Home » Archives for Golshifteh Safari

Author: Golshifteh Safari

Tribal Rugs: Bring the World into Your Home

A rug is considered tribal if it is produced by a nomadic tribe of people who move from place to place, generally according to the seasons, in order to find shelter and sustenance. Sometimes nomads move in the search of greener pastures for their sheep; other times they move with seasonal work. Their lifestyle, journeys and the landscapes they encounter have great influence on the weavers who make these rugs, most often out of necessity. The material, colors, and design of their creations reflect their needs, dreams and desires as constrained by time and the availability of material and dyes. As such tribal rugs, more than any other type of rug, are inextricably intertwined with the humanity of their creators. 

Tribal rugs draw you into the uniquely intimate world of a global culture that survives and seemingly lives within the weave, knots, and design. Outwardly simple symbols that have ancient meaning are passed down for generations woven into the rustic design. The tribes that make these unique rugs put their people, rituals, beliefs, and secrets into these rugs. Berber, Turk, Azeri, Bakhtiari, Kurd, and Qashqai, are just a few of the countless tribes around the world that produce bold rugs that are practical and meaningful to their people. It is a privilege to have an opportunity to actually own one of these rugs and bring a part of the world into your home.

Tribal Moroccan Berber

Quite possibly the most iconic and recognizable tribal rug is the Moroccan Berber. It is ubiquitous in New York City design show rooms and in homes from California to Kansas, and for good reason. Moroccan rugs fit wonderfully into the decade long interior trend of minimalism. They can add unique character to sparse rooms by virtue of their traditional charm. Their minimal abstract design is what attracts western admirers, but in their country of origin these rugs are a way of life. They are used for floor coverings as well as blankets in the coldest regions of the Atlas Mountains. 

Almost all Moroccan rugs are handmade from start to finish. From shearing the wool, to washing and dying the wool, to weaving the rugs knot by knot, every step of the process is carried out manually. The techniques have evolved over the years, but derive from ancient knotting and weaving methods passed down over centuries from weaver to weaver. 

From the vintage Berber carpets knotted by hand in the Atlas Mountains, to the flat weave tribal rugs, Beni Ourain, Azilal, and Boucherouite rugs, they are all as unique as the country and people.

Tribal Rug from Morocco
Moroccan Handknotted Carpet

Bakhtiari Tribal Rugs

As one might expect, many of the sought after tribal rugs are woven in Iran. The most recognizable of these is probably the Bakhtiari rug.  Tribal rugs hand knotted by the Bakhtiari tribe come in a variety of designs, the most recognizable being the Garden Panel. The design of this rug consists of rows and columns of squares (occasionally diamonds, hexagons, or other repeated shapes). Within the squares one will find plants, animals, and all manner of inspiration from the natural world. 

Bakhtiari rugs tend to be very rich in color, skewing toward deep and dark reds and browns, but with bright touches of green, yellow, and ivory. They are constructed of sturdy wool and usually employ the symmetrical and sturdy Turkish knot. Their beauty and durability is a testament to the artistic sensibilities yet resilience of the Bakhtiar tribe. 

Persian Tribal Rug
Bakhtiar Carpet from Iran

Balouchi Rugs

Balouchi rugs are woven by tribes that roam and occupy eastern Iran and the western borders Afghanistan and Pakistan. The distinct repeated lozenge, and often used dominant blood red background color is the best way to spot a Balouchi rug. Balouchi weavers also use a lot of navy, black, dark brown, and ivory. Using wool and cotton, nomads from this region can take up to 10 months to hand knot one of these rugs. They tend to be smaller in size and are often made specifically for use as prayer rugs. That is why the second most common design in Balouchi rugs is the mehrab, which resembles an archway typically found in a mosque. The density of these rugs range from 90-200 knots per square inch. 

Nomadic Tribal Rugs
Balouch Persian Rug

Gabbeh Rugs

The Persian Gabbeh is a close cousin to the Moroccan Berber when it comes to popularity and use in contemporary interiors. Like the Moroccan, it generally consists of a very simple mostly solid color background and small design elements that resemble children’s drawings. They are so different from traditional Persian rugs. If you spot a Persian rug with a thick pile, a solid background, and brightly colored elemental designs such as stick figures, you’ve likely found a Gabbeh. One of the differences between a Gabbeh and a Moroccan is that the Persian rug has a much tighter weave and a more “groomed” look to the pile.

But don’t be fooled by the simplistic designs of the Gabbeh. The brightly colored small patterns in reds, oranges, maroons, and bright yellows are symbolic to the people who weave these captivating rugs. The romance of these rugs was expressed and immortalized on film by one of Iran’s most important filmmakers Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The film, entitled Gabbeh, was a favorite at the Cannes Film Festival and is a must see for anyone who is interested or owns a Gabbeh carpet. 

Nomad Tribal Rugs
Kashkuli Gabbeh rug.

Nomadic Qashqai (or Ghashqai) Tribal Rugs

Qashqai Persian tribal rugs were originally crafted by the nomadic tribe of the same name. The Qashqai people are Turkic and are believe to have arrived to the area in and around Shiraz in the 11th and 12th centuries. Originally nomadic pastoralists who traveled with their herds, they were encouraged to settle in the mid-20th century when the Iranian government built housing for them. They are well known for the beautifully crafted Qashqai rugs, which are woven with unusually soft wool that holds dye remarkably well. Qashqai rugs, sometimes labeled Shiraz because they are sold in the Shiraz marketplace, have brilliant blues and reds. Their designs have evolved from family traditions and tribal history. 

Antique Ghashghaei over 100 years old

Turkish Tribal Rugs

In Turkey, carpet weaving is thought to have been integrated into tribal life sometime in the 11th century. The Seljuk tribes located in what is today a portion of Kazakhtstan are the first Turkish nomads known to learn the art of rug making. Turkish tribes used carpet weaving techniques to make tents, floor coverings, and blankets to protect them in harsh cold winters. 

As in Iran, many of the traditionally nomadic tribes eventually adopted a sedentary lifestyle, but continue to weave rugs with the techniques and designs used by their ancestors. Turkish tribal rugs tend to look more primitive and are less sturdy and symmetrical than their Persian counterparts. The imperfections are part of their appeal. They sometimes use unusual materials like goat or camel hair in the pile. And because the natural dyes used are created in small batches, shade variations occur within the same color woven into one rug. This results in what is termed abrash. For example, a turquoise background can be lighter on one end of the carpet and gradually (or not-so-gradually) grow darker towards the opposite end of the rug. 

Hand Knotted Anatolian Oriental Wool Rug https://images.rugimg.com/2717016/2717016_main.jpg?width=2000&quality=55&height=2000&fit=bounds
Turkish Tribal Rug

Home Decor with Tribal Rugs

The tribal rug trend in home décor has endured since the mid-20th century when travelers began bringing exotic lands they visited home in the form of floor coverings. A tribal rug has the power to bring meaning and sophistication to interiors. These unique carpets can bring a sense of exploration and artistry to an otherwise neutral space. 

The global cultures they represent can add an exotic warmth to minimalist spaces that seem to be the norm everywhere. Homeowners and designers can easily make an ordinary space extraordinary with imperfect pieces from Morocco, Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey. Often woven with handspun wool and vegetable dyes, they are not only versatile but durable.

Oushak Rugs: More Popular Than Ever

Oushak rugs were first hand knotted centuries ago in what is now western Turkey. Antique Oushak (or Ushak) carpets were knotted with high end lustrous wool in subtle glowing colors in what used to be the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. Their city of origin was called Usak. The designs were usually sizable floral shapes and patterns that seemed to expand from the center. Although the designs were inspired by neighboring Persian rugs, Oushak weavers avoided busy intricate florals of larger flora and geometric shapes. Desire for Oushak rugs spread beyond the Ottoman Empire during the renaissance when Europeans came to know and appreciate their beauty. Production of Oushak rugs expanded and demand for the carpets continued to spread. 

Their subdued colors and spread out patterns has made them highly sought after by designers today. Contemporary high quality Oushak rugs that best evoke the luminous antique originals are mostly hand knotted in Pakistan, India, and Turkey. Moderate quality Oushak rugs are woven in Afghanistan and Egypt. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and appeal to modern tastes because they seem to inspire serenity due to their consistent symmetry and quiet hues.

Green Oushak Rug High Quality
Oushak Rug – Celery Green – Made in Turkey – Handknot – Large 12′ 3″ x 16′ 0″

Material and Weave

Oushak rugs are sometimes simply called Turkish rugs because one defining feature is the Turkish knot. This knot, called the Ghiordes knot in Turkish, differs from the Persian (or Senneh) knot.  The Persian knot is an asymmetrical double knot used in most Persian rugs, as well as many carpets handmade in India, Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan. This knot is made by weaving the yarn under one warp, then over and around the adjacent warp strand so that the two ends of the yarn are separated by one warp strand even though two warp strands are utilized. This particular knot allows for intricate details that are the hallmark of many Persian rugs. 

Oushak rugs, with their larger scale designs, do not need the flexibility of the asymmetrical knot and use the other most widely used knot in hand knotted pile rugs. Weavers use the traditional symmetrical Turkish Ghiordes knot instead when creating Oushak carpets. In the Turkish knot, the piece of yarn is laid over two warp strands and its ends are pulled through the space between these two strands. This knot is highly secure and makes for a sturdy pile. 

Lustrous high quality wool is essential for Oushak hand knotted rugs. Much of their appeal comes from the luminosity these rugs exude. Most producers of Oushak carpets insist on the highest quality wool to achieve this extraordinary texture. In fact, many of the most beautiful Oushak rugs are woven with handspun wool dyed with organic natural vegetable dyes. The foundation (or the warp) is almost always cotton for stability.  Occasionally these rugs incorporate some silk or even metal threads. 

Dark Rugs from Oushak Turkey
Chocolate Brown Rug – Oushak Carpet – Handknotted in Turkey

Design and Color

The colors used in Oushak rugs are known for their muted, calming quality. Soft yellows, greens and blues dominate contemporary Oushak carpets, but the palette has a wide range. If the design and quality of Oushak rugs appeals, then almost any color can be found. A muted rustic red can be paired with a dusty rose with golden yellow features. Elegant light gray is often married with an array of blues, from a muted baby blue to details that are featured in navy blue luminous wool. Olive, sage, and avocado are some of the gorgeous muted greens, while the full spectrum from cream to beige to taupe to camel to chocolates grace many understated Oushak rug designs available today.

Expansive large scale florals and some geometric patterns are the most common designs that beautify Oushak carpets. Prayer rugs and rugs with symbolic images that depict natural elements signifying rebirth, faith, and eternity can also be found among Oushak rugs, especially the vintage Oushaks. 

Cute Rug High for Play Room Bright Room
Whimsical Blue Rug – Oushak Carpet – Handknotted – Made in Turkey – 5′ 0″ x 6′ 7

Contemporary Use

Oushak rugs are immensely popular today precisely because of their muted colors and large scale designs. This combination of color and design elements appeals to contemporary tastes. Many professional and amateur designers want a streamlined minimalist interior with a touch of warmth that does not overpower a room. Oushak rugs are perfect for bringing warmth, nature, and elegance that works harmoniously with this particular aesthetic. 

A gorgeous Oushak rug works just as well in the living room as in the bedroom and can add a warm and cozy feel. But it can also work great in modern bright kitchens, hallways, foyers, and even bathrooms. The muted colors can also work beautifully in an office. Oushak carpets are rightly in high demand because they are so versatile and can not only work in any room, but can enhance many styles of interiors. Modern, transitional, and traditional decor can all be enhanced with the placement of an Oushak rug on the floor. 

Dark Masculine Rug - Library Carpet
Oushak Handknotted Rug – 9′ 0″ x 12′ 4″ – Black, Beige, Gray, Ivory Colored Carpet

Painted Oushak Rugs

An interesting piece of history involving these rugs has to do with a particular type of Oushak known as the Lotto carpets that were depicted in renaissance paintings. Once these rugs were discovered and imported into Europe the were used to adorn palaces, churches, and grand homes. When these same places were depicted in paintings, sometimes so too were the Oushak rugs. That is one of the reasons the popularity of these so called Lotto or Holbein carpets exploded in the European market. 

Lorenzo Lotto, an Italian painter of the High Renaissance movement and Hans Holbein the Younger, a German painter in the Northern Renaissance style both depicted Oushak rugs in some of their paintings. The images of these rugs within the paintings seemed to glow from within even when in the background. The painters used the rug images to depict the status of the owners of these rugs, but the paintings ultimately elevated the status of the rugs themselves as well. Hence, the popularity of these Turkish rugs grew in Europe.

Hans Holbein Painted Carpet and Death
“The Ambassadors” painting by Hans Holbein the Younger – 1533 – National Gallery Public Domain

Oriental Rugs: Shining a Light

Oriental Rug” is a moniker used originally by Europeans when they became aware of and began to appreciate the art of handmade rugs across the Islamic world and beyond. Essentially, the term can be applied to rugs made in an area rug dealers call the Rug Belt, which spans North African rug producing countries, Middle Eastern countries, Central Asia, all the way east through India, Pakistan, China, and Tibet. 

Oriental carpets are made using techniques, materials, and designs as varied as their countries of origin. They can be woven flat or with a pile using unique knotting techniques. Designs range from the simplistic Moroccan and Tibetan carpets to the most ornate Persian and Turkish rugs. Sizes range from the scale of a small notebook to carpets large enough for palace ballrooms. The range of Oriental carpets is so wide and eclectic that it must be broken down into individual regions and the characteristics that define rugs made in those regions or countries. 

Oriental Rug
This Kazak rug made in Pakistan is considered to be an Oriental Rug.


Persian rugs are arguably the most prominent of all floor coverings termed “Oriental rugs.” That is because Persian rugs are not only floor covering but works of art known for their rich natural colors and fantastical designs. They are made with organic wool, silk, and cotton and are dyed with natural coloring. The work and importance placed on high quality at every step of the process is instrumental in adding to the beauty of these rugs. 

Intricate patterns that have evolved over centuries are a hallmark of Persian rug design. The majority of rugs made in Iran have floral detailing. Flowers and other botanical and natural elements make up the smallest details. However, the way to identify a rug’s town, city, or region of origin, which is how Persian rugs are identified, is to step back and look at the big picture. 

The center medallion is an uber present feature. Many Persian carpets incorporate a central ornate element, a sort of chandelier of floor covering. Isfahan, Nain, Kashan, Kerman Tabriz, Mashad, are all examples of Persian rugs that very often have a center medallion. Medallions can vary and one of the most discreet and tasteful versions, the Mahi (elongated lozenge), is popular in very fine rugs made in Tabriz. By contrast, the circular or hexagonal medallion with protruding floral points and elements are typical of fine Isfahan and Nain rugs. 

The second most prevalent persian rug design is the Allover pattern, so called because a single flower or paisley (also called a Boteh) shape is repeated on the majority of the carpet and framed by a border that esthetically unifies the Allover design. Another common Allover pattern is the Herati, which consists of four leaves for four corners accentuated by other understated floral elements and then repeated all over the rug. 

Heriz and Tribal rugs utilize designs that are more geometric or abstract and look very different from their cousins from other Iran provinces. Yet in fact their base elements evolved from the natural world just like the more ornate Persian designs. Over centuries the rug weaving artists melded the designs created by artisans of the royal court with the designs often seen in practical carpets woven by nomads. The geometric shapes we see in Bakhtiar, Hamadan, Nahavand, and especially Heriz rugs are the product of this progression.

Persian Rugs
This beautiful Kerman carpet is a Persian Rug which some people still call Oriental Rugs.


The most unique element in the hand crafting of Turkish rugs is the knot. Unlike any other carpet, Turkish rugs (sometimes called Anatolian) are made using a double knot, that is each strand of yarned loops twice through the weft. Although Turkish carpets can be made from wool, silk, cotton, or a blend of several materials, the most famous of Turkish carpets are made of all silk dyed with organic pigmented colors.

One of the most coveted and well-known hand knotted Turkish rugs is the Hereke, which were originally only produced in the coastal Turkish town of the same name. Hereke carpets are made predominantly of silk, wool, and cotton, sometimes with added gold and silver threads. The color palette for the Hereke rug evokes luminous warm light, amber, golden browns and luminous beige. The look is very sumptuous. The Flower of Seven Mountains is one of the most recognizable patterns, but the burucie and polonez patterns are also quite popular.

The best way to identify a Hereke Turkish rug is to search for the Hereke insignia at the outer edge of the foundation, in between the pile and the fringe. 

Turkish Rug
A luminous Anatolian rug is also considered to be an “Oriental Rug.”

Caucasian & Turkmen

The mountainous Caucasus region has been producing rugs since the 18th century. Nomadic rugs woven in this region feature bold geometric patterns. The distinctive tribal, sometimes primitive, designs often feature primary colors that pop. Originating countries for these popular collectible items are Dagestan, a country that lies along the Caspian Sea just east of Russia, Chechnya, Georgia, and north of Azerbaijan, another country that produces fantastic Caucasian rugs. 

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan both lie on the opposite side of the Caspian and produce their own distinctive Caucasian rug. The Kazak rug is a more luxurious soft and luminous type of rug that was originally designed and woven for locations with high status, such as grand churches and palaces. Kazak rugs have risen in popularity in recent years because they pair so well with contemporary interiors. They have a soft sheen and simple patterns that lend style and cozy warmth to chic interiors.

The “Turkmen” rug was once one of the most popular designs, appreciated all over the globe. The “Bokhara,” as it was often called after the central Asian city of its origin, was easy to spot with its dark reds and distinct lozenge pattern. Weavers from Uzbekistan and Baluchestan updated the color palette to include softer colors like peach, beige, brown, and green, but remained loyal to the lozenge pattern. 

Turkmen Rug
Turmen rugs are one of the most popular Oriental rugs in the world.


Egypt is not known throughout the world for its Oriental Rugs. As a nation, Egypt was never drawn to the art of rug making. Although there are some fine examples of Egyptian rugs that date to the 16th and 17th century, it was not until imports from Iran were halted in 1952 after the Egyptian Revolution, that the country began making its own rugs with gusto. As such Egyptian rugs don’t necessarily have their own distinct look, but mimic Persian rug designs. Because the model for Egyptian weavers were Persian rugs, the Egyptian rug is woven using the unique asymmetrical knot that Persian weavers use, or the Senneh knot. 

Egyptian rugs primarily borrow from Persian designs of Isfahan, Kerman, Qom, and Tabriz. Most are woven with wool on cotton, but there are some extraordinary silk pieces with high knot density to be found. The Egyptians often favor a bright luminous golden yellow as the dominant rug color. In fact, if you spot a fine silk hand knotted rug that features this sumptuous yellow, you just may be looking at an Egyptian rug even if it looks deceptively like a Persian carpet. 


Another country that benefitted from Persian influence in the rug trade is India. Due to Persian migration and Indian appreciation for hand knotted fine Persian rugs, traditional rug makers in India place great importance on Persian designs, particularly those from Tabriz. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, India also produces thick simply designed rugs by hand. These practically solid colored Indian rugs, embellished sometimes with only a border in a shade slightly darker or lighter than the dominant color, are inspired by Tibetan rugs, another so-called “oriental rug.”  

Made in India Tabriz Rug
This Oriental Rug was woven in India but has a beautiful Tabriz design borrowed from Persia.


In Pakistan, weavers produce a wide range of rugs from carpets styled after the Persian designs of Gabbeh, Kashan, Mahal, and Sultanabad to Caucasian inspired Bokhara rugs and flat-woven Dhurrie rugs which are similar to Kilim carpets. But the most popular Pakistani hand knotted rug is without a doubt the Chobi, also called Ziegler, Oushak, and Peshawar. Chobi rugs are woven using handspun wool and natural dyes. 

These gorgeous rugs seem to shine from within, illuminating rooms with warmth but never overpowering. They have become quite possibly the most popular non-Persian hand knotted rugs because they have taken Persian classical design and removed the factors that often do not appeal to contemporary customers— rich colors and busy design. The designs of popular Ziegler and Oushak rugs have been simplified and their colors muted. Pass by any hand knotted rug store and you’ll often see a Chobi hanging in the window.

Ziegler Rug
A stunning Mamluk Ziegler Rug hand knotted in India is considered to be an Oriental Carpet.


Afghan rugs are hand woven carpets made in Afghanistan, mostly in the north and the western parts of the country. Afghan refugees outside the country, due to almost a century of practically continuous political turmoil , also produce rugs most notably in Pakistan and Iran. Some of the most beautiful and sought after Afghan rugs are made in western Afghanistan in the province of Herat. These oriental rugs are called Adraskan or Shindand.

Balouch prayer Afghan rugs are woven by the Balouch ethnic group who come from the south western part of Afghanistan. Afghan rugs are often quite dark in color. They use natural dyes and prefer dark browns and even blacks with deep dark reds. It’s possible the choice is borne of necessity to prevent dirt, dust, and discoloration that’s part and parcel of a nomadic lifestyle. 

Rug weaving is art and art is usually an escape or a reflection of the world the artist has experienced. From the Soviet invasion in 1979 to 9/11 and US occupation, Afghan rug weavers have incorporated war imagery into these hand knotted floor coverings. Their experiences are recorded, reflecting death and the war apparatus, including most recently the depiction of drones. These Afghan rugs are referred to as War Rugs and are considered collectible items. 

Afghanistan Rug
Afghan rugs are some of the most interesting Oriental Rugs currently on the market.


Almost all Moroccan rugs are handmade from start to finish. From shearing the wool, to washing and dying the wool, to weaving the rugs knot by knot, every step of the process is carried out manually. The techniques have evolved over the years, but derive from ancient knotting and weaving methods passed down over centuries from weaver to weaver. Another source of knot methodology for the Moroccans was brought in by the Persians in the 14th century.

The most popular Moroccan rugs seen in the west tend to be the thick pile hand knotted Berber and Beni Ourain rugs woven and used by Moroccans themselves, especially in the Atlas mountains. The thick heavy pile served them well in the cold winters, as they often used the carpets as bed coverings, sleeping mats, and saddle blankets. The thinner flat weave rugs are favored in the hotter Sahara desert regions of the country. 

The demand for Moroccan rugs has exploded in recent years, but the gain in popularity actually began in the mid-20th century when modernist designers like Le Corbusier, Eames, and Mies van der Rohe fell in love with how these rugs complimented their sleekly designed furniture. Mid-century modern furniture pairs well with Moroccan rugs because the primitive simple designs in the rugs reflect the simple lines of the architecturally inspired furniture yet add a warm touch to offset the sometimes austere quality of modern interiors. 

Hipster rug is a Moroccan rug
Oriental rugs with minimalist flair like this Moroccan carpet are extremely popular today.

Pazyryk Rug

The most famous antique Oriental Carpet is the Pazyryk rug. It is one of the oldest rugs in the world, believed to have been woven between the 4th and the 3rd century BC. The rug was well preserved in ice in the grave of a Scythian nobleman in Kazakhstan when it was discovered in 1949. It is currently housed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Although the exact origin is unknown, there are several theories. The images woven into the carpet reflect the Scythian culture. There are deer, gryphons, and most importantly people on horseback. Unfortunately, the images do not help in identifying the exact origin. Men and women across the Eurasian steppe were tremendously skilled horseback riders. Many were able to ride into battle standing atop their horses.  Some scholars believe the Pazyryk rug to be Oghuz-Turkic. Others claim Armenian origin. Some say it is a Saka funeral piece made by the Iranic nomadic people who roamed the Eurasian plains from the Old Persian period to the Middle Persian period. Regardless of its origin, we are lucky to have found the Pazyryk Rug if only so that we know how far back the art of hand knotting rugs goes back. And how much more advanced their artistry was than once thought.

The Pazyryk rug is the oldest Oriental carpet Scythian
The oldest oriental carpet is the Pazyryk rug which was possibly woven by Scythians who roamed the Eurasian plains in the 4th century BC.

PERSIAN RUGS – Exceptional Quality


The history of the “Persian carpet” is rich and storied, dating back 2500 years. The dawn of carpet weaving in the Persian Empire is widely thought to have been during the reign of Cyrus the Great in the 6th Century BC. In fact, historians and folklorists alike have written about the ruler’s passion for rugs. Some even claim his tomb was strewn with countless priceless rugs. Yet it wasn’t until trade routes from European capitals to the Middle East became widely traveled in the 1500s that Persian rugs grew in popularity. The British, Dutch, French, and Portuguese expanded their power by colonizing less developed parts of the world and established trading posts across the Middle East. Iran began trading with the West and European elite began their obsession with Persian floor coverings they considered works of art. Persian rugs were eventually seen as a status symbol by European connoisseurs and their place in the world as a highly sought after asset was solidified. 

Persian Carpet Demand

 The growing popularity of Persian rugs in the 1700s led to foreign investment in what is now Iran’s second most lucrative export (after oil). In the Victorian era, the British penchant for vibrantly colored ornate floral patterns that mimicked their elaborate gardens led to foreign investment in Iran. Outsized European investment in the Persian rug industry led to increased production and demand. The demand for ever larger Persian carpets and the high value place on artistry helped expand the industry further until Persian carpets became the most coveted of all handmade rugs. 

Persian Rugs - Expensive
An antique Kerman over 100 years old, in very good condition valued at over $100,000.

For an idea of just how prestigious and valued Persian rugs are, consider that the most expensive rug ever sold was an antique Persian carpet sold by Sotheby’s in 2013 for $33 million. The astronomical sale astounded even those who have long been in the rug trade. Like works of art produced by the masters, Persian rugs are held in high regard because of the amount of work, artistry, and detail that goes into hand knotting just one rug. 


Persian rugs are not only floor covering but works of art known for their rich natural colors and fantastical designs. They are made with organic wool, silk, and cotton and are dyed with natural coloring. The work and importance placed on high quality at every step of the process is instrumental in adding to the beauty of these rugs. 

Persian rug Paisley Allover pattern
Paisley Allover pattern Persian Kerman rug – Oversized at 11 X 17 – Excellent condition – 250 KPSI

Intricate patterns that have evolved over centuries are a hallmark of Persian rug design. The majority of rugs made in Iran have floral detailing. Flowers and other botanical and natural elements make up the smallest details. However, the way to identify a rug’s town, city, or region of origin, which is how Persian rugs are identified, is to step back and look at the big picture. 

Persian Rug Designs

The center medallion is an uber present feature. Many Persian carpets incorporate a central ornate element, a sort of chandelier of floor covering. Isfahan, Nain, Kashan, Kerman Tabriz, Mashad, are all examples of Persian rugs that very often have a center medallion. Medallions can vary and one of the most discreet and tasteful versions, the Mahi (elongated lozenge), is popular in very fine rugs made in Tabriz. By contrast, the circular or hexagonal medallion with protruding floral points and elements are typical of fine Isfahan and Nain rugs. 

Persian Rug Kashan
A typical Kashan with a center medallion. These rugs are high quality, inexpensive and the choice for many middle class Persians.

The second most prevalent persian rug design is the Allover pattern, so called because a single flower or paisley shape (also called a Boteh) is repeated on the majority of the carpet and framed by a border that esthetically unifies the Allover design. Another common Allover pattern is the Herati, which consists of four leaves for four corners accentuated by other understated floral elements and then repeated all over the rug. 

Heriz and Tribal rugs utilize designs that are more geometric or abstract and look very different from their cousins from other Iran provinces. Yet in fact their base elements evolved from the natural world just like the more ornate Persian designs. Over centuries the rug weaving artists melded the designs created by artisans of the royal court with the designs often seen in practical carpets woven by nomads. The geometric shapes we see in Bakhtiar, Hamadan, Nahavand, and especially Heriz rugs are the product of this progression.


Persian carpets are woven on looms. These frames hold two threads through which the knots are pulled and knotted. The threads held taut vertically are called the warp. The weft runs horizontally weaving in and out through the vertical warp threads. Persian rugs are exclusively made of wool, silk, and cotton. Occasionally, instead of sheep’s wool, camel or goat wool is used, but never synthetic material in hand knotted Persian rugs. The foundation can be made of cotton, sometimes silk. And the weave consists of wool or silk, sometimes both. The width of a Persian rug is determined by the width of the loom, unless two pieces are sewn together.

Persian Carpet Red medallion
A wide Persian rug requires a loom equally wide.

As each knot is made on the loom, the rug begins, ever so slowly to take shape. An image emerges and the feel and density of the rug is determined by the material, tightness (knots per square inch), and the height of the pile. High knot density often signals high quality. The origin of a Persian carpet identifies the rug. Experts and even connoisseurs can identify rugs by looking at the design, material, density, and colors. 

The Persian Knot

One of the unifying elements of Persian carpets is the Persian knot, or asymmetrical knot. Most Persian rugs utilize this knot in which the yarn goes full circle around one warp thread and then is slipped under the adjacent thread before being pulled through to form the pile. This knot can be tighter and is better for intricate design work. Other knots, such as the Turkish or the Jufti knots are tied around two or four warp threads making for larger knots and limited precision in design.

The fineness of a Persian rug is often measured by the number of knots per square inch. Handmade rugs can range anywhere from 16 up to 800 knots per square inch. The rarest and finest ever known have reached up to 3300 KPSI, a feat that can only be achieved with silk threads and a silk foundation. Once the weave of the rug is complete, it is often finished off by creating fringe with the warp end. 


Each Persian carpet is a unique work that takes skill, time, and quality material. The distinct designs also add value, all of which adds to the cost of acquiring handmade Persian decor floor coverings. With online options such as Handknotted.com, consumer prices have declined over the years and are fast challenging the idea that Persian rugs are expensive and out of reach for ordinary customers.

Persian carpet estimate - collectible asset
Persian rugs consistently rise in value making them a collectible asset and investment. This Persian Tabriz is valued around $30,000 and rising.

Yet because of the rare cases that make headlines when fine antique pieces are sold at auction for millions of dollars, some contemporary buyers believe all Persian rugs are expensive. Prices vary according to age, origin, and condition of the Persian rug, and if you’re looking to enhance your home or other interior, you don’t necessarily need to break the bank. In some cases a new or semi-antique Persian rug can seem like a bargain compared to some synthetic mass-manufactured rugs.


How can you tell if a rug is an authentic handmade Persian rug? There are several ways to differentiate between machine made rugs and handmade Persian rugs. The first step is to turn the rug over or flip a corner over and check the back. The back of a rug holds many secrets. Although machine made rugs can be beautiful additions to any space, if you’re looking for an authentic handmade piece, the back will hold the answer. Machine made rugs are generally woven on power looms that create uniform knots. The knots on the back of these rugs look like identical soldiers in an army. There are no variations in size, tightness, or color and everything is completely consistent and even. For authenticity, look for slight imperfections that characterize handmade pieces. Unless you are looking at an extremely fine silk rug with 700 knots or more, which will look remarkably uniform, there will alway be a slight imperfection. 

Authentic Silk Persian Rug
An authentic silk Qom rug with 420 knots per square inch

Another element to check on the back is the design. In authentic Persian rugs the design is just as apparent on the back side as on the front. Actually, the better the quality of the rug, the more beautiful the back is. The more knots per square inch the more delicate and apparent the design is not only on the front, but also on the back of a rug. 

Also, examine the fringe closely.  In handmade pieces, even if the fringe is braided or tied off as opposed to dangling, it will still be a region that extends from the carpet itself, from the warp. Machine made rugs generally use fringes that are completely separate pieces sewn onto the end of the carpet. 

Persian Carpets Shine With Use

In wool rugs, another way to discern authenticity, particularly in vintage and antique rugs, is to look for patina. Over time, the high fatty lanolin content of fine wool will give the rug a lovely patina, or shine. It’s not the shine of silk but an understated glow that develops over time with use.

Persian Rug from Farahan with patina
A large semi-antique Farahan Persian rug with Patina

If you’re still not sure, go with your gut and remember to look for defining features. Machine made rugs are made from so many different materials. Some use wool and cotton, natural fibers, but other materials such as nylon, polyester, and olefin synthetic fibers are more common. Synthetic uniformity suggests machine made. Natural imperfections convey authenticity. 

Related to the question of authenticity is the common phrase “the Persian flaw.” When Iranians use the phrase, the flaw in question is implied to be deliberate. The phrase is believed to originate from the intentional mistakes some weavers incorporated into their rugs. Fusing folklore with religion, the idea was that only God’s creations could be perfect, and so to weave a perfect rug would be an insult to God. Sounds a bit egotistical though—that these weavers believed they were capable of perfection.


Persian rugs are categorized by their city or region of origin. Tabriz rugs hail from Iran’s historic Azerbaijan region nestled in the Quru River valley. It is Iran’s closest hub to Europe and major rug producing region. Isfahan rugs likewise are produced in Isfahan and are known for their beauty and quality. Shah Abbas the Great was an inspired King and a patron of the arts. He moved Iran’s capital to Isfahan and launched an artistic renaissance in the 16th century which gave rise to “The Golden Age of Persian Weaving.”

Kerman rugs  (also spelled Kirman) are generally made in the south central part of Iran known by the same name. It is the name of a city and a province. In the 18th century, rugs made in the Kerman province were renowned as the best in Persia. Likewise Bakhtiar rugs are made by the Bakhtiari tribespeople who roam the Zagros Mountain region. They are famed for their treks through dangerous terrain as well as their earth toned carpets. Their rich-hued works often depict the four seasons the Bakhtiari people have come to respect and mark their migrations.


Largest Persian Rug

The largest rug ever made in the world was made in Iran by the Iran Carpet Company for the Abu Dhabi mosque. It is over 60,000 square feet (5,630 square meters) and was made in nine sections that were then assembled together inside the mosque in 2007.

Largest rug in the world
Assembling the largest Persian rug ever made

Most Expensive Persian Carpet

The most expensive rug ever sold was an antique 17th century Persian rug. According to Sotheby’s the rug is a “sickle-leaf, vine scroll and palette vase-technique carpet” that most likely was made in Kerman. In 2013, it sold for $33 million at auction in London. 

The most expensive carpet ever sold
Most expensive rug ever sold – Sotheby’s $33 million

Magic Carpet

The so-called “Carpet of Wonder” located in Muscat, Oman in the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is renowned for size and quality. It took 600 workers four years to construct. A total of 12 million human hours of work went into this wondrous piece.

The Magic Carpet
The Carpet of Wonder

The Finest Persian Rug

The most famous and important rug is considered to be the Ardabil Carpet, which is actually two rugs. The larger rug resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was  restored and reconstructed in the 19th century and is the better preserved of the two. The original date of completion is inscribed on the London rug and the Hijra date corresponds to the years 1539-40. The second smaller rug is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The nearly identical rugs have a gorgeous Tabriz design with a central medallion and intricate unifying floral designs which surround it. 

The finest Persian Rug
The Ardabil Carpet

The truth is you don’t need to be a connoisseur, have $33 million dollars, live in a palace to own and enjoy a beautiful Persian rug. All you need is a sense of appreciation and good taste.

Hand knotted

Wild Interiors: The Natural World Depicted in Hand Knotted Rugs

Biological Need

Humans have an innate need and desire to be close to the natural world, especially plants and animals. This may be because more than 99 percent our evolutionary history was spent out in the wild. Yet the rise of cities in the last several centuries has meant more and more humans are isolated from the natural world. This is unfortunate because scientific evidence shows that a person’s well-being is closely linked to the amount of contact they have with the natural world. Humans are less stressed and more relaxed the more time they spend in nature. 

In many parts of the Middle East, city planners noticed the decline in people’s mental and physical health centuries ago and began to rectify the problem through art and architecture. The construction of mosques, weaving of tapestries and rugs and other forms of art in the Middle East was partially aimed at bringing the serenity of nature to the spaces we occupy in cities. Rug weavers found inspiration in and brought the longed-for natural world into their designs. Beautiful florals and animal depictions grew in popularity. 

Illustrates natural world depicted in rugs
Antique Tabriz Persian Rug with lush gardens. Handknotted.com

The Garden and the Hunt

Aside from repeated floral designs, the two most common types of realistic, as opposed to abstract, depictions of wildlife and nature found in hand knotted carpets are the Tree of Life motif and Hunting scenes. In these two types of rugs, designers and weavers use animals and nature symbolically to represent prevalent ideas and values in their culture and origin, many of which relate to respect for nature, the human life cycle, and religion.

The Garden, also referred to as Tree of Life or Paradise motif, and the Hunt can be naturalistic or lean towards the mythical and abstract. Many rugs depict magical elements from tiny songbirds, often the nightingale in Persian rugs, to large majestic peacocks, lions, and even bears. Countless deer are often present as fish swim by in streams. Huntsmen mounted on muscular horses in motion jump over these streams as foxes look on. 

In a Tree of Life motif, the tree or trees usually sprout from the base of the carpet field and branch out poetically to fill the rest of the “canvas” with leafy branches on which sit colorful delicate birds. More often than not there is a flowing stream with other animals strolling along its banks. Larger birds might sweep across the sky protecting or preying on the scene below. Alternatively, there can be a pool of water at which larger animals might drink and frolic. Tree of Life pictorials represent eternal life, on earth and in heaven. The symbolism is derived from many religions and evokes what is divine.

Symbols and Meanings

The elements of The Garden and The Hunt rugs can have profound or whimsical meaning. Tree of Life motifs signify truth and understanding as well as a path from Earth to Heaven. Birds are ubiquitous in many Persian rugs and as a whole represent power, happiness, and love. A resting eagle symbolizes honor and high principles. An eagle in flight is said to bring good fortune. A parrot touts evasion of danger and stands for protection while a peacock takes that concept to the highest level, symbolizing divine immortality and divine protection. Many also equate peacocks with nobility and royalty. Unfortunately, some birds do not portend good thing. Ravens and owls almost always represent bad luck and death. 

Persian, Turkish, and Kurdish rugs are also rife with fish or “mahi.” Fish symbolize prosperity and good fortune. Camels represent strength and endurance. Scorpions, spiders, and other venomous creatures are also occasionally woven into the design and are said to protect their owner from destructive forces. In mythical portrayals of the Tree of Life there is often a dragon present, which represents wisdom and power, and serves as a guardian of the tree of life. 

Rug with animals and meaning of the symbolism
Ghashghaei Persian Rug depicting a Lion, which represents power, masculinity, and nobility.

Hunting Scenes in Persian Rugs

Finely woven and highly detailed pictures of hunting scenes woven into the design of a Persian rug were originally only made for royals to represent the masculinity of Shahs, in contrast to the feminine florals of traditional rugs. We know the hunting scene design emerged at the latest in the mid-16th century because a fine example of it made in Kashan is on exhibit in the Museo Poldi Pezzoli in Milan. Animals depicted in hunting scenes includes not only horses and dogs, but also camels, deer, gazelle, elephants, rabbits, various birds, such as the peacock. 

Hunting dogs indicate glory and honor. Many of the finest hunting pictorials have been made in Isfahan, Kashan, Kerman, Tabriz, and Qom. These rugs are almost always finely knotted ranging from 350 kpsi up to 700 kpsi. They are also highly valuable and owners generally do not place these rugs under foot but rather hang them up on walls as art.

Hunting design in an Isfahan rug
A Hunting scene depicted in an Isfahan rug. This one is an affordable version and still beautiful and unique. Handknotted.com

Animal Motifs in non-Persian Rugs

Animals depicted in rugs made in North Africa, China, India, Eastern Europe and tribal rugs from around the world contain more figurative pictorials. These rug weaving cultures rely heavily on more abstract non-realistic designs. Rustic or nomadic carpets made by these cultures favor game animals, dogs, camels, horses, chickens, and insects. In the Caucasus, dragons represent immense power. Across cultures ram horns appear on tribal rugs to symbolize masculinity, strength, and heroism. The Phoenix personifies majesty and beauty in China and eternal life in India. The crane is sacred and the parrot is love. 

The frog sometimes appears at the four corners of a pictorial rug made in India and is a harbinger of happiness. In Persian rugs ducks are the animal which herald happiness. Crocodiles seem to hold a special place with Moroccan rug weavers, often accompanied with the inscription “He is God.” Butterflies signify vanity in China, Cobra snakes denote wisdom in India, and the lion represents power everywhere. As one might expect, panthers, tigers, lions, leopards, and other wild dangerous animals appear often in pictorials because of the power, strength, and exalted place they occupy in the hierarchy of wildlife. Finally, a common scene contains animals fighting, either to represent the struggle of life, or the triumph of good over evil. 

Illustrates figurative and abstract symbols of nature in rugs
Moroccan Rug with abstract flowers and insects.

Contemporary Use

Whether Hunt pictorials are used to evoke masculinity and power in a space, or Garden pictorials to bring peace and serenity, the concrete jungles the majority of us live in today ache for nature. Hand knotted rugs are a great way to incorporate wildlife into our living spaces, especially if we don’t have green thumbs or even pets at home. These rugs can work well in modern spaces just as easily as in traditional spaces. A touch of the wild can add a whole lot of character to an otherwise conservative or simply furnished space. 

Illustrates various pictorial of nature in Persian rug carpet
Semi-Antique Kashmar Persian rug depicting various natural scenes
Hand Knotted

Hand Knotted Rugs: The Investment Piece

There are stocks, bonds, real estate, cryptocurrency, art, vintage cars, and rugs. People around the world buy all of these items in the hope that they will not only hold, but increase in value in the years to come. Rugs fall into a handful of investment categories: collectibles, antiques, handicrafts, et. Investment in collectibles is on the rise because many are realizing that as we hurtle through space on planet earth towards an increasingly digitized life, the items that become the most valuable are those from the past that cannot be replicated for one reason or another. These can be cars no longer manufactured, bottles of wine, stamps, baseball cards, old gadgets, fine china, comic books, even sneakers these days. These collectibles don’t have to be considered “antiques” to hold extraordinary value. 

The best part about many collectibles is that you can invest in something you truly love. As consumers we generally buy things that will never be resold or hold value longterm. We consume material things and the money is gone. With collectibles, however, you can enjoy an item and still be able to recoup your money. The only problem might be that when you get used to having something around, you may not want to part with it later. That’s love! And the great thing about collectibles is that when you fall out of love, the return on your investment could potentially be great. Handnotted rugs fall into this category in a big way.

Investment in Art: Handknotted Persian rug
Tabriz Persian Rug

Scarcity and Perception

Hand knotted rugs have always maintained tremendous value. For over 500 years, starting with elite citizens who coveted masterpieces of hand knotted rugs and displayed them in grand homes and palaces to today when even an average person can display a beautiful rug in a not so grand studio apartment. Over those years weavers increased production as the world’s appreciation grew. Yet, things have changed in the past 40 years. As the world sees fewer and fewer rugs actually made by hand and dyes become predominantly chemical, materials more synthetic, the value of even non-antique quality rugs that are new or only a few decades old has increased manyfold. Age hardly matters, it’s the quality of materials and handmade aspect that is dying out.

Depending on where you are from, you may see the value of a rug in different ways. Europeans have in the past seen hand knotted rugs as art and accordingly have been willing to spend more to invest in a great piece. European aristocrats started the trend, but many average European began to appreciate and collect “oriental” carpets, as they were known, starting in the 1960s. 

Others see rugs as a handicraft, a piece that represents the culture and traditions of a people from a particular region or nation. People who are interested in handmade rugs as a window into a different culture might buy rugs while on a trip abroad to bring home as a souvenir. Of course, these days you no longer have to travel to Morocco, Iran, Afghanistan, or Turkey to buy a rug. Online markets abound, bringing attention and accessibility to beautiful floor coverings from around the world. 


Accruing Value

There are several reasons hand knotted rugs are steadily increasing in value. As already mentioned, rugs are increasingly made in factories. The hand knotting traditions in various parts of the world are slowly dying and so the number of hand knotted rugs in the world will steadily decrease in the future. Make no mistake, the value of handmade rugs will at some point grow exponentially simply because there is a finite number. To be sure there are a few people in a few places who will possibly continue these traditions. But they are few and far between. The closest example of a similar invest is Bitcoin. There can only ever be a finite number of Bitcoin and there are very few left to mine. As such the price has recently shot up and will no doubt continue to rise as the alternative currency becomes more and more scarce. A similar phenomenon is happening to hand knotted rugs, in particular with Persian rugs.

Additionally, the quality of the limited hand knotted pieces that do continue to be made will actually decline, making the older ones more valuable in comparison. Organic materials are not just more difficult to acquire, they are more expensive, hence the shift is swift towards synthetic materials and machine made.

 Finally, exploding markets and demand contribute to rising values. Pre-pandemic, the travel and tourism industry had exploded to such a degree that those seeking rugs as collectibles had increased ten-fold over the previous decade. And those who didn’t and still don’t travel have access to online markets. So essentially, most people have access to art and handicrafts like hand knotted rugs from other countries at all times. As global wealth and everyone’s access multiplies, the hand knotted rug market is expected to double by 2023. So what does that mean? Well, if demand is doubling, but fewer pieces are being produced, it’s inevitable that values will rise, potentially tripling or even increasing 5x, maybe even 10x by 2025.

Investment art rug hand knotted Persian rug
Ultra Vintage washed Persian Rug

Caring for your investment piece

You don’t have to lock your rug away in a dark cellar away from sunlight, visiting it on Sundays for a quick moment of admiration. Your rug can retain and increase in value even with regular use. Because these rugs, particularly those made of primarily wool knotting on a cotton foundation, are so durable, they don’t lose value with use. In fact, the opposite can happen. That is not to say a rug can be torn apart and still be valuable, although that’s possible too. These days “patchwork” rugs, made of pieces from several different rugs, have become very popular. But normal wear and even occasional washing adds softness and a certain sheen to hand knotted rugs that cannot be attained when they are locked away in a bank vault. Some of the most beautiful Persian rugs in the world would not be as beautiful if they had never been used. 

So do not be afraid to place your rug in the living room, dining room, hallway, even the kitchen or bathroom. Everyday use adds charm to a well-made rug in a way that will never happen with machine made rugs. With hand knotted carpets you can literally sit on your invest. Heck, you can eat, dance, play, pray, and even sweat on your investment.

Traditional Persian Rug Handknotted Kashan
Kashan Persian Rug

Choosing a Rug

With stocks, a typical piece of advice is “buy what you use.” If you shop with Amazon, buy stock in Amazon. If you wash your clothes with Tide and wipe up spills with Bounty, buy Proctor & Gamble. Products you prefer and use regularly are probably also products many other people use and prefer. It’s the same with rugs. 

Rustic Persian Rug Gabbeh Hand Knotted
Investment Art: Handknotted Persian Rug Heriz

In more traditional cultures, rugs are a necessity to cover a dirt floor or keep a room in colder climates warm, but in the western world the main reason for acquiring a rug is aesthetic. The choice of rug depends on the style of home or in other elements of the home’s decor. If you prefer a more rustic, nomadic aesthetic, look toward investing in a Gabbeh rug from Iran or a Berber from Morocco. If your tastes are more refined and formal some great investments can be made in Isfahan and Nain rugs. Traditional Persian rugs like those made in Tabriz, Mashad, Kashan, and Kerman are always a great stable investment. If you prefer more geometric or abstract hand knotted pieces, Heriz, Bakhtiar, and Ziegler rugs are fantastic investments that have always increased tremendously in value.

No matter your taste, you are sure to pick one that will appreciate in value if it is hand knotted and well made. There is no use in agonizing over whether another person might find it attractive in the future. If you love it now, should you ever decide to sell in the future, it will surely find a new home with someone who can appreciate it. If not, you can always sell it back to us through our buyback program (See below).


The Marketplace

One of the biggest reasons for increased demand for any type of rug or carpet, is a global market expected to reach anywhere from $40 to possibly $100 billion (in the bull case so to speak). Construction has boomed and continues to boom despite some setbacks in 2020. This means that there are more spaces to fill, not just residential homes, but also commercial spaces like hotels, offices, shops, and even houses of worship. The market for rugs in cold climates is particularly robust because rugs can provide insulation and reduce heating costs, which is also climate friendly. In urban areas, rugs are essential in high density residential and commercial building for reduction of noise and echoing. 

Then there are the reasons for increased demand specifically for hand knotted rugs. As mentioned already, the global collectibles market is booming at a pace of double, often triple other investment types. Despite a larger disparity between the global rich and the global poor, the reality is that there is more money than ever in the hands of more people than ever across the globe. That money has to go somewhere and it is often finding a home in collectibles that can be bought, sold, and exchanged digitally, on the internet. That is the way people today do most of their shopping, banking, and investing. And for that reason, finding money value for items that may have once only had emotional value to a select few, can easily be accessed by anyone. A lava lamp, an old GI Joe toy, a car from the 1990s, a Persian rug from the 1980s, an East German police badge from the 1970s, an old Blackberry, almost anything you have stashed away has value and a buyer on the internet. 

The resale of hand knotted rugs also happens to be good for the environment. It’s the greenest way to cover your floors. All of the hand knotted rugs that are sourced from village are put through a rigorous washing and sanitizing process before export and go to customers with minimal expenditure of greenhouse gases. That is not so with new rugs made in factories. If you’re buying the rug from another individual, you can contact a local professional rug cleaner to do the job. 


An Element of Passion

When you investment in a stock, you’re looking for a company that’s demonstrated proof of concept and scalability among other things. With collectibles like Persian rugs the most important element is passion. Do you love what you’re buying? Do you want to keep it for a long time? Do you want to take good care of it so that it will last longer? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then Persian rugs might be an investment for you.

Another way to look at collectibles as investments is to seek out a piece with longevity and durability. People have been collecting hand knotted carpets from around the world for centuries. The allure is not going to disappear overnight so your investment is safe. Rugs may not always be the hottest collectible, but they will never disappear as a collectible, much like stamps. By contrast, hot collectible markets like the Pokèmon trading cards could potentially lose their market. You can invest in these types of collectibles if you’re crazy about them, but beware they may not stand the test of time. 

Handknotted Persian Rug

Bottom Line

Beauty aside, what’s important in an investment is the bottom line. No one can tell you what to buy or where to invest your money, and financial advisors hardly have a great track record. They are wrong six times out of 10. But there is no question that Persian rugs have stood the test of time. A study by a British firm concluded that on average the value of a hand knotted Persian rug has risen 12 percent annually over the past 65 years. That definitely beats the stock market! 

We are so confident in the enduring value of Persian hand knotted rugs that Handknotted.com will buy your Persian carpet back any time. This is not a return policy. It is a buyback program that should make buying a rug from us an easy decision to make. 


Kazak Rugs: Vintage Geometric Designs

Origins and History

The original Kazak rugs were not linked to a particular country or ethnic group, but rather to a general region. They were woven by women in the geographic region of the Caucasus and further south. Originally woven by nomadic Turks who arrived in the region following their western migration in the 11th century. 

In the 1800s Kazak (or Kazaak) Rugs were status symbols that incorporated strands of gold in the weave. They were found in grand churches, palaces, and the homes of the wealthier classes. They were used to cushion and lead the way for royalty, the red carpet of its time. Kazak carpets not only covered floors for the region’s elite, but also hung on walls as works of art, as well as to create warmth and absorb sound. 

Along the way these rugs shed some preciousness in favor of rugged authenticity. Eventually the design and methodology for weaving Kazak rugs moved west into present day Afghanistan. However, recent history forced some weavers to flee the country to escape persecution by the Taliban. Many of these Afghan refugees began settling in Pakistan as early as the 1980s. This resettlement allowed for a revival of the motifs and patterns of Kazak rugs. New available materials and a more muted color palette allowed for the reinvention of the Kazak carpet. Today, these rugs made primarily in Pakistan are not only some of the most popular Kazaks, they are in fact some of the most popular rugs on the market. 

Material and Weave

Similar to the majority of Oriental and Persian rugs, Kazak rugs are likewise predominantly made of wool and are hand-knotted. Kazak rugs made in Pakistan are usually made using a tighter weave and have a high knot density. Armenian Kazak rugs are thicker, have a looser weave, and are made using a coarse shiny wool. 

Modern weavers in Pakistan who employ the progressive Kazak techniques painstakingly recreate the timeworn look of the original pieces. They spin the wool tightly, taking care not to snap it, before they knot the yarn. This allows for a flatter look akin to those of vintage rugs. For the weave, sometimes they knot with subtle shifts in color to create an abrash effect. The edges of the width of the rug are typically finished with selvages. Ends of the length are finished with fringes on both sides by some weavers. Others choose to finish one end with fringe and the other with a clean hem. The pile of Kazak rugs, particularly those woven in Pakistan, are cut ultra short and then the rugs are put through an antiquing process. The rugs are stone washed, which mutes the colors and give the rugs a beautiful soft sateen finish that looks aged. 

Design and Color

Kazak carpets draw heavily from folk art prevalent in the Caucasus region. The overarching design through line for Kazak rugs are geometric patterns. Various traditional shapes such as medallions, squares, and diamonds dominate Kazak designs. Very occasionally weavers add fauna and flora as well. One of the distinct shapes common in Kazaks, but rarely found in Persian rugs, is the hooked diamond. Another uniquely Kazak shape is the cross, particularly with the Armenian Kazaks that are woven by Christian weavers.

Each Kazak rug typically employs four to eight colors even when the resulting look appears quasi monochromatic. Brightly colored rugs favor dominant reds and blues, enhanced often by green and ivory secondary colors. This is to draw the eye towards dramatic geometric shapes.

By contrast, the antiqued Kazaks made by Afghans who emigrated to Pakistan use a subtler color palette. Traditionally these weaver only had access to black, white, strong red, and the gray scale. Once resettled, they began to use indigo, various shades of green as well as blue-greens like turquoise. They added rust, light orange, pinks, ivory and brown, as well as all the tan shades in between.

Up until the year 2000 most Kazaks were made using natural, mostly vegetable, dyes. Since then, a large portion of weavers have moved to a chemical process to meet increased demand and create a more durable product. Some weavers however remain steadfast in their use of an all-natural dye process.

Contemporary Styling

Trends and tastes evolve, but one of the best ways to complement an edgy industrial interior with surfaces that are natural or unfinished, is with a Kazak rug. These floor coverings pair well with exposed brick, steel/metal architectural supports, exposed ductwork, and finished and unfinished concrete. Kazak rugs also pair well with natural wood and everything rugged or vintage. 

Some designers, however, prefer to complement minimalist spaces with Kazak rugs to add warmth. Still others like to see traditional furniture enhanced with the graceful geometry of Kazak rugs on the floor. Whatever the taste or preference, the addition of a Kazak rug generally indicates a well-traveled owner.

Mashad Rugs: Embodiment of Persian Tradition


Mashad rugs are woven in northeastern Iran in the large Khorasan province which borders Turkmenistan. Mashad has transformed from a small village to the second most populous city in Iran, and a popular tourist destination. The Shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam in Shiite Islam, is located in the city of Mashad and each year over 12 million visitors make the religious pilgrimage to pray at his burial site and to see the gold-domed floodlit buildings at night. Since before the 1500s inhabitants of Mashad have produced beautiful large traditional Persian rugs. 

History of Mashad Rugs

Weaving rugs in the Khorasan region of Iran began in the time of the Timurid Empire, named for its founder Timur. He is known in the west as Tamerlane. In the late 1300s through the 1400s, rug weaving started to take hold in the region. Because the province lies across a desert, it is isolated from the rest of Iran. This is precisely why Mashad carpet designs remained rooted in tradition throughout the centuries. They were not influenced by foreign trends, patterns, and tastes. Other Persian cities, most notably Isfahan and Kerman (which was on the Silk Road), made rugs with designs that became more sophisticated and worldly over time.

Extraordinary examples of antique Mashad rugs with traditional Persian designs and high quality weave can be found in museums. Other high value Mashad rugs include 100 year old Amoghli Mashad carpets. The Amoghli Brothers were giants in the business who operated between 1900 and 1920. Their master workshop was renowned throughout the world and rugs with the Amoghli signature can fetch at least six figures at auction.

Structure & Weave

The agricultural heritage in the Khorasan province provides vital nutrition for sheep which in turn helps produce soft and supple wool. This lustrous wool sourced locally makes for a high quality rug that is also an affordable choice for many Iranians. As with most traditional Persian rugs, the knots are formed on a cotton foundation for a sturdy base. The medium-thick wool is tightly woven and the pile also kept at a medium length. 

The knot count for Mashad rugs generally come in at 100 to 500 knots per square inch. The weavers of Mashad rugs use a typical Persian asymmetrical knot. However, the knots are made over four warps as opposed to the typical two warps. This creates a two-level foundation consisting of one straight weft and one curved weft which alternate. As a result, Mashad rugs tend to be some of the sturdiest and most durable rugs. 

Color & Design

More than any other type of Persian rug, Mashad rugs tend to strictly use red and blue as the dominant colors. Ivory, khaki and other colors are utilized only accents in the pattern. Perhaps it is because the region has perfected the art of cultivating beautiful colors from natural vegetation. Some of the vegetation used in this process is unique to the Khorasan province, as such the specific red and blue hues are unique to Mashad rugs. 

As with most traditional Persian patterns, Mashad rugs have a curvilinear design often dominated by a central medallion. The central rectangular region is then enclosed by a wide border containing a region of heavier floral design. The heavier florals create a frame of sorts of the rug. The Mashad pattern has remained very traditional over the years. The evolution of its design has been minimal and arose mostly from the architectural influence of the city’s religious buildings. The patterns and shapes found in tile mosaics and elegant minarets and domes have made their way into some rug designs.

Contemporary Use of Mashad Rugs

Mashad rugs are known for their outsized proportions. They are large. A 9 x 12 Mashad is just average. That’s not to say you can’t find smaller Mashads carpets, but in general they tend to be enormous. Comparatively, Ghom and Isfahan Persian rugs which are much smaller. Of course, you don’t need to live in a palace to have a large space. Many homes and apartments built in the last three decades have been designed to suit the open space trends. The uptick in the loft market has also added to the large spaces available. Mashad rugs have deep rich colors and can add a tremendous amount of sophistication and wow to large modern spaces. 

In modern spaces, Mashad rugs provide an eye-catching contrast. Their popularity has grown as interior decorators find new and interesting ways to punch up a room with these one-of-a-kind hand knotted rugs. Of course, the traditional Persian design also works well with more traditional spaces and furniture. Mashad rugs help create balance and harmony with dark woods or heavier furniture. And the worn antique or vintage Mashad rugs work brilliantly in practically any space.