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Area Rugs

Area rugs have been popular since the first prehistoric cave dweller placed a saber-tooth tiger skin at the cave entrance to allow its odor to ward off predators. During the dark ages and the Renaissance, area rugs came of age as castle dwellers used them for decoration, sound reduction, and thermal insulation warming cold stone floors.

Woven rugs crafted during the Renaissance are more sought after than paintings by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci. Many of these creations are priceless. A number of these highly prized creations have survived for hundreds of years.

Even rugs sold today represent an unusual investment potential because they continue to increase in value as they age. Many rugs as little as 50 years old are worth several thousand times their original purchase price. These rugs are an exception to the principle that an item must be 100 years old to be considered an antique. The market for antique rugs continues to grow and current design trends, making new rugs more popular, are beginning to sharply drive up prices.

Rugs are typically thought to have two developmental sources of origin: Asian and Western European. The Asian developmental style can be tied to China, central Asia, the middle east, Turkey, north Africa, and India. While a number of distinctive styles exist within these geographic regions each of these styles share basic style similarities that have remain unchanged for centuries. Rug designs are typically described geographically by a city, town, or region where they were produced. Rugs such as Persian, Turkish, Caucasian, Turkoman, Indian, or Chinese became synonymous with rug styles. Varieties within these groups may be named for towns in the various weaving districts--often for their marketing centers. Persian rugs such as the Khorassan, Meshed, Herat, Shiraz, Kirman, Tabriz, Senna, Sarouk, Herez, Hamadan, Sultanabad, and Ispahan were all named for market centers.

These shared characteristics of Asian origin include rectangular shape and a pattern consisting of a border and a field. The oldest known Asian rug dates back to 400 B.C. and originated in Siberia. Persian rugs, which are among the most exquisite, originated about a thousand years later around 1300 A.D.

Around 1500 A.D. the design of Persian rugs began to dramatically change with more intricate, colorful designs and a more balanced pattern effect. This classical period of Persian rug design continued for more than 150 years with some of the most beautiful rugs ever created. Many of these creations displayed a central medallion or floral pattern with a three-dimensional design effect. These rugs were made almost exclusively of wool, though some cotton, jute, and silk was utilized in Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The hair of animals--including goats, camels, and alpacas--was used in other areas.

The creation of Western rugs was thought to have originated in Spain, when Oriental rugs were carried to Europe by the Saracen (moors) conquerors of Spain and by the returning Crusaders. The Spanish were the first Europeans to make hand-tied pile rugs. Other events such as the travels of Marco Polo and the Crusades were thought to stimulate demand for these treasures.

Throughout history, Turkey has produced some of the most beautiful creations, but Turkish rug making has declined significantly since the 1920's.

Hand-woven rugs also are produced in Central Asia in countries such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan, formerly within the Soviet Union. Styles include the Bokhara, Tekke, Yomud, Sarouk, and Salor. Samarkand rugs are woven in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Numerous beautiful creations are being manufactured in Nepal (Katmandu), the birthplace of Buddha, however with the Maoist uprising in Nepal, India's sovereignty claim over portions of this province, and failure to negotiate a trade agreement with India, the economy has been disrupted and weaving and export of these beautiful handmade rugs has declined. Rugs made within these regions command top investment dollar due to rug quality, beauty of design. and scarcity of supply, but these rugs tend to increase in value more quickly than other collectible rugs.

Area Rugs have always been a part of history, whether they be myth or fact. Before King Solomon built the temple with his inheritance from his father, Kind David (remember David and Goliath?), he reportedly purchased the Magical Carpet of Tangu. This magic carpet was used to transport King Solomon and his court to anyplace requested.

Area rugs, also where used as saddles and they (and the horses that bore them), were highly valued in the Persian culture. Upon the horses death, these wonderful rugs were buried with bearer as a semblance of honor and gratitude for the beast and its service. Those who believed in the afterlife or rebirth believed that these valuable rugs could be used as a dowry for the rebirth of this animal in its next human shape and earthly journey.

During the middle ages, rugs became a part of the ceremony in which Knights were awarded their title as they knelt on these valuable rugs. The rugs became a part of the Knights most treasured possessions or "trophy's". These rugs were used as saddles, bed rolls, packaging for food for a long journey, or they were locked away as cherished possessions for the Knight upon returning from great battles.

The red carpet was viewed as a sign of honor and position. Initially, rugs were used more as tapestries or wall coverings Many believed Rugs to be so valuable that one should never wipe their feet on something of such great value. The use of the red carpet as a floor mat was used to honor an individual by allowing the individual to walk on a treasure of such great value. This time honored ceremony remains in existence today.

Rugs have always been considered a valuable asset and numerous other examples can be cited of their honored place in history. In buying area rugs, consider the rug as being more than simply a floor covering. Consider it as an investment purchase that will increase in value. In decorating with area rugs, consider purchasing your area rugs first, and use the rug as the centerpiece of your design plan.

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Types of Persian Tribal Rugs

Baluch Rugs

These are tribal hand-woven rugs made in the southern part of Iran by nomadic Baluch tribes. These people are very kind and simple and weave these rugs mainly to express themselves and follow an ancient Persian tradition, which dates back 2500 years. Colors of Baluch rugs are usually predominantly a rich burgundy with some navy and ivory. They frequently have either an overall pattern, or a prayer rug design. Any Baluch Persian rug is one of a kind and has absolutely no duplicates anywhere.

Bakhtiari Rugs

Bakhtiari Rugs are woven in the province of Chahar Mahal-and-Bakhtiari located in west central Iran. These rugs are mainly woven by villagers and to a lesser extent nomads of the area. Bakhtiari style, like most Persian styles, is copied by other areas of Iran as well as other countries such as India, China and Pakistan. The pattern of Bakhtiari rugs tends to be mostly geometric, sometimes semi-geometric, and seldom curvilinear. What distinguishes Bakhtiari rugs from other rugs is that they are colorful and bright; their design also tends to be very crowded. The commonly used colors include deep reds, bright blues, navy, green, brown, ocher, and beige. The most common Bakhtiari design is a paneled garden design which consists of square, rectangular, diamond, or hexagon compartments filled with a floral motif such as a willow tree, a cypress tree, a bush, a grapevine, a vase containing flowers, or a bird sitting on a branch. Sometimes one motif repeats in several compartments; other times a motif is only seen in one compartment. Every compartment has a different motif and color from its neighboring compartments. It is possible to see the above motifs in all-over layouts without the panels as well. In addition to the famous panelled design, large medallions resembling Heriz medallions, vase, all-over boteh, and tree-of-life can also be found in Bakhtiari rugs. Runners especially with vertical stripes of small boteh are common as well.

Bakhtiari rugs are mostly woven with the symmetric (Turkish) knot although in Shahr-e-Kurd, the capital city of the Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari province, weavers use the asymmetric (Persian) knot. Even though Bakhtiari rugs are usually marketed under Bakhtiari, sometimes they may be sold under the specific village name where they are woven such as Chahal Shotur, Saman, or Farah Dumbah. The very fine-knotted Bakhtiari rugs are sometimes referred to as Bibibaffs, which means "woven by a woman" in Persian.

Borchelu Rugs

Some of the most beautiful tribal carpets are made in a Kurdish nomadic district of Northwestern Iran called Borchelu. The bright colors and nature elements are typical of tribal rug design from this area of Iran. The color scheme is usually many shades of reds and burgundies predominantly, with some blues, greens, or ivories. A rug such as this takes a nomadic woman, usually working with her oldest daughter, several months of concentrated weaving to complete. The Borchelu collection of rugs are all individually unique and one of a kind.

Gabbeh Rugs

The Gabbeh is a very unique hand-woven tribal Persian rug, made by nomadic people in Southern Iran. This rugs distinct style of weaving is especially suitable for modern or contemporary settings. It combines thick, heavy pile with bold colors and shapes in unusual and exciting combinations. Gabbeh designs are extremely simple and uncluttered with large fields, bold stripes and geometric human or animal shapes that seem more sophisticated than primitive. The Gabbeh is often a favorite of many contemporary designers because of its beauty and utmost simplicity.

Hamadan Rugs

Beautiful tribal hand-woven Persian rugs are made in the city and in the surrounding area of Hamadan in Northwestern Iran. Hamadans are quite durably constructed due to the rugged wool spun from hardy sheep in the higher, cooler altitudes. The patterns vary in rugs from this city from geometric, to floral or overall Herati designs. Hamadan is an important city in the carpet industry because along with its many surrounding villages, it produces countless numbers of floor pieces that are all unique and remarkable in their own way. Hamadans can often be recognized because they have a fringe only on one end this is because the weft threads are looped over the top bar, rather than tied off one by one.

Heriz Rugs

Tribal hand-woven rugs are produced by Azerbaijan Turkish inhabitants of the city of Heriz in Northwestern Iran. They are famous among designers because of their soft earth tone colors and geometric pattern. While no two Heriz carpets are identical, they generally tend to have a recognizable similarity. Most have a large central medallion embedded within a lighter field, and the main color scheme of the rug is usually some shade of rust. Rugs made in this area are highly prized for their marvelous design and sturdiness. Their charm lies mainly in the balance of the colors. Today, some of the largest carpets produced in Iran are from Heriz.

Smaller sizes are rare for this group. The richly textured pile of Heriz rugs is deep and robust and the theme isn't too overwhelming.

Hussainabad Rugs

These are tribal rugs that are handwoven by the semi-nomadic peoples of northern Iran in a village near Hamadan by the name of Hussainabad. They usually have an intricate pattern with a detailed central medallion. The coloring is predominantly shades of red, navy blue, and ivory. Both geometric and floral patterns are seen in rugs of this type. The quality of these rugs is fairly good and they are made with very soft wool making them very pleasant to walk on.

Kurds Rugs

Kurdish carpets are woven throughout Persia (Iran), but more so in the central northwestern mountainous regions. Although all were initially from the same origin, the Kurds migrated to all areas of Iran and established colonies and tribes from the west to the east, and from the north to the south. Traces of Kurdish people can now be seen in all the provinces of the nation. They helped form a great portion of the population. They then formed other tribes with different names, but their roots were still Kurdish. The Kurdish presence has therefore had a great influence in the design and style of Persian carpet making. A few of the Kurdish tribes of the western regions include the Herki, Senjabi, Gurani, Jaffid, and Kalhors. A few major Kurdish carpet producing centers are Senneh, Bidjar, and the district of Khamseh. Some other Kurdish villages and districts that produce rugs are Borchelu, Goltogh, Khoi, Koliai, Lylyan, Mousel, Nanadj, Songhore, Touserkan, and Zagheh. The Kurds are well established and historic semi-nomadic and/or nomadic peoples of Iran who date back thousands of years. Many other major rug producing centers of Iran, such as Hamadan, Lorestan, or even Arak show obvious traces of Kurdish influence. Sometimes they incorporate the style and techniques of the Turkish people of Iran, who are also very widespread. The Kurds are a very peaceful and gentle group who prefer their simple nomadic lives to the frustrations of the modern technological world.

Luri Rugs

Luri rugs are tribal Persian rugs made by nomadic Luri people of the province of Luristan, in western Iran. These people are descendants of the Kurds, and their weaving styles and designs are incredibly similar to theirs. The rugs are more than often characterized by the bright and lively colors that they incorporate. The Luri carpets often have traditional floral patterns, but geometric ones are also seen. These rugs were not originally made to sell commercially. Rather, women who wove them were following an ancient custom that provides tribal families with hand-woven articles of practical value such as floor coverings, blankets, storage bags, saddle blankets, and financial security in case of future harsh times.

Malayer Rugs

Malayer belongs within the Hamadan district, lying 30 miles south of Hamadan and 75 miles north of Arak. Malayer has produced carpets with some characteristics of both areas. They produce predominantly single wafted rugs- but which are often much finer than the Hamadan. In towns and villages southeast of Malayer, carpets are finer and double wefted and resemble the design of Sarouks made in the neighboring Arak district sometimes with symmetrical knots at 120KPSI).

Qashqai Rugs

The QashqaI speak a Turkic dialect similar to that of Azerbaijan and there is evidence that they are at least partially Seljuk remnants who entered Fars from the north in the 13th Century- possibly to avoid the Mongols. Qashqai weavers have the best reputation of the craftsmen in Fars, although their output is only a small part of the region. Qashqai rugs are all wool- usually with ivory colored warps and often with dark or red-dyed wefts, The Qashqai uses the asymmetric knot and only Gabbehs are symmetrically knotted. Their Carpets have alternately deeply depressed warps red wefts and a fine weave. The edges are most often finished with a barber-pole selvage, and a kelim at both ends is common.

Senneh Rugs

Senneh rugs are made in Sanandaj, formerly known as Senneh, the capital city of the province of Kurdistan in northwest of Iran. Ironically, the asymmetrical knot also known as Persian or Senneh knot was named after this city even though the symmetrical (Turkish) knot is the type of knot frequently used in Senneh rugs. Senneh weavers tend to weave mostly smaller rugs as well as runners, high quality kelims, and saddlebags. It is unfortunate that only a limited number of these fine rugs are now made and reach the market. These rugs are made in villages as well as workshops. The foundation is almost always cotton and the pile wool, with the exception of some antique rugs which have silk foundations.

Although rugs of Senneh are similar to Bijar rugs and rugs of other Kurdish tribes, in some ways, they still have their own distinguishing characteristics. The pattern of Senneh rugs is almost always geometric.

The most common motif seen in Senneh rugs is the herati motif. Often this motif is woven in an all-over layout. However, the most common Senneh design is herati motifs in a medallion layout. The medallions are usually hexagons, sometimes with steps. These medallions are often concentric, smaller medallions within larger ones. At times the largest medallion covers the entire field. Sometimes the whole field (including all the medallions) is covered with herati motifs, and sometimes the medallions are either solid or filled with the boteh motif.

Another version of this design consists of several vertically connected medallions. These connected medallions filled with herati or boteh motifs are usually inside a long mutli-sided shape which is often in a solid color. In both medallion designs, the medallions often have pendants similar to arrows or anchors. Another design woven by Senneh weavers is an all-over boteh.

The most common background colors used in Senneh rugs are cherry red, navy, black, brown, ocher and beige. The frequently used motif colors are yellow, red, light green, orange and white.

Shiraz Rugs

Shiraz is an ancient city in central Iran, which produces a very warm and comfortable series of handmade Persian rugs. The designs are very simple and favored by many people who appreciate the warmth of a tribal carpet. The theme of the rugs seem more sophisticated than primitive. They are often somewhat crudly done with the pile cut long (shaggy). However, some of the older Shiraz carpets are extremely finely done. They are never too overwhelming in their designs or color schemes- with a predominance of red as the main field color. Along with geometric motifs, small animals or plants are often seen in parts of these rugs. The selvages are almost always done with a barber-pole effect using two colors.

Sirjan Rugs

Sirjans (or Sirjands) tribal rugs are made in the district of Sirjan, which is located in the great province of Fars, in southern Iran. The designs are very simple and favored by many people who don't like the more detailed and busy city rugs. The theme of their rugs, often seems more sophisticated than primitive. They are never too overwhelming in their designs or color schemes. Along with geometric motifs, small animals or plants are often seen in parts of these rugs.

Tarom Rugs

Tarom is a small village in Northern Iran's Gilan province. It is situated just east of Rashte. Each year, Tarom produces a fair amount of handmade Persian rugs. The quality in Tarom rugs is fairly good and they have been known to last a very long time. Tarom usually makes geometric styles, and floral patterns are rarely made. The rugs of Tarom are very close in appearance to the rugs of Zanjan. The semi-nomadic makers of these rugs weave these rugs in a very primitive and simple manner. The colors in a Tarom rug may be any combination of salmon, baby blue, and navy blue. Reds are very rarely seen in Tarom rugs.

Wiss Rugs

Handmade Persian tribal rugs are also made in the village of Wiss, which is just near Hamedan. The patterns of the Wiss rugs are similar to those of the rugs made in Hamedan. They also bear a resemblance to rugs from Arak and Tabriz. They usually have traditional dense floral patterns with vases, foliage, palmettes, and garden elements scattered throughout the rug. The Wiss is a very high quality rug, and perhaps a better quality than most of the rugs from the surrounding area. They usually have lively and rich colors with a dark shade of red or burgundy being the main one. There is also navy blues, greens, and many other colors as a small accent to the rugs.

Zanjan Rugs

Zanjan (or Zenjan) is a northwest province of Iran. It produces many beautiful tribal rugs, by nomadic Persian tribes in such districts as Kelardasht, and Sauj Bulagh (modern Mahabad). Zanjan means ideal wife. The colors of these rugs are usually very bright and lively.

Did you know?

There are many more types of rugs than oriental rugs. Some area rugs are truly treasures. Many of these area rug treasures may be 75 years old or more, with numerous, priceless area rugs being several hundred years old. These are not rugs that are used simply for wiping your feet, however. In buying area rugs, make sure you know the carpet fiber content, because some area rug fibers require special carpet cleaning considerations. For an area rug price quote from area rug wholesalers, visit our area rug price quotes section.

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