Persian and Oriental Rugs: Symbols and Designs


Floral Pattern, Persian Mashad Rug

Floral Pattern, Persian Mashad Rug

However well woven, however bright in rich transitions of color, Persian carpets and Oriental area rugs would quickly lose their fascination if there were not at least some partial expression of the simple lives of the people, their religious beliefs, and cultural feelings conveyed in designs and patterns. In all nomadic rugs as well as in many others are countless reminders of common life. It may be only crude outlines of the goat or camel, or realistically drawn rose and lily, but even these are suggestive of associations. At any rate, the patterns of Oriental rugs are primarily intended to be decorative, with a border surrounding a central field, serving the function of a frame to a picture as well as being a strong indication to the origin of the rug. This border is generally accompanied by a much narrower pair on each side, known as “guard stripes” in harmony with designs and colors of the field.

As opposed to the border, the field in an Oriental rug often displays greater diversity of pattern. They are frequently covered with a heterogeneous mass of detached and unrelated figures, as in many of the nomadic rugs. The field can sometimes be entirely covered with repetitive patterns, or with intricate and correlated designs of floral patterns in many Persian and Oriental rugs. Others consist of a background of solid color with a center medallion on which smaller figures (sometimes Herati) are displayed. Weavers have only recently started to use solid colors for large portions of the field, perhaps for savings in labor and time. However, the effect has been applauded by consumers as such pieces give more visible colors to a space and makes the task of matching a rug to its surroundings somewhat easier.

Geometric Pattern, Persian Heris

Geometric Pattern, Persian Heris

The smaller designs that appear in Oriental and Persian rugs are distinguished as geometric and floral ornamentation. The former is adopted in those regions where the population is principally nomadic, and the latter is the accepted style in regions where a large percentage of the population have enjoyed an advanced state of society. In general terms, a floral pattern would require a higher number of knots per square inch, simply because they need to display a lot more detail compared to geometric designs. Consequently, floral rugs represent the highest techniques of weaving in use.

Religion has always exercised an important influence on the character of Persian and Oriental rugs, expressed in the symbolism of both colors and designs. In some religions, the use of animal figures or certain names in writing are strictly prohibited in their production of rugs. Irregularities either in patterns or colors, which can often be observed in the majority of hand-knotted rugs are seldom accidental. These are mainly intended to avert the evil eye and insure good luck. The sun, moon, and stars have been associated with the religion among all primitive races. Yet, it is surprising that so few emblems of them are recognized in rugs.

 

 

 

Repeated Allover Design, Persian Turkeman

Repeated Allover Design, Persian Turkeman

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