Antique Persian Rug Types
The production of Persian rugs covers the whole range of sophistication in manufacture, style and design and is
roughly divided into the coarsely woven village or nomadic types called Kilim and the
more finely made and larger city types. Through the intermingling of clans and tribes, the designs and weaving
charateristics underwent changes over time.
Some Village & Nomadic Rug Types:
Produced by the Bakhtiyari nomads in the Zagros mountains of south west Iran, these types are made of thick wool
on very sturdy cotton warp which makes them heavy and hardwearing. The predominant design elements are derived from
the garden motifs with trees, flowers and animals though they can also include very sophisticated medallions that
are classically Persian. The Bakhtiyaris have begun to give up their nomadic lives and settle in larger towns. This
is why some of their carpets are quite large, which unusual for nomadic tribes because they are more difficult to
transport and handle. But this is also why the Bakhtiyari rugs are considered to be unique in that they include
elements of both the "nomadic" and "city" types.
The Baluch tribes of south eastern Iran that border Pakistan and Khorassan near Afghanistan have woven rugs for
thousands of years mainly to express themselves while also providing an object of great practical utility to their
families. The patterns are usually geometric, the most dominant being a stylized camel's-foot-shaped medallion.
Usually small, their main colors are rich burgundy and deep navy blue. The pile is usually sheep wool but can also
be camel hair and goat hair. The warp is usually wool too except in Meshed-Baluh where it is likely to be
The Qashqai are migratory, Turkic-speaking sheep and goat herders. They were forced to settle down like the
other nomads by the Shah in the 1940s but after his exile, they resumed their nomadic ways. Their rugs and runners
vary in quality, the older ones being the better generally because the newer ones are made with synthetic rather
than vegetable dyes. The older rugs got their blue from indigo and their red from madder. The designs are usually
geometric with animal and bird drawings with the borders having floral designs. Warps are mostly cotton and the
wefts either cotton or wool, the weave being finer with a tight ridged back construction. A drawback for these rugs
is considered to be the fact that they use the looser Turkish knots.
Some City & Town Rug Types:
This old Persian capital was a center for rug production and its ruler Shah Abbas had sent many carpets to the
rulers of western countries. It is believed that this is perhaps why they might have been the first Persian carpets
to be recognized in the west. These rugs are consistently of the finest quality and design and that is why the
Isfahans are also among the most desired rugs in the west. They typically have an ivory background with blue, rose
and indigo motifs in symmetrical designs and a single medallion surrounded with vines and palmettos. They are still
among the best Iranian carpets in production and command a premium in the world market.
The second largest city in Iran, Tabriz is situated in the south. Its carpets come in many sizes and the
patterns could be of trees, teardrop medallions, hunting and flowers in one of the most diverse displays of design.
The pile is wool or silk-wool blend and the warp is cotton or silk. These are extremely high quality carpets and
constitute the highest grade of antique Persian, being found mainly in elite collections and museums.
An indurstrial city in North Central Iran, it was one of the centers of silk rug manufacture and the location of
the Royal carpet workshops in the 17th and 18th centuries which ceased production after the Afghan invasion. Silk
rugs, being the most expensive and least durable, were the rarest and therefore often displayed on walls like
tapestries rather than being used as floor coverings. Kashan was also the source of many high quality wool carpets
because it started out as a fine wool garment center and converted its industry to fine wool carpets in the late