The land of ancient Persia are today a mainstay of the carpet weaving tradition Persian rugs are popular all over the world because they are very durable and have a beautiful aesthetic - and the tradition of weaving them is a treasure of Iranian culture, as are the architecture and culture that remind us of Persia's heyday and its imperialist tendencies. The former Persian empire unified all the major cultural centers of the East, and also looked to Europe, until its collapse and subsequent transformation. The very term Persian carpets is used today as an alternative term to oriental carpets, but originally meant carpets produced in the territory of ancient Persia, in today's Iran and its vicinity. In this area, the carpet weaving tradition has developed the most, thanks in part to the support of Persia's rulers, the availability of raw materials and the local tradition that has been appreciated by both carpet makers and their products for over 2,500 years.

Ancient Persia - the cradle of carpets

Iran exports over 420 million carpets annually and is the origin of about 70% of all hand-knotted carpets. The rich tradition, symbolism and variety of rugs woven there make Persian rug patterns sought after all over the world.

The ability to weave carpets as a UNESCO cultural childhood

Not only the patterns, but also the carpet weaving technique itself is very important to Iran. In 2010, "Carpet Weaving Skills" in Last Fars in and around southwest Iran was included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the Kashan area, more than 1/3 of the population is engaged in carpet weaving - two-thirds of them are women. In this area, the tradition is so strong that even today mothers teach their daughters the technique of weaving carpets using the asymmetrical knot characteristic of this area. Boys, too, learn at an early age how to design, dye and trim carpets, and how to make a loom and weaving tools.

Features of Persian carpets

The tradition of weaving rugs in persian style has developed over many hundreds of years in many contexts, therefore it is not possible to speak of just one set of features of Persian carpets. Persian carpets are distinguished by:

  • Knot type Persian carpets use an asymmetric knot, also known as the Persian knot or the farsibaff knot throughout the rest of the world. It allows for greater weaving density and pattern detail. Other types of knots are also used, such as the Turkish knot, but the Persian knot is the most popular.
  • The colors The colors of Persian rugs come from natural dyes such as madder root, walnut shells, pomegranate peels and vine leaves. The most commonly used colors are cream (no dye) blue, red, green, and dark brown or black.
  • Styles Persian rugs and rugs of various types were woven in parallel by nomadic tribes, in rural and urban royal workshops and manufactories. As such, they represent different simultaneous lines of tradition and reflect the history of Iran and its diverse cultures.

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The very place where the carpet is made does not have a great influence on its quality or the weaving density, but it does affect its pattern and the type of material it is made of.

Carpets are part of the everyday background in Iran, here you can see geometric patterns characteristic of Persian carpets

Tribal carpets

Carpets woven by tribes such as Bakhtiari and Baluchior are often more geometric and their patterns are not very elaborate - this line of tradition comes from the necessity to warm the tents of nomadic tribes and provide a better standard of living. Interior design rugs was a good thing that you could take with you on a trip and use it again in a new place. In the old days, tribal rugs were made for private use only and were only sold to outsiders during hard times.

Tribal carpets are very different from urban carpets because of the coarse-grained patterns with sharper edges, which are considered the most authentic and traditional Persian carpets, as opposed to the artistic and technical-paper designs of the larger carpet studios.

Country carpets

The rugs woven by villages are distinguished by the use of fine wool, light and sophisticated colors and specific, traditional patterns: Gabbeh rugs are the most famous type of rug in this tradition line.


Depending on the size, modern Persian rugs are divided into three types:

  • The largest carpets are called Qail or Farsh.
  • Smaller carpets are called Qalichech (ending -ech means small).
  • There are also Gelim carpets.

Materials: wool and silk

Various types of wool are used in the weaving process. The main types of wool are Cork, Camel wool and Manchester wool. Silk is also used, but because of its value, it is less common. Silk is usually used to make fabrics and decorative carpets that show off on walls or in wealthy homes.

Dominant styles of carpet patterns

Ornamental Clark Sickle Leaf rug in red shades The famous Clark Sickle Leaf carpet, which was auctioned in 2013 for $ 43.8 million. It probably comes from the Kirman province in Iran - its unusual pattern with many floral medallions and the quality of workmanship are appreciated by collectors all over the world. Very often, Persian carpets, especially those made in cities, have a central medallion, which is either a modified symbol of the sun or a composition of flowers and plants. It is around the medallion that the rest of the carpet is made. Often, a space is left right next to the medallion that helps this most important pattern visually stand out from the rug. Around this space, patterns are used with elements of flowers, plants or geometric shapes, symbolizing, for example, an "eye" to protect users from evil. At the rug edges, you can usually see a frame that surrounds the center of the rug, marking its edges and harmonizing with the central medallion - which is why the patterns of many Persian rugs seem to be light.

Another type of Persian carpet pattern is a pattern with a frame, but repeating and geometric - these rugs are often woven in smaller towns and in private homes, but depending on the demand, they are also produced by municipal manufactories.

The relatively rarest type of rug pattern is an asymmetrical rug that should be viewed from one side, and which shows either a scene or specially selected geometric or natural patterns that create the desired effect from one side only.

Carpets in Iran today

Today, Iran is still a major rugs exporter and carpet weaving is an important part of the ubiquitous Eastern culture The art of carpet weaving has gone through periods of decline in times of political unrest or as a result of changes in consumer tastes and needs. More and more people needed carpets, woven at a lower cost, which contributed to the booming market of synthetic carpets and floor coverings. Additionally, during economic crises and wars, people are not willing to buy new carpets. In Iran, the art of Persian carpet weaving was particularly affected by the introduction of synthetic dyes in the second half of the 19th century, so today the return to natural dyes is being made.

Carpets play an important role in the economy of modern Iran. Today, professional weavers are often paid an hour or a week - they tie more than 1,000 knots per minute, so it can take over a year for a single person to weave a medium-sized rug.

Modern production is characterized by a return to the traditional dyeing technique using natural dyes, the restoration of traditional tribal patterns, but also the creation of modern and innovative designs, especially in urban manufactories, woven using traditional techniques.