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A Complete Guide to Hand Knotted Rugs

Hand-knotted rugs have been an indispensable element of home décor for
centuries, gracing floors with their magnificence all over the globe. But, they are
much more than just mere coverings, as each rug is a testament to the rich
history and culture of the region where it was crafted. With their intricate
designs, vibrant hues, and impeccable craftsmanship, every hand-knotted rug is a
one-of-a-kind masterpiece, possessing a priceless and invaluable quality that is
impossible to replicate.

Hand knotted rugs possess a fascinating and extensive history that spans back
thousands of years. The earliest hand knotted rugs were discovered in ancient
Persia (modern-day Iran) and date back to the 5th century BC. Nomadic tribes,
utilizing wool from their own sheep and goats, were the creators of these
primitive rugs, which were primarily utilized for warmth and insulation. Initially,
these rugs consisted of simplistic geometric shapes. However, over time, rug-
making developed into a more complex and sophisticated art form, with the
Persian rug-makers gaining prominence for their intricate designs and high-quality materials.

By the 16th century, Persian rugs had become highly sought-after luxury items in Europe. As rug-making spread to other parts of the world, various styles and
techniques emerged, influenced by different cultures and traditions. For instance,
Indian rug-making was influenced by Persian designs but had a unique Indian
twist. Silk was frequently utilized in Indian rugs, imparting them with a softer,
more luxurious texture. In contrast, Turkish rug-making was influenced by Persian and Indian designs but possessed its unique Turkish style. Turkish rugs often showcased bold, geometric designs and were made with high-quality wool and silk. Despite the regional differences, hand knotted rugs share many similarities in terms of their use of materials and techniques, showcasing a deep-rooted history that has transcended both time and culture.

The quality and appearance of hand knotted rugs rely heavily on the materials
utilized during their creation. Wool, a durable and versatile material sourced from
sheep, goats, or llamas, is the most commonly used material in hand knotted
rugs. The breed of the animal, climate, and environment in which it was raised all
influence the quality of the wool. Silk, on the other hand, is a more luxurious and
delicate material that gives rugs a shiny and smooth appearance. It is often used
in intricate patterns and borders to add a touch of elegance to the design.

Cotton serves as the foundational material for most hand knotted rugs due to its
ability to provide a sturdy base for the wool or silk knots. This material helps to
maintain the rug’s shape and structure over time, while also being a more cost-
effective option than wool or silk.

In addition to these primary materials, rug makers may incorporate other natural
fibers like jute, hemp, or sisal into their creations. These materials are typically
used for the rug’s backing or as a natural dye base. The process of sourcing and
processing these materials varies depending on the region and cultural traditions.
For example, wool may be spun by hand using a drop spindle in some areas, while modern machinery may be used in others. Silk may be sourced from silkworms raised on mulberry trees or from wild silk. The materials used in hand knotted rugs are a testament to the importance of the craft and the artistry and skill that goes into each piece.

Hand knotting a rug is a labor-intensive process that requires a mastery of various techniques to create a one-of-a-kind piece. To begin, a strong foundation must be established by stretching a warp thread across a loom and tying a weft thread to it. The weft thread is then woven back and forth across the warp thread to form a sturdy base for the rug.

The knotting process involves two primary techniques: the Persian knot and the Turkish knot. The Persian knot, also called the Senneh knot, is tied around two adjacent warp threads. Afterward, the weft thread passes over one warp thread and under the next, locking the knot in place. This technique is common in Persian and Oriental rugs. In contrast, the Turkish knot, also known as the Ghiordes knot, is tied around a single warp thread. The weft thread is then passed over the warp thread and back under itself, firmly securing the knot. This technique is used mainly in Turkish and Caucasian rugs.

After tying the knots, the weft thread is passed over and under the warp threads,
locking the knots in place and creating the pile. The pile’s length and density are determined by the design and intended outcome. Once the pile is complete, the
rug is sheared to create a smooth and uniform surface, using a specialized
shearing knife or scissor.

The final step is washing and finishing the rug, which involves trimming any loose threads and thoroughly inspecting the rug before it is ready for sale. The process requires a high level of skill and artistry, as each rug is unique, with its own design, knotting technique, and materials. The intricate techniques involved in rug making contribute to the beauty and durability of these treasured pieces.

Hand-knotted rugs boast a wide array of styles and designs that reflect the artistic movements and cultural traditions of the region where they were created.
Persian rugs, the most iconic style, boast intricate designs and patterns that
include floral motifs, geometric shapes, and calligraphy. These rugs often
showcase a central medallion surrounded by a repeating patterned field. Oriental
rugs, on the other hand, share similarities with Persian rugs, but are made in
other countries like India, Pakistan, and China. They also feature intricate designs
and patterns, such as floral motifs, geometric shapes, and animal figures. Oriental
rugs typically have a central medallion that is also surrounded by a field of
repeating patterns.

Turkish rugs are recognized for their bold colors and large-scale designs, often
featuring geometric patterns and motifs like stars, diamonds, and hexagons. They
also frequently showcase a central medallion, surrounded by a field of repeating
patterns. Meanwhile, Caucasian rugs, created in the Eastern European Caucasus
region, are famous for their bold colors and geometric designs that incorporate
intricate motifs like stars, crosses, and animals. These rugs also typically have a
central medallion that is surrounded by a field of repeating patterns.

Kilim rugs, unlike other styles, are crafted using a flat weaving technique instead
of knotting. They are usually produced in Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan, and are
known for their bold colors and geometric patterns. These rugs are often used as
wall hangings or decorative throws. Every style and design of hand-knotted rug
holds a unique history and cultural significance. Rug makers often draw on
traditional designs and techniques, but also incorporate modern elements to
create new and innovative designs.

Hand knotted rugs are highly prized for their beauty, intricate craftsmanship, and
durability. However, not all hand knotted rugs are created equal, and the factors
that affect their value and price can vary significantly. Here are the crucial factors
that determine the worth of a hand-knotted rug:

Material – The type of material used to weave the rug is a crucial factor that
determines its value and price. Silk rugs, for example, are more expensive and
prized than wool rugs because of their luxurious softness, lustrous sheen, and fine details. However, wool rugs are also valued for their natural beauty and

Knot Count – The knot count refers to the number of knots per square inch in the
rug. A higher knot count means a more intricate and detailed design, resulting in a more valuable rug. For instance, rugs with a knot count of 500 or more are
considered to be of high quality.

Design and Pattern – The design and pattern of the rug also affect its value and
price. Intricately designed and patterned rugs, such as Persian rugs, tend to be
more valuable and expensive than those with simpler designs.

Age – The age of a rug is also a critical factor in determining its value and price.
Antique rugs, which are typically over 100 years old, are prized for their rarity and historical significance, and can command high prices.

Condition – The condition of the rug is another crucial factor in its value and price.
Rugs that are well-maintained and free from damage, stains, or discoloration are
more valuable than those that are worn or damaged.

Size – The size of the rug is another element that influences its value and price.
Larger rugs tend to be more expensive than smaller ones, due to the amount of
material and time required to create them.

Rarity – Finally, the rarity of a rug can greatly affect its value and price. One-of-a-
kind rugs or those made by highly skilled and renowned artists can command
premium prices due to their uniqueness and scarcity.

In summary, the value and price of hand knotted rugs depend on various factors,
including the type of material, knot count, design, age, condition, size, and rarity.
Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision when
buying or selling a hand-knotted rug.

Hand knotted rugs are a truly valuable investment, and it’s crucial to take good care of them to ensure their longevity and beauty. To keep your rug clean and
free of dirt and dust, regular vacuuming is essential. In high-traffic areas, it’s recommended to vacuum your rug at least once a week. To prevent uneven wear
and tear, it’s important to rotate your rug every 6 months or so. This will help distribute the foot traffic evenly and prevent excessive wear in one area.

In the event of a stain, it’s crucial to clean it up as soon as possible to prevent it from setting. Use a clean cloth and a mild detergent to gently blot the stain, and
avoid rubbing or scrubbing the rug, as this can damage the fibers. Keep in mind
that direct sunlight can fade and damage your hand knotted rug over time, so it’s important to place your rug away from windows or use curtains or blinds to block
out the sunlight.

For a deeper clean, it’s recommended to have your hand knotted rug
professionally cleaned every 2-3 years. Professional cleaners use specialized
equipment and cleaning solutions to remove dirt, dust, and stains without
damaging the fibers. Additionally, rug pads can help protect your hand knotted
rug from wear and tear, and prevent it from slipping or sliding on hard floors.
Make sure to choose a high-quality rug pad that is appropriate for your flooring
type and the size of your rug.

By following these tips, you can enjoy the beauty and value of your hand knotted
rug for years to come. With proper care, your rug will continue to enhance the
beauty of your home and provide warmth and comfort to you and your family.

Properly storing hand knotted rugs is crucial for preserving their quality and
durability over an extended period of time. Here are some helpful tips to ensure
your rug remains in pristine condition:

Achieving a Clean Start – Before you store your rug, ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt, dust, and stains. Gently vacuum your rug, spot clean any stains with a mild detergent and a clean cloth, then allow it to dry entirely before proceeding.

Rolling it Up – Roll your rug tightly, making sure to roll it with the pile facing
inwards to prevent any fiber damage. Avoid folding the rug, as this can result in
permanent creases.

Acid-Free Paper Wrap – To protect your rug from moisture and pests, wrap it
carefully in acid-free paper before storing it. Refrain from using plastic bags or
coverings as they tend to trap moisture, causing mold or mildew to form.

Optimal Storage Conditions – Store your rug in a dry, cool place, far from any
direct sunlight or heat sources. It’s important to avoid storing it in damp areas such as basements or attics, as this can cause harm to the fibers.

Periodic Check-Ups – Regularly inspect your rug while it’s in storage to ensure it’s in good condition. If you notice any signs of mold, mildew, or insect damage, take
action right away to prevent further damage.

By following these suggestions, you’ll safeguard your hand knotted rug and
maintain its beauty and worth for years to come. When you’re ready to use your rug again, carefully unroll it and let it rest for a few days before placing any
furniture or walking on it. With proper care, your hand knotted rug will continue
to delight and enrich your home.

Hand knotted rugs are prized for their durability and longevity. However, over
time, they may become damaged or worn due to frequent use or exposure to
environmental elements. If you notice any damage to your rug, it’s important to take immediate action to prevent it from getting worse.

Before attempting any repairs, it’s important to assess the extent of the damage. Minor damage such as loose threads or small holes can often be repaired easily at home. However, more extensive damage such as large holes or tears may require the services of a professional repair service.

Once you’ve assessed the damage, gather the necessary supplies for the repair. For minor repairs, a sharp pair of scissors, a needle, and matching thread will
suffice. For larger repairs, you may need to purchase replacement yarn or seek
the assistance of a professional repair service.

For loose threads, resist the urge to pull them, as this can cause further damage
to the rug. Instead, carefully trim the loose threads with scissors and secure the
surrounding threads with a small amount of fabric glue or clear nail polish.

For small holes, use a needle and matching thread to sew the hole closed. Knot
the thread securely on the underside of the rug to prevent it from coming loose. If
a section of your rug is missing yarn, you can purchase matching yarn and
carefully weave it into the damaged area. This can be a time-consuming process,
so it may be best to hire a professional for extensive repairs.

In case of extensive damage or if you are unsure how to repair the damage yourself, it’s recommended to seek the services of a professional repair service.
They can assess the damage and provide an estimate for the repair.

By following these tips and taking good care of your hand knotted rug, you can
extend its lifespan and enjoy its beauty for many years to come.

Hand-knotted rugs are not only beautiful but also valuable pieces of home decor
that require regular cleaning to maintain their appearance and longevity.

Vacuum Regularly – To keep your rug clean, it is crucial to vacuum it regularly. Use a vacuum cleaner with a beater bar or rotating brush to remove dirt and dust
from the rug’s surface. Don’t forget to vacuum both sides of the rug to remove all debris and ensure it stays in top condition.

Spot Clean Stains – If you notice a stain on your rug, it is essential to spot clean it
immediately. Using a clean cloth and a mixture of warm water and mild
detergent, gently blot the stain. Rubbing the stain is not recommended as it can
cause it to spread.

Deep Clean – For a deeper clean, you can either hand wash your rug or have it
professionally cleaned. If you choose to hand wash your rug, use a mild detergent
and a soft-bristled brush to avoid damage. Thoroughly rinse the rug with clean
water and allow it to air dry. This method helps to maintain the rug’s quality and condition.

Professional Cleaning – For those who prefer professional cleaning services, look
for a reputable rug cleaning service in your area. They will have the equipment
and expertise to deep clean your rug without causing damage. This approach
helps to maintain the rug’s quality and keep it looking brand new.

Rotate the Rug – To prevent uneven wear and tear, rotate your rug regularly. This
will distribute foot traffic and sun exposure evenly across the rug, maintaining its
appearance for years to come.

Protect from Sunlight – Hand-knotted rugs are susceptible to sun damage.
Therefore, it is crucial to protect them from direct sunlight. Using window
coverings or UV-resistant film on your windows can help prevent fading and

By following these tips, you can keep your hand-knotted rug clean and in
excellent condition for years to come. Regular vacuuming, spot cleaning, deep
cleaning, and proper protection from sunlight can help extend the lifespan of your rug and keep it looking beautiful.

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.