Oriental rug is a term that could be used to describe any rug of Eastern origin, but generally refers to hand made rugs from the rug making countries of Persia (now Iran), Anatolia (now Turkey), Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Baluchistan, Turkestan, Pakistan,China, the Balkans, parts of India, and part of North Africa. For many people though, it is Persian that they think of first, as a great many very fine examples have been produced there.
Impressive old Persian carpets can be found in museums, palaces and stately homes all over the western world, but these are only part of the Persian rug making tradition. Persian rugs were made in workshops but also by many nomadic people.
Homes in Iran are commonly found with rugs covering the floors, but they are not limited to the rich, poorer quality rugs were made in abundance and readily available for the poorer homes as well.
Materials used are wool, cotton and silk. Patterns commonly used come from nature, such as flowers, trees, birds and animals. Designs are sometimes adapted from other sources, usually Chinese and Arabic images. There is something of a debate about the symbolism in the patterns, with some claiming the art loving Iranian people appreciate the pattern just for its artistic worth while others claim the strong use of symbolism.
An example of symbolism is the Chrysanthemum flower, which means happiness and fertility. Another example is the Weeping Willow, which symbolises death and sorrow.
Persian rugs have always sold well in the saleroom, but as with everything in life, the better the quality the higher the price.
Senior Valuer Michael Dowse
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