Prayer Rugs Have Mihrabs
A prayer rug is characterized by a mihrab design at one end which resembles an archway. Prayer rugs are meant to cover the ground while Muslims pray. The mihrab points towards Mecca when the rug is in use. Some rugs have a mihrab at both ends, which is defined as a double prayer design. This design is often seen in older antique Caucasian rugs. The rug pictured below is a vintage Turkish prayer rug with a red field with columns, boteh and floral motifs, a lamp and a vase motif below the mihrab.
The field of a prayer rug is most commonly open with no designs and filled with a solid color such as blue or red. The field of prayer rugs can also be filled with designs. Turkish prayer rugs typically have stepped mihrabs while Persians have softer, more curvilinear designs. Mihrabs in Caucasian and Turkoman rugs like those pictured at the end of this post have more geometric, rectilinear designs.
The Persian Kashan prayer rug below is filled with a paradise design. This type of design usually consists of paradise birds, perhaps the tree of life, and other animals coexisting. Do not mistake this design for the Hunting design in Oriental rugs which consists of animals being hunted by other animals or people. Note the softer, more curvilinear mihrab below.
The antique prayer rug below is filled with a stunning all-over pattern.
The size of an Oriental rug does not determine whether or not it is a prayer rug although prayer rugs are generally smaller than 5x8. If a rug is small, such as 2x3 or 3x5 it does not necessarily mean it is a prayer rug. Many Persian Hamadan mats for example are called prayer rugs when they are not.
Some prayer rugs will also have hand motifs which flank the mihrab at the top. The antique Caucasian rug below has two beautiful hand motifs. Other motifs seen in prayer rugs include lamps and ewers among others.
The tribal Turkoman rug above has a more subtle mihrab.
If you have an interesting prayer rug you would like to share with us or are in the market for a prayer rug, email email@example.com.