Mashad is the second most popular city in Iran and is the capitol of the Razavi Khorasan province. Mashad is situated in the north-eastern part of Iran, close to the border with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Although Mashad is now situated close to the border, it used to be more central when the Persian Empire stretched further East. It was part of a network of cities that stretched into Central Asia: Merv, Tashkent, Samarkand and Herat. It is also among the oldest known centres for rug knotting. The rug production is extensive in Mashad and mostly big rugs with medallions are produced. Mashad rugs are also sold under the name Meshed. The city of Mashad is known for producing some of the finest wool in Iran. The rugs are of a very high quality and are among the most beautiful rugs in [Iran and] the world. The colours are often red, while the ground colour can be blue purple with a cream coloured pattern. Often, the Mashad rugs have a harmonic middle medallion and large corner motifs. The base of the rug is plentifully decorated with varicoloured flower bouquets and leaves. Numerous borders, consisting of a broad main border after the finest Iranian tradition, frame the entire rug.