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Oriental Rug Designs


Designs are taken from nature, mountains, animals, the sky, plants and imaginative design. Today the designs are done on graphic paper .The carpet weavers construct the rug by following the pattern. The person weaving a nomad rug may well raise the sheep, shear, spin and dye the wool, as well as design and weave the rug. Most nomadic rugs use geometrical motifs common to their particular ethnic heritage. In these communities, where women are the weavers, carpets are woven as treasures to be dowry pieces or to mark the birth of a child.



Country rugs are usually woven of locally available material.Many Rug Weavers,for instance , use cotton for the warp and weft of the rugs they make (cotton is less elastic than wool, and it is easier to weave a straight and flat rug on cotton foundation).Country rugs are often less tightly knotted than city rugs. Typically,their designs are more simply drawn,and are often hold and geometrical designs


Semi-nomadic pastoraalists like some Balouch and Afghan, however, use wool for their warp and weft because they do not produce cotton themselves.

Country rugs often use fewer colors (five or six) than city rugs, and some country rugs still use vegetable dyes like madder and indigo.



City rugs are often more self-conscious rugs: The weaver is making the rug to sell, and so chooses colors and design not so much on the basis of what is traditional, but on what is likely to sell in the market.


City rugs are often the product of very specialized labor. Where as the country weaver might build the loom, prepare and dye the wool, decide on the design, and weave and wash the rug, these functions are usually performed by different people in the city. Often there is an entrepreneur who hires designers, graphic makers, dyers, weavers, and washers to make especially high quality rugs, rugs which would take too long to weave and involve too much investment for a weaver working all alone.


The City rugs are often very tightly knotted with very intricate patterns of many colors (more than ten) There is a lincage between the number of knots per sq in in the rug and the thickness of the pile: if a rug is very tightly knotted with an intricate design, the weaver usually clips the nap short so that the pattern appears better.



A field is the large area in the center of the rug containing the main pattern and designs. The color on which the design is arranged is called the field color. The field patterns can be broadly classified into seven categories:


  1. Medallion: They may appear in many different styles, sizes and number. A central medallion may be superimposed on a field that is either left empty or filled with a repeated motif or an overall pattern.
  2. Repeated Motif: A rug is said to have a repeated motif design when the field is filled with multiple rows of the same motif. This type of design is often found combined with the medallion design.
  3. Allover Pattern: The allover pattern has a field filled with a number of motifs that are neither a repeated nor a regimented form. The pattern may contain palmmettes and flowers along with a network of wines and tendrils as in the famous Shah Abbas pattern. Alternatively a vase, tree, garden and other patterns may be also used.
  4. Open Field: Open field rugs contain a large expanse of a solid color in the field surrounded by a series of borders. Open field design rugs are frequently produces in Talish, Kazak, Tibet, Nepal and Sultanabad, etc.
  5. Panel: The field of a panel design rug contains compartmentalize design divided into square, rectangular, onion dome, diamond shaped, lattice or trellis patterns. Besides these, a variety of motifs like flowers, trees, buteh, stars, palmettes, etc. may also be used.
  6. Portrait: Portrait rugs began to appear by the end of the 18th century. In these, the field depicts landscapes, historic monuments or events, scenes from daily life or folk-lore and even copies of famous European paintings.
  7. Prayer: Prayer rugs often have a prayer niche (mehrab) or arch at the top of the field. Religious motifs like stars and urns may also appear. The designs may be curvilinear or rectilinear depending upon where the rug was woven.


Some popular motifs used in oriental rugs are booteh, herati, Zil-i-Sultan, Mina Khani, Gul-i-Henna, Gul-i-Franc, Gul and Memling Gul.
The borders of an oriental rug are made of series of bands running along its perimeter, surrounding the field. The bands may number upto ten or more. They usually consist of repeated motifs like flower, rosettes, stars and geometric motifs etc. They occasionally may contain inscriptions in Persian, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Arabic or other scripts depicting poem, prayer, dedication or even the signature of the weaver.

The edges are usually the longer sides of the rugs. They are finished in either of two ways, selvedge or overcast, to create a durable finish. As mentioned earlier, an overcast is a group of warps wrapped with a separate thread in circular fashion creating a rounded finish. A selvedge is a single terminal warp or a cord formed of various terminal warps is wrapped with the weft threads, forming an edge. In some areas, the terminal warp threads are not wrapped by the wefts during the weaving process. Instead, the side cord is added after the rug has been woven and removed from the loom. A single cord is sewn on to the side of the rug. A point to be noticed here is that in such cases, the edges rarely  matches perfectly.


The two shorter sides of the rug are usually referred to as the ends of the rugs. They may contain a flat woven area anywhere from an inch to a foot deep. These are often the first parts of the rug to show wear and tear
The fringe is the exposed end of the warp, extending out of the ends. It may be woven into flat area, or knotted, or braided, often in an unusual way. In some rugs, the fringe may appear only on one end of the rug.