What is the difference between Oriental and Persian rugs? | St. Louis, MO

Plush Oriental and Persian rugsUnderstanding the difference between Oriental and Persian rugs not only serves as a helpful style guide to your next purchase, but also provides a tour rich in history and a look into the culture and craftsmanship of the hands that brought these timeless works of art to life.

Any piece that is hand-knotted in countries in or near China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iran (Persia) is considered to be Oriental. Historically, those considered to be of the best quality were made in Persia. This is the reason that the Persian genre is popularly renowned and in a category all their own. Now, quality pieces can come from virtually every country that engages in the industry.

Simply put, all Persian styles are Oriental but not all Oriental rugs are Persians. An easy way to understand this relationship is to think of Champagne. Because of wine production laws in France, only sparkling wine originating from the Champagne region can be called Champagne. All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Wine and rugs (or should we say wine IN rugs) is a subject that Woodard knows all too well. More on that in future posts.

The beauty and individualism of hand-knotted pieces are derived of the skills, traditions and customs of their native regions. These items are considered to be a sound financial investment, increasing in value as they’re passed through the generations.

Persian Rugs

A vast array of designs and patterns abound in Persian tapestries. Each one is uniquely beautiful and hand crafted inside hundreds of small villages within Persia. Good examples include Kerman or Heriz, but the most popular Persian rugs include Tabriz and Kashan. The names given to these pieces have traditionally referred to the cities, villages or nomadic tribes specializing in that particular pattern or style of weave. Due to the growth of production, no longer can the name be indicative of the origin of a piece.

The exceptional quality of Persian styles is denoted by small, tight hand-tied knots. This craftsmanship involves many artisans of the village, working countless hours. A 9×12 piece, for example, could take a total of 14 months to complete, with four to five artisans working six hours per day, six days per week, hand-tying 500 knots per square inch. The wool in these amazing pieces should feel oily due to its lanolin content, which will preserve the life of the item for many years. A clear design scheme is present on both the front and the back. Styles range from traditional geometrics to more contemporary patterns of vibrant color and design.

Oriental Rugs

Although the growth in production has slowed compared to its industry 20 years ago, China continues to produce some of the finest Oriental offerings available today. Culture and tradition plays a central role in the production of Chinese tapestries, just as in Persia.  A popular style made in China is the silk rug. While the name may imply fragility, a well-made silk floor covering is quite durable and lasts for a very long time. Chinese Silk models differ radically from their Persian counterparts by using traditional Buddhist motifs and a common color palate of blue, apricot and yellow.

No matter your choice of Oriental floor covering, you have under foot not only a work of art but a hand-crafted piece of history. These beautiful pieces are both an investment and an heirloom. We’ll cover rug care and cleaning for your Oriental rugs in upcoming articles.

About Woodard Cleaning & Restoration

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946, and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. With more than 65 years of experience, Woodard is proud to serve as a preferred provider of water, fire, and smoke restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For more information, visit Woodard’s website, or call 314-227-3928.


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