Rug Image, Patterns, Motifs, and Symbol Meanings

Rug Image, Patterns, Motifs, and Symbol Meanings

Persian Rug Patterns
Learn How to “Read” a Rug

Rug Image, Patterns, Motifs, and Symbols Meaning

By learning the meanings of Persian rug patterns, you will be able to “read a rug” and understand what the weaver wants to tells you. The names of Persian rug patterns are derived from the city, village, or tribe where particular designs were first woven or traded. Every handmade rug is unique, but all draw inspiration from the patterns, motifs, and symbols described below. Get to know your Persian rug and dive into the history and beauty of these original pieces.

Geometry in Persian Rugs

Geometrically patterned Persian carpets, woven by nomadic tribes, are decorated with linear elements composed of vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, and are formed by a repetition of the same motif. The motif of a carpet can be used to determine the particular tribe, or place of origin.

A pattern, whether in nature or art, relies upon three characteristics: a unit, repetition, and a system of organization. The units of a pattern repeat predictably.

Symmetry is a fundamental organizing principle in nature and in culture. The analysis of symmetry allows for understanding the organization of a pattern, and provides a means for determining both variance and change.

By varying relationships within patterns where symmetry is expected, otherwise predictable and repetitive styles may be transformed into great works of art.

These variations in design occur in the two main parts of the rug: The field, or ground, and the borders, which frame the interior (the field of the carpet). Designs fall into two different categories: curvilinear and rectilinear.

The most common motif for Persian rugs, especially the larger ones, is a large central medallion. Yet, even if two carpets have basically the same design, no two medallions are ever exactly the same in a handmade rug. Some experts believe that the medallion designs stem from the very religious nature of the weavers and that their inspiration probably came from the artwork and patterns of the domes of mosques. Symbols and motifs in Persian Rugs

Rug Meaning
Rug Meaning
Symbols and motifs meaning


Persian Rug Patterns Classifications and Characteristics

1 – Historic Monuments & Islamic Buildings:
Inspired by tile-work, structure, and geometric shapes of ancient buildings.
Some Sub Patterns: Sheikh Lotfollah, Mehrabi Kufi, Kabood Mosque, Sheikh Safi Shrine, Zire Khaki

2 –  Shah Abbassi: A special flower, known as Shah Abbassi, set-off by other floral Persian rug patterns and leaves.
Some Sub Patterns: Allover, Medallion,Tree, Animal, Sheikh Safi, Embellished Shah Abbassi

3 – Spiral: Spiraling branches around leaves. The end of each branch splits to resemble the jaws of a dragon.
Some Sub Patterns: Allover Spiral, Interconnected Spiral, Broken Spiral, Medallion Spiral

4 – Allover: All parts of the pattern are interconnected and usually drawn without the designer’s hand ever being lifted.
Some Sub Patterns: Khatai, Interconnected, Pomegranate Flower, Animal, Twisted Branch, Medallion

5 – Derivative: Patterns of neighboring regions, similar to Persian rug patterns originally woven in Persia.
Some Sub Patterns: Afghani, Caucasian, Gobelin

6 – Interconnected (Bandi): A small piece of design is repeated and connected throughout the carpet.
Some Sub Patterns: Ivy, Katieh, Mudbrick, Diamond, Tree, Milk, Sugar, Armlet, Cedar, Bakhtiari, Majlessi, Rope

7 – Paisley: Head-bent paisley (common in Indian and Iranian patterns)
Some Sub Patterns: Tufted, Deer Horn, Termeh, Saraband, Kherghei, Isfahan Pencase, Kordestani, Eight-bush

8 – Tree: Distinctive for their close resemblance to natural tree forms.
Some Sub Patterns: Animal, Green Field, Panel, Cedar, Vase

9 – Torkeman (Bokharas): Geometrical shapes & broken lines. (usually derived from the weaver’s imagination, not a drawing)
Some Sub Patterns: Gabbeh, Yamouti, Comb, Ghazel Gos, Akhal, Four-Panel, Saddlebag, Spoon

10 – Hunting Ground: Life-like animals
Some Sub Patterns: Tree, Panel, Medallion, Allover

11 – Panel: Multi-sided panel motif
Some Sub Patterns: Spiral, Koran, Column

12 – European Flower: Original Persian designs with roses in light and dark colors.
Some Sub Patterns: Rose, Bijar, Mostowfi, Panel, Bouquet, Rose and Nightingale

13 – Vase: A single large vase, or a smaller vase repeated throughout the carpet.
Some Sub Patterns: Khatai, Two-Way, Mehrabi, Allover, Chain, Haji Khanom, Repeate, Scar Medallion, One-Way

14 – Intertwined Fish: Originally a product of nomadic tribes and enriched by modern designers.
Some Sub Patterns: Herat, Farahan, Beehive, Senneh, Kurdestan, Tiny, Fragmented

15 – Mehrab: Representation of the place in a mosque where the prayer leader stands. Ornamented with pillars, chandeliers & floral Persian rug patterns.
Some Sub Patterns: Tree, Vase-Column, Chandelier, Vase, Landscape

16 – Striped (Moharramat): Repeated stripes running the length of the carpet, each stripe with its own motif and color.
Some Sub Patterns: Overall Pencase,Tiny Flower (one background color) Paisley (multiple background colors)

17 – Geometric: Lines and geometrical shapes (polygons, etc.)
Some Sub Patterns: Connected Panel, Medallion, Striped, Scarf Medallion, Plain Ground, Khatai, Star (Mosaic)

18 – Tribal: Oldest & most original Persian rug patterns. Simple creations of tribal imagination, inspired by natural surroundings.
Some Sub Patterns: Heibatloo, Ghashghai Paisley, Afshari, Khatouni, Ardabil, Mazlaghan, Khamseh, Saveh, Tafresh

19 – Composites: A composite of two or more of the above patterns

Some Sub Patterns: Twisted Branch Medallion, Chanin Medallion, Interconnected Vase & Spiral, Green Field, etc.

If you are interested in a rug with a specific pattern, call 972-733-0400 or request it! 

You can also learn more about the world of Persian rugs by reading our simple handbook.

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