Styles, Countries, and Cities

Style and Producers

Style is the way different motifs (a form or a related forms making part of the design) colors and patterns give some characters to a rug. Many styles or sub-styles may be made in their place of origin as well as different countries or areas.



To look at a Persian carpet is to gaze into a world of artistic magnificence nurtured for more than 2,500 years. When we think of Persian rugs, we usually think of intricate curvilinear designs; however, Persian styles are the most diverse styles worldwide. There are many different Persian styles woven in Iran and other countries such as India, Pakistan, China, and some European countries. Some well-known Persian styles include Ardabil, Bakhtiari, Bijar, Esfahan, Hamadan, Heriz, Kashan, Kerman, Nain, Qum, Shiraz and Tabriz.



In Afghanistan rugs are still made mainly by the nomadic tribes. Afghanistan’s production of Oriental Rugs is limited to geometric and tribal designs, the most common being the Bohkara/Turkemon.
The antique Afghani Turkemon used natural dyes and the red color can be similar to an antique Herez. The modern Turkemon is a more true red. Belouchistan is another very common Afghani rug. Most Afghani rugs are made on a wool foundation whereas Persian & Pakistani Bohkara’s are woven on a cotton foundation.
Rugs from Afghanistan tend to be quite stylized with a limited number of colors. The Afghan guls and the Ersari are similar to the “Bokhara” in pattern and color and are the basis for most Afghanistan rugs. Another popular type of rug from Afghanistan is the Belouch, which is made primarily by nomadic tribesmen.
Some Afghan-style rugs go through a process called “gold washing” in which the original red color is chemically changed to shades of gold, coral, and amber. The effect is quite pleasing and often adds to the value of the carpet. To determine if a rug has undergone this procedure, spread the pile to expose the knots, which will remain unbleached and red.


Unlike most oriental rugs, the motifs on Chinese rugs do not unite in order to create one design; they stand-alone. Also, unlike most oriental rugs, Chinese designs are very literal rather than decorative; most motifs have very exact meanings. Some Chinese sub-styles include Ningxia, Baodou, Gansu, Peking, Mongolia and Aaubusson (French design).
Chinese rugs were influenced by Persian styles from the early eighteenth century until the mid-nineteenth century, and after the mid-nineteenth century, Chinese weavers adapted some of their designs to the western taste such as Aaubusson (French design).



Nomadic weavers of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the province of Khorassan in northeast Iran produce Turkoman rugs. The layout is generally all-over and gol, which means flower in Persian are repeated in rows with usually smaller gols of similar, but not exact, geometric design (minor gols, which means flowers) in between the rows of major gols.

Caucasian rugs are woven by tribal weavers of the region south of Russia, near the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas. This area includes the countries of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Some Caucasian styles include the Kazak, Karabagh, Gendje, Talish, Shirvan, Baku, Kuba and Daghestan. Caucasian rugs have been influenced by Persian, Anatolian, Turkoman and Chinese styles.

Unlike most oriental rugs that are woven for everyday use by the weavers themselves or for sale in local or foreign markets, European rugs have been mainly custom-made and designed by famous designers of the time. European rug styles are unique in that they have mirrored the arts of different European periods such as paintings and architecture.
The influence of William Morris, Art Nouvea, and Art deco can also be seen in English rugs of these periods, and Donegal designs of Ireland echo geometric designs of the 20th-century abstract art. Some of the significant rug weaving centers of Europe have been Spain, France, England, and Ireland.

The distinguishing characteristics of Tibetan rugs are their vivid colors, huge and few motifs, and relatively plain and dominant backgrounds. The background colors are usually blue, black, red, orange, and less frequently yellow or ivory. The designs are strongly influenced by Chinese and East Turkestan styles and can either be geometric or curvilinear.


Rug weaving was introduced to India during the sixteenth century at the time of the Moghul Emperor Akbar. Many of the workshops were under the supervision of Iranian weavers. Consequently, Indian designs were strongly influenced by those of Iran. The rug-making industry of India is based around the towns of Kashmir, Amritsar, Jaipur, Agra, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Kharmariah and Ellora.


Baluchi rugs are mainly woven by Baluchi tribal weavers in southwest of Pakistan, southheast of Iran and west of Afghanistan. Baluchi rugs are mainly geometric. The Blauchi tree-of-life prayer rug is the most well known of all Baluchi designs. Herat Baluchi rugs are made in Afghanistan and are mainly prayer rugs. The Mashad Baluchi rugs are made in Iran and are generally all-over repeats.


North African
One of the more significant North African styles is the Moroccan. Prior to the 19th century no Moroccan rugs have been found. A unique characteristic of Moroccan rugs is that they can be up to 15 feet long. Moroccan rugs can be pile weave, flat weave, or a combination of both. All Moroccan rugs are geometric.


Native American
Native American weaving is mainly associated with Navajo wool blankets. These blankets are mostly flat weaves. Navajo blankets date back to late 18th century. Today Navajo fabrics are woven on reservations in northern Arizona. Original styles consisted of stripes and simple geometric shapes.


Turkey (Anatolian)
The earliest Anatolian (Turkish) handmade rugs date back to the thirteenth century. Many examples of Anatolian rugs can be seen in European paintings from mid 14th to mid 15th centuries. Rugs have been woven in Turkey for at least as long as they have been in Iran.
Most Anatolian rugs with the exception of Hereke and Ushak seem to be geometric and very much influenced by Caucasian designs.


As with India, the art of rug weaving in Pakistan began during the reign of Akbar Shah in the sixteenth century. During that period Persian master weavers were brought to Lahore, and from then on rug making developed rapidly. At the present, two basic types of rugs are produced in Pakistan: the Pakistani (Persian Style) and the Mori (Bokhara Turkoman Style).




The Qum carpets are very tightly knotted and the pile mostly of silk. You can even find extremely fine carpets where pile, warp and weft are of silk. If the pile is of wool there is often silk decor in the details. Qum has a great variation of patterns; flowers, medallions, cypresses, gardens, hunting scenes as well as vases and birds.


Nain has always had a reputation of producing high quality wool. The carpets from Nain are also known for their fine patterns, quite similar to those of Isfahan. Many carpets have patterns of plants and animals, but most of them have intertwined branches with small flowers


The carpets from Tabriz are of high quality and have great variations in size. The pattern could be floral, vases, trees, hunting scenes or teardrop medallions. The most famous design is called “Mahi” (Fish). The pile is of wool or wool/silk, the warp cotton or silk.


These carpets come from the Turkish town of Hereke at the lake of Marmara, not far from Istanbul. These are high quality carpets with over 1 million knots per square meters and the patterns have many variations and are most decorative.
There are different kinds of Hereke. One has a pile of wool and a cotton warp and another has a pile of silk with silk warp, while another kind has a pile of silk with 14kt gold warp. Some Hereke rugs are being copied in Kaisery (a town near Istanbul). Kaisery however has about 250-400 thousand knots per square meter.
Hereke silk is considered one of the finest silk rugs in the world.


The Isfahan carpets-as those from Nain-have patterns of flowers and intertwined branches, often with a medallion, but you can also find hunting scenes and the tree of life. The warp is normally of silk, the pile of wool or wool/silk.


The Hamadan rug is often and rightly praised as a good, solid rug. It is made in the large district of western Iran where the town of Hamadan serves as a depot for more than a thousand villages. The Hamadan rug is knotted on a foundation of cotton (though the weft-threads are some-times woolen), and the pile is of strong wool.


The city of Kerman in southern Persia produces some of the most refined and elegant rugs made today. Kerman is generally considered to be the main source of the most beautiful and inventive Persian designs; even today, their repertoire is unrivalled


Village and workshop rugs, made in the town of Sanandaj (western Iran). Senneh rugs can be very finely woven on cotton (or sometimes silk) foundations, with up to 500 knots per sq. inch, and the pile wool, normally clipped quite short, is of very good quality.


Other Styles


Kelim (Flat Woven)
Kelim rugs employ simpler methods and more ancient techniques than pile rugs. A Kelim is a rug without knots to form a pile and is usually made of wool or wool and goat-hair. A Kelim can be reversable and because of its thin width is used as a ground cover or wall hanging.


Hand-woven fabric of plain weave made without shuttle or draw boy, the design of weft threads being threaded into the warp with fingers or a bobbin. The name has been extended to cover a variety of heavy materials, such as imitation tapestries woven on Jacquard looms, tapestry carpets, and upholstery and drapery stuffs.