Persian Carpets, Oriental Rugs: Designs With Animals And Birds

Persian Tabriz-Design with Animals

Persian Tabriz-Design with Animals

In the designs of Persian carpets and Oriental rugs, animals, birds, and insects are often featured. They can be highly stylized, or strikingly realistic like the wild animals on Persian rugs with the hunting design. Bat, bee, beetle, butterfly, camel, crab, deer, dog, dove, dragon, duck, elephant, lion, magpie, parrot, peacock, phoenix, rooster, scorpion, sparrow, squirrel, stork, tarantula, tiger, and tortoise are the animals most frequently found in the pattern of Oriental and Persian carpets. Most of these creatures have a symbolic value above and beyond their mere decorative presence and meaning.

The scorpion and the tarantula denote viciousness and poison, and also represent defense. They are often found in the borders of Caucasian rugs such as Kazak and Shirvan. Perhaps their continued presence beneath the feet teaches children to be unafraid and therefore reduces the risk of them being stung by attempting to run away from a live example. The camel denotes wealth and happiness. This is a logical symbol since this animal is both an invaluable transport of desert nomads and a great source of food. The crab seems to have no symbolic significance, although it is, of course, one of the great astrological signs. Three universal power symbols are the dragon, the elephant, and the lion. The elephant is a symbol of royalty in India. The dragon symbolizes evil in Persia and death in India, whereas it represents imperial power in China. The lion is an almost universal metaphor for authority, strength, and in some countries such as India, royalty. Where fighting animals are displayed on Oriental rugs and Persian carpets, the eternal struggle between good and evil is intended to be emphasized. Among Chinese symbols, the bat represents happiness, the bee immortality, and the beetle denotes creation. The butterfly, often shown on the border of Chinese rugs, represents vanity while the crow is a sign of bad luck both for the Chinese and the Indians. The dove universally indicates peace and companionship, and the duck is always a symbol of a happy and faithful marriage. The tortoise, perhaps because of its own slowness and exceedingly long life-span, naturally represents longevity and immortality as does the deer.

The parrot represents the messenger of life whereas the rooster often symbolizes the devil and is found on carpets as a charm against evil. The magpie, although seldom displayed on rugs, represents good luck. The squirrel is sacred to Hindus, signifying the God’s protection. Symbols of flowers and fruits, such as palm and willow, are also seen on rugs, often indicating deep religious significance and heavenly immortality through death. The presence of animals and birds in the pattern of rugs is not only for decoration purposes, but also helps in determination of their origin, although it takes a long time to be able to do this. A serious interest in Persian and Oriental rugs should have its own rewards specially if the student looks at, examines, and reads about as many rugs as he possibly can.

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