Antique Serapi carpets were woven on the level of a family or small workshop with multiple weavers working several years to complete each Persian rug. The weaving was done almost exclusively by women. Highly skilled artisans, they continually reinterpreted the design as they wove, creating highly spontaneous and inventive artistry. In general, the antique Serapi rugs made in small workshops are more finely woven and formal, and Serapi carpets woven on a family level are more rustic and symbolic in design.
The women of this area were master dyers able to deeply dye the superb, silky, local wool with a great range of soft-shaded or “abrashed” color. The wide palette of hues came from many carefully brewed plants and minerals, colors for which the recipes are now lost. Watermelon to terra cotta tones came from madder root. The blue tones, from sky and aqua to periwinkle and deep navy, came from the indigo plant. Gold and yellow tones are from chamomile and a variety of other plants. The Serapi carpet weavers also frequently used large areas of undyed and unbleached wool, whose ivory and camel tones provided contrast to the wide range of vegetable color.
Until they began rising in value in the 1980’s, Serapi antique Persian rugs were an inexpensive alternative to classical floral carpets that were often used in heavily trafficked areas of the home. This use helped to soften the color, giving the Serapi rugs the muted tonalities they are renowned for by collectors and interior designers around the world.