Guide to Persian Rugs & Carpets
Once called Persia, modern-day Iran was where the first Persian rugs were created. The unique designs of Persian carpets date back more than 2,500 years to a time when all carpets were custom-made and hand-woven. Rug patterns were specific to different tribes and no two villages had identical pieces. Originally, Persian villagers wove the rugs for use as floor mats, but over time, these items became meaningful symbols of nomadic cultures. Over 10,000 Iranian villages are identified as having been home to rug-weavers, with many irreplaceable carpets still in existence today.
The History of the Persian Rug
During the period when Persian rugs were developing into more than just a means of warming cold ground floors, Persian designers began integrating motifs into their art. Carpets displayed different elements linked to each village's religions and traditions, as well as symbols from their valued history and geographical region. With various styles being used by a number of different Persian tribes, diverse themes were enshrined in the design of each individual rug.
At the start of the Persian rug rush, nomads hand-wove carpets with wool from their own sheep and natural silk. Dyes were all vegetable-based, and a great deal of time was given to the careful design of each carpet. These pieces became works of art, with patterns and motifs incorporated into the weaving. Thanks to the patience and concentration of Persian artists, rugs were durable, long-lasting, and colors seldom faded. Common symbols used in Persian rugs were medallions, trees, geometric shapes, and flowers.
While carpet-weaving is still a common trade in Iran, production techniques have since changed. Modern Persian rugs are sometimes woven on power looms or made with synthetic materials and dyes, but many of the symbols and traditions of past ages are still part of the craft today.
The true beauty of Persian Rugs derives from the people who weave Persian Rugs. When we talk about the Persian or Iranian people we are not speaking of one broad ethnic group we are talking about many. While most Persians are Indo European a significant portion are Altaic/Turkic, Dravidian, Kartvelian/Georgian, and Afro-Asiatic. Currently the people of Iran speak 79 different languages and countless dialects.
Much like the United States people from many backgrounds come together and make one people. One must not try to argue that certain people are true Persians and some are Azeris or Arabs, the people of Iran are the Persian people no matter what their milk tongue. For instance the Persians who weave Tabriz Rugs are by and large the Southern Azeri speaking Persians who speak the Tabrizi dialect of Southern Azeri.
The Persian Rug Guides:
Thousands of towns and villages in Iran produce Persian rugs. Below are expanded sections that go into more depth on types of rugs. Also, if it was not woven in Iran, it is not a Persian Rug; it is a copy.
Northwest Persian Carpet, circa 1800
Size: 15 ft. 3 in. x 11 ft. 10 in.
Description: The piece has oxidized browns and a rewoven area in the main field. Fold wear features scattered repiling and rewoven end guard stripes. The piece is partially reselvaged.
Northwest Persian gallery carpet, circa 1880
Size: 17 ft. 10 in. x 8 ft. 1 in.
Description: The rug contains partially oxidized purple-browns and partial end guard borders. There's a rejoined slit, and the rug is reselvaged. There are two minor reweaves.
Northwest Persian runner, circa 1890
Size: 16 ft. 6 in. x 3 ft. 5 in.
The runner contains original end finishes, oxidized browns, and repaired slits.
Northwest Persian Carpet, late 17th/early 18th Century
Size: 243 cm. x 162 cm.
Warp: Cotton, ivory
Weft: Cotton, ivory, 2 shoots
Pile: Wool, symmetrical knot
Sidecords: Not original
Ends: Remnants of original finishes and 1cm extant of blue plain weave
Colors: Indigo, sea-blue, madder, pale madder, green, pistachio-green, walnut, ivory
Description: The stylization and angularity of the design in the present lot together with the much more abstract floral representation link it to the carpets of the Caucasus and in particular the 'dragon' carpet group. As in the Lichnowsky/Sylvester carpet the palmettes, floral motifs and arabesques are less curvilinear in their interpretation than Persian floral carpets of the same date. It is interesting to point out that although this carpet may appear to be a fragment on first inspection, it has remnants of the original end finishes and of the light blue kilim ends.
Northwest Persian Camel Ground Runner
Size: 3 ft. 9 in. x 11 ft. 7 in.
Structure: Symmetrical knot. 7 knots per horizontal inch and 6 knots per vertical inch. 42 per square inch (651 per square decimeter)
Yarn Spin: Z.
Warp: 2 ply brown wool.
Weft: 2 shot raspberry wool.
Pile: 2 wool singles.
Ends: Philippine half-hitch knots with 1 inch warp fringe.
Selvages: 3 cord reinforced red wool.
Handle: Light-medium, pliable.
Further Notes: Very good condition, one part of selvage broken right side, repair made stabilized 2 slits which look like a Y turned on its side, about 7 inches long.
Origin: Persia, 17th Century
Size: 17 ft. 8 in. x 6 ft. 8 in.
The royal blue field with three overlaid floral lattices comprises a wide variety of palmettes and flowerheads. Vases enclose flowering plants in a burgundy border of arabesques. Flowering vines wrap between golden yellow and ivory stripes. The rug is complete, with small and minor areas of old repair.
Northwest Persian Carpet, circa 1880
Size: 20 ft. 2 in. x 13 ft. 8 in.
Description: Overcast sides and ends, foldwear, and small reweaves. Circa 1880.
Northwest Persian Rug, 18th Century
Size: 7 ft. 1 in. x 4 ft. 3 in.
18th Century, Minor rewoven areas, loses to pile, sides partially reselvaged.
Warp: cotton, Z4S natural white.
Weft: cotton, Z4S natural white.
Pile: Wool, symmetrical knot.
Density: 9 H 9 V
Sides: Not original.
Ends: Some white kilim, warp fringe.
Colors: Sienna red, midnight blue, deep rose, peach, salmon, medium blue, peacock blue, aqua, ochre, chamois, mint, aubergine, white, seal brown.
Persian Turret Gul Baluch Rug
This is a very nice new Baluch from Khorasan Iran. The wool is new and lanolin rich. The knot count is higher than average for a Baluch. The quality is good.
The design is borrowed from Turkmen weaving. The main gul (medallion) is one we see in Salor, Saryk, and Tekke weaving. The minor Gul is not a particularly close copy of any particular type. After the Salor were defeated in their war with the Tekke in the early 19th century many Salor moved closer to the Baluch. It seems likely to me that this accounts for much of the design borrowing.
Details: Baluch Rug, Khorasan Iran. Fourth quarter 20th century. This is a intact full pile rug in unused condition.
Size: 4 ft. x 6 ft. 9 in.
Yarn Spin: Z.
Warp: 2 ply Wool, tan.
Weft: 2 ply cotton, gray.
Pile: 2 Wool singles.
Ends: One row twining with 1 1/2 inch plain weave skirt and warp fringe.
Selvages: four cord dark brown goat.
Further Notes: New condition.
As is the fashion nowadays there is a good bit of abrash in the wool. This is due to a variety of wool color.
The Forked Tendril Motif
Old Persian Bibikabad Carpet, circa 1930
Handmade Old Persian Bibikabad
Country of Origin: Persian/Iranian Rugs
Size: 8 ft. 10 in. x 12 ft.
Azerbaijan carpet, South Caucasus/Northwest Persia, circa 1800
Notes: There are extensive repiled and rewoven areas, splits, sides and ends partially rewoven. There are glued and stitched patches on reverse.
Size: 13 ft. 4 in. x 5 ft. 10 in.
Warp: cotton, Z3-4S, ivory
Weft: wool, Z spun, 2 shoots, red
Pile: wool, symmetrical knot
Density: 8-9 horizontal, 8 vertical
Sides: generally not original, one area with remnants of warp cords
Ends: generally not original, small area with remnants of red kilim end finish at one end
Colors: madder red, deep blue, medium blue, blue-green, yellow, aubergine, ivory, walnut