Persian rugs are admired and respected world-wide. These hand-knotted carpets and kelims are made on tribal looms in Iran, the modern name for Persia. The looms are used both in village homes and in urban workshops.
In the 16th and 17th centuries the Persian court carpets were the most magnificent in the world. Their influence on pattern and design continues to this day.
Isfahan was one of the capitals of Persia before Tehran was created in the 17th century, and traditionally the finest rugs come from this region
Persian carpets are woven in wool, cotton and silk. In historic rugs such as court carpets, gold and silver threads were also used. (If you get the chance to visit certain museums, check to see if they have any antique rugs on display).
Persian carpet designs are highly complex, and you can often see a calligraphic influence. Curves and lines are used to express the poetical aspirations of the region, and show their love of flowers and gardens. The word 'paradise' comes from an Avestan (Old Persian) word for 'walled enclosure', later used to describe a 'garden'.
The form of Islam which dominates in Iran allows for greater freedom of expression that that of Anatolia (Turkey). This leads to a greater use of human figures in their designs. They also use a large number of colors in each carpet, and it is here that the skill of the carpet designers is seen in the resulting balance which is tasteful and delicate.
Persia also produces carpets which are more of a nomadic nature. These are less complex and more stylized than the rugs we traditionally associate with the country. They tend to use geometric rather than curved patterns.
Points of Interest
- They are almost always rectangular or elongated rather than square.
- Wool is the most common fibre used for weaving, and normally the special Senneh knot is used.
- Their colors are usually rich, and have a central field colored crimson or indigo. Other parts of the design use browns, greens and yellows.
- The majority of Persian designs are based on floral motifs. They are laid out in the form of a garden, with paths, flowers, pools and streams. For this reason they are often referred to as garden rugs.
- A more formal type of rug is the vase rug. These also use floral motifs, but the plants are contained in vases or pots.
- Persian rugs are an integral part of culture, and thus many of them are prayer rugs. These designs include the pattern of a Moorish arch which is often pointed at the top, called a Mihrab. Other designs for prayer rugs use geometric medallions.