Everybody has seen or heard about Persian rugs. Throughout the world there are many different types of rugs being produced; some hand tufted or hand knotted, power loomed to hand loomed, flat or piled and in a huge array of materials. Persian rugs are often identified as being hand knotted which means that a loom is used with threads around it and each knot is tied by hand around these threads. They range in size from huge rugs which can fill a conference room to small mats. They are often identified by a floral design and a border surrounding a traditional central medallion. Common colours are cream, red and blue but today, almost any colours are used.
The historical name for Iran was Persia which was derived from the Pars tribe. In 1935, the name was formally changed to Iran. The reputation of Persian rugs as being hardy and luxurious floor decorations dates back at least 150 years – it was around this time that they became a popular export. All things oriental became a trend among the wealthy in the 19th century and Persian rugs were a social marker in these homes. During this period, they were seen as an investment. As well as being popular for their looks because of their deep pile and rich colours, such as vibrant green and pink rugs, the rugs offered comfort and insulation on stone or wooden floors in the days before fitted carpets.
Often rugs made anywhere from China to Turkey are loosely known as Persian. This is not the case, and if a rug is not made in Iran it should be called by the country it originated in – Chinese, Pakistani, Tibetan, Turkish, Afghan, Nepalese, Indian and Caucasian or labelled as Oriental.
Persian rug copies have flooded the market due to a much lower cost which isn’t a bad thing. Labour and material prices are the reason that these copies can be sold so much cheaper. They are still created using the same techniques as that of the weavers in Persia and with the same materials and designs, often the hand knotting technique is the same, but should still be called Oriental. The quality is more often than not, nowhere near the same! The craftsmanship, Iranian wool and stunning dyes ( which are all natural and are derived from rocks, leaves, plants, trees and roots) offer a far superior rug.
The difference between rugs made outside of Iran are quite obvious, Pakistani rugs are flat and too dry, the dry wool and chunky rugs are usually Indian and the rugs that look machine made due to their meticulousness are Chinese. The upside of this is that the cost of purchasing one of these will cost 25-50% less than a genuine rug from Iran which is of much more high quality. These copies can still look great but may not offer the depth and intricacy of an original.
If your rug is from Iran only, it is Persian. From anywhere else, Near, Middle and Far East countries you have an Oriental rug.