 3"x4" or 4"x5" or even this can be of square shape 4"x4" or 5"x5" depending upon the size of the carpet, while in tree of life the rectangles are usually of 8"x10" or 10"x12" size.
The Kashmir version or as Dab Dhar it is called, can accommodate more religious, mythological and other symbolism's and is particularly suitable for smaller rugs, with possible scope for more color combinations; Dab Dhar in essence means kashmiri design in rectangles or square shape.