A Brief History of Tribal Persian Rug Designs

Carpet weaving has always been an important part of Persian culture and art for centuries and among all the regions in Asia that produce hand woven rugs, Persian rugs are known for the variety and complexity of their designs.

In the past, Persian rugs were initially woven by nomadic tribes, in villages and towns, and even in the royal court. So, depending on where they were made, rugs represented different traditions, as well as the history of Iran and the different peoples who live there.

For example, the carpets woven in the Safavid court of Isfahan, a centrally located province in Iran, during the 1500s are particularly noted for their sophisticated variety of colors and artistic design. These rugs are important artifacts in museum and private collections all over the world. The design of these rugs is part of a tradition extending for the entire life of the Persian Empire, and extending up to today.

Dallas Persian rug cleaner

Detail of a Safavid court rug. Created in the 16th century.

Carpets woven in places such as Tabriz, Kerman, Mashhad, Kashan, Isfahan, Nain, and Qom are noted for their unique weaving techniques, colors and patterns, as well as for the high quality of the materials they use. Rug makers in places such as Tabriz have been responsible for keeping the tradition of rug weaving alive during periods of historical decline.

Rugs that have been woven by different Iranian tribes all use high quality wool, radiant and intricate colors, and showcase their unique traditional patterns.

Weavers from small villages make rugs with simpler, livelier designs, which contrast with the more complex and planned out designs of the larger manufacturers.

The artistic quality of Persian rugs has suffered during certain periods in history, especially during periods of social unrest or change. One example of this was when synthetic dyes were introduced during the 1850s.

Today, carpet weaving is still an integral part of the Iranian economy. Today’s craftsmen have revived the traditional styles of using natural dyes and traditional tribal patterns, combining these with newer and innovative designs. However, the rugs are still woven by hand using techniques that were perfected hundreds of years ago.

Tribal carpets are produced by different ethnic groups with their own unique histories and traditions. They each have their own distinct knots, warps and wefts, selvages, ends and colors.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of Persian and Oriental rug designs, visit our showroom in Dallas. We’d love to show you some of their gorgeous designs and explain the history and meaning behind them.

Call us 972-733-0400 to make an appointment.

Image by Safavid court manufacture, Persia, 16th century (Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons