All there is to know about rugs from Persia

All there is to know about rugs from Persia

I found some really nice persian rugs of the type Gabbeh. They are very modern in style and colorful!

antique tabriz rug

Antique oriental rugs have been around for a long time to fulfill your dreams. The ones you do not see in your sleep. But the ones that for example carry stories from the Safavid dynasty.

There is so much you can learn about the beautiful works of art that are hand made Persian rugs, and sometimes I personally get overwhelmed. If you feel as passionate as I do, then you understand what I mean. Each region in Iran have it own symbols, icons and styles. The old antique nomadic rugs reveal ancient history and tradition. It can be brutal, humble, or spiritual. You can know nothing about them, and not want to know anything but still love the patterns, design, style and most importantly the feeling.

Four rugs from persia

So where do you start? There are so many rug types from Iran, based on the regions, sub-regions and even down to small villages. Ghom (Qum), Tabriz, Nain and Bidjar to name a few.

There are also many non-Persian rug types that many people think are Persian. Several examples are Aubusson, Bokhara, and Chobi rugs. Aubusson is a French village and Bokhara and Chobi are villages in Pakistan. To confuse things more, there are many many Persian styled rugs made in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Are these genuine rugs from Iran? What does genuine mean!

While patterns were popular over wide geographical areas or were sent from court workshops to provincial production centers, each region had a characteristic style of weaving that remained the same over time. In Persia, for instance, an asymmetrical knot was most often used, and in Turkey a symmetrical one.
persian antique ghom rug

The above is a pure silk Nain rug with close to one million hand made knots per square meter. For some, this rug is priceless.

Why Persian Rugs Are So Expensive

One aspect of the price is craftsmanship and another is time. If you go one step deeper and also add tradition passed down for generations then that should be enough to understand the value of these rugs. The Nain rug above would have taken the artist at least 8 to 13 months to make by hand, full-time! The material used is the finest silk and only that should give you somewhat of a picture how much a Persian rug costs. The price on this rug would range between 28 000 – 54 000 USD. There are very nice machine made oriental rugs with great material and extremely fine resolution but they do not carry craftsmanship or tradition. The above rug is genuine in the sense that it is hand-crafted. Some would also validate this claim because it was made in Iran. I have some trouble with this. What if an Iranian artist moved to Pakistan and made the carpet there? Would this mean that the rug is not a genuine Persian rug?

Gabbah rug made of wool and cotton

Wool is very popular in oriental rugs and is especially common in rugs from Iran. They tend to cost less than pure silk carpets but are still works of art.

Oriental Rugs Made of Wool

The finest rugs are made with the finest wool. For example wool from the dhumba sheep. Most rugs are consist of both wool and silk when knotting the warps and the wefts. This combination is very common in for example Nain carpets. The use of wool makes the rugs very durable and 200 year life spans are not uncommon. A very modern rug style is Gabbeh, which usually is made of wool in the pile and cotton in warp. the picture above is a Gabbeh rug with over 220 000 knots per meter and a generous 16 millimeter thickness.

authentic persian rug

How can I tell if a rug is Persian?

There is a way to answer this question with a question; How can I tell if the rug I am looking at is an authentic rug from Persia?

There are several signs to look for and it requires experience. However, the following are the most basic signs:

Back and front the same?

Look on the back side of the carpet. Does the patterns and design match the front side? If not, then it is probably not authentic.

Any knots?

Now if you bend the carpet such that you “expose” the backside in more detail, such that you can see the pile. Now look at the tufts. Are there any knots? If not, then it is not authentic.

Abadeh relative price score:

Rug types

There are several types of oriental knotted rugs. Below you can find some of the various rugs made by region.

Abadeh carpet

Abadeh Rugs

Nestled between the towns of Isfahan and Shiraz, in the southern region of Iran is the market city of Abadeh. Settled by many tribes of Qashqai, Lori, and Afshari peoples, Abadeh has been a central hub of trade for many centuries.

Rugs woven in Abadeh gained popularity throughout Persia and beyond due to the unique luxurious beauty of each rug. As they gained popularity, carpet traders experienced a tremendous increase in wealth, enabling local weavers to replace their looms with more efficient and larger machinery. Thus, modern Abadeh rugs are of substantial size and have considerably less variation along their edges. These rugs are well known for having tight densely knotted pile and a primarily cotton warp. In early examples of rugs from Abadeh designs are varied, but newer carpets are easily recognizable.

One of the most popular rug designs from this area, known as Heybatlu, consists of a central diamond medallion and smaller medallions at each corner; the field of these rugs usually contains geometric flowers or animals. Colors schemes common to these exquisite rugs are reds and oranges, with a strong presence of blue, ivory, and green in many examples.

Orinetal Afshar rug from Ardebil

Afshar Rugs

Merging the unique traditions of both nomadic peoples and village dwellers from the southeastern Iranian cities of Shiraz, Kerman, and Yazd; Afshar rugs are a rarity in their cultural inclusion.

During the time of the Oghuz Turkmen Confederation in the 16th century, the Avsar people migrated to the Oghuz principality and joined the 24 other tribes already living in that area. They brought with them their exceptional rug weaving tradition; Afshar rugs still bear the name of their tribe of origin today. Weaving among the Avsar tribe has been a source of expression and livelihood for centuries, and each generation of weavers continues this rich tradition alive by passing ancient secrets down to apprentice artisans.

Easily distinguished from other examples of Persian rugs, Afshar rugs of traditional design will contain three pendants, commonly Sirjan in design, at either end; multiple diamond patterns over the field; and a highly stylized tribal border. Afshar rugs are also notable for their medium ribbed back; this trait is characteristic of these exquisite rugs. Because of their celebrated longevity, many antique Afshar rugs still adorn homes worldwide. These beautiful historical artifacts remain well preserved with colors of enduring vividness and excellence.

Afshar relative price score:

Afshar Relative Price Rating22%
Pakistani Bokhara carpet

Bokara (Bokhara) rugs

These Central Asian rugs are now more commonly known as Saryk, Turkomen, or Afghan rugs. The traditional name of rugs from this area originates from the city of Bukhara, the city in which they were commonly traded, rather than woven.

Originally crafted by weavers of the nomadic Turkomen Tekke tribes from Bukharanow, Uzbekistan, in modernity Bokara rugs are woven in various countries including Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The few still made by artisans around the city of Bukhara are a rarity, and highly prized.

The creators of these rugs made abundant use of deep reds and other earthy tones. Bokara rugs are distinguished by their bold, distinctive motifs consisting of a multitude of geometric patterns. These gorgeous rugs characteristically have a fine silky texture and are so vibrantly colored and richly detailed that their owners display them as wall hangings rather than place them underfoot.

Bokara relative price score:

Bokara Relative Price Rating15%