Persian Rugs | Antique, Oriental

Oriental Antique Persian Rugs

Antique Persian Tabriz Rug

Oriental Antique Persian Rugs - No matter your preference for color, texture, style or vintage, Doris Leslie Blau offers the widest selection of authentic Persian rugs and carpets and vintage Persian rugs for sale in NYC and other parts of the world to fulfill your dreams. Antique Oriental rugs and carpets are notable for the wide variety of styles in which they are available, and Persian ones are among the most desirable. Whatever you are looking for, from room-size to area rugs, there is a Persian rug to suit your taste.

In this section we would love to scrutinize the subject of authentic Persian rugs and give you a detailed description of different oriental rug styles, their history, characteristics, as well as answer all the questions and doubts you might have in regard to antique Persian rugs for sale. If, after reading this article, you will still find yourself having inquiries about Oriental carpets in general, and Persian carpets in particular, do not hesitate to contact us by email or via telephone.

At Doris Leslie Blau, we approach the subject of carpets with passion and devotion as we all are under the spellbinding influence of masterful, hand-woven floor coverings from the East. Bearing this deep love for eternal beauty in our hearts, we are dedicated to spreading the knowledge about magnificent Oriental rugs in order to make people appreciate, but most importantly – understand – all complexities and stories woven into an intertwining warp and weft of each awe-inspiring Persian rug.

What is the Difference Between an Oriental Rug and a Persian Rug?

Antique Oriental Persian Tabriz Rug

First things first, we would like to clarify the terminology. The very word “Oriental” derives from the Latin word oriens meaning "east" (lit. "rising" < orior " rise"). The use of the word for "rising" in reference to the east (where the sun rises) has analogs from many languages. Today, the term “Oriental” refers mainly to the Far East, however, in the archaic usage it used to encompass also Middle and Near Eastern Areas. Thus, Oriental rugs are generally those that were created in Asia.

This is probably the largest family of floor coverings in the whole world. It contains Turkish rugs, Chinese Rugs, Moroccan Rugs, Indian Rugs, even Caucasian and Bessarabian rugs, and, of course Persian rugs. To sum up, a Persian carpet is always an Oriental rug yet not every Oriental carpet has to be a Persian rug.

History of Antique Persian Rug (also known as Antique Oriental Rug)

Antique Persian Tabriz Rug

The Golden Age of Persian carpet weaving occurred during the Safavid dynasty, when Shah Tahmasp (1524-1587) began establishing court factories for carpet production. Prior to this time, the production of rugs in the region was primarily a village craft, defined by use of simple rectilinear patterns. Following the Afghan invasion in 1722, there was a significant decline in Persian carpet production until the late nineteenth century when European demand for Persian rugs contributed to a major revival in the art form. Persian rugs designs can be divided into two main categories - city (formal) rugs, which were made in workshops, are known for their finely-woven and often intricate designs, and village rugs (informal), which are widely varied in their unique blends of city and nomadic motifs and techniques. The most important formal rugs come from Tabriz, Kashan, Kirman, Doroksh, Khorassan, Meshad, Tehran, and Sarouk and the most well-known villages included Malayer, Sarab, Bakhtiar, Bakshaish, Sultanabad, Bibikabad, Senneh, Fereghan, Heriz, Hamadan and Shiraz.

Antique Persian Rugs As the Gentility of Oriental Rugs

Antique Oriental Persian Tabriz Rug

Antique Persian rugs can most certainly be called the crème de la crème of all Oriental rugs. Among various types of Oriental rugs, the ones from Persia stand out quite substantially due to several unmistakable features. For centuries, their intricate and highly significant patterns have been achieved due to the application of the asymmetric knot, also known as the Persian knot or the Senneh knot, which allows a weaver to attain a higher knot density and thus, a more detailed design. Thanks to such expert craftsmanship, Oriental rugs from Persia developed some of the most iconic motifs. The Tree of Life symbolizing direct path from Earth to Heaven, opulent medallions, ornamental spandrels, meticulous floral or fruit patterns bearing many meanings, religious references, as well as animal representations and pictorial scenes, all belong to the magnificent repertoire of antique Persian rugs. Nevertheless, the proper application of color in Oriental rugs is equally important to the nuanced designs, and also carries an important message. Although authentic Persian rugs are characterized by an immense array of styles and color palettes, the most frequently used shades are beige or gold, blue and red. The “royal trio” stands consecutively for wealth, beauty and joy, and power as well as solitude – an allusion to the afterlife. If someone once falls under the spell of antique Persian carpets, he or she will never be able to break it as these fabulous Oriental rugs embody the essence of ultimate mastery, timeless beauty and upmost excellence. There are no modern utilitarian objects that would match the charm and mystery of antique Persian rugs.

Design of Antique Oriental Persian Rugs

In Persia, each region, and sub-region, has its own unique design iconography that has been handed down from one generation to the next ensuring that each is distinct and special despite a basic commonality of construction. The type of material used, the method of tying knots and the density of knots per inch, combined with specific design schemes all give a unique cultural fingerprint to each carpet or rug. These distinctions make the search for an antique Persian rug an exciting romp through Persian culture and history. Antique Persian carpets and vintage Persian carpets, among all the antique Oriental rugs available, are notable for their wide variety of styles. Whatever you are looking for from room-size rugs to antique area rugs, there is an antique, oriental or vintage rug to suit your taste. When you are in the market for an Persian rug you are not merely searching out old Persian carpets or just any antique silk rugs. An antique Persian rug’s price can vary tremendously depending on the quality of the original craftsmanship (looking at things like the complexity and importance of the design, the material used, the number of knots per inch, the current condition of the rug, etc.). Thus, a wise buyer does not simply search for antique Persian rugs on eBay, but relies on an expert guide in selecting the best quality and best fit to meet their unique needs without sacrificing value. After all, you don’t just want to find used Persian rugs; you want to find the quality and design that reflect your good taste.

So whether you are looking for a large, formal antique Persian rug crafted in a large city or a smaller Antique Persian nomadic rug, you are sure to find what you seek while searching through our inventory of Antique and vintage Persian rugs and carpets in New York City.

The Meaning of Medallions in Antique Persian Rugs

Antique Persian Rug with Medallion

Out of the plethora of designs appearing on antique Oriental rugs, a medallion is one of those common to all weaving centers across the entire Rug Belt. In the authentic Persian rugs, a medallion usually takes up the central part of the main field, sometimes supported by some minor ones at the sides. It is much different in case of, for instance, Turkish rugs, where the whole design can be composed of similar, repetitive medallions. In either case, the researchers and experts believe that the medallion stems from the very religious nature of the artisans, and that their inspiration probably came from the artwork and patterns of domes of the mosques. An interesting fact is that even if two carpets have basically the same design, no two medallions are ever exactly alike which even further supports the theory of the religious-related origins of the pattern. Medallions in antique Persian rugs bring order and symmetry, pleasing the eye with their curvilinear form and ultimate intricacy. They are the most crucial part of the floor covering as they take up the most eye-catching place on the pile, and the entire design revolves around them.

Miscellaneous Styles of Antique Persian Rugs

Antique Persian Rug

Antique Persian rugs constitute the largest, the most diverse and qualitative, as well as the most sought-after category of textiles. They are synonymous with masterful craftsmanship and the ultimate artistry, expressed through meticulous patterns, deeply rooted in the history and beliefs of the Orient. Each motif, line, dot or shade bears profound meaning. The face of every antique Oriental rug is in fact a story told by a skilled weaver, and to read it, one has to possess the knowledge about the meanings of particular elements of the rug, as well as the region of its making. It is worth noting that not all floor coverings with Persian motifs actually come from Persia. Some rugs featuring a ‘Persian design’ were woven elsewhere, like in the case of Indo-Persian rugs. These floor covering were woven in India with Persian patterns and construction elements. It’s a surprising fact that, despite the tribal wars, migrations, commercial influence and rebellions, the methods of rug weaving and the ways in which they are constructed used by different cultures have changed very little over time.

Magnificent and Diverse Persian Rugs from Tabriz

Persian Tabriz Rug

As Tabriz boasts probably the longest and the richest heritage of rug weaving, authentic Persian rugs coming from this weaving center stand among the greatest and the most diverse in the world. The history of carpet manufacturing in Tabriz reaches back to the 16th century when the region was ruled by the Safavid dynasty. Due to an exceptionally long existence of the weaving center, creations from Tabriz are hard to set apart from other Persian carpets in terms of designs, motifs and colorations. Over the years, Tabriz rugs have absorbed the features of practically all weaving schools, together with the influences from other cultures and countries dealing with the production of carpets that came along trade routes with merchants and travellers. Medallions, all-over classic motifs, including boteh, Göz, floral and foliage-related patterns, rectilinear forms, as well as curvilinear, scrolling designs, are within the abundant repertoire of Tabriz creations. Nonetheless, there is something that may help identify a rug from the centuries-long weaving center – it is the astounding quality measured in the units of knot density, also known as “raj”. In a Persian rug from Tabriz, the density may revolve around 110 raj. A Persian rug form Tabriz will surely be a stunning addition to a décor, introducing not only the artistic and utilitarian value but also the rich historical layer.

Unique Persian Rugs from Heriz

Antique Persian Heriz Rug with floral motif

Also known as Serapi rugs or Bakshaish rugs (they are regional cousins from northwest Persia, thus they share mutual origins), antique Persian rugs from Heriz are notorious for their masterful making, vivid and saturated color palettes, as well as strong, geometric designs. The distinct style of Heriz rugs consists of the classic configurations of splendid flower-head medallions, corner spandrels and multiple borders with angular vinery, stylized botanical and floral patterns and bold palmettes executed in a visibly geometric fashion, with the preservation of the refreshing simplicity of the line. The fact that authentic Persian rugs from Heriz come from developed and sophisticated city workshops did not change their firm tribal quality. One may encounter Heriz carpets with allover designs and imaginative interpretations of willow trees or ascending shield palmettes, This makes them reminiscent of the small antique Kazak rugs made by the Caucasian villagers in the north, although the creations from Heriz are distinguished by decisively larger formats. In terms of construction and thus, general condition and durability, Heriz rugs are extremely solid and dependable thanks to large knots and a special kind of wool applied to their making. The sheep living in the area, whose wool has always been used for the production of authentic Oriental rugs from Heriz, are drinking water with traces of copper which makes their fleece become stronger and exhibit a unique patina glow. The color palette of fabulous Heriz carpets is saturated and immense, including jewel tones of cherry red, navy blue and saffron yellow, pale terracotta, sea foam, powder blue and ivory, among others.

Luxurious Persian Rugs from Kashan

Oriental Rug from Kashan

If someone is looking for the crème de la crème of all antique Persian rugs, he has to turn his eyes towards the sublime Kashan creations. Located in the center of Iran in the Isfahan province, Kashan is one of the country’s oldest cities, in which carpets are known to have been made since at least the Sassanian Empire, 224 to 642 CE. Nonetheless, there are two major periods of rug production in Kashan distinguished by scholars, one during the Safavid reign in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in royal workshops and commercial weaving centers. The second one dates back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries under Qajar rule, primarily for export but also for the domestic market, to cater for the Persian upper class. Brilliant in their execution and worked out in the tiniest details, authentic Oriental carpets from Kashan belong to the most mesmerizing and qualitative rugs in the whole world, exceeding even the legendary Tabriz floor coverings. The fabulous Kashan rugs have remained practically unchanged since the 16th century, when the earliest pieces from the esteemed weaving center were meticulously hand-knotted for the members and the Royal Court of the Safavid dynasty. A substantial part of these outstanding carpets is made of high-quality wool on a soft cotton foundation with the addition of silk, or incorporate an entirely silk pile on a cotton foundation. However, the finest of all Kashan carpets are those made entirely of delicate silk, both the foundation and the pile. The pile is tightly knotted, with the knot density ranging from 100 to over 800 per square inch for the most majestic and valuable examples. Antique Persian carpets from Kashan are deeply rooted in the classic oriental art of design, incorporating popular motifs like central medallions with pendant systems, enhanced by corner spandrels, and repeating Persian floral compositions with the color palette concentrating on red, ivory blue and shades of green. Mohtashem, the most renowned weaver form the city, reached the peak of excellence and artistry, and his namesake rugs are considered the most exquisite of all. The astounding symmetry of such carpets can only be achieved by experienced craftsmen carefully following elaborate cartoons. Hand-woven in accordance with old and refined techniques by skilled artisans of the best materials and dyed with natural dyes only, the awe-inspiring rugs from Kashan are an investment that will only increase in value over time.

Mesmerizing Persian Carpets from Qum

Persian Carpet from Qum

Old age does not always indicate the rank of a given weaving center. Qum is great example of a not-so-aged place that is highly esteemed, and produces authentic Persian rugs sought-after by the collectors and art aficionados from all over the globe. Although Qum is a famous Persian pilgrimage city graced by impressive architectural monuments, it does not appear to have produced rugs before the 1920’s. The magnificent Oriental rugs from Qum ( also known as Qom rugs, Ghom rugs, or Ghum rugs) are distinguished by rather short piles as their primary destination was wall decoration instead of floor covering. The carpets are small to medium in size, and many are woven with luxurious silk, while others use very fine wool which is densely knotted making extremely decorative rugs that are often hung on proud owners' walls. The knot density is absolutely impressive with the count reaching astounding 400-860 knots per square inch. The wide variety of Qum designs is connected to the fact that the artisans, when starting the production, already had the access to the incredible and vast historical heritage of Persian rug craftsmanship. Among most frequently applied motifs there are medallions, flowers and vinery, spandrels, as well as various allover repetitive patterns, like boteh. Of exceptional value are Qum rugs bearing the labor-intensive and deeply symbolic classic motifs, such as the tree of life or the weeping willow. The color palette used in the Oriental rugs from Qum strongly relies on the characteristic Persian royal color trio – blue, red and gold or ivory – yet all colors know in oriental rug weaving appear. Qum carpets belong to the category of city rugs with curvilinear, flowing lines. They are definitely more adapted to the contemporary aesthetic standards as exhibit more moderation than traditional Persian floor coverings. An authentic Persian rug from Qum will be a perfect addition to any modern interior arrangement, ready to bring in the timeless elegance and ever-lasting charm of top-notch oriental art.

Sturdy Persian Rugs from Shiraz

Oriental Rug from Shiraz

A Shiraz carpet is a type of Persian rug executed in the villages surrounding the city of Shiraz, the capital of Fars province in the south. Shiraz is a very special town as it is located practically upon the old Persian Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The English word Persepolis is derived from Greek Persépolis (Περσέπολις), a compound of Pérsēs (Πέρσης) and pólis (πόλις), meaning "the Persian city" or "the City of the Persians". To the ancient Persians, the city was known as Pārsa, which is also the word for "Persia". Such venerable neighborhood had a beneficial impact on the very city of Shiraz and its development. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. It was the capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1800. Two famous poets of Iran, Hafez and Saadi, are from Shiraz, whose tombs are on the north side of the current city boundaries. Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature, wine (despite Iran being an Islamic republic), and flowers. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city, for example Eram Garden. The place permeated with such artistic and free-spirited influences was destined to issue mesmerizing and fascinating Persian rugs. The designs of Shiraz carpets tend to come from settled tribal weavers so they mimic Qashqai, Khamseh (Basseri and Khamseh Arabs), Afshar, Abadeh and Luri designs. Since the weavers are using fixed looms the rugs tend to be larger and often coarser than their tribal counterparts. Shiraz rugs are woven on a cotton or wool foundation with a woolen pile. These semi-nomadic rugs are almost always geometrical in style. Patterns tend to be small medallions or geometric figures scattered across the rugs. Strong reds and brown are the most typical color of Shiraz rugs. These Oriental carpets are extremely hard wearing and compliment wooden floors well. The average knot count in a Persian carpet from Shiraz is around 120 KPSI (knots per square inch) so they don’t belong to the most exquisite category of Oriental rugs. Nonetheless, they are distinguished by a firm and sturdy nature which translates to their incredible durability, ready to withstand years of constant usage. Simple but complex, coarse but delicate in their beauty – Shiraz rugs are an exceptional example of semi-tribal rugs full of paradoxes yet also full of charm. They will easily constitute a part of a contemporary interior, bringing in geometric orderliness and a distinct oriental vibe.

Sizes of Antique Persian Rugs

Antique Oriental Persian Rug

Authentic Persian rugs come in all sorts of colors and designs but also sizes. Each weaving center had its preferred style, and made floor coverings for different purposes, from small prayer rugs, through most common and popular medium carpets, to large pieces, destined for the rulers, the gentry and the most affluent parts of the society. Today, while choosing a floor covering to your own home, you should consider which size will suit you best and create the most practical and appealing foundation for the entire interior design. It is widely known by designers, architects and collectors that oriental carpets are not only a way of introducing color, patter and warmth into the décor but also that they are the best space definers. In the following sections we will present various sizes of antique Persian rugs and give you some food for thought in reference to the ideal rug dimension for your interior.

Large Persian Rugs

Large Persian Rug

Beauty of an authentic large Persian rug lays not only in its elegant design, but also great quality of its weave. A rug woven with wool, molded by country's mountainous climate, can survive more than 50 years with relatively little wear, provided it's being cared for properly. It would be an impossible task to find two big Persian rugs looking exactly the same. Large antique Persian rugs belong to probably the most prestigious bunch as they were usually made for the Royal Court, the nobility, as well as to serve as diplomatic gifts or for religious purposes. Such venerable destinations called for the execution by the most dexterous artisans from the best weaving centers. Large carpets include most rugs that are longer than 10 feet on one side. Some Persian rugs measure 12 feet by 18 feet or larger. These grand, highly qualitative textiles will feel perfect in ample rooms or as a part of a wall-to-wall arrangement.

Medium Persian Rugs

Antique Oriental Rug

Not too big, not too small – medium antique oriental rugs were produced by actually every weaving center. Due to that fact, their variety is immense and you may find a medium authentic Persian rug for sale in NYC in almost every existing weaving style, pile length and design. This freedom of choice, as well as practical aspects like the fact that they easily fit into contemporary apartments, make medium carpets the most frequently picked type by customers around the world. Whether it is a Heriz rug, a Tabriz rug, a Kashan rug, a Malayer rug, a Meshad rug, a Sultanabad rug, a Shiraz rug, a Sarouk rug, a Khorassan rug, a Kerman rug or a Bakhtiari rug, or any other kind of a Persian rug in New York City that you’re seeking, you’ll most definitely find in in medium size.

Small Persian Rugs

small Persian Rug

Although small antique Persian carpets come in a purely decorative version, many of them belong to the category of prayer rugs. What are these? For centuries, prayer rugs have served devoted Muslims for their daily worship routine consisting of 5 prayers which had to be performed kneeling down and prostrating in the direction of Mecca (according to Quran, a birthplace of the prophet Muhammad). Handy and portable, prayer rugs provided ideal insulation from the ground and a comfortable platform for the believers. Nowadays, they are usually treated as purely artistic objects, especially in the Western world. Nonetheless, small authentic Persian rugs not related to any religious rites are an ideal addition to interior décor. They may complement places in the house like a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen or even a vestibule, enhancing the design and creating tiny islands of palpable and visual pleasure.

Antique Persian Rugs and Oriental Carpets as an Early Form of Feminism

Antique Oriental Persian Rug

For the millennia of carpet manufacturing, weaving has mainly been a feminine occupation. Due to their diligence, patience, creativity and dexterity of fingers, women were assigned to the task of creating all sorts of textiles in small villages, nomadic tribes or large, trade-oriented weaving centers. Today we may not fully realize the importance of weaving, however in the past it was one of the most crucial crafts not only for the sake of beauty and comfort but also survival. In contrast to today’s application, antique Persian rugs in the past served many purposes, from mantle to bedding, floor covering being at the bottom of the list. They actually saved people’s lives providing warmth and shelter. Not to mention their symbolic layer, and a status of one of the most valuable gifts anyone could get.

As widely known, authentic Oriental rugs are saturated with meaning and their elaborate patterns tell entire stories, some treating on the matters of gods and kings, some conveying a blessing or providing protection, and some just expressing daily worries and vicissitudes of life of the artisan who made them. Suppressed by the patriarchal society and unable to speak out their mind in a wider circle, female weavers used to convey their worries, hopes, wishes and dreams to the looms while creating beautiful objects of utilitarian art. It led to the formation of a wide array of feminine motifs, present more frequently on village rugs rather than opulent city carpets. Below we present the classic ones, many of which can be found on decorative rugs from Persia.

Feminine Motifs on Antique Persian Rugs

Antique Oriental Persian Rug

First of all, there is the so-called “elibelinde” – hand on hips. This simplified representation of a female body, strongly connected to the cult of a mother goddess, stands for motherhood and fertility – the two aspects most crucial for the women of the past who were thought to be solely responsible for the success in providing the offspring.

“Sacbagi” means the “hair band”. In decorative Oriental rugs it reveals a woman’s desire to get married. In Eastern cultures, a hair band is a significant item worn a bride at a wedding ceremony. It may be made of wool, doubly twisted silk thread, horse hair, sea shells, beads, black laces, metal threads, such as gold or silver, and corals. The newly wedded girls braid their hair and tie each braid with a thread in different shades called “belik”. However, there is one more, much deeper aspect of the application of Sacbagi in antique Persian rugs. If in such a carpet a woman interweaves a lock of her hair, she communicates her desire for immortality.

“Kupe” signifies earrings. These pieces of jewelry are also related to the martial matters as they constitute a mandatory wedding present in the East. If a woman puts the “kupe” motif in a floor covering , she gives her relatives a clear signal that she is ready and willing to get a husband.

“Sandikili” represents a chest. This motif on antique Oriental carpets stands for a trousseau chest of a future wife. Sandikili is read as hopes and expectations of a bride to be in regard to her life after the wedding ceremony in a new home – that’s because all the goods and belongings inside of the chest are going to be used in the husband’s home. Very often similar motifs are carved on dowry chests and cradles, which makes Sandikili acquire yet another meaning – a desire to have a baby.

An Exceptional Collection of Antique Persian Rugs and Oriental Rugs for Sale in New York City

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