A Guide To: Persian Rugs
Image Credit - Mad about the house
Unlike many other countries, there are hundreds of different Persian rugs from all across the region. We thought it would be helpful to create a comprehensive encyclopedia for you to refer to if you feel a bit lost at sea amongst the plethora of Persian rugs.
Admittedly, we have excluded some from this list. Hamadan, for example, has over 134 villages. Therefore, to avoid it being too overwhelming, we've grouped together and ordered it as much as possible.
Persian rugs generally come in three categories: city, village, and tribal - They are named after the City or Village they were produced in or by the tribes that made them.
The city rugs are the highest in quality, their weavers (often men) are known as master weavers, and some even sign their work as a piece of art. Those that are made in villages, or by tribes, on the other hand, are made by families. They weave the rugs, often from memory or inspiration on their travels, and sell them as an extra source of income.
Have a look through this guide and get to know which designs you like best; it will really help you navigate your search when coming to purchase a rug for your home. Our personal favourites are Nain, Heriz & Gabbeh rugs.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to talk about a Persian rug that is not on the list, please reach out to us, and we would be more than happy to help.
Location: The city of Isfahan is in the middle of Iran. It is one of the most popular destinations to visit, with beautiful art, architecture, palaces and old bridges.
Design: the patterns are often inspired by the tile works in mosques or the gardens of the palaces. They often possess a floral design, with a high knot count and have a great reputation as some of the best and highest quality rugs in the country.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - FREEDOM, AUTUMN, MOLLY
Location: East of Isfahan is the beautiful city of Nain - it is home to some of the oldest mosques in Iran (dating back to the 10th century).
Design: Nain rugs are again floral in design - they use a wonderful colour palette of ivory, navy blues, light blues, and pinks.
Nain rugs come in a variety of different qualities. You have standard 'Nains' that are usually weaved just outside of the city following the known Nain designs. And the high-quality rugs, those produced in the centre of the city.
Nain rugs have three-knot types: 4La, 6La, and 9La. In Farsi, the "La" translates to layer. This numbering helps decide the quality of a Nain rug - referring to the number of thread layers that have been used in every warp thread. The lower number of thread layers, the finer the carpet.
These have been the most popular style of a high-quality Persian rug in the UK over the years.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - AFIA, DALEY, EBONIE
Location: Around 600km west of Tehran and one of the biggest cities in the whole of Iran.
Design: Tabriz designs have a central medallion surrounded by arabesques and other floral and garden-inspired patterns including, cypresses and weeping willows.
However, unlike most other cities and villages, Tabriz has the most diverse design range, from medallion, to figural, pictorial, and more. The most famous Tabriz design is known as 'Tabriz Mahi'.
The design is based on a famous Persian garden that's divided into four sections by a stream filled with fish. The word 'Mahi' in Farsi means fish.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - SAGRA, APRIL, AMIE
Location: Around 150km south of Tehran is the city of Qum.
Design: Qum is a city well known for its weaving of fine pure silk rugs.
They are the highest in knot count, and you will never see details more exquisite than you do in these Persian rugs.
The designs are so intricate and life-like they look like an HD screen. The patterns are borrowed from different areas across Iran; but commonly feature gardens, medallions, plants, and animal motifs.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - FALCON, GIANNA, JULES
Design: Originally Abadeh rugs were known for their patterns of vases and more earthy colour palettes. Inspired by the Qashqai tribes and their geometric designs, they can be identified by a central geometric design and birds, flowers, and trees in the surroundings and borders.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - VANITY, MILES, TASH
Location: West Iran, a small Kurdish town.
Design: the name Bidjar has the meaning of durability and strength to many rug experts. They are remarkably durable yet compact.
The weavers use a heavy comb made from wood and metal to beat the weft and the knots so that the pile almost stands up. The pile is therefore very tight and allows very little to seep into it. They are known as 'the king of carpets' due to this special weaving style and superiority.
The most well-known design is the 'Herati', also called the fish pattern. These are popular rugs in the UK.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - COSIMIA, KATIE, MAY
Location: Hamadan is a city situated in the west of Iran, around 300km from Tehran.
Design: Hamadan rugs are easily recognisable by their use of repeated patterns. They are most commonly geometric but sometimes use floral motifs as well. The rugs are usually deeper in colour: red, navy, and cream.
You find the rugs in the village section because all the nearby villages of Hamadan weave these rugs. The city centre is simply used for trading.
Hamadan is made up of hundreds of villages. Each village has its own design: Nahavand, Tuyserkan, Malayer, Hossein Abad. They became known as the more generic term of 'Hamadan' to simplify matters.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - JOE, CATO, ESME
Location: Northwest Iran, not far from the city of Tabriz.
Design: The Heriz design is recognisable more so than any other Persian rug design. The centre features a large right-angled medallion and usually has marked corners. They are geometric in design and difficult to find in small sizes. Usually, starting at 300x200cm, these rugs are sort after.
There is also a more modern Heriz design, which is an all-over geometric design, without the medallion.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - KAITO, KYOKO
Location: Southeast of Iran, Kerman is a city with a population of around 350,000.
Design: The most traditional Kerman design usually features a red base colour and a pattern dominated by a central medallion.
We place them in with the village rugs because the quality of craftsmanship isn't quite as high as the main city rugs, though still a fantastic standard.
These are the rugs we use for our Persian Overdyed collection (with the exception of 1 or 2 that are made from Nain rugs). The quality of wool from this area takes particularly well to dyes and is of a good standard.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - SAMEH, HAREL, YARON
Location: Between Isfahan and Tehran is the large city of Kashan.
Design: When you think of a traditional Persian Rug, it is often the red Kashan that springs to mind - floral in design with reds and navy blues.
The other popular Kashan colours are creams and pistachio green. They come both with central medallions and all-over designs (no medallion).
They're considered 'village' rugs due to the quality being less than that of a city rug. Kashan has been famous for its textiles and pottery for many years - the city was a key spot for trading and a resting place along the silk road.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - ADELAIDE, HALO, MUSICAL
Location: East of Iran.
Design: Traditionally red and navy in colour, usually featuring a central medallion.
Like Kashan and Kerman, Mashad is a city, but with the rug quality in the section of village rugs. Mashad is the most 'holy' city in Iran.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - JABARI, REED, FIDEL
Location: South of Mashad and Birjand.
Design: Moud rugs use the 'Herati' pattern, a flower inside a rhomb surrounded by four acanthus leaves. The leaves resemble fish. Moud rugs come both with central medallions and in all-over designs.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - NOVA, SERENITY, ONA
Location: West Iran, in the province of Kurdistan. Today the capital city is called Sanandaj, but it used to be known as Senneh.
Design: Fine designs and elegant patterns. The colours are usually dark blue and red. In Senneh, they weave both rugs with a pile, as well as Senneh Kilims (flatweaves). Their design is recognisable, unique, and very popular here in the UK.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - KAYLA, KAJA, NADIA
Location: The Baluchi tribes live in the area that borders Iran and Afghanistan.
Design: Drawing parallels between the original Afghan rugs and Turkman rugs, both in the geometric designs and the deep, rich colours featured (burgundy, red, navy, black). Baluch rug designs are representative of the Persian nomadic weaving style; they have a feeling of true authenticity and craft. The rugs are often long and narrow, as they were often designed as prayer rugs.
Baluch has become known as a general term for smaller tribes that consist of nomads from different places across Iran. Along with rug weaving, they also farm (agriculture and sheep raising mainly).
Featured Rugs (left to right) - ISLA, WINTERGREEN, ILONA
Location: Tribe in the southwest of Iran, commonly female weavers.
Design: Traditionally, Gabbeh rugs were made for sleeping on. They are tightly woven, with a thick, very cosy pile.
They are the plainest of all Persian rugs, with little to no pattern. However, often they feature small animals or trees in the corners or centre.
Gabbeh rugs are thicker than all other Persian rugs; they have a pile of around 7mm (compared with 2-4mm in most rugs). The word 'Gabbeh' has Persian connotations as raw, natural, and uncut.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - WYATT, HUXLEY, RYA
Location: The Qashqai nomads are from the Fars province in the southwest of Iran. They move around once or twice a year, in the winter near the Persian Gulf and in the summer up in the Zagros mountains (as it's cooler).
Design: Typically, Qashqai rugs are deeper in colour, using red, brown, or burgundy as the base colour. The pattern is weaved completely from memory, inspired by things they have come across on their travels; wildlife and nature.
You'll see a lot of animals, birds, and trees on Qashqai rugs. Often they are made 100% of wool, making them easier to roll up and transport around with the nomads.
Some examples of those not included here are Loribaft, Lori, Farahan, Mir, Koliai, Sultanabad, Yalameh, Sarouk.
Featured Rugs (left to right) - PHYE, NADIR, CAEL