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Oriental and Persian Rugs 

When I think of Oriental rugs, the typical hand-knotted rug, I envision elegance and old world - a very formal commodity. I believe that others have this same perception of that genre of rug. But, what if we could take advantage of that work of art in a relaxed, very warm setting? The result would be magnificent!

Oriental rugs enjoy many design variations. Like family crests, these rug designs have been known to be passed down from generation to generation. You can often determine the age of a rug by studying its design. The art and history of Oriental rugs dates back thousands of years and represents many different cultures.

Culture of Oriental and Persian Rugs

The history of the Oriental rug adopts and blends with the many countries and cultures through which it flows. Each country or culture gives its own touch, variation in finish, colors, drawing and treatment. One of the many cultures that provided influences on the look of Oriental rugs are the tribal rugs of Iran (formerly Persia). Making tribal rugs in cities like Heriz and Tabriz, rug making centers in Iran, has been ongoing for hundreds of years. Each rug is handmade and offers famous beauty and legendary durability.


These Oriental rugs are steeped in history and are considered the ultimate measure of high quality and workmanship, having been woven by hand by village women for hundreds of years. Many of the rug patterns are handed down from previous generations to families in the small villages and towns of Turkey and Iran. Fine old rugs are a great investment since they can hold value when properly cared for, and in many instances the value increases over time.

Patterns and Colors

Oriental rugs are recognized by geometric or floral patterns, some including dragons or fabulous birds. Most creatures possess symbolic meaning, and, in China, the dragon represents imperial power. In Persia, however, the dragon symbolizes evil. Scenes of fighting animals on Oriental area rugs typically represent the struggle between good and evil. In many areas, stories have been told by the weavings. Small Persian prayer rugs are identified by the directional design, or mihrab, which points to Mecca when placed appropriately for use by the faithful when praying.

The warmth and beauty of Oriental rugs bring interest and luxury into almost every room in the house. Their amazingly resilient and long-lasting qualities make them perfectly suited for heavily traveled areas as well as seldom-used rooms. The designs, figures and scenes captured in an Oriental or Persian rug could be placed as a focal point in a room. The dramatics contained in such a rug could easily carry the room.

On the other hand, you want to make sure that your Oriental rug does not take over the space. This can be done by ensuring the room has various designs and colors on other pieces of furniture, fabric and surfaces within the room that would flatter the richness of such a rug. Colorful paintings on the walls and vivid accessories would provide a very balanced atmosphere. This layout will complement the overall beauty of the Oriental rug.

The brilliant colors of an Oriental rug are among its major characteristics. It is the striking richness of the colors that results in the rugs being such a choice selection for decorating. The most successful and widely used colors in Oriental rugs are reds, yellows and blues. Red is probably the most popular of all colors and is a favorite of Turkish and Turkistan dyers. Yellow and dark green are used extensively in Persian carpets. Silk Oriental rugs are sometimes woven with real gold threads, which add to their value. Wool Oriental rugs may be less expensive, but they are still a big investment, and are preferred by many decorators.

With today's variety in decorating, you can easily find Oriental rugs used as an integral part of a decor. They blend wonderfully with contemporary, formal, casual and traditional decorating styles. Oriental rugs are as welcome in casual living styles of today as in a formal estate. 

Oriental rugs are a wonderful way to add a touch of Eastern influence to a room. The beauty of a high quality Persian rug is immeasurable. To really appreciate these works of art, less is better than more when placing furniture on them.

Antique or reproduction Oriental and Persian rug runners are also an outstanding decorating aid. A hardwood hallway or stair is beautifully complemented by a runner. Antique runners are available, or some merchants contract to have runners woven to specifications for stairs. There is nothing prettier than a large entry or long hall spaced with different patterned Persian rugs, all complementing each other. 

What to Look For

As worldly and known as the Oriental rug is, you, the buyer, must be equipped to locate the original. A genuine Oriental rug will be heavy, and of natural fiber wool.

The other element to be aware of to ensure you are getting a good quality rug is to turn it over and inspect the knots. The number of knots in a square inch is referred to as the rug's density. A superb Oriental rug should have a high knot count, in the range of 500 to 1,000 knots per square inch. The higher count will also give you an indication of the durability of the rug. So, the lesson learned in this case is the higher the count the better.

Don't be afraid to spend a little extra time or money to get exactly what you want. Do your homework. Go to the library and check out the books on Persian and Oriental rugs and carpets. Oriental rugs are a wise and beautiful investment, and will give you years of service and pleasure.

An antique Oriental rug is the fabric used to tell a story. That story is rich in history and has a vibrant message, as attested to by the use of such passionate colors. It is one of a few investments that increase in value - monetarily as well as historically. The next time you see a fine quality, antique Oriental rug, remember that many eyes, centuries long, have gazed upon its beauty.

About the Author

Sandra Wilson is a writer and marketing consultant who enjoys providing home improvement tips to consumers when shopping for the right area rugs, Oriental rugs, and Persian rugs.


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