Understanding the difference between Persian and Oriental rugs
Persian and Oriental rugs are among the most valuable and sought-after floor coverings in the world. A high-quality rug will not only tie the room together, it will also become a much-loved part of your home for decades to come. So, if you’re considering investing in a rug, it’s important to know what you’re buying.
Understanding the ins and outs of Oriental rugs can be complex and one of the most common misunderstandings is the difference between oriental rugs and Persian rugs.
While many people believe that Persian rugs are superior, the reality is that the difference between Oriental and Persian rugs has little to do with quality. Both types of rug are premium quality and hand-made using traditional methods.
So, what is the difference?
Well, let’s take a look.
Country of origin
In simplest terms, an Oriental rug refers to any rug that is traditionally crafted in central Asia or the Middle East. This includes countries like Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Nepal, Tibet and others.
Persian rugs, on the other hand, refer to any rugs made specifically in the modern-day country of Iran.
Therefore, all Persian rugs are Oriental rugs; but not all Oriental rugs are Persian.
Designs and patterns
Another point of difference is the design and patterning.
Persian rug designs are often named after the area in which they were created or the tribe that created them. Common Persian designs tend to be symmetrical (or at least appear symmetrical from a distance), intricately patterned and feature warm colours like indigo, burgundy reds, rust and ivory, golden yellow and deep green. Besides the intricate patterning, they can feature a variety of imagery, with some common images including jugs, crosses and pomegranates.
Because of the broad geographical areas and diverse cultures they come from, Oriental rugs tend to more broadly represent the customs and traditions of the regions they are produced in. This may include Buddhist motifs, flora and fauna and more minimalist landscape designs.
While both traditional Persian and Oriental rugs are hand knotted on a loom, you can also distinguish between the two rug types by the kind of knots used. Persian rugs typically use an asymmetricalor Senneh knot, which helps with their precise designs. Fine Persian rugs will often feature an extremely high knots count, with as many as 160 hand knots per square inch for some rugs.
Oriental rugs tend to use symmetrical Ghiordes knots. While still extremely high quality, the knot count tends to be lower than the higher quality Persian rugs.
While there are a number of common materials used in both types of rugs, there are also some differences.
For instance, Persian rugs are typically made from camel hair wool or sheep’s wool (either Manchester, which comes from Merino sheep, or kork wool, which is a fine Persian wool from the neck and belly of the sheep). Because of the quality of the materials, Persian rugs are extremely durable, with the naturally occurring lanolin in the wool helping to preserve the fibres. This means that a high-quality (and well cared for) Persian rug can last for centuries!
Oriental rugs are also be made of wool, but often incorporate silk and cotton. This can make them extremely soft and strikingly beautiful. However, it also makes them less durable and more susceptible to damage, wear and colour deterioration.
Which should you choose?
Despite the differences, both Oriental and Persian rugs are among the finest rugs in the world. The choice will often come down to personal aesthetic preference, although there are some other considerations. You can also have a look on our blog on the What to consider when choosing a living room rug
Persian rugs will always be the most sought-after by the collector and will tend to appreciate more in value. However, for your average rug buyer, those factors won’t really matter.
If durability and longevity is important, Persian rugs will generally win. Although, pure wool Oriental rugs that don’t incorporate cotton into their threads should hold up just as well.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what best suits your home, your tastes and your budget. But understanding the differences between Persian and Oriental rugs will help you to make the most informed purchase, get the best deal and find the rug you love the most.