Oriental and Persian rugs have become an interchangeable term when referring to antique, Asian rug design. If you are in the market to purchase one of these types of rugs for the first time, it's important to understand the main differences that separate these rugs in terms of design and origin.
Oriental rugs are by definition: rugs that are produced in Asia. The main exporters of rugs in that area are Iran, China, India, Tibet, Pakistan, Russia and Nepal. Oriental rugs will always be made by hand with unique stitching. Because they are handmade, they will last a long time.
On the other hand, Persian rugs refer specifically to a rug that comes from Persia. In 1979 the Islamic Republic of Iran took over Persia, completely demolishing the Old Persian Empire. Today, Persian rugs are regarded as some of the finest pieces of art in the world. Each rug is unique, stemming from specific Iranian cultures and customs. Every rug is also hand knotted, which makes them just as durable as Oriental rugs. They are also known to have vibrant colors and patterns, symbolizing peace and culture. It takes around eight months to a year for a Persian rug to be made.
The earliest form of the oriental rug was produced during the 4th century B.C. called "The Pazryk Carpet." The carpets were recognized by their hand knotting technique with floral and geometric patterns. Before Persian rugs became popular, they were used as entrance pieces to tents for nomadic tribesmen to wipe their shoes on after a day of battle. As the designs started to become more intricate, kings and queens started to invest in them, as they felt the beautiful made rugs were a sign of wealth. Oriental rugs can also be traced back to the Central and West Asian tribes who used the rugs to protect themselves from severe weather conditions.
Persian rugs are some of the most sought after Oriental rugs in the world. However, many are being replicated today through machines. These types of rugs won't last as long and they won't have that unique design and stitching that you can only find in the handmade ones. Before purchasing a Persian rug, make sure it is completely handmade. If you decide to sell the rug later down the road, you will be happy that you invested a little more money in order to get the real deal.