Bakhtiari, the 'companion of good luck' in ancient Farsi.
It is believed that the Bakhtiari, a south-western tribe speaking Bakhtiari Lurish, originated in Syria. Perhaps the most famous Bakhtiar was Cyrus the Great, the first Achaemenid Emperor. They are nomads who lead a harsh existence, migrating between summers in and around the Chahar Mahal region, and their winter quarters in the eastern part of Khuzestan. This means that the majority of their rugs are small to medium in size for ease of transport.
This annual migration is also responsible for that charming characteristic in many tribals, abrash, the changes of background colour that sometimes occur in antique rugs, caused by the use of different dyes. Often the decision to move is made quickly, sometimes overnight, and not enough wool to finish a rug has been pre-dyed. On arriving at the new locale for grazing their sheep, it is often impossible to get identical tones from very similar trees and shrubs! Of course they continue to weave what is already on their portable loom, rather than throw out valuable work already done.
A closely guarded secret is that some collectors seek out rugs with abrash, however subtle, as this is the absolute proof of a rug being hand-woven! Fringes were never of great importance on older Persian rugs. These were simply how the warp ended! North American designers were the first to ask that these be lengthened and made a decorative feature of the design.
The Bakhtiari mostly live in the mountains close to Isfahan (Chahar Mahal), and weave tribal rugs of great class and beauty. Since the words for garden and paradise are the same in Farsi, there is huge emphasis on flowers, vines and many versions of the tree-of-life. Money from oil-rich patrons, people who could afford courtyards with rose gardens, was a strong cultural influence on these simple people. They are also noted for their beautiful music, some of which inspired Borodin.