Persian Rugs

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Persian rugs have the longest continual tradition among Oriental rugs, despite weaving as we know it having arisen in Egypt three or four thousand years ago. The oldest known surviving hand knotted rug, discovered near the Siberian and Outer Mongolian border in 1949, dates to 500 BC. Although its origin is unknown, its design incorporates both animal and geometric elements with a sophisticated delicacy, which is typical of Persians.

Characteristics of Persian Rugs

The most basic categories of Oriental rugs are by pattern, or design. One of these is rectilinear, that is, more rigidly geometric. The other is curvilinear. Persian rugs are complex and curvilinear, incorporating animals, flowers, and calligraphic as well as geometric elements in their design. Most Persians feature asymmetrical knots.

Persian rugs are also distinguished by geographic region--central, southern, eastern, northwestern, southwestern, and western. The two primary central Persian areas are Kashan (central medallion) and Joshaghan (stylized vase). Southern Persia offers Afshar (floral medallion) and Kerman (stylized vase). Eastern Persia has only Khorasan rugs, characterized by an unusual knotting technique that results in a grooved effect on the reverse side of the rug.

Northwestern Persia offers Tabriz (detailed workmanship), Heriz (symmetrical knotting), and Karadagh (long formats, symmetrical knotting). Southwestern Persia offers Luri and Bakhitiari (both very detailed and stylized). Western Persia has the most production areas--seven, all told. These are Sennah (full field design), Bidjar (rigid rectilinear), Hamadan (geometric), Malayer (floral geometric), Ferahan (floral or medallion), Sarouk (salmon-pink color called dughi), and Serebend (full field, regular rows of small elements).

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