Persian rugs from Iran,which was called Persia until the Islamic revolution of 1980, are handmade Oriental rugs and sought after throughout the world. Rug making dates back thousands of years and is a large piece of their tradition. These rugs are instantly recognized for their motifs- or patterns. Motifs are specific to the area where the rug is woven and often have symbolic meanings. Motifs are used as a stand alone element or rugs may combine several, depending on the size of the carpet and its intended use. Persian rugs are mainly handmade as area rugs, sitting rugs or prayer mats.
Boteh is a motif known as paisley or paisley pattern in English. Boteh dates back to roughly the third century AD. Some scholars say the pattern is combination of the cypress tree and a stylized floral spray. In the Zoroastrian religion, which was very strong in the region at that time, this would symbolize eternity and life. Boteh bears the resemblance of a kidney or twisted teardrop and is popular among the country’s 1.2 million carpet makers to this day.
Heriz (also known as Heris or Heres) motifs are usually a geometric pattern accompanied by a dominate medallion. The rugs are coarse and named after the village in which they are produced. These patterns are handed down through the generations and are most often knotted from memory.
Tabriz rugs are often represented by a center design representing the moon. Lozenge shaped motifs surround the center design and are said to represent scales of fish. This symbolizes a story theme of ancient Oriental poets who wrote about fish who rose to the water’s surface to view the moon’s reflection at midnight. This pattern has been handed down since roughly the 9th century AD.
Gabbeh wool rugs are very simple handmade rugs using predominately animal symbols on geometric backgrounds of bright colors. Red and yellow are very common, as is blue. The rugs are the simplest to manufacture among traditional Persian carpets and are priced accordingly. Often the symbols are arranged in a fashion much like Western block quilts.
Recognizing the symbols of Persian rugs is a key talent to purchasing high-end carpets that fit both, the asking price and the intended theme of the area where the rug will be displayed. Buyers will benefit from salespeople who are educated in these motifs.