With more than 2,500 years of history, Persian rugs tell the stories of some of the world's most powerful and most intricate societies. Each Persian rug is a testament to the skill and precision of the weavers, and can describe the region of origin, the maker of the rug, and even the social structure of the time. They can reflect religious and historical themes, or beautiful motifs.
While Persian rugs are now regarded as displays of taste and wealth in established households, they began as a utilitarian objects that were used by nomadic tribes to provide warmth during the cold winter months. With many early designs originating from Turkey, Iranians were the first rug weavers of the ancient world to refine the art of rug weaving using primarily wool and silk. Due to the instability of these early materials, few rugs dating before the 6th century remain intact today. As the rug making industry continued to grow, the weaver became a very respected, highly thought of person in the community. Often the weaver would be consulted on all matters as a village elder would. Materials for weaving grew in quality as the weaver attained greater stature. Sheep were bred to enhance their wool in order to provide superior yarn that would last longer and hold color better. Plants were also grown using scientific techniques to produce the highest quality dyes. Eventually cotton foundations were favored for increased stability.
Persian rugs are usually named for the village or town where they were produced. However, if the tribe that wove them is nomadic, and does not claim a city or village as their home, they are sometimes named after the tribe.
They are sometimes named for the tribe that wove them, when that tribe is nomadic and does not claim a city or village as their home.
While industry boomed and factories took over the production of rugs in the 19th century, the chief production of fine textiles was left to cottage industry. Villages and individuals created and sold fine rugs, enhancing the economy of the village and the tradition of weaving. Rug structure and motifs vary by the region, and Iran is now the source of most major rug motifs, designs, and embellishments.
Today, Iran produces two-thirds of the world's handmade rugs. In Iran, rugs serve as much more than a home furnishing or decoration; they are treated as business investments. Businessmen shrewdly invest in Persian rugs, opting to collect them rather than place their money in the stock market or a savings account. If stored correctly, these rugs grow in value and beauty as they age if stored correctly, returning to their owner much more than their initial investment.