Oriental Rugs Classifications

 Oriental rugs can be categories into three different categories:

1.  Artisan Workshop Rugs

2.  Village Rugs

3.  Tribal or Nomadic Rugs   

Artisan Workshop Rugs:

A  new era in weaving fine handwoven rugs by workshops began in the early 15th century in Persia during the Safavid Dynasty. The art of weaving received tremendous support from the royal families of Persia during this time, as weavings were used for fine pieces for their palaces and as gifts to foreign visitors to the court. This provided major support for the new tradition and encouraged the artisans to produce some of the best rugs in the world. The pieces that were weaved during the period of 1500 to 1700 are the greatest treasures of individual and museum collections around the world and the period is considered the “Golden Age of the Great Carpets”.

The artisan workshop rugs are generally known by the name of the master weaver and the owner of the workshop. Some of the greatest rugs weaved in the mid-1800s to early 1900s in Persia were from the workshops of Haji Jalili in Tabriz and master Mohtasham in Kashan. The city workshop of Kerman and the town of Ravar (Lavar) also produced some of the greatest pieces from that period. In the late to mid-1900s, the artisan workshop of Master Haj Agha Reza Seirafian And Seven Sons among worlds best known Persian rug producer in the city of Isfahan and the workshop of master Habibian in the city of Nain produce some of the best carpets in that period.

The most expensive carpet ever sold was sold in an auction by the Sotheby's for 33.8 million dollars.   The rug was a Sickle-Leaf, vine scroll and palmette "Vase" or "Tree of Life" design from the golden age of the weaving from, the city of Kerman woven in the 1600s. It was from the collection at the Corcoran Gallery Collection in Washington DC. Four individual collectors competed in an auction to raise funds for the museum conducted by Sotheby’s in London, resulting in a winning bid of $33.8 million.

2.  Village Rugs

The villages in Persia have traditionally been weaving small rugs because of the space and other limitations.  The village weaving is done usually by one person most likely the mother or daughters of the family.   The village rugs tend to have a stronger color palette and more variation in the design than the nomadic rugs. They are almost all in geometric format. Whereas in tribal rugs, the colors are more muted and designs more constrained, in village rugs the colors can be much brighter and designers freer. In addition, each village would have its own specific color palette and designs that go back generations. In fact, this is one way to distinguish the rugs from various villages in a region.

The villages in the Caucasus region including the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Dagestan produce some of the most vivid design and colors in the village rugs. The village rugs tend to be smaller in size since they are weaved on a small loom which must fit the small rooms in the villages and the weavers are mostly women.

3.  Tribal or Nomadic Rugs

The Nomadic rugs are woven by the people that move from place to place depending on the season. They move to the mountain pastures and higher grounds in the summer and to the lower lands in the winter. The article in Barrington Fine Rug Gallery has some wonderful photos of the people and the environment they live in.

The weaving is considered a practical way of providing the material that they can use. Most of the rugs are functional pieces such as small rugs for the tents, horse blankets, saddle bags, and grain sacks. The material most likely is all wool since that is what is available to them. The dyes used to color the wool are all from the vegetable and plants that they gather. The designs in the rugs tend to be very simple and often the animal forms such as birds, sheep and horses are found as part of the design.