You may have heard hand-knotted rugs described as “Oriental” or “Persian” and wondered why. These common names derive from the places that hand-knotted rugs have been traditionally made.
In this blog, the experts at Rug Source share some of the geographical and historical background of beautiful hand-knotted rugs.
Iran (formerly known as Persia)
Persian rugs used to be woven by nomadic tribes as well as royal court manufacturers and workshops located in villages and towns. Because of this diversity, they represent a wide spectrum of Iranian tradition.
For example, carpets woven in towns like Tabriz or Nain are identifiable because they use specific weaving techniques as well as high quality materials. Tribal rugs tend to use fine wool alongside bright colors and traditional patterns.
There are different varieties of Turkish carpet, like kilims which are flat-woven using a plain slit-tapestry weave to hali which are lush knotted rugs.
It’s not just the knotting techniques that distinguish them, though. Turkish rugs also have a range of motifs that are connected to their type and where they were made. They may feature designs that are naturalistic, geometric, or figurative, for example.
Caucasian rugs come from areas on all sides of the mountain chain of the Caucasus. There are five main types: Kazak, Karabach, Kubs, Sjirban, and Dagestan. Beyond these types, there are also Gjandzja, Verni, and Silé rugs.
What makes Caucasian carpets different is the unique geometrical designs that they feature. They may also incorporate animal figures.
There are two very popular types of rug that come from Afghanistan: Khal Mohammadi, which are handmade in the north of the country, and Afghan Aqcha, which are handmade by the Turkomans in central and north Afghanistan.
In appearance, rugs from Afghanistan can be identified by their tendency to use a range of bright red tones and octagonal or elephant shaped patterns alongside flowers in blue, ochre, and beige.
Manufacturing rugs is believed to have begun in India by Akbar, who lived from 1556 to 1605 and brought in Persian weavers to produce carpets for his palace. Throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, the practice expanded using the finest sheep wool and silk.
After a lull during the 19th century until the middle of the 20th, India’s independence reawakened the commercial manufacturing of hand-knotted rugs, although many weavers were now in Pakistan.
The original Chinese rugs are dated at over 2000 years old; however, the hand-knotting process was introduced to the country between the 15th and 17th century.
What distinguishes Chinese rugs is their patterns, which are often taken from porcelain painters and use religious symbols such as Taoistic or Buddhist motifs alongside traditional dragon patterns.
Something to bear in mind is that the creation of hand-knotted rugs is extremely time and labor intensive. These days, technology is available that can create rugs much more quickly, and these rugs are usually less expensive too.
However, people are still interested in paying more for a higher-quality, hand-knotted rug. The ancient weaving techniques used place these rugs in artisanal tradition that goes back centuries.
If you’d like to invest in a hand-knotted rug, check out Rug Source’s collection of unique and antique pieces from all over the world.
Read our other blog posts on Hand-Knotted Rugs: