Title rug

Decorative Rugs From Persia and Their Mysteries: Part 3

Decorative rugs exude a unique, venerable vibe reserved exclusively to objects of great historic value. They are so much more than mere utilitarian objects – they are works of mesmerizing art with profound significance hiding within the intertwining warp and weft.

Each color, motif and pattern constitutes a part of the bigger picture. Decorations on rugs, next to their primordial, strictly aesthetic function, are components of magnificent stories told by our ancestors by means of threads and looms. The series of post about decorative rugs is here to help you understand the amazing intricacies of decorative carpets, and allow you to read them like a book on oriental history.

Feminine motifs on Oriental decorative rugs

One of the most fabulous aspects of oriental decorative rugs is that they were means of expression for women suppressed by patriarchal society. Unable to speak out their mind in a wider circle, female weavers (which constituted the majority of all weavers) poured their fears, hopes and blessing to meticulous rug designs. It led to the creation of a vast array of feminine motifs which are frequent guests on all oriental carpets, although most of them is easier found on village carpets and kilims than on opulent Persian rugs.

The most classic and recognizable is the so-called “elibelinde” – hand on hips. It is a simplified representation of a female body referring to the cult of a mother goddess. Decorative rugs with elibelinde stand for motherhood and fertility – the two aspects women have always been accounted for.

“Sacbagi” – the “hair band” expresses a woman’s desire to get married. In oriental cultures, a hair band is an artifact used by a bride in 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”. There is one more aspect of Scabagi in decorative rugs – if a woman uses some of her hair in weaving, she communicates her desire for immortality.

“Kupe”— earrings, are also connected to the subject of marriage as they are an obligatory wedding present in the East. If a woman uses the “kupe” motif in a decorative rug, she is trying to tell her relatives that she’s ready and willing to get married.

“Sandikili” – a chest, in general symbolizes the trousseau chest of a wife to be. All the goods and belongings inside of the chest are going to be used in the husband’s home, thus, the Sandikili reflects the hopes and expectations of the future bride regarding her life after the wedding ceremony. Very often similar motifs are carved on dowry chests and cradles, which imbues Sandikili with yet another meaning – a desire to have a baby.

Feminine and Masculine Motifs on Oriental Decorative Rugs

Some motifs show both feminine and masculine traits. “Bereket” is one of the most beautiful themes on oriental decorative rugs symbolizing fertility. It is a combination of double elibelinde (“hands on hips”) motif with a double “kocboynuzu” –ram’s horn, signifying masculine power. Together, they denote a man and a woman, who desire to be fertile and have children. The eye motif in the middle of the composition is used to protect the family against the evil eye.

Finally, there is Ask ve Birlesim. It is a symbol of dualism inherited from Far East (there it is known under the name of yin and yang). On decorative Oriental rugs, the theme symbolizes love and union, the harmony between a man and a woman. It is composed of two opposing colors, each having a dot of the other color within, indicating that in nature everything is connected and one thing cannot exist without the other. It also communicates that the world is never entirely pure or free of error but that is the order of things.

decorative antique rug - persian kirman, blue, botanical
antique decorative carpet - persian kilim, brown, geometric