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The art of textile weaving and its trade were very advanced during the Sassanid Era. Although this art faced a decline after the collapse of the Sassanid Empire, it managed to regain its past glory very soon. Some reports of the early Islamic centuries testify the existence of a large number of weaving looms throughout Iran and mention that the fame of Iranian textiles spread from Soghd to Sush (Susā) and from the North Caucuses to the coastlines of the Persian Gulf.

Some surviving samples of textile belonging to the early Hejira centuries are so similar those of the Sassanid period in their patterns and style of weaving that prior to some latest laboratory tests they were thought to have belonged to the Sassanid Era. The oldest specimen of such fabrics is a piece of cloth belonging to Marvān II, the last Umayyad caliph (ruled 127-132 AH/745-750 AD), which is woven in the style of the Sassanian artisans. This sample is presently housed in the Washington Textile Museum. Another sample of cloth that was known as “Tarāz” and which was woven in Neyshābur in the year 266 AH/879 AD is currently preserved in the Metropolitan Museum. The most beautiful textiles of this period are the silk fabrics woven in the greater Khorāsān region as well as the northern parts of Iran and Āzarbāyjān. Khuzestān, with its 300 weaving workshops spread throughout Sush, Shushtar, and Ahvāz was very famous for its textiles.

Owing to the extensive patronage extended by the Safavid kings that resulted in the emergence of royal weaving workshops in the Safavid capitals as well as the emergence of new weaving centers and the development of trade in textiles, particularly of silk and brocade, the art of textile weaving reached such heights in the Safavid period that it was unprecedented in the Islamic history of Iran and was never challenged even later on.

With the downfall of the Safavid Dynasty in 1135 AH/1723 AD and following the collapse of Esfahān, the production of silk as well as the weaving industry, too, began to face a decline in Iran and the production of silk in Māzandarān almost faced extinction in the 13th Century AH/19th Century AD. Nevertheless, cities like Yazd, Kāshān, Esfahān, and Kermān continued their efforts towards the production of silk, cotton, and woolen textiles. Although the number of weaving workshops in a city like Kāshan plummeted from 8,000 in the 11th Century AH to 800 in the second half of the 13th Century AH, and the Kashmiri shawls came to replace those of Kermān, and the import of European cotton fabrics left no scope for any competition on the part of the small Iranian handloom workshops, the brocade workshops of Yazd and Kāshān as well as the shawl-weaving workshops of Kermān and the block-printing (qalamkāri) of Esfahān managed to survive until the second half of the 14th Century AH when the artisans of these cities began a movement for the revival of these traditional arts.

* source: Semsar , Mohammad Hasan " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp.647- 649

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