The phrase “Persian Rugs” is often thought to have the same meaning as “Oriental Rugs.” Persian rugs are actually named for their origin of Persia, or modern day Iran. Persian rugs are a type of Oriental rug. An Oriental rug is generally defined as any rug woven in the geographical region spanning from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
The Persian art of rug weaving reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. During this time period, also known as the Golden Age of Oriental rug making, the Safavid shahs who were currently in power were bringing skilled craftsmen and weavers to their capital at Isfahan to make newly designed rugs with elegant, intricate curving designs using only the finest materials.
Some common characteristics of Persian rugs include a large size, intricate floral patterns woven in bright colors such as red, blue and ivory, and the design often includes a central medallion. Persian rugs are one of the most diverse types of Oriental rugs on the market, from the materials used to weave them to the variety of designs found in each subtype.
Rugs produced in Iran today can range from tribal nomadic pieces to finely detailed carpets derived from the Safavid court rugs. Iranian rugs come from three different categories: 1. those produced by nomadic tribes from small farming villages (these are usually small-sized), 2. Those produced by weavers who have been contracted by an entrepreneur, or the most common method, 3. Those produced by large resident companies that have orders from foreign traders to export certain types (the quality of rugs produced by these companies is the most consistent of all) (1).
Iranian rugs are usually named after the city or district they were made in, such as Tabriz, or Isfahan. The majority of them have a wool pile on a cotton foundation; however several districts have silk rugs, or use camel and goat hair. Most rugs produced in Iran are made with Persian knots; some made in the Northwestern region of the country are woven with Turkish knots. In recent years Persian rug designs have been widely copied in Turkey, India and Pakistan.
(1) Jerrehian, Aram K. Jr. Oriental Rug Primer; Buying and Understanding New Oriental Rugs. Pennsylvania, Running Press, 1980. Print.
(2) Bennett, Ian. Book of Oriental Carpets and Rugs. New York, The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited, 1972. Print.