Purchasing An Antique Persian Tabriz

a conversation with Nader Bolour of Doris Leslie Blau


“Searching for an antique rug is where the design process begins for most.   They are the soul of a room, all the other elements of a well-appointed space are there to celebrate it.”

-Nader Bolour


Doris Leslie Blau married into the antique rug business and opened her eponymous gallery in 1965.  While many in the industry chose rugs based on provenance, she selected the rugs for her collection based on their rarity, uniqueness and beauty – and her firm’s clientele knew it.  In 1998, she went into semi-retirement, selling the gallery to Nader Bolour, but only after spending years teaching him the fine art of vetting acquisitions equal to her standards.   Our Design Editor Carl Lana and I stopped in to learn about some of the characteristics attributed to a fine Persian Tabriz.

Persian Tabriz rugs are woven in the city of Tabriz, in the north-west corner of Iran, which has been one of the world capitals for rug production for centuries.  We asked Nader to show us 3 examples, and to explain the finer points of their designs.


BB4134 Persian Tabriz 12.2 x 9.2 C. 1880The first rug we considered is referred to as a Mihrab, or Prayer rug.  You can learn all the specifications here, but we asked Nader to help us understand what makes it so special.  “First, it’s in amazing condition, and dates from around 1880.”  He explained further.  “While many Tabriz rugs have central medallions with symmetrical designs – and typical coloration based in reds and blues, this rug is woven quite differently.  It’s a true work of art.  The muted rose background, and range of colors, coupled with the asymmetry of the gardens, borders, poems and prayers amalgamated within make it a remarkable specimen.  It’s subtle, and exceptionally sophisticated.”

Detail rug1:2The corner detail with Cyprus Tree, Palm, and Floral Motif


BB4279 tabriz 14.2 x 10.3  C. 1880-1The second rug we considered, the specifications of which can be viewed here, is unique in other ways.  Nader shared, “This rug, also from the late 19th century, has a stunning red field, celadon medallions which are staggered, and a remarkably intricate cartouche border.  When I consider making a purchase of an antique rug such as this, I envision a designer who will respond to it.  I’ve learned over the years that provenance is far less important than aesthetics – and the visceral reaction a designer has to the color, abrash, motifs, and subtle nuances in the overall design.  This rug for example has full circle pools or gardens, half circles, and quarter circles.  It took astonishing craftsmanship to produce this rug, and for the designer with a bold vision, it will be sensational.”

Detail #2Detail of the Border


BB3519 Persian Tabriz 9.5 x 6.2 C. 1900This, the third and last rug Nader showed us is again quite extraordinary.  The specifications can be found here.  The contrast of the camel field and the impressively varied shades of blue, lavender, mauve and saffron are lyrical.  Nader had a specific reason for showing us this rug.  “Prices for fine Persian Tabriz rugs vary greatly.  This rug, with more classical motifs, and more overall symmetry is less expensive.  It also speaks to a designer who prefers order, and perhaps an opportunity to scheme a more spirited room.”

detail rug 3Corner detail with an incredibly varied incorporation of color


Nader gave us an ample amount of information, and welcomes the opportunity to meet with both established and new design professionals to help them understand his collection.  There’s also an adjacent gallery which DLB Creative Director Susan Izsak manages, with a vast and interesting collection of new rugs.  You can look through a selection of her offerings here.



306 East 61st Street, 7th Floor
New York, New York 10065    212-586-5511


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3 thoughts on “Purchasing An Antique Persian Tabriz”

  1. Carl, what an amazing article. This is info that will take years to learn and here you are sharing it with all of us, I appreciate your knowledge and dedication to your blog.

    1. Thank you Mario, I’m so thankful that you’re appreciating our posts. We are working hard, but the work is incredibly rewarding.

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