Why Persian Rugs Are Superior Compared to Other Oriental Rugs

When it comes to Persian rugs, there are many variations. They can have different styles, colours, weaves, materials and the like. They can be made by hand or can be machine-made. So how do you choose which one is best for you, your family and your lifestyle? This article will hopefully help educate you on what is available so you can be more comfortable when you purchase.

Persian Versus Other Oriental Rugs

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an Oriental rug is defined as: “a handwoven or hand-knotted one-piece rug or carpet made in a country in central or southern Asia”. In more modern times, these rugs can also be made using machines, as well. Oriental rugs can originate from various countries in Asia or the Middle East, including Turkey, Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran (formerly known as Persia), China, Egypt, India and Pakistan, among others.

There are Oriental rugs and there are Persian rugs. Technically, Persian rugs fall into the Oriental rug category, but they are a very specific type. So – what’s the difference? The most obvious answer is that they are made in different locations, but Persian rugs are only made in Iran.

The more subtle, but important difference between Oriental and Persian rugs is the craftsmanship used in making them. While Oriental rugs can certainly be a beautiful addition to any room, Persian rugs are often considered higher in quality. Oriental rugs are tied with a symmetrical Ghiordes knot. Persian rugs are most often hand knotted using an asymmetrical or Senneh knot.

Persian rugs are usually considered the highest quality Oriental rugs in the world and feature high knot counts. The painstaking craftsmanship that goes into making a Persian rug is unique. Another distinction of Persian rugs, is that they often have more intricate designs.

Although they are called Persian rugs because of the original location in which they were made, the modern differentiation lies with its style, technique, and design, not the country it was crafted in. However, even if the knot styles are alike, a rug cannot be called Persian unless it was actually made in the country of Iran.

Persian Rugs vs Oriental Rugs
[ Photo depicting the living room of a Bijan Exclusive Rugs client #persianrugs ]

Persian Rugs

There are many different types of Persian rugs. Most of their designs are named after the village, tribe or city where they were traditionally made. Areas include Isfahan, Nain, Tabriz, Mashhad, Kerman and Kashan. Each region makes its rugs using their own unique styles and patterns.

Some of the finer Persian rugs can have up to 160 knots per square inch, like rugs from the cities of Qum, Isfahan and Tabriz. They often have extremely rich colour combinations and unique designs like husks, pomegranates, jugs, crosses and combs.

➜ View our beautiful collection of Persian Rugs

City, Village and Tribal Rugs

City rugs are usually made in a formal and systematic way – coordinating the work of a designer, colour master, dye master, master weaver and junior weaver. During production, the team works closely together to create as perfect a finished product as is possible.

➜ View our beautiful collection of City Rugs

Non-City rugs are categorized into two subgroups – village rugs and tribal rugs.

One of the main differences in the production methods between village and tribal rugs is the loom used. In villages, they use vertical stationary looms which enable the creation of larger pieces. Tribal rugs are made by nomadic artisans in a much less systematic way–often by mothers and daughters–and require a loom that can be transported from place to place. Tribal rugs are limited in size as a result. The most famous tribes are Ghashghai, Bakhtiari and Turkoman.

➜ View our beautiful collection of Village & Tribal Rugs

The “Persian knot” is used in constructing Persian rugs. (It can also be used in other Oriental rugs as well.) This type of knot is different in that it is less bulky and doesn’t leave gaps between knots. Using the Persian knot allows the craftsman to create more intricate designs. Think pixels on a TV screen – the more pixels, the sharper the picture.

An authentic Persian rug will always be hand knotted. The higher the knot count, the more valuable the rug is. The way to make sure the rug you’re considering purchasing is an authentic Persian hand-knotted one is to inspect the rug. It should have the following features:

  • The underside of the rug is an exact image of the top.
  • The bottom is soft and made of the same material as the top.
  • If the rug has a fringe, it will be part of the structure of the rug, not sewn on separately.


Persian rugs are made using only one of three materials: wool, cotton or silk. They are never made using synthetic fibres like polypropylene, nylon, acrylic, viscose, jute or any other artificial materials.

Wool is the more commonly-used material for Persian rugs. Historically, the Persian tribes raised sheep as a source of food, but also used the wool for the rugs. Wool also contains lanolin, which is naturally found in domestic sheep wool. This preserves the fibres, which is why Persian rugs can last hundreds of years, provided that they are properly cleaned and washed every 3-4 years.


Traditional Persian rugs are created using one of four design patterns:

  1. All over – a geometric or floral pattern that repeats across the entire area of the rug.
  2. Central medallion – a circular, oval, or contrasting design in the center of the carpet. The central feature can be a geometric design, animal, contrasting blank space, even text.
  3. Compartment – similar to the all-over design, it’s a repeating pattern of discrete geometric or floral designs, much like a patchwork quilt. Each compartment can be square, diamond, or an interlocking design.
  4. One-sided – an asymmetrical pattern, where the design differs on each half of the rug, lengthwise. Each half, however, is symmetrical.
    Persian rugs are usually made using warm-toned colours, like deep indigo, red, golden yellow, sage green and ivory.

Persian rugs are usually made using warm-toned colours, like deep indigo, red, golden yellow, sage green and ivory.

Machine-Made and Hybrid Persian Rugs

Yes, we stated that “authentic” Persian rugs were hand-made, which is technically true. However, there are rugs that are still made in Persia (modern-day Iran) by machines, or power looms, run by computers. These are made from wool or synthetic fibres.

Machine-made Persian rugs can be produced much more quickly and cost less than the hand-made ones. The downside is that they are not of the same quality and only have a fraction of the lifespan as their hand-made counterparts. In fact, the machine-made version may last less than 20 years, so they are not considered investments like the authentic ones are.

Hybrid Persian rugs, also called “hand-crafted” or “hand-tufted” rugs use a hand-held drill gun that loops the pile into the cloth foundation. They are finished with a latex coating and canvas fabric backing. The hybrids are a step above the machine-made rugs in appearance and quality, but they still won’t improve with ages as the hand-made rugs do, so are not sought by collectors as investments. They are usually made in India and China.

Oriental Rugs

Basically, any rug made in many Asian countries using similar designs and a variety of materials. They can all be handmade, machine-made or a hybrid of both methods. As Wikipedia states, “An oriental rug is a heavy textile, made for a wide variety of utilitarian and symbolic purposes, produced in ‘Oriental countries’ for home use, local sale, and export. Oriental carpets can be pile woven or flat woven without pile, using various materials such as silk, wool, and cotton.”

Country of origin and location can be two of the major differences between Persian and Oriental rugs. Rugs crafted in Oriental countries like China, Turkey, Tibet, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Egypt are referred to as Oriental rugs, even though they could be crafted in the same way as Persian rugs. But in modern history, Oriental rugs may be named more for their style, design and technique.

➜ View our collection of Turkish Rugs, Indian Rugs, Afghan Rugs & Pakistani Rugs

There are many different types of Oriental rugs and not all are included here.

Ziegler Rugs

Ziegler rugs are a traditional style of Oriental rug named after the design created by the Ziegler German company in the 1880s. They are also called “Chobi Ziegler” rugs. Chobi is a Persian word for “wood” that describes the rustic colours in the rugs. These rugs use more muted colours and classic designs.

Chobi Ziegler Oriental rugs are high quality but are more reasonably priced than Persian or other high-end Oriental rugs. This is because they are usually made with lower knot counts.

➜ View our collection of Chobi Rugs

Ikat Rugs

The Ikat Oriental rug is named after their unique design pattern that is created by dying and over-dying the material. This process produces more colour variation and depth than some other types of Oriental rugs. Some of the Ikat designs may have historical significance, while others are simply aesthetic. Ikat rugs are lower in knot count than some other high-end Oriental rugs, so can be less expensive to purchase.

Bokhara Rugs

The Bokhara Oriental rug originated in historic Bukhara, which is in modern-day Uzbekistan. Although these rugs are still made in Bukhara, they are also being made in many other countries.

Bokhara rugs feature asymmetrical knot counts and are priced according to how many knots are used. The design features classic colours with oval-shaped motifs and a cleaner background than other Oriental rugs. They are traditionally designed with tones of rich red but also feature green, rose, ivory and grey hues.


Kilims are named after their design. “Kilim” refers to the Persian word “gelim”, meaning “spreading roughly” These rugs have a unique linear design with bold colours and are made using a flat weave.

Because of their flat weave design, Kilims rugs are not as plush as many other Oriental rugs. They feature straight lines, squares and rectangles in colours like red, navy, deep gold and forest green.

There are many other types of Oriental rugs, all having their own style, patterns, design technique, and value. Some include Baluchi, Gabbeh, Heriz, Kazak, Khan Mamdi, Shairwan, Qashqai and more.

➜ View our beautiful collection of Kilim Rugs

What Oriental Rug Is Right for You?

All Oriental rugs are unique and beautiful. Authentic, hand-crafted rugs will increase in value over time and will actually become more beautiful as they age.

If you’re looking for an Oriental rug, you need to decide what you like in terms of style, whether it has an abrash or not, how much you want to pay and the reason you’re buying it. If you want an investment, it’s better to spend more on finely handcrafted Persian rugs.

Shop the Finest Persian & Oriental Rugs at Bijan Exclusive Rugs

If you have any questions about Persian or Oriental rugs, please give us a call or visit our Sydney Persian Rug stores. We love and know everything about rugs and we are always happy to help you with your decision.

Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn