Oriental rugs are handmade rugs that are typically made from sheep’s wool, although some are made from cotton and royalty oriental rugs are made from silk (synthetic materials such as polypropolene are never used). These rugs are either produced using the hand knotted method and a special kind of knot that cannot be reproduced by machinery, or they are hand woven (if it is machine made it is not genuine). The term an oriental rug is used to describe rugs that are produced in countries considered to be within ‘the orient’. This term can therefore be applied to Persian rugs, Arabian rugs, Anatolian rugs, Kurdish rugs, Caucasian rugs, Central Asian rugs, Indian rugs, Turkestanian rugs, Chinese rugs and Tibetan rugs. The design of these rugs often dates back centuries and almost every aspect of the rug has meaning and intent behind it.
The first known Oriental rug to be found dates as far back as 400 or 500BC, it was found in the mound of a royal burial grave in the Altai mountain of Southern Siberia. It has been theorised that the nomadic tribes of Central Asia started the art of hand woven rugs.
Meaningful details within the Oriental rug include:
1. Motifs of Oriental Rugs: Oriental rugs often have motifs within their patterns. The motif used typically depends on the area in which it was created or the tribe that created it, however, it is not uncommon for more than one motif to be used within one rug. The more common motifs are as follows:
- Boteh- flame, Universe (shaped like a twisted teardrop)
- Parrot – protection, escape from danger
- Peony – power • Peacock – immortality
- Dog – protection, trust, defence
- Tree of life – direct path from Earth to heaven
- Lily – Purity, spirituality
- Paradise Bird – paradise
- Lotus – rebirth, Immortality
- Iris – religious, Liberty
- Blossom – youth, spring, newlywed
- Tulip – prosperity
- Pomegranate – fertility
- Amulet – thwarts evil eye
- Hyacinth – regeneration
- Ewer – purification
- Comb – cleanliness
- Diamond – signifying women
- Cross – faith
- Hand – prayer ring
- Herati – water garden, fish
- Mihrab – gateway to paradise
- Star – spirituality, good luck
2. Colours of Oriental Rugs:
- White Rugs - signifies purity and cleanliness.
- Black Rugs – signifies mourning and destruction (this is typically only used for outlines)
- Red Rugs - signifies beauty, wealth, courage, luck, joy and faith.
- Blue Rugs - signifies power, force and solitude.
- Green Rugs - signifies hope, renewal, life and spring.
- Yellow Rugs - signifies the sun, the joy of life.
- Orange Rugs - signifies humility, godliness.
- Brown Rugs - signifies fertility.
- Gold Rugs - signifies power and wealth.
Oriental rugs are vastly varied, colourful and exciting ensuring that for a buyer – there is an oriental rug to suit every decorative taste.